Deeper Waters Podcast 12/2/2017: Old-Earth vs Evolution

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many Christians do agree today that the Earth is old, but then they hit an impasse. What about evolution then? It does seem to be the reigning theory and there are a lot of Christians that hold to it, but is that really what the science shows and how does that mesh with Scripture? Christians who aren’t scientifically informed can be confused.

Recently, the book Old Earth Or Evolutionary Creation was published. It was edited by Kenneth Keathley and J.B. Stump. I got a copy of the book and when I finished it figured the discussion should continue. Since the dialogue was between Biologos and Reasons To Believe, I spoke to both ministries to get representatives to come on to talk about the book. Kenneth Keathley as well is coming on. J.B. Stump is coming from Biologos and from Reasons to Believe we have Fuz Rana.

So who are they?

Kenneth Keathley

According to his bio:

Ken Keathley is Senior Professor of Theology and the Jesse Hendley Chair of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina where he has been teaching since 2006. He also directs the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, a center that seeks to engage culture, present and defend the Christian Faith, and explore its implications for all areas of life. He is the co-author of 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution (Kregel, November 2014) and co-editor of Old Earth or Evolutionary Creation?: Discussing Origins with Reasons to Believe and BioLogos (IVP, July 2017).  Ken and his wife Penny have been married since 1980, live in Wake Forest, NC and are members of North Wake Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  They have a son and daughter, both married, and four grandchildren.

Jim Stump

Jim Stump is Senior Editor at BioLogos. As such he oversees the development of new content and curates existing content for the website and print materials. Jim has a PhD in philosophy from Boston University and was formerly a philosophy professor and academic administrator. He has authored Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017) and edited Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Zondervan 2017). Other books he has co-authored or co-edited include: Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction (Routledge, 2010, 2016), The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), How I Changed My Mind About Evolution (InterVarsity, 2016), and Old Earth or Evolutionary Creation: Discussing Origins with Reasons to Believe and BioLogos (InterVarsity, 2017).

And Fuz Rana

Fazale Rana is the vice president of research and apologetics at Reasons to Believe. He is the author of several groundbreaking books, including Who Was Adam, Creating Life in the Lab, The Cell’s Design and Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth. He holds a PhD in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry from Ohio University.

I hope you’ll be listening to this episode as we discuss science and theology and how it all comes together. What is the evidence for evolution? How should one interpret Scripture? What is the relationship between faith and science? Please be looking for the next episode and consider leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Old Earth or Evolutionary Creation?

What do I think of this book edited by Kenneth Keathley, J.B. Stump, Joe Aguirre, and published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you want to see chaos break out on Facebook, just join a discussion with Christians and ask how old the Earth is. Before too long, you’ll find a lot of bickering going on, but sadly very little listening. While this book is not about the age of the Earth, as both sides hold to an old Earth, it is about a contentious topic, but thankfully, you will not find bickering, but you will find listening dialogue back and forth.

In this book, representatives from Reasons To Believe, a leading old-earth creationist ministry, and Biologos, a leading evolutionary creation ministry, join together with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to discuss issues related to evolution and origins. The SBC representative will ask a question. Both organizations will have their own representative respond with an essay. The SBC leader will then comment on the essays and ask questions to both. Both will respond and possibly respond to what the other side said. Then the SBC representative comes back and gives his final analysis.

Skipped is information that is agreed on by both sides. Instead, what is discussed is what is not agreed on. This includes areas like the sciences and Scriptural interpretation. I found that in both cases, I can’t come down 100% on each side. On my own podcast, I have interviewed people from both camps. I cannot come down and say I’m an evolutionary creationist yet, although I am certainly open to it, but as for RTB, I don’t think I could sign in good faith the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, not because I disagree with inerrancy, but because I see the statement has been too badly misused.

A major criticism meanwhile of Biologos would be that too often to some people, it can seem like the science of evolution must be accepted, but a high view of Scripture is negotiable. Fortunately, it looked like the Biologos representatives in this volume did all have a high view of Scripture. Many could reject evolution if they think it means one must scrap Inerrancy or a historical Adam and Eve.

A major criticism of RTB could be that they seem to accept the majority opinion in science except with evolution. Could this be seen as picking and choosing? Could the same criticism given to YECs on science be given to an extent to RTB? This is another issue that needs to be dealt with.

The book covers 11 different topics including methodology, Adam and Eve, how God interacts with the world, and if humans are in the image of God and what that means. The exchange is informative, but at the same time easy to get lost in.

One concern I do have sometimes is with an approach that does look to be like a God-of-the-Gaps approach with evolution. If your view of God makes God to be out of a job if evolution is true, then you do have a God-of-the-Gaps. Sadly, Fuz Rana of RTB I did see fall into this trap.

If evolutionary mechanisms possess such capabilities, then believers and nonbelievers alike wonder, what role is a Creator to play? For example, evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins quipped, “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” I debated developmental biologist Paul Zachary “PZ” Myers, a well-known atheist and author of the award-winning blog Pharyngula, at North Dakota State University on Darwin Day, February 12, 2015, on the question of God’s existence. One of the key points Myers made was, in effect, evolution can explain everything in biology, so why do I need to believe in God?” (P. 129)

and

The key lesson from my interaction with Myers (and other atheists) is that to make a case for a creator and the Christian faith, it is incumbent on us to (1) distinguish our models from those that are materialistic and (2) identify places where God has intervened in life’s history. If we cannot, it is hard to convince skeptics that a creator exists. (Ibid.)

The problem I see with this is that first off, this makes the case for the existence of God dependent on the sciences. This would be news to our forerunners in the medieval period who saw God as a metaphysical reality and the arguments were metaphysical. It also I think will ultimately stop science because it says “Well if science goes too far, God is out of a job.” It doesn’t seem to see that God is the one who is behind the system entirely and keeps it help us in existence. This is really a weak god if all He does is fill in the gaps.

Consider if we applied the same to what happens in birth. We are told in the Psalms that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Does any Christian really think that because we can explain all that happens in conception and on up to birth, that God is not involved in the process and is out of a job? Is God no longer needed because we know that this comes about naturally without God miraculously creating a baby in the womb every time? Of course not.

This is the case whether or not evolution is true. If we think science can put God out of a job, then we have married our Christianity to scientific research. An atheist who says science puts God out of a job has done the same. Neither is a wise position as today’s reigning science could be in tomorrow’s cemetery. As Chesterton said, “He who marries the spirit of the age is destined to be a widow.”

The people behind this volume hope there are many more such interactions. As do I. These kinds of good and respectful discussions back and forth are what should be happening between Christians. While I am not a scientist and not an expert in the sciences, these volumes are interesting to read and I always do learn something.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Improbable Planet

What do I think of Hugh Ross’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I like Hugh Ross a lot. It could be because he and I both have Aspergers. I was thrilled then to hear from him and be offered a review copy of his book. As you can see, the title is The Improbable Planet and it’s a history of Earth from a Christian old-earth creationist perspective that is not evolutionary.

Readers of my blog know I don’t answer yes or no on science questions. When it comes to evolution, I tend to keep silent, though I am open to the idea. Therefore, as I go through this work, I am going to avoid speaking specifically on many science issues, which might seem odd, but there is more than just science.

If I grant much of what is in Ross’s book, and it is not to me to decide if it is true or not but more to the scientists, then I would say the main point of the book is to learn about providence. There are plenty of interesting concepts that one can learn about going through. For instance, I had never once heard of the Boring Billion before I read this book. This is supposed to be a time in Earth’s history when it doesn’t seem like much is going on.

Reading about matters involving the planets is always fascinating. While reading about the New Testament and apologetics is my main love in learning, there’s something intriguing about space. If I pull up an article about strange phenomena that can be seen in space, I can stay there for quite awhile looking at it. I find it mind-blowing to think of a massive mountain on Mars or an underground ocean on Europa. There is so much activity taking place in our universe as I write this right now.

Ross’s book does go into that. It goes into why there were so many billions of years spent before we showed up on the scene. Why is our solar system the way it is? How did we get the moon? Why are there so many big planets known as gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn? (One criticism is that at one point he does speak about the eight planets of our solar system. Say what you will, but I will always consider Pluto a planet.)

In fact, the portions that talk about life are brief and I would have liked to have seen more detail on that. One particular area would be dinosaurs, which most every student growing up is fascinated with. Still, there is something and reading about how powerful the asteroid was that hit that was believed to lead to the death of the dinosaurs was quite incredible.

It’s my understanding that Hugh Ross is a dispensationalist, which would make sense because there are a lot of charts and graphs in the book. Thankfully, they’re not on eschatology. Still, I do think this viewpoint of his actually leads to a disappointing ending. The whole of the book is good, but when I got to the end, I did feel a bit let down by that part.

If you’re someone who is curious about the history of Earth, this would be an interesting read. As I said, I cannot comment on the science yes or no. If anything, the main message I think to get from this book is providence. We are not an accident. God made our world the way that He made it for a reason. (This is one area where I think design arguments could work better.) If we can trust God who put so much into making this place for us, what can we not trust Him with?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/17/2015: Ken Samples

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let’s suppose you’re giving a defense of the resurrection using a minimal facts approach and you get to the appearances of Jesus. Now let’s suppose your opponent says to you “Look. I don’t doubt that the apostles were really convinced they saw something. Okay. I just don’t accept that testimony. After all, there are plenty of people who have eyewitness testimony about being abducted by aliens. If I don’t accept that, why should I accept your claim?”

What do you do?

How about find out about those alien abductions and for that, I spoke to my friends at Reasons To Believe to see if anyone wanted to come on and talk about alien abductions and the resurrection. From Reasons To Believe then comes Kenneth Samples.

Kenneth Samples Image

According to his bio:

Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin.
As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with “unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom,” driving him to seek answers to life’s big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and “finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world.” From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith.

Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he’s learned to help others find the answers to life’s questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB’s podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry’s daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe.

An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association.

The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

This Saturday then, we’ll be tackling the question. The show will only be an hour long so we won’t get to cover everything, but I hope what we will cover will help to add to your apologetics arsenal and improve your witness for Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/5/2014: Aspergers and Apologetics

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

RTB_Hugh Ross

As I hope you know, April is Autism Awareness Month. Back in January then, I set to work booking a guest to come here and talk about Aspergers for our audience. Who is that?

Get set for a good show. My guest this Saturday is Dr. Hugh Ross. Why Dr. Ross? Because Ross himself has Aspergers.

As readers of this blog know, my father-in-law is Mike Licona. Someone had told my wife and I that there were a lot of astronomers who had Aspergers. One year at an apologetics conference, Mike agreed to ask Hugh Ross for us if he knew anyone in the field who had Aspergers. The response Mike got to the question was “I have Aspergers.”

I have found some people to be surprised by this but frankly, it makes sense to me. Whether you agree or disagree with Ross, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of the areas that he talks about and definitely has an obsessive interest in them. This is something that is common in the Aspie community.

Here in fact are some of Ross’s credentials in this field.

Director of observations for Vancouver’s Royal Astronomical Society (age 17)
Recipient of a National Research Council of Canada fellowship
BSc in physics (University of British Columbia)
MSc and PhD in astronomy (University of Toronto)
Postdoctoral studies researching distant galaxies and quasars (Caltech)

Of course, Hugh Ross is also the founder and president of Reasons To Believe, a science and apologetics think tank that has a ministry dedicated to showing skeptics that science and Christianity are not incompatible and aimed at giving people reasons to believe.

Readers of the blog also know that I do not talk about science as science so I will be leaving much of that to Dr. Ross. We will for the first part of the show be talking about two of his books. These will be “Why The Universe Is The Way It Is” and “Hidden Treasures In The Book of Job.”

The second part is the part that I hope will connect with the most people and that will be when we talk about life with Aspergers and raising awareness of what it is like. I after all am one who is diagnosed with the condition as is my wife. I am not surprised when I meet other Aspies in the field of apologetics and often times, we latch onto it strongly and make it a life’s work.

If you know someone who is on the Autism spectrum or suspect you know someone, such as you are a parent of a child who you think might have autism of some sort, then please be listening to this show. I would hope the existence of this show alone would show the contributions someone can make even if they have Aspergers. In fact, I would say my Aspergers is a benefit to the work that I do, although it does have difficulties. Dr. Ross however, has achieved international prominence in his work and he has had to learn to watch himself in some ways and overcome some quirks of Aspergers. These will be talked about in the course of the show.

The show will air from 3-5 PM EST on 4/5/2014. I will open the lines for calls when we talk about autism. The call in number will be 714-242-5180. Please be listening and encourage others to listen and please remember this month to be mindful of those of us in the autism community.

The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Hidden Treasures In The Book of Job

What do I think of Hugh Ross’s book on Job? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

hiddentreasures

In Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job, Hugh Ross, astronomer as well as president and founder of Christian science and faith ministry Reasons To Believe, takes on a journey through the book of Job looking at it through the eyes of a scientist.

As I started going through the book, I think Ross could say the first lesson to learn is “Don’t write a book about Job.” Why? Because shortly after he started, he tells about great tragedies that came in his life, such as the loss of his father and of his wife’s father. Now of course, I don’t think the writing on Job causes that, but I do think that writing about Job can make you more in tune to the suffering in the world.

Ross starts off with talking about the history of the book and much of this I found interesting. For instance, I had not considered how far Job’s friends traveled to see him. The image showing this was quite revealing. I also do agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible and so I started wondering about how it would be that if Moses had a copy of Job that it influenced his writing. I cannot say for certain if I think it did or not, but I do think that this is something that is worth research by leading scholars of the OT if it has not been done already.

Also a fascinating question if this is the case would be to ask how Moses got this information. Could it be that it came from Abraham since Abraham came from near the area of Job? Could it be then that Abraham might have had some knowledge through knowing Job or his story? These are questions worth considering.

Unfortunately, on the science aspect of the book, I really can’t comment. I make it a point to not comment on science as science. If something is a good argument against evolutionary theory, I could not show it and therefore make it a point to not comment.

I also found the chapters on animals to be fascinating. I cannot say that I think there is a message specifically in the animals named or if they’re general examples used for various purposes. That would have been good to see. We are told in the book about how these animals could be used for our good, but I do not recall seeing the lessons that we were to learn from them that would have been more readily apparent to the people back then.

I also found the section on what the great animals were described in Job that many people think are dinosaurs. In these areas, I did find that Ross’s explanations were convincing.

Naturally, when it came to some ideas, I was more skeptical. When it came to places where eschatology is commented on, I did not find those persuasive seeing as Ross interprets such passages in a much more literalistic sense than I do. (Something that he has said in one of his books surprises many people)

The last chapters are about the problem of suffering and evil and here I think Ross definitely writes with a pastor’s heart. There is not much in these chapters that was really scientific, but it is more written I think with the purpose of helping people who are undergoing suffering.

Some other reviews I have found elsewhere by skeptics note that they do not find much convincing them there is a God. I think Ross writes some books for that purpose, but I do not think this is one of them. I think instead this was written more to inform Christians on the book of Job from Ross’s perspective. There are some arguments that deal with scientific matters and I’m sure they’re worth investigating if they haven’t been already.

I cannot say at this point I agree with all of Ross’s readings, but I will say there is still material in here to spark conversation. I made sure to share many of the statements about animals with my wife who happens to be an animal lover. It gave us a delightful conversation together.

Still, if someone is interested in the book of Job, there is a unique view here you probably will not find elsewhere so by all means, see what you think.

In Christ,
Nick Peters