USING CREATION SCIENCE MATERIALS
Enlarged March 17, 2010 (first published January 27, 2010) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The field of creation science has grown by leaps since the publication of The Genesis Flood in 1962 by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb. There are many organizations and publishers that promote the creationist viewpoint, including The Institute for Creation Research (1970) and Answers in Genesis (founded in Australia in the 1970s as the Creation Science Foundation).
Since the 1990s, the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has broadened the attack on Darwinism. Though ID proponents typically are not Bible believers and might even claim to be agnostic in regard to the identity of the Designer, they argue that the Darwinian mechanisms of natural selection and random mutations are insufficient to explain the facts that exist in life. William Dembski says that the basic claim of ID is that “there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence” (The Design Revolution, p. 27). Intelligent Design proponents point to the intricate design that we see everywhere, from the DNA molecule and the living cell to the perfectly balanced conditions on earth that allow life to exist. Influential ID books include Michael Behe’s Of Panda’s and People (1989) and Darwin’s Black Box (1996), which argue the concept of “irreducible complexity,” Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (1991), William Dembski’s The Design Inference (1998), and Stephen Myer’s Signature in the Cell (2009).
BENEFITS OF CREATION SCIENCE MATERIALS
Today there are a vast number of books and DVDs, even entire school curriculums, that debunk Darwinian evolution from various perspectives, and there are many benefits that derive from the use of these materials.
Creation science materials are tremendously helpful in fortifying God’s people, particularly young people, against the devil’s lies. Young people need to see that Darwinism can be answered because there are no proven scientific facts supporting it.
Creation science materials teach analytical thinking and sound argumentation.
Creation science materials lift the believer’s heart to God, the Almighty Creator, and teach lessons about His character and power. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20).
Creation science materials build faith, because they analyze the handiwork of God, which is another form of His Word (Psalm 19:1-3). And “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Creation science materials are useful in evangelism. Many people have been saved after first being confronted with creation science arguments against evolution. This caused them to doubt what they had been taught and to be open to consider Jesus Christ and to explore the Bible. Consider the following example:
“I was raised in a Christian home, believing in God and His creation. However, I was taught evolution while attending high school, and began to doubt the authority of the Bible. If evolution is true, I reasoned, the Bible cannot also be true. I eventually rejected the entire Bible and believed that we descended from lower creatures; there was no afterlife and no purpose in life but to enjoy the short time we have on this earth. My college years at Penn State were spent as an atheist, or at best as an agnostic. Fortunately, and by the grace of God, I began to read articles and listen to tapes about scientific evidence for creation. Over a period of a couple of years, it became apparent to me that the theory of evolution has no legitimate factual evidence, and that scientific data from the fossil record, geology, etc. could be better explained by a recent creation, followed by a global flood. Suddenly I realized that the Bible might actually be true! It wasn’t until I could believe the first page of the Bible that I could believe the rest of it. Once I accepted the fact that there is a creator God, it was an easy step for me to accept His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ as well” (John Cimbala, Ph.D. in aeronautics from California Institute of Technology, In Six Days: Why fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation, edited by John Ashton, pp. 200, 201).
DANGERS OF CREATION SCIENCE MATERIALS
At the same time, there are some dangers in the use of creation science and Intelligent Design materials. Following are some warnings:
Beware of thinking that defeating evolution will result in salvation
Materials debunking evolution are great tools, but we must not forget that it is the gospel of Christ that is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). We can’t argue and reason people into salvation. It is not only the mind that must be convinced but the heart and will converted. The individual must be born again by the Holy Spirit through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Faith does not come by reasoning; it comes by hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17). God has chosen to confound the wise of this world through the foolishness of gospel preaching (1 Corinthians 1:19-21). Therefore, anti-evolutionary materials and apologetics should never take center stage in our witnessing efforts. When used wisely and in their proper place, they are tools that can remove stumbling blocks and false thinking, but preaching the gospel and simple Bible teaching and earnest prayer must always be our main instruments.
Beware of forgetting that God has exalted faith
Biblical faith is not blind; it has substance and evidence (Acts 1:3; Hebrews 11:1), but it is faith nonetheless, because it is involves believing something that cannot be seen or empirically proven. We must not become so enamored with creation science and apologetics that we think we don’t need faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Beware of becoming high-minded
Another potential problem with creation science and intelligent design materials is the danger of the pride of intellect. Jesus said, “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). The Bible warns at least 100 times about pride, because it is part of the fallen nature and is a chief characteristic of the “god of this world,” the devil. Scholarship and education are good and helpful in the Christian life and ministry, but they must be kept in their place, which is at the foot of Christ, and every “scholar” must guard himself from being puffed up in knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:1; Colossians 2:18). It is good to remember that no matter how much we know, it is almost nothing compared to what there is to know.
Beware of being enamored with debating
It is possible to become addicted to debating and an apologetics approach to Christianity. One blogger describes himself as “a Christian, librarian, palaeoanthropologist, and evolutionary biologist with an all-consuming interest in apologetics and controversies in science and religion.” This is not healthy. It does not lead to settled truth. It produces strife and confusion. It is more in line with the false teachers described in Paul’s prophecy in 2 Timothy 3:7, who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” or the Athenians who “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).
Beware of overly complicating the truth
Some approaches to creation science, particularly intelligent design, can become extremely complicated. For example, William Dembski, one of the founders of the modern intelligent design movement, defines design as “specified complexity.” This is a helpful definition, but when he attempts to break this down scientifically and answer the critic’s arguments against it, he can become almost bewilderingly complicated. This is evident in the book The Design Revolution. Consider the five ingredients of Dembski’s specific complexity: “a probabilistic version of complexity applicable to events, conditionally independent patterns, probabilistic resources, which come in two forms: replicational and specificational, specificational version of complexity applicable to patterns, and a universal probability bound” (The Design Revolution, pp. 81, 82).
Try explaining that to the average member of a Bible-believing church! Of course, Dembski is not aiming for this, but the fact is that his material is published by a Christian press and used widely by Christians in the creation science debate. Dembski has a Ph.D. in philosophy, so it is not surprising that he delves considerably into this field, and his arguments are brilliant and interesting, but at this level the flower of truth tends to get lost in the wilderness of rhetorical complexity.
The biblical approach is different. Though the Bible contains many difficult things, the truth found there tends to be simple enough for average people to understand. The apostle Paul even warned against corrupting the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). He also warned that God cannot be found through the wisdom of man (1 Corinthians 1:21-24).
If our objective is to win men to Jesus Christ, the rule “keep it simple stupid” is always relevant! To deal effectively with evolutionary philosophy one must stand unhesitatingly on God’s Word. That’s how Jesus dealt with Satan! When we do not base our arguments solidly upon Scripture, we descend to the slippery ground of philosophical debate, which can never lead men to absolute truth. The Dembski approach is spiritually powerless.
Beware of progressive creationism
Many of the prominent Christians who have written against evolution have held some sort of progressive creationism (that the earth is billions of years old and God used some sort of progressive process to create). They have interpreted Genesis 1-2 in a non-literal manner and have allowed for long periods of geological times either through the gap theory (the teaching that there is a gap of indeterminable time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2) or through the day-age theory (the teaching that each creation “day” represents an indeterminable period of time).
These include John Ambrose Flemming (1849-1945), Byron Nelson (The Deluge Story in Stone, After Its Kind, Before Abraham), Arthur Isaac Brown (Footprints of God, Miracles of Science), and George Frederick Wright (contributor to The Fundamentals). In fact, the fundamentalist movement has been permeated with the gap and day-age theories since its inception even though these are blatant attempts to reconcile “modern science” with the Bible.
Henry Morris observed,
“The majority of fundamentalist creationists (the most conservative camp) continued to accept the geological ages, differing among themselves only as to whether they could be handled better in terms of the gap theory or the day-age theory” (Morris, History of Modern Creationism, p. 61).
There are many reasons why we reject the day-age theory or any theory that allows for billions of years of earth history. First, the attempt to reconcile the Bible with the massive geological age theories of evolution destroys the authority of the Bible, because it plainly teaches a literal six-day creation. In the Law of Moses, the days of creation are likened to the sabbath, which obviously refers to a literal 24-hour day (Exodus 20:10-11). Second, even allowing for gaps, the Bible’s genealogies do not allow for mankind being older than about 10,000 years. Third, the evolutionary dating methods are based on evolutionary assumptions, such as uniformitarianism, and are therefore unreliable. Fourth, there is a large and growing body of scientific evidence pointing to a young earth. Fifth, the God of the Bible cannot be reconciled with the god of evolution. The God of the Bible is the Almighty Creator who made everything according to His perfect plan, pronounced everything good, and is intimately involved with His creation; the “god” of evolution is a standoffish trial and error god. Sixth, the Bible says that death did not enter into God’s creation until the fall of man (Romans 5:12), whereas progressive creationism and every type of evolution says that death existed prior to man and has been the major means of “progress.” Seventh, if the first three chapters of Genesis are not literal, the fall of man is not literal and the sacrifice of Christ was a meaningless event. In fact, if Genesis 1-3 is not literal history, the rest of the Bible makes no sense.
As for the gap theory, it was popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible. That it was an attempt to reconcile the Bible with modern science is evident by the following note from J. Sidlow Baxter’s Explore the Book: “Modern geology furnishes dates proving the immense age of our globe. ... Between the first two verses of Genesis there is ample scope for all the geologic eras.”
The gap theory can be refuted briefly as follows (from H.L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible): First, it is unscientific. The gap theory was (in part) an attempt to reconcile the creation account with the long periods of time in the theory of evolution. But evolution itself as a theory is totally unscientific, defying the second law of thermodynamics [that the universe is in the process of decay and decline rather than in a process of evolving]. Second, it is unscriptural. Paul states in Romans 5:12 and 8:20-22 that man’s sin brought about death, even of animals. But the gap theory would have Adam walking on top of a gigantic fossilized animal graveyard! Third, it is unnecessary. The most natural interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is to take it at face value, without addition or subtraction. Genesis 1:1 thus becomes a summary statement of creation. In the first verse God tells us what he did. In the remaining verses He tells us how He did it.
Beware of the fact that intelligent design and theistic evolution ultimately are not friends of the Christian faith
Materials promoting Intelligent Design and theistic evolution are useful to show the error of atheistic evolution, but ultimately they are not friends of the Christian faith. In fact, most of these authors speak disparagingly of a literal six-day creation and salvation only through the blood of Jesus Christ. Belief in an unknown and perhaps unknowable “Designer” is insufficient and leaves one far short of absolute truth and eternal salvation.
Consider some of the chief names in the ID and theistic evolutionary field:
Denis Alexander is a theistic evolutionist. See http://www.arn.org/docs/williams/pw_createdorevolved.htm.
Michael Behe is a Roman Catholic and a theistic evolutionist. He says that “as regards the identity of the designer, modern ID theory happily echoes Isaac Newton’s phrase hypothesis non fingo [to make no hypothesis]” (“The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis,” Philosophia Christi, Vol. 3, p. 165, 2001, cited from Casey Luskin, “Misrepresenting the Definition of Intelligent Design,” Nov. 10, 2009 http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/11/misrepresenting_the_definition.html).
Neil Broom, author of How Blind Is the Watchmaker, is a theistic evolutionist.
William Dembski holds to theistic evolution, stating that he does not accept literal young earth creationism. He taught at Baylor University from 1999-2005, Southern Seminary in 2005-06, and since 2006 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “William Dembski says with Jonathan Wells that “[e]xplanations that call on intelligent causes require no miracles but cannot be reduced to materialistic explanations’ (The Design of Life, 2008, pp. 13-14). (Casey Luskin, “Misrepresenting the Definition of Intelligent Design,” Nov. 10, 2009 http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/11/misrepresenting_the_definition.html).
Michael Denton is an agnostic. In his 1998 book Nature’s Destiny, Denton seemingly reversed the position questioning evolution that he had developed in his 1985 book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. His position appears to be Deist, that God set up the laws of nature and then let them run their course. He says, “It is important to emphasize at the outset that the argument presented here is entirely consistent with the basic naturalistic assumption of modern science--that the cosmos is a seamless unity which can be comprehended ultimately in its entirety by human reason and in which all phenomena, including life and evolution and the origin of man, are ultimately explicable in terms of natural processes. This is an assumption which is entirely opposed to that of the so-called ‘special creationist school’” (Denton, Nature’s Destiny, p. xvii).
Scott Hahn, co-author of Answering the New Atheism, is a Roman Catholic apologist and a theistic evolutionist.
Philip Johnson is a theist and an agnostic as to how God created. He says, “I am a philosophical theist and a Christian. I believe that a God exists who could create out of nothing if He wanted to do so, but who might have chosen to work through a natural evolutionary process instead. I am not a defender of creation-science, and in fact I am not concerned in this book with addressing any conflicts between the Biblical accounts and the scientific evidence” (Darwin on Trial, p. 14). He also says, “I am not interested in any claims that are based upon a literal reading of the Bible, nor do I understand the concept of creation as narrowly as Duane Gish does. If an omnipotent Creator exists He might have created things instantaneously in a single week or through gradual evolution over billions of years” (Darwin on Trial, p. 115).
Antony Latham, author of The Naked Emperor, is a theistic evolutionist.
John Lennox, author of Has Science Buried God? is a theistic evolutionist (see http://www.bethinking.org/science-christianity/theistic-evolution-intelligent-design-in.htm and (“Evolution a Theory in Crisis,” www.cmf.org.uk/literature/content.asp?context=article&id=641).
Simon Conway Morris is a theistic evolutionist. He says, “Evolution is true, it happens, it is the way the world is, and we too are one of its products. This does not mean that evolution does not have metaphysical implications; I remain convinced that this is the case” (Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe).
Geoffrey Simmons, author of What Darwin Didn’t Know, believes that the earth is millions of years old (What Darwin Didn’t Know, p. 304) and that there was a stone age (p. 133).
David Swift, author of Evolution under the Microscope, is a theistic evolutionist.
Benjamin Wiker is a Roman Catholic who rejects a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3. He says, “The myth places the entirely secular evolutionary approach of Darwin against the irrational approach of scriptural literalists, and asks us to choose: Darwinism or nothing. Either a systematically Godless account of evolution or a young-earth creationism that sees every warbler and butterfly as being immediately created by God” (The Darwin Myth, p. 138).
Jonathan Wells is a member of the exceedingly liberal Unification Church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design). He believes that “[e]xplanations that call on intelligent causes require no miracles but cannot be reduced to materialistic explanations” (The Design of Life, 2008, pp. 13-14).
Beware of the New Evangelical influence in Creation Science
Another problem with creation science materials is that most of them are written by New Evangelicals. Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research are two examples. They do a fantastic job of defending the literal Genesis account of creation against Darwinian evolution. Ken Ham’s Creation Museum is a masterpiece of biblical apologetics. Ray Comfort does a tremendous job in apologetics and personal evangelism. I truly and fervently thank the Lord for what these men are doing for the cause of Christ ....... as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough, and the part that is lacking is serious.
What is the problem? It has to do with the issue of separation. They don’t believe in it, and we do. The rejection of separatism has been the heart of New Evangelicalism for more than half a century. Harold Ockenga, one of the fathers of the movement, said, “We repudiate separatism.” (For documentation see my book “New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics, and Fruit.” It is also available for free in the Topical Database at the Way of Life web site.) Billy Graham epitomized and popularized this philosophy.
If they believe in separation at all, they believe that it only has to do with the “cardinal doctrines.” When I visited the Creation Museum, Ken Ham told me that since Answers in Genesis is “not a church,” they don’t have to concern themselves with other issues. Thus such organizations typically do not take a clear stand against unscriptural modes of baptism (e.g., infant baptism, pouring, sprinkling), women pastors, allegorical interpretation of prophecy (rejection of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture), the heresy that a born-again believer can lose his salvation, errors pertaining to Holy Spirit baptism, sealing, and filling, Franklin Graham-style ecumenical evangelism, the errors of the church growth movement (e.g., Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, and Bill Hybels), the error of Christian psychology, and the heresy of modern textual criticism.
The representatives of these ministries speak in churches that represent a wide variety of doctrine. They will be in a Methodist church one Sunday and a Pentecostal the next. The reason they can be invited to such a wide variety of forums and even be invited back is that they narrow down their message and focus only on creation science or basic apologetics or evangelism or the family or some other constricted orientation.
They might have more than one issue; they might have ten or twenty. The problem is that they refuse to make an issue of the WHOLE counsel of God. In contrast, Paul exemplified exactly what they neglect to do (Acts 20:27), and in this, he was merely following in His Master’s footsteps. Jesus commanded His disciples to teach converts “to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat. 28:20). Paul instructed Timothy to keep the truth “without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:14). A spot is a small, seemingly insignificant thing. Jude instructed every believer to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). As Jude didn’t delineate what part of the faith is to be defended, the obvious meaning is that whatever aspect of the faith is under attack, God’s people should rally to its defense rather than pretending that it is a “non-essential.”
I challenge anyone to show me where the Scripture encourages the believer to “stand for the cardinal truth and downplay the peripherals.”
The New Evangelical philosophy is often stated by the dictum, “IN ESSENTIALS UNITY; IN NON-ESSENTIALS LIBERTY; IN ALL THINGS CHARITY,” (commonly attributed to Augustine, but actually first spoken by a 17th-century Lutheran named Rupertus Meldenius). This became the rallying cry of the Moravians, who did many good things but refused to reject the heresy of infant baptism and promoted unity above the absolute truth of God’s Word. The same dictum has been heartily adopted by modern New Evangelicals.
The rejection of biblical separation by these New Evangelical ministries is also evident in their refusal to take a stand against the worldliness and compromise that characterizes the contemporary church growth philosophy, with its love for rock music, sensual fashions, Hollywood entertainment, and pretty much everything the pop culture produces.
The failure to preach and practice separation has very real consequences. For example, Ken Ham admits that the churches he is associated with lose most of their young people. There is a reason for that, and the reason is not just because they are weak on defending literal creation. It is far deeper than that. It has to do with an overall weak approach to the Word of God and Christian living and discipleship. The preachers in these churches don’t boldly proclaim the WHOLE counsel of God and reprove the pop culture and other forms of worldliness and preach sold-out discipleship, and as a consequence the people tend to live much like the world. This is a foundational error that is not addressed clearly in any of the books I have ready by Mr. Ham, because he has determined to focus on creation-science and basic apologetics. He doesn’t even deal clearly with the salvation issue. His book “Already Gone,” about the departure of youth from evangelical churches, though excellent in some ways, doesn’t deal sufficiently with this most important and foundational issue, which is the fact that a vast number of the young people in these churches aren’t born again.
If someone argues that these ministries aren’t New Evangelical and that they do not actually reject separatism, I would like for them to send me the documented answers to the following questions:
First, when has that ministry issued a statement delineating and supporting the doctrine of biblical separation as applies both to ecclesiology and to the world?
Second, when has that ministry renounced the popular but unscriptural philosophy “In essential unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity”?
Third, when has that ministry supported and promoted a fundamentalist, separatist ministry?
Fourth, when has that ministry taken a stand against Billy Graham and all of the evil he has done through his New Evangelical philosophy?
Please send me the published statements or the sermons and lectures in which they have taken such stands.
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