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The One Big Problem with “Science vs. the Bible” Thinking

There is a discouraging trend taking place in evangelicals circle today. The acceptance of Theistic Evolution (TE) is becoming widespread in spite of recent efforts made by young age creationists, the ID community, etc. to discredit its validity.

It’s not that evolution is dumb necessarily; rather, that the Bible precludes it!

Certain statements made in the Bible about “first things” preclude the possibility of biological evolution–at least if the Bible is structured with the intent to communicate clearly to those who read it.

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So when a Christian studies God’s Word, the correct approach is to find out what the Bible means to teach by giving words their normal meaning in their normal context.

When one does this, he arrives at the young age creationist understanding.

In fact, in a recent podcast episode, Dr. William Lane Craig of Reasonable Faith admitted as much when he commented that Bishop Ussher was “no fool” for calculating a recent date for the beginning of the universe by using the Bible’s chronogenealogical data!

Of course, Dr. Craig (whom I both admire and greatly respect) is, unfortunately, on record in an interview as stating young age creationism to be an “embarrassment”:

Yes, I’ve seen a comparable statistic that says that over 50% of evangelical pastors think that the world is less than 10,000 years old. Now when you think about that, Kevin, that is just hugely embarrassing. That over half of our ministers really believe that the universe is only around 10,000 years old. This is just scientifically, it’s nonsense, and yet this is the view that the majority of our pastors hold. It’s really quite shocking when you think about it.”

Now, in my last blog post I was sure to point out that:

Having had hundreds of interactions with non-YEC Christians, the most common disposition I encounter is not an attempt to fit millions of years into the Bible, but rather to understand the Bible more accurately within its context. Even though I disagree with such individuals about the nature of the Bible, is this not a respectable endeavor? Their intention is not to compromise the Word, but to understand it.

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Optimistically, I wish the above were true in all cases. But the truth is there are many cases where folks are simply convinced of what secular scientists generally teach, and therefore, the face-value understanding of the Bible must be incorrect.

But this sort of thinking has a fatal flaw–an “unargued philosophical assumption.”

Of course, I am referring to the assumption that the majority consensus in science must be right. This particular idea is one that has plagued the origins debate for some time, and strangely, is even advanced by those apologists who would never allow their interlocutors to get away with such reasoning.

It was this same error that led to much of the church accepting the idea of geocentrism centuries ago.

We should be quite careful to remember that we, as humans, are fallen. And not only are we fallen, but the Bible clearly teaches that our every inclination is against God when still in an unregenerate state. Of course, many unbelievers are extremely intelligent and can know all sorts of things. But the Bible teaches that these folks will not be able to see the evidence right in front of them that points to their Creator (see Romans 1).

It may take time, but I suspect this same thing will happen to the neo-Darwinian take on evolutionary theory. I don’t necessarily dismiss it on scientific grounds (even though I recognize its manifold issues); rather, I dismiss it on biblical grounds. My understanding of the Bible tells me something different than the General Theory of Evolution (GTE).

But then, one more question arises: At what point would I allow modern science to dictate my understanding of the Bible?

This particular question is fresh on my mind because I was just asked it last week! Actually, it’s not as easy an answer as one might think.

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Generally speaking, there two ways in which one can hold information in relation to the Bible: magisterially, and ministerially. The first requires us to change the plain meaning of Scripture, the second allows us to bolster the plain meaning of Scripture.

For example, interpreting the Bible in terms of evolutionary thinking would require taking Genesis 1-11 in a very figurative sense. But scholars are nowhere close to agreement on what this even means! Some say allegory, some say poetic, and some merely say “non-literal.” But Jesus, Paul, Peter, and many other writers of the Bible understood these passages literally and historically. This would be a magisterial relationship. Science requires that we alter the plain meaning of Scripture.

On the ministerial view, we could turn to Job 40 and consider the description of what seems to be a giant beast of some sort called Behemoth. For centuries, Bible commentators described the creature as possibly being some sort of hippopotamus-like animal. But that hardly fits the description. Upon the discovery of sauropod dinosaurs, however, we found a real-life beast that existed in the past matching almost perfectly this description. We did not have to change what the Bible said; rather, we altered our understanding of the natural world.

Therefore, I don’t at any point allow modern science to alter my understanding of the Bible per se. Rather, I take Scripture at face value and alter my understanding of the natural world accordingly. Most scientists say there was no global flood, the Bible says there was. Thus, there was a global flood.

And, thankfully, many Bible-believing scientists have come along and done great work under this presupposition to show that, indeed, the Bible has it right!

We must always remember that the Bible is concerned with history. While we are in agreement with most (if not all) observational science, forensic science must be carried out with certain axioms in mind. If one’s axiom is that the Bible is to be taken at face value, he will come to a very different conclusion than the one who says the axioms of modern scientists are correct, and that understanding must be integrated with the information from the Bible.

Such an “integration” will, as it has in the past, inevitably lead to the reinterpretation of the Bible instead of the natural world. This we must do our best to guard against.

Steve Schramm

Written by Steve Schramm

Steve is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher with a heart for exploring God’s Word and God’s world. He trains Christians to become confident, passionate servants of Jesus, so they can grow in their walk with God and share their faith more persuasively. Enroll in Steve's FREE email course, The Battle for the Beginning, by going to steveschramm.com/battle.

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  1. My fellow creationist Christians, some very famous, do not understand THE science that disproves evolution. That science has occurred in this decade. One is that ‘junk DNA’ was found to be not junk but had real functions. Number two, it is epigenetics that passes traits and adaptations to changed diet or environment for proven hundreds of generations and inferred for thousands WITHOUT ANY DNA SEQUENCE CHANGE/MUTATIONS FOR NATURAL SELECTION TO WORK UPON. That is new 2014 information. Number three, the discovery of ‘orphan genes’ that makes up 10% to 30% of all genomes of life. These genes have no common homolog with their ‘evolutionary cousins’ at all. They have no parent, no family in the other, that goes against the premise of gradual evolution over millions of years. Orphan genes are too complicated to form on their own AND for them to clean up the gene residue in the corresponding ‘evolutionary cousin’…like ants to other species of ants or…the chimp to humans. Only an abrupt creation can explain them. Chimps and humans have 1307 of these unique genes that make us all human or all chimp. This became big news in about 2013. What did evolutionist depend on before this discovery? It was mere deletions, insertions, and substitutions [indels] of DNA’s nucleotides. That is laughable because of the very, very small progress those would entail. That would be like golfers making divots in the grass with their clubs to cause wholesale changes to golf courses. Or let’s say it is just screws, sheet metal, and wires that build a space shuttle. It’s not going to happen. Fourthly, it is actual tissue found in dinosaurs or ancient life from over ‘500 million years ago’. A life form whose fossil looks like a plant from 558 million years ago was so well preserved it had cholesterol fats in it! Evolutionist’s refusal to publish Carbon 14 results showing deep-time depletion and creationists showing STRONG-PRESENCE affirmation of Carbon 14 is another kill-shot on evolution. So…creationist…the science is there. Bring up the game in your debates. Research these topics and make them your own. That goes for the beginners and the famous veterans. Let’s do this.

  2. Great stuff!!!!!!!
    All articles much appreciated. If you don’t mind, I pass them on to the younger generation who were exposed to the blatantly false pseudo science in high school and college.
    (I’m an ancient mariner and was exposed to God’s precisely placed heavenly bodies which allowed us to find our way round His planet)

  3. Excellent article! Of course, much more could be said, but it could also be summed up in one word: Authoritarianism. This is one of the philosophical powerhouses that science was designed to exclude, but when science became very successful in revealing facts about nature and those facts led to technology and medicine that brought great blessings, people making scientific pronouncements were regarded as reliable authorities. And generally there was good reason.
    Unfortunately, another aspect of philosophy, naturalism, with the help of Deism, Rationalism, religious Liberalism and eventually Modernism, extended the authority of science beyond what could be demonstrated by the scientific method, to include pronouncements based on circumstantial evidence about the past, on the assumption that natural processes were all that were required. Even the theologians pushed God back to somehow starting it all, perhaps believing that He would not interfere with the “laws” of nature afterwards.
    The Scopes trial in the mid-1920s might have been a turning point, but instead it showed how much of Christianity had already bowed to the authority of the majority of scientists and the societal pressure to be modern and sophisticated.
    Now, arguably, we’ve gone beyond that stage into post-modernism, where most people don’t even believe there is an absolute truth, but everything is relative. It’s no longer so much a matter of bowing to the authority of scientists, but of not wanting to take any kind of stand — just mash everything together, never mind the inconsistencies, and call it good. All too many Christians (denominations, seminaries, etc.) have abandoned accepting the Bible as the clear, accurate, infallible, authoritative fundamental Word of God for too long. We can only work and pray for the Holy Ghost to preserve the faithful and bring as many lost individuals to salvation through faith in Christ as possible.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you sir! Yes, indeed, much more could be said. It’s a problem with numerous layers, and we won’t see it rectified overnight.

      Thank God we know that HE will have the final say. His Word, as clearly written and communicated, has outlasted every “ism” to exalt itself against God and will continue to do so.

      Thanks for writing in!

  4. Hi Steve.
    Regarding Neo-darwinism, you write
    I suspect this same thing will happen to the neo-Darwinian take on evolutionary theory. I don’t necessarily dismiss it on scientific grounds (even though I recognize its manifold issues); rather, I dismiss it on biblical grounds.
    I dismiss it both on scientific and Biblical grounds. It is quite clear that both classical and neo-Darwinism is physically and literally impossible. Thus I think the stronger apologetic is – science demonstrates evolutionary theory to be impossible. Thus to believe in something that is impossible is irrational. (Thus my focus on Rational Faith.. Evolution is an adult fairy tale. Not only is it not biblical, but even if you don’t accept the Bible it is no more possible that Santa arriving at your door via flying reindeer -including one with a glow-in-the-dark nose; and sliding down your chimney – whether or not you have one. We don’t believe in such fairy tales. Evolution is the same type of fairy tale and should be rejected in the same manner – whether or not you believe the Bible.
    In other words showing evolution false apart from the Bible can be part of removing one more objection to faith.

    • Duane, thanks for writing in! I appreciate your reply and your ministry work; however, I would challenge you to adopt a different demeanor regarding the notion of evolution. I DO think it is scientifically wanting; but that is *not* to say that it is without evidence, in the same sense that Santa Claus is.

      Let me encourage you to read two articles, both written by one of the brightest and most influential minds in creation research today: http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html and http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/11/truth-about-creationism.html.

      I know from first-hand experience that when you show up to the conversation with the attitude that evolution is a fairy-tale, you are immediately tuned out. I have been able to make inroads into the lives of folks who will not even *listen* to most young earth creationists, just because I’ve been patient with them and did not insult their views.

      Thus, I mean no disrespect, but if we desire to have an *actual* impact on others in the origins discussion, it will never happen if we do not approach each conversation with grace and humility.

      I agree with you that “In other words showing evolution false apart from the Bible can be part of removing one more objection to faith.” Hence, why I write and podcast about creation! I *want* others to know that evolution is wrong, and I *do* reject it on scientific grounds.

      But how we approach these conversations literally changes everything about how we are received. And *that* is more important than anything.

  5. Hi Steve,
    To clarify, I didn’t say we need to start the discussion with evolution is a fairy tale. That’s my expression for demonstrating how false it is. That is my way of telling Christians how far they want to stay away from it. That doesn’t mean that’s how I’d start a discussion. What it does mean is that I believe Christians tend to give too much credence and too much leeway to the evolutionary / old earth paradigm. Why else is theistic evolution hanging around? Why else do even many well known Intelligent Design advocates believe in an old earth? Because they’ve bought into some of the falsehoods of the old earth / evolutionary paradigm. We as Christians should know better.

    And since we know better we should give false theories no quarter. Is it okay to teach that murder is okay? I suspect you’d say no because no one disputes that murder (not killing, but unjustified murder) is unequivocally wrong. That’s where we should be with evolution. If we wouldn’t equivocate on something as obviously wrong as murder, why do we equivocate on something as obviously wrong as evolution?

    As for the first article you point out, Todd states, “There is evidence for evolution, and evolution is an extremely successful scientific theory.” That’s quite the misleading statement. Typical of what evolutionists do. (Not meaning to call him an evolutionist by the way) What does he mean by “evolution”. As I point out in

    Fallacious Evolutionary Arguments Part II: The Name Game
    , evolutionists play games with the name “evolution” and its meaning. And successful theories come and go. The Ptolemaic geocentric theory of the solar system was once a very successful model. Blood letting in medicine was once widely held and practiced – and thus was a successful model. But both were the wrong approach and simply put – wrong. Being a success in science for a time does not make it correct or true.

    As for evidence – I would challenge you that if you define it properly, and distinguish between microevolution (variation) and macro-evolution (molecules to man evolution) as I do in

    MicroEvolution: Dispelling the Myths and Misconceptions
    you will find there is zero evidence for macro evolution. None. Nada. What they point to as evolution – is invariably variation – which we don’t disagree happens. If you think there is evidence for macro-evolution, I would gently suggest you’ve fallen for their name-game tactic of changing terms to make it appear evolution is true.

    As to tone – I would agree you should not come out with six guns blazing trying to shoot down your opponent. Listening is a good thing. But I don’t consider you an opponent. I would consider you a brother in the faith whom I’m trying to gently admonish since according to the apostle James “…you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3.1)

    Thus my advice and approach: do not give an inch on what we know to be true. We know God created in 6 days. We know this does not give molecules-to-man evolution even a remote chance work. In such a time frame it’s simply impossible. We also know by observed science such as specified complexity, and other indications of design; and non-material components of life such as consciousness (which has no material explanation) and the very origin of life (for which they have no explanation) that both classical and neo Darwinian evolution are impossible. So be as gentle as you’d like to those you witnessing to. Go ahead and distinguish variation and affirm it. But don’t give an inch to the false doctrine of molecules to man evolution – either in your belief, or your apologetics.

  6. Duane, in reading you, certainly we have much more in common than we disagree on 🙂

    And I would tend to agree that making the distinction in what we mean by evolution is vitally important, and I would also tend to agree that every time an evolutionist points to real world example, it affirms *varitation*.

    Todd *is* using the term, make no mistake, in the neo-Darwinian sense. He does not intend to be misleading–he intends it to mean exactly how it sounds. But this is because of his specialized knowledge as a trained biologist. To say that evolutionists cannot successfully formulate computer modeling that would show an ancestral relationship between visually and anatomically unrelated organisms is just incorrect–they can, and do. I often refer to this as evolution being *computationally* correct.

    The problem, of course, is the assumption that we should do such a thing! Why only focus on the continuity between organisms when one can focus on the *discontinuity* just as well? Evolutionary biosystematics makes no robust provision for discontinuity–but creationary baraminology does. Thus, we can show that even the evidence they *do* have only works under an a priori assumption that drives the data toward their desired conclusion.

    So I think it’s important to make a distinction between saying that evolution is without evidence, and that evolution is unable to explain the features of our world, nor should it be used to do so. Just some thoughts! Much love in Christ, brother.

  7. Hi Steve,
    Yes, we have much more in common that what we disagree on. I just want to impress the point that the idea of highly complex, clearly designed material things coming from purposeless, meaningless forces (as required by evolution) is an idea that is totally without merit. We never see anything like that happening anywhere. All we see is design “all the way down.” This is to say nothing of immaterial things that evolution can’t even hope to create like complex codes (think DNA), logic, consciousness, etc. Therefore we should give evolution no quarter.

    I maintain that not only is evolution impossible, there is also no evidence of it. As for software modeling an “ancestral relationship” – that does not indicate evolution anymore than showing a relationship between a Honda car and a Honda motorcycle gives evidence of the car evolving from the motorcycle because they both have a common “Honda” ancestor. Only an assumption – (an a priori commitment to evolution) would lead you to that conclusion. I also maintain you cannot “model” evolution on a computer without implicitly including elements of design. (For details see Evolution and Software – A Fundamental Misunderstanding – or an Outright Fraud?)

    If we believe the resurrection is true, we should not give an inch to those who deny it. If we believe evolution is false, (especially since they sing its praises in every nature/biology documentary made by secular scientists) we should not give an inch those who support it and deny creation and intelligent design.

    Let me leave it at that, and if you still doubt evolution has no merit, then according to the word of the Lord through the apostle I trust “…if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (Php 3:15) (I realize that could apply to me too – so we’ll see who the Lord instructs!)

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