Re: YEC in the "Three Views" book

pnelson2@ix.netcom.com
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 10:26:27 -0600 (CST)

Hi Allan! Good to hear from you.

You wrote:

>On President's Day, I picked up a copy of the new book _Three
>Views on Creation and Evolution_ edited by J.P. Moreland and J.M.
>Reynolds. This is in Zondervan's "Counterpoints" series, which presents
>different Christian views on controversial issues. The book presents a
>"Young-Earth Creationism" view, an "Old-Earth (Progressive) Creationism"
>view, and a "Theistic Evolution" or "Fully Gifted Creation" view
>(authored by ASA-list contributor Howard van Till). Four other people
>provide responses to each section, and the book closes with summary
>essays by Richard Bube and Phil Johnson. While I have not finished
>reading it, some things have struck me already that I think are worth
>discussing here.
>
>The first item is the curious choice made to present the "Young-Earth"
>view. The chapter is written by Paul Nelson (a leader in the
>"Intelligent Design" movement) and John Mark Reynolds. Nelson and
>Reynolds mainly argue for a role for theism and design inferences in
>science, admit that the scientific evidence strongly favors an old Earth
>(at one point even calling old-Earth creationism "the most rational view
>to adopt"), and express a desire for unity with their old-Earth brothers.
>They seem to only prefer (weakly) the young-Earth view because it is
>"more intellectually interesting" and because it would be a boon for the
>faith if shown to be true.
>
>This "young-Earth" chapter is a surprise to those of us used to seeing
>"creation science" as advocated by the Institute for Creation Research
>and the like. Where are the standard "scientific" arguments for a young
>Earth?

Well, I wanted to write about the gold chain that I have embedded in
a lump of coal, and my AIRTIGHT PROOF that giant comets hide behind
Jupiter, but then Reynolds wouldn't let me. ;-) He thinks the giant
comets hide behind Saturn.

>More to the point, where is the insistence that 144-hour creation
>and a global flood are absolute essentials, and that to reject either of
>these is to sell out to Satan? Nearly 100% of the time, the young-Earth
>creationism one encounters takes the "believe it our way or you might as
>well be an atheist" position. To their credit, Nelson and Reynolds do
>not go down that road, but that left me feeling like I hadn't really read
>a "young-Earth" chapter. It is as though I had tuned to a radio station
>that billed itself as "rock and roll" and got songs by the Carpenters.
>Perhaps technically eligible for that label, certainly less offensive to
>those offended by the excesses of rock and roll, but not at all
>representative of the movement.

Hey, I'm not ashamed to admit it: I like the Carpenters. ("Such a
feeling's coming over me/there is wonder in most everything I see...")

>I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the plus side, Nelson and
>Reynolds present a view that is in my eyes much less divisive for the
>church and much less harmful to the witness of the Gospel than the
>"standard" young-Earth movement. If the young-Earth movement can be
>steered in that direction it would be a good thing, and perhaps this book
>can help.
>
>On the other hand, I can't help feeling like a victim of false
>advertising since there was no chapter representing the much more
>influential mainstream of the young-Earth movement. I recently wrote my
>pastor a letter about how the showing of a creationist video in an adult
>Sunday-school class was a bad thing. If all he had was this chapter to
>go on, he wouldn't understand my criticisms. But the video wasn't by
>Paul Nelson; it was by the notorious Kent Hovind. Unfortunately, the
>only young-Earth movement with any popular influence today is that of
>Hovind and his ilk, and I'm not sure that substituting something
>qualitatively different (which Hovind would probably consider an evil
>sellout) under that label is right.
>
>Does anybody out there know how this situation came to pass? I know one
>of the book's authors reads this list, and I'm doing a bcc to another
>author should he wish to chime in. I can think of two possible reasons
>for choosing such an unrepresentative young-Earth view:
>
>(1) Perhaps the editors found the "standard" young-Earth view,
>particularly the insistence on their interpretation of the details of
>Genesis as essentials and lack of respect for Christians with differing
>interpretations, to be so unhealthy that they decided to find a healthier
>alternative. This may be implied in the introduction, where Nelson and
>Reynolds are called "among the most responsible of a new generation of
>young-Earth creationists."
>
>(2) Perhaps some "standard" young-Earth advocates were invited to
>contribute, but they refused to participate in a volume that portrayed
>other views as being acceptable for Christians.
>
>Those are my theories -- can anybody offer another one or supply the
>explanation?

OK, serious mode:

You'll have to ask J.P. Moreland about how he decided on the contributors
to invite. But the YECs I know best (e.g., Kurt Wise, Wayne Frair, Todd Wood,
Siegfried Scherer) would agree with much, if not most, of what Reynolds
and I said in the chapter. See, for instance, the skeptic Bob Schadewald's
report on the most recent International Conference on Creationism (ICC),
held last August at Geneva College:

Saturday evening, Wise gave the closing presentation for
the conference, and among other things, he reviewed the
state of the creation model in various fields. Astronomy?
No creation model exists. Biology? Same. Paleontology
(his own field)? Same. He thinks a couple of other fields,
such as the development of a Flood model, are making slow
progress.

(_NCSE Reports_, 18 [1998]: pp. 24-25) So I don't think Reynolds and
I were that far off the mark. No, we didn't write the chapter that
Kent Hovind or Ken Ham would have written, but then Rudy Raff or
Scott Gilbert would not have written the same essay about the state of
evolutionary theory that Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett would have
written. YECs are hardly uniform in their opinions.

Paul Nelson