Sunday, March 21, 2010

Plain and Simple Truths

The longer we read articles dealing with health foods and sound nutrition the more we encounter words such as pure, plain, and natural to describe advertised products. Such terms sound a resonant chord among increasingly health-conscious consumers. We are conditioned to respond positively to such terms in other discussion contexts. For example, creationists of young earth persuasion support their view of a 6000-year earth existence by making the case that the simple, literal, normal, clear, and common-sense reading of the Bible demands acceptance of a young earth and a recent global flood.

Young earth speakers and authors enthusiastically claim their interpretations “honor the Bible,” consist of the “simple teachings of scripture,” conform to the “plain Word of God,” make “common sense,” and are “easy to understand.” It would be unwise for any old universe creationist in our pulpits, on the airwaves, or in Christian publishing to attempt to refute an argument made at this level. Orthodox old earth creationists believe God’s two revelations--the special revelation of scripture, and the general revelation of the natural world--do not and cannot contradict one another if each is interpreted correctly.

In discussing our disagreements on earth’s age and the placement of events on earth’s geological timeline with people inside or outside the church, we would do well to avoid incorporating such phrases. The use of such terms is not part of a sound and cogent argument. Just as scripture uses reasoning and proof, so should we do the same when attempting to relate the Bible to observations in the world of nature. The apostle Paul’s reasoning and proving in the synagogue at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4) and the method of instruction in the epistle to the Hebrews come to mind as examples. We must back our arguments with solid evidence, facts, and reasons, avoiding emotional appeals.

We may be thankful that on essential matters of Christian doctrine such as the person and work of Jesus Christ, all evangelical creationists are in virtual agreement. All honor the scripture as the divine written revelation of God to mankind. Interpretation of time frames expressed in the exceedingly brief creation account of Genesis 1-2, however, diverge greatly. Respect for the extensive findings of mainstream science in the past several hundred years, is at the center of the disharmony. For this reason, this science/faith blog has attempted to bring a longer-term historical perspective to the issue over the past several months.

John Mark Reynolds co-authored a book with J. P. Moreland in 1999 entitled Three Views on Creation and Evolution. Reynolds is a young earth creationist who, nevertheless, recognizes an important underlying issue. Here are several much discussed passages: “Natural science at the moment seems to overwhelmingly point to an old cosmos…The data are mostly against us…Recent creationists should humbly agree that their view is, at the moment, implausible on purely scientific grounds…Presently, we can admit that as recent creationists we are defending a very natural biblical account, at the cost of abandoning a very plausible scientific picture of an “old” cosmos. But over the long term, this is not a tenable position. In our opinion, old earth creationism combines a less natural textual reading with a much more plausible scientific vision. They have many fewer ‘problems of science.’ At the moment, this would seem the more rational position to accept.”

It is the goal of this blog to continue to investigate the truth and harmony of theology and science.