Review by Ruben Baron
First Published 25 Aug 2009
Chapter 9 finally reaches the “verdict” in this book. Not surprisingly the verdict is against OEC as “guilty.” However there are so many problems with the “verdict” expressed in this chapter that it is hard to know how to respond to the points in this chapter in any coherent manner.
What is interesting here is that all the appeals made in this chapter actually should be taken more seriously by YEC’s, even though they were intended for OEC’s. Almost every sentence made in this chapter could be used as an example, but only a few examples from the beginning of this chapter will be given here.
The very first sentence in this chapter on page 157 states that “The Lord holds Christians to a high standard and so does the world.” If only the YEC’s would apply this to what they say! Between sloppy science, misleading statements, and dogmatic exegesis of the Bible, how can they even begin to say that they are holding a high standard before the Lord, not to mention the secular world which does not take them seriously in any way.
The second sentence is even more incredible. “Only when fellow believers are treated with respect and dignity will progress be made on this important debate.” All OEC’s would agree with this statement in itself, but after reviewing this book, it is hard to see how YEC’s have applied this statement to themselves at all! Almost every OEC opinion expressed in this book has been treated with derision and a condescending attitude that even goes to the point of questioning OEC’s truthfulness and motives.
The next sentences states that “… God will be glorified when His followers seek to honor His Word …” Again there is the implication that only the YEC viewpoint honors the Bible and OEC’s do not, even if they say they do. Do YEC’s really glorify God and honor His Word with the kinds of divisive attitudes expressed in this book against OEC’s and others who do not agree with them?
What follows in the same paragraph are somewhat confusing statements about the role of science in interpreting the Bible. On the one hand the Bible provides a basis for science as already described in chapter 7, and which OEC’s can generally agree wth.
But, as has been so characteristic of this book, the issue immediately changes from the biblical basis of science to the question of the authority of science versus the authority of the Bible. As already mentioned many times in the previous chapters, OEC’s donot put the authority of science above the authority of the Bible as YEC’s are trying to imply here. As stated previously in this review, this issue is an issue of interpretation of both the Bible and science, not an issue of the authority of science versus the Bible. To invoke emotionally charged terms such as “compromise” and “opinions of fallible men,” even to the extent of quoting the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon, is simply disingenuous, misleading, and misses the point of this debate entirely.
On page 158 OEC’s are blatantly charged with compromise on the age of the earth and the extent of the Flood. There is no need to repeat yet again, as has already been done in this review of previous chapters of this book, the OEC response to this charge. But the language of this statement here illustrates the degree that YEC’s are willing to go to prove that only they are right in their interpretations of the Bible, even if it is at the expense of causing serious division among Christian believers.
The following paragraph actually states the “guilty verdict of compromise” against OEC’s that has been expected all along. What follows is a rather harsh statement “… old earthers are sternly warned to stop trying to accommodate the false philosophies of the day and learn to fully trust in the Word of the omniscient God.” Since this warning totally misses the OEC point of view as shown in this entire review, the following analogous warning should be given to YEC’s (not that I expect that they will take it to heart):
Young earthers are sternly warned to stop forcing their preconceived notions on the Word of God, to stop attacking other Christian believers who have other viewpoints on interpreting the Bible, and to stop causing major stumbling blocks to nonbelievers who are trying to sincerely understand the truth of the Bible.
1. Recommendations for Improving the Debate It is ironic that in this section YEC’s are suggesting recommendation for improving the debate which they themselves have not been following throughout this book. These recommendations are:
“Practice academic integrity.” If only YEC’s would follow their own advice! Any time an OEC tries to practice academic integrity, especially in science, he is accused of “compromise” and preferring the “false philosophies of man.” A couple of examples of “YEC research” are given here to try to support this point, but these come across as desperate attempts to support YEC in science in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.
This section also hastens to show that OEC arguments have been disproved in this book, which is far from the case. An appeal is made to OEC’s to stop using arguments which YEC’s have already answered by YEC organizations. If this is indeed the case, then why in this book and in other places do YEC’s continue to attack OEC’s with the same arguments repeatedly, that OEC’s have responded to many times?
An appeal is made to look only at the YEC arguments of “leading” YEC organizations such as The Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, and The Creation Research Society, and not to more “fringe” groups. Fair enough, but it should be pointed out that most of the OEC literature does deal with YEC as represented by these groups. Likewise YEC’s should do the same thing, and not attack every minor point made by any OEC, but rather focus on the main points of OEC on which there is a consensus.
“Personal attacks are unnecessary and unbiblical.” Again one has to wonder why YEC’s would even dare to make this point in this book. The entire book has been full of personal attacks against Dr. Hugh Ross and Dr. Norman Geisler, just to name a couple of names. Even though the book seems to just quote the writings of these men, the response to the quoted writings did not simply respond to their points, but also questioned their commitment to the Bible and even their academic integrity in a very condescending manner.
There is also an appeal to stop lumping YEC’s with geocentricity and a flat earth, especially because such well-known figures as Martin Luther did hold both to geocentricity and YEC. It is true, as the book points out, that one idea is unrelated to the other scientifically. But just to say only that the ideas are not related scientifically misses the point. To Martin Luther the “plain reading” of the text (as YEC’s like to say) pointed to a geocentric earth. Even if the phenomena of YEC and geocentricity are not related scientifically, the point here is Luther’s understanding (or misunderstanding) of the teaching of the biblical text. If Luther could “misunderstand” the issue of geocentricity by just reading the Bible a certain way, then the point here is that maybe YEC’s also could be misunderstanding the issue of the age of the earth by reading the Bible in a certain way.
“Old-earthers must endeavor to develop a coherent theological position that is consistently supported by the Scriptures.” Here OEC’s are accused of not being able to build a theological position supported by the Scriptures. They are “welcome to attempt to refute our position using legitimate hermeneutics, sound logic, and appropriate ministerial use of science.“ OEC’s are further accused of weak interpretation and questionable exegesis of words in the original language.
It is beyond the scope of this review to cite the various publications of OEC’s which do show how the Scripture is consistent with their position. The problem is, of course, that YEC’s do not accept their conclusions, and do so by claiming that OEC is not supported by the YEC interpretation of Scripture. So by definition, any attempt by OEC’s to support their position from the text of the Bible is excluded because it does not agree with the YEC viewpoint.
The rest of this section on page 160 repeats much of what has been already reviewed in previous chapters. For example, any text that would support an OEC viewpoint, such as 2 Peter 3:5, is quickly dismissed. OEC’s are further charged with causing the Bible to contradict itself (but without any verse citation here). In conclusion the same arguments reviewed in previous chapters are repeated to allegedly show how only a YEC viewpoint is consistent with Scripture.
Finally out of desperation, this passage concludes with a call to pastors, professors, and lay people to stop being intimidated by arguments for an old earth. (One wonders again who is really doing most of the intimidation on this issue, judging by the overall tone of this book.) Since nothing else can be used by YEC’s to support their position other than dogma, this section dogmatically concludes that “God’s Word clearly teaches a young earth and that settles the matter.” That is, nothing that OEC’s can say will sway a YEC from their position, regardless of the arguments against YEC.
2. Final Thoughts This section emphasizes the position that the YEC is the only viable, biblical stance one can take. If one is not convinced, then this book states that “we encourage you to help improve this debate by utilizing sound arguments in a loving manner.” To be honest it is really hard to believe and accept this statement as genuine in light of the harsh and dogmatic attitudes expressed in this book toward those who do not accept a YEC viewpoint.
This review has been an attempt to confront YEC’s on their own ground and to attempt to stop them from pushing their viewpoints on naive Christian believers who do not know enough of either the Bible or science to be able to respond to what YEC’s claim. If this review seems somewhat harsh, it is only because of the urgent need to respond firmly to the wrong thinking, emotionally manipulative arguments, and wrong attitudes expressed in this book.
The rest of this section repeats yet again the standard arguments already dealt with in previous chapters. Again as stated earlier, one gets the impression that YEC’s think that if the same argument is repeated enough times, then it will finally convince one of the truth of their argument.
3. Let’s Get Practical This section concludes this chapter by a personal testimony of one of the authors (Tim). He discusses his experience with having cancer, for which we all would express our sympathy toward him and his family.
However he uses this experience to demonstrate the truth of YEC, by focusing on the cancer as being a result of sin due to the Fall of man, since God said in Genesis 1:31 that the creation was “very good”. Unfortunately his experience with cancer is used in this book to emotionally manipulate the reader by asking how an OEC position would deal with this difficult situation by implying that OEC has no answer to this. He even adds that sin and suffering was a factor that even pushed Darwin to unbelief.
Rather than dealing point by point with the rest of his experience given here, suffice it to say that that OEC’s have dealt many times with this kind of situation and with the general question of evil and suffering in the world. But since the author is so convinced of the correctness of his viewpoint, of course he will fit his experience within a YEC framework, and I would not expect otherwise.
But by accusing OEC’s of not having a satisfactory answer to the questions that he asked himself, he is really betraying his basic misunderstanding or even caricature of an OEC viewpoint. OEC’s do not “blame” God for the suffering in the world any more than YEC’s do. They simply have a different understanding of the relationship of God to mankind and the creation.
This chapter concludes with the basic theme repeated again and again in this book to not “compromise” the truth of God. In response it can be stated here that this review has shown that the issue of the age of the earth is not a question of compromise, but a disagreement on interpretation of the Bible, taking the context, language, and setting fully into account.
If this review were to point out areas of compromise among YEC’s, then it would remind them not to compromise the even clearer teachings of the Bible on areas such as causing division among Christian believers, wrong attitudes toward those with whom they do not agree, and a wrong pride and arrogance that comes from thinking that only they have the correct answers in areas of honest disagreement between Christian believers.
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