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.
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.
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.
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.