As many of you undoubtedly know, Albert Mohler gave a talk at Ligonier earlier this year defending young-earth creationism (video, transcript).

Have you seen this response from Biologos—an organization designed to help the church, and students in particular, reconcile macroevolution with Christianity—posted at the Huffington Post? The VP of Biologos, Karl Giberson, picks up on a single line of Mohler’s address, regarding whether or not Darwin went on his expedition to prove the theory of evolution.

Dr. Giberson’s response is, frankly, embarrassing—especially for a Christian. With hyperbolic immaturity he casts aspersions upon Dr. Mohler’s character.

Today Dr. Mohler posts an open letter to Dr. Giberson. In part, he writes:

Your tone — hardly the tone of a serious scholar or scientist — is even more disappointing. You make quite a shocking list of accusations. You suggest that I do not “seem to care about the truth” and that I seem “quite content to make stuff up when it serves [my] purpose.” Those are not insignificant charges. You say that I “made false statements about [Charles] Darwin.” I would not want to do that, so I have once again looked carefully at the evidence.

You can read the whole thing.

This piece by Dr. Giberson confirms my impressions of Biologos. They may be doing some helpful things here and there, but some of their main themes seem to be an insisting on theistic evolution, casting doubts on Adam and Eve’s historicity, and the undermining of inerrancy.

I don’t mind saying that I hope they fail in each of these endeavors.

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114 thoughts on “Mohler, Biologos, and Slander”

  1. Ray Ortlund says:

    Hoping for their failure in these particular respects, it seems to me, is required by faithfulness to Christ. Not everything deserves our hopes for success. Thanks for stating it plainly, JT.

    1. Brad says:

      “Hoping for their failure in these particular respects, it seems to me, is required by faithfulness to Christ.”

      Yet why engage in this controversy at all? Aren’t we urged to abstain from foolish quarrels and arguments? Frankly, two Internet, parachurch heavyweights trading insults isn’t helpful to anyone – least of all advancing the Gospel.

      Or are we really prepared to go the full distances here (as Mohler and Biologos seem to be on this path) and make YEC or OEC a litmus test for salvation?

      1. Sean says:

        Justin and Ray,

        Have either of you read the article that Tim Keller wrote for BioLogos?

  2. Steve Potts says:

    The divisiveness and dogmatism on both sides of this debate–Dr. Mohler’s insistence on Young Earth Creationism and Dr. Giberson’s advocacy of theistic evolution–is unfortunate. General revelation does not “trump” special revelation, but it must inform our interpretation of special revelation. Christians who rejected Galileo’s correction of the geocentric view of the solar system thought they were being faithful to a literal interpretation of the Bible, but they were mistaken. To insist that only young earth creationists can truly be faithful inerrantists and consistent evangelicals is unnecessarily provocative and divisive. Many of the leaders of the inerrancy debate among evangelicals were not young earth creationists, such as Walter Kaiser, Gleason Archer, Norman Geisler, Millard Erickson, as well as J.I. Packer, and other that Dr. Mohler mentioned in his orginal address. The list of conservative Christian scholars who are not young creationists is substantial. Certainly all of them could be wrong about this, but to indicate that denial of young earth creationism will inevitably undermine Christian orthodoxy and is tantamount to rejection of inerrancy is unfair, untrue, and unwise. Dr. Giberson and some others at Biologos may indeed reject inerrancy or at least some definitions of it, but this does not mean that all old earth creationists or even all theistic evolutionists do. Can we tone down the harsh edges of this debate and recognize that solid evangelicals have a diversity of views on the precise ways to reconcile Scripture and science? Is it wise to draw the lines of acceptable interpretations on this matter even tighter and cause more disunity within evangelicalism? Shouldn’t we instead strengthen the common ground between all evangelicals who heartily affirm that we believe in our glorious Creator?

    Steve Potts
    pastor, Westwood Baptist Church
    Birmingham, Alabama

    1. Brian MaArevey says:

      Well said Steve.

    2. Matthaeus Flexibilis says:

      Thank you, Steve.

      JT, You’re certainly right that Giberson and some Biologos contributors are not as charitable or humble as they should be, and the same is true of too many young earth advocates, as Steve says here. That should not be overlooked, as if one side is entirely humble and the other only disputatious. Sadly, both misrepresent and exaggerate and virtually contemn (if not condemn) those who disagree.

      As for Biologos itself, they allow and present differing views on the historicity of Adam and Eve and the inerrancy of the Bible. Their main thrust, ISTM, is reconciling evolution with the Bible, and a way that some — but not all! — of their contributors do this is by giving up Adam or inerrancy. There are and have been plenty who have held both to inerrancy and Adam and to evolution. Let’s not conflate what appears to many wise persons to be separable.

      Rather than fail utterly, I’d hope Biologos could repent and undertake their stated task with greater charity, even if their theories are ultimately overturned. Moreover, I hope the same for their opponents.

    3. Shamgar says:

      Interesting. I guess I’ll ask you the one question I always ask people with this view.

      So, assuming you believe in a historic Adam and Eve, was there death in the world prior to the fall?

      If so, why?

    4. Jason says:

      Steve,

      I disagree with you on several of your points, but the core of each of them is the same. In all of your examples you fail to address the substance of the positions in various forms of opposition. You only say that there were disagreements, you do not address the reasons for these disagreements. Indeed, in your own criticism of Dr. Mohler, you fail to address his errors, only succeeding in saying that they are grievous, if unaddressed. That can be said to be equally as poor form as that of which you accuse Dr. Mohler, since you are, in fact, stirring up more divisiveness by saying what people should be doing, without addressing the why. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Dr. Mohler did.

      Mark Dever has told a story of his time in seminary, during which he confronted Roger Nicole over his repeated use of innerrancy. Dr. Dever says that he levied a similar critique, saying that to use the term so commonly was a “red flag to a bull”. Dr. Nicole replied (paraphrasing) “I do not use ‘inerrancy’ to tell others what I think, I use inerrancy to find out why they do not.”

      Though a young earth position certainly does not insulate one from incredibly bad hermeneutics, those of an old-earth position have more often been willing to subjugate special revelation to general revelation – or at least use contemporary notions of general revelation as the authoritative interpretive lens, and this has been shown to be the case through the Enns kerfuffle. Taking a strong but kind stand in the opposing direction is not only a faithful position, it can have the effect of procuring resistance from those whose views are not biblical or whose views are at least questionable. The ideas and actions of those at BioLogos are largely not biblically faithful, nor a good witness. Is this not helping to illustrate Dr. Nicole’s idea, fleshing out suspect positions by taking a didactic stand with Scripture? Isn’t seeking out things to agree on often just a coping mechanism so that we can continue to ignore the elephant in the sanctuary?

      Jason

      1. Elliott N. says:

        Very well stated! My thoughts exactly!

  3. John says:

    Amen Steve

  4. Aaron Britton says:

    Steve,

    I don’t think Justin or Dr. Mohler are saying that ALL old-earthers are “attacking inerrancy” or “denying the historicity of Adam. . “. They are pointing out those specific errors. I thought Dr. Mohler was quite charitable to the day-age view, while disagreeing with it.

    The attack on Adam and insistence on theistic evolution is way beyond a biblical, old earth position

  5. Scott Newman says:

    Why shouldn’t iron sharpen iron? I for one welcome the debate. Apathy often masquerades as “Can’t we all get along?” Praise the Lord for Mohler’s passion. We desperately need more men with “fire in the belly!”

  6. Scott C says:

    Steve said:
    “General revelation does not ‘trump’ special revelation, but it must inform our interpretation of special revelation.”

    This statement is made (particularly the latter half of it) as if it is a given for both sides of the debate. Yet, it drives to the very crux of the debate. IOW, it is a matter of debate whether this statement is true or should be upheld and thus why there is even a debate at all. Whether general revelation (whatever is meant by that) should inform the interpretation of special revelation is quite a critical issue in the matter and is not a given as you suppose. The question does not just concern Biblical innerancy, but the authority and sufficiency of scripture. Therefore, many cannot accept your statement as a given.

  7. Denny Burk says:

    Hear, Hear, Justin.

  8. Robert says:

    Amen to Steve.

    Let me share a story. Many years ago, I worked with a well-known parachurch ministry. A large Young Earth-oriented ministry began to publish all sorts of slander about our founder, all because we invited a person who believes in Old Earth and he gave a literary endorsement of a book by this person who believes in an Old Earth.

    I called this ministry and spoke to my counterpart there. He was hostile and I was aggravated, so the conversation didn’t go well. His parting shot was that my boss would continue to be “called out” (slandered in this case) for his support of Old Earth (he wasn’t supporting it as much as he didn’t condemn those who believed in it, worked with them as brothers).

    I repeated what I heard back to him and he said it again–they would continue to say all manner of evil against my boss until he was actively attacking all who believed in Old Earth, barring them from our conferences, magazines, and so forth.

    At that point I said that my boss would like to speak to his boss. They did speak and reached no resolution.

    The moral of the story is that there is unsanctified behavior on all sides of the issue. And unsanctified behavior is no proof that the actual position is wrong. Each side can be immature while their position is actually mature and reflecting Scripture.

    In the end, it’s a lot about money and power and not so much about telling the truth in love. That was my summary after thinking about it and watching the various ministries function for so many years.

  9. Niles says:

    I listened to Dr. Mohler’s talk and read both articles. I actually linked to it on my fb page under a very subtle heading of “Listening to this”, with “this” being hyperlinked to Dr. Mohler’s message. I received a message from a family member who was so confused about why some Christians want to put science against Christianity.

    This seems to me to be a widespread issue on the topic; the issue is not listening fully and thinking through what the other party is saying or has said. Being charitable, I would say this is what drove Dr. Giberson to such a open letter – but I don’t think that’s what happened. It seemed pretty obvious to me, having read and listened to Mohler on the mentioned topic, that Giberson’s open letter was verging on or stepped in a pile of straw-men.

    I would agree that he treated the other views quite fairly, but yeah, he came down hard on what he feels compromises the Gospel. I don’t blame him.

  10. JW says:

    The “hyperbolic immaturity” seems to be continuing with each response to the response, etc. This blog post included.

    1. Daniel says:

      JW…out of curiosity…which part of this post is hyperbole? Hyperbole being simply defined as an overstatement or exaggeration? And after you answer that, please describe exactly how this post is immature?

      1. Nate says:

        Daniel, I would put Taylor’s characterization of Giberson’s piece as “hyperbolic immaturity” as an example of hyperbolic immaturity.

        1. JW says:

          Agreed. I don’t have the time to pull out all the quotes I think are absurd, but as I read first the Huffington piece, then Mohler’s reponse, and now this post from Justin I don’t see progress. I see more and more cheap shots. I’m tempted to say a pox on both your houses, but that would add to the hyperbolic immaturity in question.

  11. Steve Potts says:

    If general revelation (the created universe and our perception of it?) does not play a crucial role in our interpretation of special revelation then why are there seemingly so few geocentrists around today, even among fundamentalists? There are passages of the Bible that were historically understood to teach a geocentric view (for the first 1500 yearsor so of church history). Certainly, the denial of a geocentric view has less impact on Christian theology than issues about evolution. However, such a change in perspective about geocentricism was highly controversial at the time. The evidence seems pretty convincing that the earth is much older than young earth creationism suggests. I am neither a scientist or much of a theologian, but it concerns me when leaders like Dr. Mohler start talking about the “24-hour calendar day” view being the only sufficent one. The tendency has been to draw a line on such an issue and then enforce it as a rule. A vigorous debate among Christian brothers and sisters is helful and stimulating. A new boundary to determine who is or is not a “good evangelical” is another matter.

    1. Niles says:

      Mr. Potts, isn’t Dr. Mohler merely laying out an arguement? If there is a debate, one must pick a side. He’s picked his and given a defense of it. I don’t see him drawing a line for everyone and enforcing it as die-hard as it’s being made out. He would try to convince you, but again, it’s a debate. And if Dr. Giberson is the other side, well, it’s his turn.

    2. Doc B says:

      Pastor Potts,

      You say you aren’t a scientist, then you say the evidence (you don’t say of what) seems pretty convincing that the earth is much older than young earth creationism suggests (you don’t say how old that is). Within what framework is this evidence convincing to you, if it is neither science nor theology?

      Well, I am a scientist (PhD), and I strongly disagree with you on your point of science- the evidence in fact strongly suggests an earth much younger than evolutionism (of any stripe) suggests. I’ve seen empirical estimates, using mostly geologic measures, from about 100,000 years down to about 300 years, with most falling in the 6,000 to 10,000 Y.O. range.

      Now, how can that be?

      As one famous evolutionist exclaimed, “I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it.” In other words, our worldview biases our understanding of the evidence (i.e. fossils, geologic strata, etc.). Mine is biased toward creationism because I believe scripture (as I understand it). The folks over at Biologos are biased toward evolutionism because they believe science (as they understand it). Others may choose theistic evolution or day-age or whatever else, based on what they believe in their worldview framework, about either science or scripture.

      Bottom line- don’t pretend that what you believe is based in an unbiased way on empirical evidence. That’s not true for anyone unless they grew up in a proverbial bubble. You and I believe what we believe because of how and what we previously believed, not because of what we see. Augustine was right: we choose what we want the most at the moment of choice.

      If you don’t have an understanding of how it all happened and want to sit on the fence, fine; but if you do, and you still sit on the fence, shame on you. Thus, don’t criticize Dr. Mohler for aggressively defending his position on 24-hour literal days. Argue the fact if you desire, as the critics of Biologos have (mostly) done. But if you do, please stay logically consistent and do with Adam, sin, and the fall what must be done if you choose an evolutionary or extreme old-earth position.

      That lack of logical consistency is what makes some of us so annoyed with Biologos.

      1. Steve Potts says:

        Dr. B, it is not my intention to criticize Dr. Mohler or anyone else for a strong advocacy of the young earth perspective. My concern has to do with how this issue has been used by some to distinguish between who is acceptable and unacceptable within evangelical circles. As I read materials from organizations like Answers in Genesis, Reasons to Believe (Hugh Ross), authors like Alister McGrath, Davis Young (“The Bible, Rocks, and Time,” etc.), Phillip Johnson, John Walton, and others, I find a fascinating and sometimes perplexing array of information. As a scientist I’m sure you can appreciate the challenge that those not academically trained with advanced science degrees find in this debate. By all means have the debate. I hope to learn from it. I am committed to the full authority of Scripture, but so are many of the proponents on each side of this controversy. At this point I have found those who hold to an old earth view more persuasive over all, but I am curious to learn more. Is there a book or material that you would recommend that most clearly explains a young earth perspective on geology and related issues?

        1. Todd Morikawa says:

          Steve,
          One of your starting points that I am not persuaded by is that “General revelation does not “trump” special revelation, but it must inform our interpretation of special revelation.” I think I agree somewhat in that learning how to read and how to understand sentences and literature are all a part of general revelation. But I would tend to think that most of the time it would be the other way around, namely, that special revelation should inform our understanding of general.
          I also think it is naive to say that the first 1500 years of Christianity were dominated by a geocentric view of the universe. That would be hard to prove one way or the other.
          I appreciate your clarity and openness to learning more from this debate. I would recommend Vern Poythress, “Redeeming Science” for some perspectives that I do not think are articulated between Mohler and Biologos.

  12. Tad says:

    My concern would not necessarily be with the time or length of creation. Okay fine, the first chapter of Genesis is somewhat poetic, you can believe that and I am okay with you.
    I do have a problem with making Adam and Eve out to be mythical. Paul treats them as real, and in some way bases his book of Romans on Adam and Eve being real, and really eat of a specific tree that God told them not too.
    I don’t think you can make Adam and Eve a myth and have a sound and consistent hermeneutic and believe in the Gospel as explained in the book of Romans. You are going to lose something.

  13. Steve Potts says:

    Tad, I agree.

  14. Scott C says:

    Steve,
    I respectfully disagree with your view of the geocentric issue. The church did not adopt geocentricism because of what the Bible clearly taught, rather they simply believed that the Bible was compatible with what science already maintained a consensus on. Geocentricism was the common scientific consensus at least since Ptolemy. In fact, the Ptolemaic model made better predicitions of planetary orbits than the Copernician model did in the initial stages of the latter theory’s acceptance. So the church was simply lock-step with the scientific consensus which always changes as new discoveries and theories are made. It seems to me to be unwise to use science to revise one’s interpreation of scripture when science itself is constantly undergoing revision.

    1. Andy says:

      Scott is entirely correct.

    2. Doc B says:

      Some very good points, Scott.

      Let’s not lose sight also that the ideas of geocentrism were based on demonstrable, quantifiable, repeatable (and all those other words you learned in your philosophy of science course) measurements.

      That is a far cry from the philosophical assumptions found in the ideas of origins. Neither side (sides?) has any measurable data on that issue. Unless we can learn the Trekkie time-travel thing, only logic can take us there.

  15. Chris says:

    I really don’t see anything slanderous in BioLogos’ response, it seemed really respectful, considering there is a disagreement on fact. I also have to say that the post seems dead on to me regarding Q 1 & 2 especially, and then the disagreement in fact come in Q 3. I tend to agree with BioLogos on this one, but I’m not as quick to go from old earth to evolution.

    1. Doc B says:

      Then, Chris, you didn’t read the sentence about Dr. Mohler not seeming to care about the truth.

      That is slander by any definition.

      1. Chris says:

        You’re right Doc B. I have a post below highlighting that I incorrectly looked at the official BioLogos response, not the one from Huffington Post. Sorry for the confusion.
        http://biologos.org/blog/how-should-biologos-respond-to-dr-albert-mohlers-critique-karls-response/

        1. Doc B says:

          Thanks for pointing that out…I did not know there were two differing posts.

  16. Robert says:

    Scott C said:

    “The church did not adopt geocentricism because of what the Bible clearly taught, rather they simply believed that the Bible was compatible with what science already maintained a consensus on.”

    The crippling effects of the immature literary principles of the time (the four fold hermeneutic, for instance) did put the church in a difficult place when it came to sorting out passages such as these–

    The sun standing still–

    Joshua 10:12-13
    Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

    Habakkuk 3:11
    The sun and moon stood still in their habitation at the light of thine arrows as they sped, at the flash of thy glittering spear.

    Ecclesiastes 1:5
    The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.

    The earth standing still–
    Chronicles 16:30
    tremble before him, all earth; yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved.

    Psalms 93:1
    The Lord reigns; he is robbed in majesty; the lord is robbed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

    Psalms 96:10
    Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

    I’m not a geocentrist. But in the first 1500 years of the church, a very mixed set of literary tools plus logical confusion about the “older is better” argument led them to steadfastly read texts like these as teaching the scientific fact of geocentricism. So I disagree with your statement, even though I agree with your point about the danger of science determining biblical interpretation. Geocentricism WAS clearly read in the Scripture by them.

    1. Doc B says:

      Robert,

      I think you sell the Christians of the first millennium short. They understood, at least to some degree, the use of analogical language.

      I can go right now to any major newspaper (and even most minor ones) and find an chart giving “sunrise” and “sunset” times. I saw the same thing on the Weather Channel this morning.

      Are you going to claim as a result of these findings that geocentrism is clearly read in the mainstream media by modern America?

      I didn’t think so.

      1. Chris says:

        I think you miss the point Doc B. If we take a literal view of Scripture and suggest that Scripture, if it speak to the states of nature, speaks scientifically/technically, then we must argue that the sun does not move and the world is flat.

        If you say that these sections were not to be taken literally as technical truth, why should we do the same with a clearly symbolic first three chapters of Genesis?

        1. Doc B says:

          No, I’m not missing the point.

          I’m not sure that you understand what the “literal view of Scripture” means, though, if you don’t understand the use of analogical language in scripture, and continue to insist that inerrancy means technical language.

          1. Chris says:

            I very much do understand a ‘plain’ understanding of scripture, but this plain understanding recognizes various types of literature and speech. I don’t see this acceptance when considering the first ch. of Genesis, which has clear symbolism and obvious general structure (God, Creation, Empty-Void, Fill-Form, Humanity, Rest). These items should ‘allow’ a more general interpretation in a plain understanding of scripture.

            To require a 24 hour day is a (poor imo) literal interpretation that ignores the implications of the structure of the passage on its interpretation. Moses’ primary goal wasn’t to tell us how God did it, but what God did.

            1. Glenn says:

              Chris, I really must point out that the Hebrew used in Genesis is historical narrative and would have been understood as such by the original ‘audience’.

              Gen 1 is not poetry, symbolic, or even a song as someone elsewhere (not on this blog) tried to suggest.

              God is the only one who was actually there at the beginning and is therefore the only one who is best placed to provide an accurate description of the events involved and the time they took.

              Most, if not all, world class Hebrew scholars will tell you that the intent of the Hebrew language and grammar used in Genesis, is to impart that God created in 6 literal days.
              The only way to get a different idea is to impose views from outside scripture.

              Just an aside; have you noticed that nobody disputes the meaning from context of ‘day’ when used anywhere else in scripture, only in Genesis. The use of evening or morning or a number when associated with ‘day’ elsewhere in scripture always refers to a literal normal day.
              The use of all three really does hammer home the point.

              1. Chris says:

                Glenn, I appreciate you comment but you swallow a camel to keep a simple distinction in your types of hebrew literature. What was the name of that literature textbook that Moses used? ;o)

                D.A. Carson says in his new book The God Who is There that Genesis 1-3 is clearly multiple genres and he chooses not to express his views on the specific interpretation, but rather gives some general issues that are clearly taught from the text. None of these require a literal interpretation (and clearly not a 6-day interpretation).

                Unfortunately, I can’t name drop OT scholars, but I have the faces of at least three top level, conservative scholars in the OT that would state emphatically that a 6-day creation is not required by Genesis and maybe go much further. One wrote a recent book as a reinterpretation of Gen. 1 based on ancient cosmology, I think he’s at Wheaton. Another was recently ‘disinvited’ from a very prominent conference because he suggested it was not necessary to see a literal adam in Gen. (I just saw this his comments on YouTube two weeks ago, Longer…somthing), and another recently ‘resigned’ from a prominent OT name professor position because he suggested that evangelicals needed to allow more room for theistic evolutionary interpretations. That’s just in the last several months! Please forgive for minor descrepancies here, I really can’t remember names…but I don’t see the consensus of which you speak.

      2. casey says:

        Doc B,

        But without a Copernican understanding of the solar system, one has no grounds to label these scriptures as analogical. Without knoweldge of a heliocentric solar system (not going to get it from the scriptures) why interpret those statemets in scripture as analogical?

        Perhaps this is why the church held tightly to geocentrism and referred to the authoritative Word of God in these passages to prove it?

        They took a literal reading of the text, which they had no good reason not to do, and used it to establish incorrect views of the physical universe. Anyone in the same situation would have done it as well. It took science observing natural revelation to divulge the full truth about the physical universe, which only after the fact was it realized that scrpture wasn’t actually commenting on.

        1. Doc B says:

          All true, assuming you don’t have the Holy Spirit in the middle of it.

          He certainly knew about analogical language, and the plenary inspiration principal allows for the Holy Spirit to use the human personalities and understandings of the writers to ‘interpret’ the inspiration of truth as given to them.

          If you take either position to the side of plenary inspiration, you indeed have problems. Not so with plenary inspiration.

          But this is getting way off topic, now.

  17. Chris says:

    Sorry everybody, I was reading a much more civil post at BioLogos, are we sure the Huffinington Post article represents the views of BioLogos? Below is the post I was referencing. sorry again.
    http://biologos.org/blog/how-should-biologos-respond-to-dr-albert-mohlers-critique-karls-response/

  18. Brad says:

    As a lay person, here is my confusion. Almost all of the Christians I know who are expert scientists have no problem believing in evolution and the authority of the Bible simultaneously. They seem to let Scientists, not the Bible, determine scientific questions, which seems good and right to me.

    On the other hand, those who are most anti-evolution seem to have very little knowledge of Science, and yet oddly enough, try to read Genesis as a scientific textbook.

    Also, I continue to come across many expert biblical scholars who question the historicity of Adam and Eve and still believe in the inerrancy and authority of the Bible.

    At the end of the day, I have just decided that it is ok to debate and leave these questions open-ended. Right now, I don’t see these issues as an attack on the Bible, the gospel, or the nature of God.

    1. Matthaeus Flexibilis says:

      Thanks, Brad. I’m with you — open-ended is fine with me, though I have my provisional leanings. My faith won’t be destroyed if I find out for certain that it was all made either in 144 hours or over 4 billion years.

    2. Chris says:

      I agree. It strikes me as questionable from an evangelical prespective to argue about science when the Scripture is far from clear on these points. Augustine, apparently, did not see issues like these as vital, I should we.

    3. Doc B says:

      Well, Brad, you don’t know me, but I’m a Christian, a scientist, (but not a Christian Scientist, ha ha); I have a huge problem with evolution.

      And I was a neo-Darwinist until my late 20s.

      Don’t let them confuse with with the ‘Bible isn’t a science book’ arguments. It isn’t and doesn’t claim to be. But where it speak about issues that science can address, it is NOT WRONG on those issues. (Even when we misunderstand it.)

      I agree that some people treat Genesis as a science textbook, that’s a bit of a false analogy. Romans isn’t a theology textbook either, but a good exegete can glean a tremendous amount of valuable theology from the book of Romans. A good exegete can also gain some valuable information about the world and why things are the way they are, and appear the way they appear, from the book of Genesis. Can you see the differences in that distinction?

      Don’t fall in to the logical inconsistencies (where I lived for almost 30 years) of the “no Adam and Eve but I believe in the inerrant scripture” folks, either. You may interpret certain details in Genesis differently than other believers, but you can’t throw out Adam and Eve, sin, and the fall of man without throwing out the gospel of Christ. So your last paragraph, about these issues being an attack on the gospel, is logically inconsistent. If Adam didn’t sin and fall, Christ died for nothing. Without the literal fall of man, there is no need for the gospel, and we don’t need saved from anything; certainly not the wrath of God.

      There is no other attack in history, other than self-righteousness/legalism, that is as great an attack on the gospel as is evolutionary theory. (And it is BTW, also an attack on the Bible, on truth, and on the nature of God.)

      1. Nate says:

        “Doc B” you are free to have your opinion, but it might be best not to speak ex-cathedra about what can and cannot be compatible with the Gospel, especially since there are many wonderfully thoughtful and capable people who would disagree with you.

        1. Doc B says:

          I wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra, I was speaking ex-interneta.

          And I can find even more wonderfully thoughtful and capable people who agree with me.

          Kinda ruins your trump-card, eh?

          1. Nate says:

            I think ex-interneta is worse. Blog posts are not always the best place to engage in discussions that requires subtlety, and likely a pint or two. But more importantly, you are making my point. Rather than making pronouncements, knowing that there are bright and mature people on both sides, maybe we can let go of the “I am a doctor and former Darwinist so listen to me” vibe. It won’t convince.

            1. Doc B says:

              Neither will, “I can find a buncha folks who agree with me.”

            2. Doc B says:

              By the way, with exactly which of my ‘pronouncement(s)’ do you disagree?

        2. Barry Passmore says:

          Thanks for the reminder Nate. You can be sure there is no shortage of respected and published scientists from both houses. Would that Ronald Numbers, The Creationists, was required reading to facilitate contextual framing of the arguments.

      2. Chris says:

        You don’t have to believe in a literal Adam and Eve to believe in a literal fall. Adam means man and Eve mean life (i think?), they could easily be symbolic of humanities falleness/sinfulness.

        1. Doc B says:

          OK, Chris, I’m game. Give me a logically consistent explanation of a literal fall without a literal Adam.

          1. Chris says:

            Humanity seeks darkness rather than light, that is the falleness of humanity. God created humans to glorify His name and He created them to have relationship with Him, but the influence of satan, which shouldn’t require our unfaithfulness, was/is accepted and embraced by humanity and we all seek darkness rather than light. Adam represents man, Eve represents life, serpent is satan, tree of life/knowledge is communion with God/rebellion from God.

            1. Doc B says:

              Not even close, yet. Help me out-

              What caused humanity to seek darkness, rather than light?

              Is your satan literal, or not?

              Why did humanity embrace the ‘influence of satan’?

              What does the third clause in your second sentence mean? It makes no sense as is.

              What is your exegetical evidence that Adam is only a representative of man, and Eve of life? And how was life formed from man?

              Why would God forbid man to commune with him, if relationship was why man was created?

              In your scenario, what exactly is rebellion from God?

              1. Chris says:

                Influence of satan

                Scripture seems to indicate YES (Interpreting symbolic areas of the Scripture symbolically DOES NOT mean you interpret all of Scriputre symbolically, if that was the impression you were trying to leave, if not ignore everything after YES)

                Because satan is alluring, as is glorifying ourselves (the serpent was crafty and Eve was attracted to the fruit on the knowledge tree. Btw, why did Eve eat the apple in the literal account?)

                Satan’s influence does not require our unfaithfulness (i.e., free choice is real, God did not create evil) but we were unfaithful.

                Adam means man, Eve means life. I may be too specific here. Remember that Ch. 1 says “God created Adam, male and female He created them” so maybe Adam and Eve should be taken together as the life of man. The fall would then be the loss of that life. The broader justification is the clear symbolism in the passage.

                Because man is darkness, I do believe in a Holy God (is this a trick question?)

                Idolatry, choosing our own way rather than God’s way

                Going to eat and then to Church, but I’ll check back soon (probably tomorrow). Great discussion!

              2. Justin says:

                So how does this square with Paul’s references to Adam and Eve that appear, at first blush, to be historical? Particularly with Romans 5. But also looking at Paul’s teaching concerning women in church in 2 Timothy 2, specifically 13-14. Paul in those verses seems to interpret Adam as a literal man and Eve as a literal woman. He also bases his whole argument upon the historical reliability of the account by stating that the woman Eve was deceived and that the man Adam was created first.
                If Genesis 2 and 3 are to be interpreted symbolically, why does Paul ground his argument in a literal understanding?

              3. Nate says:

                Justin, Perhaps Paul understood Adam and Eve as literal people because he was an ancient man, and so we should not expect his point of view to determine scientific realities today? We do the same thing with a flat earth, geocentrism, etc., etc. I realize there is more at stake with Adam because of Romans 5, but does that mean it determines the question of human origins? For me, this is a way of framing the debate.

              4. Matt says:

                You guys really should have number the questions, hard to keep track of who’s answering what where. Keep it civil, I’m enjoying the honest inquires.

          2. Nate says:

            Doc B, “logically consistent” according to whom? “Literal” in what way? Anyway, read the early Greek fathers for an answer to your question, and along the way explain what you mean by “fall” and where that fall is found in the Garden story. You are making assumptions here that raise more questions than provide answers.

            1. Doc B says:

              ‘Logically consistent’ according to the accepted rules of logic. Or do you reject those as well?

              1. Nate says:

                No, I’m rejecting you.

              2. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

                Doc B, Thanks for trying to reason with folks. I appreciated reading the exchange.

  19. Speaking of slander, here’s Giberson’s take on Jonathan Edwards in a Salon.com article from 08′:

    “Jonathan Edwards, who waxed eloquent in his famous 1741 speech, ‘Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God,’ about the miserable delusions that lead humans to reject the truth and spend eternity in hell. We still have preachers like Edwards today, of course; they can be found on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.”

    see: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2008/07/31/religion_science/

    This guy is clueless.

    1. Doc B says:

      Heh, heh. If anyone can find a John Edwards anywhere near TBN, I’ll dine on my hat.

  20. Mairnéalach says:

    Some perspective.
    Biologos are mainly theological amateurs. It shows.
    Mohler, Ligonier, etc. are mainly scientific amateurs. It shows.
    Science changes all the time. Bad thing to hang your hat on.
    Theology changes all the time, too. Whoops. (Reformed Baptists, did you know Calvin and Luther probably accepted the perpetual virginity of Mary?) Don’t let that scare you, but by golly, at least let it give you a little circumspection to your rhetorical statements. Theology is a branch of science– the queen– and as such, it rules the other sciences. But, like the other sciences, it can be muddied by its practitioners.
    Christians have been slandering each other over the “plain meaning” of scripture for a lot longer than Darwin. Look at Lutherans and Calvinists and their ungodly arguing over the Real Presence. I think a lot of modern people are just as foolish and irascible as those parties were in their time, over things which are likewise none too “plain” in their meaning.

    1. Doc B says:

      You have certainly proven your point.

      And that’s saying a lot for a postmodernist.

      (Oh, the irony!)

      (c;

    2. Nate says:

      Good points, M. Although “science changes” does not mean we will go back to a young earth resting in the middle of the cosmos–not that you’re implying that, but I have heard people use that point to defend biblical literalism. But, I am not sure about the “theology rules since” rhetoric. Sounds nice, until we remember that’s what Galileo was told (in essence). Unless you mean something more cryptic.

  21. Scott C says:

    Steve,
    The scriptures you raise are interesting examples of how one could interpret the Bible to teach geocentricism. I think these as well as the Genesis acount could be employed to make a case for geocentricism, but not necessarily. IOW, at best the case could be made obliquely but certainly not directly. No passage makes a direct proposition that could be taken to clearly teach geocentricism.

    This leads to the issue of language employed by scripture. The notion of scientific precision or technicality is foreign to scripture as I think all sides of the debate would concur. Even responsibile “literalists” (if you want to call them that, I am fine with the term for myself) take into account the use of language and genre. In particular, the Bible does make use of phenomenological language as Doc B pointed out (he used the word analogical). Even in narrative texts like Genesis 1-3 phenomenological language is used without sacrificing the account as recording actual history. Could the account be construed to teach geocentricism? Possibly, but not necessarily. Good exegesis will never allow a passage to say more than what it actually says and nowhere does Genesis (or the rest of scripture) speak unequivocally of a geocentric universe in the scientific sense (i.e. in the spatial-material realm).

    However, Genesis 1-3 does speak unequivocally of creation taking place in 6 days with numerous supporting evidences. I believe anyone will be hard-pressed to interpret Exod. 20:11 any other way. If the days of creation were clearly understood by the Israelites as anything other than 6 actual days then they would have no basis upon which to undertand when the sabbath was to be observed. Was it to be observed every 7th day or was it to be observed every 7 million/ billion years (if you assume the day-age theory)? IOW, the observation of the sabbath is directly predicated upon the fact that God created the universe in 6 days. The length of those days is the determining factor for when the sabbath occurs and is to be observed. It was in their best interest to interpret those days correctly because their lives depended on it. Violation of the sabbath carried the death penalty (Exod. 31:14). It seems silly to even bring this up as if there was some question in their minds about the length of days. The nature and basis for the command is so clearly straightforward, I doubt there was any second thought about it because there was never any doubt about how long it took God to create the heavens and the earth.

    1. Doc B says:

      I think I’ll let Scott finish these arguments…he is way better with words than I.

      Jolly good show, Scott.

      1. Doc B says:

        (BTW, the use of the subjective pronoun as the object was an attempt at humor.)

    2. Scott C says:

      Sorry, these latest comments were directed at Robert not Steve.

  22. Doc B says:

    Chris,

    I’ve run out of reply buttons, so I’ll start a new thread. You have given me much to think about…I’m glad I have overnight (at least) to do so.

    You are right…great discussion!

  23. Doc B says:

    Nate,

    I’ve also run out of reply buttons on your thread. But since you’ve bowed out of the discussion and gone ad hominem on me (Aug 25, 4:18pm post), I’m not sure there’s anything else to say.

    1. Nate says:

      That wasn’t ad hominem, my good doctor. I was implying that your understanding of how logic applies to the necessity of the fall in the Garden narrative is hardy self-evident. You implied that to disagree with you is to reject the “rules of logic.” I don’t buy that, so, no, I am not rejecting logic but “you.”

      I should also point out that you did not answer my questions.

  24. Justin says:

    Nate — thanks for the reply. Interesting point you make concerning Paul being an ancient man, etc. But where does that path end? I hate slippery slope arguments, but it seems that interpretation can effectively negate every historical claim that scripture makes.

    Regarding Romans 5 and human origins, I would say it must, in some sense, shape our view of human origins because Paul uses human origins to shape his understanding of sin, the cross, and salvation. To deny one of his foundational points concerning these doctrines – an historic Adam – essentially renders his conclusion ineffective. How could one preach that passage if Paul’s argument is dependent upon a false view of reality? Essentially, you would have to say “Paul says this, but he is wrong even though he arrives at a proper conclusion.”

    They are connected, even if we wish they weren’t. Either we allow a symbolic Genesis 1-3 to shape our understanding of Romans 5 or we allow a literal Romans 5 to shape our understanding of Genesis 1-3.

    At least that is my take, and I confess that I am not the brightest. So, I enjoy any wisdom that you might share. –Justin

    1. Nate says:

      I feel you, Justin. I’m trying to get my head around all this, too.

      I guess it is worth asking whether Paul understood that the first humans were created specially by God in relatively recent history. My view is that this is what he thought. So, now what do we do?

      Any view lands us in problems, which is why dialogue is so important. That’s what I think.

    2. Chris says:

      I don’t see the slippery slope on this one. To respond to your previous post Justin, I would just say that the symbol represents something very real. Therefore, when Paul mentions adam and eve he, in a very legitimate way, is accurate to discuss it in literal terms. Now, I was asked to explain the fall in symbolic terms, but I don’t mean to suggest that the fall is the only reality taught by the symbols. Male and Female roles are also very clearly taught by these symbols, if they are symbols. So again, unless you want the symbol to stand for something flighty or shifty, I really don’t see a slippery slope. I wonder, for instance, how you take Revelation, if I go with Carson and say that the genre suggests strong symbolism, am I on the same slope?

      1. Justin says:

        Nate and Chris, thanks brothers for the thoughts. It is difficult to get my head around because these issues are so interconnected.

        Chris, my initial response would be no, you are not on a slippery slope with Revelation. First, you are not attributing the symbolism of Revelation to a pre-scientific man, as was suggested for Paul’s understanding of the creation accounts. So from the beginning you have symbols that are rightly understood as symbols and are consistently interpreted as symbols throughout scripture. However, with the Creation/Fall accounts, it seems like a stretch to see Paul as interpreting Adam and Eve as symbols instead of literal individuals. Second, you are not on a slippery slope because the literal interpretation of Revelation is not used else where in Scripture as a foundation for an important doctrinal argument as Paul does with Creation in Romans 5.

        However, as a point of clarification. The slippery slope that I mentioned was in reference to Paul being an ancient man. The idea that he thought they Adam was literal because he was an ancient man, and therefore he didn’t know any better. The whole “he thought he was right but he was really wrong because he was an ancient man” is a very slippery slope that can be used to deny almost anything historical that the Bible says is true.

        Thanks for the responses. God bless.

  25. Mairnéalach says:

    Scott C

    Scripture also speaks unequivocally in Hebrews 4 that the Sabbath rest is *right now*. As long as it is called “today”.

    Any Christian would be hard pressed to interpret it in any other way.

    It is in a Christian’s best interest to interpret the days correctly because our lives depend on it. Violation of the Sabbath carries the Death penalty.

    1. Glenn says:

      Dear oh dear, the ‘death penalty’ that you speak of applies to the Old Testament or covenant not the New covenant or do you not understand the freedom in Christ that we as believers have been given?

    2. Scott C says:

      Aside from Glenn’s comments several things could be said about your statement here. The writer uses the word “rest” in Heb. 3 and 4 12 times. It not only speaks of entering that rest now, but yet entering it. This alludes to the common “already/ not yet” motif in the NT. As such, it draws from the OT concept of the sabbath to picture the believer’s reconciliation with God as ‘like’ the sabbath rest in the OT. Thus, in this case we have a figurative use of the concept of the sabbath applied to what it means to be reconciled to God.

      This has little or no bearing on the interpretation of Exod. 20:14 except in the following way. Just as words have a denotative meaning, we might say conceptual ideas, events, etc… have denotative meanings (i.e. plain or straightforward meanings). Words also have connotative meanings (i.e. more figurative or metaphorical). Likewise, conceptual ideas can be put to use in a connotative way like the notion of sabbath rest. But in no way does the connotative spectrum of the way words and ideas ‘can’ be used mitigate against their original denotative meanings. In fact, without the denotative meanings one has no foundation for understanding connotative meanings. What you have done is to mitigate a denotative meaning of the concept of sabbath in Exodus 20 with a connotative (i.e. figurative) use of that concept in Heb. 4. When each passage is considered in its own context the distinction becomes clear and you have tried to erase it. The Bible is much more nuanced than the flattening out of meanings you have sought in this example.

  26. donsands says:

    “I guess it is worth asking whether Paul understood that the first humans were created specially by God in relatively recent history. My view is that this is what he thought. So, now what do we do?” Nate

    We can see what Dr. Luke thought, who knew Paul, and he knew Peter, and he said:

    “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli……the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz……the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham…..the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” -His third chapter of his Gospel.

    This is some good truth for us, isn’t it. Awesome truth!

    1. Nate says:

      donsands,

      OK, you can make the same point by Luke 3 as with Romans 5. Now, are you suggesting that this genealogy settles the scientific question of human origins? That’s what I was after in my exchange with Justin.

      Did this Adam live a few thousand years ago, maybe about 4000 years before Jesus–which is certainly what Luke and Paul would have thought. You see, by citing a passage, no issue is really settled, but another one is raised, namely what do we do with the view of origins the biblical authors assumed to be true and the one provided through scientific inquiry?

    2. Justin says:

      nate — that is my question too. And my answer is, I don’t know. But I am very hesitant to side with science because by doing so, it seems many important theological pieces must be then rearranged.

      1. Nate says:

        Maybe we should be open to theological rearrangement?

      2. Justin says:

        I just can’t go there. To me that is admitting Scripture’s interpretation of Scripture is not our authority but science’s interpretation of Scripture is. Science tells us that virgins don’t have babies, dead men are not raised to life (let alone resurrected), river’s don’t part, bread doesn’t fall from heaven, etc. Once we start rearranging clear Scriptural teaching to accommodate science, which this would lead us to, then Scripture is no longer our real authority, our human reason is.

        I pray brother that you walk that path discerningly, but I can’t go there. God bless.

        1. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

          “Scripture is no longer our real authority, our human reason is.”

          Do we submit to Scripture? Or does Scripture submit to us?

          Do we judge Scripture? Or does Scripture judge us?

          Who is our ultimate authority? Ourselves and our fallen brains and our fallen reasoning faculties and our deceitful hearts. Or is our ultimate authority God’s Divinely Inspired Word?

          Scientism? Or Scripture?

          Will Science bow to Scripture when Scripture declares that Jesus resurrected?

        2. Nate says:

          I certainly see your point, Justin, but I don’t think that angle solves very much. One would still have the problem of the scientific data to deal with re: human origins, which would bring us back to square one. I also don’t think events like resurrection and virgin birth are demonstrably true or false as are: whether there is there dome above us, the age of the earth, a global flood, etc. Those things and others are open to scientific investigation. I guess in a way the question might not be whether or not Scripture has authority but over what we should expect it to have authority. In my opinion, I don’t think I should expect the Bible to give me an accurate accounting of some things. Of course, I realize we won’t solve this here. I’m not throwing down the gauntlet, just speaking my mind.

  27. donsands says:

    “Now, are you suggesting that this genealogy settles the scientific question of human origins?” -Nate

    Absolutely. Jesus Christ was crucified, and died. And in three days He rose from the dead. He settles it for me. He could have, since He came from the Father, and left the glory He had with Father, at least rounded everything out, so that we could understand better, as days went by.

    The Bible is true, through and through. God breathed it. His not inept.

    As far as Darwin and science goes, what ever is genuine is fine with me. Whatever is a “theory” lets call it what it is.

  28. Mairnéalach says:

    Glenn:

    I speak spiritually. Refusing to enter the Sabbath is refusal to cry out to Jesus Christ for mercy and to trust in him. The penalty for that is death in hell (“I swore in my wrath– they will not enter my rest.”)

    Scott C:

    Your point about denotative/connotative meanings is well taken. However, the eschatological meanings of scripture control what we read in the types and shadows. The Sabbath rest really *is* Christ, it’s not a day; it never truly was. God was pleased to use the seventh day as a sign, signifying his Son, and so we love all the days he created, and we meet together on the first day of the week (not the Shabbat!).

    If I say the Sabbath is Christ, I am not flattening the meaning of the Sabbath, or capriciously redefining the meaning of the word “day”, or mitigating anything. I am allowing the fulfillment to control the shadow.

    In the same way, if I say that “day” does not mean 24 hours in Gen 1-2, but rather some kind of day of proclamation, or literary framework, I am not flattening the meaning of the word or making it impossible for the Jews of old to serve their creator faithfully. I am pointing out that the “first things” and “last things” are wondrous, and are never plain; it’s all these things in between that look plain to us, because our eyes and ears are dulled by sin.

    As an example, the Tree of Life in the garden– it may have appeared like a fig tree or something, to Adam and Eve. Yet, we know it was much, much more than what they could have conceived with their senses. Can we be accused of being sophisticates for saying so? Or of consigning them to ignorance? Surely not.

    Furthermore, no human eye witnessed the creation days directly. Therefore, this revelation could have only come by vision–and visions are NEVER plain. They are always highly stylized. Therefore, it makes no sense to speak of “unequivocal” descriptions.

    1. Scott C says:

      You make some good points, but you still need to interpret Exod. 20:14 in its own context and setting. Given what you have said, particularly your previous comment on Heb. 4 being the controlling text by which to understand Exod. 20, then I can only conclude that according to Exod. 20:14 everyday is to be observed as the sabbath. Is this waht you believe God told the Israelites? IOW how often does this text tell them to observe the sabbath?

      Now I have great reservations with your last 3 sentences. There is no indication that the creation account in Genesis came via a vision. All the evidence in the Pentateuch is that God spoke plainly and directly to Moses on virtually every occassion he communicated to him (cf. Exod. 33:11). Supposing that the creation account was spoken via a vision, did that necessarily mean that it could not be “plain”? What evidence do you have that every vision communicated to a prophet in scripture of necessity can “NEVER” be plain? That is quite a sweeping statement. Furthermore, supposing visions are not plain (which many are not), does that mean that their interpretations are unequivocally unclear? This sounds like you are denying the perspiscuity of scripture at least in some portions of it. If so, that is a dangerous road to tread.

    2. Scott C says:

      Wow! – I need to be more careful. I keep referencing Exod. 20:14 when I mean Exod. 20:11. Furthermore, the context is really verses 8-11.

  29. Sean says:

    JUSTIN TAYLOR – Some of those who believe in Theistic Evolution (TE) and have written about it for the BioLogos Forum include Timothy Keller, Bruce Waltke, Tremper Longman, etc. These are hardly liberal Bible scholars. Quite the opposite, they insist that their views are compatible with conservative Christianity, and the community whom you write has rightly found reasons to look up to each of these men. I am disappointed that you could be so charitable in your eschatological views only to be found so closed-minded, bitter, and hostile on this issue–enough to attack the efforts of men (like those mentioned above) whom you have had absolutely no reason to criticize up until now.

  30. Is it possible that there is a link between the way Christians regard the story of creation and e.g. the Lord’s supper?

    For us to understand and “own” the concept of being identified with Christ, we human beings, with our limited grasp of the spiritual realm, were given a physical act by which we might come to terms with and submit ourselves to the spiritual reality. Thus, we cannot take communion lightly, or regard it as completely arbitrary, because we are weak, human, and limited by our view and experience of the world.

    But neither is the spiritual reality (our righteousness before God) irrevocably dependent on the physical act of taking bread and wine. We ought to submit to it as a religious action, knowing that it has a degree of arbitrariness, but that we need it because we have no other means of understanding the spiritual reality it propounds.

    Therefore, can the creation account not be regarded in the same vein? That to treat it as purely factual history is an over-realisation of its practical purpose, akin to transubstantiation?

    Could Genesis legitimately be regarded as a practical and useful history which serves a crucial spiritual purpose in the mind of the believer: a purpose which transcends the base scientific application of historical data. We ought to submit to it as a history, knowing that it has a degree of arbitrariness, but that we need it because we have no other means of understanding the spiritual reality it propounds.

    Is it fair (necessary?) that a Christian should be willing to discern between the intentions of God in various passages of scripture?

    1. Glenn says:

      It is only a problem because people wont take it as written. It is not complicated or written in some sort of symbolic mystical language. It is a very plain and simple historical narrative.

      This is the only place in scripture where ‘yom’ is disputed, even though in its context it so very obviously means 6 literal days.

      It is also the place you end up if you don’t import man’s fallible ideas into the text and then try and make the text mean anything other than its plain meaning.

  31. Those who start with science and interpret Scripture accordingly are like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. (Matthew 7:26 ESV)

    The wise man will start with Scripture and interpret the world around him accordingly for God’s word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalms 119:89 ESV)

    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? (Psalms 4:2 ESV)

    See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 ESV)

  32. John says:

    It is amazing the lack of exegesis of Genesis Mohler provides. Mohler quotes none of the major interpreters of Genesis: Cassuto, Sarna, Walton, Jordan, Hamilton, Wenham, Kline, Blocher, Waltke, Sailhamer, Collins, Westermann, Weinfield, or von Rad.

    There has been a slate of articles discussing Gen 1, none of which he quoted: http://justanormalchristian.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/genesis-1-articles/ .

    Of course, he doesn’t have to quote anyone. But when you are entering a highly contentious area, you want to use the best arguments from the other side. He doesn’t do that.

    1. Scott says:

      And you’re surprised by this John?

      I want to know why JT & Mohler are so angry with Giberson? I’ve seen far more malicious arguments, on nearly a daily basis, from Phil Johnson’s blog.

  33. monica says:

    I’m always surprised by this blog, mainly because now its under the Gospel Coalition, and yet TK himself isn’t as arrogant when it comes to orthodoxy as many of the people on here (including their writers) seem to be. Does Tim Keller read these things? TJ, your comment adds to the divisiveness, and the comments below it just serve to show how fallen all of us are.

  34. donsands says:

    “I want to know why JT & Mohler are so angry with Giberson? I’ve seen far more malicious arguments, on nearly a daily basis, from Phil Johnson’s blog.”

    Are they angry? Are you judging?

    Phil Johnson had an excellent post on the whole ordeal. And when there are debates, then can give off some heat for sure.

    I found this from a testimony about Giberson’s book:

    “Yet he [Giberson] does not conceal his frustration—on theological as well as scientific grounds—with the rubbish of scientific creationism, which has climbed onto the radar screens of American intellectual culture only as a bad joke. Giberson’s sarcasm, however honestly come by, may cause the book to alienate an evangelical audience it might otherwise engage.” -Publishers Weekly

    That sounds kind of arrogant to me, if it’s true, and I take that it is.

    1. Scott says:

      Yes, they are angry.

      JT said: “Dr. Giberson’s response is, frankly, embarrassing—especially for a Christian. With hyperbolic immaturity he casts aspersions upon Dr. Mohler’s character.”

      Mohler (speaking of Giberson): “Your tone — hardly the tone of a serious scholar or scientist…”

      Phil Johnson’s posts on the subject were anything but excellent. They exemplified the very immature heat and vitriolic rhetoric that JT accuses Giberson of using. There’s a sharp difference between arguments that give off heat and those that give off light.

      You assume Giberson is arrogant because Publisher’s Weekly says that it is?

  35. Jamin Hubner says:

    Excellent post Justin.
    I don’t suppose it will help at this point to mention that I delivered the first major criticism of BioLogos and their assertions regarding Adam/Eve in a blog series on my ministry website, but, I do recommend it to those who haven’t read it yet.
    http://www.realapologetics.org/blog/category/critique-of-biologos/

    There’s also a podcast series on the historicity of Adam in response to the lost brother of Enns, Dan Harlow. (I’m waiting for him to join BioLogos, it will come, just wait…)

    blessings,
    ja

  36. Gary says:

    Wow, I missed a couple of days on this blog and came back and found these 105 comments.

    So, forgive me for not reading all of them in depth. To me, the point of the post was not young Earth vs. old Earth, but rather the vile with which Dr. Mohler was attacked. Yet, the vast majority of the comments here are young E vs. old E.

  37. donsands says:

    “You assume Giberson is arrogant because Publisher’s Weekly says that it is?” -Scoot

    Should I assume they are lying?

    And the two statements you give for JT and Al Mohler don’t sound lot people who are mad.

    It’s difficult to know really, from a blog that is. But if you have learned of who these two are, then you would not expect them to be angry. Not they they don’t become angry, for the Bible tells us to “Be angry, and sin not.”

  38. Glenn says:

    The language of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are technically precise and linguistically clear. Any reader would understand that the author of those pages intended to convey a normal six-day creation, involving God’s supernatural intervention both to create (something from nothing) and to make and shape (something basic into something more complex).

    Three days (Day 1, Day 5, and Day 6) involve creation. Three days (Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4) involve the organization, integration, and structuring of the material created on Day 1.

    Life was created on Day 5, a life in which all animals and man share. A special image of God was created on Day 6 that only man has. The movement from “simple to complex” may appear to follow evolution’s theory, but the specific order (water > land > plants > stellar and planetary bodies > birds and fish > land animals > man) most emphatically does not.

    The Hebrew word for day (yom) is used some 3,000 times in the Hebrew Bible, and is almost always used to mean an ordinary 24-hour day-night cycle. On the few occasions where it is used to mean an indeterminate period of time, it is always clear from the context that it means something other than a 24-hour day (day of trouble, day of the Lord, day of battle, etc). Whenever it is used with an ordinal (1, 2, 1st, 2nd, etc.), it always means a specific day, an ordinary 24-hour day.

    The language of Genesis 1 appears to have been crafted so that no reader would mistake the word use for anything other than an ordinary 24-hour day. The light portion is named “day,” and the dark portion is named “night.” Then the “evening and the morning” is Day 1, Day 2, etc. The linguistic formula is repeated for each of the six days, a strange emphasis if the words were to be taken as allegorical or analogous to something other than a day-night cycle.

    When God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger (certainly the most emphatic action ever taken by God on behalf of His revealed Word), God specifically designated a seventh day to be a “Sabbath” day (rest day) in memory and in honour of the work-six-days, rest-one-day activity of God during the creation week (Exodus 20:11). In that context, spoken and written by God Himself, the creation week can mean only a regular week of seven days, one of which is set aside as holy.

  39. David says:

    I care passionately about this topic, I am not even sure why, but I do. As I have engaged this topic for the last several years, I find the arguments of MacArther and his disciples like Pyro and Todd Friel very frustrating becasue they do not engage the main issue of whether science helps us interpret scripture more accurately. Their battle seems to be still stuck in the early 1900’s when evolutionists were in ascendency and not now when most Old earthers are either day age guys or anologous as delineated in Poythress’ “Redeeming Science”. There is no way that natural evolution could have occurred in 13.7 billion years that astronomy and astrophysics tag the big bang. The big bang is anethema to darwinian evolutionists. but I never see Young Earthers engage this issue. They generally keep to their mantra “a plain reading of Genesis would lead any reasonable person to see 24 hr days” , and then follow with “if you don’t believe this you are sliding down the slope to heresy” or words to that effect. These arguments are unpersuasive to me, as I reflect back on my youth and I always had a problem with plants before sun and thus concluded the plain reading had more nuance for me to discover later or maybe never. Thankfully, advances in many fields of science in the last 20 years has led to much more light on the issue. Final thought: Why again did the Council on Biblical Inerrency choose not to make a definitive statement on this issue? All you shouters out there please do some research on the non-shouting old earth points and then thoughtfully engage with a humble guy like Hugh Ross rather than someone who does not speak for most old earthers like BioLogos.

    1. Glenn says:

      David,
      One should never use science to ‘interpret scripture’.
      Science changes and therefore so would the so called interpretation.

      Scripture interprets scripture.

      Also, your statement about MacArthur et al is wildly inaccurate, as such I have to assume that you have not read widely amongst MacArthur’s material.

      Likewise your comment about YEC’s not engaging with the big bang is remarkably ill informed. A brief perusal of just the material available on AIG (without mentioning other sites) would show that you are wrong.

      I have studied this subject for 20 years and I have never, repeat, never heard the comment “if you don’t believe this you are sliding down the slope to heresy”; as such I would advise you to shift your research to more mainstream sites/material.

      It would help if you could give actual references to back up your accusations.

      As to Hugh Ross; I would recommend ‘Refuting Compromise by Dr J Safarti’ which engages at length with a wide variety of Ross’s material amongst much else. If you are serious that is.

      I am also intrigued by your mention of the “advances in many fields of science in the last 20 years has led to much more light on the issue” because I keep a very close watch on just such material and the more research that is done produces more evidence against long ages (not that it was needed) and I am only talking about research done by non YEC’s.

      1. David says:

        Glenn,
        You make my point with your first two sentences. When MacArther et al, and you too, use the canard “scripture interprets scripture”, what you are really saying is that your interpretation of how scripture interprets scripture is the only correct interpretation. Theology and scripture interpretation is also a science that is subject to human frailty. When you young earthers quit declaring “Science” an enemy of the gospel, and truly use it as a tool for not only subjugating the earth as Pyro said today, but also to aid us in understanding and giving glory to God for the wonders of his creation, maybe we might be closer to the heart of the issue. I find it ironic that young earthers deride science on one hand but use plainly bad scientific practice such as flood geology to try and prove their interpretation of Genesis.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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