Saturday, June 12, 2010

Science Special Series

Each time the apologetics television ministry of The John Ankerberg Show presents a series on science featuring trained theologians and scientists who accept modern findings of cosmologists and linguists concerning origins and a universe of enormous age, the ministry receives many questioning letters from listeners. I have been privileged to respond to these listener comments. Currently, Dr. Ankerberg and scholars from the Reasons to Believe ministry are in the midst of a series of five such broadcasts.

Listener concerns almost all fall under one or more of the following three categories:

(1) Opposition to the "Big Bang." Concerned listeners feel the Big Bang concept denies their Genesis 1-2 interpretation of creation as a recent event accomplished is six solar days. The term originated with steady-state cosmologist Fred Hoyle in 1950. He derisively proposed this name to ridicule the concept with which he disagreed. In the years since 1950 numerous discoveries have established the Big Bang as scientific orthodoxy. Some creationists object to the term because it implies a destructive explosion. In reality it was an event of incredible fine-tuning, triggering events governed by fine-tuning ever since.

(2) Opposition to the concept of an ancient, 4.5 billion year old earth. Concerned listeners believe scripture geneologies are essentially complete, providing the age of the earth by simple addition of life spans, despite scholarly findings to the contrary. They reject all of the substantive evidence affirming an earth of great antiquity. These listeners frequently connect lengthy time frames with belief in evolution.

(3) Opposition to the idea of any physical death in the universe before Adam's sin. Concerned listeners believe Adam's sin resulted in the initial incidence of physical death on earth. They subscribe to the theological construct that animal death before the sin of Adam undermines Christ's atoning sacrifice for man's sin. Scientific evidence for abundant death of earth's life forms extending back billions of years is summarily rejected in order to preserve this theological construct.

As I read these listener comments and questions, it is clear their concerns are motivated by several factors, including: antipathy to all science which does not confirm their beliefs; devotion to their personal, long-standing beliefs; opposition to perceived contradictions of the Bible's "plain" teachings; and marked suspicion of interpretational frameworks other than their own.

We must not minimize the powerful forces which motivate both young earth and old earth believers, and we do not question the sincerity of any of them. Sadly, the disagreements are far more serious than the diverse opinions one may encounter at a weekly Bible study over a scripture passage which may be unclear. YEC/OEC differences are often deep-rooted and intense. Sometimes they produce suspicion and mistrust. All Christians have access to the same Bible, the same depth of biblical scholarship, the same historical research, and the same scientific findings. But their conclusions about origins and creation theology diverge greatly. This divergence is a hallmark of the human factor which operates in every sphere of our experience.