Re: the saddest statement

Bill Hamilton (
Tue, 10 Aug 1999 10:32:26 -0400

At 08:06 PM 8/7/99 +0000, wrote:
>At 02:06 PM 08/07/1999 -0600, John W. Burgeson wrote:
>>Glenn Morton wrote recently:
>>"I am on good terms with Paul Nelson but we differ deeply.I think the
>>saddest statement in their part was their characterization of theistic
>>evolutionists. They wrote:
>>"Theistic evolution is not the result of some stupidity, but a creative
>>failure. Such people, for whatever reason, cannot see beyond the bounds
>>their training or their own philosophic and theological commitments to
>>seriously consider other possibilities." Paul Nelson and John Mark
>>Reynolds, "Young Earth Creationism," in J. P. Moreland and John Mark
>>Reynolds, editors, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, (Grand Rapids:
>>Zondervan, 1999), p. 46"

I could consider myself a living refutation of their above statement. I
grew up in an environment where evolution was accepted, as was
Christianity. I wouldn't say I was a Christian, but that was just because
I had not yet been confronted with the need to acknowledge that Jesus
Christ is my Lord and Savior who died for my sins. After I made that
acknowledgment and started to attend a conservative church I was amazed to
find that evangelicals ("still, in 1972, yet!") didn't accept evolution.
Being committed to evenhandedness in evaluating people's claims --
especially the claims of my new Christian colleagues -- I studied the
creationist literature and accepted much of it for about the next 20 years.
(as an engineer, I guess I'm allowed to know just enough about science to
be dangerous) However, I kept finding inconsistent arguments and -- in at
least one case (Setterfield) -- terrible misuse of statistical inference,
and that bothered me. I started looking at in 1991 and --
again because I believe in evaluating people's claims as evenhandedly as
possible -- read some of the geology references suggested by
members. Again I found reasoning that I as an engineer understood from the
conventional scientific community, and distortions, misunderstandings,
tortured reinterpretations of evidence and -- in some cases -- downright
deception from the creationists.

The fixed point for me was and is Jesus Christ. And I didn't believe that
the Lord who hates falsehood would create a nature that is deceptive. Nor
do I accept that His revelation in Scripture is deceptive. The only
conclusion I could come to was that we humans are capable of reading things
into Scripture that aren't intended, and we must strive to avoid such
eisogesis. The best protection we have is taught in John 14:26.

So, contrary to Paul Nelson's and John Mark Reynolds assertions, I have
been on both sides of this issue, and I have been on both sides _because_ I
was willing to consider the claims of the other side.

Burgy continued

>>Describing that as the "saddest" seems to me to be overkill, my friend.

>Actually I will stay by my personal opinion of this. The statement was
>made against a backdrop of an acknowledgement that their view had no data
>supporting it, indeed, they even acknowledge that the data is against them:
> "Natural science at the moment seems to overwhelmingly point to an old
>cosmos. Though creationist scientists have suggested some evidence for a
>recent cosmos, none are widely accepted as true. It is safe to say that
>most recent creationists are motivated by religious concerns." Paul Nelson
>and John Mark Reynolds, "Young Earth Creationism," in J. P. Moreland and
>John Mark Reynolds, editors, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, (Grand
>Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), p. 49
>And consider this statement:
>"As we shall argue later, recent creationism is an attempt to reinterpret
>the data, not to deny their existence or importance. As it is now
>interpreted, the data are mostly against us. Well and good. We take this
>seriously. Eventually failure to deal with that data in a recent
>creationist scientific theory would be sufficient reason to give up the
>project." Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds, "Young Earth Creationism," in
>J. P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds, editors, Three Views on Creation and
>Evolution, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), p. 51
>I would ask Mssrs. Nelson and Reynolds, when will enough time have passed
>for YECs to give up the project? As of today, 169 years have passed since
>the publication of Lyell's Principles of Geology which showed the world the
>evidence for an old earth. YECs still can't explain the geologic data. One
>hundred and 40 years have passed since Darwin published and the YECs still
>have no definition of a baramin that works. They also have no explanation
>for the nested hierarchies in the biological realm.
>When Paul and John Mark are 100 years old and on their death bed, is this
>enough time to have passed for them to give up their project? They have an
>open-ended checking account on the future. They draw upon it anytime that
>they can't explain something or anytime the data goes against them.
>Then they turn around and say that the reason that TEs accept TE is that
>they can't see beyond their training. Switch and bait. Now we won't talk
>about the evidence that goes against YEC, just the blindness of the TEs.
>What is so very, very sad is the hypocrisy of this statement. While
>acknowledging that the data goes against them, instead of acknowledging
>that TEs are TEs because the data is in favor of evolution and an old
>universe, they try to blame the problem on the TEs rather than on the YEC
>failure to explain the data. This is a classic case of avoiding
>responsibility. If they were responsible, they would put forth a
>hypothesis which could successfully deal with the data they admit they
>can't explain!
>And then they offer the lamest of reasons to be a YEC:
>"The recent creationists may fail, but the effort itself will be
>intellectually interesting." Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds, "Young
>Earth Creationism," in J. P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds, editors,
>Three Views on Creation and Evolution, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999),
p. 50
>So we are supposed to invest such time in an intellectual lark, that
>admittedly ignores the evidence? And then we are supposed to say that this
>failed lark, which is opposed by every piece of observational data is what
>we should be engaged in because it supports the very Word of God. Sorry
>Burgy, I find this all very, very sad, hypocritic and blind.
Two points of recent creationism that are hard to refute are that God is
certainly capable of reordering nature, and that nature _can_ be deceptive.
Those two points will keep some people working at the recent creationist
program until the Lord returns. And they should, because they may still be
proven correct in the end. But to teach that in 1999 we should interpret
the data the way they do because at some future date (maybe generations
from now, maybe never) they will be proven correct is asking too much. God
doesn't give us shortcuts in many of the activities that make up our lives.
By revealing Himself to us He has done something that is simply impossible
for humans. But just because He did for us a thing that is totally
impossible doesn't mean that He will give us shortcuts for the work He
commissions us to do. That includes earning a living and learning about
nature. (The "no shortcuts" principle is laid down pretty well in Gen
3:17-19 )
Bill Hamilton
William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.
Staff Research Engineer
Electrical and Controls Integration MC 480-106-390
GM R&D Center
30500 Mound Road
Warren, MI / (home)