Re: your letter

Glenn Morton (
Mon, 02 Sep 1996 19:37:34

Rob Wahl wrote:

> I was excited to read your letter. I've been away from this debate
>for a while, perhaps 15 years.:) My interest was rekindled by the Del
>Ratzsch book. (If you haven't read it, do.) He's a great login policeman;
>and I had a good laugh when he took on Richard Dawkins. I just wanted to
>tell you that I looked up your web site and read it all. You going to have
>to finish About The Author because that was the part in which I was the most
>interested. I bookmarked the spot and I'll come back and I'm considering
>ordering your book. I want to say I'm impressed with you clear reasoning and
>your effort to keep the pressure on the debate. Those of us who have been
>quiet owe something to those of you who have been forcing the debate. It has
>now become clear to me that this is not a debate between Christains and non
>Christians, but a debate among Christians. I also want to say thanks for you
>encouragement to hand in there.

Thank you for the kind words.

> The burning question I have is when did this happen? What happened
>since the early 80's to enshrine young earth Creationism as a non negotiable
>in evangelical theology?

What I am going to say is not meant to imply in any way that those who hold to
allegorical type intepretations are somehow worse. I have the utmost respect
for the faith of those who hold such views. After all it is faith in the Lord
which saves us not our view on Genesis.

That being said, I think two things have led to the present situation. First,
the people in the pews do not generally buy the line of reasoning that the
Bible can be historically false in Genesis and yet true theologically or true
in some mystical fashion. I have argued this off and on with friends on a
couple of listservers. Lots of atheists also agree with this line of
reasoning. I like H.G.Wells' statement,

"If all the animals and man have been evolved in this ascendant
manner, then there would have been no first parents, no Eden, and
no Fall. And if there had been no Fall, the entire historical
fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason
for an atonement, upon which current teaching bases Christian
emotion and morality, collapses like a house of cards."~H. G.
Wells, The Outline of History, (Garden City: Doubleday, 1961), p.

While I am an evolutionist, one must provide someway for evolution AND
creation to apply to man. This I have done although some are repulsed by what
I suggested. Evolution AND special creation are applicable to man in a strict
historical Biblical sense. Huxley speaking of the results of paleontology

"Thus, far from confirming the account in Genesis, the results of modern
science, so far as they go, are in principle as in detail, hopelessly
discordant with it." T.H. Huxley, "Naturalism and Supernaturalism",in
_Agnosticism and Christianity_, Buffalo:
Prometheus Books, 1992), p. 114

The people in the pew also share the worry Huxley expresses that if somehow
there is no objective meaning to the Genesis account one is reduced to
something not worth having. Huxley wrote:

"If we are to listen to many expositors of no mean authority, we must believe
that what seems so clearly defined in Genesis--as if very great pains had been
taken that there should be no possibility of mistake--is not the meaning of
the text at all. The account is divided into periods that we may make just as
long or as short as convenience requires. We are also to understand that it
is consistent with the original text to believe that the most complex plants
and animals may have been evolved by natural processes, lasting for millions
of years, out of structureless rediments. A person who is not a Hebrew
scholar can only stand aside and admire the marvellous flexibility of a
language which admits of such diverse interpretations." Thomas H. Huxley,
"Lectures on Evolution" in _Agnosticism and Christianity_, Buffalo:
Prometheus Books, 1992), p. 14

Secondly, there has been no scientific interpretation of Genesis which allows
the text to be read somewhat like it used to be read. Those who know science
simply offer the people in the pew an admission of the non-historicity of
Genesis 1-11. Because of this lack, YECs are able to say to the people in the
pews, 'There is only one intepretation possible'. What I am trying to do is
offer an interpretation of Genesis which allows them to actually have the
historicity which they (and I) feel is essential to the Bible, but also allows
them to accept modern science. No other view really gives this to the people
in the pews.

Finally, the YEC's are the only ones who are offering something which fits the
flood account.Davis Young writes:

"In these recent efforts, the flood received scant attention;
the focus has been on the interpretation of Genesis 1. My Creation
and the Flood was the only one of these works to deal with the
flood. Only the final chapter was devoted to the flood, and the
intent of that chapter was to criticize the global diluvialism of
scientific creationism rather than to make positive proposals. The
only widely publicized contemprary flood theories available to
evangelicals are those of scientific creationism. Small wonder
that on the issue of the flood evangelicals are so attracted to
that voice; it is virtually the only one speaking among us!"~Davis
A. Young, Scripture in the Hands of Geologists, Part Two,"
Westminster Theological Journal, 49, 1987, p. 288.

When the old-earther's offer nothing that matches the flood account, you lose
to the YEC by default. And to say things like Davis Young does, makes the
people in the pews quite nervous. He writes:

"The range of suggestions for interpretation of these and other
portions of the biblical text indicates that concordism has not
given us reliable answers about relating the text to scientific
questions. The Christian concodist still does not know from God's
Word what happened on the second day of creation or how the flood
occurred. Despite many attempts, concordism has not successfully
explained the making of the sun, moon, ans stars on the fourth day.
Nor has concordism accounted for the creation of vegetation on day
three prior to the appearance of sea creatures in relation to the
prior appearance of sea life as disclosed by paleontology. As more
and more concordist suggestions have been advanced in light of the
latest developments in science, one becomes increasingly suspicious
that the biblical text has been pressed into the service of a task
for which it was not intended. I sense that the Bible does not,
even incidentally, provide answers to detailed technical questions
about the structure and history of the cosmos. Scripture contains
no anticipations about the physical development of the cosmos that
awaited the scientific discoveries of the nineteenth and twentieth
(or future!) centuries to be brought into the open."~Davis A.
Young, Scripture in the Hands of Geologists, Part Two," Westminster
Theological Journal, 49, 1987, p. 290

When you consider that most people in the pews believe that the Bible is the
Word of God, why would a God inspire a book which has no knowledge about his
creation. This is what is causing the old-earthers to lose the battle within

We must challenge the science of the YEC, but maybe they are correct to
challenge the standard old-earth theology which denies historicity to early
Genesis. I think I have something which offers an out to this dilemma.


Foundation,Fall and Flood