Re: Kurt Wise on the creation crisis in Christian colleges

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Feb 03 2006 - 22:28:04 EST

*We don't claim that human artists are lying
when they use paint on canvas to represent a landscape, so why should we
God of lying?*
This touches on some interesting epistemological questions. There's been
lots of discussion over the centuries, I think, about whether art is a
"lie." I'm remembering this off the top of my head, but I think different
groups in Church history were chary of novels and theater partly for the
reason that they present a false picture of reality. But the concensus, I
think, is that art is not dishonest, because of the understanding between
the artist and the community regarding the nature, role, and function of
art. I think that distinguishes the artist's role in any given human
community from God's role in relation to us as Creator.

An artist is not creating ontological reality; the artist is creating a
representation of some slice of reality. We know this when we experience
art, and the artist usually doesn't purport to be doing anything more than
something representational. In contrast, God has told us expressly in His
word that He created actual ontological reality, not merely something
representational. Further, He instilled in us capacities of perception,
reason, emotion and will that cause us to base our lives on the
understanding that the ontological reality He has created truly is real.

Even more, God asks us to entrust ourselves to Him with the understanding
that what we are able to know about Him through the facts of His mighty acts
in history, the fact of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ,
and the understanding of His word. This is only possible if our perceptions
of the world give us genuine information that corresponds to the ontological
reality He created. A mere artist has no such expectations and can make no
such demands (at least not any such expectations or demands that are

Finally, any "appearance of age" an artist could create is only
superficial. Anyone who views a newly-created painting of a 90-year-old man
can determine easily that the painting is not necessarily as old as the
subject; anyone who views a Rembrant portrait of a 20-year-old woman can
easily determine that the painting is actually much older than the subject.
We can test the materials the artist used and examine other circumstantial
evidence to gain a good understanding of the work's true age and
provenance. The artist would never expect or anticipate that anyone would
assume the actual age of the work is the same as the apparent age of the
subject. The same is not true for creation; if creation is merely art that
appears to be old, that appearance extends to the very materials used and
permates the deepest fibres of the work. The artist would have known that
anyone reasonably examining the work would indeed assume the work is as old
as the subject appears to be. That would move beyond "art" to "lie."

Of course, much postmodern literary theory would disagree with this
conception of the artist. The artist or author, in the view of many
postmodern theorists, creates reality. But that sort of understanding of
art is communitarian in a way that seems inapplicable to a creator-God. God
would merely be creating reality along with us, and we would in effect be
creator-gods. Perhaps there are some aspects of process theology that go
down these paths, but they seem to me to lead far away from historic
Christian orthodoxy. And this is one of the more fascinating aspects to
me of YEC "appearance of age" arguments: in seeking to preserve supposedly
"traditional" Christian faith, they adopt an epistemology that utterly
overthrows it.

On 2/3/06, Bill Hamilton <> wrote:
> --- "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <> wrote:
> > You're right that entrance into the kingdom requires forgiveness, not a
> > list of propositions to which one adheres. However, a view that requires
> > that God mislead honest observers of his works (e.g., apparent age, one
> > among many), making the Heavnely Father the father of lies, is as
> > perverse as possible. That it also closes the door for those who know
> > something about creation and, because they cannot fit it to what "the
> > scriptures teach inerrantly," reject salvation, will certainly bring
> > judgment. The principle of Matthew 18:7 holds inexorably.
> > Dave
> >
> How do creationists answer critiques like the above of the "appearance of
> argument?
> While I don't believe that God would deliberately deceive honest
> I can think of one argument for appearance of age that might have some
> credibility: That God is an artist. We don't claim that human artists are
> when they use paint on canvas to represent a landscape, so why should we
> God of lying? I don't believe I have ever heard this argument from a
> creationist. I am putting forward the above argument because I'd like to
> how the list refutes it, not because I accept it.
> Bill Hamilton
> William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.
> 586.986.1474 (work) 248.652.4148 (home) 248.303.8651 (mobile)
> "...If God is for us, who is against us?" Rom 8:31
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Received on Fri Feb 3 22:29:26 2006

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