A talented blogger, Luke Nix of Faithful Thinkers is an up-and-coming apologist whose work has, from time to time, caught the attention of those responsible for sharing content on the popular Cross Examined blog.
Recently, he has taken to task (as others have in the past) the relatively recent “Is Genesis History?” documentary in a blog post, which Cross Examined has decided to syndicate across its various platforms.
Unfortunately, upon reading the article, I was disappointed to find it rife with logical fallacies (which is ironic for reasons that will become clear momentarily), complete misunderstandings of what young age creationists (YAC) teach, and dubious claims about the history and philosophy of science.
I do not very often engage in in-house debates with fellow believers; when I do, it is because there is an opportunity to correct widespread misunderstandings and respond to them in a gracious, admonishing way.
This response to Nix is therefore not an effort to quarrel, but in the opposite spirit, take some of the most common criticisms of YAC and show, respectfully, where, how, and why they fail.
I appreciate Luke’s commitment to an edifying, spiritually-sound dialogue. He writes:
There is much unnecessary confusion and heat in the Church concerning the debate over origins, so I am hoping to provide a charitable critique in the context of Christian unity and love.
I want to say up front that I appreciate this and pray my critique comes across in the same spirit.
I should also say that Luke and I share similar professional backgrounds, and thus I hope we are able to connect on that more personal level as well.
In recent days, I have been pleased to participate in many fruitful dialogues with individuals who affirm various views on creation. Ironically, I think one of the biggest disconnects between those who affirm any form of old earth creationism (OEC) versus those who affirm young earth creationism (YEC) is, as Luke stated, “unnecessary confusion.”
However, it’s likely our individual understanding of such phenomena is vastly and altogether different. Thus, before diving into my critique, I wish to offer a “takeaway” for my OEC brethren who read this post:
Please make a concerted effort to understand what young age creationists actually teach before critiquing their views.
With that admonition in mind, let’s begin with some introductory observations I noted after reading the entire article.
Introductory Remarks and Observations
First, I should admit my bias.
Is Genesis History? (IGH) is one of my favorite creationist enterprises, for at least a few reasons:
They (as an organization) are more committed to advancing the proper understanding of young age creationism than disparaging what others believe, they hold the highest standard possible in selecting which scientists are going to appear in their materials, and their general philosophy of tone and interaction seems, to me, to be very gracious.1
There are plenty of negative remarks one could make about some popular creationist organizations that could not be made about Tackett, Purifoy, and the IGH enterprise.
Thus, I am a bit quicker to come to the defense of IGH than some other organizations. I feel that many critiques which have been leveled against IGH assume some similarities between them and other ministries that simply are not there.
Second, there is an awful lot of stock placed in the views of Dr. Hugh Ross.
It is no secret that Dr. Hugh Ross is one of the foremost authorities today on the relationship between science and the Bible. He is commonly viewed as a gracious, level-headed, and intelligent debater with no agenda except to arrive at the truth.
I really, really want to believe this. Nevertheless, the work and research I’ve done leave me questionable of his approach.
I’m going to do something risky here, and simply pray that those who know me understand I would not say something that I did not think was true based on lots of research: Ross’s exegesis contradicts millennia of established principles of hermeneutics, and he is on record stating mischaracterizations of what YEC’s believe even after numerous, documented, private corrections.
Make no mistake, I don’t mean this as an ad hominem attack (nor a genetic fallacy). Rather, to elucidate an important, potentially-obscure point: Nearly every work Nix cites is either by Hugh Ross or itself cites Hugh Ross as a primary source for information on the age of the earth debate.
Such ubiquity, I think, warrants a careful examination and approach. Even if it can be shown that Nix is referencing a wide variety of sources, if each of their views can be traced back to one source, there is probable cause to question the integrity of the information, lest potential misinformation is allowed to spread.
I compiled a bullet list of the 16 books Nix cites in this piece:
Always Be Ready: A Call to Adventurous Faith – Ross
Navigating Genesis – Ross
More than a Theory – Ross
The Bible Among the Myths – Oswalt
The Historical Jesus – Habermas
Forensic Faith – Wallace
Improbable Planet – Ross
Who Was Adam – Ross and Rana
Origin Science: A Proposal For The Creation/Evolution Controversy – Geisler
The Risen Jesus and Future Hope – Habermas
The Creator Revealed: A Physicist Examines the Big Bang and the Bible – Strauss
Creator and the Cosmos – Ross
Why The Universe Is The Way It Is – Ross
Peril in Paradise – Whorton
A Matter of Days – Ross
Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth – Rana
This is a strong list; except, it turns out that eight of them (50%) were written by Ross himself. Of the remaining, one of them is by another of Ross’s employees (Rana), two of them cite Ross in near exclusivity for their style of interpreting Genesis (Wallace and Strauss), two of them are not even related to the question (Habermas), and one of them does not deal with the age of the earth at all, merely the historicity of the Bible (Oswalt). The final two (Whorton and Geisler) I cannot comment on because I have no experience with Whorton’s work and have not read Geisler’s book.
Thus, 11 out of 16 (68%) of Nix’s sources either are Ross or are using Ross for their biblical information on this question, there are two others that might be (but we’ll assume they are not to give the benefit of the doubt), and the others don’t affect the OEC/YEC question.
Now, you might disagree with me having taken the time to lay that out, but I hope you can appreciate that I’m not formulating an argument based on this observation. It could still be that Ross’s view is right, based on the merits! I’m just pointing out that a lot rides on Ross’s understanding of science and Scripture for the arguments in this piece to go through.2
Third, despite Nix’s obvious love for reading, he seems to misunderstand (or be unaware of) YEC arguments.
Individual examples of this should become clear as my critique progresses, but here is a clear example. Nix cites other works of his own often (which is perfectly acceptable, in my view), one of which being his review of Whorton’s Peril in Paradise.
Within, we find this paragraph:
Beyond the command to subdue the earth, many proponents of the Perfect Paradise paradigm [Whorton’s chosen moniker for views which do not allow pre-Fall soulish animal death] do not recognize implications of the paradigm that renders it incompatible implausible. Whorton explores several that involve astronomy, the laws of nature, and pain. If the universe is, in fact, young, then the recorded events in the light from distant objects (greater than approximately 10,000 light years), such as supernovae, bare witness to events that never actually took place. If God placed the light from these objects in transit, then the information in the light borders on deception…
Nix continues on to discuss “the laws of nature, and pain” as mentioned, to which there are also YEC responses. But let’s just consider the starlight view. Whorton (2012) and Nix (2015) are using decades old information as if it is the necessary view of young age creationism, and yet, it is denied by almost all young age creationists!
I’ve offered a similar critique of a relatively recent Stand to Reason broadcast—an organization that I absolutely love, but also happens to follow Ross’s lead on this issue.
I so desperately wish I could say this was a rare occurrence, but it simply isn’t. I applaud those (you know who you are) who have made a concerted effort to learn more about what YEC’s actually teach. The reality is, however, that most have almost no idea about current creationist research.
Just last year, at the International Conference on Creationism, new suggestions were offered (one of which I’m extremely excited about) that trade on the best information we have about modern astronomy and astrophysics and are perfectly compatible with special relativity, an expanding universe, etc.
Here’s the thing: I don’t expect every person who holds these views to follow creationist research. But those who spend a great deal of time writing, producing podcasts and YouTube videos, etc., should be held to a higher standard of accountability when it comes to accurately spreading information. At the very least, one should critique the best version of a view available.
It seems that Nix’s sources are not too concerned with this, and I fear Nix has fallen into the same trap.
The remainder of this critique will follow Nix’s main headings (red headings in the original article), followed by my assessment of his thoughts, which will use my own headings for organization’s sake.
Areas Of Agreement
I am pleased to write that I am in nearly perfect agreement with Nix, here. It seems we share a similar philosophy of interaction with other views, and I imagine we could get along quite well in a coffee shop.
I have one bone to pick in this section, but it’s an important one. It’s been a capstone of the YEC movement to lay claim to the “literal days” of Genesis one. However, Ross often parries this claim by asserting that he also affirms “literal” days. Thus, in keeping with his sources, Nix lists this as an item of agreement.
However, this seems to be a clear case of empty rhetoric. Can one rationally make the case that “long, finite period of time” is a literal definition of the word “day?”
Even a cursory search of the word “literal” reveals a working definition that most people would agree with: “adhering to fact or to the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression,” according to Webster’s.
Now, indeed we must realize we are dealing with Hebrew, not English, and the meaning of a word is always determined by context. Thus, the Hebrew word yom is the one in question. Others have shown 3 that the biblical author was not forced to use the word yom and could have opted for a less confusing word if a long-but-finite period of time was intended.
But the context makes it clear to most scholars that, regardless, a 24-hour day is in view. Interestingly, this is even affirmed by many who do not want to take it literally, but figuratively (John Walton, Bill Craig, etc).
I have a suspicion that Ross is well-intentioned here. He is likely attempting to avoid the word “figurative” like the plague, and for good reason. He desperately wants to maintain that Genesis is a historical narrative, which Nix accurately represents in this blog post.
And of course, the use of figurative language is perfectly permissible in historical narrative when warranted by the context. The presence of figurative language does not indicate that history is not being recorded.
This is a question of hermeneutics, which will come up later.
I simply want to establish the point that this particular distinction is unwarranted. I don’t see how one can rationally maintain that a “long, finite period of time” is the primary (i.e., literal) use of the word yom given the context of Genesis 1.
Nix begins his critique with a familiar opening argument raised against the film; namely, that its entire premise rests upon a “false dichotomy.” This particular charge spread like wildfire subsequent to one of the film’s experts, Paul Nelson, writing a popular blog post in which he “dissent[s] from [his] role.”
Something to point out is that a well-educated philosopher of science (and young age creationist), Nelson does not seem to be arguing the false dichotomy is whether one paradigm or the other is true. Rather, he offers that the dichotomy ensues because “IGH‘s definition of the ‘conventional paradigm’ brings together acceptance of a long time scale with an assertion of ‘no design.'”
In other words, Nelson is pointing out the (seemingly obvious) fact that there are legitimate, Bible-believing Christians who would, in fact, not include themselves in either of the “paradigms” presented in the film. For Nelson, the line is drawn between “design” and “no design.”
I will circle back to this after hearing from Nix again. He writes,
At the very beginning of the documentary, it is proposed that only two options exist regarding origins: either naturalism or a young-earth creationist view. Because of the fact that they intend to investigate an important historical event, it is important that they do not preclude any options before their investigation even begins. If an investigation reveals that neither option is viable, then what is the Christian to do? Because of this drastic philosophical mistake from the beginning of the film, if a Christian is ever convinced that the universe is ancient, then it is implied (if not explicit) that the creators of the film believe that the logically consistent person must reject Christ as well. However, other views do exist, so when a Christian sees the compelling evidence from God’s creation that it testifies to an ancient universe, there is no need to jettison Christ or even the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis.
Prima facie, it’s easy to see Nix’s concern.
He (as do all progressive creationists) want to have a seat at the table and believe others should as well.
But this wasn’t their movie.
Here’s what I mean: Had this been The Discovery Institute’s (hereafter DSC, where Nelson is affiliated) movie, they would have likely drawn a line between themselves and theistic evolutionists. Indeed, they draw this line almost daily throughout their publications and held nothing back in their 2018 release of the ironically-titled tome, Theistic Evolution.
By drawing this line, progressive creationists and age-agnostic ID proponents are not claiming theistic evolutionists are not Christians; rather, they are deciding to place their theological stake in the ground on a particular issue and creating materials which advance views on their side of the stake and critically evaluate views on the other side.
Let’s be clear that this is exactly what the IGH movie is attempting to do.
DSC draws the line at “design” vs. “no design,” and any movie they made would surely reflect that. IGH draws the line at a particular understanding of history, and thus, they created a movie which reflects that.
Could the IGH movie have better presented this? Perhaps, which is (I think) all Nelson was pining for. However, surely one could not fault IGH for publicly opposing views which they believe have implications for the gospel (and critiquing them as such), just because someone with the opposing view does not believe so!
Progressive creationists and ID proponents most often join the young age creationist in harsh criticism of theistic evolution, including its implications for the gospel (lest we think the robust theological section of Theistic Evolution was written merely because DSC et al. prefers their understanding of the gospel over the theistic evolutionist’s).
Therefore, I argue the IGH dichotomy exists, but not fallaciously. It is drawn precisely because young age creationists like myself hold the strong conviction that accurate history—where we draw the line—also has implications for the gospel; not merely God’s chosen method of bringing about the natural order.4
Dr. Todd Wood, a participant in the film and notoriously fair-minded young age creationist, has written a helpful article in response to this charge as well. You can find it here.
Next, Nix accuses the film of committing a Hasty Generalization fallacy:
In the documentary, Tackett and the contributors make the logical mistake of arguing that since quick processes created a few things (some geologic formations) that they created all things (all geologic formations). This is problematic for two reasons. First, it is a logical fallacy, so it invalidates their conclusion that the Flood of Noah is responsible for the formation of the Grand Canyon (and all other geological features). Second, in this argument, they assume that old earth creation models allow for only slow processes, when in fact they allow both slow and quick processes. If the young earth creationist finds solid evidence for a quick process, that evidence is perfectly compatible with an ancient earth. The task before the young earth creationist is to provide solid evidence that the other formations also came about by a geographically global flood. In fact, when the evidence of these long processes is examined in the context of each other, we see powerful evidence of a grand orchestrated project culminating in a home for humanity…”
Unfortunately, Nix merely asserts this and makes no attempt to show his reader these claims before refuting them. I’ve seen the movie twice and am quite familiar with the arguments the contributors make, and am aware of no case where a contributor to the film would assert that “quick processes…created all…geologic formations.” Thus, Nix has committed a fallacy of his own, the strawman.
Young age geologists argue that, during flood year, there was a significant acceleration of natural rates and processes, but in the time since, geological formation has happened exactly in the manner it does today. This would include, as Nix points out, both slow formation and fast formation of geologic features.5
Regarding Nix’s second challenge, the young age creationist agrees that many geologic formations will need to be shown as having developed quickly, which is precisely the project of young age geologists! It’s as though Nix is not aware of (or has ignored) the surprisingly vast (though admittedly incomplete) amount of literature—both popular and technical—that has been published to this end.
For a much more extensive introduction to the technical literature, I recommend Dr. Andrew Snelling’s Earth’s Catastrophic Past.
Nix proceeds to charge the movie of a fallacy of conflation. This is merely a rehashing of the “false dichotomy” argument from above, and as such, will not be given extensive treatment.
The bottom line: The movie is not conflating naturalism with the proposition of an ancient universe. It is merely making a clear division between young and old age chronologies (of any kind) because the conviction of the film is that “the age of things” has significant theological implications.
Nix confidently declares, “the argument is made that since naturalism is false so must any view that holds that the universe is ancient.” But again, he has failed to provide context for the claim, the name of the individual who made it, or even a time stamp!
Philosophy of Science
Nix takes issue with the young age creationist’s alleged view on how the past is to be understood, as well as alleged views on the laws of physics. Let’s consider these in turn:
First, Nix argues:
It is quite common for young-earth creationists to claim that the past cannot be known with any level of certainty like the present can be. According to “Is Genesis History” present processes cannot be used to figure out what happened in the past. If they affirm Jeremiah 33:25-26, then they affirm that the laws of physics are as unchanging as God is. This is important because the past can be known by observing the present and using this “principle of uniformity” (not uniformitarianism–they are different), we can deductively conclude what has happened in the past. By working our way backward in time, using God’s actions (current observations) and God’s words (Jeremiah 33:25-26), we discover that the universe did not reach its point of creation 6000 or even 10,000 years ago. Rather it goes all the way back to roughly 13.8 billion years ago.
Once again, Nix fails to provide any evidence that the movie maintains what he’s claiming it does. Because I know the movie (and its contributors) well, I am highly suspect.
The first sentence may be true of fringe young age creationist groups, but no informed creationist (including those in IGH) are arguing this. To be fair, I think I know what Nix means, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Let me explain:
Many young age creationists make the distinction between observational and historical science. Norm Geisler (whom Nix references) takes this further and delineates between historical science, origin science, and observational science. Ironically, it would appear that such a distinction was first made by evolutionists, much to the malaise of many internet atheists. See here for more on this.
Contrary to Nix’s claim, the YAC view is not that “the past cannot be known with any level of certainty like the present can be.” Rather, it is that the past is investigated by a different kind of science—something Nix’s own source agrees with!6
Further, the YAC view is actually that the past can be known with extreme certainty because we believe God’s Word reveals true information about history! Our contention is that science has limited access. The reason is that historical science often deals with phenomena that cannot be observed (since it is usually not repeatable), and is therefore subject to philosophical assumptions about the past which may or may not align with the history found in the Bible. As you can hopefully see, this is a much more nuanced claim.
His next sentence is accurate but requires qualification. I expand on this here and here, but briefly, I argue that background information is required in order to know what kind of philosophical assumptions about the past are warranted. The IGH film argues that, contrary to uniformitarianism (the present is the key to the past), the biblicist should hold to a sort of catastrophism (the past is the key to the present).
In the article and podcast that I linked to, I argue that the biblical background information gives us the philosophical firepower necessary to reject uniformitarianism since the Bible seems to describe a global flood which precludes a billions-of-years-old Earth. I urge that, if you’ve read this far, you take the additional time to ingest those resources as they’ll provide much clarity on the young age position on this point. Almost prophetically, Nix provides a biblical counterargument and suggests that any Christian who affirms the truthfulness of Jeremiah 33:25-26 must also affirm the unchanging laws of physics (which would legitimize, in Nix’s estimation, our ability to gain accurate knowledge of the past through science).
This is yet another popular argument of Ross’s that I’ve so recently discussed in-depth that I must simply direct you to another resource before this blog post becomes a book! Here, I argue that Ross et al. fail to consider when Jeremiah 33:25-26 initially takes effect, which I contend is only after the Noachian deluge.
Nix continues along this theme about the changing laws of physics, and the problems such a suggestion might entail. There are many creationists who do not maintain that the laws of physics have changed. Others feel that there may have been slight adjustments during the flood year.
I fear that Nix’s concern for the knowability of the past (scientifically) is clouding his ability to rely on what the Bible says about it. In other words, Nix fears that by even suggesting that something may have been different about the laws of physics, it opens the uncomfortable door that there will be questions of history that science cannot answer.7
If this is the case, then it fails to understand that “science” by his definition is really just science with unnecessary assumptions (like uniformitarianism) smuggled in. Contrary to Nix’s bifurcation, “the principle of uniformity” does not require that the laws of physics have been unchanging since the inception of the universe. God does not tell us what the laws of physics were prior to the flood year (again, see here), but we have good evidence (such as rocks that date “old” using one method but “young” using another) that something unusual was going on.
Whether this unusual something was an acceleration of decay that required a slight change in the laws of physics, or one that did not, the biblical and observable evidence suggests that it happened.
To get us started in this section, Nix takes issue with the alleged contention of IGH that “nature cannot interpret Scripture”:
This issue can also be seen as both philosophical and theological. When it is restated, the theological implications become more apparent: “God’s actions cannot be used to interpret God’s words.” This is the result of denying Jeremiah 33:25-26 (affirming changed laws of physics). For changed laws of physics means that the creation does not reflect God’s actions. However, since God has told us that the current observations of the universe do reflect His original creation (Jeremiah 33:25-26, Psalm 19, and Romans 1), we cannot deny that God’s actions can be used to interpret His words. Affirming that God’s actions (the creation) can be used to interpret God’s words (Scripture) is not a matter of “man’s fallible ideas versus God’s infallible Word,” rather it is a matter of affirming that God’s infallible actions are necessarily consistent with God infallible Word. And when God’s actions unequivocally reveal an ancient universe, we need to change our interpretation of what God’s Word in Genesis means to reflect His actions and not our fallible ideas.
There are numerous assumptions and misunderstandings (hereafter, Issue(s)) displayed by the above quotation:
A lack of clarity with respect to the project of hermeneutics
An assumption of strict concordism
A conflation of the terms “observation” and “interpretation”
A misunderstanding of the nature of evidence, science, and general revelation
A fundamental misunderstanding of how science affects our understanding of ancient texts
This is a lot of ground to cover; so while I must apologize in advance for my lack of brevity, many of these points lie at the heart of the origins debate, and thus, I would be remiss not to give them fair treatment.
However, since each of these Issues are semi-related, hopefully, each Issue will require less and less qualification and explanation.
A lack of clarity with respect to the project of hermeneutics
Let’s get clear on what textual hermeneutics8 attempts to do, first of all. Nix provides a restatement of the problem he’s raised: “God’s actions cannot be used to interpret God’s words.”
It’s very strange to me that Nix has stated the problem in this way. He is a philosophically and theologically astute individual but seems to think that God’s actions and God’s words are on an epistemologically level playing field. I can see how this might seem true prima facie, but it’s not so simple:
One must take into account that words consist of propositional statements. Actions [Nix’s caricature of “creation”], on the other hand, must first be interpreted according to any number of assumptions before being written into propositional statements.
Even though one “interprets” both the Bible and nature, the process for each looks much different. Hopefully, you understand that reading words on paper is not the same thing as studying nature or performing chemical experiments in a laboratory.
Lisle is, once again, helpful:
To “interpret” Scripture means to understand the meaning of the propositions. But is this what we mean when we speak of “interpreting” nature? No. Nature is not comprised of propositions. When scientists “interpret” nature, they are creating (not interpreting) propositional statements that they believe to be true. For example, “This rock has a high concentration of iron; it is probably a meteorite.” These propositions must then be interpreted (in the linguistic sense) by the reader/listener in order to understand the meaning. So, to understand the claims of a scientist involves two levels of interpretation: we must interpret his claim (linguistically), which is itself an interpretation (a propositional hypothesis) of nature. But to understand the propositions of Scripture involves only one interpretation (linguistic) of inerrant propositions.
Thus, the error is reduced to a probability function, but with the added benefit that we are beginning with an inerrant text (assuming the interpreter holds to inerrancy).
Additionally, Nix’s paragraph merely assumes that God’s actions reveal an old universe. To the contrary, there are scores of chronometers which indicate a young age for the earth and universe. So even if I were inclined to agree with Nix’s hermeneutic, it still wouldn’t follow that we must only use those chronometers which seem to suggest an old age.9
So much more could be said here, but hopefully, more is not necessary to understand the massive difference between interpreting Scripture and interpreting nature (again, “God’s actions” per Nix).
An assumption of strict concordism
After citing Jeremiah 33 (reflected upon above), Nix writes, “For changed laws of physics means that the creation does not reflect God’s actions.”
First, this is a non-sequitur. It’s not clear at all to me that, if the laws of physics have not necessarily been constant since the first moment of time, creation can be said not to reflect the actions of God.10
Further, Nix’s statement about the laws of physics requires the assumption that a view known as “concordism” is true. Concordism is the view that certain statements in Scripture will correlate exactly with the claims of modern science when both are understood correctly.
Historically, both OEC’s and YAC’s have affirmed this view.
To be sure, I’m not so convinced the terms “concordism” and “non-concordism” are adequately defined, and I still have much thinking of my own to do in this area. Thus, I tend to err on the conservative side when it comes to difficult passages—especially those which are found in non-historical writings (i.e., poetry, prophecy, etc).
Can Jeremiah 33:25-26 really be referring to the laws of physics? The original audience would not have understood it in those terms, certainly. It seems to me that we could draw a vague notion of the orderliness of the universe from this passage—but not much more.
As for my own current thinking on this, I’m inclined to think that the biblical authors (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) used vague, minimalistic descriptors when commenting on matters that God knew we’d understand much differently today vs. the alleged understanding of the ancients.
For example, does the Bible teach an ancient cosmology or a modern cosmology? Although I could never fit it within this article, I could just as easily make the case for reading an ancient cosmology into the Bible as I could for reading a modern one.
My approach then? To read no cosmology into the Bible.
I want to stress that correct interpretation (exegesis) requires that we not read outside ideas into the Bible, whether they be modern or ancient. While one group wants to teach that Genesis 1:1 describes the big bang, another group entirely wants to assert that the Bible teaches that the earth is a flat disk.11 Then, there are those who claim the Bible teaches neither!
All three views have support from well-educated, reputable Hebrew and Old Testament scholars.
The point I’m making is this: Our knowledge of how Scriptures such as Jeremiah 33:25-26 should be interpreted is not complete enough to warrant the claim Nix has made (that an understanding of this verse other than his necessitates that creation doesn’t reflect God’s actions).
A conflation of the terms “observation” and “interpretation”
Nix claims: “…since God has told us that the current observations of the universe do reflect His original creation (Jeremiah 33:25-26, Psalm 19, and Romans 1), we cannot deny that God’s actions can be used to interpret His words.”
Allow me to restate my Issue this way: Nix has conflated “general revelation” with “modern science.”
We could write an entire book on this point alone. Instead, I’ll ask a rhetorical question: Was his statement true prior to the 16th century, when the vast majority of thinkers’ “current observations” were nothing like they are today?
Here again, we see that Nix’s proof texts (Jeremiah 33:25-26, Psalm 19, and Romans 1) give sufficient enough (i.e., vague, minimalistic) information that is applicable to Bible readers of all (historical) ages, while not endorsing a particular cosmology. Otherwise, the “author’s intended meaning” would necessarily change with each new iteration of cosmological consensus!
Thus, from these verses, we have license to conclude that we live in an orderly universe that testifies to the handiwork of God—and nothing more.
A misunderstanding of the nature of evidence, science, and general revelation
Drawing from his erroneous argument above, Nix concludes the following: “Affirming that God’s actions (the creation) can be used to interpret God’s words (Scripture) is not a matter of “man’s fallible ideas versus God’s infallible Word,” rather it is a matter of affirming that God’s infallible actions are necessarily consistent with God infallible Word.”
Of course, Nix is correct as far as his claim is able to go. The problem is that it doesn’t go quite far enough.
As briefly mentioned above, the dominant cosmological view during this time was wildly other than big bang cosmology. By Nix’s reasoning, this consensus should have, at the time, been infallible on a level equal to reading the Hebrew Bible. Surely, when put in these terms, it’s clear that Nix’s reasoning is wanting at best.
Further, nobody who holds to the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible would disagree that God’s infallible word will match his infallible actions (creation, in Nix’s understanding). The question is how does one come to understand the “truth” taught by each of these mediums?
The Bible is made up of propositional statements. Most ideas in Scripture are easy to understand because they are written plainly, and those that aren’t usually become clearer over time as we study more, our brains develop further, and we are able to piece together more abstract concepts. Nature, on the other hand, must be interpreted first according to a number of philosophical assumptions, and many times only those who’ve been educated in a particular field have the tools and knowledge necessary to comment on it with any degree of authority. Only after first deciding on what nature seems to be “saying” can scientists formulate these thoughts into propositional statements on paper.
Scripture, of course, is in the business of “truth” for at least two reasons: First, that propositional statements (such as the one you are reading) may be properly considered “true” or “false.” Second, the Bible claims it is making true propositional statements about many things, not the least of which is God himself.
What about the project of science? Science is in the business of probabilities, not truth. The reason is that the scientific method, properly speaking, is a logical fallacy (how can any truth be based on a logical fallacy?)! This article takes good care of laying out the issue. Of course, this does not mean I disagree with the scientific method. Again, the way we use it is useful, but only as far as it goes. And it does not go far enough to produce truth, almost by definition.
Finally, Nix seems to ignore a major distinction given by the biblical authors as to what the Word of God is capable of accomplishing as opposed to general revelation. Writing in his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul crafts the following rhetorical argument:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
We know from Paul’s instruction to his protege, Timothy, that what one “preaches” is “the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Thus, one’s having heard the Bible taught accurately and coming to accept its truth is enough to move from “death to life.” By contrast, we must ask what general revelation is able to tell us.
There is no indication in any of the passages cited by Nix (including Romans 1) that general revelation is a sufficient condition to lead one to the knowledge of the gospel. Such passages are apparently sufficient for condemnation (see Romans 1:20), but not for salvation.
In Acts 10 we find the account of Cornelius’ conversion—a man who evidently responded favorably to general revelation but needed to be shown the gospel in order to understand that only Christ could save. Of course, we understand that Cornelius was not shown a New Testament; but he was given instruction directly from one of its writers—the Apostle Peter himself—about our Savior!
Nix’s suggestion here is committing an egregious error, one the Church has committed before: pressing the Bible to line up with specific scientific models suggested by experts of the day. If the 16th-century Copernican debacle did not teach us this lesson, what will?
A fundamental misunderstanding of how science affects our understanding of ancient texts
According to the historical-grammatical hermeneutic, which both Nix and I affirm, text’s should be interpreted according to the plain sense meaning of the words found within, taking into account the historical context of the writer and the genre of the literature.
While many dear brothers and sisters today are opting for a view of the biblical authors which draws much inspiration from other cultures in the ancient Near East, it’s likely that Nix and I would lock arms in boldly heralding the uniqueness of Israel.
As an example, neither Nix or I would affirm that the Bible teaches an incorrect cosmology, and we’d likely resist the idea that the Hebrews actually held an incorrect cosmology (at least pre-Hellenistic influence).12
There, our similarities virtually end.
I have written on the relationship between science and the Bible here and elaborated further on this podcast episode. At the risk of losing your attention, allow me to repeat a lengthy excerpt from the article:
Generally speaking, there are two ways in which one can hold information in relation to the Bible: magisterially, and ministerially. The first requires us to change the plain meaning of Scripture, the second allows us to bolster the plain meaning of Scripture.
For example, interpreting the Bible in terms of evolutionary thinking would require taking Genesis 1-11 in a very figurative sense. But scholars are nowhere close to agreement on what this even means! Some say allegory, some say poetic, and some merely say “non-literal.” But Jesus, Paul, Peter, and many other writers of the Bible understood these passages literally and historically. [At the very least, one would be hard-pressed to show that they didn’t.] This would be a magisterial relationship. Science requires that we alter the plain meaning of Scripture.
On the ministerial view, we could turn to Job 40 and consider the description of what seems to be a giant beast of some sort called Behemoth. For centuries, Bible commentators described the creature as possibly being some sort of hippopotamus-like animal. But that hardly fits the description. Upon the discovery of sauropod dinosaurs, however, we found a real-life beast that existed in the past matching almost perfectly this description. We did not have to change what the Bible said; rather, we altered our understanding of the natural world.
Therefore, I don’t at any point allow modern science to alter my understanding of the Bible per se. Rather, I take Scripture at face value and alter my understanding of the natural world accordingly. Most scientists say there was no global flood, the Bible says there was. Thus, there was a global flood.
And, thankfully, many Bible-believing scientists have come along and done great work under this presupposition to show that, indeed, the Bible has it right!
We must always remember that the Bible is concerned with history. While we are in agreement with most (if not all) observational science, forensic science [what I’ve called “historical science” in this study] must be carried out with certain axioms in mind. If one’s axiom is that the Bible is to be taken at face value, he will come to a very different conclusion than the one who says the axioms of modern scientists are correct, and that understanding must be integrated with the information from the Bible.
Such an “integration” will, as it has in the past, inevitably lead to the reinterpretation of the Bible instead of the natural world. This we must do our best to guard against.
Let’s return to Nix: “And when God’s actions unequivocally reveal an ancient universe, we need to change our interpretation of what God’s Word in Genesis means to reflect His actions and not our fallible ideas.”
An admission such as the above is astounding! Nix here seems to think the Bible is a sort of “science textbook” which, along with the Prentice-Hall at your local high school, should be updated to reflect each new relevant discovery.
What precedent is there for Nix’s claim? Is the evidence unequivocal? Hardly.13
What’s more, it seems that Nix has somehow concluded that God’s actions are infallible (which can only mean our interpretation of them, since we’re not God) and that “our fallible ideas” are apparently those associated with our interpretation of Scripture! Does anyone else find it difficult to believe that Nix would suggest it’s easier to discern the truth about reality from the natural world than it is to draw from the inerrant, inspired Word of God that was intended to communicate the Truth to all generations? I scarcely think that Nix believes this himself; try as I might, however, I can’t see what else his above statement could possibly mean.
Thus, for Nix (if I’m understanding him right), it is easier for us to accurately draw conclusions about modern science than to accurately interpret Scripture. Not only does this seem highly unlikely and flies in the face of biblical scholarship to this point, but this is a view foreign to the biblical writers.
In Acts 17:11, Paul (God’s physical servant) show up to the Bereans, and Luke commends them because “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” They tested the claims of God’s physical, in-person witness against the claims of Scripture.
If anything is unequivocal, it is that God places the supreme authority in his Word, and intends for it to primarily communicate its truth to men—not science.
Nix then highlights that the movie evidently claims those who don’t take a young age creationist view deny that Genesis is historical (though I remember no such claim in the movie), and continues, “…when Genesis 1 is interpreted from the proper perspective (the surface of the planet, according to Genesis 1:2), we discover perfect alignment between the events described in Genesis 1 and what scientists have discovered about the history of our planet and life.”
This is a claim first (to my knowledge) advanced by Ross that has been propagated and adopted widely; however, I’m not sure what it intends to accomplish.
Let’s view the comment in Ross’s own words (from Navigating Genesis, page 28):
Something happens between verses 1 and 2 that powerfully impacts the reader’s comprehension of the story to follow. Here, the frame of reference for the creation account shifts from the entire cosmos (the heavenly objects that make up the universe) explicitly to the surface of earth. Perhaps because it comes so abruptly, this transition is easily missed, even by distinguished Bible scholars. I am persuaded that my immersion in science prepared me to see it.
This is an immediate red flag, related to our discussion above. “Immersion in science” has absolutely zero—zero—to do with a heightened ability to notice teachings in an ancient text. If distinguished scholars did not see it, the likely reason is that it isn’t there.
Lisle responds this way:
Actually, Hebrew grammar disallows the possibility that “something happens between verses 1 and 2.” Namely, verse 2 begins with “And the earth” — a Hebrew grammatical construction called a “waw-disjunctive.” The construction occurs when a sentence starts with “and” followed by a non-verb, such as a noun. The waw-disjunctive indicates a break or interruption in the narrative. This is often for the purpose of providing additional information about what was previously stated. When used this way, it functions much the way we would use parenthesis in English — it shows that verse two is a comment on verse one. Verse two does not necessarily follow in time, but is a parenthetical description of the conditions of the earth that was mentioned in the previous verse. Thus, it is impossible for something to happen between verses one and two because there is literally no time between the two.
I appreciate Lisle’s view here, and I think it could be correct. However, I’d also mention a related observation of Dr. Danny Faulkner’s while interacting with the work of Dr. Stephen Boyd, a Hebraist who coined the term “introductory encapsulation.”
Boyd claims an “introductory encapsulation” is “a verb representing an eventuality that subsumes a series.”14 Though not formulated to explain Genesis 1:1, many have come to believe that this is the appropriate interpretation of it as well (and have historically held this view, absent the aforementioned term).
After providing textual evidence for why he believes this view to be correct, Faulkner describes the following implications:
As such, Genesis 1:2 does not necessarily follow sequentially what is stated in verse 1 (note the qatal verb in 1:2); rather, is a descriptive statement that represents the state of the world near the beginning of the creative process that is summarized in verse 1. As such, Genesis 1:1 functions to summarize the account of creation to follow, and Genesis 1:2–31 elaborates upon the details of God’s creative activity.
In this way, Lisle and Faulkner are barking up the same tree, just with different hounds.
There is no shift mentioned in the frame of reference; indeed, there is no time for which the frame of reference to shift!
I would thus discourage Nix (and others) from using this line of thinking. If it is not mentioned (by Ross’ own admission) and/or outright rejected by Hebrew scholars, there’s probably a reason.15
Next, Nix invites us to consider the following headline: “Christians Who Disagree With Young-Earth Creationism Are Denying Genesis Is Historical.”
Of course, the entire purpose of his article was to show that this is not necessarily true. And we’ll not go over this again since we dealt with it earlier. Again, just because the line is drawn somewhere different for Nix and the IGH folks does not invalidate the enterprise.
I would agree with Nix that many old earth creationists understand Genesis to be teaching history, and I can certainly see where he’d take issue with the movie on this point given the chosen line.
Nix then begins to discuss the flood:
In “Is Genesis History” the contributors asserted that the only way that God’s judgment (the whole purpose of Noah’s Flood) is that it be global in extent. The purpose was to judge humanity for its evil, so its geographical extent need only be to everywhere that humans had inhabited. The debate about the geographical extent of the flood comes down to the extent to which humans had migrated around the globe. If they had not migrated far from the place of Adam’s and Eve’s creation, then God could still accomplish His purpose 100% by merely flooding that geographical area. Given the strong evidence for the lack of migration of early humans (see Who Was Adam) and the fact that no geological evidence exists for a worldwide flood (see the Hasty Generalization above), the interpretation of the Flood as a universal event (affected all humanity but not the whole globe) affirms both the historicity of the Flood account (God’s words) and the accuracy of the record of nature (God’s actions). See “Navigating Genesis” for more on this.
The above paragraph is littered with irony and myriad unargued assumptions.
Old earth creationists like Nix want to work off a very limited—yet ambiguous—definition of humanity, and indeed, they must in order for assertions like “strong evidence for the lack of migration of early humans” to go through.
For example, on Ross and company’s view, humans could be anywhere from about 20,000 to 120,000 years old. But along with this comes the explicit denial of Neanderthal humanity and could even relegate the Australian Aborigines to the level of “soulless hominid.” Since Nix did not argue for this view but provided a resource, I will do the same. Sarfati spends quite a bit of time detailing the logical implications that come along with this view of humanity in his Refuting Compromise. I am not a fan of some of the language and rhetoric used in this book, but Sarfati is generally well-argued and is a competent scientist.
Nix claims, “The debate about the geographical extent of the flood comes down to the extent to which humans had migrated around the globe.”
I understand his point, but it seems to me that the extent of the flood is predicated upon what the text of Scripture says. I have spent a great deal of time in another piece arguing why Scripture can only be teaching a global flood, and will not repeat those arguments here.
Finally, I find myself flabbergasted that Nix so confidently asserts there is “no geological evidence [that] exists for a worldwide flood,” and refers his reader to his section about the “hasty generalization” fallacy! If you don’t see the irony, consider that Nix is basically saying (per his own argument), “Some geological features form over long periods of time, therefore, no geological features form over a short period of time.”16
But this commits the same fallacy he just got done accusing young age creationists of committing!
Not to mention this is simply untrue on any reasonable definition of the word “evidence.” Above I pointed to Snelling, Wise, and Brand who’ve all written helpful volumes detailing much evidence, from geology, for a global flood. Some of that evidence is also discussed here.
In this final section, Nix takes a few of the scientific claims of the movie to task.
He begins by dealing with the alleged assertion that evolutionists need 13.8 billion years for their enterprise to get moving, and that the IGH film claims this is why old ages for the universe are accepted by many Christians.
Nix argues that evolution is actually chronologically impossible and, therefore, this is not the reason. I think it’s fair to say that Nix is correct, generally speaking. I would argue that some who affirm universal common descent do, in fact, read long ages into the Bible in order to make this accommodation. More than one theistic evolutionist has actually admitted this to me personally, so I make this claim not with harsh, specious intentions/accusations, but with my own experience.
Of course, I agree with Nix on his view of evolution. But notice what he takes issue with: “If anyone tells you that the old earth creationist needs or is trying to force 13.8 billion years into the Bible to accommodate evolution, please understand that they really do not understand just how inefficient the evolutionary process is.”
Granted. But he is, by his own admission, reinterpreting what the Bible says based on his conclusions about the big bang. Recall his statement above: “And when God’s actions unequivocally reveal an ancient universe, we need to change our interpretation of what God’s Word in Genesis means to reflect His actions and not our fallible ideas.” (Emphasis mine.)
So his point with respect to the specific scientific model in question (evolution) is granted. However, he merely inserts a different scientific model in its place, in which case the IGH argument holds.17
Subsequently, Nix points out what he believes to be a contradiction in the young age creationists denial of macro-evolution. Hugh Ross is well-known for pointing out that creationists are often “more evolutionary” than some evolutionists are. Is this the case? Do the same criticisms of Darwinian macro-evolutionary theory apply to young age creationism?
Nix seems to think so. He begins by pointing out that creationist view that the “kinds” reported in Genesis are roughly equal to the “genus” or “family” level of Linnaean classification. Since, on the conventional view, macro-evolution is evolution which takes place above the level of “species,” Nix reasons that the young age creationist denial of macro-evolution must “serve to falsify their own affirmation of macro-evolution.”
The problem is that a game of semantics is being played here between multiple parties. For a long time, mainstream creationists have rejected the use of the terms micro- and macro-evolution, opting instead to use more accurate terms like “variation” or “adaptation.” Admittedly, much of the fault here does lie with creationists who have mistakenly adopted and misapplied evolutionary terminology without proper clarification.
The terms in question were originally proposed by evolutionists, who certainly did not think that micro-evolution was possible and macro-evolution was not—this is the way in which many creationists use the term. Rather, as mentioned above, for evolutionists, the terms divide the classification level on which evolution is effective.
What happens with biological information is the real name of the game.
Young age creationists aim to show that natural selection working on mutations (whether harmful or beneficial) never increases or creates new biological information. In other words, natural selection is a fundamentally deleterious process that can shuffle or remove existing information but never add it.
Thus, in rare circumstances where a young age creationist might use the term macro-evolution, he or she is making the distinction at the kind level of biblical classification; in other words, hybridization and natural selection allow organisms to “evolve” past the species level, but never past the “kind.” What constitutes a “kind” is a bustling area of creationist research today called “baraminology.”
Nix’s criticism on this point fails because what he (rightly) considers macro-evolution to be is not what any young age creationist would—even if they are using unfortunate terminology.
This helpful distinction may help clarify Nix’s second objection on this point:
Second, even naturalists and theistic evolutionists understand that the macro-evolutionary process would be slow and not as quick as the global flood proponent would need to explain today’s observed diversity. The global flood proponent would have to posit not just a mechanism that they already claim to have falsified but one that works at orders of magnitude more quickly. If a process is not possible, speeding it up does not make it more possible. It would also be akin to punctuated equilibrium- one of the evolutionary answers to sudden appearances of animals in the Cambrian and Avalon explosions. The proposed solution to the diversity problem will not work by any standard. See “Navigating Genesis” and “Peril in Paradise” for more on this issue with the necessity of global flood proponents to affirm macro-evolution.
Of course, the above-made distinction obviates that Nix’s second criticism does not really speak to the issue, since the Darwinian mechanism is ultimately not what young age creationists rely on. Just like Nix, we think natural selection working on random mutations is not sufficient to produce the biodiversity we observe.
However, he mentions a “proposed solution to the diversity problem.” Here Nix is making reference to a sentence he wrote earlier I have not yet quoted: “They believe this process was either fully naturalistic or could have been theistic (preloaded into the genes at original creation).”
Nix is certainly correct in that the young age creationist is pushing hard against the widely-accepted paradigm that natural selection is a slow—indeed, very slow—process.18 This is a very active area of creationist research right now, and as such, there is hardly a consensus as to who is right. In fact, more than one of the current suggestions could be working in concert.
I think virtually all YAC biologists affirm what Nix refers to as the “pre-loading” of biological information at the beginning. However, this is not an arbitrary assertion to account for biological diversity a-posteriori, but a conclusion reached by the logical implications of Scripture.
This is for at least three reasons:
It’s obvious that organisms were initially created with a diverse overabundance of functional DNA for the simple reason that two genetically-identical organisms would be genetically-identical clones. Thus for Adam and Eve (and, by extension, all created “kinds”), it makes perfect sense to assume a diverse gene-pool, capable of creating vast biodiversity.
A second reason is that it provides an obvious answer to one of the most foundational questions of early Genesis—“Where did Cain get his wife?” If the early gene pool was more diverse, an incestual relationship would not pose a genetic problem.19
Finally, the obvious change in lifespan between the anti- and post-diluvian epochs suggests more than just ecological change, but also genetic degradation.
To this point, Wood (2002) has proposed “AGEing” Theory which suggests that there was a period of rapid genetic and biogeographic dispersal after the flood, that has since slowed. This would make sense given the genetic bottleneck at the time of flood (the entire world’s human and animal population reduced down to only those which were on the Ark), the obvious immediate ecological changes that these organisms would have to cope with, and the limited chance of survival many organisms would have as they struggle to adapt to new environments and living conditions (whether introduced to them naturally or by humans).
More recently, Jeanson has noted (see here and here) secular studies which have begun to confirm predictions made in his 2017, Replacing Darwin. In short, while evolution predicts a speciation rate of one new species roughly every 6,000 years, the creation model predicts a production rate of 2.4 new species (on average) per year. Recent observations in the Galapagos suggest the actual rate could be anywhere from 3.4-12 new species per year.
Additionally, these studies are showing that, rather than most speciation events being due to natural selection’s working on random mutations over long periods of time (with occasional help from epigenetic switching), faster speciation is occurring due to a combination of natural selection, epigenetics, and the homozygosity of breakaway populations.
It is possible that the above-mentioned solutions are, in some measures, complementary but this remains to be seen. Dr. Randy Guliuzza at the Institute for Creation research is also working on a suggestion he calls Continuous Environmental Tracking. This suggestion is quite new and has met opposition from some creationist researchers, but is another option on the table.
So the question is, which solution is Nix referring to that “will not work by any standard”? To the contrary, many different solutions are on the table (and there is no consensus as to who is correct), each of them seems plausible in unique ways, one of them enjoys preliminary confirmation in secular journals today, and none of them rely on the Darwinian mechanism.
Thus, and once again, a proper understanding of current creationist thought is essential before claiming that rapid biological diversification after the flood is impossible. Unfortunately, Nix (and many of his sources) have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not consult creationist materials before pontificating against their view.
His final dispute with the IGH film involves the claim that the modern discovery of dinosaur soft tissue shows the earth must be much younger than the conventional paradigm allows for.
Since Nix did not spend much time here, neither will I. Though, he does make a few conflicting statements. Rather than comment, I’ll let you read his thoughts for yourself. He does mention Rana’s Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth in defense of the OEC view. I have not read this so am further hesitant to provide my own thoughts. However, one of the discoveries in question was made by Mark Armitage, who has provided a summary response to Rana’s claims here.
The very fact that this discovery was so shocking to those who first stumbled upon it suggests that this issue is not nearly as settled as many seem to claim. Nix also makes it a point to mention that this is “only one piece of evidence that seems inconsistent with current dating (among many pieces of evidence that falsify a young creation),” but of course, many pieces of evidence also serve to falsify an old date for creation. The inclusion of such a statement is, therefore, unargued rhetoric that is irrelevant to whether or not the dinosaur soft-tissue claims hold up.
As one might expect, Nix’s conclusion is merely a summary of the aforementioned claims and a reassurance that the YAC skeptic has a happy home in old-earth-affirming Christianity.
I, too, want to reaffirm that I am chiefly concerned with a person’s coming to Jesus, and while I believe the age of the earth is an important issue, it is one that can be investigated after having received Christ.
The old earth creationist wants to affirm that Genesis is history. Whether he can do so consistently is a different question that I’ve not attempted to answer in this piece. Instead, my aim was to show the ubiquitous misunderstandings many not only have, but teach others, about young age creationism.
I hope this has been received well by those who’ve read and disagree. If that’s you, know that I love you as my brother or sister and intended no harm in writing this piece. I simply believe that theological opinions, if they’re going to be critiqued, should be critiqued accurately and fairly.
It was my personal opinion that Nix’s critique did not meet this criteria and it was therefore prudent to provide a different perspective.
Finally, Luke, I hope and pray that if you’ve read this you’ve not found my tone to be harsh and/or lacking grace. I have not held back strong correction where I deemed necessary, but tried to remain level-headed.
From my perspective, many of your claims equal the just-as-false assertion of some YAC’s that all OEC’s believe in evolution. As I’m sure this is an annoying commonality you face, perhaps we can achieve mutual respect on the grounds that neither side deserves to be misrepresented.
While I certainly would not ask you to retract your opinions in this piece, I would simply hope that this response inspires you to most accurately reflect the claims of current creationist thought prior to your next publication.
Grace and peace to you and all others who read.
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- Case in point, one of their foremost contributors (Dr. Todd Wood) is good friends with former BioLogos leader Darrell Falk, and even has a book out with him this year.
- By the way, if one were to quote Ken Ham this ubiquitously I would raise the same skepticism. It’s not an attack on the person. Rather, it’s questioning the integrity of the claims.
- See Lisle, Understanding Genesis, page 262, for example.
- I understand that the contention of Nix (indeed, the point of the article) is that he too is concerned about history. But the fact remains that young age creationists hold an entirely different interpretation of that history, one that has been pervasive throughout church history. This is where the line is drawn.
- I’ll not major on this, but one could also note the non-sequitur fallacy Nix commits by claiming that the failure of the YEC argument he’s rebutting would lead to an incorrect conclusion, by default, regarding the Grand Canyon. That simply doesn’t follow.
- On a semi-related note, Ross often claims that Astronomy—his field of specialization—is unique because it is the only branch of science that directly observes the past. Hopefully, any philosophically astute individual recognizes that such an assertion depends on unargued assumptions (particularly big bang assumptions). We observe the expansion of space, but it does not follow from the expansion of space that we observe the past (i.e., that the big bang is true). That requires assumptions that go beyond observation.
- Here I am thinking of something like “Last Thursdayism,” which contends that the past is unknowable. I suspect something like this is what Nix has in mind.
- According to Google Dictionary: “the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.”
- See here for an example of how what is commonly used as an old age indicator may only be one side of the coin. Similar examples could be given in every field of science.
- Nix might respond to this by asserting that his reasoning has to do with compromising the eternality of God. But note that Nix would be assuming, in the claim, that the laws of physics have never changed. The verse itself does not state anything of the sort (there is no time frame mentioned). That the laws of physics have never changed in the past is not required biblically; it’s merely an assumption of many scientists.
- I’m not referring to those who think we should, then, accept that the Earth is flat. Those I’m referring to would hold to a definition of inerrancy that allowed for only theological truth.
- Note the wide chasm between an incorrect cosmology and an incomplete cosmology. Although for details too complex to discuss here, those Hebrews who were, in fact, worshippers of mythological gods likely held an incorrect cosmological schema because of the relationship between nature and theology on that worldview. It does not follow from that, however, that God inspired the biblical writers to “accommodate” the revelation by teaching an erroneous cosmology.
- I refer the reader to the above-referenced books which clearly and succinctly deliver a young age creationist view (with plenty of physical evidence).
- See Faulkner (2016), “Thoughts on the Raqia and a Possible Explanation for the Cosmic Microwave Background.”
- I’ll not spend undue time here, but allow me to briefly mention that it’s not clear to me how this perspective shift solves any problems. Ross still must posit dubious renderings of the text in order to conclude that astronomical objects were actually created on Day 1 and that, somehow, they were only made to appear on Day 4. Further, this issue does not fix the obvious differences between long-age suggestions about the order of events in the development of life on Earth and the order suggested by the text of Genesis 1. They really are apples and oranges.
- I realize that above Nix claimed OEC’s allow for long and short processes. But nebulous “short processes” are much different than what is required for a global deluge. Essentially Nix’s claim here is moot. Both OEC’s and YEC’s allow for short and long processes, but each in a different sense.
- Keep in mind that I am not the one saying this. I tend to be quite charitable to the alternative interpreter of Genesis and give them the benefit of the doubt. In this case, however, it’s a feature of Nix’s theology to reinterpret the Bible based on modern scientific conclusions.
- Please remember, however, that this is not the macro-evolutionary process as Nix asserts.
- It does not pose a moral problem either because there were no contractual laws against this until much later, well after the gene pool had been through myriad generations.