They'll Sidestep Any Reasonable Discussion of the Issue at Hand

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, December 31, 2015 21 comments


by Steve Risner

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

Last week we began to talk about how some who do not hold the Biblical position will try to say that we are making this a salvation issue. They say this although it is clearly stated by many Biblical creationists that this is not the case at all and is even explained in detail quite often. In his blog post called “Is evolution a ‘salvation issue’? The Bible is clear, despite YECs’ attempts to muddy its message,” Tyler Francke quotes 2 prominent Biblical creationists stating quite clearly that we don’t believe that holding to a belief in evolution or billions of years will result in the loss of your salvation. He then goes on for some time about how they claim it is an issue of salvation. It’s really quite strange, actually. Today we’re going to analyze some of the claims he makes in this blog post and how they are connected to the exodus of our youth from the church.

I would like to first just stress again that Tyler has developed a strawman argument here. He has done this so he can easily knock it down. The strawman in this blog post (his posts are littered with them) is that Biblical creationists say belief in evolution excludes you from heaven. This is completely false and, as I’ve indicated, he knows this is false. So he writes this long blog post explaining why something no one believes should not be believed.

Let’s start by quoting Tyler saying the only trustworthy thing I think I’ve read from him recently: “…the core message of Christianity is this: Jesus, the Lord of all, died for your sins and rose again. Through believing in him — placing your faith and trust in his sacrifice — your salvation is assured. A powerful message, yet also a gloriously simple one — which is in no way dependent on or otherwise affected by your particular take on the biological origins of the human race.” We agree. I just wanted to point that out. Why there is an issue, I cannot say. He just seems to want to make up something to complain about.

Tyler does something here that tells me he’s not thought things through before publishing them. He quotes Jesus in the “only time He quotes Genesis” and says that in this passage of Scripture Jesus doesn’t say anything about the origins of human beings. But let’s look at the verse (which he states is only about divorce). We’re looking at Matthew 19:4, which reads, “He answered, ‘Have you not read that He Who created them from the beginning made them male and female…’” Jesus is here referring to Genesis 1:26-28. If you read that, you’ll notice something interesting that stands fairly firmly against what Tyler is saying. “He Who created them from the beginning…” seems to make a direct reference to the origins of the human race, does it not? In fact, the passage of Scripture he mentions is the passage that talks about the origin of the human race—that’s what it’s about!

He further uses the Bible to support his nonsense all the while making himself look a little foolish. He claims that the Biblical position collapses under the tiniest bit of scrutiny. This is actually ironic seeing that he rarely 1) gets the Biblical position correct, and 2) rarely follows any lines of logic in his own arguments. There are fundamental problems with theistic evolution’s understanding of the Bible and its message. He lists several scientific things he feels you can’t believe are true if you are “consistent” in your Biblical worldview. Notice the tactic is not to defend Darwinism, but it is to attack the Bible and its supporters. This is repeatedly the case. Frequently we see this person who claims to love and respect the Bible demean it and mock it, making fun of those who believe what it states.

Tyler thinks you can't believe the Bible and believe in science. This, of course, is hilariously inaccurate, since most of modern science was built by creationists who believed in Genesis as its written rather than how the secularist has attempted to rewrite it. He lists a few things you can't believe if you believe the Bible. The first, the water cycle, was described by the Bible in what is traditionally the oldest book we have in the Bible—Job. Look at Job 36:27-29! That's over 1500 years before a non-biblical source for such things can be accounted for! Tyler wants us to think that the Bible says God specifically calls on the rain each and every time it happens. And who knows? Perhaps this is the case. Perhaps God is intricately involved in such things, although I feel He set processes in motion that would cause this thing to happen. I also believe, just like He did many times in the Bible, God can obstruct these processes from happening and do something we simply call a miracle. He can stop or start rain at will. He can open blind eyes and raise the dead. He can make animals speak. He can set a bush on fire but allow it to not be consumed by the flames. He can send large amounts of frogs, flies, and locusts. You name it: God can do it. If Tyler is consistent, he cannot believe any of these things happened including the resurrection. If you are able to believe in a single incident where God did something supernatural, why not believe in His creation of the universe by a supernatural process? He said it. I believe it.

Tyler mentions other things and uses Scripture verses either out of context or simply seems to fail to grasp its meaning. You can investigate those things for yourself. Again, to make sure it's clear, Tyler tries to expose the Bible as full of erroneous information. From a skewed point of view, it's easy to make anything look incorrect. He attempts to make the Bible look foolish. I'll leave it at that.

In reference to the water cycle, Tyler says, “What is so wrong with thinking that the same God who uses a natural process to send the rain upon the earth, would also use a natural process when he filled this planet with life?” Let us just make a note here; there is no natural process that can account for: the origin of the universe, the origin of matter, the origin of energy, the origin of natural laws, the origin of our sun and stars, the origin of our solar system, the origin of our planet, or the origin of life just to name a few. So what “natural process” did God use to create all of these things? It's outrageous that he writes things like this. He must assume no one actually investigates his statements or thinks about them. If he had people reading who thought critically, he may try to write with more scrutiny. To be honest, it's possible he has comments on these blog posts that indicate some people do think for themselves rather than just reading his stuff and nodding their heads. I've actually not read a single comment. Getting through the blog posts and exposing his questionable “theology” and lack of reason takes enough of my time. Perhaps others have pointed out how hollow these writings of his are. I'll say it again to reemphasize it: there are no natural processes that account for the origins of nearly anything that this discussion is about. None.

Tyler goes on to quote something that Ken Ham says that is apparently crazy. He says, “When we deny the existence of Adam and Eve, then how do we explain the origin of sin and death in the world? And if we cannot explain how sin and death came into the world, or if we believe that it was always here, then what was the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection? Why was the atonement even necessary?” Does anyone see why these are bad questions? I guess if you can't answer them, then you have to just say, “Pfft. How can he be so dumb?” Tyler claims you have no need to know why sin exists or why the sin nature is part of who we are as a race. It's funny, then, that the apostle Paul wrote so much on that very subject. And the point of the statement by Ken Ham is apparently missed by Tyler here. If a thinking person or some sort of skeptic is seeking for truth, does it not seem logical that if you inform them of their need for salvation, that the question of “why?” would come to them? And in the “why?” perhaps a “how did this happen?” Rather than actually provide some sort of deeper, intellectual, thought provoking rationale for his theology, he decides to “sidestep any reasonable discussion of the issue at hand.”

He finally decides to throw one more assault on the motives of the men he's constantly attacking—they just want your money. Odd, really, since they're preaching a message consistent with the message of God's Word that's been taught for 2000 years (and for some time prior to that when the Jews were under the Old Covenant). And the final mistake he makes in this particular blog post is his accusation that belief in the Bible is the reason that our young people are leaving the Church as they enter into college. I've spoken on this topic in the church. It's his inability to think for himself, I think, that gets him to say things like this. He's probably heard it from someone else who disagrees with the Bible and hates Christians. This is the way I see it (and it's likely pretty close): our young people know when they read the Bible what it clearly states on origins. My 12-year-old (and probably my 10-year-old and 7-year-old) can tell you the account of creation as recorded in the Bible as well as the Flood. They read it and know what the message is. They have no doubt. They trust God and trust His Word and me, for that matter. If young people read these accounts and don't have a good education concerning what God- haters, atheists, secularists, and the like will say about these matters, they can fall prey to a lie. Their parents, the Church, youth pastors, and they themselves haven't worked it over and over so they understand not only the Biblical position but the criticisms of that position. I suspect Tyler was likely in that group as well. So another philosophy and origins story (or several others) begin to bombard them in college by secular professors and students who've decided to deny the God that loves them. And because their footing wasn't solid, they fell. It wasn't because they believed what the Bible told them and that was it. It was that they were unprepared to think through the attack on the Bible and Christianity in general that is so heavily saturating our educational system—including many “Christian” colleges. You can get a glimpse at what I've said on this topic in the past here.

I'll take this moment now to encourage you, student, to study this stuff and honestly and openly look at all sides of the argument. If you do that, there is no way I would fear you would make the wrong decision. Parents: please talk with your children about these matters. Read Dawkins and other God-haters and know their arguments so you can go over them with your children and show them how hollow and foolish they are. Don't throw your kids to the wolves or believe the job of preparing them to enter a world that hates Jesus is the youth pastor's job. It's yours.

Time dictates we run here. Be blessed. Celebrate 2015 and all the good things God has done for you this year! It's easy to focus on the negative. Take a minute and recall all the ways you were blessed.

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21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I mostly write this because I was surprised as soon as I had the chance to compare the post you are criticizing with your own response and realized that they don’t really seem to match up.

“The strawman in this blog post (his posts are littered with them) is that Biblical creationists say belief in evolution excludes you from heaven. This is completely false and, as I’ve indicated, he knows this is false.”

Really? Who is really presenting the strawman here? Where does he say that? For the life of me I can’t find any statement that indicates that he thinks creationists generally say that belief in evolution excludes you from heaven, though maybe I just missed it (wouldn’t be the first time). If you are claiming to have discovered a strawman argument, it might be best to directly quote where he states the argument so that your readers can track it down. He certainly does say that creationists muddy the issue with ominous (“vague and shadowy”) terms like “slippery slope”, “dangerous door”, “authority issue” etc, ostensibly giving the issue far more importance and centrality than the Bible actually seems to claim for it, and this seems to be his main concern. Tyler is merely pointing to what I’ve noticed for a long time; “now, we here at AiG are adamant in maintaining that this is not a salvation issue” is an absolutely standard refrain for AiG, and they always say this once in every article that touches on the issue as though going through the motions in case there are any detractors reading. Without fail, the writers then rush into the argument that the creationist view directly and exclusively results in the need for salvation because of original sin and because of the fact that all mankind descends from Adam (using Pauline theology to leverage this point and stating clearly that these positions stand or fall together) and that only blatant mental inconsistency (and compromise) can allow someone to accept salvation while rejecting creationism. Their arguments strain so far towards trying to make the connection between YEC and salvation that I can see why Tyler has a tough time taking their one sentence stock statement entirely seriously, although I personally think that they do mean it. Tyler also makes a clear argument as to why he thinks that this connection between creationism and salvation fails, and I don’t really see you addressing this clearly. He definitely doubts the honesty of AiG and Ham, and while I part ways with him there, I can see why he comes to that conclusion on some points.

Anonymous said...

...Continued

By the way, you often state that Tyler is mocking and demeaning the Bible, when he seems to generally make it clear that he is mocking what he considers to be an unwarranted interpretation (with what he view as absurd implications) of the passages in question. It is not at all clear that he would consider the passages, let alone the Bible, to be ridiculous when interpreted as the vehicle for spiritual truths to be read through the lens of ancient categories. I’m guessing that because you do not accept this distinction, you do not end up noticing that he makes this distinction when reading his blog, which is fair enough I guess, but I think it is important to point out that to mock what one views as absurd implications of someone’s exegesis of the Bible is not logically coextensive with mockery of the Bible itself, even if you happen to disagree with his assessments. I see not even a token effort to accurately represent his position on this point. I won’t defend mockery as a general strategy, but I think you are more focused on what is being mocked anyway, and it is on this point that I think you are mistaking his target.

“You name it: God can do it. If Tyler is consistent, he cannot believe any of these things happened including the resurrection. If you are able to believe in a single incident where God did something supernatural, why not believe in His creation of the universe by a supernatural process? He said it. I believe it.”

I suspect this question is confusing the issue, not to mention that it cavalierly skates over even preliminary hermeneutical and exegetical responsibilities with the last two sentences. Tyler is hardly making a list of things that God can or cannot do. I can’t even imagine how it is supposed to be inconsistent to state that God apparently did raise Jesus from the dead, but that he apparently did not create the earth in 6 literal days. If it was suggested that one of these two things was out of God’s league, then, ok, I guess I get you, but that isn’t what is going on here. In each case, the totality of the evidence is taken seriously. In the case of the resurrection, what is being written is arguably far closer to the genre of modern history (Luke in particular offers many telling clues to this fact, and eyewitnesses are freely alluded to throughout the NT), and since science is descriptive and not prescriptive – you seem to be advancing a very 19th century view in seeing it otherwise – it is simply a philosophical error to state that modern scientific thinking does not allow such an event to take place.

TBC...

Anonymous said...

...Continued

On the other hand, the book of Genesis was written in a time well before the genre of history had even emerged and poetic parallelism, apparent symbolism, other ANE writing genres etc suggest that something other than straightforward history is being written. Absurd efforts to prove that it is not poetry are entirely beside the point and are only useful if an artificial false dichotomy is assumed. More to the point, Genesis was seemingly interacting with the common cosmogonical and cosmological background of the ANE in a polemical manner and in a way that brings out important spiritual truths, a conclusion that is not the least bit surprising given the immediate audience and the immediate contextual pressures that presumably needed to be opposed. Even more to the point; the bible itself does not clarify what genre or interpretative method is to be assumed for each section, and any position on this point must be argued, not assumed as the default, and such an argument would need to be far more conclusive than what is usually offered. The scientific case here is precisely the opposite of that which was encountered with the resurrection; all sorts of independent lines of evidence are only explained (so far, but love to hear something that even comes close) by evolution and an ancient earth. Regardless of whether you agree with that or not, Tyler is obviously convinced by the scientific arguments and evidence independently from his theological conclusions. So am I. If, like you and Ham, I strongly felt that I was theologically compelled to reject evolution, this wouldn’t suddenly mean that I no longer found the arguments for evolution to be compelling (I think creationists like Kurt Wise find themselves in this awkward position). The arguments would retain exactly the same weight and format as they do now and would still need to be addressed before I could start to bypass them to suit my theology, if only for my own intellectual honesty and satisfaction.
This has nothing to do with the rather silly rhetorical gotcha game that is played when it is claimed that we are taking “man’s fallible word over God’s infallible word”; we aren’t just parroting the oracular opinion of some arrogant lab-coat sporting flunky, we are convinced by the patterns of evidence and associated arguments themselves, and entirely unconvinced but the rigid hermeneutical canon used to support the creationist position. In opposing us, you don’t get to get away with a shout of “compromisers!” (oddly reminiscent of the term “heretics!” in the middle ages); you actually have to convince us on both counts instead. We don’t suddenly realize in a flash of inspiration that the arguments for evolution are rotten to the core as soon as we are disparaged in this way and intellectual honesty requires that we reject any line of argument that is not calculated to address the evidence fairly and largely independently of as much presuppositional baggage as possible.

TBC...

Anonymous said...

...Last of all (my apologies for writing too much)

“And if we cannot explain how sin and death came into the world, or if we believe that it was always here, then what was the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection? Why was the atonement even necessary?” Does anyone see why these are bad questions? I guess if you can't answer them, then you have to just say, “Pfft. How can he be so dumb?”

Some of these are not bad questions on their own, but taken together, they amount to a very obvious non-sequitor (pretty noticeable especially in that first sentence). In fact, Tyler actually mentions that they are questions that are worthy of a response and then far from starting with “Pfft”, he goes to the trouble of working through them, rather clearly maintaining that while sin and spiritual death did indeed enter the world at some stage, it is our own sins that ultimately demand the atonement for the sake of our own salvation (hardly a shocking theological innovation). Anyway, as I said, there is simply no logical connection between rejecting a certain version of how sin first entered the world and maintaining that atonement is needed for our own sins, and it is difficult to see how Ham envisioned this connection when first writing this.

Steve said...

Hello there and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I want you to know that, although time does not allow me to respond much at the moment, that I plan to read through your 4 comments and see if either 1) you're right and I've misunderstood something or misstated something or 2) perhaps I wasn't as clear as I needed to be so further explanation is warranted (often the case). Thanks again for reading.

Steve said...

You say that the strawman is mine. However, I believe from the title of the blog post by Tyler in question, it's easy to surmise his intent. He also states, "Of course, they both (Ham and Lisle) believe that the denial of evolution and rejection of an ancient earth are of the utmost importance for all Christians — and it is in the best interests of the continued longevity of their respective organizations that they get as many people as possible to agree with this perspective."

And further he says, "So, Ham, for example, must pretend like he doesn’t think one’s opinion of evolution is more important than one’s opinion of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

This seems to indicate, indirectly if not directly for you, that Ham and Lisle and, therefore, Biblical creationists believe the issue of evolution/creation is a salvation issue. This conclusion is solidified for me when he says, "In other words, the core message of Christianity is this: Jesus, the Lord of all, died for your sins and rose again. Through believing in him — placing your faith and trust in his sacrifice — your salvation is assured. A powerful message, yet also a gloriously simple one — which is in no way dependent on or otherwise affected by your particular take on the biological origins of the human race." This, of course, is true. But he is insinuating that the Biblical creationist does not believe this. Hence, it is exactly as I've called it--a strawman. A fake argument. In other words, he's saying Biblical creationists say thus and such and this is why that's wrong--and then goes on to say exactly what the Biblical creationists have stated from the beginning.

I have much more to say, but, again, I must run. My apologies...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing together the evidence to support your view on this. I’ll put my point in another way. Imagine for a second using one of Ken Ham’s famous cartoons; say the one where there are two stone blocks, one on top of another, the top one saying “salvation” and the bottom one saying “creation” (with a crack in it); or maybe the one where there is a castle sitting on top of a crumbling foundation called “genesis”, with the castle (“gospel”) falling to ruin because the foundation is going. Would “We here at AiG are adamant in maintaining that this is not a salvation issue” work as a good caption for this one? Would it not come off as something of a total, knee-slapping farce?! Can you see why, at the very least, this is often seen as a point of dissonance by some of us? I think these things could be consistent (it’s a stretch, but there it is), but Tyler obviously has this kind of thing in mind when addressing the issue, and he obviously thinks that their disclaimers are inconsistent with their rhetoric, which is arguably the case. All of Tyler’s sentences are entirely consistent with his overt premise; that creationists often act and speak in a way that is not quite consistent with their one sentence disclaimers and that in spite of all of the assurances that creationism is not a salvation issue, they seem to go through flaming hoops to found salvation on Genesis in a way that makes it impossible to dissociate them and in a way that has salvation crumbling to dust as soon as you remove creation. Whatever you think of his argument, nothing Tyler says contradicts his thesis, or points to some hidden strawman, not his title (“muddy its message”? Sure.), not the way that he states the Gospel message in a manner that does not include the events in Genesis as a necessary foundation (unlike AiG), and not the fact that he thinks they act as though they view one’s opinion of evolution as “more important than one’s opinion of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ”. Now I don’t entirely agree with this very last point, but honestly, I can see where he is coming from even if I can explain it away; the resurrection is never at the foundation in those cartoons, it is always Genesis! In the articles, the resurrection is not called “foundational”, it is always the fall of Adam! I know what they believe and I am convinced that they would obviously view the resurrection as being far more important, but I’ll admit that they often don’t seem to act as though this were the case and I think this is where Tyler is coming from.

Again, I would submit that his words are entirely consistent with his thesis, and that you have misrepresented him fairly palpably, though I think not intentionally. He simply never states or even insinuates this strawman view, and nothing can be said to directly or indirectly support this view, yet it is stated in your response almost as though it is directly drawn from his post! To support this by; “…surmise his intent”, “…indirectly if not directly” and “insinuating that…” is not enough when his statements clearly point to a very different argument on his part, whether that argument is wrong or right. I would stand by my other suggestions as to where he is being misrepresented, but I would again state that I don’t think that the misrepresentation is intentional on your part.

Steve said...

I need to ask if you've read the previous blog post I wrote which is part one of a two part blog post. It would be helpful. Perhaps that answer is in your comments and, truthfully, I've not been able to get through them. Home with my five kids while the wife is away for the weekend...so I may be distracted. Also of use may be if you read some of the other blog posts I've written concerning Tyler's writings. He has a history of writing mockingly towards the Bible and towards Godly people who want to further the Kingdom. I've written quite a few blog posts concerning the atrocious theology he seems to keep and his repeated attacks on Ken Ham specifically but also other Christians. I've also exposed the irrational nature of his worldview repeatedly. Perhaps a critique of those writings would be of interest to you as well.

May I also ask if you are a regular reader of the Worldview Warriors or is this just something you stumbled upon? Thanks again and also thank you for your tone. It seems you're much more respectful than, well, Tyler but also most of the theistic evolutionists I've encountered. Lord bless you...

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

Totally understand the overloaded with kids thing, so no problem, hope you survived the weekend! While we may not agree on a large number of points, I think your tone is right on, both in your responses and in your blog posts, so the same goes to you. I don’t think either side is any more or less acerbic than any other side in this debate, and I get the impression that TEs and YECs alike are often in sin when it comes to how they communicate, regardless of what they communicate. Though in agreement with much that he has to say and under the impression that he often has a great deal of insight, I am not particularly interested in defending Tyler’s sarcasm, he’s got a sharp wit and can be funny, but it is often used in a way that is just going too far and doesn’t come off as loving. Others have often told him as much, so there is little left to say on that point.

I am not a regular reader of WVW, partly because I am not convinced that the culture wars have proven to be a healthy way of engaging with our culture, and I suspect that they have obscured and distracted from what should be the evangelistic priorities of the Church. As a working biologist, my natural tendency is to engage with issues that relate to science in general and evolution in particular (textual, higher criticism and church history also interest me), while my interest in discussing other hot button issues is very marginal, and I don’t tend to get drawn into these other debates. Since you have been focused on scientific issues while responding to Tyler, I have read a few of your posts and commented extensively in one (as you probably realize), having a fairly positive discussion with one of your readers. I tend to be highly critical (hopefully appropriately so) wherever non-scientists critically address scientific issues (although I have no idea if you are a scientist), and where non-Christians address Christian issues. I tend to find the science itself extremely convincing, without reference to any particular worldview or theological consequences. Regarding Ken Ham, I have actually dialogued with Tyler about this; I am strongly of the opinion that Ham is sincere in his mission and convictions; Tyler does not agree, and he gives arguably fair reasons for his impression, but he took my points quite well all the same and seemed to give it some thought. While sincere, I believe that Ham has does some unintentionally double-dealing when he discusses his philosophy of science and his approach to data, and whenever I have interacted with AiG in order to call them out on some misuse of terms or misrepresentation of evolutionary arguments, I have found that the responses tended to sidestep the point. I can live with that, but it leaves me unsatisfied not just with their position, but with what I view as the questionable strategies they have in place to shore up their position, including a colossal reworking of scientific method itself.

For your own position, I have scanned enough of it to get some sense of your view. I think we would disagree on the nature of scientific method as well as on the science itself, but since the posts I saw interacted more with Tyler than with evolutionary biology or the philosophy of science itself, this is mostly a guess. If I run across posts with more scientific content, I am more likely to be critical. That said, I don’t want to season your posts with negative comments, so I’ll try to lighten up!

Blessings.

Nathanael Eisner said...

Dear Anon.,

I have a few questions regarding your take on Genesis in your Part 3 of the original comment.

~~~“On the other hand, the book of Genesis was written in a time well before the genre of history had even emerged and poetic parallelism, apparent symbolism, other ANE writing genres, etc. suggest that something other than straightforward history is being written.”

Am I right in assuming from the above statement that Genesis was written before Moses in your view?

~~~“Absurd efforts to prove that it is not poetry are entirely beside the point and are only useful if an artificial false dichotomy is assumed.”

How is it absurd and false to use the Hebrew language to determine the form of the text being read?

~~~“More to the point, Genesis was seemingly interacting with the common cosmogonical and cosmological background of the ANE in a polemical manner and in a way that brings out important spiritual truths, a conclusion that is not the least bit surprising given the immediate audience and the immediate contextual pressures that presumably needed to be opposed.”

Is it fair to conclude that you believe Genesis was written after other culture’s creation myths?

~~~“Even more to the point; the bible itself does not clarify what genre or interpretative method is to be assumed for each section, and any position on this point must be argued, not assumed as the default, and such an argument would need to be far more conclusive than what is usually offered.”

This goes back to the Hebrew language again, but why do you feel it is wrong to simply assume? Steve Risner is not trying to prove Creationism so much as show the errors in Tyler Franke’s theology. Not all evolutionary papers prove evolution and most merely assume it to be true for the purpose of getting to their case-in-point. If you want proof of Scientific Biblicist Creationism, go find an article dealing with that topic.

~~~“The scientific case here is precisely the opposite of that which was encountered with the resurrection; all sorts of independent lines of evidence are only explained (so far, but love to hear something that even comes close) by evolution and an ancient earth.”

Lastly for now, do you believe that The Holy Bible was God-breathed? That is to say, inspired?

Steve said...

Okay, Anon
I will try to get through the very long and very numerous comments you've made here. I do appreciate your time and very much your patience with me. It's all I can generally do to find the time to write a blog post for the week, let alone make responses to what, in essence, will likely be the length of another blog post. I'm going to try to hit the high points, if that's okay.

You said, "Tyler also makes a clear argument as to why he thinks that this connection between creationism and salvation fails..." I didn't really catch that. He kept making the "connection" because he would say they claim it's not a salvation issue but they do feel it's an important one. Here again, as I've mentioned in other blog posts and actually in future posts, Tyler seems to be talking about the conversion experience. "Getting saved" I guess. But the meat of the issue here is walking in that new life. If you study God's Word and for no reason from the text decide parts of it are not recorded accurately, does this not call the entire account from the first to the last first into question? It does for me. If parts of God's Word are not accurate or truthful (which is essentially the position here, correct?) how can I trust any part of it? If "science" is the reason I cannot believe Genesis 1-11, it would also be a reason for me not to believe the Exodus occurred or that the Resurrection and Ascension occurred. In fact, because of the over emphasis on naturalism in what some today call science, no supernatural events in Scripture can be accepted. OR if you can accept a single one of them in the face of science, you should have no trouble accepting the creation account (seeing that it's written as an historical narrative, has continuity with the rest of the the chapters 12-50 which no one argues are history, and is the foundation of the every other book in the Bible--the story of Redemption). AS Martin Luther said, "But, if you cannot understand how this [creation] could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are."
I don't believe one can consistently hold the position that Tyler holds. He's naive in his understanding of science and the Bible but wants to tell me about both. He's trying to take a theological position that is in opposition to 2000 years of Church history...or 3500 years or so of the Judeo-Christian history that no one really argued too much with until the 1700-1800's when science--real science done by Godly men--was turned into something of a religion.
I don't think he made any point unless you first agreed with him to begin with--which you are welcome to do, of course.

Steve said...

Anon said "Without fail, the writers then rush into the argument that the creationist view directly and exclusively results in the need for salvation because of original sin and because of the fact that all mankind descends from Adam (using Pauline theology to leverage this point and stating clearly that these positions stand or fall together)..."
What is "Pauline theology?" Are you suggesting Paul has somehow usurped the Redemption story and made it something Jesus Christ never intended?

I do appreciate that you feel that AiG (and other ministries like them) are well intended. I don't believe AiG or ministries like them have EVERYTHING right. I believe they make errors. I believe we all do. But I believe their intention is to bring glory to God and to spread the impact of the Kingdom to anyone who hears their message. That's what we're called to do.

Steve said...

Anon, you said, "you often state that Tyler is mocking and demeaning the Bible, when he seems to generally make it clear that he is mocking what he considers to be an unwarranted interpretation..." That's the gist of it. I would, again, encourage you to read the rest of this series (granted it has gotten out of hand and there are probably over 20 blog posts to sift through)to see the record of this. Tyler has, in fact, mocked the Bible (or it's believers--whichever you prefer) because of exceptionally clear statements. Cain had to marry a sister. There is no way around that. That, according to Tyler, is the craziest thing Biblical creationists believe. Hmm...Abraham did that, too. Isaac and Jacob married close relatives. Royal families did this for centuries. Darwin did, too. There's a blog about that floating around. I think it was before this one, but I'm not sure. He carries a very mocking tone for something the Bible clearly states is the way it was. He also says in reference to the Flood where God destroyed man for his awful sin and state, "...the God of Genesis 6-9 doesn't sound like God to me." Really? What does it sound like? Does he feel God was serious when He wanted to destroy the Israelites for their disobedience? Does He feel that it sounded like God when He made them wander in the desert for 40 years rather than finding their way into Canaan? Does he feel God was God when Samuel cut Agag's head under orders? Was it God when He made Sampson's hair grow so he could pull down the temple in which he was being tortured, killing thousands inside? Did it sound like God when Uzzah touched the Ark simply to steady it, preventing it from falling, and He struck the man dead? Or are these all made up stories to tell us some truth (ironically since the stories themselves would then not be true)?

If you mock me for reading the Bible and believing what it says (and please let's not act like the clear intent of Genesis 1-11 is not to convey a very specific history) are you not mocking the Word itself?

I would encourage you to look at his statements--granted, like my blog posts in this series, there are many--and judge whether the Word of God is not under fire. This is one of the reasons I am passionate about this. Theistic evolution is a compromise--it is an attempt to marry the beauty of Christianity with secular humanism. Tyler even says as much in his "about" section: God of Evolution was created by Tyler Francke in April 2013 as an accessible, colorful and often humorous “middle ground” between militant anti-theism and militant young-earth creationism. He's admittedly compromising the Word of God to conform to, essentially, another religion. Unfortunately, this other religion has masqueraded as a scientific study which adds to the confusion. It is not scientific. It's naive and full of holes. But that's for another blog post...

Steve said...

"I see not even a token effort to accurately represent his position on this point."--I try very hard to accurately represent an opposing party's position. It's a waste of everyone's time to do otherwise. This, for me, is the exceptionally frustrating thing with anti-creationist groups. It is very difficult to find someone who will represent what I believe in an honest and accurate way. I am sorry you feel I am not representing his beliefs well. I am trying as well as I know how. It is true that I may take his beliefs to their logical conclusion only to expose the illogical nature of them, or I may state his beliefs a different way than he does...but my intention is never to misrepresent him. I will try harder in the future to make sure I am being clear...although I am trying to keep my writings to 2 pages in Word.
Again, if you were to read other blog posts I've written on the subject, perhaps you would find the holes you feel I've left out of the arguments have been filled in. I say this because I've been writing on this for several months now and I may accidentally not include something simply because, in my mind, I've covered it 100 other times. However, this is more of an issue for me than for you and I apologize. I need to try to be more clear and not assume the reader knows what I know or has been keeping up with my writings. Thank you for that.

Steve said...

Anon further states, "I can’t even imagine how it is supposed to be inconsistent to state that God apparently did raise Jesus from the dead, but that he apparently did not create the earth in 6 literal days."

It is inconsistent in my opinion for this reason: "science" you allege indicates that God could not have created the universe, earth, and mankind 6000 years ago so you (and I'm not sure if this is you or just the collective you...whichever is more appropriate) will believe something else happened (although the account in Scripture is very straightforward as His Word says the wise will state their case). However, although science tells us a man dead for three days in no way can be raised back to life, you will believe that He was raised back to life.

The problem here is that "science" is not what we're talking about since we can use the scientific method to support a great deal of Biblical creationist beliefs as you (or whoever) can use scientific observation to support your beliefs. This is because science has never been the issue. This is a clash between two different religions and two different worldviews. You (and likely many scientists) interpret the evidence in such a way that it conforms to your position concerning evolution. I (and many scientists) interpret the evidence in such a way that it conforms to our preconceived ideas about creation. "Science" is not on your side. It is, in fact, simply a tool. But the "science" you speak of is really not science at all. I've written a great deal on this subject and you can find those writings usually with the word "science" "consensus" "forensics" or something like that in the title. I'll try to create a list if you want. I respect your time.

However, if you read "The Book of Genesis" which is a blog post from last week, I think you'll find your statements on the literary genre of Genesis and how it was evidently intended to be read are in contrast to what most scholars believe as well as how the Jewish people read it for thousands of years.

This may be my last response for a little bit. I hope I can get back to it soon. I appreciate our conversation.

Steve said...

I feel I may have sounded like I was irritated with the volume and number of your comments, Anon. That's not the case. I was simply trying to explain why it's taken a while to get back to you. Thanks for understanding.

Steve said...

"On the other hand, the book of Genesis was written in a time well before the genre of history had even emerged and poetic parallelism, apparent symbolism, other ANE writing genres etc suggest that something other than straightforward history is being written."
http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-book-of-genesis.html

That link supports the idea that Genesis was written as history. Perhaps you feel the entire book is not historical in nature which literally annihilates any chance any portion of the Bible is necessary or important or even true. The book is clearly not poetry--you talked of parallelism which is nonexistent in Genesis. You insinuated, as many evolutionists would, that man somehow was not as smart 3400 years ago. This doesn't really matter that much, but you seem to be heaped in assumptions that you likely believe are bona fide inarguable facts. "History" as a genre of writing? If Adam told Seth about the creation of the world (had he written down) you would have history as a genre of writing, would you not? There is literally no reason whatsoever to interpret Genesis as anything but historical. Attempts to read it as something else are completely based on remedying the issues with the timeline associated with Genesis and Darwinian evolution and/or the Big Bang. There is no reason anyone can find based on the the Bible and based on ancient Hebrew to read it as anything but history. The fact that the Jews believe (and have since it was written) that it is the history of their people tells me it was clearly written as an historical account. It was written from the mind of God, in the opinion of the Christian I assume. Hence, the ANE story of "what would we expect ANE sheep herders who were surrounded by other barbaric paganistic tribes to have written" mumbo jumbo just doesn't hold any water. Please, I ask you respectfully, to read the blog post I linked in this comment on the book of Genesis. It came out last week.

Steve said...

Anon stated "this wouldn’t suddenly mean that I no longer found the arguments for evolution to be compelling." That's just it, sir (or ma'am). You feel the arguments are compelling. You believe they are correct. You've exposed the very core of the issue here--you have a belief system that first accepts an unfounded (it truly is--it is naive, it is overly simplistic in light of the nature of living things and systems, it has no natural mechanism of any sort that can provide for the biosphere, and it fails attempts to provide real and substantial evidence to support it...it is, in fact, nearly completely held within the minds of its adherents and museums and books are full of models and timelines and hierarchies that are literally just fabricated---generally by godless people) principle and then forces the Word of God to conform to this humanistic concoction. Do you not honestly see the danger here? TE accepts Darwinian evolution (and a host of other unscientific generally anti-Biblical principles) first and then looks for ways to alter the Genesis account (which is usually creating some sort of imaginary reason for it not being a literal historical account) so it can be brushed aside.

So you find the "arguments for evolution compelling" and I don't. My belief stems from reading what is in the Bible. Friend, do you not see yours is not based on the Bible? Adam, Abel, Cain, Seth, Noah, and others are referenced in at least 15 different books of the Bible. They are not referenced as anything but historical characters. Adam is in the lineage of Jesus. The Jewish faith counts the beginning of time back to about 6000 years ago based on reading Genesis. They believe the history of their people is found there. You are suggesting Genesis (50 chapters that are the foundation of the entire Word of God and contain every major Christian doctrine) and its account of history are not true. Ancient Hebrews did not create the story. God Almighty gave this account.

Steve said...

"The arguments would retain exactly the same weight and format as they do now and would still need to be addressed before I could start to bypass them to suit my theology, if only for my own intellectual honesty and satisfaction. "

I have been an excited student of biology since high school. I took a great deal of college level courses in this subject. I have found no argument compelling at all, actually. I've sought for one. I even just tried to accept Darwinism and meld it with Christianity as you seem to have done. It just doesn't work. In an honest attempt to fix this inconsistency in my mind, I had to reject what I knew the clear teaching of Scripture was (and essentially say God was wrong or deceptive or He was incapable of communicating properly) or reject the interpretation of (very little) evidence for Darwinian evolution (knowing full well ideas in science come and go and this was likely incorrect). I chose to believe God knew better than I did or than Dr. Murray and all the other PhDs who taught me evolution did. The book we call the Bible (especially Genesis) is written at a level that a child could grasp. Hence, its interpretation is fairly simple. Sure, there are cumbersome parts of the Bible as a whole, but I don't find many of those parts in Genesis. Then there is the book of nature, written by the same God. But this book is not so easily interpreted. In fact, for the man who wants to remove all need for God by looking at nature (the list of those who are icons for the deep time/evolution position is long) can do so. He can also look at nature and say the sun goes around the earth. He can say that if a woman weighs the same as a duck, she must be made of wood since they both float. You can look at nature and deduce a great deal and be very wrong. History is full of wrong ideas--like meat morphs into maggots, logs turn into alligators, a pile of grain or clothing can turn into a mouse, "bleeding" someone is good for them, drilling holes in a person's head is a good idea, etc etc. The list of things people gathered from observing nature that they were wrong about is very very long.
You've chosen to believe the currently popular but ever changing ideas of man OVER the never changing, clearly stated Word of God. I want no part of that.

You have essentially admitted that this is just your opinion. I do appreciate that honesty.

Steve said...

"We don’t suddenly realize in a flash of inspiration that the arguments for evolution are rotten to the core..."--not sure who you mean by "we." I guess it's you and Tyler. I know people that this exact thing has happened.

The arguments for evolution, again, are weak. Anyone can fabricate evidence and anyone can arrange whatever they want to in whatever man made grouping they like.

You apparently have compromised God's Word. I'm sorry to state it so bluntly, but God's Word is extremely clear and you have willfully discarded its obvious message. What would you call this? Why do you need saved? Why does God hold you accountable and not any other primate (using your terminology)? Why is there sin for us but not for our ancient ancestors (a few million years ago)? Why does the entire Word of God fall apart without this historical account? I know. You don't think it does, but it actually does.
What other parts of the Bible have you arbitrarily determined are not historical when they are written as such?

Steve said...

"... largely independently of as much presuppositional baggage as possible."

oh, boy. You don't get this, either? You may have a long way to go. There is no way to interpret any evidence without presuppositions. Sorry. That's just the way it is.

I have to run again. This has been good. I'll try to get to the rest later, but if you lose interest, I can't blame you. A month long conversation is hard to stay interested in.