Creationism Intelligent Design

$50,000 creationist essay contest

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Here is a press release from Answers in Genesis (AiG), second only to the Institute for Creation Research in influence among young earth creationists. It describes a $50,000 essay contest for a creationist paper by high-school and college students. Further down are the stated rules for the contest.

Although those rules seem to allow for a straight ID paper, in fact they do not. Liberty University, which is administering the award in the form of a scholarship, holds to a strict 6-day creation view, even requiring a semester course on creation-evolution from a young earth perspective. In consequence, the essays are expected to explicitly adopt this perspective.

For all the talk about intelligent design being “incredibly well funded,” we have nowhere near the resources of these creationist organizations. Moreover, they seem to be making sure to exclude ID’s distinctive contributions to the origins debate by requiring work that is not merely independent of the age of the earth but instead argues postively for a young earth.

This contest demonstrates that creationism and ID are charting separate paths.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 29, 2006
Contact: Cindy Malott, (859) 727-2222 ext. 461

$50,000 grand prize announced for “Research Paper Challenge 2007”

PETERSBURG, Kentucky. ­In a bold move sure to catch the eyes of students, Answers in Genesis today announces “Research Paper Challenge 2007.” The contest will encourage students to defend biblical authority in an unbiblical world. The grand prize is a $50,000 scholarship to Liberty University, a premier Christian institution in Virginia with 10,000 students.

The Research Paper Challenge, now in its second year, is sponsored by Answers in Genesis and open to students aged 14–21. This year’s focus is AiG’s latest information-packed resource, Evolution Exposed. This new book confronts evolutionary indoctrination head-on, revealing the misinformation, naturalistic bias and outright censorship in public school science textbooks. By encouraging youth to understand science and its cultural impact, AiG hopes to help raise up the next generation of scripturally grounded defenders of the Christian faith.

“We’re so excited to partner with Liberty on the Challenge,” commented Ken Ham, AiG president and a popular speaker, writer and radio host. “Today’s public schools are saturated with evolutionary thinking and immorality. By showing youth the gaping holes in evolutionism and pointing to the Bible, we can help rescue this generation from doubt and purposelessness.”

The winner of the $50,000 scholarship (which is larger than first prize for the 2006 Miss America Pageant) will be announced after the April 16, 2007, deadline. Runners-up will receive laptop computers and other prizes. Visit www.ResearchPaperChallenge2007.com for details.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Answers in Genesis, soon to open the $25 million Creation Museum near the Cincinnati International Airport, defends the Bible’s accuracy from the very first verse. In addition to its award-winning website www.AnswersInGenesis.org and the popular quarterly magazine Answers (www.AnswersMagazine.com), its daily radio program, Answers … with Ken Ham, is aired on more than 820 US stations.

Liberty University is a nationally accredited institution that develops Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge and skills to impact tomorrow’s world. Students are required to take a creation apologetics course that teaches the same literal Genesis / young earth approach of AiG. Visit Liberty on the web at www.liberty.edu.

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45 Replies to “$50,000 creationist essay contest

  1. 1
    David Heddle says:

    Sigh.

    It’s a good thing that Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, Gleason Archer, Francis Schaeffer, etc. aren’t alive and interested in Liberty University. The message to them would be: “Heathen, be gone”.

  2. 2
    O'Leary says:

    I have told the Director of Creation Studies there the following:

    – 0 –

    I’m happy to let people know about your contest, David, but I do think you should clarify that by “…to defend Biblical authority in an unbiblical world” you mean “defend the young earth perspective.”

    When you say, “An ID essay could be submitted, but would not be selected as the winner,” I feel it would be fair to let the would-be contestants know that clearly up front.

    That said, I would like to commend you for offering a contest, and will urge other Christian-based universities to do the same, offering prizes for work from a variety of ID-related perspectives.

    cheers, Denyse

    – 0 –

  3. 3
    faithandshadow says:

    As a YEC, it is abundantly clear to me that ID and Creationism are in fact two seperate ways of looking at the origin of life, the universe, and everything. I’m always surprised to read/hear anti-ID folk suggest these two rather distant cousins are the same, showing their ignorance on the matter. One describes the God who did it, the other merely suggests that Darwinian evolution is insufficient and believe evidence speaks of design.

    It would be irresponsible for Creationists to ignore the contributions of the ID movement. ID has attempted to step away from religion and just so the science of their claims, while YEC cannot remove our beliefs from God. We believe our interpretation of the data can verify the truth of the Bible, but it is still religiously heavy-handed. The same cannot be said of ID. At some point, ID and Creationism will knock horns, and that is sad. The scientists in both fields could help each other tear down the lie of Darwinism. However, maybe when that war is one, the battle between ID and YEC will commence?

    For us strict creationists, ID could be used as a wedge to overcome Darwin and evangelize people. But that’s clearly not the intent of IDs. Does anyone else believe this is a potential cause of friction between the two camps?

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    Among YECs I’m foremost in my dislike of Answers in Genesis (AiG). They do not, imho, serve the Christian faith as well as they could.

    ID is not a theological viewpoint, ID does not assert itself as Gospel. ID a formulated as a falsifiable scientific hypothesis, not an infallible doctrinal statement. So why should their be trouble?

    The way ID will prosper is for YECs to dissociate themselves from AiG and create YEC organizations friendlier to ID where ideas about the age of the Earth are not used as a litmus test for an individual’s moral character.

    The foremost YEC organization is Loma Linda/GRI where Timothy Standish (and IDer) teaches and does research. Other YEC organization not affiliated with AiG are http://www.creationscience.com (Walter Brown) and http://www.setterfield.org (Barry Setterfield). But hardly anyone knows that (so far).

    Within the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) there is a brewing fight between pro-ID YECs and pro-AiG YECs. See: An Open Letter to Our Brother Elders of Westminster Presbytery. I suppose if the pro-AiG YECs had their way, they would put the majority of ministers elder and deacons in the PCA General Assembly on church trial and toss out most of the professors at reformed seminaries. Dave Snoke is in the PCA and so am I. If pro-AiG YEC prevail in the PCA, I wonder what will happen to me (a pro-ID YEC) or PCA elders like Dave Snoke?

    Salvador

  5. 5
    Gods iPod says:

    “At some point, ID and Creationism will knock horns”

    At some point? A year ago I received a bunch of emails from a senior at Answers in Genesis warning me of my ‘evangelism’ of ID. He attached several articles to back up his position of the evils of ID. They have gone unread for the most part. The sheer arrogance that some YECs have is so un-Christ-like, it defies belief that they can’t see their own hypocrisy.

    And in full disclosure, I DO lean towards a literal 6-day creation account, though I am open to being shown otherwise. Of course, for many YECs, this openness to learning more makes me a heretic. C’est la vie.

  6. 6

    For those still finding their way through the OEC-YEC thicket, here’s where I ended up: http://www.designinference.com.....eodicy.pdf.

  7. 7
    scordova says:

    Regarding YEC organizations, a very ID-friendly YEC organization is the Baraminology Study Group (BSG). One does not even have to be a creationist or pro-IDer to serve on the editorial board (Richard Sternberg, an evolutionist is the best example) of BSG.

    That’s the kind of YEC organization that is good for ID and good for creationism. Participation in such organizations does not require any sort of credal confession. This sort of ID-friendly inquiry into YEC is what I hope for. There is no reason YECs and IDers need to be at odds. The BSG is a glowing example of a welcoming atmosphere. I hope more YEC organizations follow suit. If OECs like Hugh Ross ever come around to ID, that would be good too.

    Salvador

  8. 8
    Gods iPod says:

    “If OECs like Hugh Ross ever come around to ID, that would be good too”

    Well, that would be a miracle. But since Hugh Ross doesn’t believe in the miraculous, I think we can safely scratch that one 🙂

  9. 9
    scordova says:

    Bill,

    I read your paper a few weeks ago. I really liked it! I highly recommend it to my YEC brethren to read and consider.

    Salvador

  10. 10
    David Heddle says:

    GodsIPod,

    “But since Hugh Ross doesn’t believe in the miraculous,”

    Of course he does–you’re joking, right?

  11. 11
    Gods iPod says:

    I have a video of him calling miracles a bunch of nonsense if you’d like me to send it to you?

  12. 12
    David Heddle says:

    Gods iPod,

    Yes, since all his books affirm special creation of the universe (he takes the big bang as a transcendental event) as well as special creation (and special extinction) of the species, etc, I’d be more than interested in the video.

    My email is heddle AT fbyg DOT org

  13. 13
    jerry says:

    There was a survey released in the press earlier this week about belief in the bible. The two highest states that believe that the bible is literally true are Alabama and Arkansas, with 75% of the people agreeing. Where I live (Northeast) the number was in the low 20’s and I will say personally that I have never met anyone who I know that claimed to believe the bible literally. I am sure I have but I cannot think of anyone at the moment. So it is interesting for me to listen to those here who do believe in the bible literally. But you should be aware that most people, even a lot of good Christians, think this is strange.

    Sometimes, I get the feeling that there is not enough communication from both sides and each side knows little about the other. My guess is that the creationists know more about the non-creationist because that is all the popular media is about but there is little known by the people in my circle about creationists. There are a lot of stereotypes. Let me give you an example. My daughter went to Penn State and was in the woman’s singing group and everyone went on a hayride and the night was beautiful, full of stars. She and another young woman were lying back and looking at the stars and my daughter remarked about how many worlds up there might be like our own. The other young woman said she did not think there were any because the bible didn’t say there was any. My daughter was taken aback and her reaction was that this was a ludicrous reason to have such a belief. This other young woman was planning on being a doctor and my daughter wondered how she could ever be a doctor with such backward science beliefs. I told my daughter that I did not think it would have any effect because she would probably be well trained and biology (outside of evolution) or any other medical training is not something that would be an issue. But that was daughter’s instinctive reaction.

    Nearly everyone from my area reading the above post about the $50,000 scholarship would probably think it is strange and if would most likely stiffen their opposition to anything creationists might propose or support. That is one of the biggest hurdles that ID has, it association with creationist science. It looks like a conversion attempt to them and anything that smacks of that will be resisted with a lot of effort.

  14. 14
    dodgingcars says:

    jerry,

    I guess it depends on what one considers “believing in the Bible literally.” I believe that the Bible is God-inspired, inerrant, and true (in it’s original languages). Though, I admit, my belief in this is nearly entirely by faith — faith that God would both provide and protect His truth. The other part of me believes this because I feel it’s necessary in order for me to not instill my own beliefs into the Bible by deleting or ignoring those things I don’t like or find hard to live by. My fear is that I could say, well that “No lusting” part shouldn’t be taken literally or was added later by uptight Christians. And to me, this destroys the integrity of my faith.

    With that said, I don’t believe in a literal 6 day creation, but then I don’t believe the Bible (strictly) says that the world was created in 6 days (in Hebrew). I also don’t believe in a young Earth, which I don’t believe the Bible tackles at all. However, as weird as it sounds to me when I’m reading it, I do believe that God appeared to Moses as a burning bush and spoke to His prophet using a donkey!

    Because if those are just stories and not true history of God’s miracles in the world, then I feel my faith it futile. And if that’s not true, then why should I believe something as crazy as a God coming down as man in the flesh, executed on a cross an innocent man, and rising from the dead in 3 days in order to save me from my sin — the center of the Christian faith. And when I start believing that’s just another Christian myth, then my faith is beyond futile. It is nothing.

  15. 15
    rabbite_uk says:

    Dr Dembski,

    Thank you for putting your paper online. I look forward to reading it when I get the time. Meanwhile, I would be very interested to know your views. Is a synopsis available or would you or Salvador be able to summarise the paper here?

    I was brought up a Christian, but having studied “the other side” to get some balance, I am not quite so sure now. I think the New Testament is very inspiring but parts of the Old Testament are very disturbing and have made me question my faith. Examples can be found at Steve Locks’ controversial “Leaving Christianity” website: http://www.users.globalnet.co......decon.html

    Having said that, I think the ID movement is fantastic and the (mostly) wonderful folk who post to this board are usually very balanced and reasonable in their views. A great asset for ID, in being a purely scientific approach, is that it isn’t tied to a particular faith. This is very welcome to people like me who think there is good possibility of a higher purpose but don’t feel confident to subscribe to any particular brand of religion.

  16. 16
    Mats says:

    Hey Sal. Seems like we are back to familiar ground
    First of all, I think that people don’t see the aim of Bill’s post. For what I read, his purpose was NOT to attack YEC, but to show that ID and YEC are distinct (yet having some common ground). Saddly, some people in here took the chance to attack Christian organizations who have done so much for the defence of the Authority of Scripture, starting from Verse 1 (like AIG).

    Among YECs I’m foremost in my dislike of Answers in Genesis (AiG). They do not, imho, serve the Christian faith as well as they could.

    Actually, I think they are among the sites which do the best job in defending the Authority of God’s Word. Unlike other Christian organizations, they (and ICR, CMI, etc, etc) believe that God started telling historical events in Genesis 1.

    ID is not a theological viewpoint, ID does not assert itself as Gospel. ID a formulated as a falsifiable scientific hypothesis, not an infallible doctrinal statement. So why should their be trouble?

    In the YEC mind, there isn’t. Remember the goals that ID and YEC have. ID is only about science, while YEC is much more than that. From the YEC prespective, ID is valid science but not enough to give people a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of mankind (this is “hot spot”). Notice that this is not an attack on ID; this is only my way of saying that each of those comunities have their own goals in mind, and, for what they have been doing, each has been loyal to it’s aim.

    The way ID will prosper is for YECs to dissociate themselves from AiG and create YEC organizations friendlier to ID where ideas about the age of the Earth are not used as a litmus test for an individual’s moral character.

    1. ID will prosper with or without AIG suporters leaving AIG
    2. AIG is friendly to ID.
    3. The age of the earth is a MAJOR issue. It was the uniformarian belief that led to Darwin.
    4. I don’t think, nor does AIG, that your “individual moral character” can be perceived by what you believe regarding the age of the earth.

    The foremost YEC organization is Loma Linda/GRI where Timothy Standish (and IDer) teaches and does research. Other YEC organization not affiliated with AiG are http://www.creationscience.com (Walter Brown) and http://www.setterfield.org (Barry Setterfield). But hardly anyone knows that (so far).

    I like Walt Brown. His theory about the events that led to the global deluge are very interesting and very scientific. I really enjoyed hearing him expose his theory.

    Within the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) there is a brewing fight between pro-ID YECs and pro-AiG YECs.

    Those are not mutually exclusive terms. I am pro-AIG and I am pro-ID.

    If pro-AiG YEC prevail in the PCA, I wonder what will happen to me (a pro-ID YEC) or PCA elders like Dave Snoke?

    Probably nothing.

  17. 17
    Mats says:

    Hey Denyse

    I’m happy to let people know about your contest, David, but I do think you should clarify that by “…to defend Biblical authority in an unbiblical world” you mean “defend the young earth perspective.”

    …which was the dominant view among Christians for 1800 years, until uniformitarianism creeped into churches, causing the death of many of them (look at England).

    The way you make it sound, is as if belief in the plain Six Day Creation is something new, unsee in the Christian world.

  18. 18
    scordova says:

    rabbite asked:

    would you or Salvador be able to summarise the paper here?

    Ok, I’ll give it a shot. Bear in mind it’s 51 pages long! So here are my highlights.

    Theodicy (adjectival form “theodicean”) is a specific branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the assumption of a benevolent God.

    The paper lays out the various viewpoints on the table about Old-Earth and Young Earth, but argues for Old-Earth.

    Here are some highlights of interest, and I even though I’m a YEC, I really liked the paper:

    we are now in a position to offer a reading of Genesis 1–3 that reconciles a traditional understanding of the Fall (which traces all evil in the world to human sin) with a mainstream understanding of geology and cosmology (which regards the Earth and universe as billions of years old,…. )

    Genesis 1 is therefore not to be interpreted as ordinary chronological time (chronos) but rather as time from the vantage of God’s purposes (kairos). Accordingly, the days of creation are neither exact 24-hour days (as in young-earth creationism) nor epochs in natural history (as in old-earth creationism) nor even a literary device (as in the literary-framework theory). Rather, the days of creation in Genesis are actual (literal!) episodes in the divine creative activity.
    ….
    Because the Genesis days represent key “kairological” divisions in the teleological-semantic logic of creation, a widely cited reason for treating the days of creation as strict 24-hour periods dissolves.
    ….
    A kairological interpretation of the creation days in Genesis now proceeds as follows: On the first day, the most basic form of energy is created: light. With all matter and energy ultimately convertible to and
    from light, day one describes the beginning of physical reality.67 With the backdrop of physical reality in place, God devotes days two and three to ordering the Earth so that it will provide a suitable home for humanity. On these days, God confines the Earth’s water to appropriate locations and forms the plants on which humans and other animals will depend for their sustenance. On day four, God situates the Earth in a wider cosmic context. On day five, animals that inhabit the sea and sky are created. And finally, on day six, animals that inhabit dry land are created, most notably human beings. Finally, on day seven, God rests from his activity in creation. To be sure, Genesis 1 omits and abbreviates many details of creation. Nor does it provide insight into how the divine purposes of creation were implemented chronologically. Even so, here is the gist of creation as viewed kairologically.

    And I suppose the one of real interest:

    A final question now remains: How did the first humans gain entry to the Garden? There are two basic options: progressive creation and evolving creation. In the first, God creates the first humans in the Garden. In the second, the first humans evolve from primate ancestors outside the Garden and then are brought into the Garden. Both views require direct divine action. In the former, God specially creates the first humans from scratch. In the latter, God introduces existing human-like beings from outside the Garden but then transforms their consciousness so that they become rational moral agents made in God’s image.

    And so I think the question is left open between the two options, but both options require direct Divine action.

    Salvador

  19. 19
    StephenA says:

    You left out one of the options: God creates them outside the garden and then brings them in. This is in fact what is described in the Bible.

    Not that this differs in any of the essentials from the ‘progressive creation’ option that was described.

    Mats, you beat me to the punch in saying that you can be pro-AIG and pro-ID.

    Regarding the contest, would you really want darwinists saying that ID and Creationism are clearly the same since a creationist organisation held a creationist essay contest, but an ID paper won? I’ve seen plenty of people here explaining how Creationism and ID are not the same, so why should you feel AIG is excluding or even attacking ID when it keeps them separate? This is, after all a Creationist essay contest.

  20. 20
    scordova says:

    For the reader’s benefit, let me offer my views from a more personal perspective, especially being one of those rare creatures who is a YEC and an IDer. I was raised a Roman Catholic. I was an Old Earth Darwinist, but origin’s were not a big issue in my church or home.

    My neighbor was a Presbyterian minister. In high school my Dad (who wasn’t a doctrinarian) asked the minister to take me under his wing (whoa!). The minister gave me something from the ICR. I gave up believing in Darwinism probably in one day after reading it. It was so obvious. A year later, I read Robert Jastrow’s book, God and The Astronomer’s and came to love the Big Bang theory. In my mind, Physics and Chemistry were real sciences, Darwinism didn’t even qualify as a pseudo-science….

    Who were my physics teachers as an undergrad, and what did I learn? Well, one of them was Robert Ehrlich who debated Michael Behe: Challenging Darwin (2002) and another, James Trefil who debated William Dembski in The Great Debate (2005). I still revere these teachers and what they taught me, and it saddens me that we’re now on the opposite sides of the debate with respect to ID.

    Any way, in Ehrlich’s first week of intro physics we studied basic formulas like: Distance = Velocity * Time. Using that formula, it is easy to see if a car travels 60 mph, to traverse 600 miles, it will take 10 hours. Simple. If light travels at 186,282 miles/sec, for light to reach the earth from the most distant stars, it takes 13.5 Billion years. Simple.

    But what will I make of AiG’s material suggesting I’m a heretic and that people like me are the cause of all the worlds ills becauase I accept Old Earth? No wonder YECs have such a reputation for intolerance! I just simply say to myself, “eh, it’s not the first time I’ve read the Bible and didn’t understand, maybe someday…”

    Then in 2001 I come across Walter Brown (PhD MIT) who quotes James Trefil’s book The Dark Side of the Universe. The book has a chapter entitled, “The 5 reasons Galaxies Can’t Exist”. Trefil is Big Bang proponent, but has, as his nature, always held a degree of skepticism. (See Trefil’s anectdote about David Raup getting Trefil to become skeptical, it was VERY amusing…)

    Anyway, I could not stop reading Brown’s Book. It was so compelling. He offered a decaying speed of light solution, and argued against issues with the Big Bang. Within a year, Paul Davies appears in Nature suggesting that light speed had decayed, and not too much later 3 professors from my university, including an MIT physics PhD, Menas Kafatos, the director of our Center for Earth and Space Observation and Chairman of one of GMU’s influential departments, sign their names to a statement essentially dissing the Big Bang Theory. At that point, it felt like substantial skepticism of prevailing theories was in order.

    I lean toward YEC, but I try to keep an open mind, and that is why I like the ID community. The YEC-BSG group is also exemplary in that they welcome the participation of Old Earth Evolutionists like Richard Sternberg. In that group are YEC-IDers like Timothy Standish and our very own johnnyb. Paul Nelson is a YEC-IDer. This is the direction I hope YEC goes: toward more open-minded inquiry where people like Sternberg are welcomed with open arms rather than ridiculed as some sort of persona non grata.

    BSG’s manner of doing business is consistent with ID culture, and that’s the kind of culture that will help YEC, OEC or whatever theory is ultimately true. These ideas, in an open-minded climate have the chance to redeem itself through exploration of the physical facts versus trying to indoctrinate through theological fiat. And that’s the kind of climate good for ID and for everyone.

  21. 21
    David Heddle says:

    Mats,

    It’s not quite accurate, what you say, that the six day view was dominant. It is accurate to say that the young earth view was dominant–but that can be explained by the fact that there was no reason to believe the earth was so old. Before there was any evidence from God’s general revelation that the earth was old, I certainly would have not have considered the possibility.

    You can find many variants of young earth views, however. Quite popular among pre-scientific Christians, in addition to the six 24-hour days view were (a) creation was instantaneous and (b) they days were each 1000 years (a la 2 Pet. 3:8). The latter solved the tricky problem that God condemned Adam to death the day he sinned–while in fact Adam live to a ripe old age, but it was less than 1000 years.

    These young earth variants are just as “non-literal” as old earth views, and they were held by some of the most famous church fathers.

  22. 22
    Mats says:

    Hi David Heddle

    It’s not quite accurate, what you say, that the six day view was dominant.

    Actually, it sure was the dominant view in the church.

    It is accurate to say that the young earth view was dominant–but that can be explained by the fact that there was no reason to believe the earth was so old.

    Neither is there now any valid reason to believe that the earth is old. Au contraire, there are many reasons to believe that the earth is young, in full agreement with Genesis.
    http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1221 by Dr Russ Humphreys, Ph.D

    http://www.creationontheweb.co.....#jesus_age – by Carl Wieland

    Before there was any evidence from God’s general revelation that the earth was old, I certainly would have not have considered the possibility.

    But…there is no evidence that the earth is old. Read http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/2080

    You can find many variants of young earth views, however. Quite popular among pre-scientific Christians,

    What do you mean “pre-scientific”? Do you mean “pre-uniformitarianism”?

    in addition to the six 24-hour days view were (a) creation was instantaneous and (b) they days were each 1000 years (a la 2 Pet. 3:8).

    Notice that that verse is not talking about creation, so it’s irrelevant. Secondly, none of those two positions find any suport in the grammar used in Genesis 1. Based on the normal rules of grammar, the writer of Genesis 1 wanted us to know that God created the universe in six regular days.

    The latter solved the tricky problem that God condemned Adam to death the day he sinned–while in fact Adam live to a ripe old age, but it was less than 1000 years.

    There was no problem there. See, the word God used in there literaly means “dying you shall die“. It fits perfectly with what happened with Adam, since from that moment on he became mortal. There was nothing to solve since there was no problem to beggin with.

    These young earth variants are just as “non-literal” as old earth views, and they were held by some of the most famous church fathers.

    Yet, the dominant view inside the Christian church (and surprisingly, among the Jews) was that God created in six regular days. The belief that the days of creation are not regular days doesn’t come from the Bible.

  23. 23
    David Heddle says:

    Mats,

    You win, how can I respond to “proof of a young earth by link to a young earth apologetics site.” Uncle.

  24. 24
    tragicmishap says:

    Feel free not to read this, as it is mostly personal, but I would like to work through some thoughts on this issue.

    The YEC-evolution debate has played a large role in my life, mostly because my dad questioned his Christian faith in college but was turned onto YEC by his uncle and because of that stayed a Christian. YEC is therefore fundamental to his faith, because without it he might not be a Christian today. He’s done seminars all over our state, and pounded YEC into me at an early age as the most important defense of the Christian faith. Well, I got my Christian faith from him, and I don’t need something like YEC to maintain it. YEC is one more indicator to me that science has taken too much of God’s place in the modern worldview. YEC to some people is god, just as Darwinism is god to others. I don’t want either to be my god, as I’ve seen so many among the previous generation give what should be their devotion to Christ to this or that scientific theory. As was mentioned on this thread, often times Christ’s commands and example are ignored in favor of promoting YEC, and to an objective observer such as myself, that indicates something is wrong.

    All that being said, I have watched my dad and others grow in their faith to the point where YEC is no longer their god. Along the way, I have seen them work through this issue and present an incredibly large amount of good arguments and evidence for the YEC position. My criticism of their motives is only for my own benefit, in order that I may avoid that sort of rabid devotion to something other than Christ in my own life. But the motivations of YECs cannot be called into question if one is to consider their claims objectively. Ad hominem is a very old and very flawed tactic I’m sure all of you have experienced from both sides. Scraping away all the emotions and general clutter of the debate, I have come to the conclusion that the evidence for YEC, OEC, and the materialistic view of the universe’s origins is not conclusive in any direction. How could it be? Even if the earth is only 6000 years old, that’s still a heck of a long time ago. Science is about observations and repeatable experiments, none of which can be done on a unique event which by all accounts happened at least 6000 years ago, perhaps billions. It should come as no surprise that no scientific conclusions other than broad, course speculations can be reached.

    Thus, the issue for me is not one of science, but of belief. The OECs can say what they want about the speed of light and radioisotope dating. I’ve seen YEC counters to that, and good ones. I’ve seen the one about the speed of light decaying, for which there is at least plausible experimental evidence. I’ve read Russell Humphrey’s book, which also seems plausible to me, although my knowledge of physics is not enough to allow me to render a judgement on the technical aspects, and never will be. Time after time I’ve heard YEC evidences for a young earth, most of which have been ignored by old-earth whatevers because YEC is not taken seriously by most of them. The only conclusion I can come to is the conclusion of C.S. Lewis, who wrote, “Every age gets the science it wants.” I’ve heard arguments and evidences up and down both sides of this debate. Nobody ever wins, because nobody can prove a damn thing either way. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the case where Darwinian evolution and ID is concerned, because in that department you can make observations and conduct repeatable experiments. But insofar as the origin of the universe and life is concerned, scientifically speaking we can only ever make educated guesses, and that is why I’m still a YEC. I am one not because of scientific evidence or lack thereof. I don’t put much stock in sophisticated explanations of Genesis from either camp, including yours Bill, which to me looks like nothing more than a kid playing the lawyer with his parents to get them to lift his curfew. So what if the word “kairos” means from God’s point of view? How can we as humans ever understand his point of view? It seems obvious to me that the passage was meant to be understood as a 24-hour day to those of us who live on earth. For us, a 24-hour day is a phase, a beginning and end without finality. Even if the meaning is not meant to be literal but symbolic, what point is there in understanding the symbolism while denying the symbol? Why wouldn’t God have put in place a symbol so we could understand the symbolism? He’s done it before. It seems completely in line with what little I know of his character. The question for me is not one of evidence, because that pursuit is demonstrably futile in this case, but of belief. I can find nothing in my belief in God that would make me think that the creation story is some sort of mock-up or fable. God can do whatever he wants. Why would he write this story only in words?

  25. 25
    ScaryFacts says:

    Dodgingcars wrote:

    “if those are just stories and not true history of God’s miracles in the world, then I feel my faith it futile”

    I believe this is at the root of this competition and all others like it–people are concerned about how the truth of an argument (or scientific study) will impact their faith. “It can’t be true because I don’t like the implications.”

    That’s not science or faith.

    All it takes is one study to prove the earth is more than 10,000 years old and the YEC view is obliterated. One can claim their god intentionally lies and misleads (“Oh, you know god-dude plays these little tricks where star light was already appearing here on the first day they were created”) or you can accept the fact of a 10,001+ year old earth and begin to deal with the religious implications.

    As a Christian I am reluctant to bury my head in the sand and ignore some obvious challenges to my faith: Biblical inaccuracies and disagreement, religious endorsement of (what most consider) evil practices like genocide and slavery, and the tension between my faith and well documented science.

    Faith that hides itself from obvious tests of its validity is so weak as to be irrelevant.

  26. 26
    saxe17 says:

    David,

    I have asked the following question on this site in the past but can never seem to get an answer. Perhaps you, as they say, could step up to the plate. If the writer of Genesis had intended to communicate six 24-hour periods, how would he have changed his grammar to communicate six 24-hour periods?

    Thanks,
    Saxe

  27. 27
    David Heddle says:

    saxe17,

    Well, the writer could have clarified either way, parenthetically. But as it was written there is no way to distinguish among the different meanings for the Hebrew yom.

    In other words, Moses could have been inspired to write: “there was evening, there was morning the first day” and then add parenthetically:

    (by yom, it is meant the length of a normal day, evening to evening)

    or

    (by yom it is meant an indefinite period of time, the precise duration being of no importance)

    but for whatever reason, Moses wasn’t inspired to clarify.

    As written, and in isolation, there is no reason to prefer one over the other. We can turn for help to God’s general revelation (also known as scientific evidence), which cannot possibly be at odds with his special revelation and is certainly of comparable reliability to fallible human interpretations of fallible human translations.

  28. 28
    saxe17 says:

    David,

    You’re claiming Genesis cannot be interpreted one way or the other because Moses didn’t clarify. Notice how you sidestepped the original question. How would he have ‘clarified’ his words to indicate a 24-hour period? You do believe that the Hebrew language is capable of communicating a 24-hour period, don’t you? When it rained for ’40 days and 40 nights’, are we to believe that it could have been 40 ages and not 40 24-hour periods?

    Again, how would Moses have communicated 24-hour periods in Genesis?

    Regards,
    Saxe

    P.S. By the way, the word “yowm” in Hebrew is not associated with a long period of time when an ordinal adjective (i.e. the sixth day) is associated with it. You may then say, ‘what about Hosea 6:2?’ Hosea 6:2, if anything, would still seem to indicate a 24-hour day because of the use of the ordinal adjective. Whether or not you agree with my analysis of Hosea 6:2, you are still stuck with trying to answer my original question.

  29. 29
    David Heddle says:

    saxe17,

    I didn’t sidestep your question. Since the way Gen. 1 is written in a way can be interpreted either way then I could ask the same question of you: how would Moses have written it if he unambiguously wanted to indicate ages? The bottom line is that nobody disputes (1) yom was used for day and for age and (2) for biblical Hebrew, there was no other word for age.

    So, once again, there would have to be clarifying text to unambiguously indicate one view or the other—neither view is favored as it is written. The question “how would Moses..” applies equally well to either view.

    As for Hosea 6:2, nobody that I know or read interprets that ordinal use of yomas a 24-hour day, but rather an indeterminate period. But that doesn’t really matter, because the ordinal so-called-problem for the YEC view has a trivial answer: the reason Gen 1 is the only place where we find second age, third age, etc. is because it is the only place in the OT where ages are enumerated ordinally. If there is only one time where the construct is needed, then it is not very surprising that it is the only time it shows up. The ordinal yom criticism is a very weak argument.

  30. 30
    mike1962 says:

    “I have asked the following question on this site in the past but can never seem to get an answer. Perhaps you, as they say, could step up to the plate. If the writer of Genesis had intended to communicate six 24-hour periods, how would he have changed his grammar to communicate six 24-hour periods?”

    Could have inserted a modifier such as “and there was evening and morning, day one, THE SPAN OF TIME WHICH WAS THE SAME AS A DAY OF A MAN”, or some such.

    Plenty of curiosities exist in the text. It says the sun was established (heb: asah) on the fourth day. And yet three full “evenings and mornings” existed prior to this. How can this be if the days were like the 24-hour days that we experience now? I know, I know, I’ve heard the YEC answer, that there was some opaque firmament in the sky and was blocking the sun from direct obseration to anyone standing on earth (even though that should not have matter since there was no humans yet.) But the curious things is, for people who take the Word so seriously, the YECs have to *interject* their own extra-biblical notion into the text in order to explain it. They may be right, but you can’t prove it but the Word itself. Of course, this is problemmatic since the gander can speculate as well as the goose here. The old earthers say the days (heb: yom) could just as well have been long epochs. Again, maybe so, but the text itself doesn’t say. Then there are others who say that the Genesis days were perhaps literal, but that it refers to a re-creation after an original creation. The so-called gap theory, where Yahweh creates the world in Gen 1:1 and by Gen 1:2 “the earth *became* a waste and desert” because of some cataclysm brought on, perhaps, by Lucifer’s rebellion. But the text doesn’t explicitly say this, although it is certainly allowable. I find it remarkable in this day and age that humans go to fist-city over this sort of thing.

    Among us non-religious types, we notice things like the fact that among the ancient cultures, the sun and moon were generally considered deities and were worshipped as such. The writer of Genesis can’t even bring himself to name the sun and moon, and merely describes their function. This is significant in the context of the era. Maybe he was onto something. But I disgress.

  31. 31
    saxe17 says:

    David,

    “The question “how would Moses..” applies equally well to either view.”

    Not true. I am claiming Genesis 1 is already written to indicate 24-hour periods. You are claiming it is ambiguous. Therefore, the burden is on you to answer my original question. So, how would it be written to indicate 24-hour periods, taking away the ambiguity? I’ll await your answer.

    “The ordinal yom criticism is a very weak argument.”

    Because you say it’s so, does not necessarily mean it is so.

    “Gen 1 is the only place where we find second age, third age, etc. is because it is the only place in the OT where ages are enumerated ordinally”

    This is irrelevant to our argument. We are discussing the communication of the Hebrew language, not how many times it’s used in the Bible.

    “…nobody that I know or read interprets that ordinal use of yomas a 24-hour day”

    This again is irrelevant.

    For your additional reference, Dr. James Barr, one of the world’s top Hebrew scholars, wrote the following letter: http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/barrlett.html

    Dr. Barr also maintains that “probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university” who holds your view.

    I look forward to your answer of my original question.

    Regards,
    Saxe

  32. 32
    David Heddle says:

    saxe17,

    I have been arguing on the internet for several years, and the approach I think I hate most is one someone smugly repeats, over and over, “I await your answer”, especially when I did in fact answer. Once again: to resolve, unambiguously, that the text in Gen. 1 referred to either days additional text would be needed. That’s my answer. You can disagree, you can argue why it is a bad answer, but stop saing I didn’t answer.

    I will point out that while I have answered your question, you have not answered the equally fair question: How would Moses have unambiguously communicated “ages” using biblical Hebrew?

    You brought up that everywhere else yom is used, it is used ordinally (and weakly deflected Hosea 6:2, but that is another matter). I answered why it is only used with “ages” in Genesis One (because that’s the only place it is needed) and your response is:

    “This is irrelevant to our argument. We are discussing the communication of the Hebrew language, not how many times it’s used in the Bible.”

    To reiterate, though it boggles the mind, your criticism is:

    1) yom can’t mean age, because all other places with it is used with an ordinal modifier it refers to normal days

    2) To which I reply: yes, but this is the only time that there is even the possibility of ages being enumerated in an ordinal manner

    3) To which you respond: the number of times it is used is irrelevant.

    Let me see–the criticism is that yom is never used ordinally as age, but when I explain why it is used just once, the issue is “not how many times it is used in the bible?” Well, I certainly don’t know how to respond to that.

    By the way, the ordinal argument can be (just as poorly) used against YECs, because outside Gen 1 there are 249 times yom (singular) is used with an ordinal, and in all cases it refers to human activity. Only in Gen 1 is it used in that way (ordinal, plus singular form) for God’s activity, therefore it can’t possibly mean day. Now that is a crummy argument, a pitiful argument, but it’s essentially the same quality as the YEC argument concerning ordinals.

    As for Dr. Barr, I have addressed his criticism on my blog before. I am not sure why you want to link James Barr’s. I encourage anyone to follow your link, it shows quite clearly that (a) Barr qualifies his statement later in the first paragraph and (b) he tries to sell his book Escaping from Fundamentalism in the second.

    We could list competing Hebrew scholars, (I’ll see you James Barr and raise you Walter Kaiser) but that is never productive.

    I find it odd that YECs bring up Barr’s opinion, without its attendant qualifying comments, and take comfort from his alleged support from academia–but would not give a nickel’s worth of weight to a similar statement:

    “Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of cosmology at any world-class university who does not believe that the universe is old.”

    But what is especially odd is: Barr is a foe of biblical inerrancy! He has a vested interest in insisting that the bible teaches six-day creation, just so it is easy to attack inerrancy. It would be bad for him and his book sales if the bible could be shown to be compatible with science.

    In other words Barr is agreeing with you that the 24-hour interpretation is correct—just so he can use it to sell books that demonstrate that biblical inerrancy is the doctrine of fools. Are you really certain that you want to reference an enemy of biblical inerrancy, a man who will use his alignment on this issue to prove you’re a bumpkin on the next?

  33. 33
    saxe17 says:

    David,

    So your answer is “additional text would be needed”? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe ‘additional text’ counts as an answer. What exactly is that ‘additional text’ to which you are referring?

    If ‘morning’ and ‘evening’ and the nominal were removed from Genesis 1, I would be in agreement with you. But they are not. Were the words ‘morning’ and ‘evening’ inserted by God to confuse the non-scientists? According to your reading, I am apparently supposed to interpret as thus “And there was evening and millions of years and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1, Saxe Rendition) Or would it go, “And there was evening and there was morning, the first millions of years.”? Which begs another question, were there millions of mornings and evenings or just one of each with millions of years in between?

    “By the way, the ordinal argument can be (just as poorly) used against YECs, because outside Gen 1 there are 249 times yom (singular) is used with an ordinal, and in all cases it refers to human activity.”

    And in all those cases, does the Hebrew communicate more than a 24-hour period? If not, you’ve proven my point.

    “I will point out that while I have answered your question, you have not answered the equally fair question: How would Moses have unambiguously communicated “ages” using biblical Hebrew?”

    He would have removed morning (boqer), evening (ereb) and the ordinals. Perhaps he would have written something like this “And there was a day….and another day and another day”. What possible significance do a ‘morning’ and ‘evening’, both singular, have to millions of years? And we have mornings and evenings on all six days, no less. We haven’t even gotten into other theological topics such as death before sin. But I digress. There, I have answered your question. You claim Gen 1 is ambiguous? Therefore, the burden is still on you to show us what “additional” words are needed to indicate a 24-hour period. I patiently await your answer.

    Take Care,
    Saxe

  34. 34
    David Heddle says:

    saxe17,

    I give up, it’s too much a waste of time. You may declare victory.

  35. 35
    antg says:

    So, how would it be written to indicate 24-hour periods, taking away the ambiguity?

    There is in fact no ambiguity: mike1962 in comment #29 experssed it well.

    From a plain reading of the text, it clear that the writter CANNOT have meant 24 hour periods as it is absurd to think there is literal day and night when the sun does not even exist for days 1-3. We are then left with the obvious conclusion that it poetic / allegorical. An honest study of the scientific evidence confirms this interpretation.

  36. 36
    saxe17 says:

    David,

    I will, thanks. 🙂 You never did give us those magic words to make Genesis 1 unambiguous.

    Take Care,
    Saxe

  37. 37
    saxe17 says:

    antg,

    “An honest study of the scientific evidence confirms this interpretation.”

    Unfortunately, your exegesis of the text is based upon this presupposition. Any exegetical evidence to the contrary will be rejected.

    Regards,
    Saxe

  38. 38
    intp147 says:

    tragicmishap,

    I appreciated the perspective you shared (post 24). To me, the age of the earth is important, not because there is necessarily any significance to the amount of time that has elapsed since the beginning but because the Bible provides detailed information that directly bears on it. It is not that YEC is a “god” but that if the Bible can’t be trusted when it provides explicit information on this subject–some of which is said to have come directly from God (e.g., Exodus 20:11)–then how can one be sure what to believe, absent external corroboration?

    Whether one objects that YEC is based on a particular interpretation or that the text is ambiguous, the bottom line is that the text itself appears to be written in straightforward language and that few people would question its meaning were it not that so many are convinced that science has provided good evidence of an old earth. IOW, the objections arise from ideas outside the Bible.

    The problem with this is that it suggests the possibility in general of passages that in themselves appear simple but that don’t, in fact, mean what they appear to mean. We may assume we know exactly what the text is saying; however, if one can question whether the account in Genesis 1 really describes six days of ordinary length, or whether the genealogical data in Genesis 5 and 11 are reliable, what basis is there for certainty that other simple passages bear out their apparent meaning?

    I’m with your dad on this one: YEC is fundamental to my faith. It’s not because there’s anything directly salvific in believing the earth is young, but the logical consequences of rejecting that belief appear to me grave with respect to the trustworthiness of the Bible. To be clear, I don’t at all deny the sincerity or genuineness of faith of the many good Christians who reject YEC; however, I do think they’re inconsistent on this point–and I also think inconsistency can be found in the best of us.

    Rick

  39. 39
    saxe17 says:

    Rick,

    Well said and, for what little my opinion’s worth, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Blessings,
    Saxe

  40. 40
    antg says:

    No Saxe, my exegesis of the text stands without any consideration beyond the text itself.

    Can we not equally say that the exegesis you suggest presupposes that Genesis 1-2 is a literal history of nature?

    I find the following the best summary of my views regarding Genesis:

    “The biblical narrative is most helpfully read as a polemic that challenges dominant ancient assumptions about the nature of God, the world and humanity. The biblical story provides an outline of who did what, without detail of when, where or how.” Paul Wooley, Theos

  41. 41
    intp147 says:

    Thanks Saxe.

    I’ve an observation that is, I’m afraid, less favorable but that’s been in my mind since I read your exchange with David Heddle. First, you asked a very valid question in post 26. In post 28, you claimed that David had sidestepped your question; however, it appeared to me that he had in fact given an answer in post 27. I didn’t think it a very good answer; however, it was an answer. In the course of posts, you came across–to me, at least–as one who on the surface was offering a reasonable challenging but who was perhaps not prepared to listen to an answer he didn’t “like.” So while I don’t agree with David’s position, I could empathize with the frustration he expressed in post 32. You responded kindly to my post, and it pains me a bit to make this observation to you.

    I do appreciate your stance with regard to the text. Those who attempt to read the creation account to accommodate billions of years remind me of a scene in the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” Toward the end, when Josh Waitzkin is playing against Jonathan Poe, they reach a point where Josh realizes that he has the game, and he offers Jonathan a draw. Jonathan, believing that he has a superior position, declines. Josh tells him something to the effect that, “You’ve lost, you just don’t see it yet.” It appears to me that those who try to interpret the Bible to agree with the modern consensus on the age of the earth have conceded valuable ground and sacrificed a winning position–but they don’t realize this. Their position undermines the credibility of the text, whether or not they or others recognize it.

    Rick

  42. 42
    saxe17 says:

    Rick,

    Your point is well taken and I’ll consider this a kinkly rebuke in the manner expressed in 2 Tim 4:2. I suppose I was looking for some exact words that would answer my question and grew frustrated. Sometimes the fruit of the spirit is lacking. 🙂

    Anyway, thank you for your words.

    Saxe

  43. 43
    saxe17 says:

    That’s kindly, not kinkly. 🙂

  44. 44
    tragicmishap says:

    Thanks, Rick.

    “Whether one objects that YEC is based on a particular interpretation or that the text is ambiguous, the bottom line is that the text itself appears to be written in straightforward language and that few people would question its meaning were it not that so many are convinced that science has provided good evidence of an old earth. IOW, the objections arise from ideas outside the Bible.” – Rick

    I believe that’s exactly what I was trying to say when I quoted C.S. Lewis. There is no reason to think that the earth is billions of years old, etc., etc., if it weren’t for the “science” of this age. As we say about the weather in Nebraska, “If you don’t like it, wait five minutes and it’ll change.”

  45. 45
    dodgingcars says:

    ScaryFacts,

    “I believe this is at the root of this competition and all others like it–people are concerned about how the truth of an argument (or scientific study) will impact their faith. “It can’t be true because I don’t like the implications.”

    That’s not science or faith.

    All it takes is one study to prove the earth is more than 10,000 years old and the YEC view is obliterated. One can claim their god intentionally lies and misleads (“Oh, you know god-dude plays these little tricks where star light was already appearing here on the first day they were created”) or you can accept the fact of a 10,001+ year old earth and begin to deal with the religious implications.”

    Well, I’m not sure why you’re using the YEC analogy when responding to me as I said that I don’t accept a Young Earth or a literal 6-day creation. Also, I don’t know how your comment about scientific facts being impacting faith had to do with my comment at all. The quoted you took from me was a sentence from an entire point I was making… Which is I believe in an inerrant Bible out of both faith and necessity (in the sense that I don’t want to impose my own views into the validity of the Bible (i.e. I don’t like this part so it can’t be true, but the rest is ok until I find something else I don’t like).

    My comment you quoted was that if I can’t accept certain things in the Bible just because they don’t sound right to me, then I feel my faith is futile, because then where is my faith? It’s simply me picking and choosing things I like and don’t like and creating a new religion. The religion of dodingcars where God won’t talk to a man through a bush and lusting is not a sin. IMO, then my faith is not truly faith.

    You might think that this is coming from someone who never doubts and is not a skeptic. Tell that to my friends and they’d laugh in your face. I’m one of the most skeptical Christians I know, but I still believe my faith needs to be pure — and not handpicked.

    “As a Christian I am reluctant to bury my head in the sand and ignore some obvious challenges to my faith: Biblical inaccuracies and disagreement, religious endorsement of (what most consider) evil practices like genocide and slavery, and the tension between my faith and well documented science.

    Faith that hides itself from obvious tests of its validity is so weak as to be irrelevant.”

    I don’t ignore any of these either. I’m well aware of them and find some of them hard to reconcile with my beliefs. That’s the interesting part, I find my faith and beliefs are not always the same. I believe that slavery and genocide are wrong, but my faith tells me that I don’t know everything and there must be a reason why God allowed (and sometimes mandated) these things of the Jews.

    As for the science. I’ve found that despite what some of the commentators have to say on the findings, that science has reinforced my faith, not challenged it.

    But I think your comments suggest you didn’t understand my post and we’re probably closer to the same page than you originally thought.

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