Recently, a fellow named David Evarts posted a rather subversive comment on the Defending Genesis Facebook page, hoping to attract Biblical Young Earth Creationists over to what he sees as a more reasonable point of view.
He began with the following statement:
“Christians and other theists are, by definition Creationists. As such, the debate isn’t actually between creation and evolution. It’s actually a debate between creationists who accept evolutionary biology and creationists who take a newer theology. For those who are unaware of this, the type of reading of Genesis done by young earth creationists is limited mostly to members of the very new American style Christianity and was warned against by, among others Origin, the man most responsible for the assembly of the New Testament. It doesn’t fit well with Christian theology and has caused the making of a brand new theology. I wrote this a while back to note the theologic problems with anti-evolutionary ideas.”
I find it interesting that he claims that Biblical Creationists who affirm a young earth and deny evolution are somehow asserting a new theology. A lot of folks seem to confuse the fact that while the Young Earth Creationist movement is relatively new, it stands in the established tradition of those who taught a young earth from Jesus and the Apostles themselves, to the Church fathers to the Scriptural Geologists to the present. Origin might have seen the days of the Creation Week as figurative, but he himself was still a young earther, stating that “the Mosaic account of the creation, which teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years, but very much under that…” In fact, all of those who allegorized the days of the Creation Week before the 1800s did so in favor of the view of instantaneous creation, supposing that Creation over a spread of 6 days impugned the omnipotence of a God who could do so in an instant if He chose (forgetting of course that just because one is capable of doing something doesn’t require one to do so at maximum efficiency), so that they actually believed in a slightly younger earth than modern young earthers – younger by six days! We should also mention that Origen didn’t assemble the New Testament; he merely collected usage information on what texts were accepted by the third-century churches throughout the known world.
So only by ignoring the fact of history, that the traditional Christian view has been that God created everything in six days, can he claim that Biblical Creationism is a brand new theology which doesn’t fit well with Christian theology.
He then refers to an article he wrote sometime earlier, entitled “Why evolution is the system that best fits with the traditional Christian view of God,” which begins thus:
“The traditional Christian view of God is that God is constantly involved with his creation on an intimate and routine level. At the same time, theologians have held that “miracles” in which God sets aside the routine workings of nature he devised are infrequent.”
So far, so good. He then adds an aside:
“By the way, I use “he” only in the universal sense here. The Bible does not attribute a gender to God, other than in clear metaphor, so far as I know.”
So, Jesus told us to pray, “Our Gender-Neutral Deity Who Art in Heaven….” right? This is just liberal gender bending of the Bible to fit modern notions.
That aside, he continues:
“Frequent, incontrovertible miracles (or routine proof of God) are seen as violations of our free will to choose God and as events that would render faith moot. We are told that if God were to simply sky-write “I exist and this is what you must do” that we humans would have little choice, but to believe. Thus, we believe that weather patterns, in example, with their inherent stochastic noise are an example of a system that God created and can intervene in, but generally leaves to function as they were created. God is also seen as outside of time, space and the material universe, but able to interact with our physical world, as God chooses.”
So far, his argument is OK. I would add that God promised Noah that in general we should expect to see uniformity in nature in Genesis 8:22.
But then he goes off the map:
“We are also told, and I believe that, the wonders of our physical world, the intricate beauty, complexity and patterning speak of Gods creative nature, that our world is a canvas on which God is painting something beautiful, although many of the steps may be messy. Further, we postulate that the painting is alive.”
Where does He get the idea that God is actively “painting something beautiful, although many of the steps may be messy” or that the painting is “alive?” Did he derive this analogy from Scripture? Of course not. We read instead in Genesis 2:1-3 that:
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
The word rendered “rested” in these versed is shabath which means “(cause to/let/make to) cease.” This passage is the basis of the 4th Commandment [Exodus 20:11], which reminds us to keep the Sabbath because God Himself worked six days and then rested from the work of Creation on the seventh and thereby hallowed it.
Which brings up an interesting point: evolution claims that the work of creation has never ceased, that it is still in operation and that, yes, it is a very messy process. As such, it stands in direct contradiction to the revelation of Scripture which affirms that God created everything in 6 days, that He ceased from the work of creation and that when he saw everything he had made, it was “very good” [Gen. 1:30].
He continues, oblivious to the theological error his analogy implies:
“On origins, Deists postulate a God who designed the laws of nature, but then left the mechanistic universe to function on its own, without further input. This is tied to Newton’s billiard ball, mechanistic view of the universe in which, if you knew the original locations and trajectories of the universe, you could start it in motion like clockwork and predict future actions backwards and forwards through time. We still hold some of that view, but have come to accept that, although we can increasingly know something of the mechanism, we often cannot know the specifics well enough to predict all of the outcomes.”
So as before, a little truth before the error:
“An anti-evolutionary perspective on biological creation is deistic. It postulates that God created the universe, the workings of nature and humans ex nihilo and other than miraculous interventions is no longer involved in creation.”
Wow. Wrong, but wow. Actually, the Bible says that God rested from his work of creation AND also says that without faith it is impossible to please Him, for we must believe that he exists and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. You see, the traditionally acknowledged difference between a deist and a theist is that a deism teaches us that God wound up the universe and left it to its own devices, while Biblical theism says that God still intervenes, by miracle and providence, on behalf of those who serve Him. This does not require Him to continue the process of creation, but merely to act on behalf of those existing within His creation. In fact, by a traditional estimation of deism versus theism, it is “theistic” evolution which is actually deistic, for there we have a God who speaks the mechanism into existence and then lets it play out over millions of years.
But for the sake of argument, let’s get back to Evart’s objections:
“A Deistic view presents a couple of challenges for Christian theology. If God is loving and designed the entire system to run precisely like clockwork without any trial and error elements, than he designed it badly. There have been many species that have died out. Perhaps more than currently exist. Why? Why create species that would not be a final product and whose genes may not have contributed to a final product? Questions like these are best understood by the directionless nature of evolution. Deistic views also do not fit with an involved God and are a bit hard to reconcile with a God who allows choice.”
Ugh. He’s really muddled things here, mostly because he assumes that evolution is true. In the Biblical view of history, God created a very good universe over six days. God created everything according to its kind [which is generally found at the family taxon].
Furthermore, man and animals were herbivores [Gen. 1:29-30]. Then sin entered into the world through Adam, bringing forth sin, death, thorns, predation, disease and suffering. Afterward men became so evil that God wiped out mankind with a world-covering Flood which further ravaged the planet and wiped out the geological features of the world that was. By the Bible’s history, the suffering and death that exist in this world are man’s fault rather than God’s. Evart wants to convince us that as long as there’s a plan, it’s OK if God uses a process of death, suffering, mass extinction and mutation to accomplish His purposes, but does this really get God off the hook for theodicy if He used evolution to accomplish His purposes? Um, no, because that suffering and death still exist as an innate part of the evolutionary process; worse still, it paints God as a Creator who only cares about the end product, not the process – a deity who would be perfectly compatible with the concept that the ends justify the means… but this is not the God revealed in the Bible!
Apparently wishing to dig his hole ever deeper, he continues:
“’God of the Gaps’ theories are theories that hold that Gods working exists only in places where the mechanistic laws and actions of life and the universe are not observable. Deism in both the humanistic and anti-evolution forms (such as young-earth anti-evolutionism) is by definition a God of the Gaps view that places God only at the start of creation. The form of anti-evolutionism known as intelligent design looks for areas in which we are, as of yet, unable to determine how nature might work and places God in those spaces by attributing miracles or proof of design only to the places in which we cannot yet understand cause and effect naturalist explanations. One of the problems with a God of the Gaps theories is that the parts we cannot describe naturalistically continue to get more distant as we understand more. Whether you place God, as creator, only at the beginning of the universe or in the questions on how evolution and other mechanisms work, God gets smaller and farther away as we learn more and the time “before” our knowledge is pushed farther back and the areas where we have unanswered questions on the mechanisms of creation get smaller.”
We have already addressed his erroneous notion of deism. Here he likewise misses the point that the “God of the gaps” view is an old earth creationist concept, not a Biblical Young Earth Creationist concept. Biblical creationists stand firm on when, what and how God created, but some Old Earthers and “theistic” evolutionists have arbitrarily accepted many of the claims of science chained to pure naturalism and tried to claim that evidence for God’s agency in instances where pure naturalism cannot consistently account for natural problems. The confusion arises because Biblical Creationist point out these same gaps in evolution’s explanatory power [e.g, science claims that it works via the principle of uniformitarianism, that the present is the key to the past, but it goes on to postulate things that contract this principle like the Big Bang (either the idea that everything came from nothing or that everything came from an unobservable multiverse, though we have never seen a Big Bang event happen in the present), life springing from non-life, and leaps from one kind of organism to another (viz. fish to reptiles, dinosaurs to birds, ungulates to whales, apes to humans)]. The difference is that we don’t merely try to say God works only in these gaps according to the evolutionary/uniformitarian framework, but rather we use these gaps to point out that their entire framework is wrong and the Biblical framework is correct.
He also makes the mistake of supposing that if a naturalistic explanation has been proposed that it must be the truth. Chained to pure naturalism, science is no longer the truth but rather the search for all-natural answers which may or may not be true – and are most certainly false where supernatural agency was actually responsible!
Undaunted by his dearth of knowledge on this subject, he continues on… and on:
“Another problem with any God of the Gaps view is that it violates classical Christian thinking on the nature of God by 1.) requiring God to supply “signs and wonders”, that is incontrovertible proof of Gods existence and 2.) removing God from the routine involvement with Gods creation when God chooses.”
Really? I don’t give a can of beans for the God of the gaps view, but how does it violate classical Christian thinking on the nature of God? Where does it force God to supply incontrovertible proof of His existence? One thing that Biblical Creationists and Old earthers alike agree on is that the Bible makes it clear that God’s existence and many of His attributes are obvious from observing the finished work of creation and the moral law evident in our consciences. So obvious in fact that despite a public school monopoly on science education, in which they provide an uncritical, one-sided indoctrination into millions of years of microbes-to-man evolution as scientific fact, evolutionists have not been able to prevent much of America from believing in the Biblical creation account. Nor does a finished work of creation prevent God from routine involvement in it when He chooses; in fact, an established creation is required in order for supernatural intervention to be possible! By way of an imperfect analogy, there must be a working video game program in existence if we are to manipulate elements within the game environment. In any case, Evarts has failed to establish his point.
Which doesn’t keep him from continuing stalwartly on the downward spiral:
“In contrast to Deist and God of the Gaps views, biological evolution provides a means for God to routinely be involved in dynamic creation on the physical plain and to do so without frequent events seen as miracles.”
How? Microbes-to-man evolution is a process meant to explain biological origins without God. How exactly is He routinely involved in a process which excludes Him as necessary? Evarts has missed the obvious, that rather than routinely including God in dynamic creation, evolution actually makes Him unnecessary. The creationist view that God set up natural selection as a conservative force and that each kind of organism was pre-coded with variability to allow it to adapt to various environments makes more sense if we’re including God at all. Furthermore, to say that He is routinely involved in the evolutionary process is to again say He is routinely involved in a process of death, mutation and suffering that existed long before the Fall of Adam; what sort of an Ogre would call such a process “very good?”
Anyway, he’s not done yet:
“That is to say biological evolution is uniquely suited to the historically postulated nature of the Christian God. Natural selection works on genetic variation. Genetic variation arises through recombination events, transposition and mutation. All of these are stochastic or chaotic events that we might call random. We can understand rules as to how they work and even look at forces that may drive them to one or more most likely ends, but we cannot predict which particular new genetic variation will occur. Given the evidence that on the subatomic level we will never be able to do more than statistically place an electron in a “cloud,” we may never be able to do more than give a statistical measurement of the likelihood of a given mutation or genetic outcome from recombination, much less a series of mutations and environmental pressure over evolutionary time. If God chooses one seemingly random mutation or linkage event over another, how would we know, especially if the system itself usually functions without Gods input. If over time those changes and other similar, seemingly stochastic processes, such as the rise of this disease or that local environmental event are used to sculpt a given, intended outcome, we’d be unable to tell. Dr. Kenneth Miller has described this as a tool by which God can make minute changes that can be subtly amplified to speciation and beyond in his book “Finding Darwin’s God.” This allows an area that is basic to the development of new species, where God can routinely work across deep stretches of time that are “but as a day to God” to develop creatures that God chooses without overly revealing Godself in too frequent miracles.
Natural selection itself and genetic drift provide additional opportunities for God to work behind the scenes and without disturbing the evolutionary mechanism God designed. If Dr. Simon Conway Morris, FRS is right that convergent evolution suggests that some traits such as camera like eyes and complex human like brains are favored by as yet un-elucidated selective mechanisms or “engineering requirements”, that and the design of the other mechanisms in nature is yet another (although first cause) place where God can work. In this view, based on evolutionary biology and other natural mechanisms with stochastic elements, God is indeed intimately and continuously at work at the basis of all creation. God can let the programs run their course or nudge them without flagrant intervention as often as the artist chooses.”
Congratulations, Evart. You just stumbled upon your very own God of the gaps. More of a ghost in the machine actually, but still. Again, this is a God who cares more about outcomes than processes; a God of the ends justified the means. Evarts’ God sees when each sparrow falls, for He calculated their demise to lead to the eventual rise of the apes!
If only Evart would begin his theology with the Bible’s statement that God has ceased from the work of creation rather than trying to impose the fallible ideas of men onto the Scriptures, he might realize the folly and inconsistency of his position. When he makes the statement that “God can let the programs run their course or nudge them without flagrant intervention as often as the artist chooses,” does he not realize that this is actually true for the Biblical view that God has ceased from creation, so that the program is established and running, allowing him to override them as necessary. Despite all his mewling over deistic creation schemas in which God winds up the machine and then lets it do most of the work, Evart has simply latched upon the very same notion in evolutionary terms, making his entire venture rather self-refuting!
Think about it,
Note to Readers: For whatever reason, this post originally contained text from the article entitled Underminers: The Self-Defeating Proposition of Compromising Scripture With Millions of Years of Evolution. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. Comments posted before this article was corrected on 4/15/12 at 8 PM EST will appear on the Underminers article.