Monday, December 9, 2013

Elementary, My Dear Watson: A Rebuttal of Ken Ham's "Days of Decline in the Church"

By Michael David Rawlings
December 9, 2013
The link to Ken Ham's article: "Days of Decline in the Church"

The disbelief of many in the Genesis account of origins is not due to any supposed confusion over the varying textual theories regarding the respective ages of the cosmos and its constituents, and the idea that the contentions of old-earth creationism, which emphatically reject the trappings of Darwinism, are intellectually chaotic or scripturally irresponsible is an illusion in the minds of those who fail to appreciate the hermeneutical and theological ramifications of the ancient Hebrew's prescientific view of the natural world. Those who will not believe in a six-twenty-four-hour-day creation scenario will not believe in a biblically based, dispensational rendering of the six days of creation entailing millions of years either.
Ultimately, those who spurn the authority of God's word do so because they cannot hear or will not heed the voice of the Good Sheppard.
In the meantime, the real problem in secular academia and popular culture is cognitive: an uncritical and often unwitting acceptance of the underlying metaphysical presuppositions of the modern apostasies of abiogenesis and evolution, namely, ontological naturalism and materialism. Like their subsequent theoretical models, these presuppositions are not only unbiblical, but scientifically unfalsifiable.
In other words, the Darwinist incautiously assumes that which is neither obvious nor scientifically demonstrable: that all of cosmological and biological history is an unbroken chain of natural cause-and-effect, hence, the big lies of abiogenesis and evolution.

Ken Ham's argument begins in earnest with the following claim:
The mixture of millions of years and evolution with Scripture stems from secular ideas and philosophies.

Not exactly, as the notion that the Earth is older than the estimation of Ham's hermeneutics—which, if you follow my meaning, he preemptively refers to as "Scripture"—is inferred from geological indicators objectively apparent to all, not from any "secular ideas and philosophies" as such.  Ham's assertion is nonsensical and conflates the distinct concerns of geological time and evolutionary theory.
Ironically, though this doesn't apply to the scientific experts on, many believers who hold to an uncompromisingly literal interpretation of the Creation Hymn not only fail to discern the actualities of secular science's underlying rationale for biological origins, they fail to recognize just how much they themselves have been inordinately influenced in a reactionary fashion by the specious claims of Darwinists about the supposed significance of the age of the Earth relative to the theoretical necessities of abiogenesis and evolution. That the processes of abiogenesis and evolution ostensibly require many millions of years in order to produce their outcomes is of no consequence in the final analysis, for the Darwinist's articles of faith concerning biological origins are utter nonsense from the jump, utter impossibilities that could never occur in reality regardless of the span of time allotted them.
God's word stands and stays, and it's abundantly clear from scripture that life can only come from life and that speciation is a series of direct, creative events, regardless of the actual period of time in which they occurred, not a series of evolutionary branchings of a common ancestry.
Ham continues:
If we were to ask an evolutionist what he believes about the origin of the universe, he would likely tell us that there was a big bang 14 billion years ago, that 4.5 billion years ago there was a hot molten blob that formed into the earth, and that the solar system then formed. He would tell you that billions of years ago life formed in the oceans and then as life came out on land, one kind of animal changed into another, resulting in the many species we see today.  He might even show you an evolutionary tree, and tell you that ape-like creatures eventually became human, that writing was invented in the course of human evolution, and that man learned to grunt before he learned to speak.


What do the received estimations of contemporary science concerning the age of the universe and that of the Earth have to do with the underlying metaphysical presuppositions of abiogenesis and evolution?
Answer: Nothing.
If you do not grasp the implications of the question or the finality of the answer, you do not adequately understand the matter.
Progressive creationism, for example, does not countenance the unwarranted compromise of theistic evolution, let alone any of the other meandering superstitions of atheism.  Contrary to Ham's contention that secular science's dogma regarding biological origins, for example, is unassailably monolithic (which, owing to the lack of intermediate biological forms in the paleontological record, compounded by the tautological nature of evolution's supposed mechanisms, it is not) while the voice of the Church is a discordant chorus of compromise and confusion:  progressive creationism utterly annihilates Darwinism with scripture and hard science in its exposition of origins.

It's not an "uncertain sound" at all, but a sledgehammer.

Ham's pessimism is mystifying, for whether the world's secular philosophers and scientists realize it or not, the Church's very best scientists and theologians, backed by the word of God, have been pummeling the myths of the former into bloody pulps for centuries. The job of the Church is not to win popularity contests. The job of the Church is to speak truth to darkness. The rest is in God's hands.

The charge that those among the redeemed who don't necessarily hold to a cosmos and an Earth that are only thousands of years old begin with the calculi of science, rather than with the imperatives of scripture, is false, and the charge is especially tiresome to those of us who are well-versed in the larger textual, hermeneutical, theological and scientific concerns of the matter, well beyond a mere superficial reading of scripture, and grasp the entirety of the young-earth creationist's worldview at a glance.
Elementary, My Dear Watson.
And, once again, our reading of God's word does not countenance any interpretation of scripture in reaction to the Darwinist's notions of cosmological or biological origins, for these are chiefly predicated on philosophical presuppositions regarding the extent of reality itself and much less on any extent of time. The duration of the latter for the Darwinist is merely an operational aspect of necessity for his subsequent theoretical models.
Hocus pocus. Now you see it . . . or maybe you don't.
Ham again:
Some will say they do not believe in a literal Adam or Eve or a literal Fall, or that Noah's Flood was just local, and so on. Others will give all sorts of combinations of ideas. And the reason there are so many different views is because these people are trying to fit man's ideas about origins into the Bible. And every one of these compromise positions tries in some way to fit in the supposed millions of years.
The hermeneutics of Ussher's meticulous chronology notwithstanding, the Bible does not tell us how old the cosmos is, and any claim to the contrary is every bit as speculative as Thomas Chalmers' potential, though scripturally gratuitous gap theory.
The belief that God's creation may very well be billions of years old or that the six days of creation in Genesis may have spanned millions of years is not due to any slavish inclination "to fit man's ideas about origins into the Bible." I love Brother Ham and doubt neither his sincerity nor his expertise in the exposition of the young-earth-creationist paradigm, but his contention that those who do not hold to his view of Genesis concerning cosmological and geological time are necessarily putting the cart before the horse, as it were, is tediously argumentative.
The goal of the proponents of progressive creationism is to reconcile the calculi of certain cosmological and geological models about God's general revelation that have withstood the rigors of scientific scrutiny with the indispensable imperatives of scripture, not to impose the former in spite of the latter. For example, the leading lights of progressive creationism utterly eschew abiogenesis and evolution, as they unreservedly embrace the historicity and doctrinal necessity of a literal Garden of Eden, a literal Adam and Eve, the Fall, the death and separation of original sin, the Noahic Flood, whether the latter was geographically regional or global in scope, a literal Jonah and sea leviathan, and so on. . . .
Elementary, My Dear Watson.
The ancients, including Abraham's seed down to the Hebrews of the Exodus and the Mosaic (or Sinaitic) Covenant, like everyone else in the world before Copernicus, thought the world was flat and held to a geocentric cosmology. There's no question that the author of the Pentateuch (Moses) envisioned the flat Earth and geocentric universe of the ancient Near Eastern Raqia. Today we know that the Earth is not a flat expanse literally upheld by pillars ("the foundations of the earth") above "the waters of the deep."  Today we know that the Earth is not the center of our solar system, let alone the center of the cosmos. The Earth, humanity's home, is the theological, not the cosmological, center of God's design and purpose.

For the ancients, "the foundations of the earth," "the waters of the deep," "the flood gates of the heavens" and the like were not mere metaphoric allusions to certain terrestrial or celestial fixtures, but literary references to things as the ancients actually believed them to be.
Pause for a moment and let that sink in.
We don't conclude from these things that God's word is untrue or unreliable. Anathema! Heresy! We sensibly understand in the age of modernity that God merely revealed the works of His hands based on the terms of humanity's limited perspective, in the terminology and within the framework of the ancient's prescientific conception of things.  And besides, we also have scriptural adumbrations of a spherical Earth and a heliocentric planetary system from God's perspective in the books of Job and Isaiah, for example, centuries before the age of modern science.  
In stark contrast to modernity's astronomical arsenal of advanced mathematics and technology, the ancients had little more than their five senses with which to decipher the mysterious of the natural world. God didn't discuss Newtonian mechanics, the special and general theories of relativity or quantum physics with them. 
Why isn't young-earth creationism just another one of the "many different views . . . trying to fit man's [prescientific] ideas about" the age of things into scripture in spite of what we have since learned from scientific discovery about God's general revelation? As I see it, the young-earth creationist merely reacts to the myths of secular science, while the old-earth creationist deconstructs them with scripturally informed science. Despite the young-earth creationist's illusions, there really is no textual or doctrinal difficulties with a cosmos older than the one presumably conceived by the ancients.
Ham writes:
The reason there can be so many different views of Genesis to fit in the supposed millions of years is because none of them work! The only view that makes sense is what Genesis clearly states.
Nonsense. There are at least two alternative scenarios entailing millions of years or more for the age of God's creation, which, once again, pose absolutely no textual or doctrinal difficulties whatsoever, and one of them entails a six-twenty-four-hour-day creation scenario for the planet Earth beginning with verse 3 of the Creation Hymn on the heels of the initial celestial formulations of Gods universe! Where does "Genesis clearly state" that God's creation is only six- to ten-thousand years old? Ultimately, isn't that what Ham is insinuating when he writes "[t]he only view that makes sense"?

The fact of the matter is that Ussher's age for God's creation is not directly predicated on his calculi of the Bible's genealogy, which I examined and confirmed for my own edification years ago, but a textually debatable  presupposition that precedes it.
And why does Ham disparage the Big Bang Theory in his article? Though its calculi are in fact subject to revision in the light of new information, they're the very best we have right now from this side of heaven, and they're not discernibly at odds with scripture.  Oh wait!  They defy the young-earth creationist's estimation regarding the age of the universe.  But contrary to the claims made at, the big bang need not be reckoned as an ontologically materialistic and autonomously natural first cause of the universe at all, and God is certainly not subject to the dictates of secular science's big bang scenario regarding the subsequent geological and biological conformations of planet Earth.

Elementary, My Dear Watson.
Though the very greatest theorists from Copernicus to Newton believed the Bible and held otherwise, the regnant view for most of history and held by the denizens of secular philosophy and science was that of a static and, therefore, eternally existent universe. But the ancient Greeks were wrong, and the resurrected static universe of the post-Darwinian theorists, including Einstein, by the way, who was reluctant at first to concede his error, were refuted by the work and discoveries of the Big Bang theorists LemaƮtre, Friedmann, de Sitter and Hubble.
According to the calculi of the Big Bang Theory, the universe did have a discernible beginning and is expanding after all  . . . just like the Bible teaches.
Averse to the theological implications of a finite universe, the atheist theorists Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking have since reacted by asserting the absurdity of a cosmos that arose from nothing . . . even though a cosmological quantum vacuum would not be a metaphysical nothingness and would not resolve the problem of the infinite regression of origin (See the excerpt of the rebuttal of Ayn Rand's argument against God's existence.).

For all their undeniable mathematical genius, which flies far above and beyond my head, Krauss and Hawking are fools.
The best science concerning God's general revelation is not at odds with the teachings of God's special revelation. The best science is not some evil cabal of "man's ideas" or a collection of "compromise positions". The problem is with the pseudoscience of ontological naturalism and materialism, that is to say, the interpretation of the empirical data from a presumptuously secular perspective that eschews the existence of Providence or its direct intervention. Real science is informed by the indispensable spiritual and doctrinal motifs of scripture; and the Creation Hymn, in and of itself, is not the static, prescientific cosmology of the ancients, but the living revelation of God.
The duration of time that passed from the moment of the universe's beginning to the end of the period of time that "the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep" is indeterminable from scripture, and it's not clear that the six days of creation were literal 24-hour days or even of equal duration, at least not prior to the revelation of the sun and the moon on the fourth day.  I'm not absolutely certain about the varies dispensations of time because I wasn't there. 
And so what? 

I'm not God.

Though the information provided on, which I highly recommend to all, about any number of vitally important questions has much to recommend it, for example, the site's excellent exegesis on the propagation of early humanity ("Cain's Wife—Who Was She?"),  Brother Ham makes mountains out of molehills in this instance and vainly imagines that his six-to-ten-thousand-year-old cosmos is the "certain sound" of an impeccable unity that would decisively settle "a major problem that has plagued the church from the 1800s to our modern era".


And to what end exactly?

I would rather that we dispassionately agreed to disagree about such relatively minor curiosities as we united around the banner of "Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).  And as for the actual "compromise [that] has been highly destructive to the church in regard to biblical authority" and "has greatly contributed to the decline of the church in America, including the exodus of so many young people from the church" precisely as secular progressives intended all along: let us passionately confront the judiciary's outrage of raising the dogma of secular humanism to ecclesiastical heights in America's public education system in violation of the imperatives of natural and constitutional law (See "Revisions and Divisions".).  Let there be a mass exodus from the state's "church" and a demand for universal school choice.  But most of all, let us pray for revival and the souls of the lost as we shout the Good News from the rooftops.

In the meantime, what I do know for certain is that there were six historical days of creation that appear to have begun after the initial formulations of the cosmos and that God, constrained by absolutely nothing but the designs of His will and without the processes of chemical or speciational evolution, directly made/ordained everything else in the exact order that scripture specifies.
God said, "Let there be," and there was. And God saw that it was good.

Despite the inferences of some, I see absolutely nothing in the best of science that falsifies a six-twenty-four-hour-day period of creation after the initial formulations of the cosmos. On the other hand, I see nothing in scripture that necessarily prohibits a dispensational rendering for the days of creation of a varying duration for complex reasons that are beyond the scope of this rebuttal. In the face of certain cosmological and geological evidence, erring on the side of caution somewhere in between is not the stuff of intellectual chaos, but the stuff of a sober and rigorously integrated assessment.
Folks don't actually reject the authority of God's word because of any controversies over the duration of cosmological or geological periods of time. That's just another cop out that won't hold water before the judgment seat of Christ. Folks reject the authority of God's word and the soteriological work of Christ because they "hold the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18) and would rather be carried away by the naturalism and materialism that is of the spirit of this world than by the love of God, as the latter would command their humility and obedience. What matters is an allegiance to the unimpeachable historicity of biblical events and the foundational doctrines of original sin and redemption, the sacrificial love of Christ, salvation by faith in accordance with the undeserved grace of God, the divinity of Christ, the Trinity and so on . . . not the minutia of grand events that have yet to be fully revealed or explained.
Frankly, it's of no major concern to me what folks believe about the age of the cosmos or about the duration of the days of creation. My only interest here is to point out the doctrinal actualities that do matter and the actual nature of the error that muddles the perceptions and cognitive processes of secular science: ontological naturalism and materialism.
Whatever the respective durations of time may actually be in God's awesome and staggeringly complex creation: "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4).

No comments: