Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Oprah Factor – a review of Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Moreland, Reynolds)

Three Views of Creation and Evolution by J. P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds et al (Zondervan, 1999) is a vast disappointment. The page numbers below refer to this book. The Genesis Debate, edited by Ron Youngblood, is a much better work along the same lines (Thomas Nelson, 1986). Beware of the word “integration” – this usually implies the view that “science” trumps scripture (p. 9). On the positive side, Moreland amazingly admits, “… I cannot shake the idea that the young earth people may be correct” (p. 85).

A term that is better than Young Earth Creationism (p. 41) is Orthodox Protestants who take Genesis as Historical Narrative (OPGHN, “opgane”). “Orthodox Protestants” was a term proposed by Harold Lindsell who wrote The Battle for the Bible. [1] If Genesis is historical narrative, then creation in six days and a Global Flood follow directly. The RATE team concluded that Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 is historical narrative based on a statistical analysis of preterite verbs. [2] Howard Van Till (theistic evolutionist) denies that Genesis is historical narrative (pp. 209, 210). The International Council of Biblical Inerrancy (p. 78) produced the “Chicago Statement.” Article 12 states, “… We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.” R. C. Sproul’s commentary makes it plain that a local flood is consistent with this. [3] Ironically, Sproul is now an OPGHN.

Henry Morris is mentioned on just four pages (see index, p. 288). And Ken Ham is only named on one page (p. 43)! The introduction provides various ways to look at this topic (pp. 9-11), but overlooks the primary issue, “what does the Scripture say?” (Rom. 4:3). Moreland disagrees, “The debate about creation and evolution is not primarily one about how to interpret certain passages in Genesis…” (p. 89).

There is talk of dialog (p. 14) yet very little of that actually takes place. Ken Ham and Jason Lisle debated Walter Kaiser and Hugh Ross in 2006, but this type of interaction is rare. The terms “macroevolution” and “microevolution” should be dropped (pp. 15, 135). Common ancestry, unlimited variation and like phrases, should replace the term “macroevolution.” So called “microevolution” should be described by variation, adaptation, natural selection and speciation. The distinction between origins science and operational science is overlooked (pp. 15, 182, 183).

Fixity of essential types of life is of key importance. If frogs only reproduce frogs and velociraptors only make velociraptors, then molecules to man evolution is impossible. Shockingly, “kinds” and “baramin” are not in the index! However, Phillip Johnson does discuss kinds in a footnote (p. 276). Reynolds and Paul Nelson rightly speak of the “… the natural limits of biological variation” (p. 45). Robert Newman claims that the phrase “after their kind” does not imply “… that one kind could never evolve into another” (p. 114). At least three kinds were created on Day Six of Creation Week and there is no hint that creeping things evolved into cattle which further evolved into beasts (Gen. 1:24). Though the RATE team first met in 1997, their project is not mentioned in this book. [4]

Old Earthers claim that there are “large gaps in the genealogical records” (p. 21, cf. p. 91), yet there are no gaps in the chronological record which indicates that the earth is about six thousand years old. At the end of Day Six of Creation Week the universe was declared “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Thus, the geological record, full of death and disease, must be Post-Creation Week. Many of the contributors to this volume ignore this fact.

J. P. Moreland and Reynolds claim that “… almost all responsible thinkers agree that certain chemical elements now decay at known rates” (p. 24). The RATE results show this to be false. [5] Francis Schaeffer held that the constancy of radiometric decay was questionable. [6] Edward Blyth, a creationist, published on natural selection decades before Darwin (p. 31). There is no mention of the “scriptural geologists” of the early 1800’s highlighted in Terry Mortenson’s book The Great Divide. The Creation Research Society in not “young earth” (p. 33), but rather it holds that the Flood was global in extent and effect.

Nelson and Reynolds (young earthers), give away the store: “Recent creationists should humbly agree that their view is , at the moment, implausible on purely scientific grounds” (p. 51). Their advice is “… to leave the issues of biblical chronology and history to a saner period” (p. 100). While emphasizing Intelligent Design, Nelson and Reynolds suggest that we, “Feel free to put off the question of the age of the earth and the Flood for now” (p. 75). They mention Russell Humphreys work on distant starlight (p. 52), but fail to refer to his book Starlight and Time (1994).

Walter Bradley’s (progressive creation) anti-Flood arguments have been refuted. He claims that thick deposits pose a problem for the Flood (p. 77). Consider Mt. St. Helens’ eruption of 1980 and its aftermath. There are 600 feet of layered deposits that formed in just a couple of years! [7] Furthermore, some deposits were formed before and after the Flood. Bradley is confused on the meaning of “nephesh” (air-breathing) death when he speaks of bacteria (p. 77). He claims that it is “problematic” that the Adam and Eve might have lived forever (p. 77). The first couple’s descendents may have populated the stars. Bradley denies the global distribution of humanity at the time of the Flood (p. 78). This is quite unreasonable given the long antediluvian life-spans. The Tower of Babel, with its concentration of population, was after the Flood, not prior.

Contributor John Jefferson Davis challenges the Global Flood by asking, “… did kangaroos and platypuses that live in Australia come to the Middle East to board Noah’s ark?” (p. 84). The continents may have been together before the Deluge. Catastrophic Plate Tectonics (CPT) is one of the leading models of the Flood. The animals would have dispersed from Ararat and floated on debris to get to various islands. In the Ice Age the lower ocean would have revealed some land bridges as well. God’s rainbow promise shows that the Flood must have been worldwide – we have had many local floods since Noah’s death.

Vern Poythress (old earth) claims that, “The Bible simply does not say whether the Flood covered the entire globe” (p. 92). Poythress, who teaches at Westminster Seminary (PA), denies creation is six normal days (pp. 92, 93), yet the Westminster Shorter Catechism clearly teaches (Q9), “The work of creation is, God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good” [emphasis added]. He is oblivious to the fact that in 1994 six creationist Ph.D.’s defended CPT at the International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh not far from where he teaches! (p. 94).

Here are some possibilities for defenders of OPGHN that Zondervan should have selected:

  • John Morris, author of The Young Earth
    Russell Humphreys, author of Starlight and Time (1994)
    John Baumgardner, plate tectonics researcher, pub. in Nature
    Jonathan Sarfati, author of Refuting Compromise (contra Ross)
    Terry Mortenson, author of The Great Turning Point
    Andrew Snelling, author of Earth's Catastrophic Past

In general, the contributors seem to be generally uninformed in the field of creationism. Some helpful pro-creation websites include:
ICR
CRS
Creation Moments
AiG
CMI

What is missing from this book is the Oprah factor – brutal honesty and open confession. “I don’t want to be persecuted or lose my job, so I need to compromise on the clearly stated meaning of Genesis.” It’s hard to say but it is a first step. “Hello, my name is Richard, and I’m Against the Creationists of Tradition (ACT).” There now, doesn’t that feel better? Indeed, it is tough to fight the academic majority. Just say “NO” to the scientific elite and tell your Maker, “Lord I believe, please help my unbelief.” The Creation Research Society has a list of local creationist groups where you may find comfort and answers to your questions.

Notes:
1) The Bible in the Balance by Harold Lindsell, (Zondervan, 1979, Grand Rapids, MI), p. 321.
2) RATE = Radioisotopes and The Age of the Earth, Thousands … Not Billions ed. by Don DeYoung, (Master Books, 2005, Green Forest, AR), pp. 157-170.
3) Explaining Inerrancy by R. C. Sproul, (Ligonier Ministries, 1996, Orlando, FL), pp. 36, 38.4) “Fair and Balanced?” by Steven McConaughy,
4) DeYoung, p. 17.
5) DeYoung, especially chs. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9.
6) The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer by Francis Schaeffer, (Crossway Books, 1982, Wheaton, IL), p. 134.
7) Footprints in the Ash by John Morris and Steven Austin, (Master Books, 2003, Green Forest, AR), p. 52, 53.

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