Re: Apologists and other salesmen

Allan Harvey (
Thu, 31 Oct 1996 12:40:58 -0700

Glenn Morton wrote in a post on the historical and scientific particulars
(or, in some opinions, lack thereof) in Genesis 2-3:

>The young earth creationists (YECs) are doing the very same thing. They are
>telling us the sinful state of mankind, by means of a story which has little
>scientific merit or historical truth. Many on this list object very strongly
>to the actions of the YECs because they are not telling the scientific story
>correctly. We feel that this behavior brings dishonor to the Lord; that it
>runs people off from the Gospel. We demand that our fellow Christians tell
>the true scientific story. Yet when the Bible does the same
>thing, i.e. tells us the true state of mankind in an untrue fable, we do not
>complain that the Bible is bringing dishonor to the Lord; that it runs people
>off from the Gospel; and demand that the Bible should tell the true story.

I think this misses the point widely as to why many of us object strongly to
the YECs. At least it misses the mark for me. Their failure to tell "the
true scientific story" is secondary. While it does raise issues of false
witness and of disrespecting the Creator, those are not the core problem.

The real problem, it seems to me, is their insistence that their particular
scientific story is essential to the Gospel. If somebody wants to believe
that the Earth is young (or flat), that's not such a big deal - we all
probably believe a lot of incorrect things about science. But when they say
that the Gospel is void unless the Earth is young, then they are "preaching
a different Gospel," and that is a very big deal. I think it would be just
as wrong for somebody to declare the Gospel's dependence on *good* science,
such as the Big Bang theory or an old Earth. The bad science of the YEC's
is a problem, but in my opinion the much bigger problem is bad theology.
And it is the combination of the two that "runs people off from the Gospel";
people rejecting the bad science would not simultaneously reject the Gospel
were it not for the bad theology that equated the two.

With regard to Glenn's comments about the point applying to the Bible, I
think it only applies if we "demand that the Bible should tell the true
story" by the "true story" standards of modern history and science
textbooks. This is an appropriate standard to demand of those who purport
to write and do science today (like the YEC's or Glenn). But I think it is
no more appropriate to hold the long-ago inspired writer of Genesis to these
modern standards than it would be to apply them to Jesus when he spoke of
the (probably non-historical) Good Samaritan or said (a lie by Glenn's
standards?) that the mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | Phone: (303)497-3555 |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | Fax: (303)497-5224 |
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