Review by Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
First Published August 2005
The book The Beginnings Under Attack, is by Bill Sheffield. The edition being reviewed is a paperback, copyright 2003, ISBN Number 0-9728899-3-0.
The purpose of this book is to address concerns that old earth creationism, in all its forms, is not consistent with the Bible. It is meant to show that young earth creation science provides the only reasonable way to literally interpret Genesis. It also argues that evolution, both naturalistic and theistic, are contrary to the evidence from science and the Bible.
The acknowledgement section lets me know exactly how this book will present its arguments. The author says "It is offered neither as the work of a scientist nor a theologian, but simply as the heart cry of a believer." This statement sums up the arguments in the book...arguments from emotions, and not based on facts. The review shows this to be the case.
The forward, written by Dr. Roy Wallace, makes the claim that evolution is constantly changing, to cover past errors. He quotes from the book, which says, "As new discoveries are made, those theories must be adjusted to accommodate the new data which proves past ideas wrong." This is a wonderful description of science in action. As new data points are discovered, theories change. This is the way science is supposed to work. It means the previous theories were based on incomplete data. This is not to say that they were errors. The old theories were based on evidence available at the time. Any scientist recognizes this fundamental way in which science improves upon itself. To the outsider, such as the author, it sounds suspect...but it is a wonderful system based on changing scientific observations.
In the introduction, Sheffield says there are "unbelieving believers." He is referring to liberal scholars at institutions that deny portions of Scripture, take it as allegory, and pick and choose the parts they want to believe and discard the rest. I agree...there are many liberal theologians who have lost focus on the Word and its significance in our lives.
As an old earth creationist, and a progressive creationist, I take the Bible literally, and fully believe in an inerrant, infallible Word. Thus, Sheffield's words don't apply to progressive creationists. I realize that not all old earth creationists take the Word literally. However, there are many other old earth believers, including Gap Theorists, and some Theistic Evolutionists, who also accept a literal Genesis. We fully accept Genesis...we just don't accept the "young earth interpretation" of Genesis. We can be just as "conservative" as the author is.
It is very interesting to note that Sheffield does not address Progressive Creationism directly in this book. This shows that he really did not accomplish adequate research in writing this book. He essentially ignores half of all old earth creationists. Can young earth creationists trust someone who does not even know the materiel he is writing about?
The book reads as a heart-felt appeal to accept the Genesis account. I have no doubt that Sheffield is a sincere, committed believer. However, such things do not make one right. He frequently uses material from Mr. Kent Hovind and Mr. Carl Baugh, two creation science believers who are at odds with the rest of the young earth community, including Answers in Genesis (AiG). Their evidences are frequently listed on the AiG list of arguments that creationists should not use.
The claims made by Sheffield in this book are presented "as-is"...with no supporting facts or documentation. Unfortunately, this is the way many young earth creationists operate. They are expected to blindly accept the sayings of men in authority, such as Sheffield, Hovind, Baugh, and others, without questioning the validity of the statements. I think this is part of the "young earth culture." They are not supposed to question the words of pastors and other authority figures. In other words, they are gullible (easily deceived or duped; easily tricked because of being too trusting (from dictionary.com)). Don't get me wrong...young earth creationists are smart people, but they have grown up in this culture that accepts this type of behavior as the norm. If they would only examine the evidence, free from any young earth prejudices, they would see the truth.
Overall, the book presents no valid arguments in favor of a young earth. It is merely the heart-felt appeal of a man on a mission. I applaud Mr. Sheffield on his initiative, but his conclusions are based on poor science...science that he has never fully investigated.
(131 Kb, 24 Pages)
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