Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1995
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 1: Biblical Creation vs. Pagan Origin Myths
Lesson 5 – Reconciling Genesis and the Evolution Origin Myth:
Strategies of Capitulation, Accommodation, and Counterattack
02 Nov 1995
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Tonight we’re going to cover a lot of territory. In the handouts we’re going to go through pages 12, 13, 14, 15 and that exercise and I’d like to do it in the following way. First I want to emphasize the link between modern versions of paganism and ancient versions of paganism. I want to establish that linkage. I want to go over exercise 123, the first question of that exercise, and we’re going to go through the New Testament Scripture that we listed. Then we want to go to the three strategies that Christians over the years have used to try to deal with the problems brought on by the conflict between Genesis and the modern world. I want to review these four points because you should have them in your notes. These four points quickly summarize where we’ve come from.
The first thing we said is that all people work out from a world view. Everybody brings a world view to the table, everybody has a presupposition, and you can’t avoid it, everybody breathes, everybody walks, and everybody has world views. It’s foolish to think that there’s any such thing as a person without a world view.
The second thing we said is that you can sometimes, not always, but sometimes discover a person’s world view by listening to key words in conversation. Those key words are what we call the universals. Whenever you see people using all, always, never, should, ought, true, false, right, wrong, those words will often betray their world view, because they’re universals.
The third thing we said is that, regardless of whatever negative claims a world view makes, it always makes at least one positive claim for itself. Examples: Relativism—everything is relative, and what that is, is an attempt to destroy the idea that there are universals, everything’s relative. The problem is that that statement itself is a universal. So you don’t escape the universals by articulating something, all you do is change them, you exchange them, you change the location, you change the kind, but you don’t get rid of them.
Another example—postmodern deconstructionism in literature, and you read some of these guys that write and they insist that literature has to be deconstructed, and it has to be refined so you get what really was going on because the language itself is basically relative to the cultural situation in which it was written. The fallacy in that approach is simple and straightforward, i.e. that the deconstructionists themselves don’t want you to deconstruct them. The third thing pertinent to our topic at hand is the totality of a cosmic evolution, that all things are evolving. Well, if all things are literally evolving, then the statement “all things are evolving” itself is evolving. You can’t escape this. So no matter how many destructive statements a world view has, it always makes at least one positive assertion of old fashioned truth, old fashioned absolutes are always embedded in a world view.
Then fourth is therefore, conclusion, there is no such thing as neutralism. What we have is toleration, we can be gracious, courteous, we can be tolerant, but the call for neutrality is a fake statement, because we showed how neutrality itself is not neutral.
We’ve gone back and looked at some of the ancient pagan texts and compared them with the Bible and have seen that we’re back to only two fundamentally different world views. And we tried to emphasize that there are many brands and varieties of this, but when it comes down to the final analysis, all views outside of the Bible believe in this approach. In the notes that you have I emphasized the Continuity of Being and chance. Those are the two key components. Very practically let me review again what these two ideas are so they don’t sound so abstract and philosophical. Chance: a good picture for your mind of chance is to think about that pagan text, Enuma Elish, and think about how the gods and goddesses war with each other to bring into existence the universe, how the gods and goddesses war with each other to cause history to move forward. That is a picture of chance and chaos, because the point is that you can never forecast the result of the gods’ battles tomorrow. That was always the dilemma of paganism, always has been the dilemma of paganism. It never can stabilize because it never knows what’s going to happen tomorrow because by definition tomorrow is unknown, we don’t know what the new fight is going to be all about. If you take that idea of those warring gods, you’ve all served on a committee of some kind, can you imagine a committee without a chairman, and everybody on this committee has their own say? That’s chaos, that’s chance, that’s the pagan idea of how the universe is run.
But if you compare the Scripture, 1 Kings 22 and Job 1, you see the Lord who is talking to other beings, less than Himself however, not His equals, less than Himself, angels, you’ll see Him calmly declaring what will take place. There’s no discussion, even between Satan and the Lord, about what is going to take place. When God says something is going to take place in Job 1, He says you will do this and you will not do that, and Satan has no real say about it. That’s what we mean by the opposite. That is a fundamental idea that we go back to again and again that on this side you have chance, on this side you have personal sovereignty. If you don’t grasp that you cannot really come to know the God of the Bible. That’s fundamental.
The second idea which we have portrayed is the Chain of Being versus the Creator/creature distinction. We’ll get more and more into that, but basically what we’re saying is on the right side of that diagram, what we mean by Chain of Being is this: that there may be gods and goddesses, there may even be a god, but the idea is that he differs from us only on a scale. In other words, think of IQ, he has greater IQ than we do, we have less IQ than he does, but he and we are connected by a scale, a gradation, like a spectrum, difference. And this has always been part and parcel of pagan position. So god, if he exists in this form, himself is surrounded by the same mystery we are surrounded by, he’s bigger, he’s more powerful, he’s smarter, but in the end he too shares the same environment we do. That’s the Continuity of Being idea.
Over against that idea, the Bible throws that idea out completely, at a very fundamental level; the Bible totally disagrees with that. The Bible comes smashing against this whole concept of paganism right here. The Bible says that there is a Creator and a creation, and you cannot bridge them; they cannot be bridged, and no way can the creature ever become the Creator. So there’s that fundamental distinction.
Turn in your notes to page 12; we want to come to this statement about this linkage. Last time I showed some quotes and you have the handouts with more of the quotes in them, but we want to review them because I want you to be convinced that this is not something I’m inventing, this is well known by scholars who have studied this. This is not my own little critique on the world. This has been known for centuries. The point is that that ancient belief of the Continuity of Being, the Chain of Being idea, has come forward in time and colors completely the ideas of our modern world. In fact, what we’re saying is that what we call cosmic evolution, the evolution of all things in the universe, is nothing but an outgrowth of that old pagan idea. It’s expressed mathematically, I can express it with slick equations, slick equations, but if you’re smart and shrewd and know your mathematics, you know that mathematics is a language, it describes ideas. So it’s not the fact that I have an equation. The question is what is the equation describing? And in evolutionary terminology it is describing this. And here are some people that know what they’re doing. For example, that first quote happens to be the man who edited the volume that was done at the centennial celebrations of Darwin’s writings at the University of Chicago. And what does he say: “Far eastern philosophers thought of creation in evolutionary terms, a belief in an inherent,” notice the word, “an inherent continuity of all creation” and notice how the sentence ends, “and second, a reference to the merging of one species into another.” The merging of one species into another, that’s exactly what evolution is. And what is he saying? Far eastern philosophers thought of that centuries before Darwin. This is not new with Darwin. The way we are taught in schools, they love to present it like this is a brand new idea, this is modern science. It isn’t modern science, it’s ancient philosophy in a new guise.
Notice on page 12, the quote that begins with Loren Eiseley, a modern historian of science, a well-known person, and he says quite frankly, “all of the Chain of Being actually needed to become a full-fledged evolutionary theory was the introduction into it of the conception of time in vast quantities, added to mutability of form,” and underline that phrase, mutability of form. That’s part and parcel of the Continuity of Being, you can mutate from one level to the other, mutability of form, “the seed of evolution lay buried in this tradition metaphysic which indeed prepared the Western mind for its acceptance.” The reason Eiseley is dealing with this is the way many intellectuals deal with it. Why in the 19th century was Darwin so quickly adopted, by Christians? Do you know who the people were who propounded and promoted Darwin in the Anglo-Saxon world? It was the Christian church. Now in the 20th century suddenly we realize oops, we made a big mistake in the 19th century, why did we do that? It wasn’t the pagans, because they weren’t in power in the 19th century England, it was supposedly Victorian Christians that did all this stuff. And they just bought it hook, line and sinker, and the question is, what prepared them to accept this, why did they become suckers for this idea? That’s what Loren Eiseley is trying to deal with.
That’s the linkage. I just want you to see that scholars admit that there’s a linkage going on between ancient paganism and modern paganism. Science really isn’t involved in this debate, it’s philosophy that’s involved. The only problem is most people, I was trained in science and math, the average engineer doesn’t take one course in philosophy, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing in a lot of these areas. So you get involved with an equation, you get involved in chemistry, in physics, and you get all fixed because there’s so much to learn in each one of these disciplines, you just get buried with stuff, inundated, you don’t have time to back off and think, wait a minute, what is going on here? So you really don’t get involved, and there are thousands of people in the technical professions that haven’t got a clue to what goes on philosophically. If a presupposition walked up and shook their hand, they couldn’t see it, because they’re not taught to think that way. Very rarely in the school system are we ever taught to think about what the real background is of this idea. When was the last time you heard that in a classroom?
Now we want to come to the exercise. Turn to page 16, one of the first questions we asked was that question where Johnnie comes home, he’s talking about believing in evolution and Jesus. I listed a set of New Testament quotes. I want to go through some of those, but I want to start in Galatians 4. Here’s the purpose behind the question, it’s not just to answer the question, it’s to expose you to a method of studying Genesis, and here’s the technique. Remember when we dealt with the Enuma Elish epic, what did I say that we should do before we start studying? Before you read the epic you say to yourself, wait a minute, on the basis of the Scripture I already know, what do I know about that epic, before I even read it. I know that it must have originated from the sons of Noah, Noah the founder of the civilizations as we know it. If that’s the case, then whoever wrote Enuma Elish, his grandparents or their great grandparents were exposed to Noahic tradition of Genesis 1-11. So we know that. Then when I got to page 8 I said, but watch what happens with a secular scholar, because he first believes in evolution he will start from a different place than you would start. He starts reading Enuma Elish as though it’s a pagan piece of literature out of the milieu of gradually evolving man, out of the Fertile Crescent we have this arising of civilization, and this is just the evolutionary [can’t understand word]. So you have two people taking the same text, one starts with one world view, one starts with the other and obviously we’re in collision, because the world view affects us everywhere. This neutrality business is a bunch of baloney, nobody is neutral. So I want to show you how this starts.
Turn to Galatians. 4, while we’re here I want to ask a fundamental question about Genesis. Though we’re going to Galatians we’re not talking about Galatians. Here’s the question: how did New Testament Christians themselves interpret the Old Testament? How did the apostles interpret the Old Testament? How did Jesus interpret the Old Testament? Don’t you think that might give us some clues? Here we are 20 centuries later trying to interpret Genesis. Why don’t we just say to ourselves, let’s think back and get some controls on how we are to interpret the text, and we get the controls out of how the apostles that wrote the New Testament interpreted the text. That’s what we’re doing here. In Galatians 4:24-31 I’m showing you a rare passage in the New Testament in which the apostle deliberately takes an allegorical approach to the Old Testament. Before we get to the literal I want you to see how they do it. Do you see what’s happening?
Galatians 4:24, “This is allegorically speaking: for these women are two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be the slaves; she is Hagar.  Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.” Clearly, in Galatians 4:22 he just got through telling you the story of Abraham, out of the Genesis text. In verse 24 he expands his understanding of that story by means of an allegory. But what I want you to see is, he tells you that’s what he’s doing. Do you see that, he tells you, he announces it openly, I am allegorically interpreting the text at this point, folks, watch me. That’s what he’s saying. That’s how it looks when the New Testament authors interpret texts allegorically.
Go to Matthew 19 when Jesus is using Genesis, and let’s see if Jesus tells us He’s using it allegorically. Matthew 19:4-6. This is the one we had in an earlier exercise but we’re coming back to it because once again it’s a model, it’s a model for how the church interpreted Genesis historically. Jesus said in verse 4, remember He’s dealing with divorce, “And He answered and said, Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” now if you have a study Bible you note that that’s a quote, somewhere in your margin you’ll have a footnote, trace that and find where it is coming from, where is that quoted in Genesis? Genesis 1. Matthew 4:5, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” Second quote from Genesis, taken from chapter 2. In either case do you notice as you examine Matthew 4:4-5, do you see anywhere in the text that Jesus is hinting that he’s just allegorically interpreting. What would lead you to believe that he is far from allegorical interpreting, He’s literally doing it and He has to literally interpret it because of the application at hand. His argument is divorce is not the original design and He’s going back to interpret what the original design was, and it’s a literal couple, it can’t be an allegorical couple, it’s got to be a literal couple. So this is the method Jesus used.
Let’s look at some other texts. Matthew 23:35 is a little incident, a little incidental remark, just a clause, but what does it show about Jesus’ view of Genesis? He talks about Jerusalem, “that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” Zechariah was a historical person. Are we going to argue that Abel was just a fantasy of early Genesis that we can’t take literally? Is that Jesus’ view, or is Jesus taking Abel as a historical person on the same scale as Zechariah? Of course He is. And you could go on and on.
Turn to 1 Timothy 2:13, that’s a classic, this one is really hard to get around. The context of the discussion this time is not divorce; it’s the role of gender in society. And the question is, what is the model for gender role? So guess where Paul goes? He goes to the Old Testament. Why do you suppose he goes to the Old Testament for a model for gender role? What did we say in the first of the first chapter? We said that if you want meaning, fundamental meaning of anything where do you go? You go to origins because that’s where the meaning starts. So Paul comes back to origins, he comes back to Genesis, and notice in verse 13, “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.” What chapter specifically is he using, Genesis 1 or 2? Where in the text do you learn that Eve was created after Adam? Genesis 2. Then it says, [v. 14] “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.” What chapter in Genesis does that come from? Chapter 3. So now we have chapters 1, 2, and 3 all interpreted literally by Jesus and Paul. I think enough said. The point is that we have established that the historic way of approaching the Genesis text was to treat it as history, not a poetic allegory, like the modern theologian tries to have us do.
This has obviously created a problem, so turn to page 13 in the handout. You will see that there are three strategies that the church has tried to use with the tension. I might just point out what is the tension going on, why do we have to have a big strategy session. Here’s why. If we start with the Genesis text and interpret it literally, our problem is thinking of people in the modern 20th century. Let me go through this list. Here’s the contrast in characteristics. These are some, I could expand. Evolution – Genesis. Not a figment of my imagination, this is just the factual material, one starts with gas and one starts with God. That’s how we begin. Next we have hot condensing matter – we have a cool liquid water. We have sun, stars before life on earth – in Genesis we have the sun, stars, after life is made on earth. That’s pretty heavy stuff, and it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to see we got a little problem here. Life evolves in the sea – Genesis has life created on land. Birds evolve with mammals after fish – Birds created with fish before mammals. Man evolves from mammals – Man created directly from the earth and the woman indirectly from man. Explain that one by natural selection! Rain occurs millions of years before man – rain doesn’t occur until after man is created.
This is crucial, if you don’t get anything else on this list copy these two down, because we’ll revisit this again and again. Evolutionary processes continue today, the process of evolution is still continuing today. If I am a scientist and I’m doing measurements, I’m measuring a process, I measure rates and changes and decay rates today, and I say they are the same and they go back to ancient times. The evolutionary processes continue to this very hour. Turn to Genesis 2:1-3, at the end of those six days, we’ll look at the seventh day. Count how many times you see the verb for complete, finished, or however your translation reads. Verse 1, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed,” first occurrence of the verb complete. Verse 2, “And by the seventh day God completed,” second time the verb occurs, “His work which He had done; and He rested” there’s another word that implies content, completion, also the verb “had done,” the “work which He had done,” it’s over, and He rested “from all the work which He had done.” “Had done” is a past perfect tense, it’s finished. Verse 3, “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and had made.” So we come now to a very different, very fundamental thing. Evolutionary processes continue today in this world view. In the Genesis text whatever processes were used were turned off at the end of the sixth day. There’s a difference. And few readers pick up on this obvious difference. The two world views are recording two different ideas of processes, one has the processes that are continuing, the other has the processes turned off. This has powerful implications about how you interpret data.
Then fundamental unity of life differing in degree in the evolutionary world view, different areas of life, cats, mice, dogs, rocks, differ in degree, all have protons, all have electrons, they’re just arranged differently, life is just a different categories of arrangements, but fundamentally it’s the same thing, electrons and protons. In Genesis we have fundamental differences in kind, one difference is in degree, in Genesis differences in kind, animals reproduce “after their kind,” plant life reproduces after its kind, and there’s a reason for that. That point is not just a little isolated detail, in the list of verses in that exercise one of the verses is 1 Corinthians 15, if you looked at that verse you would have quickly noticed how this little characteristic is being used by Paul to explain the resurrection. Paul uses that precise point, that there are fundamental differences in kind to dramatize, describe and reveal what resurrection is all about.
Another thing which we’ll get into later on is in the evolutionary world view, death is normal, sorrow is normal, tears and pain are normal, they’re adjuncts of mere existence. In the Bible God created everything very good and death was introduced later so death becomes abnormal. Death is something that came in after creation. Evolution, in fact, uses death to bring about life. In the Bible we have life and then it descends into death.
I think by going through these differences you can see this was the tension that Christians faced, particularly in the 19th century. Obviously the more they began to look at this, the more they began to say whoa, we got a problem here, what are we going to do about it. So the first strategy that was invented was what I call the capitulation strategy, that’s on your notes on page 13, a couple paragraphs, and we’re speaking there primarily of the liberal church who had already drifted away theologically from their moorings, so they had no problem in simply wholesale capitulating to evolution in every way. And what they did, if you look at the second paragraph, one of the neat things that they did, and here again I’m going to model something for you. Remember page 6 I modeled for you when you read Enuma Elish what do you do first, you ask yourself as a Christian what do I already know about the text before I start reading Enuma Elish, and I said that when the evolutionary scholar approaches Enuma Elish, what does he do, he knows his evolutionary world view tells him to look for and he comes to the table with that all formulated, so then he works from the material of Enuma Elish. Now we come to the same thing that was tried with what we call “higher criticism.” Higher criticism is trying to explain the Bible in terms of unbelief. It is trying to explain the [can’t understand word] generation of these ideas without reference to a verbally revealing God. In other words, trying to interpret the Bible in a framework of paganism, so they would turn to things, and we will turn now to Genesis 2 because it turns out that at least in three schools in our county this is being taught. So we want to be sure that all Christians are forewarned and forearmed about Genesis 2. One of the classic cases of a higher critical assault on the text, the validity of the text, is found here in Genesis 2. You can feel it coming when you hear your instructor saying, well, in the Bible there are multiple accounts of creation, and particularly there are two accounts of creation, there’s one account in Genesis. 1 and there’s a completely different account in Genesis 2. And usually a lot of naïve Christian students sit there in the class and say, “Oh-oh, there are contradictions in the Bible,” and because they’re sensitive enough they think rationally, they think, “Wait a minute, I can’t have truth here if I’ve got a contradiction.”
The liberals do these things and let me show you what they do. Turn to Genesis 2:9 and simultaneously look at Genesis 2:19. What they do is they get the students into a mode where they say see, let me prove to you there’s a contradiction in this little sacred Bible of you fundies, and the idea is that in Genesis 1, which came first, plants, animals or man? Plants. Then what came second? Animals. And man came third. But now look at what happens here. In Genesis 1:9 it says “And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight…,” that’s fine, plants, then it describes about the river, Genesis 1:10. Then in verse 15 we have man mentioned, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the Garden….” Verse 16, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying….” But notice verse 15, “the LORD God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Then verse 19, here’s the clicker, “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them,” and the instructor joyously, proudly and confidently pronounces, see, I told you, here’s the contradiction—in Genesis 1 animals first, then man, and here you’ve got a clear case of man and then animals, a contradiction, two different accounts here. There’s a problem with how you interpret this. Let me go backwards a minute.
When you interpret literature, any kind of literature, you do it all the time, when you get a letter, when you read a piece of literature, what is your first approximation when you come to any text? You interpret it this way, that if a guy took this to write, presumably they meant to communicate to me something, it’s not just nonsense. So if somebody wrote the text, give the guy the benefit of the doubt that he probably intended to mean something coherent. You don’t start your interpretation of a piece of literature trying to rip it to shreds; you start your interpretation presuming that the author probably meant to communicate something coherent. That’s why we write, that’s why we talk.
In this case we have a style of writing, and we are all acquainted with this if we’ve ever gone out to the front lawn and picked up our morning newspaper. We call it journalistic style. Now when you write a news story, when you read a news story, any news story, it records events in time. Does a journalistic style start with a headline and give you chronological events? Think about it when you read a news story. Or, does the journalist summarize in the first paragraph what is going on, goes back to details, summarizes, maybe picks another theme, summarizes that, hops over here and does another theme? Ever see that style done? Does that mean that AP and UPI news writers have contradictions in their stories? Or is it stylistic? So the conservatives have also answered this question that, really this is a stylistic question. I’m going to prove it to you because I’m going to show you where it occurs elsewhere in the Bible.
What they do is they say that we have in Genesis 2:19 that God made animals; we’ll just summarize the idea. Back here he had man already created, and we have this sequence, we have an “and” and we have a verb of perfective, a perfective type of verb, past action. So it would normally be sequential, yes, but not always. Turn to Exodus 4, we’ll see an example of this, where it looks sequential grammatically, but then it’s obvious in the text it’s not. In Exodus 4 [blank spot in tape]
What does he do on the next day, the fifth day? What two groups? Birds and fish. Isn’t that an interesting pattern? And what did he do on the sixth day? Animals, dry land, man. Do you notice anything significant about this chart? Do you see a structure? What do you observe, what’s happening? A structure that encompasses all the six days. What is the pattern that you see here? Here He creates, as it were, the room, and here He populates the room, the space. Here He creates the domain, here He populates the domain. God’s work in that creation week was very structured; it’s the work of an engineer. He creates domains and He populates domains, He creates the vast universe with energy, He localizes the energy in light bearers. This is clearly a significantly different structure than evolution, and this is why the days don’t work by merely making them into long ages because if you try to make them into long ages you’re still out of sequence.
Think about evolution. Does any evolutionist in his right mind agree that the stars didn’t come into existence until after the planet earth was settled? I never read an evolutionist that believes that. The sequence is wrong in the days, you can’t jam, ram and cram the Genesis text into an evolutionary mold, even if you do make the days long ages. And then there’s one fundamental mistake with the days becoming long ages and that is, everywhere in the Hebrew language where you have a cardinal or ordinal, that means a counting measure, whenever you have day x, notice after each day, look at the text in Genesis 1, look at the end of a day’s work and what do you notice? Verse 5, one day, verse 8, literally it means day two, etc. and it goes on to different days. The idea there is whenever you have days that are being used, any unit that is used for counting, in every other case in the Hebrew text it means a literal unit of measure. You don’t count by symbolic allegorical ages, you have a counting sequence. So there are a number of problems with that.
I want to summarize by saying why do the Christians try strategy number two, why was there an accommodation to it? Let me read you a quote from the professor of history at Dallas Theological Seminary, who did an interesting research project where he went back into the 19th century and took America’s most famous theological quarterly, called Bibliotheca Sacra, which is now run by Dallas Seminary but in the 19th century it was not done by Dallas Seminary, it was a theological quarterly and he went back in the old libraries and he dug out all these articles because what he was trying to find out was when Christians were writing in the 1850s about this problem, what views were they bringing up? And it’s clear that they were bringing up the accommodation strategy. And here’s what Dr. Hannah points out. He says that ultimately what happened is that they bought into the infallibility of the scientific speculations of their day. So write in your notes somewhere that in the 19th century it was universally accepted, even in evangelical circles, conservative protestant circles, accepted that historical science, as it existed in 1850, was essentially infallible. Even though it was speculative they didn’t recognize it as being speculative, they thought of it as inherently right, and would never be adjusted by future acquisition of data into anything that would conform to the traditional view of the Bible. So starting with that premise do you see what happened? I want you to see the logic of this. Starting from that presupposition of the infallibility of 1850s style science, they then went on to say we’ve got to back up, we’ve got to make the Bible fit, and that’s what led to these spinning accommodation strategies.
Here’s what Dr. Hannah says, he points out in the early 1830s and 1840s they were friendly to science. He even has a quote in here which is so good. In 1846 here’s what one Christian wrote, an outstanding Christian scholar, “Natural revelation is the basis on which written revelation rests.” This was endemic to the whole Christian church. Natural revelation was seen as the basis of written revelation. Do you know what they’re saying in that statement? They’re saying that we began with the scientific study of the world and then after doing that we interpret Scripture accordingly. That was the presupposition they operated from, that’s the accommodation strategy, and what happened was by the 1850s when the tension got worse because suddenly more people were adding millions of years to time, the Christian started backing up, backing up, backing up, reinterpret, reinterpret, and here’s some of the gimmicks that they used. “By the 1850s Bibliotheca Sacra articles began to evidence the impact of uniformitarianism as certain aspects of astronomy, such as the argument from the speed of light,” by the way this is 1850, so when you encounter this, this is not new, this is not something that happened in 1981, this is 1850, “the argument from the speed of light, and geology, the strata of rock formations and the fossil record, suggested a much older earth. One clergyman confided ‘Moses seems to assign a comparatively brief period to the creation; astronomy and geology assert a vast period, how shall they be reconciled? [not sure of word, sounds like Mayers] postulated three theories to explain the compatibility of geology and Scripture, a gap theory in Genesis 1 of indefinite time followed by divine creation in six 24-hour days, a day-age-day theory of indefinite periods between 24-hour periods, and a day age theory of indefinite periods. He opted for the third view, thus conceding an important bulwark of traditional Scriptural interpretation, limited time. He said we cannot bring the period of geologic ages within 6,000 to 8,000 years assumed and as taught by Moses. If the Mosaic record is, as we believe, reliable, we must admit an interpretation which will give the period the facts demanded.”
So this is what was going on over 100 years ago. It’s still going on in evangelical circles. This is why you can listen to Dobson’s radio program, and he has Dr. Hugh Ross on doing the same thing, it’s the same strategy of accommodation.
On page 15, the last strategy, and that strategy we call the counterattack strategy. This is the one that’s created a storm of controversy in the country. It was begun, oddly enough, by secular people, men who were trained in the secular world. It didn’t come out of Christian seminaries, I find this intriguing. These guys were real Christians, but they were men trained in the sciences, and as Christians they felt hey, we’re not blind, we know there’s a big conflict. And one of them, middle paragraph, page 15, the best well known, probably the father of the movement, I did my master’s degree on all of his writings and the subsequent reviews of his writings, Dr. Henry Morris who was then head of civil engineering at VPI. His group of evangelical scientists chose to begin a new strategy. “If the Bible could not be ‘adjusted’ to fit evolution, and if it was the Word of God, then the problem, somehow, must be with the scientific interpretation of data.
Somewhere in its development largely from within the Protestant reformation, science had taken a wrong turn. What had begun as fruit of a Christian view of nature had strangely boomeranged back against the Bible. The new strategy was a stunning turn-around. Four hundred years before, the Reformation had firmly established the Bible as the authority in ‘heavenly’ things,” (e.g., theological doctrines of Christology and Soteriology). Now the Bible was becoming the authority in ‘earthly’ things too. To prevent the data of the book of nature from being misinterpreted, the new strategy established controls from a comprehensive universal history built from the Bible.”
In other words, basically what these guys did, and I remember this happening because I lived through this big split that happened in the early 1960s, the argument was basically this, that 100 years, 200 years has shown us we can’t make the two fit, so now we have to come back to the drawing boards and say what went wrong. And what they decided went wrong was that the scientific interpretation had been contaminated by pagan belief systems, and that’s ultimately what it’s all about. And this is the only other strategy left, you either capitulate to modern science, you either try to accommodate with endlessly reinterpreting the text, or you interpret the text as it always has been interpreted by Jesus Christ and the apostles and say okay, this is where I start, I don’t understand how it fits together, but somehow over here there’s a systematic mistake being made. It’s a titanic claim, and it’s extremely offensive in the intellectual world. This is why today creationists are labeled as bimbos, the radical right and all the rest of it.
It’s really ironic because most of the creationists who I worked with in debates, etc. are far more educated in the topic than their evolutionary counterparts. Do you know why they are? There’s a reason for that. Because they’ve had to live in the world, most of these guys write papers and do everything else, they know very well what the issues are. I remember in graduate school I used to come back from lunch and the professor was concerned for my scientific soul, that I was such a fundamentalist in graduate school, doing quite well in their classes, and to save my scientific soul she would open up Science Magazine and put it open to an article against creationism when I came back from lunch. Since I knew who in the department subscribed to Science Magazine I could quickly figure out who it was that was putting this on my desk. And I will never forget the discussion, we had an honest discussion, she appreciated my view, and I just said that I have examined your position and I find it basically in total conflict with the Christian faith. And you can say what you will, but the only way you can defend your position is to go over to a philosophy of naturalism, and I don’t believe in naturalism because I’m a theist, etc.
But the point here is, and I want to summarize with this, is that the church has thought deeply about these things, for many, many years. The struggle has gone on, this is not an easy one, you can’t approach this glibly, and we’re not approaching it glibly. All I’m trying to do is show you, as we work with the text, you are reading a text in Genesis that collides in every way with the world around you, in front of you, in back of you, under you and above you. You are surrounded with a pagan environment that says no to this text, and you as a Christian know in your heart that Jesus Christ says, and it respects the text, and you live in a world of tension. That’s what this whole thing is about, and as we go into this handout that we are going into next week on the character of God, we’re going to start asking ourselves, from a Biblical point of view what answers do we have here, and we’re going to show you that there are answers. But we’re going to also show you that this is not something that you can decide in five minutes. Good people have argued about this for centuries.
What is happening today is the moment you stand up for the traditional Christian view you’re labeled some sort of ignoramus, and I resent that. That is a stupid answer. And you have people, particularly the NEA and other people, who have this attitude that anytime anybody believes in creationism, they’re sort of a Neanderthal. I’ll stand against anybody, math or science, toe to toe and nose to nose, and I resent being called some sort of a Neanderthal because I don’t agree with this official pagan mythology. And we shouldn’t either. We don’t have to be embarrassed about it. This is opening up a genuine philosophic issue that is extremely important because it goes back to our first question. How did we start the course four weeks ago? Origins controls your view of God. That’s what’s at stake. Don’t fool yourself, you can have the intellectual freedom to choose one or the other, but once you have chosen you’ve locked in a concept of God that colors everything else you believe. It colors your morals, it colors your ethics, it colors your epistemology, i.e. how you believe what is true is true, and it colors your entire philosophy of life. You have the freedom to choose, nobody’s cramming it, ramming it or jamming it. All I’m doing is I’m showing you the choice is out there.
[Someone says] You eluded to the word “days” in the Hebrew…when the word is used for “days” it is associated with a number that it means specifically a 24 hour period. I’m curious as to why we aren’t more emphatic about the fact that when that word is used, it’s the only word I understand in the Hebrew language, when associated with morning or evening, or first day and second day, it means specifically 24 hours, and we seem to be reluctant to emphasize that God was real clear in His Word, He really has the word for a 24 hour period.
Clough answers: The problem is that in this area there is so much intimidation, the politics of intimidation are awesome. I mentioned in the introduction to this thing that you can sign your death warrant, if you are a graduate student in any of the natural sciences, and you dare let it be known to your thesis advisor, dissertation advisor, that you believe this way, they won’t fire you because they’re worried about civil rights suit if they do, but they have other ways of getting you, like drying up your fellowship, seeing you don’t get research, or your papers never get published, there are all kinds of ways to get you, and the result is that that’s just one example of the massive intimidation that goes on, so really on the college campus the only people that speak out are undergraduate students, because undergraduate students are freer intellectually than graduate students are, and they have nothing to lose, they can’t be fired from the campus. So there’s a tremendous politics of intimidation and I think that has a lot to do with it, because there’s a popularization of angling and worming their way around this.
There’s no question that “days” means “days,” the quotes you could get by Hebrew scholars that could care less about the argument, the liberal Hebrew people believe it’s literal days, they just believe it’s literally wrong but at least they believe its literal days. The only people that hit grease when they hit the word “day” are evangelicals who are trying to do this number, they are the only people. And it’s too bad but that’s the way it is, we’ve tried to articulate it. It’s very well researched, this is not a question of a doubt, what you were told is absolutely correct, you can go to any reputable Hebrew scholar and he’ll you the same thing. Same guy says: I have a Scofield Reference it says: “Only three creative acts of God are recorded in this chapter: (1) the heavens and the earth, verse 1; (2) animal life, verse 21; and (3) human life, verse 26-27. The first creative act refers to the dateless past.” So here we are in what I perceive to be a very popular edition of the Bible [can’t hear rest]
Clough answers: What happened, in behalf of the Scofield Bible, the fundamental people who believe in a literal Scripture, because there’s also a gap theory between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, the gap view was promoted before this whole thing got started, for another reason. I want to be clear that there are theological reasons Christians have given for holding the gap theory, independently of its use here. And that position, by the way, none other than John Milton in Paradise Lost holds to this position, the gap in Genesis 1:2 and 1:2, not because he’s worried about evolution, he didn’t know about evolution. What happened was that on an independent basis, namely the question of where did Satan fall, that’s a theological question, and because of that there was already in existence the gap view. What happened in Scofield’s day was Christians were badly hurt by all this stuff going on. Remember Scofield wrote just about a decade before the Scopes trial, keep in mind American history. And at that point Christians were really reeling from the assaults, and they sought some measure, where can we go to get an answer to this, and there weren’t any creation scientists around to help. So they seized upon the gap view as a safety valve to relieve the pressure.
So that explains why the Scofield Bible says that. The Scofield Bible was written in the early 1900s, the first edition. So there are reasons for that, and I dare not come down hard on them for doing that. If we lived in that generation we might well have done the same thing. It’s just that now after 50 years of arguing about the case it doesn’t hold water, for many reasons, because if you scrape all the geological ages back before Genesis 1:2 you’ve got death before 1:2, you’ve got no break, now we have a hard enough time trying to say that there’s a universal flood, now you’ve got to have a universal destruction, so now we have two problems, we have the destruction between 1:1 and 1:2, then we also have Noah’s flood. So now if we thought we had problems with one, now we have problems with two. So there are a number of reasons why that has not panned out in the 20th century. That’s at the heart of the controversy of how you interpret Genesis 1:1, 1:2, and 1:3. Those who would say “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” would argue that the words “heavens and earth” there never elsewhere refers to anything but the finished heavens and the finished earth. Of course, the counter answer to that is, yes, that’s right, but the problem is, you’re dealing with origin at that point, you’re dealing with T-zero, none of the text of heavens and earth deal with T sub zero, so therefore you can’t argue that way. So yes, in the traditional view Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the fundamentalist today all hold that the heavens and the earth, at that point in verse 1 refers to unformed material, it’s the material out of which the heavens and the earth were created.
There’s an exchange between someone and Clough; someone says: …I guess I’m not convinced
Clough replies: Well, for apologetic reasons it really doesn’t matter, because the subsequent operations in day 2, day 3, day 4 are so momentous that they still prevent you from harmonizing a literal rendition of Genesis with modern cosmology. So since they do, the debate over Genesis 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3 is somewhat academic. It’s interesting theologically and academically, but it doesn’t become an apologetic panacea. And one thing you want to remember, because this is a new argument that’s being used now to justify the new Jewish translation, the new Catholic translation, and the Protestant translation in 1982 which I can’t remember the name of, the argument is that they say this translation, in the beginning when God created the chaos, that sense. They’re arguing that that’s traditional Middle East, ancient Semitic ways of describing origins. Now if you open your Genesis text you’ll see where that is used in Genesis, but not at 1:1. Look at Genesis 2:4, that’s where you see that structure. See how it reads in 2:4, go through the first clause in verse 4, and you see where it stops, “this is the account of the heavens and earth, when they were created in the day that the Lord God made the heavens,” see that “in the day,” that’s a Hebrew idiom for “when.” ”When the Lord God made heaven and earth,” and then in verse 5, Now there was at that time no shrub of the field,” etc., that’s the form that you see most ancient Eastern texts. What you don’t see outside of the Bible is the structure of Genesis 1:1. You can’t show me one ancient text that reads “in the beginning God created heavens and earth,” and then go into the text, that first verse is missing, it is not present in any other text, that’s unique, absolutely unique to the Bible. So that’s why that that 1:1 is very, very important. It’s that verse that protects ex nihilo creation. If you don’t have that verse in there, you could have eternal matter. So that’s what the argument there is.
But the big idea tonight, all I want to get across tonight is that Christians have been trying this thing for 200-300 years, and it just hasn’t worked, you can’t endlessly reinterpret the Bible, and that’s why I quote on page 15 Dr. Green, who clearly was a good historian. He taught many years at the University of Louisiana and look what he says. Now Dr. Green is not one of us, he’s just a very good historian of science, and look at his observation here. “Maintenance of what these writers call verbal inspiration is likely to prove possible only by continual reinterpretation of the Bible.” Then look at his sentence, “In the long run the perpetual reinterpretation may prove more subversive of the authority of Scripture than what a frank recognition of the limitations of traditional doctrine.” What he’s arguing there was look, forget this endless reinterpretation, just capitulate, do what the liberals have done, but don’t’ sit there and try to endlessly reinterpret Genesis. Or said another way, the way I like to say it, if we can’t interpret Genesis 1 right, what are we doing interpreting the rest of the Bible? I mean, this is just a simple historical narrative. If we’ve got this many problems that we can’t understand what Genesis 1 is saying, what are we doing with Ezekiel, Revelation, Matthew’s gospel, the resurrection? It’s a hopeless case, if we can’t get out of Genesis 1 what God wants us to get out of it, forget it, throw it out!
So the idea there is to expose you to the fact that there have been men who have tried to work this problem out, it’s not an easy problem, but what it does show you is that there are big issues at stake, the whole nature of the universe is at stake here, the whole history of the cosmos is at stake, and the nature and being of our God is at stake. Because if you hold to the Continuity of Being you will always wind up with a God who is a process and an “it,” every time. A young person going to school just asked, they said every week in Biology class I go round and round with my instructor and he keeps telling me that the DNA of the human being is similar to the DNA of the chimpanzee, etc. by 3 or 4 %, etc. and I said yes, that’s correct, and… Well, the teacher keeps saying this is an evidence of evolution. Why is similarity an evidence of evolution? It’s an evidence of evolution if this is so. Let’s go back again to our presupposition, look at this, if you start here, with this, that everything is related on a scale, and I tell you the human being and the chimpanzee DNA’s structures are 97% similar, if you already believe this then it becomes an argument of the transition from one to the other.
But if I don’t start here, and instead I start here with a created creature, how does similarity argue for transformism? It doesn’t, what it argues for is common design. Ford and GM both put four wheels on cars. Do you know why? Because it’s a good physics of automobile mechanics. Now is it because one evolved from the other? Not really. I’ll give you a more modern illustration, in far more seriousness if you look at the intelligence shots of the soviet fighter aircraft, you will see that in the last decade the soviet high speed jet fighters look remarkable like our F-15s. How is it that the soviets are doing this? Is it because they are copying the Americans? That’s not true. It’s because aerodynamics drive them to that design. The commonality is not transformism; the commonality is because that’s the structure. So once again the evidence can’t be isolated from the presupposition being used to interpret the evidence. That’s what the problem is.
I got a call this week from a 17-year-old girl asked by one of her teachers if she would debate creation/evolution (with only 2 days warning.) With whom? The chemistry teacher. This is the set up, let’s get the Christian students to look as stupid as possible, don’t give them any time to prepare, send them in against a professional. And then we’ll have a fair discussion about creation/evolution. That’s the agenda and how Christian students get chewed up all the time.
And that’s what really ticks me off about the so-called school system and its so-called neutrality. It’s no more neutral than a barn smells nice. They are interested in destroying the Christian faith and they will do anything they can to do this. And that’s proof of it, the utter complete insensitivity to this teenager, putting her on the spot like that, talk about abuse, that’s intellectual abuse of students. They wouldn’t even ask an adult for a two day preparation time for debate. She did it today, we were praying for her. She said God gave her the opportunity, she was going to try. Good for her, that girl had guts.
My point is there is a game, there is an agenda, and we really have to understand the game or we get caught up in it. But you can’t agree to a debate. The topic of the debate, and had I had time I would have coached her never to take this topic on, “should creationism be taught in the public schools,” and I think the better question is “should evolution be taught as it really is in the public schools.” Let’s have honesty. The problem is creationists haven’t had time to develop a lot of counter models. Do you know how many millions of dollars it takes to develop a counter world view? The other side has had 150 years and they have NSF grants. Name an NSF grant for our side, we don’t get NSF grants! Dr. Humphreys out at Los Alamos Laboratories worked 13-15 years, in developing that little book that he’s now got out, that’s a fantastic answer to the starlight problem, it took him 15 years, had to go back, had to learn tensors, had to go through Einstein’s whole theory of general relativity on nights at his house, because he didn’t get any NSF grants.
He finally came out with something that’s tremendous. Starlight and Time by Master Publishers and it’s one chapter in a forthcoming major book that he’s going to produce, and it answers the whole question about the starlight issue. It’s a tremendous step forward in that area. But my point is that this is how this work gets done, on the side, on Saturdays, etc. Those are our tools, we’re the lowly people and we’re not going to have the majority, but don’t ask 17-year-old school girls to go up against some pro, and have two days to prepare for it. That’s not right. They always want to stack the deck that way to make the Christians look stupid, and we’re the ones that are stupid for allowing them to do it to us like that. But when we do debate them it’s unfair, then we’re breaking the separation of church and state, etc. It goes back to the fundamental question. Don’t buy into the question. If they want you for a debate, you have a right to say, Excuse me, I will debate this question, not that one. Oh, but we want you to debate this one! Sorry, that’s not the one I debate, this one’s the one I debate. I’m not going to aim a gun at myself and have you pull the trigger. One of the books that you want to be aware of, Hugh Ross has written a book called Creation and Time in which he holds to the same accommodation strategy.