Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 4

What about arguments for God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We get to part 4 and really, I was hoping for something substantial, but no. It never came. The more I read Bradley, the more I just see a fundamentalist going on a rant clutching at anything that justifies his position. It honestly gets tiresome after some time.

At any rate, let’s get into the chapter.

This one is about arguments for God’s existence. He starts with a quote from Peter Van Inwagen who says that he doesn’t find the arguments really convincing and needs the help of the Holy Spirit to believe them. Bradley thinks this is telling. Yes. It’s telling that Bradley thinks one philosopher out there, assuming he is being quoted accurately, speaks for all of us.

The first argument Bradley looks at is the ontological argument. This is one I do not use and do not think works, but even still, Bradley gets it wrong. Bradley does say that the argument doesn’t get us to any of the revealed faiths. No one ever thought it did. Bradley faults these arguments for not doing what they were never meant to do.

We get to the Cosmological argument and Bradley says the simplest of all forms of the argument starts with “Everything that exists has a cause.”

I can mentally see many of my apologist friends out there groaning. No great defender of the argument has ever used something like this before. I know some ignorant people might use such a weak argument, but Bradley needs to deal with the professionals here and not the laymen. He remembers his mother using this and asking the obvious question back of “What caused God?” It’s a shame Bradley still seems stuck on that part.

One argument Bradley brings here is that if everything has a cause, then God is the cause of evil. However, this does not work as God is not the direct cause of evil. God is the cause of free will so God does create the potential for evil to happen, but not the actualization of it. We and fallen angels are the ones who do that. More will be said on this in a chapter on evil.

There is a lot of material on scientific arguments. This is Craig’s version of the argument and not mine. A classical Thomistic argument does not rely on science, but on metaphysics. You won’t find Bradley interacting with that. Bradley will ask about why the final cause has to be God? Why not just some really powerful superbeing in another universe? Why not any other number of beings? Aquinas’s argument answers this. If it has any capacity for motion, any potential whatsoever, then it is not the final cause. I really don’t think I can explain matters better than Feser, who can be read here. Anyone who wants to defend or critique the cosmological argument should read this anyway.

He then goes on to the design argument, which I do not use the modern form of that one. However, he does say evolution is anathema to this. I do not see why this would be the case. Could it not be that evolution could be the way God brings about His intelligent design of His creatures?

When talking about abiogenesis, he compares this to conception and talks about the large number of chemicals and such that must come together to form a life. Therefore, conception is all about chance. Right? Surely no creationist would accept this. To say all conception is purely chance is just as ridiculous then to say that abiogenesis is chance.

Yes. No creationist would accept this because it is highly inaccurate. There just happens to be a system built up that is meant to produce just this result. Not only that, Christians and Jews could easily say the Psalms say that we are formed in our mother’s womb. Having a method that is used to bring this about does not change that.

This gets me to another problem that many skeptics produce. They will often ask “How did God do XYZ?” Then when a scientific way is shown that XYZ could come about, it automatically becomes, “See? God didn’t do it!” Either God does it fiat, which would not likely leave evidence behind, or God just didn’t do it. If you are someone who doesn’t believe God can use instrumental causes, that’s your problem, but how you interpret Psalm 139 is up to you then.

To get back to the argument though, Bradley says abiogenesis is not by chance, but ultimately if there is no guiding hand, I don’t see how you can avoid this. Now a evolutionary creationist an,d every other creationist for that matter, would agree that chance alone cannot bring about life. For the atheist, it has to be the case.

He then goes on to the fine-tuning argument. Now again, I do not use this argument because I do not use scientific arguments. I am not a scientist. However, Bradley asks how it can be fine-tuning if God brings about numerous events in the origin of the universe and the planet to bring about life.

Well, it is called fine-tuning for a reason. I don’t see how this is a problem.

He also asks about the idea that if we have these ways this could come about, God is not needed. Unfortunately for him, as a Thomist, I say right at the start based on that system that if there is no God, there is no existing and really, I think you need something to exist in order for life to come about that way. That might be just me, but that’s my position.

Finally, I would also need to speak on who designed the designer? Again, I do not hold to ID arguments, but this is just a bad argument. It was bad when Dawkins used it and it’s still a bad one now. You can find my argument against it here.

So again, I find these arguments extremely lacking.

Next time, we’ll look at another chapter.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 1: Politely Rejecting the Bible

What do I think of Dan Kapr’s open? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I saw this book while browsing through my Facebook feed and seeing as it was cheap on Kindle, and still is, I decided to get it. The book says it is by a former seminarian who came to see the Bible in a light that showed it was not a perfect revelation from God. Well, if the guy wants to invest in it, other people could be reading it, so I might as well give my own insights here.

First, thus far, I do not see any of the angry atheist diatribes. While that is refreshing, at the same time, the read is pretty boring. For one thing, the writing comes across as patronizing with the writer wanting to explain everything in detail. Of course, that could be a problem on my end since too many people today do need to have details about something like this explained in great detail.

Second, it’s not a shock to see that this is largely about inerrancy. With an update of Defining Inerrancy in the works, this is a topic I have written about and have great interest in. It’s not a shock that this comes out often as a cause for people abandoning Christianity. This is not to say inerrancy is false, but it is made too much of an emphasis such as some people walk away thinking if there is one contradiction in the Bible, then absolutely nothing in it is true. (Oddly, it seems an idea like “Do not murder” is still true.)

At the same time, Kapr does at least admit that fundamentalism exists on both sides of the spectrum so that there are fundamentalist atheists. These would be the people who say if there is one error, then everything is false. Of course, that’s just one example of fundamentalist atheism. One problem though is that Kapr seems to imply that fundamentalism is the same as anti-intellectual.

Say what you will about the fundamentalists, it doesn’t mean that they were anti-intellectual. They were simply wanting to return to the fundamentals. Kapr is also right when he points out that evolution wasn’t even seen as a defeater for Christianity and Scripture with someone such as B.B. Warfield (aka Mr. Inerrancy) not having a problem with evolution.

Kapr is also right that inerrancy is not a modern doctrine. Now certain understandings of it can be modern, but not the doctrine itself. It’s also true that you can be a Christian and reject biblical inerrancy. Talk is made of inspiration, which I agree it is not a well-defined term and I tend to not talk about it. After all, I want to emphasize the text is true. Suppose the text is true and also inspired. Does that mean it’s more true? No. It’s hard to say even what it does add.

I plan to go through this chapter by chapter over the next few weeks. For this first one, there isn’t much to say. In all honesty, it was a bit of a boring read for me as a lot of it was old hat stuff, but we’ll see if something interesting comes up ahead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Three Views on Creation and Evolution Conclusion

What are my final thoughts? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So having reached the end, I want to lay out some thoughts on the matter. While I have my views, I want to focus on what I think we should agree on. All of what I say will be that which I think should be agreed on by all Christians in the debate.

First, whatever is shown to be true by science and Scripture should be accepted. Christians should have no problem with whatever method God chose to use. If the evidence showed He used evolution to create, then we accept that. If we find evidence that shows that the Earth is much younger than we thought, then we accept that.

If we hold to inerrancy, this should not be a problem. We would realize that if Scripture is true then whatever is shown by science will align with it. To say otherwise is to keep going on with the outdated conflict hypothesis.

Second, we should not try to fill in gaps with God. When the medieval scientists did their work, they were filling in gaps of knowledge and thought by explaining more, they were giving more glory to God. They were discovering how the creator chose to work and tended to want to use materialistic explanations. They really did not do appeal to miracle.

If we put God in as just someone to stop a gap, then we have a very different view of God. We often have it that we think the universe can exist just fine on its own and is not dependent in any way on God, despite Scripture regularly telling us otherwise. This is where we get to the internet atheist idea that if evolution is true, God is out of a job. This is itself a theology that does hold that the universe can exist on its own. How it exists needs to be answered.

Third, that doesn’t mean there could never be gaps where miracles could occur, but a miracle should not be occurred to just because there is a gap in knowledge. I would think we would need some indication from Scripture that a miracle took place and a problem clearly insurmountable by materialistic means. Unfortunately, no one will agree entirely on what that means, which means it is part of the debate.

Fourth, we need to stop telling everyone why they’re holding the positions that they hold unless they say otherwise. Atheists will tell Christians they hold their views for a fear of death, for example. Christians will tell atheists they just want to live in sin. Now in some cases, this could be true, but we need to realize that saying that doesn’t deal with the arguments.

Meanwhile, between us, something I saw in the book was various appeals to why someone held their view and the reasons were never good. It was a psychological motive that the other person would always deny. No matter who is doing this, it doesn’t help our debate any.

Fifth, we need to realize there are going to be gaps in our knowledge always no matter our viewpoint. I said I would have some of my own questions for evolution and here is a big one I wonder about. I wonder how sexual reproduction came about. I can understand single-celled organisms reproducing by themselves. It sounds like a complex process, but that is within onesself.

I have a hard time understanding how through small incremental steps a system evolved between the two sexes in species where they would reproduce in such a method. I would be willing to accept that this is just an unknown at the time, but for me, it is a big unknown. That brings me to my next point to discuss.

Sixth, either way, we definitely have to avoid making people think, no matter their worldview, that they must choose between Christianity and science. When atheists tell Christians they have to accept either evolution or Christianity, a great many will choose Christianity because it gives them greater benefits in their lives and sadly will become hostile to science and not make great contributions that they could make.

Christians, meanwhile, will not reach atheists if they say it has to be one or the other. This should be seen as an in-house debate. Whatever one thinks of evolutionary creationism, I really don’t think it should be labeled a heresy. Heresy is a very serious charge that puts someone outside of salvation.

Ultimately, perhaps we should all just listen to one another more. Instead of saying why we think the other person believes X, let them tell us why they believe it. What is their evidence? Maybe we should then respond to that.

I would like to see this debate get along better and have us realize we are Christians debating an issue that is really secondary. We all unite on Jesus, which is the most important aspect.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 3: Three Views on Creation and Evolution

What do I think of Howard Van Till’s view? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This chapter is easily the longest one in the book, and that’s understandable. Van Till is taking on a position that is seen as a negative in much of the Christian community. There are too many times when a Christian says that they are open to evolution and immediately the hounds of heresy come out ready to devour.

So let’s get some positives.

First off, I fully agree with this aspect of Van Till’s essay. We don’t need to make it the point to anyone that they have to choose either evolution or Christianity. That does harm both ways. An atheist who is convinced by science, rightly or wrongly, that evolution is true, but is told he has to abandon that to become a Christian is not going to be able to easily do this.

For the Christian, if they see evidence that convinces them that evolution is true, rightly or wrongly, they could be ready then to abandon Christianity. This is especially so if we don’t give them reasons for thinking Christianity is true other than their emotional feelings. Now add in also that for young people in college, they could be more easily tempted to give in to strong sexual desire and have more emphasis to abandon Christianity.

The focus of Christianity is not creation. It is Jesus. I would rather have someone have the wrong view of creation and the right view of Jesus, rather than have the right view of creation, such as a Jewish person who treats the Old Testament like Scripture, and is wrong on Jesus.

Second, I appreciate his points on supposed gaps that we sometimes seem to want to see in evangelicalism. We often give the impression that the more questions science answers, the more God is out of a job, but what a poor view of God for both the Christian and the atheist. A God who is just a stopgap? Both the atheist and Christian have poor theology and yes, every atheist has a theology. They have a doctrine of the deity or deities they don’t believe.

Van Till says that a universe that has all of this seamlessness needs its own explanation. Something I notice in the book is I can’t remember one time Aquinas is cited. For Aquinas, the idea of sustaining of the universe would be essential to him. The existence of God is shown by something as simple as change in the universe.

I also appreciate that Van Till did spend some time in Genesis. I think he spent more than the others, but again, I wish he had spent a lot more. He did stress the importance of taking the text seriously.

Some negatives here?

I would have liked to have seen more of the evidence of evolution that he finds convincing, rightly or wrongly again. I do grant though that for those of us who are not scientifically minded, this could be difficult. We more often just hear that the majority, even Christian biologists, accept evolution, and this could be true, but I want to know why they do.

Second, I want to know how prayer works in his world. Van Till believes in miracles, but he doesn’t seem to explain them. What are we wanting God to do? Van Till can sometimes make God be too transcendent just as his opponents can overemphasize immanence.

Third, I would like to have had something explained about the soul in creation. How does man get one? Now it could be that Van Till holds to anthropological monism. Okay. Say that then. If he doesn’t, then explain what does happen.

Overall though, I think Christians need to listen to this position and don’t have the hounds of heresy come out. Making a war of science and religion only hurts both sides. These need to be viewed as allies and not as enemies and anyone who says they are enemies is doing a disservice to both. I am sure that is not the intention of many, but that is often the effect.

Next time, I plan to give some concluding thoughts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Part 2 — Three Views on Creation and Evolution — OEC

What do I think of Robert Newman’s view of Old-Earth creationism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Regular readers of the blog know I’m someone who is on the fence in a way between Old-Earth Creationism and Fully Gifted Creationism, OEC and FGC respectively, using the latter term as that is the term used in part three and I wish to be respectful to the one who uses it. I have some qualms about what evolution can explain, but if I was convinced it was true, it would not change my interpretation of Scripture or my beliefs about Jesus.

Thus, when I read Newman’s essay, I found much that i agreed with. I saw that he wants to be faithful both to Scripture and science. Regularly, it is said that if we are handling both correctly, they will agree. This should be a statement that all three camps in the debate should be able to agree to.

I did like that he paid some attention to Genesis 1-2, but sadly again, not much. Now I realize the book is about creation and evolution and not necessarily Genesis, but if you’re talking about Christians, you eventually do have to get to Genesis if you’re talking about creation. Howard Van Till in part three will spend the most time on this, but again, he is sorely lacking in spending a lot of time on it.

One major point of disagreement I had with Newman, however, is that in his chapter he talked about how he gets concerned when some Christians say the Bible does not have anything to say to us about science. Well, maybe it does. But then again, maybe it doesn’t. Why should I go to the text assuming that it wants to answer modern science questions any more than I should go to it to get a strategy guide for the latest video game or learn how to do algebra?

Now I realize that seems a bit playful. After all, video games and algebra weren’t really in practice when the Bible was written, but yet in the same way, modern science as we know it wasn’t being practiced. Why should I think that Genesis is trying to give me a scientific account? It could be that it is, but that needs to be argued and not assumed. We have often thought some places in Scripture were giving scientific accounts and it has not ended well.

Newman’s repliers seemed to be friendly to him and briefly, this is something I had a problem with in this book. It seemed that most every reply was from someone who held to the OEC position. J.P. Moreland was a lone exception who holds to it, but admitted that he sometimes thinks YECs have a good case. I would have either liked to have had the writers reply to each other, or else had a Christian who was YEC, one who was OEC, and one who was FGC all replying. The problem was you have four replies and all seem to come from the same camp.

Overall, I don’t have much to say about Newman’s essay as I agreed with a good deal of it. For me, the question of whether evolution happened or not is a non-question and that will be covered more in part three where I do plan on giving some ideas that do give me qualms still about being willing to sign on the dotted line. At the same time, I realize I am approaching this as a non-scientist and there is only so much time to study any given field. I like to admire it as an outsider, but I don’t take parts in debates of science as science. The history and philosophy I will do, but not the data itself.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge Part 1: Three Views On Creation and Evolution — YEC

What do I think of the argument presented here for YEC? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am going through the book Three Views on Creation and Evolution and the YEC position is the first one. This one is done by John Mark Reynolds and Paul Nelson. Readers of this blog know I move somewhere between OEC and evolutionary creationism. For this part, I am only commenting on the chapter of Nelson and Reynolds (N&R from now on). I might say something on the responses to their essay and their response to the responses. Time will tell.

So let’s start with the positives.

I do appreciate that there doesn’t seem to be dogmatism on the part of N&R. They do condemn any name-calling on any side of the debate, even on their own. They also do admit that there are problems with their viewpoint that need further exploration and they emphasize scientific exploration.

I also definitely agree with them that science should be open. Too many times, naturalistic assumptions that are simply bad philosophy can impede research. Whatever happened, it must not be XYZ after all, because that could lead to theistic claims. This was something that happened when science started to conclude that the universe had a beginning.

That having been said, there were a number of problems in their essay that in some ways left me surprised. Let’s go over them.

For one thing, I was surprised with how little argument there was on the main subject matter. It’s only towards the end of a long essay that they start making an argument for their position. Unfortunately, their argument was simply going with what they called a plain reading and nothing about the scientific arguments that they could use and no interaction that I recall with the contrary position.

Now my problem with a plain reading is, plain to who? Why assume that the question that a 21st century American brings to the text is the one that the text itself is addressing? It could be that the author was writing to address scientific questions, but that needs to be argued and not assumed.

If anything, I would be extra cautious about reading the Bible as a scientific text since the people it was written to did not think in those terms. These were not people who were going out and doing experiments, not because they would necessarily oppose that, but more because they were often just trying to survive. Science really got going when we had developed enough agricultural means that we didn’t have to work as long for food.

Many times when a text has been read scientifically, it has led to embarrassment since the text was never meant to be that way. Let’s consider how the text tells us to love the Lord with all our hearts. Now we could say “This makes no sense. The heart is not an organ of love, but it is one of pumping the blood throughout the body and keeping it functioning.” Yes. We know that today, but even still, we often use that expression. There needs to be a reason given as to why one should think the text is speaking scientifically.

Second, the writers seem to have a problem with secondary means. Psalm 139 tells me I was knit together in my mother’s womb. However, everyone would also know that was a nine-month process. God can be behind something and it be a process as well.

Third, there were too many false assumptions on the part of N&R. When they spoke about theistic evolutionists, they often said that they cannot allow an act of God in any way into their system. Unfortunately, I know a number of TE’s who would have no problem with that. TE’s who are Christian do hold to miracles after all, such as the resurrection of Jesus.

When I saw a statement like that on their part, I wound up getting dismissive. If you are presenting a case and claiming your opponents believe or know X, you’d better make sure they do. I’ve had a number of atheists tell me that I know XYZ, when I know no such thing.

I also thought they were too dismissive of ideas such as God sustaining the universe. It was presented as if to say “What does this even mean?” and then it was not really discussed. For me, God’s sustaining of the universe is something incredible that shows how active He is in the universe. Elihu told Job that if God removed His breath, all life would perish.

God’s sustaining the universe means right now, everything you and I do depends on Him. It means that the universe doesn’t exist on its own, which is something that I think is a problem for materialism. Existence is treated as if it’s a brute fact. Yes. The universe exists. How? It just does. What does it mean to exist? Why do you ask such stupid questions?

By giving up this ground, I fear N&R have conceded too much to atheism with this position. Very few people today seem to have a doctrine of existence. Atheists often want to ask if God exists without first asking what it means to exist.

Finally, N&R gave the sound of one hand clapping. I get that they do not agree with other positions, but they needed to seriously interact with them. I did not see this take place.

The next chapter will be on Old-Earth creationism.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Why The Genetic Fallacy Matters

Does where that idea came from matter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On Facebook in the span of 24 hours, I have seen two posts arguing against evolution making the exact same mistake. The first one was claiming that Darwin was a member of a Masonic lodge and was involved with Luciferian practices. The other one was claiming that evolution was used in the history of racism. Now you should know that my stance is to neither argue for or against evolution. I’m not a scientist. However, I am opposed to bad arguments. That includes bad arguments against positions I oppose, such as when I have worked to take to task conservative memes against liberals here that are based on falsehoods.

This is simply called the genetic fallacy. It says nothing about the position itself. Let’s suppose that Adam Smith, who is considered the father of capitalism, was a colossal jerk to everyone he met. That would not change anything about capitalism whatsoever. I have a friend who considers Marx the most wicked man who ever lived. Even if that is true, that says nothing about Communism being true or false.

Now with the claims we have here, I am extremely skeptical of the former claim, but I am open to the latter. I have seen some writings that lead me to think that there was some racism involved in Darwin. There are some people who also think this was involved in the holocaust of Hitler. That is a question for historians of science and World War II to discuss. For the worst case scenario, I will grant that these claims are true.

None of this says anything about evolution being true or false. It makes no difference. If you are a Christian sharing these arguments, you are not doing our side any favors whatsoever. If anything, you are further embarrassing us. I don’t doubt you mean well. I don’t doubt you do this out of zeal for Christ. However, Paul warned us in Romans about a zeal that is not in accordance with knowledge.

If you want to argue against evolution, and I have no problem if you do because if it can be shown to be bad science, we should reject it, then you are going to have to argue against it on scientific grounds. Let’s consider some parallels in our own field of interest.

I am not a KJV-onlyist, but I have heard claims before that King James who was behind the KJV was a homosexual known as a flaming queen. Let’s suppose that was true. What does that say about evolution? Absolutely nothing. The KJV will have to be critiqued on the grounds of the translation.

Recently, we have had the Ravi Zacharias scandal break out. I understand people not wanting to use Ravi’s material and books anymore. That is a matter of wisdom. That being said, let’s consider the arguments. Are they false because Ravi turned out to be a pervert? Not at all.

I consider myself to be a Thomist and a Protestant. Are you going to refute Thomism by telling me that he was a Roman Catholic? Not a bit. Is Aristotle disproven just because he didn’t use the Bible? Not at all.

Mark is portrayed in Acts as a Momma’s Boy who left the team of Paul and Barnabas early and caused a division between the church’s two first great missionaries. Does this mean his Gospel is not reliable? Not a bit.

The only time pointing to the character of the person matters is if the claim is centered around the reputation of the person involved. If a person is testifying to something in a court of law that they have seen and it can be shown that the person is a compulsive liar, for example, then you have grounds to doubt their testimony. Outside of that, none whatsoever.

As I said each time this came up, let’s suppose Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, was a complete jerk. Let’s suppose he was a satanist who molested children and ate cats for breakfast. None of this is true, of course. However, if it was, it would not make a difference to the residents of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The bombs still worked regardless of his character.

Please don’t make embarrassing arguments. They’re not worthy of Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Science Skepticism

Why are many of us skeptical of the reigning paradigm? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I blogged about Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage about the transgender movement. In it, I found that if anyone went against the reigning narrative in transgenderism, then they were shut down and not allowed to speak. Color me skeptical then when I hear that all the leaders in thinking on this issue in the world of science go with the movement. After all, if someone in the field who is a leader speaks and disagrees, they no longer qualify, and who knows how many others don’t speak out of fear of losing their livelihood?

Not only that, but many of us today find it absurd to say that the reality of male and female which has been attested to since as long as man has been around, is suddenly no longer real based on that science of the day. It would make as much sense as science telling us that rape is not wrong. It would be like telling me that blue is really red.

This doesn’t help in other areas either as we naturally then have skepticism there. Some of these beliefs that are held to be mainstream could be true. Some could not. The most obvious case upfront is evolution. I am someone who does not care about evolution one way or another, but I do understand the skepticism that many of my fellow believers have.

It’s important to notice also that another reason for that skepticism is many Christians get the idea that the matter in science is either/or. You can either keep your belief in God or have belief in science on these issues. For many people, the idea of God is a greater reality to them than the idea of thought that has shown up only recently. In their minds, they have firsthand knowledge of what all God has done for them.

By the way, it doesn’t help when it goes the other way either. It doesn’t help when Christians tell atheists that they have to disbelieve in evolution or some other scientific idea in order to be a Christian. The first step in being a Christian is believing that Jesus died and rose again for your sins. If one has other false beliefs, which they will have and do have, then work on those beliefs later.

Climate change is another one. I can remember a time in my day when the fear was that there would be an ice age that would come upon us all. I am forty years old which means it was not too long ago and yet, that was the science. Today, I am told the exact opposite. Not only that, I am told the measures I have to take to stop this are rather extreme. Consider also that since I believe God won’t let the planet be destroyed this way, I am skeptical.

I am reading a book right now on the Coronavirus panic that echoes many of my thoughts. There was one time I was majorly concerned about it, but it lasted only a day and got help after talking to some knowledgeable friends. Other than that, I have seen a lot of hysteria, but you dare not question the paradigm. After all, if you do that, you don’t really care about the other people do you? This, despite the fact that my concern is those other people have jobs and they need to be able to provide for their families and we’re not helping by keeping them from doing that.

This also can show up in other fields, such as in history. Today, many schoolchildren grow up believing that Columbus sailed to show the Earth was not flat. That’s what I grew up being taught. That’s a complete myth. Many atheists talk about the Inquisition as if it wiped out half of Europe. That’s also a myth.

The difference with the science is we are often told that if anything is true, it must be able to be scientifically demonstrated. Whatever the science shows, this kind of idea is nonsense. Not everything can be scientifically demonstrated. These scientific ideas also, lo and behold, often seem to be tied to the political paradigm of the day as well. Isn’t that convenient?

If anything, I find it amazing that the people I meet who claim to be skeptics are the ones who are least skeptical in these areas. Whatever the reigning paradigm is, they jump right on board with it immediately. The questions that those on the outside have, well those are the questions of the ignorant masses and they’re not really worth taking seriously.

Which cases are wrong and right in science? Not mine to decide. Some I think are definitely inaccurate, such as the transgender movement. Others, I could not speak authoritatively one way or the other, though I have my skepticism of them. Those on that side need to instead of shouting down the skeptics (And this applies to Christians also when we encounter skeptics of Christianity) need to be able to hear our very real questions and concerns and be able to reply. Shutting down the other side for speaking differently never changes their minds. As a recent example, I seriously doubt any conservatives changed their mind on politics just because the Parler app went down. If anything, that only makes our concerns look more plausible. Keep one side from talking, and it looks like the side in charge has something to hide after all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Retrieving Augustine’s Doctrine of Creation

What do I think of Gavin Ortlund’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Gavin Ortlund is a pastor and a scholar.

Yeah. I know. I didn’t realize that was legal either. Pastors can actually be well-educated and write scholarly books?

Thank God they can and we need more like that. This book is on Augustine and his doctrine of creation. What can we learn from him on this? After all, he did not know about Darwin and the theory of evolution. He did not know about what modern science says about the age of the Earth. He did not know about Einstein and cosmology. We also have about 1,400 years of biblical exegesis on him now.

If we think we cannot, we miss out. As Ortlund tells us, Augustine’s time was a different time and they had different issues and debates going on which can cause them to see our issues and debates in a new light. Imagine a table where you have Francis Collins from BioLogos, Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe, and Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis all sitting together debating creation. Augustine comes and joins them. What will he add to the conversation? What will he take away from it?

Let’s start with one of the first lessons he can teach everyone at the table. Humility. Augustine did hold strongly to his positions, but when he wrote, he also said “This position that I disagree with now could be right.” He is not dogmatic in his stances and does not hold only one position on the matter of creation as the Christian position. While we debate how long it took, many might be surprised to hear what Augustine would say. Young-earthers sometimes ask old-earthers about God taking so long to create. Augustine would say the same to young-earthers since he held that creation was instantaneous and Anselm even said that was the most common view in his time years later.

The first lesson that Augustine would want to teach us I think is that we need humility to be able to listen instead of just try to respond. What are the concerns of the intellectual opponents. Why do they hold their position? Should we really be calling their faith into question over this topic? You cannot tell someone’s commitment to Christ solely based on how they answer questions on evolution or the age of the Earth.

Augustine could also tell us a lot about the literal interpretation of Genesis. He wrote a book called that and yet we today would not think his interpretations are very literal. He’s got figurative and allegorical meanings in his understanding of creation. Yet despite this, he also does pay attention to the historical matters in the book. He does tend to want to take it to be historical, but his main concern is how we see the Scriptures. Augustine would have more understanding to someone who takes the passages in a figurative or allegorical sense and yet holds to inerrancy than one who rejects them because he thinks they don’t cohere with modern science and that the Bible just got it wrong thinking the Bible requires one interpretation.

What about animal death? This is a big one and we can be tempted to think that modern science again has caused many people to think animal death was going on before the Fall and Augustine would be unfamiliar with that debate. We would be inaccurate. Augustine spoke about animal predation. He would tell us it’s unwise for us to critique the design of the universe in this area like it would be unwise for a layman to go into an engineer’s office and see many of the tools and be critical not knowing what the tools represent.

For Augustine, creation is a key doctrine and the one that gets him the most enthralled quite likely. He has endless praise for even the simple worm. He does see something beautiful in even predation. The way the system works together is amazing as he says old life needs to pass away to make room for new life. Augustine also lived in a time before the world was touched by Disney. We can automatically think hunting is evil after hearing the story of Bambi after all.

The chapter on evolution is wonderfully named. Can we evolve on evolution without falling on the fall? This chapter deals with how we should see evolution. Ortlund doesn’t take any side in this actually, but he says many of the debates aren’t new. For this one, it usually comes down to the historical Adam and there are evolutionary creationists who think Adam is historical.

Yet even before the coming of Darwin, many interpreters of Genesis were suggesting that Adam was not the only human being on Earth. When the story of Adam and Eve took place, there were other humans there. This explains where Cain got his wife, Cain building a city for inhabitants, and the avoidance of inbreeding to bring about new people.

I am not saying this is what Ortlund says happened as he admits he doesn’t know enough of the science to comment, but I think he just wants us to be more open. Even if we can’t agree in dialogue, is there a way we can have better dialogues? If all three organizations could meet at the table, have a heated debate, and in the end shake hands and leave as fellow Christians and friends though still disagreeing, I think Ortlund would be pleased and even more, I think Augustine would as well.

Those interested in the debate about creation and evolution and Genesis should read this book. Again, I think the main lesson to learn is humility. Reading Augustine could cause us to look with new eyes at creation.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/14/2020

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

One of the questions a parent often dreads hearing from their child is “Where did I come from?” or just the general “Where do babies come from?” It’s a good question, but the really hard question is how do you answer it on a more universal scale. Where does humanity come from? Many people turn to Genesis.

And then the debate begins.

How old is the Earth? Were Adam and Eve real people? Was there death before the Fall? What was the serpent in the garden? Where did Cain get his wife? How did the first humans live hundreds of years as said in Genesis 5? Who were the sons of God? What about the flood? What about the Tower of Babel?

And you thought the first questions kids ask were awkward.

Fortunately, there are those who have addressed these concepts that sadly divide Christians today. While we can be sure the debate will by no means be settled, we can learn what we can and be informed in our own opinions and in what others think. There is a pair that have written the book Origins to discuss this passage, and one of them is on my show Saturday. His name is Douglas Jacoby.

So who is he?

Douglas Jacoby is an international Bible teacher. After serving as a minister on church staff for 20 years, in London, Birmingham, Sydney, Stockholm, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Washington DC, Douglas has worked as a freelance teacher and consultant. He has engaged in a number of debates with well-known atheists, imams, and rabbis. Douglas is also an adjunct professor of theology at Lincoln Christian University. Since the late ’90s, Douglas has led annual tours to the biblical world.

With degrees from Drew, Harvard, and Duke, Douglas has written over 30 books, recorded nearly 800 podcasts, and spoken in over 100 universities, and in over 500 cities, in 126 nations around the world. The Jacobys have three adult children. Douglas and his wife, Vicki, reside in the Atlanta area.

We’re almost caught up on back episodes. I hope before too long we’ll have all of those up. I’m also actively working on getting the show to be able to be done live. I hope that will make it even better as people can submit their questions during an interview. Please be watching your podcast feed!

In Christ,
Nick Peters