Re: Destructive criticism of Christian apologists (was

Glenn R. Morton (
Sun, 17 May 1998 18:50:07 -0500

At 04:30 PM 5/17/98 -0400, Jim Bell wrote:
>There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide everything
>into two, and those who do not. ;-)
Yes, I am a splitter :-)

>This you do with regard to theology. But you've left out a position that
>treats the Word of God for what it is (some would argue). In fact, it could
>be said that you are "running away" from the observational data of
>No one considers Bernard Ramm or Donald Bloesch liberal, yet both would
>tell say conservatives must consider a deeper view, one that deals with the
>text as it is, not merely as they want it to be. Ramm, for example, calls
>it a mistake to believe that in Gen. 1-3 "God is acting as the reporter, as
>he reveals the events to Moses who in turn writes them down." He's an
>evangelical. So at least you must acknowledge more than the two extremes
>you posit.

First, off, I am not often talking about Genesis 1. The actual creation is
not amenable to scientific observation because we weren't there and no
physical evidence (save the creation itself) is left for us to examine.
But when it comes to Genesis 2-9 the situation changes dramatically. If
there was an Adam, then the time of his existence should have left some
mark in history. While we will never actually find Adam, we can find
evidence of his descendants in the form of archaeological artifacts. And
concerning the flood, we should be able to find evidence for some event
which matches the description. Failure to do so, means that it didn't
happen. To remove this part of the Genesis record from history is bad. In
my opinion, Bloesch would remove historicity from all of early Genesis and
thus does fit into my criticism and classification. Bloesch wrote:

"Some light is thrown on the relation between faith and world views by an
examination of the German words Weltbild and Weltanschauung. Weltbild
signifies an ordered picture of the empirical world, one that is open to
scientific investigation. It primarily concerns the structure of the world
rather than its metaphysical significance. Weltanschauung refers to a
comprehensive outlook upon life and the universe. It is to be regarded
more as an interpretation of the meaning of life and the world than a
construct of the way in which the world appears to man. Weltanschauung is
sometimes distinguished from philosophy as a basic outlook upon the world
is distinguished from its systematic articulation, but for all practical
purposes it can be viewed as an all-embracing philosophy of life, a
metaphysical world-perspective.
"Christianity should never be tied to any Weltbild, since the empirical
description of the world is the task of natural science, and the scientific
picture of the world changes from generation to generation. But we also
affirm that the Christian faith should never be united with any
Weltanschauung that characterizes a particular age, for both the ground and
object of faith differ considerably from that of cultural philosophy.
Christianity is not so much a view of the world as a report of the saving
deeds of God." ~Donald Bloesch, The Ground of Certainty, (Grand Rapids: Wm
B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971), p. 199-200

Thus he argues for never having a connection between science and Scripture.
Today, since science is elucidating the HISTORY of our planet via geology,
biology, astronomy etc, Bloesch's demand means a disconnect between
observation and scripture. He is removing history from the Bible.

Ramm on the other hand, has many good things to say about how the battle
between science and faith should be fought but then doesn't follow them.
Ramm writes but I doubt you will agree:

"Evangelicals, by putting such a premium on discontinuity, had no recourse
but to fight any continuity in any of the sciences as if it were the devil
himself. With no real philosophy of creation, evangelicals defended a
position that violently countermanded the findings of science.
Evangelicals of today who fail to see these problems in their larger
dimensions are but perpetuating the losing strategy of their brethren who
lost the battle in the previous century."
"The result of losing the battle of the Bible and science in the
nineteenth century is simply and tragically this: Physics, astronomy,
chemistry, zoology, botany, geology, psychology, medicine and the restof
the sciences are taught in disregard of Biblical statements and Christian
perspectives, and with no interest in the Biblical data on the sciences,
and no confidence in what the Bible might even say about the same. ~
Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954), p. 19

Modern Christianity's fight against continuity is following the same
pattern today. We don't learn. By this Ramm actually opens the door for
evolution, the continuity between us and the animal world although I think
he would deny it. Ramm goes on,

"The Christian approach to evolution cannot consist of snipings at the
theory; but it must supply an interpretative theory of biology which will
do all the evolutionary theory does for modern biologists, and something
more besides. Until then we may sting the theory of evolution with some
factual embarrassments here and there but we will never force a retreat.
It is our hope that a theory like progressive creationism will form the
basis of a new biological synthesis which will be to biology like
relativity theory was to physical theory." ~ Bernard Ramm, The Christian
View of Science and Scripture, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co.,
1954), p. 191

I would agree with Ramm that what christians need is an all-encompassing
theory to explain the facts of the world. But it must also make predictions
and it must be more than just biology. The same need applies to
anthropology, geology and astronomy. Without some positive explanatory and
predictive power for our hypotheses, we are doomed.

Ramm provides no successful theory for the flood. In fact his suggestion
can be destroyed rapidly by those knowledgeable in geology. He writes:

"Although many Christians still believe in the universal
flood, most of the recent conservative scholarship of
the church defends a local flood. Those who defend a local
flood believe that the time of the flood was some time
prior to 4000 B.C. The waters were supplied by the rains
from above and the ocean waters beneath. Some sort of
geological phenomenon is indicated by the expression 'and
the fountains of the deep were broken up.' This caused the
ocean waters to creep up the Mesopotamian valley. The
waters carried the ark up to the Ararat range. The Hebrew
text does not mean that the ark was deposited on the
17,000 foot summit of the peak, but that the ark rested
somewhere on the Ararat range. It would have taken a
special miracle to get Noah and his family down from such
dizzy mountain heights where the cold would have been
extreme. By the reversal of the geological phenomenon, the
water is drained back from the valley. The reader must
keep in mind, as stated in a leading conservative

'There is in Western Asia a remarkably depressed area,
extending from the Sea of Aral to the Steppes of the
Caucasus on the north, and sweeping round the souther
shores of the Caspian, comprehending Ararat and the Great
Salt Desert, which, as Ansted has remarked 'forms no
inconsiderable portion of the great recognized centre of
the human family. The Caspian Sea (83 1/2 feet below the
level of the sea, and in some parts of it 600 feet deep)
and the Sea of Aral occupy the lowest part of a vast
space, whose whole extent is not less than 100,000 square
miles, hollowed out, as it were, in the central region of
the great continent, and no doubt formerly the bed of the
ocean' [and into this natural saucer the ocean waters

"From this natural saucer the waters were drained.
The purpose of the flood was to blot out the wicked
civilization of Mesopotamia, and being a local flood of a
short duration we would not expect to find any specific
evidence for it, especially after the minimum of another
six thousand years of weathering." Bernard Ramm, The
Christian View of Science and Scripture" (Grand Rapids,
W.B. Eerdmans, 1954) p. 162-163. This is the 1987 reprint

Now, as a geoscientist I find this sadly so lacking in any
knowledge of the geology and geography of the regions as
to leave me speechless.

First, "Some sort of geological phenomenon ...caused the
ocean waters to creep up the Mesopotamian valley. The
waters carried the ark up to the Ararat range."

What sort of geological phenomenon? Even to get the ark to
the foothills would require 1000 foot rise in the water or
a corresponding 1000 foot sinking of the continent.
Continents do not rise or sink much faster than a few
centimeters per year! There are laws of isostasy which must
be obeyed or overridden by God's fiat. If God overrode
those things, then Ramm should clearly say so. If Ramm is
depending on a more naturalistic approach then his
suggestion fails the most simple test of geophysics.

Any rapid phenomenon, such as a meteor strike which could
cause a 1000 foot wave of water coming up the valley would
leave evidence of its existence in the form of a crater and
tsunami deposits all up and down the Mesopotamian Valley.
You would expect to find erosional traces on the elevated
areas where the wave crested. This is not found.

Second, the drainage of the Caspian basin into the
Mesopotamian valley conveniently ignores the fact that the
Zagros mountains stand between the the Caspian basin and
the Mesopotamian valley! Once again, to drain the Caspian
into the Mesopotamian valley requires that the Caspian
valley rise thousands of feet high so the water can cross
the mountains! Then of course it had to sink again. If
God wanted to do that, then God could do that. But the
event would be expected to leave evidence of itself in the
form of drainage patterns, unsorted sediments, sediments
with giant ripples (like are found in Washington state from
the collapse of Lake Missoula 18,000 years ago). We simply don't find
these types of deposits in Mesopotamia!

Third the Caspian basin does not encompass Ararat. It is
on the North side of the highlands that Ararat is on.
The commentarist Ramm cites didn't look at a topographic
map when he wrote what he did.

Fourth, to say that you should not expect to find evidence
of this after 6,000 years of erosion ignores the fact that
we find evidence of a similar event in Washington State
more than 18,000 years after the event! There are similar outbursts in the
Altai Mountains of Siberia. (A. N. Rudoy and V. R. Baker, "Sedimentary
Effects of Cataclysmic Later Pleistocene Glacial Outburst Flooding, Altay
Mountains, Siberia," Sedimentary Geology, 85(1993:53-62, p. 53)
It is quite convenient for the data to disappear in Mesopotamia.

I am sorry, but Ramm's model of the flood can not
stand up to any detailed scutiny. And it is the details
which must be accounted for.

Then to top it off, Ramm demands evidence from others but not from himself.
"(iii) There is no known geological data to support those who defend a
universal flood. A local flood could come and go and leave no trace after
a few thousand years, but could a universal flood be a tracelss flood?" ~
Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954), p.165

So if there is no evidence for the flood Ramm proposes, why should a
geologist take it more seriously than the global flood?

My point is, Jim, Christians have decided what the solution must be before
they have ever looked at the evidence. And when they are looking at the
evidence, they refuse to alter their viewpoint as the data requires.


Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information