Re: YEC in the "Three Views" book

Allan Harvey (aharvey@boulder.nist.gov)
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 12:51:51 -0700

Replying to my query as to why this new book chose authors for its
young-Earth chapter who I felt were not representative of that movement,
co-author Paul Nelson wrote:

>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.

This point is well-taken, but I'd contend that the YEC that is actually
encountered by the public *is* fairly uniform.

If one looks at "creationist" videos or speakers at churches, or at
"creationist" books in a Christian bookstore, or at Websites that defend
"creation", there is substantial uniformity. It is almost always the
same basic views which one can be traced back to _The Genesis Flood_ and
further back to George M. Price. The view that 144-hour creation and a
global flood are essentials of the faith, and that to deny either is to
deny the authority of Scripture and sell out to Satan. The more moderate
(both in the sense of being more responsible in their treatment of
scientific evidence and in the sense of recognizing that other views are
not heresy) young-Earth advocates Paul mentions are seldom if ever heard
by the popular audience.

Perhaps this will change; it would certainly be a change for the better.
I'd rather see a class in my church exposed to a Paul Nelson video
(though I'd still want a chance to present alternatives) than something
by Kent Hovind or the ICR. If this more responsible branch of the
young-Earth movement can really supplant the "standard" young-Earth
movement that is currently the only real player in our churches, the
church would be much better off. And perhaps including such a more
responsible (or, lest I sound like I've suddenly become a cheerleader for
this view, less irresponsible) view in a book can be a significant step
toward that shift.

Still, I can't help but feel like they pulled a bait-and-switch by
including only a minority young-Earth view (and a tiny minority in terms
of its current impact on the public). If the goal of the book was to
present all major Christian views on this issue (and perhaps that is not
the goal -- I saw another title called "Three Views on the Rapture" which
had only 3 flavors of premillenialism), they failed by leaving out
probably the most influential view of all (the movement that asserts that
the only 2 choices are 144-hour creationism or Godless evolutionism).
But, if the goal of the book was to present a spectrum of *responsible*
Christian views, then they did fairly well.