Re: Happy Easter

Dick Fischer (
Sun, 30 Mar 1997 21:42:03 -0600

Christopher Root wrote:

>As a subscriber to the ASA list I received your Easter greeting, and
>just wanted to say I felt your choice of the word "deviant" perhaps a
>bit awry.

Absolutely right. I should have said "variant." I hope all the deviants
on the list forgive me.

>Nevertheless, having then been enticed to view bits of your
>book (via your web page), the only adjective I could think of to
>describe some of the statements you made is the word "arrogant," which I
>admit may be a bit exaggerated as well.

Could I suggest "well-researched"? The reviewer used, "extraordinary
scholarship, clarity of thought, and courage," But then he read the
whole book and doesn't know me very well.

>From what I can tell, and I will admit to only a cursory overview, of
>your book, it seems you think you have wrapped up the creation-evolution

I think that is a fair statement. But not I. Scores of quoted authors
found clues. All I did was report what others have said and present the

>In doing so you assume that "pastors, evangelists, and lay
>persons who are not steeped in science (simply)...ignore the data...and
>expound on scientific matters, possibly misleading their flocks."

In the book I described how one would know an old house was really
old or newly constructed to certain specifications to fit in with an
historical neighborhood. What followed was this:

"No one could make a mistake if he bothered to exert even minimal effort.
Astronomers and astrophysicists attest to an ancient universe on the order
of 12 billion years or so. Geologists certify an antique earth of about
4.6 billion years. Biologists have traced the beginnings of life to over
3 billion years. And the hominid line has a long history documented by
fossils spanning a few million years, according to paleontologists and
archaeologists who make their living knowing such things.

Pastors, evangelists, and lay persons who are not steeped in science can
ignore the data, and expound on all areas of Christian doctrine, including
God's creation described in Genesis. There is no harm in that. Disclaiming
expertise in science should not impinge on one's ability as a Bible expositor.
But a potential for great harm exists when religious leaders with no expertise
in science also make no investigation, and expound on scientific matters,
possibly misleading their flocks. (See for reference Matt. 15:14.)"

I stand on that.

>I happen to be an individual who has lived a life steeped in science. I
>have an AA, a BS, an MS, and a DDS, all in the life sciences, have spent
>many years in secular university research, worked at NIH, worked at the
>USFDA, and am now building a dental practice in suburban Maryland. I
>studied for years under a man who revered evolution to the extent that
>he refused to work on Darwin's birthday. I have seen theories become
>facts virtually overnight, not due to amazing technological advances or
>unique discoveries, but because the word "fact" was redefined. I
>briefly spoke with JP Moreland a couple of years ago, who admitted that
>in his earlier years while studying theology and hermeneutics he became
>convinced that the Genesis account referred to literal 24 hour days, yet
>in recent years, due to the influence of Christian "scientists" he is
>leaning away from such a view. Noone can be an expert at everything,
>hence the debate continues. I only wish my practice would allow me more
>time to participate on the ASA reflector. My own views, even after all
>my study, are still not refined such that I can be dogmatic. I'm now
>also working on an MS in theology in my "spare" time, since for the past
>15 years theology texts have taken precedence to novels on my bedside
>What continues to bother me, and I suppose initiated this post, is that
>too many people on both sides tend to become overly dogmatic without
>having provided the complete basis for their claims in their
>annotations. For example, you state, "Irenaeus, Origen, Basil,
>Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, to name a few, argued that the days of
>creation must have been long periods of time solely from their
>understanding of the biblical text. 1" citing "1. Hugh Ross, The
>Fingerprint of God (Orange: Promise Publishing Co., 1989), 141." In
>doing so, you make an all too common mistake. You refrain from going to
>the original sources. If these five church fathers actually wrote this,
>their writings should be included.

Actually I was trying to keep the size of the book within reason. My
first editor, an ASAer at Zondervan by the way, wanted a book of about
60,000 to 80,000 words max. I ended up at 112,000 plus. Part of the
reason he eventually opted out I might add.

>Would it not be possible that someone
>with a presuppositional stance that supported long creation periods
>might misinterpret their writings to support their preconceived notions?

You mean like certain creationists let their interpretation of Scripture
distort their view of fossil evidence? Possibly, but less likely due to
the relative scarcity of old earth data at the time of the early church.

>I think we'd all admit that such a thing can and does happen.

You bet.

>(Whether it did or did not in this instance isn't as important as the
>fact that your restatement of Dr. Ross' statement neglects to be
>sustantiated by your reference. In fact, Dr. Ross included references
>in "Creation and Time" that could have been used to support your
>contention better.)

So much data, so little space.

>Your book may end up convincing the "lay person who [is] not steeped in
>science," however I've yet to read a completely scholarly work that
>leaves no stone unturned in its attempt to convince the discerning
>scientist. Perhaps someone might suggest one?

In truth, I spent over 12 years, 2 years in the Library of Congress, and
read about 800 books plus countless articles in numerous obscure
publications. Still, you might prefer Holmes Rolston's book, _Science
and Religion: A Critical Survey_ (New York: Random House, 1987).

>I hope you'll view this post as just a bit of friendly constructive
>criticism. Perhaps you never meant to be all-inclusive with respect to
>your readership, but I daresay a real "solution" will have to be.
>God bless you and may you and all who read this draw closer to Our
>Saviour as we reflect upon the reality of His resurrection.

Thank you, and may God bless you as well. And I'll be sure to
discriminate between variants and deviants for my Christmas greeting :^).

>Christopher Root

You wouldn't say that address smacked of a little "arrogance," would you?
(Sorry, Chris, I tried to resist.)

Dick Fischer