The Debate Rages On…At Many Levels

I spend a lot of time discussing the creation/evolution debate. It is a popular topic on this blog, I have an entire series of young-earth creationist textbooks that discuss the debate, and I even discuss it among my own friends, many of whom are either atheists or theistic evolutionists. Every now and again, I even get the chance to publicly debate an evolutionist. This is a rare occurrence, however, as it is incredibly difficult to find an evolutionist willing to actually defend his or her view in a public debate. My last opportunity was in 2009, when I debated Dr. Robert A. Martin, vertebrate paleontologist and author of Missing Links: Evolutionary Concepts and Transitions Through Time. The debate was held at West Kentucky Community and Technical college. The audience was huge, and their response was enthusiastic. After the debate, I talked with many students, some of whom disagreed with me. Nevertheless, they all said that they appreciated the debate and were very happy that they attended.

Of course, the bigger question is whether or not such debates make any difference at all. Do any minds actually get changed as a result of a debate? I can tell you that mine did. I was an atheist at one time, and what led me down the road to accepting the truth of Christianity was an “Atheism versus Christianity” debate that I attended. The debate made me actually investigate the evidence for the existence of God, and when I did so, I found the evidence to be overwhelming. As a result, I ended up believing in God and, eventually, I came to realize that He is the God of the Old and New Testaments. However, I often wonder if a debate has changed anyone’s mind on the creation/evolution issue.

Well, I received an E-MAIL from a homeschool graduate who is now a biology major pursuing an MD/PhD. He says:

I was home educated from preschool all the way through high school and thoroughly enjoyed all of your science textbooks throughout high school…In fact your biology textbook was what got me interested in science in the first place.

It’s nice to know that contrary to what Dr. Jerry Coyne claims, good young-earth creationist textbooks do encourage students to study the sciences.

The reason I am blogging about his E-MAIL, however, is that he tells me from his own experience that a good debate about evolution can change people’s minds.

He says that his humanities class at university required the students to do a formal debate, and the professor asked for possible topics. When he suggested evolution:

…the professor’s response was “That’s a good topic… but… who would argue against it?” She (as well as the rest of the class) seemed surprised at the idea that anyone would even think to question the theory.

This is a typical response for those who have not investigated the issue. Most people who know little about evolution seem to think it is a scientific fact, probably because they have been told as much by irresponsible educators and scientists. However, a little education goes a long way. The student wrote:

But after we had a class discussion on it, (which was basically the rest of the class vs. me, and thankfully due to your blog I was able to answer everything that the class brought up which they thought supported Evolution), and after the professor read my essay on the problems with evolution (which we had to write before the debate), she began to realize that I had some strong arguments and presented my case with plenty of evidence.

So in the end, the debate happened. What was the result?

After the debate, the class voted unanimously that my team won the debate against Evolution.

Now please don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that because the class voted the anti-evolution side the winner, they are now all creationists. I have no idea whether even one student became a creationist (or even an anti-evolutionist) after listening to the debate. However, I can say this – their minds were clearly changed when it comes to the certitude of evolution.

When this student brought up the idea of a debate, everyone else in the class (including the professor) thought no one could possibly argue against evolution. By the end of the debate, however, the class agreed that the anti-evolution side won. If nothing else, then, you can see that the class learned that there are real scientific issues that speak against evolution. As a result, regardless of whether or not they changed their minds about the reality of evolution, at least they learned that the case is not as clear-cut as many irresponsible educators and scientists want you to believe.

In my mind, that is a big victory for science, at least for one university-level humanities class.

102 Comments

  1. DW says:

    You’re a scientist who doesn’t believe in evolution? What about gravity? Photosynthesis?

    The “debate” between “evolutionism” and creationism is invented. Evolution is a fact and creationism is superstition. I’m not surprised no self-respecting scientist wants to debate you; it would be no different from debating the validity of Grimm’s fairy tales.

    1. jlwile says:

      DW, your comments indicate that you haven’t investigated this issue much at all. Like many, many very qualified scientists, I think evolution (in the sense most people use the term) is simply not true. There certainly is very little evidence for it and a lot of evidence against it. Gravity and photosynthesis, on the other hand, have a lot of evidence backing them up. As a result, it is easy to believe in them scientifically.

      This is not an invented debate. It is real, because the evidence is real.

      I think Dr. Robert A. Martin is a self-respecting scientist, and he debated me. In fact, there are a lot of scientists (Martin among them) who believe in evolution and yet understand that the debate is real. As a result, they are at least willing to attempt to defend their view publicly. It is unfortunate that others simply hide behind a wall of insults.

  2. Matt says:

    As I first began to read DW’s comment, I thought it was a joke! I thought someone was using hyperbole to imitate how closed-minded and self-assured some folks are – but I was wrong. Rather than teasing those who hold to scientific orthodoxy, DW adds his/her name to the list.

    To introduce myself, I work in scientific research as a PI, though I haven’t finished my PhD. I do hold a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering – so I am quite familiar with the retort (often accompanied by a facial expression of shocked and deep disbelief sprinkled with a flash of cognitive dissonance): “You are educated in science and you believe in God?”

    When I came to my studies I was pretty much an atheist by default. It wasn’t until I was nearly done my degree that I started thinking more deeply about things and came to the conclusion that God must exist. The funny thing is, it was a required 2 semester series of Biology that made me believe the theory of evolution just couldn’t be true! Before I really looked into it I had just assumed it was true, on a par with Newton’s Laws.

    But to the point of my post: I just want to say that I am not convinced that the YE hypothesis is more credible than the OE hypothesis, but I want to compliment you on your writings in this area as I have a new appreciation for the argument thanks to you. It very well could be that my seeing a good debate, coupled with other forms of inquiry, could change my mind on the issue. The curriculum my wife and I use to homeschool our children (Abeka) takes a definite YE view, which I moderate by also explaining the other view with sensitivity to biblical primacy.

    I have read you blog for a while, and always look forward to new posts! Thank you for maintaining it.

    1. jlwile says:

      Thank you so much, Matt! I am glad that you enjoy the blog and find it useful. Whether a person holds to the old-earth or young-earth position doesn’t concern me much, as it is a very debatable issue, both Scripturally and scientifically. I do think the balance of the evidence sides with the young-earth position, but I thoroughly understand how a devout Christian could believe the old-earth position. However, as you say, no reasonable and informed person can be surprised at the fact that there are serious scientists who don’t believe in evolution.

  3. Pyrodin says:

    If there were real questions and enough facts to support a debate, why not have a debate on “validity of Grimm’s fairy tales”? I am just a layman, but I like your blog because you present facts, really know your stuff, and you respond to folks like me with thoughtful replies. From what I have read here and other places, evolution does seem flakey, but I am also opposed to the “God is responsible for creation because there is no other explanation” line of thinking. Why do you support Creationism over Atheism, instead of just anti-evolution?

    1. jlwile says:

      Great question, Pyrodin. I was an anti-evolutionist when I was an atheist. Since the majority of evidence speaks against evolution, I couldn’t believe in it even when I didn’t believe in a Creator. I support creationism over atheism for many reasons. Probably the most important is the reason I became a creationist in the first place – because of the design I see in nature. In my view, there is no way to explain the fine tuning in nature and the universe without reference to a Designer. All atheist attempts to do so (luck, multiverse, etc.) are desperate, in my view.

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  5. W_Nelson says:

    DW:
    You need to realize that, at it’s heart, Evolution little more than a very vague wish list. We have no idea that/if life can come about, or species change from one to another by slow stepwise changes, each one selected for advantage. No one has ever modeled this start-to-finish in any detail, let alone observed it. Based on evidence — it is in no way, shape, or form known to even be possible.

    Evolution can point to the fossil record and _hope_ that EVERYTHING was created in this fashion — all the while the Craig Venters of this world are still struggling with mechanics of creating/understanding/defining life.

    Evolution is just as guilty of being a mythology — that Chaos is the origination of Order — as anything out there.

    1. jlwile says:

      Excellent point, W_Nelson. Not only is evolution a mythology, it also has its inquisition that tries to enforce orthodoxy, and its high priests who dogmatically make pronouncements about what “truth” is.

  6. Steve B says:

    DW, I very much appreciate your defense of creationism and, more importantly, of our Creator. I take issue with one thing you said, though: “Whether a person holds to the old-earth or young-earth position doesn’t concern me much …”
    I believe that you are ignoring a critical element of this debate: EVERYONE who believes in an old earth, whether a Christian or atheist, rejects a WORLDWIDE flood. I hardly have the space to defend this claim, but research will prove it to be true.

    There can be no doubt that, if read objectively, the Bible definitely proclaims such a flood. Furthermore, objective geology powerfully supports this claim. A worldwide flood completely undermines the theory of evolution, because it destroys the evolutionists’ explanation for the fossil record, and the geological column (because IT becomes the explanation for these things). The elimination of these pillars of evolutionary theory obviates the possibility of an “old earth.” If fossils were formed essentially by a worldwide flood that took place a few thousand years ago, the chronology of the Bible, which obviously teaches that the world is only several thousand, not billions, of years old, makes perfect sense.

    The point here is that any discussion of the age of the earth that doesn’t take into consideration a worldwide flood is not reasonable, because such an event demands consideration in such a discussion. To ignore the worldwide flood in any effort to determine the age of the earth is like ignoring the subject of slavery in an effort to determine the cause of the Civil War. It’s simply not reasonable. Therefore, the arguments of those who believe in an old earth are not reasonable, because such people NEVER believe in such a flood, and consequently do not factor it into their conclusions.

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for your comment, Steve. I think it is for me (because I am the one you quote). However, I am not DW; he is the one who seemed surprised that a modern scientist has the audacity to follow the data and therefore be anti-evolution.

      First, your statement that everyone who believes in an old earth also denies a worldwide Flood is incorrect. There are proponents of the “gap theory” who believe that the earth is billions of years old, but the creation account in Genesis is about the second creation, which occurred in six 24-hour days eventually followed by a worldwide Flood. I think the “gap theory” is not supportable with good theology, so I am not saying that these people have any reasonable arguments. I am just pointing out that they do exist.

      Also, I know of at least one Christian apologist (a philosopher, not a scientist) who thinks that the Genesis account involves long ages of time (as opposed to 24-hour days), but that there was a worldwide Flood. He believes that God supernaturally preserved the geological record throughout the Flood. Once again, I don’t agree with him, but that is another example of someone who believes in an old earth and a worldwide Flood.

      Now I would say that most who believe in an old earth reject a worldwide Flood. However, I would strongly disagree with your statement, “There can be no doubt that, if read objectively, the Bible definitely proclaims such a flood.” In fact, there are those who claim that there can be no doubt that, if read objectively, the Bible definitely proclaims a local flood. I strongly disagree with them as well. I think the truth lies a bit in the middle. The most straightforward interpretation of the Bible is that the Flood was worldwide. However we don’t always take the most straightforward interpretation of the Bible. If we did, we would believe in a geocentric solar system based on Joshua 10:12-13, Psalms 19:4-6, 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalms 93:1, and Psalms 96:10. We would also think that the end times have come and gone, based on Matthew 24:34.

      We can’t always take the most straightforward interpretation, because the Bible was written in three ancient languages, none of which are spoken today. Sure, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek are still spoken, but not the kind of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in which the Bible was written. The ancient versions of these languages were substantially different from the modern versions. Thus, we need theologians to interpret Scripture when it comes to some of the more detailed questions in Christendom, such as the nature of the Flood. When I look at a survey of serious, conservative, Bible-believing theologians, I find that a sizeable fraction (I would actually say the majority, although I have never seen a formal poll) believe that the Scriptures indicate a local Flood.

      Now I personally think that theologians who believe the Flood was worldwide have the better arguments. However, I refuse to ignore such amazingly gifted theologians as Bernard L. Ramm, Robert Jamieson, Gleason Archer, etc., etc. While I disagree with them, I will not say that they are clearly wrong. They all know more about the Old Testament and its original language than I will ever hope to know, and while I disagree with them, I can at least see the reasoning behind their arguments.

      I would strongly urge you to read at least some old-earth theologians. I don’t want to change your mind, because once again, I am not all that concerned about what you believe on this specific issue. However, I think it might allow you to see that there are other reasonable views in orthodox Christendom.

  7. gracekalman says:

    Not being a scientist, I approach the debate somewhat differently than most.
    First, I believe that the King James Bible is the infallible word of God, and should be taken at face value. “When common sense makes good sense, seek no other sense.” So when I hear a debate on creationism/evolution, I am looking for answers to evolution, but I am also curious about problems for creationism. When your beliefs are founded on the solid rock, you have nothing to fear from science.

    As for YE/OE, if it were important, God would have clearly given us that information, just as He gave us all the other important principles. It’s more of a scientific debate, which is why we’re discussing it here. And science seems to go against OE. At least from what I’ve read here.

    Just wanted to say, I really enjoyed taking your General Science and Biology courses. I hated Physical Science, but I don’t think I could have even survived it in any other course. Chemistry, whatever. I hate math. The only exam I ever failed was the third quarter for physics. I studied modules 1-8 instead of modules 9-12. In other words, I studied twice as much as I had to and then failed. Mert.
    Now I’m taking Marine Biology, which I am really enjoying even if you didn’t write it. Thanks for some great science courses!

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for your comment, Grace. I agree with you that the YE/OE debate isn’t as important as a lot of people think. It is a very interesting question, but it is clearly not one of the pillars of the Christian faith! I also agree that science seems to go against an old-earth view, at least in its broadest sense. While there is some scientific evidence for an old earth, there are a lot of scientific problems with an old earth, and I think there is more evidence for a young earth.

      Thanks so much for your kind words regarding my courses. I can understand your aversion to the physical sciences. Many students have that same experience. I love the physical sciences, though. I guess it takes all kinds.

      I personally think the author of your Marine Biology book (Sherri Seligson) is a better author than me, so it is not surprising that you are enjoying her book!

  8. Steve B says:

    You are correct, Jay. My message was intended for you.
    The instant I saw your message, I knew that I had committed a stupid mistake. I should never have said that “everyone” who believes in an old earth denies a worldwide flood. I should have preceded this word with “virtually.” Unfortunately, your focus upon this technical error caused you to miss the very important point I was making. Let me explain.
    You noted a few examples of people who believe in both an old earth and a worldwide flood. In regards to the heart of the debate, however, these people are in the extreme minority and are essentially irrelevant. I’m sure you are aware that the “Gap theory” is completely discounted today by all but a tiny minority. Neither theistic evolutionists nor creationists, and especially true evolutionists, take it seriously. In regards to the Christian apologist you mentioned, let’s be honest: there are also people that still believe in a flat earth and others that still believe that the sun revolves around the earth. Simply because they exist, are we to factor them into the debate? I hope you agree with me that we shouldn’t.
    The heart of our disagreement is revealed in your words, “However, I would strongly disagree with your statement, “There can be no doubt that, if read objectively, the Bible definitely proclaims such a flood.” In fact, there are those who claim that there can be no doubt that, if read objectively, the Bible definitely proclaims a local flood. I strongly disagree with them as well. I think the truth lies a bit in the middle.” Here is where I believe that you have stumbled very badly. There is no middle ground between a local flood and a worldwide flood. It was either one or the other. And I believe that the text makes it abundantly clear that it was worldwide. Interpreting the following verses as referring to a local flood is, in my opinion, a gross distortion of their very plain meaning:
    Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Gen. 6:13
    And the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the surface of the water. And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to creeping things and to the birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.” Gen. 7:18-23.
    In my opinion, those who interpret these, and similar, passages to be referring to a local flood do so only because they are under the influence of the theory of evolution and the chronology that accompanies it – even though they may not even be aware of it. I must assume that this includes you.
    Your comment, “I would strongly urge you to read at least some old-earth theologians,” is rather condescending, Jay. Do you really think that I am unaware of the views of old-earth theologians. I’ve read plenty from them. And I very strongly believe that they are utterly wrong.
    I could go on much longer here (I haven’t even touched upon the point I was trying to make in the previous entry), but I will close by reiterating that if you believe that the passages from Genesis that were quoted above could actually refer to a local flood, then we are on entirely different wavelengths, and there is no point in continuing our dialogue.

    1. jlwile says:

      Steve, I know that the people who believe in an old earth and a worldwide Flood are the extreme minority. That’s why I said that most people who believe in an old earth reject a worldwide Flood. I did not focus on your technical error. I just corrected your mistake.

      I think you must have misunderstood what I wrote. When I wrote that the answer lies in between, I clearly did not mean that there was something between a local and worldwide Flood. It obviously must be one or the other. What I clearly meant was that it is not obvious that the Scriptures indicate a worldwide Flood (as you claim), just as it is not obvious that the Scriptures indicate a local Flood (as others claim). The answer is in between. There is evidence for both sides, but I think that the evidence for a worldwide Flood is greater. Thus, I believe in a worldwide Flood, but as anyone who honestly studies the issue understands, the answer is not obvious.

      I am sorry that you think I was being patronizing. I certainly didn’t mean to be. However, your comments make it clear that you have not seriously read old-earth theologians. If you had, you would know that the translation of Genesis 6-8 is not nearly as clear-cut as you want it to be. As anyone who has investigated this issue knows, “all flesh” in Gen. 6:13 might not mean all people. After all, we know that Noah and his family were not part of the end of “all flesh.” Thus, there were at least some exceptions to the word “all.” How do we know there weren’t more? In addition, the same Hebrew word translated “earth” is used elsewhere in Scripture to mean “land,” which often refers to a local area. In addition, there are some problems if you interpret that word as meaning the entire earth here. After all, Genesis 8:14 uses the same word to say, “In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.” However, the whole earth cannot be dry. There have to be oceans! In addition, the Hebrew word translated “higher” really just means “upward,” so it is possible to translate the Hebrew to indicate that the total depth of the Flood was fifteen cubits. In addition, the same word translated “mountains” can also just mean “hills.” The work of any old-earth theologian will teach you these things.

      Now please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t believe this interpretation. However, I have to admit it is at least reasonable. A lot of other devout, Bible-believing Christians also think it is reasonable, including many who know more Hebrew than you and I will ever hope to know. You cannot claim that these people are “under the influence of the theory of evolution and the chronology that accompanies it.” After all, one of the most popular ministries that holds to this view, Reasons to Believe, specifically fights against evolution. You even say that I must be under this influence, which is clearly wrong, since I am a young-earth creationist! It doesn’t take any knowledge of evolution or a geological chronology to recognize that the Hebrew translation in Genesis 6-8 is not nearly as clear-cut as you think it is.

      So yes, the flood account in Genesis could refer to a local Flood. I don’t think it does, but it is possible to translate the Hebrew to accommodate a local Flood.

      Don’t worry about the tone of your comment. However, I would ask that you honestly learn the local Flood position before you claim that it is so obviously wrong.

  9. Steve B says:

    As I read over my latest comment, Jay, I don’t like the way it comes across … too combative. I’m sorry. I just want you to recognize that the flood described in Genesis is so clearly worldwide in scope. Just read the words.
    That’s all!

  10. Greg says:

    Regarding the world-wide vs local flood issue, Carol Hill’s article, “The Noachian Flood: Universal or Local?” from Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith might be a good start to understanding the textual and geological evidence in support of a local flood. (http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/Carol%201.pdf)

    Along the same lines: Wolgenmuth et al., “Theologians need to hear from Christian Geologists about Noah’s Flood” — http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Physical%20Science/Geologists_Noahs_Flood_Paper_at_ETS_by_Wolgemuth_Bennett_Davidson.pdf

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for the links, Greg. I disagree with the interpretation, but it is important for people to learn what it actually is.

  11. gracekalman says:

    I’d like to point out that the point of the flood was to destroy all mankind other than Noah and his family. I realize that mankind had not covered the earth at that point, but animals most likely had, and so a local threat would not have posed such a threat to the animal population as to require that Noah preserve them on the ark. Gen. 6:7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. v.17 everything that is in the earth shall die.
    You argue the meaning of the word “earth”. I think it quite simply means land not naturally covered by oceans. After all, Noah did not take marine animals onto the ark. So they are not “in the earth”.
    Gen. 7:4 “And every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” That doesn’t sound local to me.
    Gen. 7:11 fountains of the great deep broken up for just a local flood?
    Gen. 7:19 and all the high hills, that were under the WHOLE HEAVEN, were covered (emphasis mine).
    Gen. 7:22 all that was in the DRY LAND, died. (emphasis mine) this might be your definition of land. In Geometry, this is called substitution.
    Gen 9:1 Be fruitful, and multiply, and REPLENISH the earth. (emphasis mine) Gen. 9:11 neither shall there any more be a flodd to destroy the earth.
    There’s that earth again. Still, I think that this is about as clear as it gets. “If common sense makes good sense, seek no other sense.”
    I’d say that the local flood/global flood debate is rather a direct attack on God’s honesty. The only way this says a local flood is if you really want it to say that. Just read what God says and accept it. Or you can go to Revelation and argue that it was a local fire that produced a new heaven and a new earth.

    1. jlwile says:

      Grace, I will have to disagree with you on this one. The problem is that if you treat Scripture in this way, we have to believe in a geocentric universe. After all, the English translations of the Scriptures are pretty clear that the earth does not move:

      “Tremble before Him, all the earth; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. ” – 1 Chronicles 16:30

      “The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. ” – Psalm 93:1

      “Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.” -Psalm 96:10

      However, we know that the earth does, indeed, move. Thus, we recognize that the Hebrew word for “move” in those passages need not refer to physical movement.

      You say that Genesis 7:4 doesn’t sound local to you. However, if the Hebrew word for “earth” is translated “land,” then it is talking about destroying all the living things in a local region. In addition, we know that the words “every living substance” can’t refer to EVERYTHING that is alive, since God did not destroy the animals on the ark or the people on the ark. So the question is, how big is the exception to “all?” The Hebrew translated “great deep” in Genesis 7:11 can also mean “irrigation canals.” If so, that would mean it was definitely a local Flood. I could go on and on, but these issues are already thoroughly addressed in the links that appear in this thread.

      You say, “The only way this says a local flood is if you really want it to say that.” However, that’s just not correct. Every translation is an interpretation. A change in translation, using completely acceptable translation rules, yields a narrative that is consistent with a local Flood. I don’t think that translation is correct, but it is not unreasonable. Just as a change in translation changes the Scriptures I quoted above to allow for a heliocentric solar system, a change in translation to Genesis 6-8 allows for a local Flood. Once again, I encourage you to learn the theology behind the local Flood view. There are some good links in this thread. I don’t think it is correct, but it cannot be ruled out completely

  12. JL says:

    It seems to me that one way to weigh the merits of the OA/YE and flood interpretations would be to examine what theologians thought before the advent of modern geology. If the old earth/local flood interpretation is as evident from the Scriptures as the young earth/worldwide flood position, then it seems to me that the proportion of theologians holding either position should be similar throughout the existence of Christianity.

    1. jlwile says:

      JL, I will have to disagree with you on that. Following your suggestion, we all have to believe that the earth doesn’t move, because before Copernicus, there was no theologian with whom I am familiar who thought that the earth moved. The geocentric view of the solar system worked perfectly in the early theology of Christendom, and that theology turned out to be wrong.

      I personally think that Christendom learns over time. Thus, some ancient views on theology can be completely ruled out based on what we know now. In the same way, new theology that is good can develop, as we learn more about the Scriptures, Creation, and the nature of God.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Very encouraging post!

    We are reading through Acts right now — the apostle Paul was highly skilled in debate, using reason to argue for the existence of the one true God and the Atoning death and Resurrection of Jesus.

    I was always taught that are nine “essentials” that *must* be true for an evangelical Christian Church: Humanity’s sin nature, the Deity of Christ, Virgin birth, Substitutionary death, Resurrection, infallibility of the Scriptures, Creation of man (the means by which could be up for debate, but we would all agree it was no accident), 2nd Coming (4 views on that), Assignment of all souls to Heaven or Hell – Final Judgment.

    The other things are open to ‘develop’, it does seem.

    I guess it’s this way because God wants us to keep the main thing the main thing?

    Also, I once heard a suggestion for families that could help equip kids on all manner of topics: Dinner Table Debates! Mom and a couple kids take one side; Dad and the other kids take the opposing view. You have some time to prepare and then face off!! More important than who wins, the participants learn why they believe what they do and the finer points/merits of the other side.

    1. jlwile says:

      What a great idea, Elizabeth! I am very fond of using the technique of debate to help people learn things. It promotes investigation, critical thinking, and open-mindedness, all of which are essential to serious learning.

      I agree that there only a handful of essentials to the Christian faith. Most of the topics we discuss in Christendom are therefore open to inquiry and debate. I personally think this is because Christianity is the process by which an Infinite God revealed Himself to finite people. Since it is impossible for finite people to understand infinity, much of God’s revelation will be open to debate until we meet eternity!

  14. mark c says:

    Wow Was this part of your blog about debating an evolutionist? Sounds more like now a debate about the extent of the the Noahic flood. I think the preceding is exactly why most people refuse to debate. In most cases it ends up being a dog and pony show with whose arguments sound better. I am not an Evolutionist but I think it is part of the scientific models for the development and life on earth, and if true an truly incredible story with God behind it all.
    By the way this comment by Steve B. “In regards to the Christian apologist you mentioned, let’s be honest: there are also people that still believe in a flat earth and others that still believe that the sun revolves around the earth. Simply because they exist, are we to factor them into the debate? I hope you agree with me that we shouldn’t.” If we follow this reasoning most of my YEC brothers and sisters like Dr. Wile will not be included in the debate.There is not a scientist out there who does not base his beliefs on the Bible who thinks the scientific evidence shows that the earth and universe are 10000 years old. Merry Christmas.

    1. jlwile says:

      Marc, I agree that the discussion has wandered a bit off topic, but I think it has been good. I do hope that Steve B and others who hold to his opinion at least learn from the debate that there is another view out there which can be reasonably argued.

      I also agree that some debates end up being just about whose arguments sound better. However, I don’t think that’s true of all debates. It certainly wasn’t true about the one that started me down the path of finding out how strongly science points to the existence of God.

      It is true that I don’t know of anyone who believes in a young earth who does not also believe in the Bible. However, I can tell you that from my perspective, the Bible simply allows me to be open-minded about the age of the earth. If you don’t believe the Bible, you are pretty much locked in to an ancient earth. Thus, any evidence that says otherwise has to be ignored, and despite the unscientific nature of believing in an old earth, you have to believe in it. Since the Bible is consistent with a young earth and an old earth, a Bible-believing Christian can be open-minded about the issue and consider all the evidence. This is how I came to believe in a young earth. The Bible simply allowed me to investigate the evidence in an open-minded way, and when I did that, it was pretty evident to me that the earth is young.

      Merry Christmas to you as well!

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Since it is impossible for finite people to understand infinity, much of God’s revelation will be open to debate until we meet eternity…very good… never thought of it like that.

    Related to examination of the evidence, I once read in a book by Habermas/Licona (I think) that since nothing can be known with 100% certainty, we all reason from evidence to evaluate any truth claim, from the reality of your existence to what you ate for breakfast. We accept claims that have the most supporting evidence as ‘true’, though they can never actually be ‘proven’ in the absolute sense.

  16. W_Nelson says:

    One more thing:

    What’s troubling to me is how evolution is some sort of automatic default when arguing about the age of the Earth. That is, that somehow the age of the Earth implies evolution — at least it seems that way in the debate. At the back of every dating argument seems to loom “Ah-a!, we’ve proven that X dating method is foolproof”, ergo evolution is true.

    This is amazing, given that evolution has never been modeled or observed, start-to-finish, in even the simplest species. In fact, our knowledge of Life is so incomplete, we CAN’T model this due to that level of ignorance. All “proofs” of evolution are bits and pieces, a proposed modification here, a broken pathway there.

    In reality, there is no reason to assume that evolution — as a process acting on Life/DNA as we know it — is even possible. But somehow it’s purported to be “as certain as the Law of Gravity”. How does something that’s never been prototyped even once claim to account for everything that has ever existed? And claim with such force?

    For some reason, this alternate account — that Chaos is the mother of ALL order — is a powerful enough philosophical force that it is shaking not only real Science, but too many Christians’ faith in the propositional truth in the Bible. (all or in part)

    It just seems that the Earth could be zillions of years old — but what does that (could that possibly) have to do with Chaos as the mother of all order? There’s a sneaky shift in there somewhere that we aren’t quite aware of.

    1. jlwile says:

      W_Nelson, I most certainly agree with you that the earth can be as old as you want, but that doesn’t go one step towards providing evidence for evolution. There are two ways to give solid evidence for evolution. One would be a series of fossils that show precisely the transition from one type of creature to another type. That would show us that evolution occurred, even if we don’t understand how it happened. The other way would be to give a step-by-step mechanism that shows how it can happen in a way that is consistent with the laws of chemistry and physics as we know them. Since neither of those two lines of evidence have been produced, it is clear that evolution is, at best, an unconfirmed hypothesis.

      I think the reason an ancient earth is stressed in discussions of evolution is that it allows evolutionists to use the “magic wand” of time. They can say, “Sure, we don’t see these kinds of processes happening now, because they are too improbable. However, with billions of years, all things are possible.” Of course, that is nothing more than wishful thinking, but it is a big part of any evolution apologetic.

  17. gracekalman says:

    Dr. Wile, I really appreciate your dovotion to research. It is obvious that you carefully research every scientific statement that you make. However, it would appear that you have not done much research in the area of Bible translations. I would appreciate a definition of “perfectly acceptable translation rules”.
    If you are really interested in more information (I realize that you are a scientist, not a theologion, so feel free to ignore this) I would suggest Which Version Is the Bible by Floyd Jones, The Answer Book by Hank Hanegraaff, and Defending the King James Bible by D. A. Waite. This last one is harder reading than the others. The Answer Book has good information, but is not as complete as Which Version Is the Bible. WVITB is the clearest read.

    In Physical Science, you taught me that motion is relative. Whenever I read the verses you mentioned, I always assumed that it referred to life on earth, something along the lines of God’s plans and judgments are permanent and cannot be changed. You could also say that it does not move in relation to its distance from the sun, although it revolves around it.
    I believe that there are no mistakes in the Bible. God obviously knows that the earth moves, so He meant something else in these verses. This would be an example of common sense not making good sense, although I never thought about it from your view point, so I never sought another sense. I’ll have to think about that. Thanks, Dr. Wile.

    1. jlwile says:

      Grace, thanks for your reply. Actually, I have researched Bible translations. “Perfectly acceptable translational rules” are the rules agreed to by experts in translation. Each language has idioms and multiple definitions for a single word, so there are general rules set out for how to translate the language based on these considerations. Given the scholarship that exists in Hebrew translation, the Flood account could be translated to be consistent with a local Flood.

      I am glad that you think Hank Hanegraaff is good resource, as he takes essentially the same position I do – that there is evidence for both the old-earth and the young-earth view. Also, if you read his book, Has God Spoken, he says essentially the same thing that I say about the Flood. He says that a local Flood is one possible interpretation of the Flood account.

      The problem with your view of the word “move” in the passages I quoted is that the earth does, indeed, move relative to the sun. At perihelion, it is 91,445,000 miles from the sun. At aphelion, however, it is 94,555,000 miles from the sun. This is because the earth doesn’t orbit the sun in a circle. It does so in an ellipse. Thus, the earth does move relative to the sun. In fact, it moves relative to pretty much everything! I agree that God means something different from the typical use of the English word “move” in these passages. However, that was not the view throughout most of Christendom. Throughout most of Christianity’s history, those verses were used to support the geocentric view of the solar system. This is why it is important to refer to theologians from time to time, especially on the details of Scripture. Sometimes, the English translation does not give the original meaning of the texts.

      I am glad this has given you something to think about. That’s the main reason I have this blog!

  18. Rio says:

    2Peter verse 6 ” Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood.” Doesnt that mean the whole world was coverd wtih the flood and destroyed.

    1. jlwile says:

      Rio, I think you mean 2Peter 3:6. This is one of the reasons I hold to a worldwide Flood. However, local Flood advocates say that this can be interpreted to mean the world as it was known back then. Thus, this refers to the governments, structures, etc., in the region where the Flood occurred. They argue that it can’t mean the whole world was destroyed, because it wasn’t. The world still existed after the Flood, even if you believe in a worldwide Flood. So both the use of the word “destroyed” and the use of the word “world” are not universal.

  19. Steve B says:

    Thank you for taking the time to reply at such length to my comments, Jay. Apparently, our dialogue has caught the attention of some others. In a previous response you said, that you are “not at all concerned about what [I] believe on this specific issue.” I want to make it clear that I, on the other hand, am very concerned about what you believe about this issue. I will explain exactly why shortly.

    Despite your apology for being patronizing in a previous reply, in the very next sentence you are guilty of the same attitude once again: “However, your comments make it clear that you have not seriously read old-earth theologians.” How do you know what I’ve read – or haven’t read? I have indeed read much of the literature of old-earth theologians. After your patronizing comment, you proceed to specify 4 or 5 reasons commonly cited by believers in a local flood in support of their position. The very clear implication of your remarks is that I must not be aware of these reasons because I am supposedly not familiar with the writings of old-earth theologians. Your supposition is entirely wrong, however, Jay. I am completely familiar with all of these suggestions, but I find them completely unconvincing. For example, you point out that one interpretation of the Hebrew in Genesis 7:20 indicates that the TOTAL DEPTH of the flood was only 15 cubits. Good Lord, can’t you see the absurdity of such an interpretation? How in the world could a flood that was only about 22 feet high (15 cubits) cover all of the world’s mountains (or hills, if you want to believe that the Hebrew word for mountains actually means hills – which I definitely don’t … a search on the Internet reveals that the vast majority of English translations interpret the Hebrew as “mountains” … who am I (or you) to question the expertise in Hebrew of the people who composed these translations?)! Furthermore, why in the world would God have commanded Noah and his family to spend 120 years building a 450 foot long ark to save him from a 22 foot high flood? Open your eyes, brother. An interpretation that claims that the flood waters were only about 22 feet high is ABSOLUTELY ABSURD!! If you believe that the flood was worldwide, you shouldn’t tolerate it; it should be lambasted! As far as I’m concerned, the other arguments from the local flood adherents that you presented are also unworthy of serious consideration – and, to repeat, I’m familiar with all of them. I get the feeling that you bend over backwards to be tolerant of views that you don’t agree with. I think you are bending too far at times. It’s okay to call a spade a spade when it is called for!

    Before telling you why I care what you believe about this topic, I want to clear something up. Mark stated that, “There is not a scientist out there who does not base his beliefs on the Bible who thinks the scientific evidence shows that the earth and universe are 10000 years old.” Although this may be true, a more important truth is that the scientists who do believe that the earth is only about 10,000 years old (young-earth creationists) believe that the SCIENTIFIC evidence strongly supports their position. So do I.

    The reason that I care about your belief, Mark, is that YEC’s need all the help they can get in convincing people that the theory of evolution is utterly wrong – to be specific, an outright LIE. You say that you believe in young-earth creation. If you do, then you must believe that the TOE is a lie, also. The lynchpin of the TOE is the ancient age of the earth. In regards to the theory, in a famous article written by George Wald that appeared in Scientific American in 1954, the author wrote, “time is the hero of the plot. The time which we have to deal with is of the order of two billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the “impossible” becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One only has to wait; time performs the miracles.”
    Time performs the miracles – not the Creator.

    Although it has since been virtually proven that life could never have evolved from nonliving chemicals through random natural events, regardless of the amount of time allowed, all theories that include evolution – including those of theistic evolutionists and Intelligent Designers – require a great amount of time. Once it is demonstrated that the scientific evidence does not support this vast amount of time, the theory of evolution comes crashing down. And I believe that the scientific evidence does indeed support a young earth to a far greater extent than an ancient one. A worldwide flood is one of the most powerful evidences of a young earth. Consequently, claims that this flood was local lends support to an ancient earth chronology, regardless what its claimants may believe.

    The world is overrun with believers in the theory of evolution. It cries out for more people who stand up for God’s truth. One of these truths is that the Genesis Flood was worldwide in scope. If you are a young-earth creationist, as you claim, you must believe this also. So, stand up for your beliefs! There is no need to compromise.

    Although this entry may seem rather long, it barely scratches the surface of the things that I have to say about this topic. To tell you the truth, I could write a book about it … Actually, I already have. It’s called “Scopes Retried.”

    Finally, please hold off on the patronizing comments about my need to read the works of old-earth theologians. One more time: I HAVE read them.

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for your reply, Steve. I understand that you are very concerned about what I believe, but that matters little to me. I am only worried about what God is concerned about, and I don’t see Him as concerned over this issue.

      Once again, I am not trying to be patronizing, and I am sorry if I come across that way. However, the only way I can judge your knowledge is based on what you write. If you find the old-earth theologian arguments unconvincing, you should start there. You shouldn’t reiterate what they have already answered, because that’s what makes it sound like you haven’t read them.

      I find it interesting that you defend the use of mountains instead of hills simply by the claim that most English translations use the word “mountains.” You then say, “who am I (or you) to question the expertise in Hebrew of the people who composed these translations?)!” That’s rather odd. I could tell you that the vast majority of Christians who are scientists believe in evolution, which is true. Thus, I could say, “who am I (or you) to question the expertise in science of the those Christians?!” When it comes to the age of the earth, I could once again point out that the vast majority of Christians who are scientists accept an old earth. Thus, I could say, “who am I (or you) to question the expertise in science of the those Christians?!” The point is that a position is not correct simply because the majority say so. Just as there are some excellent scientists who disagree with evolution and an ancient earth, there are some excellent translators who disagree with the typical translation of Genesis 6-8. Who cares what the majority says? Let’s look at the arguments. While I don’t find the arguments of the local-Flood advocates convincing, I do find them reasonable.

      A 22.5-foot Flood could, indeed, cover the local hills. Where I live, there isn’t a hill over 15 feet. There are lots of places like that around the world. It is certainly possible that Israel and its surrounding areas used to be very flat. Obviously, even such a “shallow” Flood would cause complete devastation of that area. Once again, this argument has been answered by many local Flood advocates. The Lord is, indeed, good. I truly wish you wouldn’t use His name as an exclamation, however.

      You ask, “Furthermore, why in the world would God have commanded Noah and his family to spend 120 years building a 450 foot long ark to save him from a 22 foot high flood?” Why would God make the world in six 24-hour days? He could have made it all in an instant? Why would God test Abram’s faith? He knew what was in Abram’s heart. Why did God have Noah make an ark at all? He could have floated them all in the air in a protective bubble. God’s ways are not our ways, Steve, and I don’t ever want to come close to assuming that I know much of anything about the mind of God. Once again, this argument has been answered by many local Flood advocates.

      You say, ” If you believe that the flood was worldwide, you shouldn’t tolerate it; it should be lambasted!” I strongly disagree with such a view. In fact, when I learn the theology behind the local Flood view, I find that I cannot lambaste it, because it is reasonable. I wholeheartedly agree that “It’s okay to call a spade a spade when it is called for!” However, that’s precisely what I am doing here. The local Flood interpretation is at least reasonable, even though I disagree with it. That’s the spade I am calling a spade. I am not “bending over backwards” to be tolerant. I am simply allowing the theology to speak for itself.

      You make another sweeping statement that is not really true. You say, “Although this may be true, a more important truth is that the scientists who do believe that the earth is only about 10,000 years old (young-earth creationists) believe that the SCIENTIFIC evidence strongly supports their position.” That’s not necessarily the case. I have read several young-earth creationists (scientists included) who think that the majority of science supports the old-earth position. However, they believe in a young earth because they think that it is a necessary interpretation of Scripture and that, as time goes on, we will understand science better so as to see why the earth really isn’t that old. Also, there are a large number of young-earthers (scientists included) who believe that God created the world and universe with the appearance of age. This, of course, means they think science points to an old earth, but it is a consequence of how God made the earth. However, I am with you on this point. I do think that science overwhelmingly supports a young earth.

      I think you are referring to me, not Mark, when you say, “The reason that I care about your belief, Mark, is that YEC’s need all the help they can get in convincing people that the theory of evolution is utterly wrong.” However, if that is the case, you need to read this blog. You will see that I spend a lot of time specifically discussing the problems with evolution. In addition, I discuss many of the scientific evidences for a young earth. Thus, I am doing exactly what you want. I am simply doing it from a position of honest dialogue.

      I don’t compromise, and it annoys me when Christians say that any other Christian who disagrees with them “compromises.” There is a difference between compromise and honest dialogue. I am interested in honest dialogue; I am not interested in setting myself up as the sole arbiter of truth. Instead, I listen to people’s arguments, evaluate them, and decide whether or not they are reasonable. In fact, that’s the reason I am a Christian today. I read views that opposed my atheist views, and I found their arguments to be superior to mine. I take that approach with all issues I investigate – look at both sides and honestly evaluate the arguments.

      My approach seems to be very useful to some people. I am sorry it is not for you.

  20. Vivielle says:

    It’s interesting seeing this post today. My good friend and I were just talking today before a biology final about how in your face a lot of biologists are about evolution, and that many biologists (at least our professors)seem to like to drag evolution into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. We were contrasting this to chemists, who don’t seem overly concerned at all about the origin of the world, or at least not militant about their beliefs. (At least our chem professors.:)In other words, I could tell you where every biology professor I ever had stands one evolution,but where a single one of my chem professors stands on it.

    So, is that a common difference between the worlds of bio and chem, do you think? Or is it just the mix of people that we happen to have at our school?

    Thanks!
    P.S. Sorry if this isn’t the clearest.I’m currently taking a break from studying for finals, so visions of tests filled with polyprotic titration curves are dancing in front of my eyes as I type…

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for your comment, Vivielle. It was quite clear. I think the difference you see between biologists and chemists is simply a result of how evolution is perceived to affect their field. There are evolutionists who say nonsense like, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” [Theodosius Dobzhansky, American Biology Teacher, volume 35, pages 125-129, 1973.] As a result, they “drag evolution into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.”, as you say. Now, if I am a biologist and I don’t agree with such nonsense, I am going to feel compelled to make that known to my colleagues and my students. However, if I am a biologist who agrees with such nonsense, and I know that there are those who don’t, I am going to feel compelled to promote it.

      Most chemists, however, are not affected by evolutionary nonsense one way or another. Unless they are specifically investigating something like the origin of life or the effects of mutations on proteins, they don’t face colleagues who try to bring evolution into chemistry. As a result, there are few advocates, and that causes few detractors. So you need to actually get a discussion on evolution going before they share their view.

      I would add one more thing, which is jut my opinion. I have no data to back it up. However, my gut feeling is that as a whole, chemists are much more skeptical about evolution. This is because evolution makes some truly ridiculous claims when it comes to chemistry, and I personally think that a lot of chemists recognize this. As a result, chemists are more hesitant to bring up the issue, since they see their specific field as speaking against it.

  21. JL says:

    Dr. Wile, I see your point, but I think you’re comparing apples and oranges here. The creation and flood accounts are historical narratives, part of the coherent narrative flow of salvation history from creation up to the time of Christ, whereas geocentrism is a belief about the arrangement of objects in the universe. I also disagree that geocentrism was a part of early Christian theology, though Christian theologians may have believed it, just as theologians now believe in the germ theory of disease. Both geocentrism and germ theory are the results of deductive investigations into natural processes and operations, whereas salvation history is received knowledge given through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I understand that there are different ways to interpret that history, but they should arise strictly from the language itself, not from any outside presuppositions of how the universe is arranged. Which is why I suggested looking at pre-Enlightenment views of Genesis. If the old age/local flood theory can be intrinsically deduced from the historical accounts of Scripture, it should have had adherents before Lyellian views of an old age for the earth caused many theologians to re-interpret Scripture to accommodate those views.

    1. jlwile says:

      JL, I agree that “The creation and flood accounts are historical narratives, part of the coherent narrative flow of salvation history from creation up to the time of Christ.” I also think that old-earth theologians have a coherent, self-consistent theology that tells the narrative.

      The point is that you want to judge current theology by the theology that has been around throughout the history of Christianity. The problem is that you can’t do this, because as the geocentrism issue shows, the correct interpretation of the verses that say the sun moves and earth does not was not around for the majority of the history of Christendom.

      You might disagree that geocentrism was a part of early Christian theology, but you would be utterly incorrect. On February 23, 1616, the Consulters of the Holy Office (who functioned as theological experts for the Holy Office) produced a judgment on the Copernican view (Le Opere di Galileo Galilei XIX, 320-321; Pagano, I documenti del processo di Galileo Galilei 99-100). The English translation reads, in part:

      (1) On the issue of the sun being at the center of the world, the censure was: “All agreed that this proposition is foolish and absurd in philosophy and is formally heretical, because it explicitly contradicts sentences found in many places in Sacred Scripture according to the proper meaning of the words and according to the common interpretation and understanding of the Holy Fathers and of learned theologians”

      Now the Consulters of the Holy Office would never, ever, ever call something “formally heretical” unless it went against the historical teachings of the Church and was an integral part of the Church’s theology.

      Thus, the idea that we can only confirm a theology by looking in the past does not work. We know that geocentrism was enough a part of Christian theology that to suggest otherwise was deemed formally heretical. Now we know that what was deemed formally heretical is true. The past is not always a guide to truth. It should be considered, of course, but it should not be the only consideration.

  22. gracekalman says:

    I thought about it overnight, and I can now see your point that it could be translated to mean a local flood much more easily than I thought. I base my thoughts on the reference to “under the whole heaven” and also “the fountains of the great deep”. I was curious about your reference to canals, so I went to my concordance. The word translated “deep” in twice in the passage is also used in Gen. 49:25 “Even by the God of thy father … and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under…” Deut. 33:13 also references this passage, translating it as deep again. Job 38:30 “the face of the deep is frozen.” There are many more. According to Strong’s, Tehowm, the word translated deep means “an abyss (as a surging mass of water), espec. the deep (the main sea or the subterranean wather-supply):–deep (place), depth.”
    Just so you know where I’m coming from. And I should have known about the elliptical orbit. Sorry, I forgot.

    1. jlwile says:

      Like I said, Grace, I am glad I got you thinking. That’s my main goal. If you look at the NAS Exhaustive concordance, you will see that the Hebrew word can also refer to springs. I think that is a better way to say it than “irrigation canals.” It’s the same word used in Deuteronomy 8:7, which is usually rendered, “For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills.” The verse is talking about a land with good irrigation, but not really irrigation canals. Thanks for correcting me on that.

  23. gracekalman says:

    Does NAS refer to New American Standard? Sorry, you can’t use that version with me.

    1. jlwile says:

      Yes, Grace, it does refer to New American Standard. If you don’t like that, look at how the KJV says it:

      “For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills.”

      While the KJV still uses the word “depths,” it is clearly referring to water that pours forth from the ground. Thus, it is describing springs, even if it doesn’t use the actual word.

  24. gracekalman says:

    I realize that. I just wanted to point out that I can’t accept the NASV as the word of God.
    Springs is translated as apposed to deeps, or apposed to fountains?
    In this case, I would translate it as springs from the subterranean water supply.
    This is kink of off track though. As you pointed out, it can be read either way. This is the way I beleive reasonable. Others look at it differently, but still within the scope of reason. Thanks for showing me that.

    1. jlwile says:

      In the NASB (and most modern translations), the Hebrew word for “deep” is translated as “springs.” In the KJV, it is translated “depths,” but those depths “spring out of valleys and hills.” Thus, to me, the KJV is talking about springs, even though it doesn’t use the word. Both the NASB and the KJV use the term “fountains.” Thus, the only question is how you translate the Hebrew word that the Flood account translates as “deep.” While the KJV translates it as “depths” in Deuteronomy 8:7, it clearly isn’t referring to the ocean. It is referring to water that springs from the valleys and hills.

  25. mark c says:

    Dr. Wile,

    You took the words out of my mouth in your last response to Steve, sorry that my last post had some errors in it I am writing these between sessions of “Exploring Creation with Physical Science” with my son, we are almost done looking forward to starting Chemistry in January. Just to clear up some misunderstandings, I said I am not an Evolutionist (Capital E) but I did not say I am a YEC. Evolution is not a lie! It may not be how God created life on this planet but it is a working scientific theory (see Dr. Todd Wood’s Blog) I may not agree with Dr. Wood and Dr. Wile’s belief that the Bible teaches a young earth but I respect their positions and honest approach. I come down that science “strongly supports an old earth and universe”. Apparent age for me is not an option. Therefore I am left to find a symbiosis between God’s Special and general revelation. Our late friend Dr Arthur Holmes said it well “All Truth is God’s Truth” Those who tenaciously hold to a YEC position to the exclusion of all other viewpoints in my opinion put an unnecessary “stumbling block” in the way to Faith in Christ for those who have a “scientific” bent. Thanks again JWile for letting us vent in this space.

    1. jlwile says:

      My pleasure, Mark. I obviously disagree with you when it comes to what science says about the age of the earth, but I have no problem with you believing that. In fact, I know many wonderful Christians who agree with you. I will also have to disagree with you that YECs put an unnecessary “stumbling block” in the way to Faith in Christ for those who have a “scientific” bent. In fact, I know several scientists who became Christians because of the work of YEC authors and ministries. Indeed, part of the reason I am a Christian today is because of works like The Genesis Flood. I would rather say that those who tenaciously hold to a YEC position to the exclusion of all other viewpoints are harming the cause of Christ just as much as those who tenaciously hold to an OEC position or a theistic evolution position.

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I’m no expert on Hebrew or Greek but I do know that the Bible interprets itself.

    So what you do is go through it and see how much supporting Scripture you have for the particular view you are considering — whether it be local/worldwide flood, Pre/A/Post millenialism or Preterism (eschatology), women’s role in the church, to drink or not to drink, method of baptism, etc, etc, etc. Of course, Christians can come to different conclusions and still be C’s – where it can get heretical is if it compromises regarding the 9 Essentials (IMHO)

    Was the heresy of geocentrism part of Catholic Church doctrine? They considered a lot of things blasphemous that Reformed Protestant Christianity deemed perfectly acceptable according to the Bible so I’m not sure about quoting them as an authority on Bible interpretation, but it certainly is true that views in these ‘non-essential’ areas can/do change with time/culture/scientific discoveries/historical developments.

    1. jlwile says:

      In answer to your question, Elizabeth, geocentrism was just as much a part of the Reformers’ theology as it was the Roman Catholic Church’s theology. John Calvin, for example, was an ardent defender of geocentrism. He said that those who say the earth moves around the stationary sun pervert the course of nature. [Rosen, Edward, Copernicus and his Successors, London: Hambledon Press 1995, p. 159]

      Here’s what Martin Luther said:

      People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth. [The Popular Science Monthly, November, 1875, p. 394]

      Regardless of where you look in Christendom, geocentrism was a part of the theology for most of its history.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    It looks like non-Geocentrism was considered heresy for the pre-Reformed Catholic Church and maybe just ‘bad theology’ for the Reformers?

    In any case, it makes your point that we need to be careful about what we term bad theology, and especially ‘heresy’

    I personally believe the Bible could support some form of Annihilationism related to Hell/Final Judgment and I think at one time that view was considered borderline heretical.

  28. Elizabeth says:

    I know we have gotten way off the topic of the post but I am curious about the hermeneutics of geocentrism, flat-earthism, etc.

    In theology, there is something called ‘language of appearance’, correct? — where the Bible communicates accurate descriptions of creation or history as we observe them to exist or happen eg. Genesis 1:16 says the moon is the lesser light when in fact it gives off no light of its own from the scientific perspective.

    So they took the ‘language of appearance’ as technical information. Of course the bigger mistake was making the helio/geocentrics a matter of orthodoxy.

    I wonder if there are any more obvious (to the pre-17th century scientist/theologian) examples of the ‘language of appearance’ as a biblical style of communication that would have made heliocentrism a possibility consistent with an honest read of the Bible.

  29. Steve B says:

    Jay … You are right that a reference I made to Mark at one point was intended for you. Unfortunately, my request that you stop patronizing me went unheeded once again. You just can’t seem to resist the temptation to imply that I must not have read the arguments of old-earth theologians: “You shouldn’t reiterate what they have already answered, because that’s what makes it sound as if you haven’t read them.” In a debate, arguments from the opposing side are always referenced. They must be, in order to demonstrate why they are wrong. So, one more time, I HAVE read the arguments of old-earth theologians, and believers in a local flood, and find them utterly unconvincing.

    Before using the phrase “Good Lord” I carefully considered whether you might criticize this choice of words. I decided that you would understand that my intentions were completely pure. Obviously, I misjudged you. Your criticism was petty and disappointing – and, once again, patronizing.

    The paragraph that begins, “You ask …” and ends, “… this argument has been answered by many local flood adherents,” attempts to rationalize God’s command for Noah to build a 450 foot long ark – and Noah’s subsequent fulfillment of this command – to save him from a 22 foot flood by suggesting that this apparently absurd situation is a mystery that we cannot answer, because we cannot know the mind of God (In your words, “God’s ways are not our ways, Steve, and I don’t ever want to come close to assuming that I know much of anything about the mind of God”). As clearly as anything you have said, your position on this convoluted argument of local flood adherents indicates that you have gone way overboard in your effort to be tolerant. The draft of the ark may very well have been greater than 22 feet (it was 45 feet high and loaded with a very significant cargo), which means that it probably wouldn’t have even been able to float in a 22 foot high flood. This fact results in the preposterous situation of Noah spending 120 years building an ark that he would never be able to use for its intended purpose. The God that I am familiar with would never make such a useless command. Of course, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the ark was used – for about a year, in fact (Gen. 8:14 teaches that the total length of time that Noah and his family were in the ark was 371 days).

    Genesis 7:23 & 24 declares, “Thus He [God] blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. And the water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.” I must ask you, Jay: do you honestly believe that the notion that this massive destruction could have resulted from a 22 foot high flood in one little corner of the Middle East is reasonable? If your answer to this question is “yes,” I can guarantee you that you are the only young-earth creationist in the world who would do so. No YEC that I have ever come across would consider such a notion reasonable; they would call it absolutely bizarre.

    1. jlwile says:

      Steve, I am sorry you had problems entering your comment. I don’t know what the problem is, but I will reply to the comment that I do see.

      I am still sorry that you see my replies to you as patronizing. They are most certainly not intended to be. Once again, if you make arguments that have all been clearly answered by local Flood advocates, it sounds like you don’t know that they have been answered. All I was doing was pointing out that they have been, by several different theologians. I understand that you have to present opposing arguments, but you could easily amend those already-answered arguments with, “I know that local Flood advocates answer that with X, but here is why I find that unconvincing.” You have not done that, however. This makes me compelled to point out that such answers are readily available.

      I am really sorry that you find my desire to respect the Lord’s name “petty and disappointing – and, once again, patronizing.” I personally think we should honor the Lord by using his name properly. I don’t see how that’s petty or patronizing. I personally find someone using the Lord’s name as an exclamation to be disappointing.

      Once again, you accuse me of going overboard in an attempt to be tolerant, but I assure you, that’s not what I am doing. I honestly don’t think we can know the reasons why God does most of the things He does. Can you explain why He created the world in six 24-hour days rather than just all at once or rather than along some other timeline? Can you explain why He tested Abraham, even though He knew what was in Abraham’s heart? The fact is that God does work in mysterious ways, and there could be all sorts of reasons that He told Noah to make a big ark, even if the Flood was local. Once again, local flood advocates have posited such things in many of their writings. Some say that it was part of Noah’s journey of faith, just as being willing to sacrifice his son was a part of Abraham’s journey of faith. Some say that Noah was to be a symbol for future generations. Others say that there were some specific flora and fauna that existed only in the region, and that in order for the quick recovery of ecosystems to support those local flora and fauna, representatives from all basic kinds of animals needed to be saved. I personally have no idea, and I don’t try to understand why God does things. I just try to honestly see what Scripture says He did.

      You might be right that the ark’s draft could have been deeper than 22 feet. However, I am not sure that’s true. At minimum, I would like to see some actual calculations to indicate this. Even if that is the case, however, it doesn’t destroy the local Flood view. It just means that the proper translation (in the view of local Flood advocates) is that the water was 15 cubits above the highest hill in the area.

      You quote Genesis 7:23 & 24 and ask, “I must ask you, Jay: do you honestly believe that the notion that this massive destruction could have resulted from a 22 foot high flood in one little corner of the Middle East is reasonable?” The problem is, if I use perfectly acceptable translation techniques, the passages could read, “Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the land; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. And the water prevailed upon the land one hundred and fifty days.” If so, then yes, a 22-foot Flood could devastate the land, if “land” refers to a local region. I am not sure whether or not you are familiar with flood dynamics, but I have studied them a bit. Floods of significantly less depth do, indeed, devastate local areas, because there is an enormous amount of power in just a small amount of water. Now…if you are asking me whether or not that’s what I believe happened, the answer is a clear, “No!” However, it is at least a possibility, and it is 100% consistent with the physics of fluids with which I am familiar.

      You end your comment with, “I can guarantee you that you are the only young-earth creationist in the world who would do so. No YEC that I have ever come across would consider such a notion reasonable; they would call it absolutely bizarre.” This is the third sweeping statement you have made in our conversation. Since the other two (that all OECs reject a worldwide Flood and that all YECs say that science supports their view) were wrong, there is no reason to think that this one is correct. I seriously doubt that I am the only YEC who has studied this topic honestly enough to admit that the local Flood is at least a possibility.

      However, let’s suppose you are correct. Let’s suppose I am the only YEC on the planet to think that way. So what? If I were worried about what everyone else thought, I wouldn’t be a Christian. If, as a Christian, I were worried about what everyone else thought, I would be a theistic evolutionist, as that’s what most Christians believe. If, as a Christian and anti-evolutionist, I was worried about what everyone else thought, I would be an old-earth creationist, as that’s what most Christian anti-evolutionists believe. In fact, I am a Christian YEC specifically because I don’t care what others think. I care what Scripture and science say. In my view, Scripture can be interpreted reasonably in such a way as to allow for a local Flood. I don’t believe that’s the correct interpretation of Scripture, but it is a possible one. If I am the only YEC who is willing to admit that, then so be it. Until someone can actually show me reasons why a local Flood is not a possible interpretation of Genesis 6-8, then I must honor Scripture enough to admit that it is a possibility. You most certainly have not done so.

  30. Steve B says:

    Obviously, there was a problem in my attempt to enter my comments on this blog last night! It was probably my fault. Sorry!!

  31. Elizabeth says:

    I have a question:

    Does Steve need to acknowledge that the local flood view is reasonable or just that it is completely unreasonable or not heretical?

    Secondly, is there a point at which – if a person doesn’t think 6-day creation and local flood and parting of Red Sea and sun standing ‘still’ and Jonah swallowed by a whale, is correct interpretation (favoring naturalism) – it would be reasonable to wonder about their view of Scripture as a whole –> Do they really consider it ‘infallible’ as the essentials doctrine would says they should?

    1. jlwile says:

      Elizabeth, I don’t think Steve has to do anything. I personally think that the local flood view is reasonable but highly unlikely to be true. I think that’s the correct way to approach the issue, and I would love for all Christians to see it that way. However, as I have said before, I am not concerned about what people believe on such an issue, since it is not a essential part of the Christian faith.

      In terms of a person’s belief in the Bible, you need to distinguish between “inerrant” and “infallible.” Someone who thinks the Bible is inerrant thinks there is not a single mistake in the Bible. It is wholly accurate, as long as it is translated accurately and understood properly. A person who believes the Bible is inerrant automatically believes it is infallible. That’s what I believe. A person who believes the Bible is only infallible believes there might be mistakes in the Bible, because humans penned the words and humans make mistakes. However, the essential teachings of the Bible (salvation, morality, etc.) are all absolutely correct. I don’t believe that, but I know conservative, devout Christians who do.

      The other thing you have to remember is that there are parts of the Bible that are clearly not meant to be taken literally (Jesus’ command to cut out your eye if it causes you to sin, for example) and other parts that are clearly meant to be taken literally (the accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, for example). However, whether or not some parts of the Bible are meant to be taken literally is a bit less clear. As a result, I think Bible-believing Christians can disagree about whether or not parts of the Bible are historical narrative, metaphorical, poetic, etc. They can also disagree on how certain parts should be translated, because sometimes that isn’t very clear.

      Now obviously, if someone doesn’t agree with the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, that person is not a Christian and does not have a proper view of the Bible. If the person does believe all the essentials but has a reasonable interpretation that differs from mine on some non-essential issue, I will not say that he or she has an improper view of Scripture.

  32. Elizabeth says:

    I meant to say above — “that it is not completely unreasonable”

    In any case, yes, Infallibility (not necessarily in inerrancy) is essential to the faith.

    My question is this though: If say a theologian were to explain as naturalism the things we recognize as miraculous as a *general approach* to understanding the Bible, we would all rightly be a little suspect. Does that theologian really consider the Scriptures as 100% truthful and supremely morally excellent?

    For example, it is not necessarily bothersome that Norm Geisler or the early church fathers regard(ed) the Creation as allegory or metaphor and adhere to an OE view, but let’s say this was their general approach to interpreting the Creation, Flood, 10 Plagues, parting of the Red Sea, Sun at Gibeon, resurrection of the Zarepheth widow’s son, etc, etc — naturalistic as opposed to miraculous. There will probably be suspicion of their regard for the Scriptures as ‘infallible’ and I don’t think we would consider them great theologians.

    See what I mean, Dr Wile? What do you think?

    Liberal theology flirts with the line here and honestly I don’t know where it is exactly, but at some point it would be crossed.

    1. jlwile says:

      Elizabeth, I strongly agree that if a person tries to explain a large number of Biblical miracles as naturalistic, then his or her theology is quite suspect. I can’t imagine how someone like that could claim the Bible is infallible, since many of its teachings are based on the miraculous nature of God’s work.

      However, I do think you have to make a distinction between theistic evolution or a local Flood and naturalism. I don’t know many theistic evolutionists who are naturalists. There are some, of course, but most see God as “pushing” evolution along. In their minds, evolution can’t happen naturalistically (or at least the origin of life can’t). That’s most certainly what the data indicate. To them, then, the fact that it happened is a miracle – a miracle done by God. In the same way, while a local Flood is easier to understand than a global Flood, the fact that it happened right when God wanted it to happen indicates that at least the initiation of it was miraculous. Also, even if it was local, it was still the most devastating Flood ever recorded by a long, long shot. Thus, that implies something other than nature was behind it.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, I agree with that distinction. ‘Naturalism’ implies a sort of religion — giving glory/credit to a Process instead of a Creator which most OEers, theistic evolutionists, local flood people would not be on board with.

    The Creation was ‘of’ God and that is an essential of the faith.

    It’s all about the Source of Authority.

    For Catholic theology/some forms of Protestantism, it’s Church Tradition + the Bible

    Evangelical theology = the Bible

    Liberal theology = the Bible + Human Reason

    When does human reason weigh too heavily in a person’s interpretation or understanding of God and the Bible — it’s a question to be considered.

    1. jlwile says:

      I like your distinctions between groups of Christians, Elizabeth. It is a good way to look at it. Your question is a good one. I guess one place to start is to say that human reason can help us understand the authority of Scripture. However, it should not be considered equal (or even close) to it.

  34. Vivielle says:

    Thanks for your response Dr. Wile. I found it interesting that you said that there are biologists who say “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” as all of my biology professors have said that multiple times. I really want sometime to ask them why evolution is so necessary, because the more I study chemistry (and biology) the more convinced I am that evolution is ridiculous.

    Have a wonderful Christmas!

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks, Vivielle. Have a wonderful Christmas, too!

  35. gracekalman says:

    Dr. Wile, I have to thank you again for that debate. I had an argumentative essay assignment that I was agonizing over. I couldn’t even deside on a topic. Now I have one, thanks to you. Here’s what I came up with:

    One of the great theological debates today revolves around Noah’s flood. One side proclaims that the Bible clearly shows that the flood as being world wide. The other side says that the Bible can be translated just as reasonably to mean a local flood. Other issues also complicate the matter, especially that of Bible versions. I believe that the King James Bible presents the flood as world wide, providing at least three problems for proponents of a local flood.

    The first glitch in the local flood system can be found in Genesis chapter seven verse eleven. It reads, “…the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up…”. It seems rather ridiculous to imagine that God would break up “the fountains of the great deep” to produce a local flood. But what exactly are “the fountains of the great deep”? On the surface, it seems obvious (at least to me), but the proponents of a local flood have their own translation for it. “Fountains” can mean “springs”, and someone even suggested irrigation canals as “the great deep”. In such cases, a concordance definition is indispensible. According to Strong’s, Tehowm, the word translated “deep” means “an abyss (as a surging mass of water), espec. the deep (the main sea or the subterranean water-supply):–deep (place), depth” (Strong, 192). The great deep then must almost certainly refer to the ocean, or the combined subterranean water supply. So here we see springs breaking up and releasing a huge amount of water, much more than the amount needed for a local flood. Remember, this is just the first problem!

    The second problem revolves around the word “earth”. The two different translations of “earth” necessarily present the biggest translation difference in the debate. The word appears many times in Genesis chapters six through eight. Proponents for a local flood point out that the word for “earth” can also be translated “land”, meaning a nation, and therefore a local flood. Let’s head back to Strong’s for two words this time, as there are two different Hebrew words translated “earth” in these chapters. First, `erets, meaning “…the earth (at large, or partitively a land)” (Strong, 20). It would seem that they have a point with this one, as it can be translated either way. However `erets is not the only word used. In Genesis 7:4, God says, “and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” Here we have an apparent contradiction. He can’t mean everything on the face of the earth, because He is saving Noah and all the animals on the ark. Strong’s Concordance solves the problem for us: “adamah . . . soil . . . ground” (Strong, 9). This matches up with God’s definition of earth, found in Genesis 1:10 “And God called the dry land Earth…” Not only that, but the Hebrew word used there is not adamah but erets! In conclusion, it would appear that God meant all the dry land when he said earth, and therefore could not be referring to a specific land. The entire earth, all the dry land, was covered by water. After water and earth, it only makes sense to move onto the sky.

    The last problem with the local flood argument can be found in Genesis 7:19 “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.” Two words in this passage completely obliterate the local flood argument, namely, the words “whole heaven”. According to Strong’s, heaven means exactly what it appears to mean: sky. All the high hills under the whole sky were under water. All of God’s creation, water, earth, and sky, have shown the local flood theory to be obsolete.

    These three points definitely puncture the armor of local flood proponents. The King James Bible spells destruction for it. Even a cursory reading of the three flood chapters shows the theory ridiculous. The local flood theory may have it advocates, but it has formidable opponents: not only water, earth, and sky, but the also the awesome God who created them.

    I still admit that I can see where they are coming from if they use modern translations, but my King James Authorized Version, 1611 doesn’t give it much room. Thank you so much!

    1. jlwile says:

      Grace, I am glad you got inspiration for your essay from this thread. I do think you gave the local Flood argument the short end of the stick, however. You say that the “deep” released too much water for a local Flood, but that same word is used in Deuteronomy 8:7, and it clearly doesn’t mean too much water then. It means gentle streams that water a fertile land. In addition, the KJV translates “adamah” this way in Isaiah 1:7: “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your LAND, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.” Thus, it doesn’t just mean soil or ground. It can mean “land,” just as local Flood advocates claim. This is why it’s important to read experts in Hebrew on these issues.

      Finally, the words “whole heaven” need not refer to the entire sky surrounding the entire earth. In fact, the Bible uses language like that quite often when it doesn’t mean everything. In Genesis 13:9, for example, we read, “Is not the whole land before thee?” However, it means only the land of Canaan. In 1 Chronicles 14:17, we read, “And the fame of David went out into all lands; and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all nations.” However, it is unlikely that the nations in North and South America learned of David. Clearly, it means all the nations of the KNOWN worlds. This is why it is important to read theologians on these issues.

      Rio already brought up 2 Peter 3:6 in an earlier comment, and as I said to him, local Flood advocates say that this can be interpreted to mean the world as it was known back then. Thus, this refers to the governments, structures, etc., in the region where the Flood occurred. They argue that it can’t mean the whole world perished, because it didn’t. The world still existed after the Flood, even if you believe in a worldwide Flood. So both the use of the word “perished” and the use of the word “world” are not universal.

  36. gracekalman says:

    And my amazing father just dropped another bombshell.
    1 Pet. 3:5-7 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

    I have such an awesome God!

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, we mortals definitely have God-given capabilities in the reasoning/intelligence department that he intends us to use to understand Him! The Scripture is our primary and ultimate Authority. Of course, there will also be things we can’t or explain thus the purpose/meaning of Faith.

    I changed my view on Revelation regarding the nature of the ‘Beast’ and the ‘worldwide’ worship of Him that will take to take placed based on similar reasoning as that of local flood advocates. I was very surprised that I did this!!

    Here are the Scriptures involved:

    Daniel Ch.3:7

    ‘Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.’

    …We know from history that all people of every language did not worship the image of gold — only those under Neb’s influence.

    Revelation 13:3
    The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them…7 And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.[b]

    So– It could mean that worship of the Beast extends only as far as the major influence of the Beast which may not be ‘worldwide’, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar and the Daniel Scriptures.

    I don’t know it says in Greek!

    But I have long strongly adhered to the global flood view though I can’t remember exactly why.

    Dr. Wile, can you tell us the main reason(s) you think the flood was worldwide?

    1. jlwile says:

      Elizabeth, I think the Flood was worldwide because it is the most reasonable view of the text. While I agree that the Bible often uses phrases like “the whole world” to mean something other than every part of the world, I do think that the Flood account as a whole talks about amazing devastation, and it is easiest to understand that devastation as being the result of a worldwide Flood. While I understand the local-Flood advocates’ position, I don’t think their interpretation keeps to the overall tone and message of the text, which is a worldwide Flood. Also the concept of a worldwide Flood is not unique to the Bible or to the Middle-Eastern culture. It is in many cultures that couldn’t have possibly been in communication when the event was recorded. That lends a lot of evidence to the idea that there was a global Flood. Finally, a global Flood fits very nicely in the narrative of a young earth.

  38. Steve B says:

    Jay … As our recent dialogue on your blog has progressed, I became increasingly uncomfortable, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I think I now know what was troubling me. You say that you believe in young earth creation. If this is true, it seems reasonable that you would wholeheartedly support the work of the three great creationist organizations in the world, AIG (Answers in Genesis), ICR (Institute for Creation Research) and CMI (Creation Ministries International). Those involved in these organizations share some uncompromising beliefs, including the following:
    a. The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the earth and the universe.
    b. The various original life forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct creative acts of God. The living descendants of any of the original kinds (apart from man) may represent more than one species today, reflecting the genetic potential within the original kind. Only limited biological changes (including mutational deterioration) have occurred naturally within each kind since creation.
    c. The great Flood of Genesis was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and effect.
    d. The special creation of Adam (the first man) and Eve (the first woman), and their subsequent fall into sin, is the basis for the necessity of salvation for mankind.
    e. Death (both physical and spiritual) and bloodshed entered into this world subsequent to and as a direct consequence of man’s sin.
    f. Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation, spanning approximately 4,000 years from creation to Christ.
    g. The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six [6] consecutive twenty-four [24] hour days of creation.
    h. The Noachian Flood was a significant geological event and much (but not all) fossiliferous sediment originated at that time.
    i. The gap theory has no basis in Scripture.
    j. The view, commonly used to evade the implications or the authority of biblical teaching, that knowledge and/or truth may be divided into secular and religious, is rejected.
    k. By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.

    As you can see, belief that the theory of evolution is a complete lie, that the Genesis flood was WORLDWIDE in scope, that Adam was created directly by God as the first man on the 6th day of creation (each of which was 24 hours in length) and that the world is “recent” (CMI)/ approximately 6,000 years old (AIG) are fundamental tenets of these statements.

    Very significantly, these beliefs are foundational for these organizations; everyone who works for them must subscribe to them. As some like to say about the laws that God inscribed on the stone tablets for Moses: they are Commandments, not suggestions! The beliefs encoded in these organizations statement of beliefs serves to illuminate the difference in our world views. I subscribe wholeheartedly to these beliefs. I believe, in other words, that they ARE true – every one of them. You, on the other hand, do not endorse these beliefs unreservedly. From everything I have read both from and about you, to you, they are PROBABLY true, or they MIGHT be true. That is, you grant that alternative views – such as the theory of evolution and a local flood – are reasonable and you have no problem with those who hold them. On the other hand, supporters of these creationist organizations, which includes me, emphatically oppose such notions, believing them to be completely wrong. A perfect example of this tolerance is your embrace of Peter Enns, a Senior Fellow at BioLogos (I am aware that he may no longer be associated with this organization). The central purpose of BioLogos is to encourage Christians to accept the theory of evolution. Belief in a local flood is another of their central tenets. I don’t know whether BioLogos endorses it or not, but Peter Enns believes that the story of Adam and Eve is a metaphor for the nation of Israel, not a literal account of the world’s first human beings. On this issue, also, I believe that he is entirely mistaken (although I understand that in addition to the literal meaning of the account, it may very well have a symbolic purpose also).

    In my opinion, Peter Enns is a false teacher who stands condemned by the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4: 3 & 4: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” I do not question Enns’ Christianity, for in the end such a question is between God and each individual. In my opinion, though, Enns introduces “destructive heresies” (!! Peter 2:1) into the world, and “because of them, the way of the truth is maligned” (verse 2). In my opinion, your embrace of him (I read about it on the Internet) speaks volumes about your own views.

    I suspect that, as usual, you will probably claim that my judgments here, about both you and Peter Enns, are wrong. Such denunciation would be unfounded, however, because the judgments are my OPINIONS. You may not agree with them, but you cannot call them wrong. They may be wrong from your perspective, but that is not the perspective from which they were formed. They arose from the entries you entered in your blog and the information I gleaned about you from a number of sites on the Internet.

    So, do I consider you to be a brother in Christ? Based upon some of your earlier comments, I doubt if you care. In any event, as I said earlier, I cannot judge one’s relationship with Christ. From everything I have learned about you, I would have to answer this question in the affirmative, though. It just baffles me that one who claims to be a believer in young-earth creation could be so accepting of views that are completely at odds with such a worldview.

    1. jlwile says:

      Steve, I am not sure why you think that any young-earth creationist would wholeheartedly support AiG, CMI, and ICR. I am on an AiG video (the one on global warming), but I don’t wholeheartedly support them. I have worked closely with one of ICR’s scientists (Frank Sherwin) and have shared the stage with their current director (Dr. John Morris), but I don’t wholeheartedly support them, either. I have no collaboration experience with CMI, but I could easily collaborate with them as well, but that doesn’t mean I wholeheartedly support them. There are aspects of each ministry with which I disagree. I am not sure how that means I am not a young-earth creationist. Correct me if I am wrong, but being a young-earth creationist means believing in creation and a young earth. I believe both of those things. Thus, it seems to me that it would be obvious that I am a young-earth creationist.

      For the record, I believe in (a)-(d) and (f)-(k), but I disagree that the idea of dividing knowledge into secular and religious is “commonly used to evade the implications or the authority of biblical teaching.” Of course, as you stated, I don’t endorse the beliefs unreservedly. Unlike you, I don’t see them as equivalent to the Commandments as recorded by Moses. The reason is simple: the beliefs you laid out are the result of fallible man’s interpretation of God’s infallible word. I think they are the most reasonable interpretation, but I don’t put the same level of faith in an interpretation of Scripture as I do in Scripture itself. As for (e), the concept is, at best, extraBiblical. It certainly can’t be supported by Scripture. There might have been bloodshed before the Fall, or there might not have been. There is just no way to know, since Scripture doesn’t say. The only thing we know for sure is that people didn’t die before the Fall.

      I am not sure why you think I “embrace” Dr. Peter Enns. I simply defended him from an untrue attack by Ken Ham, and I noted some of his reasonable teachings (here and here). As I made clear in those posts, I disagree with a lot of what Dr. Enns says. However, as a Christian, I felt it necessary to defend him against an untrue attack, even though it came from a fellow young-earth creationist. I strongly disagree with you that Dr. Enns is a “false teacher.” He is wrong in much of what he says, but he is not introducing “destructive heresies.” Just because he and I disagree doesn’t automatically mean that he is teaching heresy and I am teaching Truth!

      You say, “It just baffles me that one who claims to be a believer in young-earth creation could be so accepting of views that are completely at odds with such a worldview.” Once again, I don’t accept the idea of a local Flood. I disagree with it. I don’t accept a lot of what Dr. Enns says. I disagree with it. However, I am willing to listen to what proponents of such ideas have to say, and I am willing to admit when they have a point. Rather than simply saying that because I disagree with them they must be enemies of Christ, I actually listen to them. When I do, I find that many of them are not enemies of Christ at all. Instead, they are serious, devout Christians who are interpreting the Scriptures in a reasonable, self-consistent way. I am sorry that this causes you so much distress.

  39. Elizabeth says:

    Does Dr. Enns adhere to the 9 Essentials? Probably, yes.
    He is a Christian and not a ‘false teacher’

    Is Dr Enns’ ‘general approach’ to discuss or expound on Scripture in such a way that some level of doubt is communicated/perceived regarding its truthfulness and supreme moral excellence? Does he lean a little too much on human reason to interpret the Scriptures and understand God?Some would say yes and that is where the controversy lies, not necessarily in his Creation or flood views.

    I heard him at the Convention last year discussing the theology of the Flood. Lots and lots of reflection on the horror of the Flood and how God changed his mind and undid his Creation, but zero questioning about how bad these people may have gotten. What were they doing to deserve such a terrible judgment?

    This is what ‘liberal theology’ does. Of course it’s ok to question God’s intent in discussing the Scripture, but frequently in the case of liberalism, it is out of balance and done in such a way that some would say it casts doubt.
    Do they really believe in Infallibility?

    Think of the difference between Mary questioning the angel about the Virgin birth and Zechariah questioning the angel about John the Baptist’s birth. One question expresses a legitimate desire for understanding and the other is evidently expressing doubt although, interestingly, I don’t know you can get that flavor just from the words of the text. We know it expressed doubt b/c of the discipline he incurred.

    1. jlwile says:

      Elizabeth, the answer to your question about Dr. Enns adhering to the 9 essentials is, “Yes.” He has specifically stated:

      My Christian faith is expressed in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the historic expressions of Christian orthodoxy. I believe in the universal and humanly unalterable grip of both death and sin and the work of the Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in redeeming humanity from them by the deep love and mercy of the Father. The teachings of Scripture as a whole and Jesus in particular direct my life as a follower of Christ—as a husband, father, church-goer, scholar, and human being.

      I love your distinction between Mary’s questioning and Zechariah’s questioning. It is a good one. I am not really sure how much doubt is acceptable, however. I know that doubt can aid faith, especially being able to express that doubt. This is one of the reasons I get impatient with many of my fellow YECs. They often offer absurdly simple answers to serious questions that their fellow Christians raise and then castigate their brothers and sisters for doubting them or their interpretation of Scripture. I am not sure how much doubt is too much. Like most serious questions in Christendom, I don’t think this has a simple answer.

  40. Elizabeth says:

    What type of doubt is acceptable and how much of it? When do teachers, professors, preachers cross ‘the line’, as Zechariah did? How do we hold them accountable?

  41. […] Wile would have one believe for example in the case of the validity of a local Noahic flood and I quote: “In my view, Scripture can be interpreted reasonably in such a way as to allow for a local Flood. […]

  42. Steve B says:

    Jay … First of all, I am very impressed by, and thankful for, the expeditiousness of your replies. In checking my email after coming home from church this morning, I was completely surprised to find your reply. I also want to let you know that this dialogue has been very helpful in sharpening the presentation of my views about this subject. For example, after you pointed it out, I realized that I should never have claimed that “all OEC’s reject a worldwide flood.” The OEC’s I had in mind here were (what I call) TRUE evolutionists – those who believe that the world evolved entirely as a result of random, natural events, without any intervention whatsoever by any supernatural Being (which includes, of course, (for the most part) the authors of the biology textbooks that are so ubiquitous in our nations’ public schools), as well as virtually all theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists (like followers of Reasons to Believe, whose leader, Hugh Ross, believes that the Flood was restricted to Mesopotamia). Unfortunately, in making this sweeping generalization, I failed to consider those who believe in such theories as the Gap Theory. It was a foolish mistake, and you were right to criticize it. I will certainly be more careful in the future!

    Regarding my comment about the beliefs of the creationist organizations’ Statement of Faith, or Beliefs (“As some like to say about the laws that God inscribed on the stone tablets for Moses: they are Commandments, not suggestions!”), for those who subscribe to them, in regards to their authority, I believe that they are virtually equivalent to the Ten Commandments. About them, you said, “Unlike you, I don’t see them as equivalent to the Commandments as recorded by Moses. The reason is simple: the beliefs you laid out are the result of fallible man’s interpretation of God’s infallible Word.” There is a problem with this claim: every doctrine is the result of fallible man’s interpretation of God’s infallible Word. For example, I’m sure that you would agree that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is an absolutely fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. That is, if someone denies the Resurrection, they cannot be a born-again Christian. As Paul states in I Cor. 15: 17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still in your sins.” Born-again Christians, including me and, I’m sure, you, believe that Paul was referring to the physical Resurrection of Christ. There are some people who call themselves Christians, however – including an increasing number of Christian leaders and pastors – who believe that the Resurrection was only spiritual, not physical. Exactly the same applies to belief in the virgin birth of Christ. According to a poll from The Ontario consultants on Religious Tolerance, a 1998 poll of 7,441 Protestant clergy in the U.S. showed that 19% of American Lutherans, 34% of American Baptists, 44% of Episcopalians, 49% of Presbyterians, and 60% of Methodists do not believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ. Furthermore, a poll of 103 Roman Catholic priests, Anglican priests, and Protestant ministers/pastors in the UK found that about 25% did not believe in the virgin birth. Yet, 97% of the same group do not believe the world was created in six days, and 80% do not believe in the literal existence of Adam and Eve.

    The point here, I assume, is rather obvious: as stated previously, every doctrine is the result of fallible man’s interpretation of God’s infallible Word. Ultimately, therefore, deciding about which doctrines, or words of Scripture, are infallible is up to the individual. And here is where your decision about what biblical teachings are infallible differs from mine, and followers of the 3 creationist organizations. For us, God’s teaching about a worldwide flood and a six literal day creation are just as certain as His teaching about the Resurrection and the Virgin birth. As far as I can tell, to you these teachings are not on the same level of infallibility. Thus, although I assume you would strongly take issue with one who argues that the Resurrection was not physical, or that Jesus was not born from a virgin, you are more tolerant of one who believes in a local flood and much-longer-than-24-hour days of creation. Your judgment concerning absolute truth is not exactly the same as mine. Due to my belief that these teachings are certain, naturally I oppose contrary interpretations.

    In regards to your comment about Peter Enns, that “He is wrong in much of what he says, but he is not introducing “destructive heresies,” I completely disagree. As I said earlier, I believe that he certainly is guilty of introducing such heresies, many of them, in fact. In the 19th century, the Duke of Argyle made a profound statement: “To accept as a truth that which is not a truth, or to fail in distinguishing the sense in which it is not true, is an evil having consequences that are indeed incalculable. There are some subjects in which one mistake of this kind will poison all the wells of truth and affect with fatal error the whole circle of our thoughts.” As far as I’m concerned Peter Enns, as well as all the others at BioLogos, are guilty of introducing lies that can have the precise affect specified by the Duke of Argyle.

    Here is an example of why I believe that these destructive heresies are so dangerous. I believe that belief in a local flood lends credence to an ancient earth … belief in an ancient earth provides support for the theory of evolution, which demands such ages … belief in the theory of evolution provides evidence for an atheistic world view. Pretty straightforward. I want to make it very clear that I believe that the central tenets of young earth creationism are ALL strongly supported not only by Scripture but by the scientific evidence as well.

    An obvious question that arises here is whether I believe that heresies such as belief in the local flood and the theory of evolution prohibit salvation. I definitely do not. As wrong as these beliefs are, I believe that there are many saved Christians who, unfortunately, hold them. We are all sinners and thus susceptible to sinful beliefs. I believe also, however, that those who promote these lies (yes, I believe that both the local flood theory and the theory of evoluton are lies)– such as Peter Enns – will one day be held accountable for it. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” James 3:1

    1. jlwile says:

      Steve, I think discussion is very beneficial to my readers. That’s why I am diligent in answering your posts and all posts that come to my blog, except for the profane ones or the ones that are too far afield. There are, unfortunately, a lot of blogs that don’t allow any discussion at all. They seem to treat their words as gospel truth, allowing no one to object in any way. That is unfortunate, because many of these same blogs (some that are Christian) distort the truth significantly, and there is no way to correct them or even start a discussion with them. That is too bad, but it seems to be the way many people handle dissent – they simply do not allow it, period. I, on the other hand, have no problem with dissent. I don’t think that my words are gospel truth, so I am happy to have a discussion about them.

      I am very, very sorry to hear that you hold the ideas of men to be “virtually equivalent to the Ten Commandments.” This is not healthy for any Christian. Scripture should be your guide, not the words of fallible men! I also strongly disagree with your statement that “every doctrine is the result of fallible man’s interpretation of God’s infallible Word.” That is clearly false. You mention the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, for example. That has nothing to do with interpretation. No matter how you try to translate the original languages, the Bible clearly says that Christ’s resurrection was physical. I know there are people who deny this, but that’s not the point. The point is, “What does the Bible say?” The Bible is quite clear that the body was gone, that Jesus ate, that Thomas was able to touch His wounds, etc., etc. Thus, there is no interpretation needed. If you ask most people who deny the resurrection as being physical, for example, they don’t try to “interpret their way” out of it. Instead, they try to say that this passage was added later, or this word was changed, or something like that.

      However, there is a lot of interpretation needed to come to the tenants of most YEC organizations. Nowhere does the Bible actually say that the days were 24-hour days, for example, and there is at least some indication that they were not 24-hour days. YECs must rely on things like ordinals accompanying “yom” and the phrase “evening and morning” to infer that the Genesis days were 24-hour days. That’s interpretation, and it is critically important that you understand the distinction. In addition, as I have shown, the idea that there is was no bloodshed before the Fall isn’t even found in Scripture! It is based on a misinterpretation of Greek. Interpretation should never, ever be regarded as equal to Scripture itself. This is one reason Christianity has creeds. The creeds contain the essentials of the faith – those that are not open to interpretation. Other issues are secondary and are open to interpretation. The history of Christendom is full of amazing servants of God who have incredibly different ideas about most of the secondary issues.

      I understand that for you, “God’s teaching about a worldwide flood and a six literal day creation are just as certain as His teaching about the Resurrection and the Virgin birth.” However, throughout most of the history of Christendom, the church (both the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant reformers) thought that God’s teaching about the earth not moving was just as certain as His teaching about the Resurrection and the Virgin birth. That’s because they thought that fallible man’s interpretation was equal to Scripture itself. They were wrong about that, and it harmed the cause of Christ. That’s the same problem that many YECs have today. Like the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant reformers, they see fallible man’s interpretation of Scripture as infallible. That’s a dangerous path to tread!

      You are absolutely correct that I would “strongly take issue with one who argues that the Resurrection was not physical, or that Jesus was not born from a virgin,” but I am “more tolerant of one who believes in a local flood and much-longer-than-24-hour days of creation.” That’s because I recognize that while the first two are clearly defined in Scripture, the last two are not. You are also correct to say that my “judgment concerning absolute truth is not exactly the same as” yours. If you put fallible man’s interpretation of Scripture on virtually the same level as Scripture itself, then your view of absolute truth is simply incorrect.

      You say, ” I believe that belief in a local flood lends credence to an ancient earth … belief in an ancient earth provides support for the theory of evolution, which demands such ages … belief in the theory of evolution provides evidence for an atheistic world view. Pretty straightforward.” However, it is not straightforward at all. There is absolutely nothing in the concept of an ancient earth that supports evolution. An ancient earth is simply an assumption that evolution must make. It provides no evidence whatsoever for evolution. This is, of course, why there are many, many people who believe in an ancient earth but not in evolution. In addition, evolution provides no evidence for atheism. It is just an excuse that atheists use. There were many, many atheists before evolution, and there will be many, many atheists after evolution has been thrown away for some other hypothesis. Evolution is a convenient excuse for atheists, but it provides no evidence for atheism. In fact, the details of evolution show that it is impossible naturalistically. This, of course, is why there are many, many people who are evolutionists and not atheists. In fact, many of them are dynamic Christians who are doing wonderful things for the cause of Christ!

      I agree that we are all sinners and susceptible to sinful beliefs. In fact, that is specifically why I do not take the tenants of AiG, CMI, and ICR as equivalent to Scripture. Those organizations, as wonderful as they are, are made up of sinners who are susceptible to sinful beliefs, just as are other ministries, such as Reasons to Believe and Biologos. Thus, you should not follow any of them. You should follow the Scriptures. That is a very, very important distinction to make!

      I also agree with you that false teachers will be held accountable. However, many of the people you claim are false teachers clearly are not.

  43. Steve B says:

    Jay … Once again, I am pleasantly surprised at the promptness of your reply! Thank you so much. You said that “I [i.e., you] am very, very sorry to hear that you hold the ideas of men to be ‘virtually equivalent to the Ten Commandments.’ This is not healthy for any Christian. Scripture should be your guide, not the words of fallible men! I also strongly disagree with your statement that ‘every doctrine is the result of fallible man’s interpretation of God’s infallible Word.’ That is clearly false.” Once again, your remarks are self-righteous and patronizing (implying that, unlike you, I do not let Scripture be my guide). You then proceed to defend your claim by stating that the physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ “has nothing to do with interpretation.” As the statistics regarding the percentage of Christian leaders who deny the physical Resurrection – including pastors and priests – dramatically indicate, belief in the physical Resurrection obviously does depend upon interpretation of the text. A lot of people apparently conclude from THEIR INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLICAL TEXT that the Resurrection was not physical. Of course, you believe their INTERPRETATION is wrong – but this doesn’t change the fact that it is nevertheless INTERPRETATION. Inexplicably, you fail to recognize this. From your perspective, there is absolutely no question that the Bible teaches the physical Resurrection (“No matter how you try to translate the original languages, the Bible clearly says that Christ’s resurrection was physical.”) Needless to say, all of these Christian leaders who do not believe in the physical Resurrection would disagree with you. Plainly put, there is no question that the Resurrection was physical – according to your interpretation of the scriptures. Of course, I completely agree with you about this. Many others do not.

    What you apparently do not recognize is that there is an exact parallel between interpreting the text about both the Resurrection and the Genesis Flood. You believe that the Scriptures leave absolutely no doubt that the Resurrection was physical. At the same time, you do not believe that there is equivalent certainty regarding the scope of the flood. Others disagree with you about the certainty of the physical Resurrection … and still others – including me and those connected to the creationist organizations – disagree with you regarding the certainty of the flood being worldwide.

    What you are doing here is placing yourself as the ultimate authority in determining which Scripture is subject to interpretation and which is not. As I referenced earlier, you said, “I [i.e., you] am very, very sorry to hear that you hold the ideas of men to be “virtually equivalent to the Ten Commandments.” The text you are referring to here is what I stated about the tenets of the Statements of Faith (or Beliefs) of the 3 major creationist organizations. A correction is required here: I did not say that I considered every tenet of these statements to be virtually equivalent to the Ten Commandments. The people I was referring to were “those who subscribe to them.” Although I really don’t have an issue with any of the tenets, the only two that I singled out were the ones that dealt with the Genesis flood and the days of creation: “For us, God’s teaching about a worldwide flood and a six literal day creation are just as certain as His teaching about the Resurrection and the Virgin birth.” According to your remark quoted above (“I am very, very sorry to hear that you hold the ideas of men to be “virtually equivalent to the Ten Commandments.”) you consider that the beliefs that the Genesis Flood was worldwide and that the days of creation were definitely 24 hours long are “the ideas of men” and should never be elevated to the same level of authority as the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth. Right here is where we differ. Along with followers of the creationist organizations, I believe that the certainty of the biblical teaching about the scope of Genesis Flood and the length of the days of creation are just as certain as the teaching about the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth – that is, there is no room for interpretation. I must very carefully add here that although I believe that one’s salvation is dependent upon a proper understanding of the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth, I do not believe this to be so in regards to these other two teachings. That is, one does not need to believe in a worldwide flood and 24 hour creation days in order to be saved. In regards to TRUTH, however, I believe that the beliefs stated about these subjects in the creationist organization’s statements are equivalent (in addition to remarks regarding the Genesis Flood and the days of creation, these Statements include convictions regarding the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth).

    The bottom line here, Jay, is that I do not think that belief that the Genesis Flood was worldwide and that the days of creation were 24 hours long are “ideas of men,” as you do. I believe that they are the clear and certain teachings of Scripture. You said in your blog, “The point is, “What does the Bible say?” Well, I, along with many, many others, believe that THE BIBLE DECLARES that the Genesis Flood was worldwide and that the days of creation were 24 hours long. I am sure that I believe in the authority of God’s Word at least as much as you do. To imply that I don’t is both arrogant and self-righteous. The difference between me and you here is not whether I trust in the teaching of Scripture, but what teachings I consider to be authoritative – that is, not subject to interpretation. The truth is that I can easily argue that my reliance in the authority of Scripture is actually greater than yours, for although we agree that there is no room for interpretation in regards to subjects like the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth, I consider the biblical teaching about the Genesis Flood and the length of the creation days to have equivalent authority.

    The difference between us, what is at the root of our disagreement on these matters, is that you believe that the text regarding, at least, the Genesis Flood and the days of creation leave room for alternative interpretations. I don’t. You said in your last email, “If you put fallible man’s interpretation of Scripture on virtually the same level as Scripture itself, then your view of absolute truth is simply incorrect.” I have tried to point out here that the premise of your statement here is incorrect, because, as proven by the increasing number of supposed Christian leaders who deny the physical Resurrection and the Virgin Birth – not to mention all of the “Christians” who deny the supernatural elements in the Bible – ALL Scripture is subject to interpretation. I suspect that you will reply and, based upon your great insight and understanding, explain to me exactly why I am wrong. I am weary of your self-righteous lecturing, Jay. As I mentioned to you in my last email, as a result of our exchange, I am going to be more careful in my choice of words in certain areas, and I thank you for playing a role in this learning experience. Overall, however, there is a large gap in our understanding of what God teaches us about His creation. I’m going to stick with what I believe the Bible says. You can stick to your own interpretation.

    1. jlwile says:

      Steve, once again I am sorry if you found my remarks patronizing. They were not intended to be that way. They came from very real concern. Christians must use Scripture as their guide, not the teachings of fallible men. Your remarks indicated to me that you put the teachings of fallible men on virtually the same level as Scripture. That caused me great concern. I did not mean to imply that you don’t let Scripture be your guide. I just think you are not making the proper distinction between what Scriptures actually say and what fallible people interpret them to say.

      Once again, your statistics about how many Christians do not believe in a physical Resurrection do not, in any way, show that belief in a physical Resurrection is about interpretation. Instead, it just shows that some Christians pick and choose as to which passages to believe and which to ignore. If someone denies the physical Resurrection, it is because that person denies some specific words in Scripture. As I said before, most of those who deny the physical Resurrection do no try to interpret their way around it. They actually say that you have to ignore certain passages or certain words. That’s not interpretation – that’s editing.

      What you don’t seem to recognize is the difference between the physical Resurrection and the Genesis Flood. Local-Flood advocates do not deny any word in the Genesis account. They simply point out how perfectly acceptable translational rules can produce an account that is consistent with a local Flood. There are no perfectly acceptable translational rules that can produce a New Testament account consistent with a non-physical Resurrection. That’s the point. While you can choose legitimate translations to come up with a self-consistent old-earth theology, you cannot do that to come up with a nonphysical Resurrection. That’s why the physical Resurrection is an essential belief in the Christian faith, but a young earth and a global Flood are not.

      You are absolutely correct that I do not think that the doctrine of a worldwide Flood or 24-hour creation days should be elevated to the same level of authority as the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth. That’s because while the former two are dependent on interpretation, the latter two are not. Once again, you should never, ever put fallible man’s interpretation of Scripture on the same level as Scripture itself. As the early church’s issue with geocentrism shows, that’s a road that leads to harming the cause of Christ.

      You say, “The truth is that I can easily argue that my reliance in the authority of Scripture is actually greater than yours..” That is quite false. In my view, if someone accepts the authority of Scripture, he should make sure he knows exactly what Scripture is saying, and if he doesn’t, he should not claim that Scripture definitely says something that it does not definitely say. That’s taking authority out of Scripture and giving it to some fallible man’s interpretation of Scripture. Scripture does not definitely say the Genesis days were 24 hours long, and it does not definitely say that the Flood was worldwide. The most reasonable interpretation of Scripture says these things, but that’s different from saying that Scripture says these things. This is an important distinction that you need to understand in order to truly appreciate the authority of Scripture. Perhaps this article will help you.

      You say that you are weary of my self-righteous lecturing. I am sorry to hear that. However, I am simply trying to educate you. I personally think you don’t understand a great many things about Scripture and its interpretation, and I am simply trying to help you see what most theologians understand – that there is a huge difference between the direct teachings of Scripture and the fallible interpretations of man. This is a very important distinction, and every Christian should understand it. If you are weary of me trying to teach you this, then perhaps it is because you are fighting against the truth.

  44. Steve B says:

    You say, Jay: “However, I am simply trying to educate you.”
    Your self-righteosuness (the belief that you have the inside track to true knowledge) knows no bounds.

    You close with the (once again patronizing) remark,”If you are weary of me trying to teach you this, then perhaps it is because you are fighting against the truth.” In my mind, it is you, not I, who is fighting against the truth.”

    Have a very merry Christmas!

    1. jlwile says:

      Steve, with apologies to The Princess Bride I must say, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “self-righteous” means:

      convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others : narrow-mindedly moralistic

      According to the same source, the definition of righteous is:

      1: acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin
      2 a : morally right or justifiable
      b : arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality (righteous indignation)
      3 slang : genuine, excellent

      I have never once implied that I am more moral, free from sin, justifiable, genuine, or excellent than you. Since I don’t even know you, there is no way I could possibly compare my righteousness with yours, even if I wanted to, which I don’t. I am simply trying to educate you a bit in theology. This has nothing to do with righteousness.

      Also, I find it odd that someone who claims to know the only correct interpretation of the Genesis account is telling me that I claim to have the “inside track to true knowledge.” In fact, I am saying precisely the opposite. Since it is clear that the Genesis account can be interpreted in different ways, I am specifically saying that I do not have the inside track to true knowledge. You are the one saying that you do, since you are saying that incredibly well-respected, conservative Evangelical theologians like Dr. Norman Geisler, Dr. Gleason Archer, William Jennings Bryan, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Dr. Paul Little, C. I. Scofield, B. B. Warfield, etc., etc. are obviously wrong in their theology and should learn from you on the matter!

      You might think I am the one who is fighting against the truth, but I am not the one who is growing weary. Educating people has always energized me, which is why I spend so much time doing it. Typically, it’s the one who is fighting a losing battle who ends up growing weary.

      If you really want to learn about this issue, I suggest you carry on a discussion with Kevin N, who posted after you. Unlike me, he actually believes in an old earth and a local flood. As a result, he will be able to defend the view much better than I can.

      Thanks for the Christmas wishes. I pray that you and your family have a Merry Christmas as well!

  45. Rio says:

    http://www.sfttwebhosting.com/f/Video_146_The_Red_Record_600x400.html this is one of the best non biblical evidndences in my eyes for Genesis and really just proves God’s words

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for the link, Rio. I know Bruce Malone personally, and I enjoy his work. You might be interested in this book, which he authored. I agree with you that science speaks strongly for a young-earth viewpoint. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it “proves” Genesis, as science cannot prove anything. However, it does provide a lot of evidence for the young-earth position!

  46. Kevin N says:

    Steve B:

    What is the relationship between Genesis 1:1 and the rest of Genesis 1?

    What is the genre of Genesis 1? In what ways is it different from typical Hebrew historical narrative?

    What is a “day” to God?

    What is a “day” without the sun and moon?

    What does “day” mean in Genesis 2:4?

    What is the relationship between Genesis 1 and 2?

    Are both Genesis 1 and 2 chronological? If not, which one is chronological, and which one isn’t?

    Are there any symbolic elements in the opening chapters of Genesis?

    What did Moses, the author of Genesis, mean when he wrote, “a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by?” (Ps 90, NIV84)

    Does Genesis 3 say that animals did not die before Adam’s sin?

    Does Romans 5 say that animals did not die before Adam’s sin?

    Does Romans 8 say that animals did not die before Adam’s sin?

    Does 1 Cor 15 say that animals did not die before Adam’s sin?

    Is God glorified by predation? (Ps 104:21; Job 38:29)

    Does reproduction “each according to its kind” place limits on biological change? If so, at what level? Species? Genus? Family? Order? Class? Phylum?

    Did people from all nations come to Joseph to buy grain? Zulus? Eskimos?

    Did Ahab look for Elijah in every nation on Earth? England? New Zealand?

    Did all kings of Earth seek Solomon’s wisdom?

    Are you sure you know the answers to all of these questions and that old-Earthers have the wrong answers to all of them?

    You should read Genesis 6-8 with the following in mind:
    One can replace “earth” with “land”
    One can replace “heavens” with “sky”
    One can replace “mountains” with “hills”
    The passage takes on a very different feel when read with these legitimate substitutions. Go ahead and take a few minutes to read the flood account again.

    I accept an old Earth and local flood because I see the young-Earth creationist alternative as Biblically unnecessary and scientifically unworkable. I hope my questions will help you to see that the interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis is not as straight-forward as the young-Earth organizations would have you believe.

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for your input, Kevin. I wondered if you would jump in on the conversation. I do hope that Steve replies to you, because I think you can educate him about the local-Flood and old-earth positions better than I can, since you actually believe them.

  47. gracekalman says:

    Dr. Wile, your answer to Elizabeth on Dec. 18 at 7:13 AM is exactly what I was trying to say, although I think their stand becomes rather more ridiculous when you read the KJV. Thanks for organizing what was floating around in my brain.
    It just seems like anyone who doesn’t believe in a local flood would never even consider the idea that the passage could refer to one. It requires a careful analysis of words and too many claims that God didn’t mean exactly what he said to conform it to local flood thinking. When God uses a metaphor, it is almost always obvious that it is a metaphor.

    1. jlwile says:

      Grace, I agree that the most straightforward reading of Genesis leads to a worldwide Flood. However, you have to admit that we don’t always take the most straightforward reading, even of the KJV. For example, the KJV regularly talks about the sun moving and the earth not being moved, even though we know that the sun does not move in the solar system, but the earth does. In addition, in Matthew 24:34, the KJV quotes Jesus as saying, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” What He was talking about really sounds like the end times. Thus, the most straightforward reading of the KJV indicates the end times have already happened. Do you believe that? I expect not.

      Likewise, consider some of the questions that Kevin N raised in a previous comment. The KJV says in 1 Kings 10:24, “And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.” Do you really think that all the earth sought to Solomon? Does that include Australia, South America, and North America? What about Genesis 41:57, where the KJV says, “And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.” Does that mean that people from Australia, South America, and North America came to Joseph to buy corn? Please note that “corn” is not even the correct word, as corn did not grow in Egypt during those times. The correct word is “grain.”

      Thus, when you say that local Flood advocates make “too many claims that God didn’t mean exactly what he said,” I think you are overstating your case. Unless you believe that people from Australia, South America, and North America sought after Solomon and bought corn from Joseph, you have to admit that God often uses hyperbolic language to make His point. After all, the KJV says, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29) I expect your right eye has caused you to sin. My right eye certainly has caused me to sin. However, I did not cut it out, and I doubt that you did either. If you aren’t willing to take that passage literally, why are you so absolutely certain that similar passages in Genesis 6-8 must be taken literally?

  48. gracekalman says:

    In reference to your last question, I would say because of the nature of the book of Genesis (and the rest of the Pentateuch). These books contain a combination of history and law, and neither of these topics lends itself to hyperbole. If you believe the Genesis account of Creation, why wouldn’t you believe its account of a world-wide flood? What about the plagues? The crossing of the Red Sea? Was God joking when He called homosexuality an abomination? What about when He slew Aaron’s sons for offering strange incense? It’s quite possible that all the existing nations did come to Joseph for corn. Would you describe a tribe of Native Americans as a country? A country implies a system of government. Also, in 1611 corn was grain. Wheat is an Americanism. That’s why.

    1. jlwile says:

      Grace, it’s not a question of not believing the Bible’s account of a worldwide Flood or the other things you mention. It’s a question of determining what the Bible is saying. In the case of the Flood, it is whether or not the Flood was, indeed, worldwide. It is certainly not possible that all the existing nations came to Joseph to buy corn. According to YEC chronologists, Joseph was born about 1560 BC and died about 1450 BC. However, in South America, there was a huge civilization (the Caral Supe civilization) that archaeologists say was there since 2700 BC. That date might not be exactly right, but it was clearly around during the time of Joseph. Its main city had a population of 3,000, and it covered 60 hectares. That civilization was clearly a country. Do you really think that it came and bought corn from Joseph? Clearly not. I do understand that the meaning of “corn” has changed over the years, which is exactly my point. Even with the KJV, you must take translation into account.

      I note that you didn’t mention the 1 Kings 10:24 reference. That book is historical narrative, and yet it is clear that “all the earth” could not have sought Solomon. Thus, even in historical narrative, you have to understand that the Bible contains some hyperbole. How do you know that this is not the case with Genesis 6-8? Once again, it is not a question of whether or not a local Flood advocate believes the Genesis account. I don’t know a single local Flood proponent who doesn’t believe Genesis 6-8. They just think that it does not mean what you think it means.

  49. Steve B says:

    Jay et al. … It appears that this blog has become primarily focused on consideration of the scope of the Genesis Flood – a most interesting and critical issue. For Jay, I have a few comments … First, I have opined that you tend to be “self-righteous.” I loosely defined the word to mean, “the belief that you have the inside track to knowledge.” The meaning that I was attempting to convey was that you so often believe that you are “right” and that my belilefs are wrong. Suggesting that this word does not mean what I think it does, you offered the meaning provided in Webster’s Dictionary: “convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions AND BELIEFS of others: narrow-mindedly moralistic.” This definition doesn’t prove my definition to be wrong; it corroborates it! So often it seemed to me that you thought that what you BELIEVED was correct in contrast to my BELIEFS – very close to the definition provided by Webster. This having been said, I will agree that this may not have been the absolutely best adjective I could have chosen – although it was pretty close.

    Next, Jay, you stated in one of your entries that “Scripture should be your guide, not the words of fallible men!” In another place you said that you “don’t put the same level of faith in an interpretation of Scripture as I do in Scripture itself.” Then, in your latest entry you accuse me of “saying that incredibly well-respected, conservative Evangelical theologians like Dr. Norman Geisler, Dr. Gleason Archer, William Jennings Bryan, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Dr. Paul Little, C. I. Scofield, B. B. Warfield, etc., etc. are obviously wrong in their theology and should learn from you on the matter!” First of all, I never specifically accused these men of such a thing – in fact, I haven’t mentioned a single one of their names in any of my comments – and second, I most certainly never claimed that these men “should learn from me!” Four of them are dead! My belief regarding the scope of the Genesis Flood is most certainly based on “Scripture itself.” (and please don’t come back and claim that I am wrong about this, that my beliefs are based upon my INTERPRETATION of Scripture, for so are yours – and so are everyone else’s participating in this blog. My beliefs about this event are based upon what I believe to be the most natural, straightforward meaning of the words. If you want to cling to the idea that this is still my interpretation of the words, be my guest. I can’t make my approach any clearer.)

    You and Kevin have pointed out certain word uses in the Bible which clearly are hyperbole, such as 1 Kings 10:24, “And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.” Do you really think that all the earth sought to [sic] Solomon?” You were attempting to point out to Grace that “it’s not a question of not believing the Bible’s account of a worldwide Flood or the other things you mention. It’s a question of determining what the Bible is saying. In the case of the Flood, it is whether or not the Flood was, indeed, worldwide.” Your point, of course, was just as the words “all the earth” in 1 Kings 10:24 are most likely not referring to every single person in the earth, words from the Bible’s description of the flood may be similar hyperboles. According to this reasoning, the words capitalized in Genesis 6:12 –“Then God said to Noah, ‘the end of ALL flesh has come before me; for THE EARTH is filled with violence because of them; and I am about to destroy them WITH THE EARTH.” – might not be referring to all the earth and all flesh. In my opinion, such a conclusion is utterly indefensible. To me, when all of the passages that describe the Genesis Flood are taken as a whole, there is no doubt –ZERO – that the event described is worldwide. To me, employing verses such as 1 Kings 10:24 to defend the idea that the Genesis Flood was local is ridiculous. Hyperbole has always been a common feature of our language, and it is perfectly understandable that it would have been occasionally used by the biblical writers. In our current language, phrases like “sunrise, and sunset” are used every day. Although they don’t mean what they literally state, everyone understands their intention. In my opinion, the idea that “all the earth” in 1 Kings – when in all likelihood it does not mean every single person, or even people group – raises the possibility that the all-inclusive references in the Flood passages should also not be taken literally is completely without merit. Where does this absurd logic end? Kevin pointed out that the word “earth” in the early chapters of Genesis could be referring to only the land (and according to local flood advocates, only a particular section of the land), not all of the earth. Exodus 9:29 declares that “the earth is the Lord’s.” So, could this mean that only the dry land belongs to God, not the seas and the atmosphere? Similarly, Numbers 14:21 declares, “but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Psalm 97:1 declares, “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice.” Are we to believe that the earth in these verses is referring only to the dry land – and perhaps not even all of it? I trust that the answer to these questions is rather obvious.

    Finally, in response to Kevin’s list of questions, all of them are addressed, either directly or indirectly (via hyperlinks) on the Web sites of the 3 creationist organizations that I have mentioned previously. At some time or another, I have read about most, and perhaps all, of them. And none of them cause me the slightest doubt in my belief that the flood was worldwide. Kevin closed his last entry by saying, “I accept an old Earth and local flood because I see the young-Earth creationist alternative as Biblically unnecessary and scientifically unworkable. I hope my questions will help you to see that the interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis is not as straight-forward as the young-Earth organizations would have you believe.”

    I very much appreciate the gentle, humble approach Kevin employed here, but I must tell him that I have thoroughly investigated the arguments of local flood advocates, like himself, and I find them utterly unconvincing. As I have stated a number of times in this blog, based upon MY OWN study of both the biblical text AND the scientific evidence, I am absolutely convinced that the Flood was worldwide. Not a single thing in this entire blog has created a shred of doubt about this conviction. I suspect that some of you (like Jay!) will accuse me of being narrow-minded here, and there’s nothing that I can do about that, of course. I could accuse those who disagree with me of similar flaws, but I don’t care to do that. I will stick to expressing to you all what I believe and leave it at that.

    1. jlwile says:

      Steve, the extent of the Flood is not a critical issue. It is an interesting one, but it is clearly a secondary issue.

      If you want to define “self righteous” as “the belief that you have the inside track to knowledge,” then it is you who are being self-righteous. After all, you claim that your interpretation of Genesis is the only correct one. I, on the other hand, do not make such a claim. In fact, because I have honestly read old-earth theologians, I understand that my interpretation is not the only possible one. Thus, I make no claim to having the inside track to knowledge. However, you make exactly that claim. Thus, according to your own definition, you are the one being self righteous.

      You also make the statement, “you so often believe that you are ‘right’ and that my beliefs are wrong.” When it comes to the difference between what the Scriptures say and what requires interpretation, I do think that you are terribly wrong. When it comes to your statement that there is no way the Genesis Flood could be local, I do think that you are terribly wrong. However, when it comes to my belief that a local Flood is possible, you also think that I am terribly wrong. When it comes to my belief that the issue is a secondary one, you think I am terribly wrong. Thus, we both think the other is wrong. We both think that we are right. If that weren’t the case, we would not be having this discussion. The difference between you and me is that I am not willing to say that my beliefs are the only possible orthodox Christian beliefs. On the other hand, that’s precisely what you are saying. Once again, then, if anyone is being “self righteous” (by your own definition of the phrase), it is you, not me.

      You claim that you never said my list of well-respected, Evangelical theologians were wrong, but you most certainly did. You claim that there is no possible way that the Bible could be interpreted as saying that the Flood was local, but all of those theologians say that it is at least a possible orthodox interpretation of Scripture. Most of them even believe it is the correct one. Thus, you are saying that each one of them is wrong. Not only that, you are saying that it is obvious that they are wrong. Furthermore, you give arguments that they have already answered and then claim that those arguments are conclusive. Thus, you are saying that they should learn from you.

      Your implication that I am trusting in those fallible men is quite wrong. I don’t believe most of them, because I think the best interpretation of the Flood is that it was worldwide. Most of them think the correct interpretation is that it was local. I am merely pointing out that they all know more about Biblical interpretation (and yes, it is all about interpretation when it comes to secondary issues such as the age of the earth and the extent of the Flood) than you and I will ever hope to know. While I am not willing to say that they are all obviously wrong, you are. Thus, once again, it is you (not me) who is claiming to have the inside track to knowledge.

      You say, “To me, when all of the passages that describe the Genesis Flood are taken as a whole, there is no doubt –ZERO – that the event described is worldwide.” I understand that this is your position, but it is simply indefensible. There is, most certainly, some doubt. As I have said before, we most certainly know that the phrase “all flesh” does not really mean “all flesh,” as Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark were spared. Thus, since we already know that “all flesh” doesn’t mean “all flesh,” we have to decide exactly what it means. Perhaps there were more exceptions than Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. I don’t think there were, but if I am approaching the Scriptures with respect, I must admit that it is possible that there were. In addition, as you readily admit, the Bible sometimes does use phrases like “the earth” and “all the earth” to mean something other than all the earth. Thus, it is at least possible that the same thing is going on in Genesis 6-8.

      You ask, “Where does this absurd logic end?” First, it isn’t absurd logic. In fact, it is responsible Biblical interpretation. The very fact that the term “earth” is not always used to mean the whole earth indicates that we must be careful in understanding the context of each verse to understand how that term is used. In Exodus 9:29, the context seems to indicate that the term “earth” means the whole earth, as it sometimes does in the Bible. The same looks to be true for Numbers 14:21. Psalm 97:1 is poetic, so it is not interpreted with the same hermeneutic as Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers. The problem is that when it comes to Genesis 6-8, the context is not nearly as clear. While I think the proper interpretation is that “earth” means the “whole earth,” other serious Christians do not agree. Because you claim to have the inside track to knowledge, you say that these people are wrong, without ever really giving any serious defense of your claim. I cannot agree with that.

      You say, “Not a single thing in this entire blog has created a shred of doubt about this conviction.” That doesn’t surprise me. Local Flood advocates could say the same thing after reading what you have written, since all of your arguments have been answered adequately over and over again by local Flood theologians. That’s exactly the problem. By dismissing all local Flood arguments as “unconvincing” without going into any real detail as to why you find them that way, you will never learn. I find that unfortunate but all too common among many of my fellow YECs.

  50. Steve B says:

    Jay … For someone as bright as you, I am quite surprised at the number of specious statements that are appearing with increasing frequency in your blog entries. You say, for example, “I [Jay] make no claim to having the inside track to knowledge. However, you [Steve] make exactly that claim.” That is obviously not true. I never made such a claim. All I have ever said is that FROM MY PERSPECTIVE the local flood theory has no merit. I never said that “I have the inside track to knowledge.”

    In your next paragraph, you say, “We both think that we are right … The difference between you and me is that I am not willing to say that my beliefs are the only possible orthodox Christian beliefs. On the other hand, that’s precisely what you are saying.” Once again, you are putting words in my mouth; I never said that “my beliefs are the only possible orthodox Christian beliefs.” Your remarks here expose the central problem in your response to me, which is that the certainty of my stance on the Genesis Flood has apparently led you to conclude that I believe that my beliefs are the only possible orthodox Christian beliefs. Let me make this perfectly clear, Jay. As far as I am concerned – from MY perspective – according to MY study, etc, the Scriptures leave no doubt that the Genesis Flood was worldwide. Of course I am well aware that there are other people, including some very bright and highly respected theologians – such as the men you cited in a previous entry – that have contrary opinions and believe that the flood either was, or may have been, local. They have their opinions; I have mine. As I keep saying, I am familiar with most of their arguments and find them unconvincing – make that completely unconvincing. You are frustrated by the certainty with which I hold my belief and fervently wish that I would at least admit that these contrary opinions have merit. Sorry, Jay. As much as I may respect the people who hold them, I don’t think that their arguments have any merit. A good example of what I am saying here is your remark, “You [Steve] say, “To me, when all of the passages that describe the Genesis Flood are taken as a whole, there is no doubt –ZERO – that the event described is worldwide.” I [Jay] understand that this is your position, but it is simply indefensible. There is, most certainly, some doubt.” Maybe to you there is doubt, but there isn’t to me. Your desire to make me admit that the biblical text leaves doubt about this matter has blinded you to what I have actually said. In this particular case, you have overlooked the first two words in the sentence that you quoted: “TO ME …” I am stating what I believe; I am not judging the beliefs of others. Of course I am aware that other people have doubts about the meaning of the text. I simply stating that I do not have such doubts. Why is this so difficult for you to recognize?

    In regards to our exchange about the Magnificent Seven (Dr. Norman Geisler, et al) you have once again put words into my mouth that I never uttered. To; repeat, you wrote “You [Steve] are the one … saying that incredibly well-respected, conservative Evangelical theologians like Dr. Norman Geisler, Dr. Gleason Archer, William Jennings Bryan, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Dr. Paul Little, C. I. Scofield, B. B. Warfield, etc., etc. are obviously wrong in their theology and should learn from you on the matter!” Surely you will admit that I never said this, Jay – because I didn’t. You may believe that it was IMPLIED by things I have said, but that is not the same as actually sayin it. Thsu, your claim that I said it is patently false.

    My lack of doubt about this subject is apparently a source of endless frustration for you. You can’t let go of your claim that this lack of doubt is a result of my failure to adequately consider the arguments of local flood advocates, as opposed to being a well-considered opinion. This frustration is evidenced in the nasty comment which closed your last email: “By dismissing all local Flood arguments as “unconvincing” without going into any real detail as to why you find them that way, you will never learn. I find that unfortunate but all too common among many of my fellow YECs.” Saying that I “will never learn” was really hitting below the belt, Jay. In a civilized dialogue, which this is supposed to be, it is simply uncalled for. I can think of a few adjectives to label such a remark, but I will refrain from mentioning them. Over and over I have said that although I am very familiar with the arguments of local flood theory advocates, I find them to be thoroughly unconvincing. It is hardly possible to respond in depth to all of these arguments in a forum such as this. Books have been written about this subject. Apparently, you don’t believe that I am familiar with these contrary arguments. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about that. But, please, Jay, from now on try to realize that I am only expressing what I believe about the Genesis Flood and that I am not condemning the beliefs of those that disagree with me. Just because I do not believe that the arguments of local flood advocates are convincing is no reason to be vituperative toward me.

    1. jlwile says:

      Steve, you say you never made the claim of having an inside track to knowledge. Neither did I, but that didn’t keep you from accusing me of it. Once you accused me, all I did was point out that you were accusing me of something that you were doing. By claiming that anyone who disagrees with you on the extent of the Flood or the age of the earth is dead wrong, you are the one who thinks he has an inside track to knowledge. I actually read theologians from the other side and take the time to understand their arguments. Because of that, I realize that it is at least possible that I am wrong on such issues. That’s definitely not the behavior of someone who thinks he has an inside track to knowledge!

      You seem to be backpedalling from your claims about the extent of the Flood and the age of the earth. I find that refreshing. Unlike your previous comments, you now indicate that these are just your opinions. Let me ask you plainly, then. Is it possible that you are wrong when it comes to the age of the earth and the extent of the Flood? If your answer is “yes,” then you and I seem to agree with one another. Up until now, all of your discussion indicates that your answer would be “no.” I eagerly await your answer to this direct and simple question.

      You say that you are familiar with the arguments of local Flood advocates and find them unconvincing. I find them unconvincing as well. That’s why I believe in a worldwide Flood. However, I don’t find them unreasonable. Given that you called one of their arguments “absurd” in a previous comment, and given the fact that you are very concerned about what I and others believe on this issue, I assumed you found them to be unreasonable. Thus, I ask you another very simple question: Are the arguments of local Flood advocates unreasonable?

      I am not sure why you think I am frustrated by your certainty. As I have already told you, educating people energizes me. That’s why I answer your comments with alacrity and enthusiasm that you have admitted surprises you. If your certainty frustrated me, I would not be responding to you in this way. I also have no problem understanding that you have no doubt on these issues. I am simply educating you as to why you should have some doubt on them.

      If I put words in your mouth, I most certainly do apologize. Thus, let me ask you another direct question so that I am certain I understand your position. Are the theologians I mentioned absolutely wrong when they say that a local Flood is a reasonable interpretation of Genesis 6-8? If your answer to the first question is “yes,” then please allow a follow-up question: Should they learn better theology so as to correct their error?

      So let me get this straight, Steve. You are allowed to call me “self righteous,” you are allowed to say that I claim to have an “inside track to knowledge,” and you are allowed to imply that I don’t really believe in a young earth and a worldwide Flood. However, when I make the obvious comment that dismissing alternative views without seriously considering them is an impediment to learning, I am the one who is “hitting below the belt”? Please.

      You keep saying that you are familiar with the arguments of the local Flood advocates, but you never address them in any serious way. Now you say, “Apparently, you don’t believe that I am familiar with these contrary arguments. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about that.” Actually, I have already told you exactly how to do something about that. All you have to do is address their arguments and tell me why you think they are wrong. Kevin N gave you a perfect opportunity to do that, and rather than engaging him, you simply once again claimed to be familiar with such arguments and found them unconvincing. If you would only spend time telling us the specifics as to why you find them unconvincing, we would easily be able to judge how familiar you are with those arguments.

      You seem to be incredibly sensitive. While being willing to make all manner of false accusations against me, when I try to calmly show you how those accusations are wrong or actually apply to you, you get very upset and accuse me of being patronizing, hitting below the belt, etc. I really apologize that I have upset you so. I would suggest, however, that if you stop making false accusations about me, I would not have to correct them. Perhaps then you might not be so quickly offended!

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