YEC / OEC – what are the Differences? Element 3 – YEC and OEC Views of Evidence

Introduction

“Evidence, Evidentialism, and Evidential Apologetics” are all common terms in the creation discussion.  Evidentailism and Evidential Apologetics are not the focus of this post; however, they are dealt with briefly in a note at the end of this post.  The focus of this post is on the use of evidence in the creation discussion.

Evidence is presented to a court in a legal dispute.    Evidence includes testimony given orally or in written form.  Evidence includes physical evidence.  The court then examines admissible evidence and uses evidence to decide a matter. 

Definitions, Secular

Evidence:  Wikipedia provides a definition of evidence.  Portions of this definition were excerpted on 12/6/18 (any hyperlinks and bold typeface have been removed;footnotes are not shown):

“The law of evidence, also known as the rules of evidence, encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of facts in a legal proceeding. These rules determine what evidence must or must not be considered by the trier of fact in reaching its decision. The trier of fact is a judge in bench trials, or the jury in any cases involving a jury. The law of evidence is also concerned with the quantum (amount), quality, and type of proof needed to prevail in litigation. The rules vary depending upon whether the venue is a criminal court, civil court, or family court, and they vary by jurisdiction.

The quantum of evidence is the amount of evidence needed; the quality of proof is how reliable such evidence should be considered. Important rules that govern admissibility concern hearsay, authentication, relevance, privilege, witnesses, opinions, expert testimony, identification and rules of physical evidence. There are various standards of evidence or standards showing how strong the evidence must be to meet the legal burden of proof in a given situation, ranging from reasonable suspicion to preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are several types of evidence, depending on the form or source. Evidence governs the use of testimony (e.g., oral or written statements, such as an affidavit), exhibits (e.g., physical objects), documentary material, or demonstrative evidence, which are admissible (i.e., allowed to be considered by the trier of fact, such as jury) in a judicial or administrative proceeding (e.g.,a court of law)…”

Physical Evidence:  Wikipedia provides a definition of physical evidence. Portions of this definition were excerpted on 12/6/18(any hyperlinks and bold typeface have been removed; footnotes are not shown):

Physical evidence (also called real evidence or material evidence) is any material object that plays some role in the matter that gave rise to the litigation, introduced as evidence in a judicial proceeding (such as a trial) to prove a fact in issue based on the object’s physical characteristics…”

Testimony:  Wikipedia provides a definition of testimony.  Portions of this definition were excerpted on 12/9/18 (any hyperlinks and bold typeface have been removed; footnotes are not shown):

“In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter…”.

Definitions, Biblical

Evidence in the Bible

The English word “evidence” is used in the Bible only once,to describe Jeremiah’s land transaction (Jeremiah Chapter 32).  The commonly used equivalent words for evidence in Hebrew and Greek are rendered “record” and “testimony” in English.

The Bible is a book of evidence – God’s own record or testimony concerning Himself, His works and His law.  This testimony includes the account of creation in the book of Genesis. 

Evidence, Incorrect Use by God’s People

The Bible is testimony given by God Himself.  However, God’s people often use God’s evidence, His word, incorrectly.  Here are some examples:

Eve in the Garden of Eden considered the evidence of God’s spoken word and then considered the evidence presented by Satan (Genesis 3:1-7)before making her decision concerning the forbidden fruit.

During the conquest of the promised land Joshua and the leaders knew God’s command not to make covenants with the people of the land.  Then, but they considered the testimony and physical evidence presented by the Gibeonits had come from a far country (Joshua 9:3-16)and then made treaty with them.

During the period of the Judges, the people knew that God was to be their king.  However, they observed the kings of surrounding nations and decided that they wanted a human king (I Samuel 8:1-9).

During the period of the Judges.  Samson was warned by his parents not marry a heathen woman.  Samson reply was based on physical evidence: “…Get her for me for she pleaseth me well” (Judges 14:1-4).

During the reign of Zedekiah, Jeremiah gave testimony to true testimony concerning God’s judgement on Jerusalem.  However, this was contradicted by the false testimony of the prophet Hananiah (Jeremiah 28:10-17).

Thomas disbelieved the reports that Christ was risen from the dead and stated that he would not believe unless he was able to touch the wounds of Christ (John 20:24-29). Jesus told Thomas “… Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed(John 20:29).”

It may be concluded that God’s people have used both testimony and physical evidence incorrectly on a number of occasions.  The consequences of this are far reaching.  Christians need to be very discerning when considering evidence.  God’s word is the only reliable evidence for believers. 

Evidence, Correct Use by God’s People

Considering evidence is Biblical.  The Bible is a book of evidence – God’s testimony concerning Himself, His works and His law. Biblical examples of the correct use of evidence include:

Giving evidence must be done truthfully per the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16).

Evidence for capital punishment must be presented by two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6).

Jesus stated that a people are known by their fruit (Matthew 7:13-20).

We are called to examine ourselves before taking the Lord’s supper (I Corinthians 10:27-34).

In cases of church discipline, facts are established based on evidence presented by two or three witnesses (II Corinthians 13:1).

It may be concluded that correct uses of evidence include:1) self-examination; 2) evaluating the fruit in their own lives and that of others; 3) speaking truth; 4) understanding the use of evidence in civil law:and 5) the need for the careful use of evidence in the case of church discipline.

Evidence and Faith

Christens are called upon to walk by faith and not by sight.  Part of the reason for this is that we cannot see God – He is invisible (I Timothy 1:17).   Another reason is that Gods ways and thoughts are above our thoughts and His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55: 8 &9).

Summary of the YEC View of Evidence:

 The YEC view of evidence considers Special Revelation to be God’s legal testimony concerning any matter.  God presents His testimony in the Bible using the plain meaning of words to preserve the perspicuity of Scripture.  When there is a conflict in the evidence presented by God and the evidence presented by others, God’s word is considered truth (John 17:17). 

Summary of the OEC View of Evidence:

The OEC view of evidence Special Revelation to be God’s legal testimony concerning a matter only if it is properly interpreted.  God presents His testimony in the Bible,however, that testimony must be reinterpreted so that it does not conflict with the positions of the scientific consensus. Any “apparent disagreement” between Scripture and science is the result of not understanding the “correct interpretation” of either Scripture or science.

The believer must weigh the evidence of Special Revelation versus “Natural Revelation” and then decide which is correct and which need tobe reinterpreted.  Invariably, this leads to an OEC reinterpreting of Scripture to bring it into conformity with the latest positions of the scientific consensus.

In Conclusion:

  • The YEC view of evidence is that Special Revelation is understandable to the average person.
  • In contrast, the OEC view of evidence follows that of Eve in the garden.  This view calls on Christians to weigh the testimony of the scientific consensus (termed “Natural Revelation”) against the Bible.  

Homework:

  • Summarize your understanding of evidence and creation.
  • Continue to develop your glossary of creation discussion terms.  Establish definitions for these terms: Evidence,Testimony, and Faith.
  • In our next post, we will look at YEC and OEC views of church history.  Your homework is as follows:
  • Begin a time line of the creation discussion. Start with creation and end with the date of the book of Revelation.

Notes concerning Evidential Apologetics

Evidential Apologetics is not the subject of this post.  However, this approach to apologetics is frequently mentioned in Christian circles. For this reason, a definition and comments are offered.

Apologetics, evidential (Evidentialism): Wikipedia provides a definition for Evidential apologetic. The following was excerpted on 12/5/18 (any hyperlinks and bold type face have been removed; footnotes have been deleted).

“Evidential apologetics or evidentialism is an approach to Christian apologetics emphasizing the use of evidence to demonstrate that God exists. The evidence is supposed to be evidence both the believer and non-believer share, that is to say one need not presuppose God’s existence. Evidential apologetics is not necessarily evidentialism, however many associate them as the same. Evidential apologetics method looks at the New Testament’s historical documents first, then upon to the Jesus’ miracles in particular the resurrection which evidentialists believe points to Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Some of the top supporters of this method include Gary R.Habermas, John W. Montgomery, ClarkPinnock, and Wolfhart Pannenberg.“

From a reformed perspective, we can be grateful to those who stand up for the truth of the Bible and attempt to present that truth to non-believers in a clear and gracious manner. However, the presupposition of Evidential apologetics appears to be that the non-believer is able to understand and act upon the truth of the Bible without the work of Holy Spirit.  It needs to be recognized that non-believers are spiritually dead, and the things of the Spirit are foolishness to them (I Corinthians 2:14).  The Holy Spirit makes the spiritually dead alive and enables them to call upon God for salvation. 

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