I've only input a couple of times to this list though I've followed it w/ great interest for some time.
In response to your question re background vs. current understanding, I grew up and maintained a YEC understanding from my early days as a Christian (early 1970s) until in grad school in the early 80s. I had the standard texts-- The Genesis Flood, etc.,-- and found YEC arguments easy to accept (I was a strict literalist) and satisfying since they supported my theological leanings. In 1983, I took my first course with any solid geological content (Petroleum Chemistry). In addition to covering the fundamentals of fossil fuel formation and the geological column, I was faced with, for the first time, a serious scientific presentation of the earth's history as viewed from a natural historical (logical and solidly scientific) approach. Having had courses in Nuclear Chemistry and understanding the reliability of isotopic dating/decay rates, and honestly examining the earth's history, I realized that the YEC interpretation of creation was potentially seriously flawed in that it failed to adequately explain some of the most fundamental (Romans 1-type, evident to all) observations regarding creation, including not only the genesis of the geological column but things like starlight travel. The classic YEC answers-- God made the distant stars and galaxies and put the light "in flight" between them and us simultaneously so we could observe them-- struck me as not only crude but in many ways blasphemous. To accept a "young creation" I had to believe God manipulated creation in ways that distorted the truth-- i.e. "it is really young" but God did things that made it look extremely old. I came to realize that the major (sole?) evidence basis for YEC-- the Genesis flood as interpreted by YECs-- has serious flaws both scientifically and theologically.
Holding to firmly to the inerrancy of the scriptures for historical reasons, I found it totally unacceptable to embrace an understanding of God that acknowledged He is truth but at the same time could admit that He "twisted" His "young" creation in ways to make it appear old-- deceiving man and violating the premise of Romans 1.
My acceptance and appreciation of an "old" creation have solidified over the years. Although I knew some (I emphasize some because I have never seen any evidence for a "vast materialist conspiracy" as YEC claim) non-Christian evolutionary biologists, anthropologists, geologists, physicists, etc., overstated their cases and neglected or ignored contrary evidence to draw materialistic conclusions, to me it is totally unacceptable for Christians to do the same. I absolutely loathe seeing Christians lie "to further the Gospel" (actually their version of the gospel). The recent "bullfrog" post and a multitude of other cases where Gish, Morris, Parker, and others deliberately ignored and/or misrepresented readily available evidence to the contrary fall into this realm. No matter what stance one takes regarding creation, "...he who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him..." (1 Jn 2:29) and "These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: ... a lying tongue... a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren...." (Pro. 6:16-19). YEC does all three.
In some ways I still yearn for the simplicity and apparent straightworfardness a YEC view ascribes because I am firmly committed to the inerrancy of the scriptures. Luther's understanding-- that God's word was written to common man in terms he could understand and is without error-- has a very strong appeal to me. This book (the Bible) either is true and trustworthy regarding the reality of God and His purpose and work for and in man, or it is just an interesting collection of writings of sincere (but sincerely deceived) dead men. Having said that, I also realize that God did gave us the Bible; not a GUT, nor even a detailed historical account of His working in His people throughout time. He gave us the major (big/important/relevant) facts:
- He didn't tell us when or how He created the universe: He told us He did create it.
- He told us that all creation testifies to His reality, greatness, and loving purpose for man.
- He didn't tell us when or how He created man: He told us He created us in His image for His glory; that we chose our glory instead of His, rejecting the position He had created us for; and that He has worked throughout human history to restore us to the position He created us for.
- He told us that each of us is precious to Him and that we are all created for a purpose that, if we earnestly seek to fulfill it in accordance with His revealed will (through which we understand morality, righteousness, and godliness), we bring Him glory.
In the movie "Chariots of Fire", Eric Little told his sister, "When I run, I feel His pleasure." Likewise, I feel that when we use the capabilities He has given us as scientists to do the things He's called us to do (including anthropology, paleontology, physics, geology, biology, etc.) and we do those things seeking the truth for His glory, we feel His pleasure and can experience the awe of grasping-- though just in thimbles-full -- the excellence of His knowledge and wisdom. I, as most who subscribe here, believe God gave me a mind to use for His glory. In saying this I thus admit that having used that mind, I see a totally inadequate epistemological basis for YEC. I still don't know the answer though.
Howard van Till's fully gifted creation has a strong appeal because I believe in a God who knows what He wanted to do and can do it. Glen Morton's understanding also has strong appeal because of his sense of urgency of faithfully correlating the facts revealed in natural and human history with a "literal" Genesis account. Some other different proposals hold similar, though different appeals. In these detailed, well-thought out approaches I find integrity in handling the scriptures and integrity in examining the manifold wonders of God's creation. Though there is disagreement among the proponents, I see a realization that elucidation of the mechanism of God's creation is not as important as (some would say insignificant to) understanding His purpose for creation and specifically for our lives: to bring Him pleasure (Rev.4:11).
As an addendum, I must admit that the ID movement does not hold the appeal I mention above because (1) almost all theists accept the premise of intelligent design (while nontheists deny it) , (2) the appearance of design can never prove design, and more importantly, ID appears to have little scientific basis (there is a hypothesis--that there is a designer because there is apparent design, but how can it be tested? how rigorously/universally is it tested? etc.). ID might support a theistic apologetic (not just Christian, however, as Jonathan Wells would have to tell us), and might thus make a fine line of study in seminaries and Bible colleges (apologetics from science), BUT though it may examine the data uncovered by science, it should not be confused with doing science.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Vandergraaf, Chuck" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "'gordon brown'" <gbrown@euclid.Colorado.EDU>; "Vandergraaf, Chuck" <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2001 6:49 PM
Subject: RE: Answersingenesis
> Thanks for your e-mail. Let me put the comment that you lifted out my
> e-mail of 31 March in context. I wrote, in part:
> "I don't see any particular mystery in the support that the YEC-based views
> are receiving in the evangelical arena. If one holds to a literal (or
> near-literal) interpretation and ignores the geological record, a YEC-based
> view makes perfectly good sense. Since there are many more Bible-reading
> Christians than Christian geologists, a YEC-based view will no doubt
> Over the last few years since I started "lurking" on (in?) this forum I've
> noticed a marked decrease in the YEC-OEC debate. Rather than thinking that
> this means that the YEC-based supporters have "lost" the argument, it's more
> likely that many of the YEC adherents have simply given up.
> I want to pose another question: how many of "you out there" grew up with a
> literal interpretation of the Biblical narrative and when, and what caused
> you to change your views to your current view?"
> I was only using these examples as the sort of thing we tend to scratch our
> head over. I suppose a "non-literal interpretation" of a floating axe head
> would be to say that there is a deeper meaning to the story and that one
> doesn't quite know what to make of it. IOW, unbelief: one simply does not
> believe that an iron axe head could float. Either that, or one would
> explain the "floating" [quotations mine] axe head as the surfacing of a
> denser-than-water object as a result of some turbulence in the water.
> Ascribing the fall of the walls of Jericho to an earthquake falls in the
> same category.
> Was Jesus' walking on the water in the same category? I don't know.
> Intuitively, I could say, no, it does not and, yes, He did walk on the
> water. After all, he managed to make some fish and some bread go a long way
> so, why not!
> Now I have a question for you, Gordon. Would you put the sun-standing-still
> during one of the battles of the Israelites and the shadow moving backwards
> (as a sign of the earth moving in the opposite direction), as a sign that
> God would heal Hezehiah, in the same category as the floating axe head and
> Jesus' walking on the water? The implication of the floating axe head are
> rather minimal and involve a (temporary and local) suspension of some
> physical laws while the earth moving in the opposite direction might have
> all sorts of repercussions.
> I think that, intuitively, we tend to put miracles in different categories.
> Some of these are so fundamental to our faith that there is no room for
> argument. The resurrection falls into that category. Then there are the
> sort of miracles that Jesus performed, like walking on the water, healing
> the sick and raising the dead. We tend to accept them because 1) "the Bible
> tells us so" and 2) they show the power of Jesus and indicate that He is the
> Son of God. When it comes to the floating axe head, the walls of Jericho,
> we don't see these as essential to our faith as the resurrection and these
> become "negotiable" to some.
> As I mentioned, some fellow believers hold to the "domino theory" where a
> non-literal interpretation of the Bible is tantamount to denying everything.
> Incidentally, in my e-mail of 31 March, I posed the following question, "how
> many of "you out there" grew up with a literal interpretation of the
> Biblical narrative and when, and what caused you to change your views to
> your current view?" I have not had any reply.
> Chuck Vandergraaf
> Senior Scientist
> Waste Technology Business Unit
> Pinawa, MB R0E 1L0
> -----Original Message-----
> From: gordon brown [mailto:gbrown@euclid.Colorado.EDU]
> Sent: Saturday April 07, 2001 3:43 PM
> To: Vandergraaf, Chuck
> Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: RE: Answersingenesis
> On Sat, 31 Mar 2001, Vandergraaf, Chuck wrote:
> > With "literal interpretation" I mean an actual Adam and Eve, walking and
> > communing with God in a lush garden, surrounded by an impenetrable wall
> > (remember the angels with flaming swords at the gates), a factual murder
> > Abel by Cain, the flooding of the entire world, an honest-to-goodness
> > floating axe head, the collapse of the walls of Jericho, etc.
> In your post you linked the above views with YEC, but I certainly wouldn't
> be surprised if most Christian OEC's believed in at least one of the items
> on your list.
> What is a nonliteral interpretation of the floating axehead?
> Is Jesus walking on water in the same category as a floating axehead?
> Gordon Brown
> Department of Mathematics
> University of Colorado
> Boulder, CO 80309-0395
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