Evolution: "Choose you this day whom you will serve..."

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. - Joshua 24:15

Astronomer John Byl has posted his review of Rev. Paulin Bedard's new book, In Six Days God Created: Refuting the Framework and Figurative Views of the Days of Creation, and here's a teaser..:

Bedard gives examples of several adherents of the Figurative View, such as... Timothy Keller and Bruce Waltke, who have gone on to embrace theistic evolution. 

(But) the discussion has moved beyond the creation days. Questions are now being raised about whether God created by means of evolution, whether Adam had animal ancestors, whether Adam and Eve were the only humans alive when they fell, whether all humans today stem from Adam, etc. This in turn raises theological questions about original sin, redemption, and Biblical inspiration, authority and interpretation.

Tim Keller has bad doctrine and practice related to Creation, evolution, feminism, ecclesiology, anthropology, Hell, abortion, and sodomy, but here we're talking Creation and evolution.

Those who make a living or reputation within the Academy or its Reformed seminary colonies, hit the groupthink as soon as they arrive... on campus: "You don't use the male inclusive, do you? Your wife works, doesn't she? You only have two children, right?"

And of course: "You don't believe in a literal six-day creation, do you? Because if you do, you're a rube and won't last long..."

After twenty-five years living in the shadow of two major research institutions, UW-Madison and Indiana University, I say without hesitation that you can chart almost every academic's spiritual maturity and fruitfulness for the Lord by examining these issues, looking to see whether he fears God or man (used inclusively, of course). If his wife works—or rather, I should say has a career because my wife has almost always worked—and they have no more than two children and he tips his hat to evolution, look out because spiritual danger is on the horizon.

So I've adopted the habit of warning academics that they cannot choose science over God. They will be weighed in the balance over that choice and their choice must always, always be God. Which means when they hit what seems to them a true incompatibility between the authority of Scripture and the authority of science, the Christian always takes Scripture because God is true though all men are liars and man's wisdom is as foolishness to God.

Knowing I'm writing to pomos (postmoderns) just now, I could now spend twenty minutes sacrificing the normal on the altar of the abnormal. I could qualify what I've said by explaining that many places where men think there is a conflict between Scripture and science, there really isn't a conflict as long as you have a smart man with the terminal degree to explain what Scripture actually means there; I could try to reassure readers that some of my best friends are intellectuals; I could tell you I know the Priests tell us the universe is expanding and they figure it's around 90,000,000,000 light years from one end to the other; but what's the use? Pomos don't stop being pomos because you dialog with them.

Interestingly, the best academics listen to my warning and tell me they agree with a story or two demonstrating how God already taught them that. And usually it's the mediocre academics who try to explain to me the difficulty of interpreting Genesis 1-3. Not always, but usually.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

It is this submission to the philosophy of science du jour which is taking the church down a dark and deadly path.  Institutions like Wheaton have long been there; institutions like Dallas Theological Seminary aren't far behind.

I leaned towards a Old Earth Framework view of Genesis 1-2 for about five years. Part of it was an overreaction to some of the aggressive Young Earth creationists in my hometown. Most of it was just plan old pride. All of it was wrong. 

Which means when they hit what seems to them a true incompatibility between the authority of Scripture and the authority of science, the Christian always takes Scripture because God is true though all men are liars and man's wisdom is as foolishness to God.

Amen. My wife and I are working on transcribing the Thomas Rutherford abridgement of Baxter's The Reformed Pastor, which leaves in many of the footnotes and tangentials that the standard William Brown abridgement removes.

Here's bits from one such tangent: while speaking to the problem of unregenerate pastors, Baxter goes into this wonderful aside about education and how if it's separated from knowing God it's folly, not wisdom---

O that all our students in the university would well consider this!...They do but walk in a vain show, and spend their lives like dreaming men, while they busy their wits and tongues about abundance of names and notions, and are strangers to God and the life of saints...Nothing can be rightly known, if God be not known...He who overlooks the Alpha and Omega, and sees not the beginning and end, and Him in all, who is the all of all, sees nothing at all. All creatures are, as such, broken syllables: they signify nothing as separated from God...None but a Christian can read one line of his physics, so as to understand it rightly...Your study of physics and other sciences is not worth a rush if it be not God by them that you seek after. To see and admire, to reverence and adore, to love and delight in God appearing to us in his works, and purposely to peruse them for the knowledge of God, this is the true and only philosophy, and the contrary is mere folly, and is called so again and again by God himself. This is the sanctification of your studies, when they are devoted to God, and when he is the life of them all, and they are directed to him as their end and principal object.

It seems like there are only two options, and you have to choose which can of worms you prefer.

1. Creation is old. The universe is 14 billion years old, the Earth is 4 1/2 billion years old, life is three billion, etc., and we've mis-interpreted Genesis 1 for a long time.

2.  Creation appears old but is actually young. God created the universe with age built into it, like building an adult tree with tree rings.  He created fossils for species that appeared to have died out more than 10,000 years ago, made star light for stars that never existed, buried 200,000 layers of compressed ice in the poles, etc.

Is there a third option? I fully believe that God is omnipotent and is completely capable of going with option number two, of course, but the can of worms seems larger, overall.

A third option is that science is currently wrong about any number of things, such as the speed of light being a constant. It just so happens that a new study just came out questioning that hypothesis.

But I agree that those are the two simplest explanations. However, I believe that the first can of worms is not only much larger, but that some of the worms in it are downright gigantic. It also inexplicably has many of the worms from the other can in it as well.

For example, where did man come from? Reinterpreting Genesis to allow for evolutionary development isn't going to cut it. You're going to have to reinterpret Romans as well. Oh, and when you do that, you're going to have to allow for the death and resurrection of Jesus to be a metaphor, at which point you will be falling right into Paul's statement that you are of all men most to be pitied. But if you don't allow for evolutionary development of man, why bother claiming that the world is old?

What I like to remind people is that our scientific understanding of that time-frame approaches zero. Even though I grant that "day" might not mean "24 hours" in the creation account, I can't make heads or tails of the book without reading much of it in a literal manner that seems impossible to us given our current scientific "wisdom". For example, Methuselah lived to be 969 years old…

Need I say more?

Joseph, I think that you grant too much when you grant that "looks old" is one of the simplest explanations. The atheist "scientists"' dating methods are based on a rejection of the Flood and an assumption that there has been no great change in the physics of the world since the beginning. Rather than so easily granting that things look old but aren't (as if God would trick us---reminds me of transsubstantiation: it's a miracle, you just can't see it!) we need to bring scrutiny where it needs to be brought: what assumptions are these God-hating "scientists" making? From my study I can tell you, they certainly do not take into account any great change of the world as we see in Scripture before and after the Flood.

The research scientists at Answers in Genesis have done a helpful work here in systematically identifying these ungodly assumptions and working to develop hypotheses that do not rely on these ungodly assumptions.

Once again: the "looks old" theory relies on ungodly assumptions. Please take care before granting credence to it.

Love,

Daniel

Once again: the "looks old" theory relies on ungodly assumptions. Please take care before granting credence to it.

I went off in a bad direction with my summary. Let me try to correct it. What the godly do is believe the Word and be curious about ways God might have accomplished what He declares in His Word, and research it, to better understand the glory of God in His creation. Rather than making a bunch of assumptions and coming to the conclusion that the Bible must not mean what it says.

Now that I put it this way, it looks a lot like what you were saying, Joseph.

Yes, Daniel, I agree with your summary. However, I don't really see any way around God creating things with the appearance of age. Yes, it's a miracle, but in point of fact, this miracle we can see. Adam was created with the appearance of age. I was just reading John Byl a few days ago, and he talks about this idea of mature creation (as well as its limitations) here

Daniel's correct about Noah's flood providing a comprehensive explanation for the fossil record, for that matter the geological record. Henry Morris' The Genesis Flood laid it all out decades ago.

My pastor in those days (back in the early 70s) did his Masters thesis on Morris' Genesis Flood. He documented how Morris had become a humongous stink in the nostrils of evangelicals in those days, because his work exposed how theistic evolution had become the virtual reading of Genesis among evangelicals. It had become so for the same reason that feminism is now default reading of the entire Bible among evangelicals -- a lust for the approbation of the pagans and atheists in the academy, compounded with a terror of being labeled "a fundamentalist." 

And when Jesus changed water into wine, what did that wine have?

No, not alcohol. Harold Lindsell wrote me a letter explaining that.

Rather, the appearance of age.

Love,

Joseph, I think there are problems with most of the "studies" questioning the constancy of the speed of light in vacuum are flawed. In my understanding , there has been nothing to suggest that the speed of light has changed in any significance to account for our viewing of astronomical events millions of light years away.

Gravity and its effect on the speed of light, however, has a significant impact. Einstein's less well known, but perhaps most significant work was his Theory of General Relativity. A great resource on the topic is Russell Humphreys' book Starlight and Time.

I personally believe in an Old Earth and old universe...almost 7000 years old in fact! And God took six whole days to create it! For being omnipotent, he sure chose to take his time!

Denver, there are two brand new studies that haven't even been published yet that question it. I'm not saying they are right, but they certainly haven't been shown to be flawed yet.

Joseph, go back and read the article you posted. We'll have to wait for the studies to be published, as news reports often misunderstand or misrepresent, sometimes grossly, what researchers study or what the conclusions are.

But based on the article, the researchers are questioning the vacuosity of space (or non-vacuosity as it were) and its effect on the speed of light. The fact that the speed of light changes based on the medium it is in is not news. And i doubt that small, local variations in the speed of light significantly impacts the apparent age of billions vs. thousands of years. Space is still relatively vacuous compared to, say, glass or water.

"We'll have to wait for the studies to be published" 

Yep. But let me step out on a limb before-hand with my saw.

"the researchers are questioning the vacuosity of space (or non-vacuosity as it were) and its effect on the speed of light. The fact that the speed of light changes based on the medium it is in is not news. "

Nope. "Particle pairs" is what they are talking about, which in my (albeit severely limited) understanding doesn't change the medium. These exist even in a true vacuum. And they seem to be suggesting that the speed of light through a true vacuum fluctuates based on the number of particle pairs present. 

As one commenter on the article said, "This paper has nothing to do with the variation in the speed of light through different media which is well known, it is postulating that the speed of light may vary in a perfect vacuum based on the quantum state being variable from place to place."

And as another commenter said, "We're talking about the vacuum itself, absent anything else except the virtual particle foam. This theory suggests the speed of light in any given space is calculable given the virtual particle density, giving the constant a basis instead of an artbitray value."

I'm not counting on this paper proving anything about God or how he created the world. I'm counting on it to show that right now we "know" a lot less than we think we do. For example, what's the speed of light again? Are you sure? How sure? :)

Im not arguing the actual physics of this, just how i'm understanding the article, which is pointless if the article doesnt accurately reflect the research. Ok, it says a major aspect of the discussion (does the article mean literally the discussion section of the papers, or the research as a whole???) deals with the nature of vacuums. I.e. that they arent really "vacuous". This in turn impacts how light behaves both in the lab and in space. This change in the understanding of the medium is the hinge point. But it's not because light somehow behaves randomly in and of itself, but changes based on its interaction with particles/antiparticles in the "vacuum". At least that's how I'm reading the article.
Joseph, if you follow this story and are able to track down the actual studies please email me if you remember. This article seems to confuse a few different aspects of this. I am not convinced that the "conclusions" in the article actually follow from the research done. I am still more skeptical of the impact this research has regarding the apparent size or age of the universe as it relates to distant starlight. We'll have to wait and see.

"right now we "know" a lot less than we think we do."

Indeed.

We are always on shaky ground when we use secular presuppositions to interpret data when we have God himself, the only one who was there, telling how and when he created the universe. That's what I appreciate so much about Humphreys' work that I mentioned earlier.

Ok, I've been doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations, and I've got a new theory. 

The firmament was made up entirely of all of the quantum particle foam that is now spread out through space (at least around us). In a true vaccuum, without particle foam, the speed of light is infinite. Hence, the stars are very far away, but they were visible from earth the moment God created them, since the particle foam was all wrapped around earth at the time. 

Let me know when I win the Nobel.

Denver, if I ever see anything more than that article about the new studies, I'll let you know.

Interesting theory :-) but hey, if President Obama can win a Nobel Prize after never having a real job and bringing world peace just by virtue of being (s)elected, then why not?

I'll be eagerly anticipating your paper. Maybe it will be displayed next to Einstein's for his Photoelectric Effect.

Joseph, having thought more, I realize I have insulted you and I apologize. Your work ethic and knowledge of physics I'm sure far surpass that of our President's peace-making abilities. And while he is an enemy of the church and our nation, you are a warrior and I'm proud to call you a beloved brother.

Cheers.

No insult taken, dear brother. But if you want my forgiveness, you certainly have it. 

Love,

-Joseph

Keith G. wrote in part:

2.  Creation appears old but is actually young. God created the universe with age built into it, like building an adult tree with tree rings.  He created fossils for species that appeared to have died out more than 10,000 years ago, made star light for stars that never existed, buried 200,000 layers of compressed ice in the poles, etc.

Why would God deceive us about the age of the earth? God doesn't lie, does He?

I'm still not sure what my viewpoint on creation is but however God created I trust Him to be truthful about it.

Sue, you are right, God wouldn't deceive us. He has plainly told us about these things. If we believe otherwise, the problem is with our interpretation of what we see, not with his revealed word.

Keith, there IS indeed a third option: The earth and all the created universe is less than 10,000 years old, AND it also appears that way. When I look around I certainly do not see millions and billions of years. The apparent age of the universe is in the eye of the appearer. Facts do not "speak for themselves". This is the fallacy of reification. All facts must be interpreted, and we interpret them based on our presuppositions. If your worldview includes the presupposition of uniformitarianism, then you interpret the data in a way that the earth appears billions of years old, not because the data objectively says that, but because it MUST be that way based on your presupposition. But if part of your presupposition is catastrophism (as it is in a biblical worldview), i.e. near instantaneous creation, global flood, etc., then you interpret the evidence in such a way that results in thousands of years.

ALL DATING methods have presuppositions built in to them. There are so many variables that have to be assumed it's really quite scary mathematically speaking. It is those assumptions that really determine the "output" side of the equation. The actual "measured" data plays but a small role. Some methods have safer assumptions than others, but they are still assumptions. We can't observe the past, only the present. The past has to be assumed. This is why it is very dangerous to confuse observational science with historical, or origins, science. We all do it to some degree, but you have to be aware of it. A major question is do you believe the present is the key to the past, or is the past the key to the present? Your answer to that question will reveal your presuppositions. 

It used to be that uniformitarians thought the earth was "old" at 100,000 years as opposed to the biblical 6000 +/-. But when they recognized that that wasn't enough "time" to fit their explanations of origins, they backed it up to millions. And then billions, now tens of billions. They think that if they only have enough time they can explain away God.

There are rare traces of "old" cosmogeny biblical interpretation throughout history, but its current form (millions and billions) only exists for those who want to interpret the bible with secular presuppositions. To my knowledge, no atheistic scientist believed in millions and billions before the 19th century. They believed in thousands, they just didn't attribute that belief to the biblical record.

Denver, I appreciate that you think that your #3 is a valid option, but I just don't think that's going to fly.  Everyone who believes the earth is less than 20,000 or so years old believes it mostly because they interpret Genesis 1 to mean literal 24 hour days.  It's one thing to accept that as true because that's what the Bible says, but it's another thing entirely to say that the evidence *points* to a young earth.

So, all this stuff about the speed of light and radiation half-lives and such is really confusing for us non-scientists, but ice cores are pretty clear cut.  Basically, just like tree rings, there are visible differences in the growth of the ice during winter and summer.  As a result, you can go to Antarctica and drill out a core, and see a record from one year to the next.  They've recorded these layers being built year by year, and so they started digging down.  The EPICA project went down 740,000 layers.  So, either the Earth *appears* to be at least 740,000 years old, or there's yet another wacky mystery that needs to be solved.

Just to reiterate, it is completely within God's power to make the universe appear like it's 14 billion years old.  There's literally no way that we know of that God would have created the Earth even 6,000 years ago without *some* appearance of age (for example: did Adam have fingernails and hair? Did the trees have rings? Did the moon have craters?  There are a billion chicken-or-egg issues like this that God would have resolved.)  I'm fine with that.  However, I'm *not* fine with pseudo-science (like "Starlight and Time") that pretends that the Earth appears to be 6,000 years old.  I think we need to be honest and admit that it does not.

Keith, I am probably the last guy who should voice an opinion here, but let me share a few thoughts/questions I had before I started a search of the interwebs:

There's liquid water contained in glacial ice. Should we assume these layers are closed off? Deposits of ice depend on amounts of precipitation. Formation of layers will depend on types of precipitation and the force of winds. Layers of ice will contain particles from other layers due to warming and cooling. Weather cycles and warm/cool cycles aren't necessarily uniform, so why assume an observable layer necessarily equates to a year?

So I did a search...and wouldntchya know...many of the above are issues and there are significant problems that fall well outside of my abilities to relay. It was interesting to find out that a couple of WWII aircraft, including this Lockheed P-38 dubbed "Glacier Girl", were ditched in Greenland after running out of gas. Forty years later, the crew decided to go searching for these planes expecting to find them under a few feet of ice. Well, metal detectors couldn't detect them because the planes had not only shifted approximately three miles from their original locations, but were also covered by 268 feet of ice.

While this website seems to have been abandoned to obscurity, it provides helpful information detailing problems with dating by counting physical layers of ice. What makes it helpful is that this particular article doesn't seek to provide a "flood model". It focuses on showing why the prevailing assumptions should not be assumed based on the physical data.

We seem to always think "we know" layers mean predictable amounts of time...then we have Mount St. Helens, or we have men who ask questions about observable facts that call into question assumptions used to arrive at particular conclusions. There was a time this used to be called science. Not in my lifetime, but there was a time (I'm told).

Dear Keith, you have bought hook, line, and sinker the presupposition of uniformitarianism. Please go back and read my post carefully and ask yourself, do you belief the present is the key to the past, or is the past the key to the present?

Just because we have observed the past few years a new ice layer one per year, what in the world does that have to do with hundreds, or thousands of years ago? Were you or these scientists there every year for the past 740,000 year watching this go on? I'm not being jerk, I'm just making a point that there are a whole mess of assumptions going on here. And I'm not blaming anybody, assumptions HAVE to be made in this type of science. The question is, which assumptions are you making, and how valid are they?

Catasrophism, as in what would occur during a worldwide flood, with rapid tectonic shifts and a rapid but brief ice age following the recession of the flood waters and a restabilization of continental location and age-long shift in climate from a new water cycle would certainly have tremendous impacts on glacier deposition. 

Again, data/observations do not "speak for themselves". They must be interpreted, and will be subject to all sorts of assumptions. When scientists date things, especially in geology, a frequent assumption is that rates of decay are, and always have been, constant. When dating a sample of something, multiple methods are used. Some of these methods result in very young ages for things. But if you are a secular, and "know" that this rock must be 10-20 million years old, you discard something that comes up with, say 60,000 years, as well as something that says 6 billion. Because based on other presuppositions you have made, those other numbers must be outliers, or flawed. I don't know if someone mentioned this, but rocks formed from Mt. Saint Helens are dated at millions of years old with most dating methods commonly used. But we know for a fact that they are only 30 years old!!!

Weird data won't show up in the published papers because it won't "sell," either to the grant committee, or the review board, or the public school textbooks. I'm in the medical profession, and see this stuff all the time with drug research. Your five minutes of fame, or next NIH grant, or most importantly your worldview is on the line. And you don't have to intentionally doctor your numbers, either. Your presuppositions are so ingrained, things get rejected out of hand without even considering the implications.

I also want to mention that while God at least created Adam and Eve with the appearance of age, I reject that he made things "appear" billions of years old if they aren't. If our calculations of the distances of stars are accurate, and we observe an event that is hundreds of millions of light years away, but God created 10,000 years ago (upper limit of scripture if you accept gaps in the genealogies), then we aren't really observing these things, they are pure illusion. God created them just to "fool" us. Doesn't that make God a liar? But there are reasonable explanations for our ability to see these things despite their incredible distances, that actually fit the Genesis account. 

What are your presuppositions, Keith?

Okie doke.

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