Re: A Peace Proposal

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Wed Jan 28 2004 - 19:40:47 EST

John W Burgeson wrote:
> What can YECs and OECs agree upon? By "OEC" I mean to include all those
> Christians, including me, who find the scientific claims of ICR, AIG,
> etc. without merit and see Genesis as teaching us, primarily, WHO was our
> creator. Some OEC's try to find historicity in Genesis (like my friend
> Glenn Morton), and that's fine; others (like me) would be pleased to find
> historicity but do not consider a search for such all that important.
> I offer the following and invite comments. I did not write it but I think
> I can endorse it.

Burgy -
        I appreciate the intent of the statement but it seems to me a mistake to go
into details about the significance of OEC and YEC positions. The purpose of such a
statement IMO should be to affirm that differences about the age of the earth &/or
whether or not evolution has taken place should not in themselves cause one group of
Christians to question the Christian commitment of another group. If you go beyond that
you will start to raise other issues that may make it difficult for people who accept
that basic purpose to affirm the statement. Comments on this & other points below will,
I hope, make my meaning clear.

> --------------------------
> Peace Proposal Between Old Age and Young Age Christian Creationists
> Recognizing that a believer in Jesus Christ may be wrong about certain
> points of doctrine and other facts about reality and still be a believer,
> And recognizing that God has chosen to do his work through fallible and
> weak human beings, such that He is often found to be using people who are
> imperfect and subject to human foibles, (for example, Jonah and Peter),
> And further recognizing that it is possible to agree on certain points
> and cooperate in certain tasks with those who may disagree with us on
> other points, even though the points of disagreement may be quite
> substantial,
> And in view of the Scriptural admonitions to love one another, speak the
> truth in love and come humbly to a brother overtaken in a fault,
> We consider it important that a peace be made between the old and young
> age Creationists, which does not minimize the differences and does not
> stifle dialogue but acknowledges points of agreement and establishes
> Scripturally sound principles for interaction.
> In view of all this, we prayerfully ask YOUNG AGE CREATIONISTS to commend
> and pray for the courageous old age creationists who are standing up in
> the secular marketplace, pointing their colleagues and other seekers to
> the hope beyond the material world and clearly owning their own
> allegiance to the Creator. The Lord uses many methods and avenues to draw
> precious souls to Himself and Jesus said that those who were not against
> Him were for Him when the disciples questioned the qualifications of
> others claiming to work in His name.

        Jesus is reported to have said "whoever is not against _you_ is for _you_
(Lk.9:50)- and also to have said (Mt.12:40, Lk.11:23), "Whoever is not with me is
against me."
> An old universe, even if it is considered by young agers to be a "worst
> case scenario," still points to a creator and this fact can be used by
> the Holy Spirit to lead some people to surrender their lives to the Lord
> Jesus Christ. Starting a conversation with an unbeliever who accepts the
> "Big Bang" and showing that it logically leads to a beginning and also to
> the need for an external cause may break down some barriers and be
> sufficient to provoke some individuals to move in the direction of
> intellectual honesty and openness to spiritual realities.

        1st, from a scientific standpoint, the statement that 'the "Big Bang" ...
logically leads to a beginning and also to the need for an external cause' is very
questionable. One can accept all the present evidence for the BB, which takes us back
to t ~ 10^-9 sec & also argue that something like the Hartle-Hawking no-boundary model
or an oscillating one (Steinhardt-Turok) is correct.
        2d, from a philosophical standpoint, _no_ cosmological model, BB or otherwise,
provides an answer to the question "why does anything at all exist?" Thus it is
misleading to suggest that there is anything distinctive about BB models which require
an "external cause."
        3d, from a theological standpoint, the statement that an old universe (or any
universe) "points to a creator" raises all the debates about a natural knowledge of God
& natural theology.

        My point here isn't to that present BB models don't have a beginning (I suspect
they do) or that natural theology is bad (though I think it is). But introducing these
issues is going to give some knowledgeable OECs problems with accepting the statement.

> In view of all this, we prayerfully ask OLD AGE CREATIONISTS to commend
> and pray for the courageous young age creationists who stand not only
> against philosophic materialism but also against scientific orthodoxy.
> Understanding the history of science to be filled with the rise and fall
> of theories and occasional reversals of what was once accepted as
> unquestionably true, it is prudent to not dismiss heterodox
> interpretations as automatically false, even if they provoke scorn from
> the establishment. One example being the switch from nearly universal
> dismissal of "continental drift" to the nearly universal acceptance of
> "plate tectonics."

        Of course I have to make allowances for the fact that I approach this as a OEC,
but I still think that this is in a couple of ways misleadingly positive about of YECs.
         1st, while it may take courage in some settings (e.g., an academic seeking
tenure in a secular institution) to affirm YEC views, in many cases it doesn't. It is
not especially courageous for someone who is supported findancially by a YEC
organization to espouse heterodox scientific views which bolster the beliefs of his or
her YEC audiences.
        2d, espousing YEC is today is quite different from espousing continental drift
60 years ago. The latter was a new theory which had not yet received adequate
observational support. The former is an old idea, many of whose components once were
widely accepted but have now been dropped by the vast majority of scientists because
they believed that it failed observational tests.
> A young Universe needs to be acknowledged as, at the very least,
> compatible with the language of Scripture if not the only possible
> explanation. It needs to be acknowledged as well that the Scriptural and
> doctrinal concerns of the young agers are genuine and need to be
> addressed within those disciplines.

        "Those disciplines" isn't clear. "Addressed theologically" might be best.
> Calling for a humility that comes only from a walk of obedience and trust
> in our Creator and Redeemer, we prayerfully ask both sides to vow before
> the Lord a willingness to lay aside personal pride and past hurts in
> order to further the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. We call for a
> willingness to truly listen and genuinely love, and beyond that, the
> courage to change opinions and positions if the facts warrant.
> Burgy
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George L. Murphy
Received on Wed Jan 28 19:44:03 2004

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