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The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 8, Is There any Geologic Evidence of a Single Global Flood?

Is there geologic evidence for a single global flood?  If so, what would that evidence be? In answering these questions, helpful creationist resources include:

  1. “Biblical Geology” and “Geology by the Book” by Dr. Tas Walker (1): In these videos, Dr. Walker describes a simple model that allows a person look at a rock formation in the field and then to identify it as being formed: 1) before the Flood; 2) during the Flood; or 3) after the Flood.
  • “The Genesis Account, A Theological, Historical, and Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11”:  In this book, Dr. Jonathan D. Sarfati (2) devotes several chapters to the Flood that include a chronology of the flood.  The book is also a helpful reference to Genesis chapter 2.
  • “Global Tectonics and the Flood” by Dr. Baumgardner:  It this video, Dr. Baumgardner describes and models conditions under which the geologic plates of the earth’s crust could move a high velocity. 

This post examines the contributions of Dr. Walker and Dr. Sarfati.  The next post will examine the contributions of Dr. Baumgardner. 

What does the Bible say about the rocks formed at creation?                                                                                                                                             Rocks formed at creation include the earth’s core, mantle, and crust.  Biblically, the was newly created earth had only one continent.  “And God said, Let the waters be gathered together unto one place, and let dry land appear: and it was so.  “And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.  And God said let the earth bring forth grass, and the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth and it was so. And the evening and the morning were a third day. (Genesis 1:9 -13).”  The Genesis account of the formation of dry land is supported by the current plate tectonic model that postulates that there was originally one “super continent.” This “super continent” broke apart over time to produce the continents that are seen today.  The volume of rocks produced at creation would be everything – the entire volume of the earth.  The time scale would be short – 1 day, the third day.  Also significant is the fact that the dry land was to bring forth grass, herbs, and fruit trees on the same day that they were created – the third day. 

Genesis Chapter 2 expands on portions of Genesis Chapter 1.  Genesis Chapter 2 does not conflict with Genesis Chapter 1; Genesis Chapter 2 is not an alternate Creation narrative to Genesis chapter 1. Genesis Chapter 2 contains insights into: soil science, agronomy, the hydrologic cycle, geomorphology, and geology of the recently formed earth.

Genesis 2 supports the Genesis 1 account of the newly created dry land as having fully developed soils that could support plant growth.  “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not yet a man to till the ground.  But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the earth.  And the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed (Genesis 2:5-8).”  Genesis 2:5 focuses on a period between Day 3 (the creation of dry land) and the initial human cultivation of the garden. It may be adduced that the soils of the garden had a fully developed soil profile consisting of topsoil, subsoil, and substratum layers.  

Mists were produced as sunlight struck the recently developed soil of the face of the earth.  The land had only recently emerged from the waters that covered the globe.  The land was dry, but soils had a high antecedent moisture content.  At a later point the available water from the soil would have evaporated into the atmosphere and a standard hydrologic cycle would be initiated. Rain is not required for plant growth; soil moisture, nutrients, and sunlight are.  Human care is required for garden plants but not for wild vegetation. Dr. Sarfati points out that that there is a difference Hebrew words for the plants created on Day 3 and the plans of the garden that required human care. 

Genesis 2 leads the reader to conclude that the newly created earth had a developed geomorphology that would allow rivers to flow.  The sources of water for the rivers could be mists, groundwater, and rain. “And a river went out Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads (Genesis 2:10)”.   Rivers require differences in topography that produce a hydrologic grade line between higher ground and the sea. 

Genesis 2 contains the first Biblical reference to mineralogy. “The first is the Pishon; that is the land of Havilah, where there is gold.  And the gold of the land is good: there is bdellium and on oynx stone (Genesis 2:12).”  This reference is significant.  Gold is one of the few minerals that commonly occur as a native element, that is not combined with other elements.  As a native element, gold would be easily observed and recognized. Mineral deposits are often formed during the later stages of intrusive igneous activity.  Thus, the reader may conclude that the gathering of the land into one place included igneous activity with associated formation of mineral deposits. 

What does the Bible say about the rocks formed between creation and the Flood (year “0” to year 1500+/-)?

Rocks formed during this period are not described, specifically in the Bible.  However, they would probably be similar those formed after the Flood.  There would be accumulations sediment formed by the erosion of the newly formed continent.  There could also be some accumulations of the fossils along the seacoast. Fossils require dead organisms, and death came after the fall of humankind.  The volume of rocks produced would be relatively small.  The time scale would be relatively long – 1500 years.

What does the Bible say about the rocks formed during the Flood (year 1500 +/-)?  

Rocks formed during the Flood would include most of the sedimentary rocks of the geologic column.  The volume of rocks formed would be large, but the time of formation would be short – 1 year.  Dr. Walker considers the Flood to have stages: The Eruptive Stage, The Prevailing Stage, and The Regression Stage.  Consider the events of each stage beginning with the eruptive Stage.

Eruptive Stage:  The first stage of the flood is termed the “Eruptive Stage.”  “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, the second month the seventeenth day of the month, the same day that all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And there was rain upon the earth for forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:10-12).”  The Eruptive Stage could have resulted in much erosion of the original continent; creation of the Great Unconformity; and large volumes of rocky material. The “Eruptive Stage” of the Flood lasted for 40 days and the total duration of the Flood is also 40 days.     

Prevailing Stage: The second stage of the Flood is termed the “Prevailing Stage”.  “And the waters prevailed and were increased greatly on the earth; and the ark went on the face of the waters.  And the waters prevail exceedingly   upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven were covered.  Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man.  And all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, and that was in the dry land died (Genesis 7:18-22).”    The Prevailing Stage could have included much reworking of the rock material generated during the Eruptive Stage.  This reworking could have been accomplished by currents of floodwaters.  Sedimentary rocks would have been formed above the basement rocks.  The interface between the basement rocks and the overlying sedimentary rocks is called the “Great Unconformity.”  Above the Great Unconformity are pancake like layers of various sedimentary rocks.  The fossils in the sediments demonstrate an order of burial, not order of evolution.  The fossils in the formations in the lowest portion of the column are those of marine plants and bottom dwellers.  Next, fish fossils are found.  Higher in the geologic column we find coal layer with plant fossils.  And still higher dinosaur fossils would be found.  Dinosaurs, birds, and insects would have the greatest ability to survive in rising flood waters.  The “Prevailing Stage” of the Flood lasted 110 days and the total duration of the flood is now 150 days. 

Regression Stage: The last stage of the Flood is termed the “Regression Stage”.    Most of the observed landforms and geology were formed during the regression stage of the Flood.  The regression stage of the Flood is where “Flood Geology” and uniformitarian geology may be correlated.  The landforms and observed geology of the regression stage of the Flood would be those of the regression stage of the latest flood near global flood in uniformitarian geology. 

This regression stage was marked by tectonic movements in the was earth’s crust.  These movements the driven by movements in the earth’s mantle.  Ocean basins were formed in the mantle and portions of the earth’s crust were uplifted to form mountain chains. 

Flood waters initially flowed from the uplifted area under sheet flow conditions. Initially sheet flow would be widespread, deep and at high velocity.  This would result in the rapid break up of recently formed sedimentary rocks which would move toward the newly forming ocean basins.  Later, sheet flow would become shallow and at a lower velocity. Streams and rivers would develop. The “Regression Stage” of the Flood lasted 220 days and the total time of the Flood from beginning to end was 370 days.

Dr. Walker’s Model, and the Geologic Column

Dr. Walker’s useful model for looking at field geology and then relating those observations to the Flood.  Basement metamorphic rocks such as schist and gneiss were probably formed during the “Eruptive Stage” of the flood.  The Great Unconformity would have been formed late in the “Eruptive Stage” or early in the “Prevailing Stage” of the Flood.  Sedimentary rocks with fossils would have been formed during the “Prevailing Stage of the Flood.”  Any rock with fossils would have been formed after the fall of humankind.  Fossils in the geologic column reflect an order of burial.   

Dr. Walker’s model helps the student to consider scale and energy.  The scale of geologic events can be relatively small (Yellowstone Park) or regional (the geology of the east coast of the U.S.).   Some portions of the earth’s crust reflect a low energy environment (layers of flat lying sedimentary rocks).  These layers could be eroded but are not distorted, folded, broken, or melted.  Outcrops of metamorphic rocks reflect a high pressure / high temperature environment.

Some sedimentary series of rocks are relatively undisturbed but have been elevated to great elevations.  Sedimentary rocks with fossils are found at the top of Mt. Everest.    In other places sedimentary are folded into a series of anticlines and synclines.

Conclusions

Yes! There is evidence for a single global flood.  Dr. Walker, Dr. Sarfati, Dr. Baumgardner, and others have done a good job of presenting this evidence.  This evidence includes:

  • The Biblical bringing forth the earth from the water into a single place is mirrored the current plat tectonic theory of a single “Super Continent” that later divided into the continents that we know today. 
  • Evidence of rapid burial of living things to produce fossils. 
  • The order of fossil burial beginning with bottom dwellers.
  • The presence of a single Great Unconformity between metamorphic basement rocks and sedimentary rocks.
  • Present observable geology and geomorphology is based on the regression stage of the Flood.

The mechanism and physics of a single global Food are complex.  However, they are only 1/10 as complex as those of the 10 or so near global floods that form the basis of uniformitarian geology.

Notes:

  • Dr. Tasman (Tas) Walker holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and 20 years of experience in power station design and operation.  He also a B. Science degree (with honors) in earth science.   
  • Dr. Jonathan Sarfati holds a doctorate in physical chemistry and has co-authored various technical papers in his field.

In the next post we will examine energy and geology as related to the Flood.    

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The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 7, Science Outside the Scientific Consensus:

Science outside the scientific consensus began to be seriously considered at least since the 1920’s.  In the early years of the creation discussion, the positions of the scientific consensus were considered ridged and immovable.  Very few were comfortable in disagreeing with the scientific consensus.  Today, qualified scientists have the courage and boldness to take positions outside the scientific consensus.  The scientific consensus has also shown an openness to change when new evidence is considered.

What is termed “science” has two divisions – Experimental Science and Forensic Science.   Experimental Science (also termed Operational Science) begins as a theory that may be confirmed by experiment.  The results of successful experiments are then applied to all areas of human life.  This application is sometimes termed applied science or engineering.  When people say that they “love science” they are usually speaking of the beneficial outworking of experimental science.

On the other hand, forensic science (also termed Historical Science) is the development of a theory based on observation.  However, no experiments can be devised that prove the theory.  The observations of forensic science can be used the extrapolate something small into something much larger – even all encompassing.  Anyone can observe erosion and sediment move down a river in times of high water – this is a uniform process.

Observations of a uniform process were extrapolated into the doctrine of uniformitarianism.  Darwin observed bird beaks and different beaks for different types of food.  He extrapolated his observations and concluded that all life originated from inorganic materials in a warm pond. The observation of “Red Shifts”, “red shifts” were extrapolated into the theory of the “Big Bang.” 

Much of the scientific consensus is based of forensic science. The problems with extrapolating observations are many.  One problem is that alternative solutions are overlooked.  In the case of geology, catastrophic geologic events were not considered until the 1920’s.  In the case of Darwinism, variation within a kind was not considered.  In the case of the “Big Bang”, problems in making it a workable model developed after the theory had been widely accepted.

Changes in the Scientific Consensus in the last 100 years

Around 1900, the scientific consensus would have consisted of uniformitarian geology, Darwinian Evolution, and a steady state universe.  As scientific exploration continued, new evidence was considered, and the earlier scientific consensus was modified.

  • Submarine landslides off Nova Scotia: In the 1920’s submarine landslides off the coast of Nova Scotia cut underwater telephone cables.
  • Channeled Scablands controversy begins: In the 1920’s geologist J. Harland Bretz postulated that the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington state were caused by a catastrophic flood.  He was initially ridiculed by other geologists.  However, by the 1970’s the geologic community recognized that the Channeled Scabland were the result of a catastrophic flood.  This flood was caused by the failure of an ice dam that impounded glacial Lake Missoula.
  • Neo-Darwinism: Darwinism theorized that new species (and by implication the formation of new genetic information) came into existence by the “survival of the fittest.”  Neo-Darwinism theorized that new species came into existence through ‘beneficial mutations.”
  • The “Big Bang”: The theory of the “Big Bang” originated in the 1950s.  The theory was based on observed “red shifts” in light waves.  The “Big Bang” quickly replaced the steady state universe model.
  • Mt. St. Helens geology: The eruption of Mt. St. Helens provided a single volcanic eruption can produce multiple layers of different sized volcanic rock from a single volcanic cloud.  The eruption also showed how great canyons could be formed in very short time.
  • Intelligent Design: In the 1980’s scientists began to recognize the complexity of life.  This recognition led them to the conclusion that an intelligent designer was required.
  • Plate Tectonics and Catastrophic plate Tectonics: Plate tectonics began to replace isostasy as a mechanism for shaping the earth’s crust.
  • Challenges to the “Big Bang”:  After the “Big Bang” became part of the scientific consensus.  Scientists began having problems with it.  The theory left many unanswered questions.
  • Challenges to Neo-Darwinism: The discovery of DNA led to the conclusion that life is based on more than chemicals. 

By 2020 the positions of the scientific consensus had changed.  Uniformitarian geology has been revised to include a more significant catastrophic component.  Isostasy has been replaced by plate tectonics.  Darwinian evolution (natural selection) has been replaced by Neo-Darwinism – evolution by beneficial mutations.  The steady state model of replaced by the “Big Bang.”  Even as the new positions are being established, they are being challenged.  The one thing that has not changed is that secular science maintains a presupposition of naturalism.  

Could a Single Flood Event Be Accepted by the Scientific Consensus?

  The positions of the scientific consensus do change; however, the change process is slow.  Changes are based of new evidence, advances in related fields, qualified people being willing to take unpopular positions.  The case of the Channeled Scablands is an example.  The Flood is a much larger issue with much more at stake.        

Conclusions

After my studies I began to develop some conclusions about the operations of the scientific consensus:

  • Common grace is operational in all humankind.  Disagreement with the positions of the scientific consensus comes from all persons not just creationists. 
  • The positions of the scientific consensus change very slowly.
  • The positions of the scientific consensus are less dogmatic today than they were 100 years ago.

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The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 6, Science (1) vs. the Bible:

There is a conflict between the scientific consensus and the Bible. The presupposition of the scientific consensus is naturalism – there is no need for a god, and certainly not the God of the Bible. The presupposition of Christians is the existence of the God of the Bible. Thus, all Christians are outside the scientific consensus.

Illustrations can communicate a lot of material in a concise manor.  This is the purpose of the Science vs. Bible Illustration below:

Christians deal with the conflict between science and the Bible three ways:

  1. By claiming that “there is no conflict.”
  2. By living with the conflict but not addressing the conflict.
  3. By living with the conflict and attempting to address the conflict.

Let us consider these views individually:

  1. Claiming that “there is no conflict”:

Some Christians claim that the Bible and science are in complete agreement. They state there are only “apparent conflicts” between the Bible and the “facts of science.”  When there is an “apparent conflict”, the conflict is resolved by reinterpreting the Bible.  “There is no conflict” is position of in the Old Earth Creationist Community and the Theistic Evolution Community.  This position has been stated in various ways:

The founders of the American Scientific Affiliation in their creedal statement: “I believe that the whole Bible as originally given, to be the inspired word of God, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct.  Since God is the author of this Book, as well as creator and sustainer of the physical world about us, I cannot conceive of discrepancies between statements in the Bible and the real facts of science.”(The Creationists… by Ronal L. Numbers, page 193)

In the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII confirmed that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that God created all things and that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces. (excerpted from Wikipedia on 6/7/20, hyperlinks, and footnotes removed)

Day-Age spokesperson, Dr. Hugh Ross in his book Creation and Time (© 1994 NavPress) states: “The facts of nature may be likened to the sixty-seventh book of the Bible. (page 57) …Therefore, no contradiction between the facts of nature and the facts of the Bible is possible.  Any apparent contradiction must stem from human misunderstanding. (page 58)”

Framework Interpretation advocate, Dr. Meredith Kline triumphantly states that (thanks to the Framework Interpretation) : “The true harmony of Genesis 1 and Gen.2:5 appears, however, and the false conflict between the Bible and science disappears …” (from “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmonogy” – excerpted from the ASA website on 6/28/20).   

Theistic Evolution organization, BioLogos  in their statement of “What We Believe, Article 2”  state: “We believe that God also reveals himself in and through the natural world he created, which displays his glory, eternal power, and divine nature. Properly interpreted, Scripture and nature are complementary and faithful witnesses to their common Author.” (excerpted from the BioLogos website on 6/7/20)

The “no conflict” view is based on a presupposition that the official position of the scientific consensus is equivalent to “the facts of science”, “the facts of nature” and “natural revelation”.  Since the 1830’s the supporters of the “no conflict” view have been continually reinterpreting Scripture to make it agree with the scientific consensus.  The “no conflict” view never addresses the presupposition of the scientific consensus – naturalism. 

2. Living with the conflict but not addressing the conflict.

Many Christians are not involved in the creation discussion. Their reasons include: 1) They are content to live in faith that God does what He will even though this may conflict with what secularists and “no conflict” Christians say;  2) Science does not interest them;  3) They are involved with other ministries and priorities;  4) They are afraid or lack confidence to get involved in the creation discussion.  These Christians are content to wait in faith for God to answer their questions in His timing.

3. Living with the conflict and addressing the conflict.

Since the acceptance of uniformitarian geology, some Christians have recognized the conflict between the scientific consensus and the Bible.  Similarly, Christians have spoken out against evolution since the theory originated.  The history of the conflict between the scientific consensus and the Bible is well documented in The Creationist by Dr. Ronald Numbers. 

The Genesis Flood (1961) by Dr. Witcombe and Dr. Morris was based on the plain meaning of Scripture and brought a renewed interest in the literal view of creation and the Flood. Dr. Morris had a PhD in civil engineering and was professionally qualified to write about the Flood from an engineering perspective.  The focus of “The Genesis Flood” was to find scientific evidence for a Biblically recent creation and the flood. 

The publication of “The Genesis Flood” launched a new interest in science within the Christian community.  This resulted in the formation of the Creation Research Society (CRS) in 1963; this group conducts scientific research.  The CRS was followed by other groups that promoted a lateral view of creation and the Flood.  The largest of these include the Institute for Creation Research (ISI); Answers in Genesis (AIG) and Creation Ministries International (CMI).  These groups focus on educating the Christian community on science.  The leaders, speakers and authors in these group are typically recognized scientists.  Leader within the movement conduct their own research.  They also consider the research of those within the scientific community and the scientific consensus. 

4. Are Christians who believe in the literal view of creation “anti-scientific?”

The term “anti-scientific” is been used both secularists and evangelical Christians to characterize those who believe in the literal view of creation and the Flood. The use of the term by non-believers is understandable and expected.  The use of the by fellow Christian represents, at a minimum, a lack of knowledge because many who hold the literal view of creation and the Flood:

  • Are engaged in science and as a result are able to think critically of the claims of the scientific consensus.
  • Have often studied both science and the Bible much more than their accusers.
  • Often agree with most of the positions of the scientific consensus.  Many are engaged in scientific work that relates to the positions of the scientific consensus (2).

Conclusions

After my studies I began to develop some conclusions about the conflict between science and the Bible.  

  • There will always be a conflict between science and the Bible because the presupposition of science is naturalism and the there is no need for a god. 
  • The Christian claim that there is “no-conflict“ is not accepted by secular scientists.  Secularists are able to recognize the conflict. 
  • There are qualified scientists who do not agree with the scientific consensus.  Some are Christians, some are secularists.  Many recognize design and a designer; this recognition is the basis for the Intelligent Design movement. 

Notes:

  1. Science is field of study and not a person.  Thus, the phrase “science tells us” really refers to the statements of the scientific consensus or those within the scientific consensus.
  2. On a personal level, the author works in the field of floodplain management and stormwater management.  He is fully supportive of the positions of the scientific consensus with respect to FEMA floodplain management policies and the implementation of the Clean Water Act. 

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The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 5, The Framework interpretation of Creation

As previously mentioned, a pastor suggested that I examine the writings of Dr. Hugh Ross.  He also suggested that I examine the Framework Interpretation of creation.  This post will cover the Framework Interpretation as well as more recent non-concordant (1) views of Scripture.

The Framework view of creation is fairly new to the creation discussion; it originated in Holland in the 1920’s. It became accepted in reformed circles largely through the influence of Dr. Meredith G. Kline (1922 – 2007).  Dr. Kline was an OPC ordained academic who had a long teaching career that included teaching positions at several seminaries.  Dr. Kline was an outspoken, and forceful advocate for the Framework Interpretation who influenced several generations of seminary students.  Framework Interpretation papers by Dr. Kline include: 

  • “Because It Had Not Rained”  Westminster Theological Journal (1958)
  • “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (1996)

In “Because it had Not Rained”, Dr. Kline argues that the creation account of creation in Genesis 1 is not a historical narrative. Reasons for this argument include: 1) Genesis 2:5 is the proof text that God used “natural means” in creation; 2) Genesis 1 is conflicts with Genesis 2; 3) Genesis 1 is structured prose and therefor it cannot be a historical narrative; 4) the seventh day of the creation week has not ended; 5) the element of Genesis 1 reflect themes rather than chronology; and 6) Christians need to use science to obtain a correct interpretation of Scripture.  In “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony”, Dr. Kline restates arguments found in his previous paper and adds a new element, the “Upper Register/Lower Register” time scale.

The Framework Interpretation became accepted in the PCA and is listed as such in the PCA Report (2).  In the section of the PCA Report that deals with Framework Interpretation, supporters of this view state that: 1)The Framework Interpretation harmonizes Genesis 1 & 2; 2)The Framework Interpretation is compatible with other Scripture; 3)The Framework Interpretation is theologically rich; and 4)The Framework Interpretation “… denies all evolutionary origins and evolutionary philosophy as contradictory to the teaching of scripture.”

Dr. Kline also seemed to deny evolution in “Because it had not Rained”.  However, in his second paper, “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony” he states in Footnote #47 “: “In this article I have advocated an interpretation of biblical cosmogony in which scripture is open to the current scientific view of a very old universe and, in that respect, does not discountenance the theory of an evolutionary origin of man. ”

Dr. Kline uses complex language to express complex arguments.  He also introduces his own Hebrew when he feels that the language of the Bible is deficient. Dr. Kline’s papers do not address the Genesis Flood. However, it may conclude that he would postulate a local event within the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin; anything greater could require “unnecessary supernaturalism.” 

I had issues with the content, language, and tone of both of Dr. Kline’s papers.  However, I will not comment on these here. Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry has done that very well in his excellent book, “As it is Written – Dismantling the Framework Hypothesis.”

Conservative evangelicals continue to consider the Framework Interpretation, and Dr. Kline to be controversial. For conservative evangelicals, the Framework Interpretation is contrary to historical reformed understanding of the plain reading of Scripture and perspicuity of Scripture. In contrast, liberal evangelicals appreciate Dr. Kline’s contributions to popularizing non-concordant views of Scripture and his support of theistic evolution. However, liberal evangelicals have moved far beyond the Framework Interpretation to find new tools to undermine perspicuity and the plain reading of scripture.

The most effective of these new tools has been new hermeneutics based east Ancient Near East (ANE) texts. References to these hermeneutics appear in the PCA Report:   “… the proponents of the newer non-Calendar Day views of the creation days (Kline, Futato, Irons, Collins and others) believe that they have significant hermeneutical insights into Genesis 1 that have not been sufficiently addressed by those who hold to a Calendar Day view…”     (excerpted from the PCA Report, II., Background to the Current Discussion of Creation Days).

These new hermeneutics are termed Ancient Near East Text Hermeneutics (ANEH) because they are developed from the study of Ancient Near East (ANE) texts.  ANEH is the most recent addition to the creation discussion. Enthusiasm for ANEH comes primarily from the Old Earth Creation (OEC) community and particularly from the theistic evolution (Evolutionary Creation) community.

The traditional view of the church is that ANE texts are the writings of heathen nations and they are not inspired by God. Examples of ANE texts include the Babylonian flood story and other flood stories. The flood stories of heathen nations include some elements of the Biblical flood narrative to one degree or another such as:

  • God’s anger at sin
  • A flood
  • A boat
  • Destruction of most people and animals
  • God’s mercy on a few

A good example of an ANEH based interpretation of the Bible is found in the writing of Denis Lamoureux in an article Was Adam a Real Person?” (3) In the article, Lamoureux uses the “Message – Incident Principal.”  The basic idea is that Scripture has a double meaning consisting of the “Message” and the “Incident”.  The “message” – considered inerrant truth is that humankind has sinned.  The “incident” is the “Story” of creation and the fall.  See the following illustration:

One result of ANEH has been that “objectionable” portions of the Bible are turned into “stories” intended for ancient peoples rather than people living in present times. Only ANEH trained scholars can find the “inerrant spiritual truth” within these “stories.”  Obvious targets ANEH are the creation narrative, the historicity of Adam, and the Flood narrative.  However, ANEH can be used to change any Bible doctrine.

A second result of ANEH has been the remove the Bible from believers. Since the reformation, evangelicals have believed that the Bible is for all people and that God communicates in plain language and with perspicuity; this makes the Bible understandable to all believers.   

 I am thankful for the opportunity to examine both the concordant and non-concordant views of the Flood.   Dr. Ross’ concordant view makes determined effort to present the Genesis Flood as an event that could be explained scientifically.  The Framework Interpretation never advances far beyond Dr. Kline’s theory concerning Genesis 2:5. Today, liberal evangelicals prefer the ANE text hermeneutics that are expressed in the “Message Incident Principal.”  This principal allows any passage of Scripture to be assigned a new meaning.   With respect to the Flood, the “real message” is that God judges’ sin.  The incident is that ancient people made up the “flood stories” to illustrate this.

After my studies I began to develop a few conclusions about concordant and non-concordant views of the Flood:  

  • Concordant views the Flood exemplified by Dr. Ross fail in terms of both science and scripture.
  • The non-concordant Framework Interpretation has a limited scope and does not address the Flood.
  • Non-concordant views of creation use literary techniques to dismiss creation and the Flood as myths.
  • Non-concordant views of creation and the Flood are contrary to the Bibles witness concerning plain language and perspicuity.
  • Non-concordant views of the creation and the Flood have been developed with great effort by liberal evangelicals are like the views that mainline protestant churches have held for years.

Next, we will look at look at the question of Science vs. Faith.

  1. Non-concordant (Discordant) is a term used to describe interpretations of Genesis gives lip service to preserving Genesis as history.   The result of discordism is to remove the Bible from scientific and historical discussion by using various literary interpretations and devices.  This requires elaborate reinterpreting certain passages. The Framework Interpretation is an example of discordism. The Analogical-Day Interpretation and ANEH are other examples of discordism.
  2. The Report of the Creation Study Committee (PCA Report) was presented to the 28th General Assembly (2001) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
  3. Viewed on the BioLogos website on 4/17/19.

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The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 4, Dr. Hugh Ross and the Day-Age View of Creation:

A pastor suggested that I examine the writings of Dr. Hugh Ross.  He also suggested that I examine the Framework Interpretation of creation.  This post will cover Dr. Ross and his Reasons to Believe ministry.  The following post will deal with the Framework Interpretation.

Dr. Ross (b. 1945) founded the Reasons to Believe ministry in 1986.  He is an astronomer and the current chief spokesperson for the Day-Age view of creation.  The Day-Age view is sometimes called “Progressive creationism” and “Old Earth Creationism.”   The Day-Age view originated in the 1830’s.  It was an attempt to reconcile the Bible to the long ages of uniformitarian geology.  The Day-Age View is termed a “Concordant View” because effort is made minimize reinterpretation of the Bible to match the positions of the scientific consensus (1).  The Day-Age View was once popular in conservative Christian circles and it is listed as an acceptable view of creation in the PCA Report (2).

The Genesis Question – By Dr. Hugh Ross

In his book, The Genesis Question (1989, Nav Press) Dr. Ross basically restates the Day-Age View in contemporary terms including an emphasis on “Big Bang” cosmology.  The Day-Age view considers the days listed in Genesis 1 to be indefinite periods of time.  Like the Traditional View, The Day-Age View considers Adam and Eve to be real historical people who were God’s special creation rather than a result of evolution. The Genesis Question is an interesting book because covers the first 11 chapters of Genesis to provide a complete chronology of event from creation to the times of the patriarchs.  These chapters include the Biblical accounts of creation, marriage, sin, the Flood, and the table of nations. 

Dr. Ross’s theorizes that the Genesis Flood to be a local event within the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin.  He states this was “global” in extent since it eliminated all human and animal life except for those on the ark. My questions concerning Dr. Ross’ version of the Genesis Flood include:

  • Why would all live only in the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin?
  • What depth and extent of flooding could be generated from rainfall and groundwater available for the Genesis Flood in the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin using available hydrology, hydraulic, and groundwater modeling tools?
  • How could all the ground water in the rocks of the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin be suddenly released “… by certain well-timed geologic events.” Just what were these “…these geologic events”? And how could the liberated ground water return to the sedimentary rocks after the flood?
  • How could the flood waters of the local flood drain remain in place for about a year without draining into the Persian Gulf?  Could this be documented using available hydraulic modeling tools?

As a result of my education and experience in hydrology, geology, ground water hydrology and hydraulics, I was unimpressed with Dr. Ross’ local food theory. The Genesis Question gave me an introduction to the tone of the contemporary creation discussion and the techniques used by those who oppose the church’s Traditional View of creation.

Dr. Ross’s book Creation and Time (Nav Press 1984) shows just how harsh and bitter this opposition to the Traditional View of creation can be.  In Creation and Time, Dr. Ross basically argues that teaching the Traditional View of creation hinders evangelism, and this “stumbling block” needs to be removed.   Dr. Ross’ tone is that of an attorney making closing arguments in a high-profile case.  As might be expected with an attorney making closing arguments, some facts are ignored, other facts are distorted and misrepresented, opponents are accused of wrongdoing, and the destruction of the opponent’s position is sought.

Dr. Ross begins his arguments with his version of the history of the creation discussion.  He distorts the position of the early church on creation and the flood.  He also ignores the position of the reformers.  He blames the “Young Earth Creationists” for providing faulty scientific evidence to support the church’s Traditional View of creation.  Those who want a reliable history of the creation discussion may find it in the “PCA Report (2).

Dr. Ross then provides his Biblical and theological arguments for long creation days.  He goes on to argue that long creation days do not imply evolution or affect faith or morality.  Dr. Ross then uses a series of “straw man” arguments to discredit the work of scientists who support the church’s Traditional View of creation.

Dr. Ross spends some time commenting on the work of the International Conference on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI).  At the 1982 summit, the IBCI took a position that adherence to the church’s Traditional View of creation was a non-essential to the inerrancy of Scripture.  Thus, today advocates for any view of creation may claim that they believe in the “inerrancy” of Scripture.  However, the work of the ICBI 1982 summit did not go far enough for Dr. Ross. He concludes his book with a call for Christians to come together to form a consensus that would result in the elimination of the church’s Traditional View of creation.

Dr. Ross does not believe in evolution.  His reasons for this include: 1) the transition from inorganic chemicals to life is impossible; 2) evolution by natural section does work, and 3) evolution through mutations does not work.  Dr. Ross considers the creation of Adam and Eve to be God’s special work in a time range of 6,000 to 60,000 years ago (page 140 of Creation and Time).  Dr. Ross has provided arguments for the “fine tuning “of the universe.  This “fine tuning” points to a creator rather than chance.  These positions are outside the scientific consensus (1) as well as the consensus of Christians who believe in theistic evolution.

The Day-Age View of creation was once widely accepted and popular.  However, today this view is in decline.  In terms of the creation discussion Dr. Ross and the Reasons to Believe ministry occupy a limited and shrinking middle ground between the church’s Traditional View of creation and theistic evolution.

I had issues with a lot of other aspects of both the content and tone of the Genesis Question and Creation and Time.  However, I will not comment on these here. Dr. Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International has done that very well in his excellent book, Refuting Compromise – A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of “Progressive Creationism” Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross” (Refuting Compromise).

  1. Scientific Consensus – In basic terms, the scientific consensus is an official position of the scientific community as it relates to a subject.  Most within the scientific community are in general agreement with this consensus.  However, this consensus is not unanimous. Presently, the scientific consensus supports the naturalism, the “Big Bang”, uniformitarianism, and evolution.   The scientific consensus on a subject can change; however, any change in the scientific consensus is slow and deliberate. The scientific consensus is based on a presupposition of naturalism.  Thus, any view of creation that considers God is considered unscientific.
  2. The Report of the Creation Study Committee (PCA Report) was presented to the 28th General Assembly (2001) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). 

Next, we will look at the Framework View of creation. 

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The Genesis Flood Question, Part 3 – Is it possible for an educated person to believe in Flood Geology?

By James C. Rakestraw, PE, CFM

Introduction:

In Part 2 of this series, we discussed the Great Unconformity and the geologic column. We will now take a break from geology and look at faith.  Particularly, the question: Is it possible for an educated person to believe in the Biblical account of the Flood? 

The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 3, A faith journey to salvation and answers:

When I was a Freshman at Michigan Tech, an old friend from junior high school shared his faith and I observed his changed life.  As a result of his witness I started to read the Bible and I became convinced of my sinfulness.  I was attending a “mainline” church where faith was based on a combination of the Bible, tradition, science and common sense.  The accounts of creation and the Flood seemed to be stories for the simple people of simpler times.  My faith (such as it was) consisted of intellectual assent to the New Testament and temporal faith in crisis situations.

I became a Christian while stationed at the Army Engineer School at Fort Belvior, VA.  A man from a Christian group, the Navigators, shared the gospel with me and I trusted Christ.  After a few months of being discipled by the “Navs”, I was on my way to Viet Nam.  I served with the 4th Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Division at Pleiku and An Khe.  While in Viet Nam, I decided to return to Virginia and get some Nav training once my service time was over.

Upon returning to Virginia I started a new career in the land development branch of civil engineering.  Later, this emphasis changed to municipal engineering with an emphasis on hydrology and hydraulics.  Professionally, I became a Registered Professional Engineer (PE) and later a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM).  My study of the Bible gradually led me into reformed teaching and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). 

My search for answers began when I started looking at Bible related questions like:

  • “Do you have to speak with other tongues to be saved?” – No! 
  • “Does, God elect some for salvation?” – Yes!
  •  “Is the structure of the Bible based on covenants?” – Yes! “
  • “Did God create the world in seven days of ordinary length?”  – I could not reconcile the Bible to my educational background.
  • “Was there a literal Flood that wiped out most of the earths inhabitants and shaped most of the earth’s geology and physiography?” – I could not reconcile the Bible to my educational background.
  • “Is it possible for an educated person to believe in Flood Geology?” – Possibly, but I had never bothered to investigate the matter. 

As a Christian, my faith based on a plain reading (1) of Scripture co-existed with by belief in evolution and uniformitarian geology.  I heard a few speakers that supported the literal view of the Flood. I felt sorry for them and embarrassed for them.  How could any intelligent person believe in a literal flood? 

During this time period of searching for answers, I met and married Debbie.  We were blessed with nine children. I began to wonder what I teach them concerning creation, human origins and the Flood?  This became an item of prayer. My prayers were answered in 1996 we moved to Fredericksburg, VA and we joined New City Fellowship (PCA).  Eugene Rivers, an elder taught a Sunday school class on the Genesis Flood.  I had heard of the book of that title years ago but never bothered to read it.  However, for the first time in my Christian life, I was interested in hearing an explanation of the literal view of the Flood. I was impressed with Eugen’s credentials; he had a degree in aeronautical engineering.

The Genesis Flood is probably the most influential Christian book of the 20th Century. Perhaps the books biggest impact was that it helped Christians look beyond the scientific consensus in their search for truth.

The class was very interesting and many of my questions were answered.  The class began with a timeline of the history of the Christian community’s view of the Flood. Before the advent of uniformitarian geology, nearly all Christians held a literal view of creation and the Flood.  After the uniformitarian geology became accepted, attempts were made to reconcile the Bible to uniformitarian geology.  The earliest attempts at reconciliation included the Day-Age view and Ruin Restoration (Gap) view of creation.  Associated with these was the view of the Flood as being some sort of local event.

Helpful information gathered from the class included:

  • The concept that fossil record was a record of the order of burial of living organisms rather than a record of evolution.
  • Also, the fossil record was a record of rapid burial of creatures rather than burial by one grain of sand or mud at a time. 
  • Hydrodynamic sorting of materials.  In my fluid mechanics class, we studied Stokes Law which was very complex in application.  Later in a class on mineral dressing, we encountered the statement that Stokes law didn’t work for slurry like media as one might encounter in a mud flow.  In a slurry, particles tend to separate in accordance with grain size under different laws.  The use of different equations to model different situations is widespread in engineering.

The class convinced me that the worldwide flood described in Genesis was possible.  I purchased the “Genesis Flood” shortly after the class and read it with interest.  The book was published in 1961 and is probably the most influential Christian book of the 20th century.  Author John Whitcomb has a doctorate in theology.  Co-author Dr. Henry Morse has a doctorate in civil engineering and served as the head of the department of civil engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. After reading the “Genesis Flood” I began to consider myself a person who in Presbyterian Church in America terms held the Calendar-Day view of creation (2).  My big question: “Is it possible for an educated person to believe in Flood Geology?” had been answered with an emphatic – YES!

I was thankful for my Sunday school class and for the book “The Genesis Flood”. However, I started to formulate a few questions:

  • Was there really a vapor canopy? If so, why was there a Great Unconformity?
  • Did thrust faults really exist?  My structural geology books showed them, and they seemed logical in terms of structural geology and engineering mechanics.

(1) Plain Reading: Basically, with a plain reading, meanings are to be assigned the ordinary meaning of words.  The following was excerpted from Wikipedia on 3/1/15:

“The plain meaning rule dictates that statutes are to be interpreted using the ordinary meaning of the language of the statute. In other words, a statute is to be read word for word and is to be interpreted according to the ordinary meaning of the language, unless a statute explicitly defines some of its terms otherwise or unless the result would be cruel or absurd. Ordinary words are given their ordinary meaning, technical terms are given their technical meaning, and local, cultural terms are recognized as applicable.”

(2) The Calendar-Day view of creation is also described as the Literal View, and the Twenty-Four-Hour View of creation in the PCA Report on Creation.  It is described as the Days of Ordinary Length View in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Report on Creation.

My final questions concerning the Christian faith had been answered.  But these answers would soon be challenged.  

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The Genesis Flood Question, Part 2 – What About the Geologic Column?

By James C. Rakestraw, PE, CFM

Introduction:

In Part 1 of this series we examined the pre-plate tectonic view of uniformitarian geology. In this post, we will look at what is termed the geologic column. The geologic column is an important to geologists and any geologic study of an area will list the geologic column for that area.  A geologic column starts with oldest observed rocks in a study area and goes upward to the most recent.  The best-known geologic column is that of the Grand Canyon.

The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 2, Gilman, Colorado and the Eagle Mine:

Gilman was a company town that was constructed by the New Jersey Zinc Co., the owner of the Eagle Mine.  The town is a situated on a cliff about 600 feet above the Eagle River. Interest in Gilman continues; it is the subject of ghost town Facebook pages and YouTube videos. Wikipedia has an article on Gilman which gives a good overview of the place.

My job at the Eagle Mine was to go underground and record the geology that was exposed as mining was taking place.  Then I updated the mine maps at the mine office.  The mine was a consolidation of earlier mines by the New Jersey Zinc Co.  It was a fabulous property that produced over 250 million dollars’ worth of, copper, silver, gold, and lead over its productive life which ended in 1984.

Gilman, Colorado (elevation 8,900): The Eagel Mine is located in the left center of bpyond the last line of buildings).

Before going further, I need to emphasize two very important things:

  1. Gilman is posted:  NO TRESPASSING!
  2. Never enter a mine unless it is a tourist attraction: KEEP OUT – STAY ALIVE!

The geology of the Eagle Mine was simple but fascinating.  It is fully described in a chapter in the book “Ore Deposits of the United States, 1933-1967” (published by the American Association of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers in1968).  The geologic column at Gilman is exposed in a deep canyon of the Eagle River.  At the base column (elevation about 8900) is Precambrian basement rock, which consists of schist (a metamorphic rock).  The schist was intruded by granite (an igneous rock).  The basement rock was overlain by 200 approximately feet of the Cambrian Sawatch Quartzite.  The basement rocks and the Sawatch Quartzite are separated by the Great Unconformity.  Above the Sawatch Quartzite are layers of shale, sandstone, limestone, and dolomite.  The most significant sedimentary layer is the Leadville Limestone which is the host rock for most of the ore deposits.  Above the Leadville Limestone was the Belden Shale and the Gilman Sill.  Above the Gilman Sill are great thickness of later sedimentary rocks.  All the rock layers of the geologic column dip to the east at an angle of about 10 degrees. 

The Geologic Column at Gilman, Colorado

The Great Unconformity is observed only in a few places in the world; the most notable is at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  At Gilman, it is possible to walk up to the Great Unconformaity and place your right hand on the Precambrian basement rocks (3.0 billion years old) and your left hand on the Sawach Quartzite (0.5 billion years old).  There is nothing between these totally different rocks that differ in age by 2.5 million years. 

Although the Great Unconformity may be viewed in only a few places.  It is listed frequently in mining geology literature – mining geologists are able to see what is underground as well as what is on the surface.  In mining literature, the most commonly listed rock above the Great Unconformity is quartzite, a metamorphic rock with the chemical composition as sandstone (SiO2).  The difference between sandstone and quartzite is that sandstone breaks around quartz grains while quartzite breaks across them.

The geologic column at Gilman contains layers of sedimentary rocks of different geologic periods all separated by “flat gaps.”  The term “flat gap” is used describe how two different types of rock rest on top of each other with no erosion surface between them.  At Gilman, the first flat gap is between the Precambrian basement rocks and the overlying Cambrian Sawatch Quartzite.  There are flat gaps between layers of sandstone, limestone, dolomite and shale all the way up to the rocks of the Pennsylvania period at the top of the geologic column.  In contrast to the “flat gaps” the Eagle River carved a canyon about 2,000 feet deep from rocks of the Pennsylvania Period into the Precambrian basement rocks.  

The ore deposits of Gilman are found in four situations:

  1. Fissure veins are found in the basement rocks.  These veins end at the Great Unconformity.  The oxidized portions of the veins produced high-grade gold and silver; several small mines recorded some production.
  2. A zone of high-grade gold ore was found in the Rocky Point horizon of the Sawatch Quartzite.  Several small mines recorded some production.
The Author in the Rock Point Horizon of the Sawach Quartzite.
  1. “Chimney deposits”, of which there are several, extend from above the Precambrian to the Belden Shale, which overlays the Leadville Limestone.  The mineralization of the center of chimney deposits consisted on pyrite (FeS2), chalcopyrite (FeCuS2), silver, and gold. Sphalerite (ZnS) is found at the edges of the chimneys.  The chimneys may have ascended higher in the geologic column, but the Belden Shale blocked the rising mineralized solutions.  As a result, the mineral deposits spread out laterally under the Belden Shale to form “Manto” deposits.”
  2. Manto deposits were found at the upper portions of the Leadville Limestone and under the Belden Shale.  They extend laterally from the chimney deposits. Nearest the chimneys the manto deposits consisted sphalerite, and further from the chimneys galena (PbS). 

The mineralogy of the Gilman ore deposit displays a zonal pattern based on temperature.  Zonal patterns of ore depositions are developed to one degree or another in several mining districts – most notably Butte, Montana.  The central (highest temperature) portion of the Butte ore deposit contained molybdenum rich mineralization surrounded by rings that were rich in copper, then zinc, lead, then silver, and finally, manganese.

I was thankful for my firsthand encounter with the Great Unconformity and a geologic column that extended from the Precambrian into the Pennsylvanian eras.   However, I started to formulate questions:

  • Why was there are Great Unconformity? How can uniform processes create a single Great Unconformity?
  • Why is there a “flat gap” representing 2.5 billion years between the Precambrian basement rocks and the Cambrian Sawatch Quartzite?  Wouldn’t over two billion years of rainfall produce some topography?
  • Why are gaps between sedimentary rocks of different geologic periods flat?
  • How could the Eagle River, a relatively small stream with a relatively small drainage area produce such a wide and deep canyon at Gilman? 

My time in Gilman was cut short by my “Call of Duty” to the US Army Engineer School at Fort Belvior, Virginia.  I looked forward to returning to Gilman, after my time in the Army, but God had other plans. 

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The Genesis Flood Question, Part 1 – Is There Evidence for a World-Wide Flood?

By James C. Rakestraw, PE, CFM

Introduction:

The purpose of this series is to explore what is termed “Flood Geology” in the creation discussion.  Critics of the literal view of creation often claim that “There is no evidence for a world-wide flood.” Interestingly, those who make this claim never define what they would consider to be evidence for a worldwide flood.

This series is highly personal.  I have seen a lot of geology over the years and my degree is in geological engineering.  My professional registration is in civil engineering.  My work is focused on hydrology and hydraulics.

Definitions: A good discussions starts with definitions; here are two:

Flood Geology:  This is the position that most of the geologic and physiographic features of the earth were the result of a single global flood.  For Christians, this flood event would be the Flood described in Genesis 6-9.  (In this series, the word “Flood” will refer to the global flood described in Genesis 6-9).

Uniformitarian Geology:  This is the position that most of the geologic and physiographic features of the earth were the result of a multiple near global floods and interspaced with periods of mountain building.  Uniformitarian geology is the position of the scientific consensus.  Uniformitarian geology could well be described as “floods (plural) geology”

The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 1, From Montana to Michigan:

My dad was a college history professor and my mom was a homemaker.  I was blessed by having a good exposure to geology through places that we lived and traveled.  When we lived in northern Montana, my parents took the family on trips to explore the bad lands where dinosaur bones could be found.  Travels from Montana to the Pacific North West took us though the Rocky Mountains, the Silver Valley of Idaho and the Channeled Scablands of eastern Washington.  On the west coast we were able travel to Mt. Hood and other volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range.  When I was older, the family moved to Houghton, Michigan.  While there, I was able to see operating copper and iron mines of Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

 I developed an interest in geology and mining.  This interest led me to obtain a B.S. degree in geological engineering from Michigan Technological University.  I enjoyed my course in historical geology where we learned about the various geologic periods and the new species of life that evolved during each geologic period.  My textbook “Historical Geology” (Copyright 1954 by Ginn and Company) was published before plate tectonics became accepted. According to my textbook, there were mountain ranges (“Appalachia / Arcadia, Cascadia, and Llanoria”) just off the east coast, west coast and gulf coast of North America.  When these ranges were raised up, they eroded and produced sediments that were deposited in inland seas within the interior of North America. As the offshore mountain ranges wore down, the interior of the North America raised up and sediment flowed to the ocean.  Then new mountain ranges were formed off the coast and the cycle repeated itself.  My textbook had illustrations of the North American continent and adjacent areas during various geologic periods.  All the illustrations had common features – the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the North American continent.  In various geologic periods, portions of the North American continent were flooded to one degree or another.  Multiple near global floods were a major consideration in the pre-plate tectonic geology of the scientific consensus!

The Ordovician Period from my Historical Geology text. Note the existing oceans and wide spread flooding of the interior of the North American continent.

By the time I graduated, I was well grounded in evolution and uniformitarian geology.  I was also convinced from my historical geology text that the North American Continent was subject to flooding in at least 10 different geologic periods (Cambrian, Silurian, Ordovician, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, Permian, Jurassic, Triassic, Cretaceous).  These geologic periods of flooding produced the layers sedimentary rock that we see today.  Evolution and long geologic periods were not a problem for me.  I attended a “mainline” church, but I was not yet a Christian. 

However, I started to formulate questions:

  • How could mountain ranges off the coasts of North America could rise and lower themselves for 10 cycles?
  • Where are the mountain ranges off the coasts of North America today?
  • What was the source for the sedimentary rocks that are found on other continents?

With my degree in hand, I was ready for the next my next step in my journey – Gilman, Colorado where I worked as a junior geologist at the New Jersey Zinc Co.’s Eagle Mine! 

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Young Earth Creation (YEC) / Old Earth Creation (OEC) – What are the Differences? – Summary of the Series

Introduction

This series has covered eight significant differences between YEC and OEC beliefs:

  1. The YEC and OEC views of Bible interpretation
  2. The YEC and OEC views of revelation
  3. The YEC and OEC views of evidence
  4. The YEC and OEC views and church history
  5. The YEC and OEC views of science
  6. The YEC and OEC views of the world
  7. The YEC and OEC views of Adam
  8. The YEC and OEC views of Ancient Near East (ANE) texts.

These eight differences are interrelated.  Perhaps the best way to tie them together is through Church history.  The Westminster Confession of Faith, Article 25, states that “The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error…” This is certainly the Biblical record of the church in both the Old Testament and early New Testament times.  It is also the historical record of the church since the end of the apostolic age. 

Error recorded in both the Old Testament and New Testament was introduced when the believers started to mix Scripture with worldly ideas.  In Old Testament church worldliness was represented by idol worship.  In the early New Testament church, worldliness was represented by Greek and Roman philosophy. 

By the 1800’s science became the dominant world view in the west.  The root of Old Earth Creationism (OEC) is a desire of some Christians to accommodate Scripture to the scientific consensus.

Understanding Science and the Scientific Consensus

The OEC community appears to have never understood the difference between science and the scientific consensus.  The scientific consensus is based on a presupposition of naturalism – there is no need for a god and certainly no need for the God of the Bible. No Christian view the of science, including theistic evolution (Evolutionary Creation) will ever be acceptable to the scientific consensus.  However, the scientific consensus is not science; it is simply the current majority opinion of the scientific community and is subject to change. 

The scientific community is much larger than the scientific consensus.   It is composed of qualified scientists who have a wide range of religious views as well as a wide range of professional views. The ways of God are far greater than either the scientific consensus or the scientific community (see the illustration in Difference #5, Science, of this series).

Public disagreement with the scientific consensus was rare until relatively recently. The best challenges are made by qualified scientists from the scientific community.  In contrast to the OEC community, the YEC community is unafraid to challenge the scientific consensus. 

OEC Bible Reinterpretations to Fit the Scientific Consensus

Since the 1830’s the OEC community has sought to be acceptable to the scientific consensus.  The quest for acceptance has led the church through a whole series of different ways to reinterpret the plain reading of the creation account. All OEC Bible interpretation is based on a new understanding of the relationship between general revelation and special revelation. The reformed understanding of revelation was replaced by a new presupposition: “natural revelation (the position of the scientific consensus) is truth” and “God’s word is truth.”  Therefore, God’s word can never conflict with the scientific consensus.  This is the guiding presupposition of all the OEC views of Scripture.

Application of this new guiding presupposition began with the Day-Age and Ruin-Restoration interpretations in the 1830’s.  These views accommodated long ages but not evolution.  They are now fading into obscurity.

Later OEC efforts to reinterpret the Bible to fit the scientific consensus resulted in the Analogical Day (1890’s) and Framework (1920’s) views.  These views could accommodate evolution.  However, both views are highly complex and difficult to understand for most Christians. The Framework view flourished from the late 1950’s until early in the new century.  The Framework view is still referred to, however, the OEC community appears to have moved on.  The Analogical Day view is not well known or widely held. 

The most recent addition to OEC Bible reinterpretation tools has been a new hermeneutic based Ancient Near East (ANE) texts; this hermeneutic is termed (ANEH). The popularity of ANEH is due to its simplicity, flexibility and power.  Any conflict between the Bible and science can be easily dismissed.  This is the exemplified by the new OEC position on the historicity of Adam. 

The Road to Recovery

Below are first steps that the Christian Church do on the road from recovery from the devastation of OEC views of science and Bible reinterpretation:

  • Recognize that there will always be a conflict between the scientific consensus and Christianity.  There can be no agreement between a God being the first cause and naturalism being the first cause.
  • Recognize that even theistic evolution (Evolutionary Creation) will never be considered scientific by the scientific consensus.
  • Recognize that the scientific community is much larger than the scientific consensus.
  • Recognize that the scientific consensus can change but it changes slowly.  Therefore, be patient and wait in faith for answers.
  • Recognize that God operates far beyond the realm of science and human reasoning.  God is under no obligation to make His thoughts and ways understandable to humankind.  His ways cannot be limited by science or human reason.
  • Reestablish the proper understanding of general revelation and special revelation.
  • Become conversant in science. Understand the positions of the scientific consensus and the positions of the scientific community.

Summary

The current creation discussion has been going on now for nearly 200 years. In this time frame the positions of the participants has become clearly established. 

On the Old Earth Creation (OEC) position is that the Bible must be constantly reinterpreted to accommodate the scientific consensus. Most in the OEC community now supports theistic evolution.

In contrast, the Young Earth Creation (YEC) position is that of the historic church and particularly that of the reformation.  This position is unchanging.  Science is appreciated and efforts are made to answer questions posed by the world.  The YEC community understands that the scientific community is simply the majority opinion of the scientific community and is not necessarily truth.

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Young Earth Creation (YEC) / Old Earth Creation (OEC) – What are the Differences? Element 8. Ancient Near East (ANE) Texts

Introduction

An emphasis of Ancient Near East (ANE) texts is a recent addition to the creation discussion. This emphasis comes primarily from the OEC community and particularly from the theistic evolution (Evolutionary Creation) community.  Examples of ANE texts include the Babylonian flood story. 

Evangelicals are interested in outside sources of history.  For example, the works of Roman historian Josephus are of interest to Christians.  Tablets form the Babylonian archives list events around the fall of Jerusalem. The traditional view of ANE texts is that these are the writings of other nations that do not know the Lord. 

The OEC community has recently placed a heavy emphasis on the study and interpretation ANE texts.  OEC advocates have used ANE texts to undermine plain reading of Scripture.   References to ANE texts appear in the PCA Report (2002).    “… the proponents of the newer non-Calendar Day views of the creation days (Kline, Futato, Irons, Collins and others) believe that they have significant hermeneutical insights into Genesis 1 that have not been sufficiently addressed by those who hold to a Calendar Day view…”     (excerpted from the PCA Report, II., Background to the Current Discussion of Creation Days).

The YEC view of Ancient Near East Texts

The traditional view of the church concerning ANE texts is that non-Biblical records are not scripture and not inspired by God.  ANE texts are the records of nations who do not know God. 

For example, many nations have a flood narrative.  These narratives were based on real events of the Bible which were later corrupted by these nations.  Other flood narratives include some common elements of the Biblical flood narrative to one degree or another.  These common elements include:

  • God’s anger at sin
  • A flood
  • A boat
  • Destruction of most people and animals
  • God’s mercy on a few

The OEC view of Ancient Near East Texts

Hermeneutics is defined the science and methodology of interpretation, especially Bible interpretation.  The OEC community has developed a new system of hermeneutics based on ANE texts.  This new ANE text-based system of hermeneutics has been abbreviated ANEH.

The ANEH system is somewhat amorphous and represents the work of a number of authors.  The study of ANEH would be complex.  However, the conclusions of ANEH can be simply stated:

  • The Bible is just another ANE text and the human authors were limited by their culture and understanding.  For example, the Apostle Paul “thought” that Adam was a real person even though he was not. 
  • ANE texts are not historically accurate. Therefore, the Bible is not historically accurate.
  • Jesus’ humanity restricted His ability to communicate accurately concerning creation.
  • The Bible was written “for us but not to us.”  Therefore, Christians are not able understand the real meaning of the creation account.
  • Only ANE scholars of the OEC community can correctly understand and teach the Bible. 
  • The special revelation must always agree with the “natural revelation” of the scientific consensus. 
  • The Bible is a mixture of inerrant truth, “stories” that are full of errors, and statements by human authors that are full of errors.
  • The Bible should not be understood in terms of plain meaning.

Many books generated by the OEC creation community use elements of ANEH.  “The Lost World Series” series authored by John H. Walton is probably is the most obvious example of ANEH. 

A good example of an ANEH based interpretation of the Bible is found in the writing of Denis Lamoureux in an article “Was Adam a Real Person?” (1) In the article, Lamoureux introduces the “Message – Incident Principal.”  The basic idea is that Scripture has a double meaning consisting of the “Message” and the “Incident”.  The “message” – considered inerrant truth is the that humankind has sinned.  The “incident“ is the “Story” of creation and the fall.  See the following illustration:

The trust of ANEH is an effort to turn “objectionable” portions of the Bible into “stories” intended for ancient peoples.  At the same time, ANEH attempts to find inerrant truths within these “stories.”  Obvious targets ANEH are the creation narrative, the historicity of Adam, and the flood narrative.  However, ANEH can be used to attack any Bible teaching.

Westminster Confession of Faith statements on Scripture contested with ANEH

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, “Of the Holy Scripture” is based on traditional reformed hermeneutics which include God’s sovereignty, the work of the Holy Spirit the perspicuity of scripture, and a plain reading of scripture.    Below are some major points from the headings listed under Chapter 1.  These are contrasted with an ANEH view of Scripture:

  1.  Per the WCF, general revelation makes humankind know that there is a God.  However, general revelation does not lead people to salvation.  God’s special revelation, His written word, tells people how to be saved.  – In contrast, the ANEH view considers “natural revelation” (the scientific consensus) to be equally important to special revelation.  Therefore, the Bible, must always agree with the “truth” of the scientific consensus.
  2. Per the WCF, Scripture is God’s written word to us and for us.  It is given by the inspiration of the God. Scripture is God breathed and the words of Scripture are the exact words that God intended to use. The Bible is to be humankind’s rule for faith and life.  – In contrast, the ANEH view considers the human authors of Scripture to be limited in their knowledge.  As a result, the Bible demonstrates a limited understanding of reality.
  3. Per the WCF, the Apocrypha has no authority in the church of God.  – In contrast, the ANEH view of scripture ANE texts are required to find the “true” message of the Bible.
  4. Per the WCF, the authority of scripture is not dependent on humankind or the church, but upon God. –  In contrast, the ANEH view of view of the authority of Scripture must be determined by OEC academics.
  5. Per the WCF, the character of scripture is evidence of God’s authorship.  The Holy Spirit works in human hearts to persuade us that whole counsel of God is expressed in Scripture.  –  In contrast, in the ANEH view of persuasion comes from OEC academics. 
  6. Per the WCF, the entire counsel of God is contained in Scripture or may be deduced from Scripture.  Nothing is to be added to Scripture.  –  In contrast, with ANEH view of Scripture, important doctrines are only now being understood – by OEC academics.
  7. Per the WCF all things of Scripture are not equally clear.  However, both learned and unlearned have, by ordinary means, sufficient understanding of Scripture.  – In contrast, the ANEH view of scripture nothing is clear.
  8. Per the WCF, translation from the original languages of Scripture into the common language of the nations has allows many come to faith. – In contrast, in the ANEH view of Scripture only the OEC knows the “intended meaning “of scripture.
  9. Per the WCF, the interpretation of Scripture is worked through by comparing Scripture with Scripture. – In contrast, the ANEH compares Scripture with ANE texts.
  10. Per the WCF, God is the supreme judge of all things.  The Holy Spirit speaks through Scripture.  – In contrast, the ANEH considers OEC academics to be the supreme judge since they are the only people who understand Scripture.

Conclusions

Ancient Near East text-based hermeneutics (ANEH) is a very disturbing aspect of Old Earth Creationist teaching.  Disturbing implication concerning:

  • God – It is stated that God is unable to communicate to clearly to humankind. 
  • The Holy Spirit – The work of the Holy Spirit is limited by the perspectives of ancient people.
  • Jesus Christ – Jesus is limited by His humanity from proclaiming truth. 
  • The Covenant – The Covenant is only understood by a few OEC/ANEH academics who are able to teach the true message of the Bible.
  • The Priesthood of be Believer – The priesthood of believers is diminished since only a few Christians know what the Bible “really” says.
  • Historic Cristian Confessions of Faith – ANEH is contrary to the hermeneutic used to develop historical statements of faith.
  • Moral teachings of the Bible – Any Bible teaching may be dismantled by using the “Message-Incident” principle or some other ANEH technique.

Christians need to understand what ANEH is and how it is contrary to historic Christianity.  ANEH exists because the OEC community is finding it impossible to make concordant views of creation such as the Day-Age view fit into theistic evolution.  ANEH is simply the latest discordant view of scripture.  ANEH is a very dangerous system of Bible interpretation which is being used by the OEC community to destroy the plain meaning of the Bible.

Christians need to be able to distinguish between ANE texts and ANEH.   And ANE texts which are simply the records of nations that do not know the Lord.  They be interesting and as historic records they can confirm the chronology of the Bible. 

Homework & Preparation

In our next post, we will summarize the YEC and OEC views of creation 

 Your homework is as follows:

  • Obtain a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith, study it and write out your own summary of what the Bible says concerning itself.

Notes

(1) A good example of an ANEH is found in the writing of Denis Lamoureux in an article (titled “Was Adam a Real Person?” In the article, Lamoureux introduces the “Message – Incident Principal.”  Viewed on the BioLogos website on 4/17/19)

(2) Bible quotations are from the King James Version.

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