As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.

At Synod this year I met a couple over lunch who told me they were devotees of the Creation Research Institute (CRI). CRI is an organization that advocates for a scientific understanding of a literal six-day creation that happened six to ten thousand years ago.

As we talked, I politely disagreed with them but told them I respected their convictions, which were obviously very important to them.

I’ve been thinking about that conversation. To me, as difficult as it might be, it’s a conversation we need to have in our congregations. Christianity is a faith that is based in history, fact, and reality. It’s not just some heavenly, other-worldly religion. God really visited this planet and is deeply involved in human history.

So when we talk about the Bible, we need to take into account the facts of history and reality as we know it. That means that proven and well-supported scientific findings need to be factored in on our biblical understanding. Not to do so places our faith outside of reality and is therefore dangerous.

Christians like those in CRI know that. Therefore, they support their belief in the literal creation account with their own scientific facts. For example, they contend that the worldwide flood caused the geological formations that make the planet look much older than it is. The problem is that very, very few scientists, even Christian ones, think that CRI’s “science” has any legitimacy.

We need to talk about this because most of our children and young people will, at some point, discover the science of the earth’s origins, its age, and its evolutionary patterns. Will they then have to decide between the Bible and well-documented scientific findings, or, to put it another way, between faith and the real world?

While I was at Faith Alive we received a generous grant from Biologos, an organization founded by evangelical scientist Francis Collins (now head of the National Institutes of Health and former head of the Genome Project). The grant was to produce a video companion to Faith Alive’s book Origins, a balanced look at the various views Christians have regarding issues of creation and science. (You can download the video free at http://origins.faithaliveresources.org/.)

If Christianity is about the real world of our God who is at work in history, we cannot afford ignorance of science. As the Belgic Confessions states, God reveals himself in “two books” (Art. 2): in the Bible and in the wonders of creation around us. Science is one of the tools by which we read the book of creation. We need to spend the time and effort to sift through the evidence and interpret the biblical texts in both books.

About the Author

Len Vander Zee is a retired CRC pastor now serving as interim minister of preaching at Church of the Servant CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.  

See comments (10)

Comments

Thanks Leonard for a challenging article.  I find this topic of origins very significant because it cuts to the heart of our understanding of Scripture and of God.  Are the early chapters of Genesis a factual depiction of God and his creative purposes?  If these chapters do not depict “factual knowledge” but rather “faith knowledge” does this change some of our perceptions of God himself and maybe even salvation?  After all, much of the New Testament and its teachings ride on the coat tails of the creation and fall account.  I think this is the concern for many young earth creationists.  You start taking away a literal creation, a literal Adam and Eve, a literal fall of this literal couple in the garden of Eden and in some Christians’ minds you are on the slippery slope of messing with the historic Christian accounting of the salvation story. 

But of course, on the other hand, if you abandon the latest science and teachings of evolution and the age of the earth, you begin to rob Christianity of its credibility in the secular world.  If you cling to a literal interpretation of the creation account, you begin to rob our Christian colleges of having stellar reputations in the field of science.  And by abandoning much of biologic science, it won’t be just the scientific community that will look at Christianity with skepticism but the general population.  A lot is riding on our interpretation of the Bible’s creation account, as well as our understanding of modern science.  Which way do we go?

For me, it seems logical to say that the Bible’s account of creation was written in a very primitive era.  All accounts of beginnings (and there were many) were primitive in their understanding of their world.  They didn’t have the advantage of science or of critical thinking. And so the handed down accounts of creation made sense of the world to the people of that time. The creation account was culturally relevant to them.  A scientific explanation of the world would have make no sense to the people and culture of Moses’ day.  The explanation that he passed on to his readers was more than sufficient for his time and age, and even for centuries to come.  It gave that early civilization a credible story (credible to them) to hang their religion and faith on.  I believe that the Bible’s creation account has to be understood as faith knowledge and not factual knowledge.  And certainly we may have to make some alterations in our interpretation of some related Scripture portions.  Other churches and denominations have done this while still holding to the Bible as God’s unfailing word.  There’s no reason we can’t look at Scripture with new eyes also.

I wonder:

  1. If science is a purely naturalistic pursuit (which, by nature it is), why should we who believe in a supernatural God fret when science is at odds with God's Word?  Should it surprise us that science does not comport with the supernatural when scientists begin with naturalistic assumptions and loyalties?
  2. Why does the author concern himself only with the way in which the "reality" of science and observation disagrees with the creation account?  Does not science also tell us that the flood was not possible?  What about the sun standing still in the sky?  What about the Red Sea parting?  Or how about the events of the virgin birth and the resurrection, upon which the whole of Christian teaching rests?  Surely science and scientists are also wiser than God here as well, are they not?  Science tells us unequivocally that resurrection does not and cannot occur!  Imagine how embarrassed our kids must be in the face of such enlightenment at being taught such backward traditions.
  3. Which scientific "truth" would the author have us embrace?  Just two days ago scientists added a cool 300 million years to age of life on earth, as they understand it.  So, is 4.1 billion years of life the correct number now, or should we wait for the next discovery?  Of course the next discovery will also push the time further and further to neatly fit scientific theories of deep time and how life could possibly spring from nothing on its own.  What is scientific certainty today is discarded as rubbish tomorrow, yet the Word of the Lord never changes.
  4. Is the author aware of a 2005 report that concluded that most published research findings are false and unrepeatable?  Not surprisingly, this is due in large part to bias on the part of scientists.  
  5. At what point in Genesis (or the Bible generally) would the author have us switch from reading allegorically to reading literally?  Biologos has variously also wanted to throw out Adam and Eve as real persons and the flood as an actual event.  Then what did really happen in Genesis that is true and historical?  Can God be trusted to tell us the truth?  Why would God present as history in His Word that which is not historical?  Did Jacob wrestle with God?  Did Abraham exist and father a baby in His old age?  Did God open the wombs of Sara and Rachel?  Perhaps that was not history but meant to teach a universal truth?  Doesn't science laugh in the face of all supernatural happenings in Scripture? 
  6. Has the Holy Spirit been ineffectual in illumining Scripture all these many centuries until scientists finaly aided the Spirit in opening the eyes of believers?
  7. If God had intended to tell us actually how He created the world, how would He have done it differently than what is recorded for us?
  8. If Science is right, and Adam and Eve never existed, is Paul to be trusted?  Are we wiser than Paul in how to read the Scriptures because we are products of an enlightened society?  If the fall never happened, how are we to understand sin entering the world?  Why would God tell us of the origin of sin in a way that is untrue?
  9. The author cites the Belgic Confession.  Is the author williing to acknowlege that Article 2 of the Belgic Confession states that we know about God's invisible qualities (His power and divinity) from the book of creation, and He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us in His Word?  So, should we interpret the less clear (creation) by the more clear (Word), or the other way around?
Truly, the wisdom of man is foolishness to God.  Can we trust science?  To a point, yes.  We trust empirical science every day in many ways.  Yet science is as fallible as the men who carry their biases, assumptions, and outright rebellion against God into their work.  And anytime science tells us to disbelieve our God, we don't need to cringe or be embarrassed, unless we are willing to sell our birthright for a pot of porridge.  After all, science will ultimately tolerate no essential part of the Christian faith as truth.  And yet scientists have been contradicting each other and nullifying past knowledge for as long as history has been recorded.  I see no reason to bow at the altar of science, even though I work in the field of science every day.

Thanks Eric for your comments.  You obviously do no agree with Leonard Vander Zee’s observations.  I’m glad you are not the editor of the Banner or hold a leadership role in the denomination.  You hold a pretty narrow view.  It would be difficult for any commenters responding to all nine of your points without getting overly lengthy.  But your overall concern seems to be the validity of the Christian narrative versus the validity of science (especially in regard to origins).

As to the validity of science, I think you, Eric, misrepresent the scientific endeavor in the area of origins.  Science isn’t arguing for an ancient world (millions, even billion of years old), involving the evolutionary process as though it is a finalized and finished fact.  Science sees their work (including the study of evolution) as a work in progress.  So what might have been considered fact twenty years ago has changed because of further study and research.  But the scientific researchers do see evolution as the framework that makes the most sense for most of their research.  The scientific endeavor is like a jig saw puzzle in which many of the pieces fit into the larger picture of evolution.  As times passes some of the pieces may be seen as not complete and incorrect in their original formulation, but increasingly the puzzle (to the scientific world) is becoming more clear.  So it could be easy for some scientists (of religious persuasion) to find fault with this or that so called fact, but that doesn’t disprove the whole theory.  In a way, such religious scientists may help the real scientists to see how some of the many pieces of the puzzle need more scrutiny. But Christian science is a long way from disproving the whole theory of evolution.  Overall, evolution is increasingly seen as a valid framework within which to fit the smaller pieces.  Christians should not dismiss such work as being invalid.

And which religion, Eric, should the secular scientists consider as an alternate and valid perspective on origins?  Which religious theory of origins should scientists be concerned about, the Muslim theory, the Hindu theory, the Mormon theory, the Christian theory or whatever other religion you might name?  You see all religions have differing theories of beginnings and from where God or the gods first made his/their appearance to human kind.  To the scientist, is the Hindu theory any more valid than the Christian?  Both (all religions) claim their own sources of infallible truth.  So what makes the Christian source of teachings any more reliable than the Muslim or Mormon?  How would the scientific community determine which religious teachings to take seriously?  You act, Eric, as though the Christian religion is the center of the world as to true knowledge (including knowledge of origins), but every other religion and their religious adherents feel the same about their religion.  So in the scientist’s mind what gives Christianity validity over any other religion?  The scientist is working with empirical knowledge and experimentation rather than faith knowledge and so must discount all faith knowledge and deal with empirical experimentation.  What’s not to get?

You suggest that scientists too easily discount the miraculous working of God.  If they don’t believe in our God and miracles, why should we believe them?  But I ask what is there that is believable about the central tenets of Christianity?  When Muslims and Jews say God is one, and Hindus say there are many gods which are manifestations of the one big God, what makes the Christian teaching that God is a single three person being more believable than these other teachings.  Can a three person God (Trinity) be proven?  Is there any empirical evidence that supports the validity of a Triune God?   It can only be accepted as true by faith.  And what is believable about the idea of one of the persons of God stepping down from heaven to earth as a baby person, growing up without sin, was perfect, and yet was crucified and died, but rose from the dead and went back to heaven from where he will come to earth once again in power and authority.  Is that story provable?  Is that a historical fact recorded in secular history books?  You see, again, this is faith knowledge.  It has to be accepted by faith.  And now here comes a biggy.  Isn’t it a Christian teaching that such knowledge (faith knowledge) is only acknowledged by faith but such faith is impossible apart from the convincing work of the Holy Spirit?  So Christian teaching, which makes no more sense than the miracles of other religions, cannot be acknowledged unless the Holy Spirit convinces and empowers a person to believe such teachings.  Eric, you expect today’s scientists to believe the miracles of the Bible, especially the central ones, and yet it is impossible for them to do this?  For scientists today, the miracles of the Bible, including a literal six day creation, are no more believable than the many, many miracles of other religions.  None of them are based on empirical truth so how can they possibly factor them into their empirical studies?  You have awfully high expectations of scientists.  Beside that, you seem to think that they should be able to weed through the many religious teachings that abound and discern which ones are true.  Scientists leave faith knowledge or religious beliefs to a realm completely separate from scientific study.  How can you fault them for that?

Thanks for the article Leonard, and to Roger and Eric for weighing in already.  My own hope in this conversation is that any of us who are ordained by the church to be 'servants of the word' would give ourselves fully to that work with diligence and without fear.    If we do, respecting the text of Scripture, and respecting and listening to the community of people who passed it on to us (Jewish folks, to be clear) we will find deep and fresh good news.  And, I also believe (with respect to Roger) that we will find that less of our understanding of the New Testament hangs on 'our traditional' reading of Genesis 1 than we have thought, and that the way it relates to Genesis 1-11 and 12-50 is very good news. The question is, 'will we give ourselves to the ministry of the word of God?' cf Acts 6

Thanks John, for your input.  I’m a little confused by your comments.  I’m not really sure what you are suggesting.  Are you saying that the debate over origins (whether the scientific perspective in contrast to the Biblical narrative) is unimportant?  And then, because in your mind the debate over origins is not important, we should just preach God’s word diligently and without fear.  Don’t get caught up in the debate and there will be plenty of fresh and good news to be found in Scripture.  Is that what you are suggesting?  But of course, there are a lot of people for whom this debate is very important.  For many it is a matter of whether or how to believe the Bible.  For an outsider reading the opening chapters of Genesis, he/she is probably asking, is this what Christians actually believe (the creation story), or is it more myth than truth, or is it faith knowledge which isn’t necessarily grounded in historical fact?  Seeing that this Genesis accounting of creation is at the very beginning of the Bible, what impression is the reader to get of the Bible and Christianity.  Most people do read books from the beginning, so the creation story is the first thing they read of the Bible.  What does this account teach as to the truthfulness of the Bible?

But, of course, to the informed (those who are Christians) we know that the real meaning or in depth meaning of Genesis isn’t explained until you get a ways into the New Testament (especially Romans).  You suggested, John, that we should respect and listen to the Jewish folks who passed this account (Old Testament, including Genesis) on to us.  And doing so will bring fresh and good news.  But you must realize, John, that Christians have little respect for the Jews and their own interpretation of their own Scriptures.  We reinterpret the Old Testament through the lens of our own New Testament Scriptures and tell the Jews that they don’t know how to interpret their own sacred Scriptures.  Christians claim that Jesus is foretold and foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament, to which the Jews would strongly disagree. We don’t really have much respect for the Jewish interpretation of their own Scriptures, do we?

You also suggest that our understanding of the New Testament doesn’t really hang that much on Genesis 1.  But considering the fall, sin, and the promise of redemption, you would find some substantial disagreement by Christians today.  Most of the apostle Paul’s theology is grounded in his own understanding and interpretation of the Old Testament, including the creation account.   I might agree with you though that Christianity has more to do with New Testament writings than the Old.  It’s as though the Old Testament lays the groundwork for the real work of the New Testament.  That’s why most Christian sermons have their inspiration and punch from the New Testament.

Christianity has piggybacked on the Jewish religion much in the way that the Mormon religion has piggybacked on Christianity.  Mormons acknowledge both the Old and New Testaments as Scripture and God inspired but interpret those two testaments through the lens of the Book of Mormon.  It’s the book of Mormon that is the ultimate authority for Mormons and gives meaning and interpretation to the Christian Bible.  This is like Christianity that recognizes the New Testament as the lens for understanding and interpreting the Old Testament.  So like the greatest thrust for the Mormon religion comes out of the Book of Mormon, for the Christian the greatest thrust of Christianity comes out of the New Testament.  If this is what you are saying John, you could be right.  Maybe we don’t need the Old Testament to understand and appreciate the New. 

Stating a further implication, is that as Christianity has reinterpreted the Old Testament (away from a Jewish interpretation), so maybe we could take some further liberties with Genesis 1. Does it really matter how we interpret it?   But that sounds pretty slippery.  But I do agree with you that there is plenty of fresh good news to be found in the Bible.  So, preach the word, John. Let’s forget this debate and move on to the issues of homosexualism, abortion, euthanasia, and experiential Christianity.

Leonard, the language you use in this article clearly shows your bias: "proven and well-documented scientific findings", "well-documented findings", "their own scientific facts" "ignorance of science", "to decide between...faith and the real world". What kind of conversation could you expect to have with someone from CRI or YEC Christians if you consider them to be ignorant of science from the start? We know about God because He has revealed Himself to us through the inspired words of scripture. The book of creation reflects what we know about God: His power, His wisdom, His creativity, but it does not "tell" us about God. A rock formation does not speak to us and say how it came to be layered that way. A mineralized bone does not say "In the beginning I was part of a large reptile". There is a real problem when we give the book of creation the same weight as the Bible. it all has to do with interpretation. Science is, as you say, a tool but it is not equal to God's Word. It can be manipulated according to one's bias. Certainly the Bible can be manipulated too but if you don't recognize the bias in scientific interpretation, the Bible will suffer by comparison. Science can't tell us what happens to us when we die yet death is the ultimate reality. Peter tells us we have a living hope in Jesus' resurrection. Every modern day scientist would agree that resurrection is not possible. Do you have an answer for the reason for your hope?

 

Hello Roger,

 

 

 

A few responses:

 

  1. This is not the first time that we have posted in response to each other.  The reality remains that it will be difficult for us to have a conversation that reaches common ground because we begin from very different starting points.  You have previously made clear that you are willing to discard the authority of Scripture when it doesn’t fit your idea of reality.  In other words, you sit in judgment of Scripture, rather than the other way around.  I have a fundamentally different view of reality and authority.  I will readily admit that sometimes truth as revealed by God is an affront to my sense and sensibility.  But I will always and only cling to God’s Word as the ultimate authority and arbiter of truth and reality.  In a past forum I pointed you to the concluding chapters of Job for a reminder of the relationship between Creator and creature.  Needless to say, Job does not exit his interaction with God with a profound sense of his own vision of reality and justice intact. 

  2. It is interesting to me that you dodged every single question that I asked and proceeded to answer a question I never asked or respond to an assertion I never made.  In the world of debate you have engaged in a classis strawman argument.  You set up a position that I do not hold and did not forward and you stuck a pitchfork in it with ease.  You said variously:

 

  • You suggest that scientists too easily discount the miraculous working of God.” 

  • “Eric, you expect today’s scientists to believe the miracles of the Bible, especially the central ones, and yet it is impossible for them to do this?”

  • You have awfully high expectations of scientists.”

  • Beside that, you seem to think that [scientists] should be able to weed through the many religious teachings that abound and discern which ones are true.”

 

               

 

Please go back and read my post and point out to me anywhere where I stated or insinuated any of those things.  In fact, I made no criticism of a lack of belief in science and I made no appeal for scientists to incorporate Christian beliefs or supernatural presuppositions into their work.  Not one reference.  Rather, my entire appeal was for Christians to believe God’s Word as true despite what scientists may at times claim to be true, particularly in light of the fact that the scientific enterprise does not account for our supernatural God. Also, note that I even stated that science is by its very nature a naturalistic enterprise – quite the opposite of what you claim I was saying.  But science has its limitations, and to act is if it doesn’t is foolhardy for the Christian. 

 

What frustrates me the most about this article is the absurdity of it.  It’s condescending in nature and non-factual rhetoric in substance.  Leonard Vander Zee, someone who by all accounts should know better, instead writes an article that misinforms.  One of the biggest dangers of the article is that he gives us his take on things not realizing that he may well have been so indoctrinated into a particular worldview that he is unable and unwilling to concede that he may be wrong. It’s one thing for someone to admit that they just don’t know and have questions, but rather than a having meaningful discussions, “conversations” as he says, he already implies that his understanding is correct.  By means of this implication, he is not suggesting we discuss the various viewpoints but rather to put an end to what he would consider the “unscientific” worldview of organizations such as the Creation Research Institute.  And just for the record it’s the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).  icr.org

The sentence stating that “very few scientists, even Christian ones, think that ICR’s “science” has any legitimacy” is an example of the condescending and demeaning tone and is really just elephant hurling. It’s really an attempt to quash discussion.  First of all, what does it matter if the majority of scientists have a particular worldview? Does this discount the minority and yet large number of scientists that see no difficulty with believing in a Biblical account of creation? You might be surprised at their number and calibre. If we were going to put our faith in the majority, we would have to surrender much more than the book of Genesis. The majority of scientists and the majority of people for that matter, would tell you that belief in God and a book written so long ago is absurd.

Just past the midway point of the article he makes a statement regarding our children. “Will they (our children) then have to decide between the Bible and well-documented scientific findings, or, to put it another way, between faith and the real world”?  We need to stop and think about what is implied here, because it speaks volumes. Through years of allowing secular humanism to spread unabated in the church we now have leaders as well as lay persons that don’t know how to take a Biblical stance on the first chapters of Genesis.  And yet because leaders are rightfully expected to have insight they write articles anyway. Here the author is saying that we need to make sure we tell our children that what appears to be stated as fact in the Bible is really just a myth or a story with a hidden meaning because otherwise once our children realize this for themselves they may have to give up on the entire book.  Sort of like giving parents advice to let on about Santa Claus before the kids get too old and to tell them that it’s really just about the good feeling and the moral stories that jolly old St. Nick gives.

The fact that Faith Alive, an organization tied to the CRC, accepted a grant from BioLogos should be cause for extreme alarm. A superficial glance at their organization may lead someone to think that their mission is commendable, but that is hardly the case. Furthermore, to call the book Origins a “balanced look” at the various views is quite a stretch. It was nothing more than an attempt to suggest that Genesis 1-11 does not need to be read as history but can fit rather nicely is an evolutionary tale. The theological, logical and exegetical gymnastics required to get there however are glossed over or ignored.

The last paragraph describes a classic but overused argument and is categorically false.  The suggested manner in which we are to look at God’s Word, science and our world is not doctrinal but rather reverse in order.  Granted the Belgic confession does speak of “two books”, but it does not imply that we “read” them in the manner the author is suggesting.  God is the Author of the Bible and He does not appeal to anyone or anything else for accuracy or authenticity.  There are no references or footnotes to His Word.  We “read” the second book, referred to as general revelation in the light of Scripture, never the other way around.  Consider what Systematic Theologian Louis Berkhof said.  “…Since the entrance of sin into the world, man can gather true knowledge about God from His general revelation only if he studies it in the light of Scripture, in which the elements of God’s original self-revelation, which were obscured and perverted by the blight of sin, are republished, corrected and interpreted…. Some are inclined to speak of God’s general revelation as a second source; but this is hardly correct in view of the fact that nature can come into consideration here only as interpreted in the light of Scripture.”  Berkhof, Louis, Introductory volume to Systematic Theology, pp.60, 96.

General Revelation must always be viewed through Biblical glasses.

Mr. Vander Zee should certainly understand the difference between historical and operation science and not attempt to blur the lines.  A scientist cannot use operational science to determine what happened at the time of creation.  All we have is the Word of the One who was there.  I know where I placing my trust.

We need to have discussions, but it seems that whenever someone suggests that the Bible may well be historically factual where it gives the account of creation and provides supporting evidences they are too often give an patronizing nod but not much more.  When the creation account is homogenized with an evolutionary belief system and timeline, more biblical history is forced to be reinterpreted as well.  In this article we see evidence of this further reinterpretation where it is at least implied that the flood of Noah’s day may not have been the worldwide catastrophic event that is described in the Bible since that simply would not fit.  Scripture is being readjusted to the requirements of the latest “scientific findings”.

We have received God’s Word from Him and so Biblical authority does not come from us, and we don’t even establish or judge it.  God is not dependant on man’s authorization but rather His Word guarantees its own authority.  When we mix the authority of God’s Word with man’s word we transfer infallibility from God to ourselves.  Blind devotion to a naturalistic philosophy and belief in the infallibility of the scientific process has exchanged God’s Word for man’s.

 

Some will say that they hold to the formal authority of the Bible, yet they will say that this Word has no bearing on history or the historical world of creation, it’s a spiritual and a moral book.  But if God’s Word exists in abstraction from the world, reality can be restructured by the imagination of anyone.  God’s Word is actually reduced to man’s word.  If I say I believe in God’s Word, but I take it out of its context in history, of space and time and say it’s a spiritual and a moral book, I can make the Bible say pretty much anything I want from that point on.  God’s Word is reduced to man’s word while affirming its formal authority. God’s revelation to mankind from Genesis to Revelation is concrete in history, supremely in the person of Christ, our Creator and our Redeemer, a message preserved in the sacred scriptures as our foundation of knowledge.  Any other approach reshapes history on the canvas of our imagination and our own reasoning.  And this is the essence of relativism.”  Dr. Joe Boot from Hold the line of Biblical Authority.

Rosemarie, it is obvious that you don’t agree with Leonard’s thoughts on Scripture versus (or and) science.  For you, it seems, science doesn’t come close to revealing the truth as to our origins.  But, also for you, the Bible, which is not a book of science, does reveal the scientific truth as to origins.  Your logic in coming to such a conclusion is revealed in the last few sentences of your comment.

You correctly comment that every modern day scientist would conclude that resurrection is not possible.  Based on logic, Christians would agree, as well.  Then you ask, what might be the reason for the hope that one has if not the living hope of Jesus’ resurrection.

So I take it, Rosemarie, that the hope you have is based on the illogical or unreasonable claim of the New Testament that Jesus’ was raised from the dead, as illogical as that may sound or actually be.  There is no empirical or scientific evidence to support such a thought, that you, like Jesus, will one day be raised from the dead, yet you still believe it.  It doesn’t make sense but you believe.  That’s what faith does.  It believes the unbelievable.  It believes the illogical.

And yet you fault the scientist for not getting on your band wagon of faith.  You expect the scientist to go against all logic, like you, and throw out the logic of an old earth (millions, even billions of years old).  I suppose you will next ask us to throw out all our medicine (which is based on scientific research) and to believe in the power of prayer to heal.  Jesus did tell us to ask for anything and it will be given.  That also is illogical and hasn’t proven to be true.  And yet we still pray.

As image bearers of God, what sets us apart from the animal kingdom is our ability to use logic and reason, rather than animal instinct.  And yet you would ask the scientist to set aside his God given logical and reasoned approach to origins and accept what is logically impossible.

Thanks Eric and Arnold, for your comments.  I think, Arnold, you must be an employee of IRC and that your comment was part of a dissertation for IRC.  It must have been more than three times the length of Leonard Vander Zee’s original article.  It might have been nice if you could have reduced it to a size that most people are willing to read in a blog.   Too much for a blog like this.  For the average reader, please be concise. 

Eric, I”m sorry I didn’t respond to the nine points specifically, made by you in your previous comment.  Actually I didn’t know that I had to.  I didn’t realize that this was the rule of blogging. Please keep me informed as to other rules.  In my mind, as I stated, I thought I was responding to your comment in general rather than deal with each of the nine points separately.

In response to both of you:   I somehow think, as you suggested Eric, that we have different perspectives on the inspiration of Scripture.  2 Timothy 3:16,17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (NLT) Perhaps a more precise translation is, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (NASB) As I understand the infallibility of the Bible, it is unfailing or effective in accomplishing the purpose stated in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17.   The Bible doesn’t necessarily have to be a fact book, accurate in every detail to accomplish the purpose stated by Paul.  Inerrancy and infallibility are two different things.  Infallibility, which our denomination embraces, means that Scripture is effective in accomplishing God’s intended purpose for the Bible, which Paul states clearly.  The Bible’s purpose is not to be a science book.

The creation account was a primitive account handed down to Moses and written down approximately 1500 B.C.  It made sense to the people of that ancient culture and made sense for many centuries to follow.  Such an accounting helped to make sense of the ancient Jewish religion.  Talk of a literal six day creation and a talking serpent was not a problem for a pre-scientific mind set.  But today, believing such a story (as inerrant fact) becomes more of a stumbling block to a sincere Christian faith than an asset.  This is especially true in light of the findings of modern science.  Pressing for a historical Genesis creation account takes away from the legitimacy of the gospel invitation.

Everything recorded in the Bible is not necessarily historical fact but is faith knowledge or religious knowledge.  In the same way, everything recorded in the Koran is not historical knowledge either, but faith knowledge for those of the Muslim religion.  The same could be said for the book of Mormon.  The faith knowledge of any religion, whether Christian, Muslim, Mormon, or Hindu does not get recorded in history books as factual events.  But they (the events) are the substance of faith for the adherents of these religions.  For Scripture to be profitable in the way the apostle Paul suggests, does not depend on the historicity of every recorded event in the Bible.  A meaningful Christian faith is not dependent on inerrancy but on infallibility. 

So I’ll go with the Bible as faith knowledge or religious knowledge, and secular science as the factual and historical study of origins.  Admittedly secular science is a work in progress but it is far ahead of trying to prescribe the Genesis account of creation as a factual account of origins.  Thanks for your input and perspective.