Tyler Francke, founder of the YEC-bashing God of Evolution site, has written a post called 10 Theological Questions No Young-Earth Creationist Can Answer. In our first post, we addressed his opening remarks and his first 3 questions. In the next post, I addressed questions 4 through 6. Before I reply to the last of his questions, let’s review what we’ve learned so far.
1. What was the point of the Tree of Life?
A: To grant eternal life to whoever ate from it. Note here that I have answered Tyler’s question. Of course, that’s not what he was really concerned about. Tyler’s real objection is that it doesn’t seem to serve any point in a world where no one can die. I provided a possible purpose and then pointed out that Ecclesiastes promises that everything has a purpose, so rather than providing a paradox that YECs can’t answer, it provides an unrevealed purpose that cannot be used to refute our position. It’s a Biblical answer, so I’m assuming he finds it intellectually unsatisfying.
2. If human sin is the reason animals die, why can’t they be saved?
A: Animal life is different from human life [1 Cor. 15:39]. Only humans were made in the image of God and have a living soul [Gen. 2:7]. The passage that Tyler quoted for his argument was irrelevant to the discussion and ignored how Romans 8:22-23 applied to his question.
3. If physical death is part of the punishment for sin, why do Christians still die?
A: Because spiritual death is remedied at salvation and physical death will be remedied at our Blessed Hope as revealed in passages such as 1 Cor 15, and 1 Thes 4:16. Tyler also used the non-literal death Paul spoke of in Romans 7:9 and tried to normalize the usage of the word death as meaning spiritual death, regardless of the context of each use. In doing so, he ignored the fact that the meaning of a text is determined by context, not merely by how any given might be used in other contexts. Those opposed to the plain-sense meaning of Genesis apply this same faulty tactic to the use of the word day in Genesis based on a single non-literal instance in Genesis 2:1.
4. Why was Eve named “mother of life”?
A: Because God promised Eve that she would bear children for Adam. Tyler used a selective presentation of Scripture [Genesis 3:17-19] to suggest that Adam had no reason to call Eve the mother of all living in light of the fact that mankind had just been cursed. He failed to take into account the promise of childbirth in the preceding verse. On purpose, no less.
5. How did Adam and Eve know what death was?
A: As evidenced from the fact that Adam is able to speak and name things from day one, we infer that God created a fully functional adult male whose mind came equipped with a bit more than a one year old typically has. Tyler’s objection was built on the unBiblical idea that Adam was a baby in a man’s body or a blank slate.
6. If the punishment for eating from the tree was that Adam and Eve would physically die … why didn’t they physically die?
A: The Hebrew construction of this verse implies that God meant that the death sentence would be decreed on that day, not that it would be carried out immediately. The verse should be rendered “dying you shall die” and basically means that the process of death began at the moment they sinned. Interestingly, Tyler admitted that YECs have all sorts of answers for this question; he simply rejects them with a bit of cursory hand waving [Ironic, I know]. He again attempts to use Romans 8 to say that the only reasonable interpretation is that Adam incurred spiritual death only, so I again referred him back to 1 Corinthians 15, which he has once again failed to take into account.
Hopefully, we can get through the remainder of Tyler’s questions in this part.
You should know that Tyler has apparently “responded” to my answers thus far with the following:
“It seems to consist primarily of put-downs, spiritual one-upmanship and liberal uses of the special pleading fallacy, which isn’t all that surprising. It has long been Breeden’s specialty to present a Bible passage that only supports the young-earth view if one has already assumed a priori that the young-earth view is correct, and he does nothing different or unexpected here.”
So… he skimmed it then. I’ll address the special pleading fallacy first. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I practice presuppositional apologetics. I presuppose that the Bible is true and that Genesis purposes to relate true history, just as Tyler Francke presupposes that the Bible is true but that Genesis purposes to teach spiritual truths ala’ Aesop’s fables rather than relating true history. He approaches the Bible with these presuppositions because he also presupposes a priori that the all-natural truth claim of millions of years of microbes-to-man evolution is true history. So pots and kettles, Mr. Francke.
He seems to have a real problem with someone using insults when rebuking a religious person. I refer him to Elisha’s remarks to the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Read it again. If he thinks that’s not very loving or Christ-like, I refer him to Jesus’ comments concerning the Pharisees in a rather infamous chapter of Matthew and remind him that his stained-glass Sunday school version of Jesus needs to be tempered with what the Bible actually reveals.
Without further ado, here’s his next question:
7. Can you name any other piece of literature in which the existence of a talking snake and trees with magical powers would suggest to you that it was meant to be taken literally?
This one is funny, because when you start discussing the proper interpretation of Genesis with young-earth creationists, they tend to refer to contextual clues a lot. To give just one example, this Creation.com piece, which goes to hilarious lengths to compare the use of the Hebrew “yom” (“day”) to the 2,282 other Old Testament uses of the word.
Pause. Look at the hand waving he does here concerning the contextual clues for the word day in Genesis. The contextual clues that let us know that the days of Genesis are meant to be understood as six, literal 24-hour days. This is called willful ignorance, folks.
Somehow, in this author’s detailed analysis of the use of ordinal numbers in conjunction with “yom,” he managed to miss out on a couple of fairly significant contextual clues, like, I dunno, the freaking snake that is TALKING TO PEOPLE. Because I actually just completed a survey of 6,842 stories that feature talking animals, and — wouldn’t you know it — none of them were history.
Then you have the trees whose fruit bear obvious magical properties, which happens to be another astoundingly common theme in one particular type of writing: fiction writing.
Fiction writing? Hey, look, he’s on my turf now.
Tyler here reveals his anti-supernatural bias. His post even include a picture of Aesop’s Fables at this point presumably to drive his argument home. Why does that sound familiar? Oh, right. Because I’ve been warning folks about the Clergy Letter Project for years, noting among other things that they claim the Adam, and Eve Noah and the Ark are teaching stories in the tradition of Aesop’s Fables, despite the fact that our Lord and the Apostles referred to them as historical events. Tyler supports the pro-evolution Clergy Letter, even if he hasn’t yet signed it.
By basically calling Genesis a work of fiction, he once again demonstrates that his ultimate authority is not the Bible, no matter how much he claims to hold it in very high regard. History can only include the all-natural elements in Tyler’s worldview… well, when it’s convenient anyway. Watch him go on about Balamm’s ass:
Some young-earthers have responded to this with the story of Balaam’s donkey, but unlike in Genesis 3, the donkey’s ability to talk is explicitly described as a miraculous act of God. Of course, their exhaustive comparative studies never include Proverbs 3:18 and 13:12, two instances in which the biblical authors revisit the concept of the tree of life — in an obviously figurative context.
So in the case of this talking donkey, Tyler says it’s OK to read the Bible as real history because it’s explicitly noted to be a miracle. Nevermind that the 6 Day Creation is also noted as an explicit supernatural act of God and is even mentioned in the Ten Commandments for crying out loud; all-natural science says no to that one. Of course, all-natural science also says no to talking animals of any sort and definitely no to miracles, so Tyler is guilty of straining gnats and swallowing camels. What Tyler’s double-minded objection fails to take into account is the question of what a history book that allows for supernatural things would look like. He allegedly affirms a supernatural Creator God. He tells us he believes that Jesus supernaturally rose from the dead. He believes that Balaam’s miraculously talking donkey is true history because it’s described as a supernatural act of God. We presume he believes the other miracles based on this statement, selectively at least. He accepts these elements that are virtually indistinguishable from magic elsewhere in the Bible as historical facts of history, but stumbles over them as fiction in Genesis.
What a hypocrite! What a double-minded man! I weep for his congregation.
As for the Tree of Life, it’s mentioned again in supernaturally prophesied future history, as we noted in our remarks on question #1. It’s mentioned as a literal tree, Tyler. Again, the context of a text determines its meaning.
So the answer to Tyler’s question is that it is irrelevant whether any other piece of literature includes supernatural elements and yet claims to be true history. If the Bible speaks the truth about God and the context determines that Genesis is meant to relate true history about how a supernatural Creator supernaturally created the cosmos in just six ordinary days, then the real question is whether you believe this supernatural revelation… or whether you believe it was made up?
8. Why do Genesis 1 and 2 contradict?
I have a much more detailed post on this issue here [link removed], so I’ll be brief.
Here is the order of some of the things God made in Genesis 1:
Fish and birds, concurrently (1:20-23)
Land animals (1:24-25)
Men and women, concurrently (1:26-27)
Now here’s the order of the same stuff in Genesis 2:
Land animals and birds (2:19)
Notice any differences? Oh, wait, it’s all different. Now, if these two stories are meant to be theological allegory, as I believe they are, then there’s no issue. But if they are — as the young-earthers insist — historical accounts of the same creation of the same universe, then we have a problem … because they are irreconcilably different.
Oh my stars! This again?? Old earthers and other Bible skeptics never tire of parading out this oft-refuted chestnut. Answer it as many times as you like, they’ll never listen. And Tyler knows we’ve already answered this one. He admits it in the next sentence!
Some may criticize this question’s inclusion on this list. True, it’s not like young-earthers haven’t tried to answer it before. (Not that they really have a choice — if they can’t even get past the second chapter of Genesis without their literalist exegesis falling apart, they’re in big trouble.) Unfortunately, their explanations are utterly unfaithful to the very story they purport to be defending.
The primary explanation is that the verb in verse 19 (NASB: “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky…”) should be translated in the past perfect: “had formed.” And indeed this is how some modern translations like the New International Version and the English Standard Version render the verse, even though the only reason to do so is to serve the translator’s underlying theological presuppositions.
Morphosyntactic considerations aside, if you do render the verse 19 verb “had formed,” it kind of completely wrecks the story.Whereas, in the NASB, verse 19 proceeds logically from the preceeding one (18: God says, “I will make a helper suitable for man.” 19: He makes a bunch of helpers), the NIV is hopelessly muddled (18: God says, “I will make a helper suitable for man.” 19: God suddenly reverses course: “Actually, never mind. I forgot I already made all these things. Will any of these work?”).
And don’t forget, this is only one of many problems that the literalistic, young-earth hermeneutic creates. It has to make you wonder: If these really are two literal accounts which are meant to be read as one harmonious history, why do you have to change or ignore so much of what they say to make them harmonize?
Yeah. My answer has nothing to do with any of that. My answer is provided here but the basic point is that chapter 2 provided further details of Day 6 and that the animals formed in Genesis 2:19 were special representatives for Adam to name:
“What gets a few people is this whole business of Adam naming the animals, particularly verse 19: “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air.” God had already created all of the land animals [creeping things, cattle and beasts of the earth – Gen 1:24-25]. Now he forms the beasts of the field [a sub-set of beasts of the earth], birds and cattle from the dust of the earth and brings them before Adam to see what he’ll name them. Were these real live creatures? or simply clay images of the real McCoy? I have this sort of sci-fi fantasy image in my head of God sculpting each creature with a wave of his hand and sending them hovering in front of Adam. In my mind’s eye, each clay creature is moving as it would in real life. Maybe it even becomes real, live flesh as Adam gives it a name. Ah, they need to make a decent movie about Creation and the Flood… sigh.”
9. Why is incest wrong?
Ken Ham claims the most common question he’s been asked is, “Where did Cain get his wife?” Well, consider this the follow-up.
You see, young-earth groups are pretty up-front about where they think Cain’s wife came from: He married his sister. According to the young-earthers, God’s divine plan necessitated that men to procreate with their sisters or mother at least twice: following Noah’s flood and right after our original creation.
OK, we’ll stop right there for just a second to correct Tyler’s misconceptions. I know he likely has his Ken ham hater glasses on, but this doesn’t excuse him from gross ignorance of church history. You see, it’s not just young earth groups who think Cain married his sister. This is a position with a long pedigree. In fact, this question was answered over 1600 years ago by John Chrysostom [347 AD – 407 AD]:
“But perhaps someone will say: How is it that Cain had a wife when Sacred Scripture nowhere makes mention of another woman? Don’t be surprised at this dearly beloved: it has so far given no list of women anywhere in a precise manner; instead, Sacred Scripture while avoiding superfluous details mentions the males in turn, though not even all of them, telling us about them in rather summary fashion when it says that so-and-so had sons and daughters and then he died. So it is likely in this case too that Eve gave birth to a daughter after Cain and Abel, and Cain took her for her wife. You see, since it was in the beginning and the human race had to increase from them on, it was permissible to marry their own sisters.”
Besides being weird and disturbing and more than a little icky, this is problematic because, biblically, incest is repeatedly and consistently described as a sin. It happens to be mentioned in scripture at least as many times as homosexuality, and I think we all know what Ken Ham thinks about that.
So why does incest get a pass?
Two reasons: Because there would “fewer genetic mistakes” the closer the happy couple was to Adam and Eve, and because God hadn’t issued his Mosaic-era prohibitions against incest yet.
Unfortunately, the first defense was arrived at using X-trabiblical Vision™, and since I don’t possess this power, I’m not really qualified to respond.
As I explained in my response to #5, what he refers to as “X-trabiblical Vision” isn’t a superpower; it’s merely inference. If he doesn’t comprehend this – and given the level of snark he’s dishing out here, I’d suggest he’s being facetious – then he really isn’t qualified to respond. That sort of willful ignorance is simply criminal.
The first reason is consistent with a Biblical [Young Earth] creationist interpretation and Tyler’s snarky response to it reveals that he has nothing of substance to offer against it. If Adam were originally perfect, as evidence by his lifespan, he and his immediate progeny would have had fewer genetic mistakes in their makeup. There was obviously a bottleneck effect at the Flood with Noah and his kin, as evidenced by the greatly reduced lifespans of their descendants, resulting in greater genetic mistakes. Still, Abram married his half-sister and Moses’ own father married his father’s sister [his aunt] without controversy. We infer that by the time of Moses that genetic mistakes were now prevalent yielding a pragmatic reason for the prohibition against incestuous marriage. Please note that we have no reason to presume that extramarital incest wasn’t as wrong then as it is now. In fact, we have several Biblical passages involving extrabiblical incest
But the second is — pardon my French — total BS. News flash: According to the young-earthers, God hadn’t issued any commands at this point in history beyond “Don’t eat that fruit,” but it still seemed to be a pretty major party foul when Cain murdered Abel.
So if God’s moral prohibition against murder was in effect before Heston — er, I mean, Moses — laid down the law on Sinai, then so was his moral prohibition against incest. Which makes it pretty unlikely that he would have set up his creation in such a way that it required incest almost immediately, don’t you think?
Um, God made it clear in Genesis that murder was wrong. I mean, death – both spiritual AND physical death, Tyler – was the punishment for Adam’s sin. If you know death is wrong, you also know that causing death is probably wrong, too. Cain knew this, which is exactly why he answered God’s question as to the whereabouts of his brother with his infamous dissemblance [“Am I my brother’s keeper?”]. Note however that the punishment for Cain’s sin was not death as would later be prescribed by both the Noachian Covenant [Genesis 9] and Levitical Law. Why was Cain given a pass? Well, he wasn’t. He was punished, but the punishment wasn’t death [it was banishment]. In fact, Cain was worried that everyone else would slay him for killing Abel. Interestingly enough, God placed a mark on Cain as a warning to others that anyone who killed Cain would receive sevenfold vengeance for the deed. In other words, rather than the penalty for murder being death, God actually gave Cain surety against death.
Why? Well, because things were different in the Adamic world. Human life was precious because only humans could reproduce other humans and because there weren’t many around. The theistic evolutionary view that Adam and Eve were part of a greater population of humanity makes God’s mark on Cain a giant inconsistency in His justice. God makes it clear that murder was always wrong precisely because man is made in the image of God [Genesis 9], a God who identifies Himself with Life itself in other passages of Scripture. Murder is a crime against life, against God Himself. Extramarital incest is a crime against the family as established in Genesis when God made man, male and female. Why treat Abel’s murder differently than murder under the Noachian Covenant or Levitical Law if murder is always exactly wrong?
The young earther has a an answer in that God’s plan required man to be fruitful and multiply to fill the earth. After Eden, if a man murdered another but was then also killed for his crime, this reduced the population and the available gene pool by two [at minimum]. After the Flood, 8 souls were given the Noachian Covenant. They had seen what level of depravity and violence humanity could stoop to. In his wisdom, God established the Noachian Covenant and prescribed death as the penalty for murder. While there was a genetic bottleneck after the Flood and life was no less precious, the death penalty for murder was necessary in order to dissuade men from committing this sin in a world where God had promised not to wipe out mankind for such violence against His image. This caveat is important in comprehending why God changed the penalty for murder.
Likewise, by the time of the giving of Levitical Law, genetic mistakes had likely increased to the point where a prohibition against marriage between close relatives was was now necessary. Francke would have us believe that those who lived before Levitical Law was given were still Francke can protest this as much as he likes, but he cannot deny its logic.
Tyler Francke is hoping that we ignore the principle of ex post facto, namely that one is not amenable to the consequences of a law passed after the commission of a certain act. I once had a boss who promoted a fellow employee above me and then tried to hold me accountable for not carrying out that recently promoted supervisor’s wishes before said promotion. It was pretty unfair, not to mention nonsensical, so I quit. Tyler Francke wants us to believe that the justice of God ignores the inherent unfairness of disregarding the ex post facto principle. In his zeal to castigate young earthers, he makes God out to be a bean-counting rulemonger.
Now to answer his question comprehensively, we have to address the fact that Christians are not held accountable for much of Levitical Law now. Levitical law has traditionally been divided into ceremonial law, moral law and judicial/civil law. Several New Testament passages make it clear that ceremonial and judicial/civil Levitical Law [viz., Acts 10:9-16; Galatians 2:1-3; 5:1-11; 6:11-16; 1 Corinthians 7:17-20; Colossians 2:8-12, 16-17; Phillipians 3:1-3] have passed away. Leviticus 18, which deals with sexual immorality of all sorts including incest, falls under moral law. Moral law here is defined as non-culturally-dependent [universal] moral law. One could note that a prohibition against incest [whether the parties are married or not] is a violation of moral law because genetics is not culturally dependent and extramarital incest in wrong because it violates God’s establishment of marriage in Genesis.
10. And finally, if it is so vitally important that Christians take Genesis literally, why did Jesus never once instruct us to take Genesis literally?
Sure, it’s an argument from silence. But it’s still worth considering why Jesus — who often addressed Old Testament passages that religious people had a habit of misinterpreting, and surely knew the issue this would one day become in the church. Preventing all that would have been as simple as this:
And again the Pharisees came to test Jesus. “Great teacher,” they said, “there are some who say the creation accounts are like your parables, and not meant to be read as history. What do you say to this?”
And then Jesus replied, giving the exact right answer that would preemptively end decades of harsh debate almost 2,000 years later.
But there’s nothing remotely like that in the gospels. Which proves that, regardless of whose interpretation of Genesis is correct, it doesn’t really matter in the end.
Because, if one particular view of the creation accounts was remotely necessary to the true understanding of Christianity, I’m pretty sure the founder of Christianity would have mentioned it.
Did anyone else just catch what Tyler did there? I’ll give those of you who did a moment to stop laughing before we continue.
While we’re waiting on those guys, let’s examine Tyler’s “argument from silence.” To make an argument from silence is to express a conclusion that is based on the absence of statements in historical documents, rather than on presence. Unfortunately, that’s not what Tyler’s doing here. He’s hoping we won’t notice that his “argument from silence,” cleverly accented with a Things Jesus Never Said meme, isn’t really an argument from silence at all. You see, Jesus may never have explicitly said that Genesis was meant to be taken as literal history, but when He referenced Genesis, He spoke of it as literal history. The context makes that so clear that in another post written by Tyler, linked in this one, poor Tyler is forced to admit that Jesus spoke of Genesis as literal history but that Jesus was wrong:
“But let’s pretend for a moment, as the literalists will insist, that by “at the beginning,” Jesus meant the sixth day of Creation Week. If creation really took billions of years, does that mean Jesus was wrong?
Yes. Sort of.
You see, Jesus was wrong, but only because his listeners were wrong. His audience believed that humans had always existed on the earth; they had no reason to think otherwise. And Jesus accommodated himself to their inaccurate views of our biological origins in order to remind them of a deeper truth: that we are made in God’s image, male and female, and that there is a grand, divine beauty in the marital bond that flippant divorce makes a mockery of.”
That’s right. Jesus was wrong. The one who defined Himself as the Truth accommodated Himself to the errors of His day rather than correcting them and let them believe a lie in order to teach them truth. Er, um, waitaminute. Is that what he really believes? How does he back that up?
He suggests that by using figures of speech in passages like Mark 4:30-32, Mark 13: 23:26 and John 12:23-24, Jesus was also accommodating Himself to the misconceptions of His day because the mustard seed isn’t the smallest of all seeds nor grows to be the largest of all garden plants, dead seeds produce nothing, and meteorites fall rather than stars. The problem is that Jesus isn’t using hyperbole in the passages where he refers to Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:1-11 and the parallel passage in Mark 10:1-12; He’s quoting Scripture as a justification for doctrine and speaking of Genesis as a matter of historical record in doing so.
So rather than an argument from silence, Francke pulls a bait and switch and actually ends up admitting that the record is not silent but rather that Jesus was wrong for being on record as speaking of Genesis as literal history. And how does he know Jesus was wrong? Because Tyler Francke’s ultimate authority, science chained to pure naturalism, says that Genesis cannot be literal history. When forced to choose between Jesus and science chained to pure naturalism, Tyler Francke chooses to believe Jesus was wrong and that naturalistic science provides the truth. Wow.
As to why we’re laughing…
Did you catch it? The entire premise of Tyler Francke’s list of questions is supposed to show us why the traditional Biblical [young earth] interpretation of the Bible is theologically problematic and therefore wrong, making his position of imposing long ages of theistic evolution onto the text the better choice. By claiming that the traditional Biblical [young earth] interpretation of the Bible is theologically problematic, he’s trying to demonstrate that it does matter which view of Genesis is correct and that his favored interpretation of Genesis is necessary to true understanding of Christianity.
In other words, his entire post undermines the very premise that “regardless of whose interpretation of Genesis is correct, it doesn’t really matter in the end.” The very existence of this post, not to mention his entire Godofevolution.com website gives lie tot he fact that Tyler Francke believes a correct interpretation of Genesis matters very much after all!
The real problem, for folks like Tyler Francke, is that the founder of Christianity did mention Genesis as a matter of historical record. But they need to explain that away because their ultimate authority is found neither in Christ nor the Bible, but nor even to science chained to pure naturalism. Their pick and choose religion requires that they be the ultimate authority over both Scripture and science, arbitrarily deciding which authority prevails in each particular passage.
This post has gone rather long, so I shall summarize and offer my conclusions in a final post.