Well folks, this blog is going to completely drop the topic of the Mennonite Brethren Conference in Canada. I’m not pastoring an MB church and am officially withdrawing my membership from the MB Conference, so there’s not a whole lot of reason for me to be keeping tabs of what’s going on there or fighting any more MB battles. I will have more than enough to think about in my own church.
Since I’m moving on from the MB conference and I’ll pretty much leave it as a subject. I’ll still be praying for certain individuals in the conference, but I have absolutely no desire to fight MB battles from outside the MB conference.
That being said, I’m going to close off my 34 years in the MB conference by interacting with a 5 part series on 5 articles in the most recent MB Herald on the Creation/Evolution debate. The MB Herald has finally solved the debate regarding the origins of the universe! Hooray! The religious theory of evolution (likely theistic evolution) wins! Wait a minute…WHAT?
I’ve read the best literature of both sides of the debate, I’ve read every commentary in print on the book of Genesis, I have at least 100 journal articles on various Genesis issues saved on my computer that I’ve read, I’ve learned my biblical languages, done translation and exegesis of the Hebrew text, I’ve read Brian Murphy’s 300+ page doctoral thesis on Genesis chapters 1 & 2, and I’ve done essentially everything I could to come to a biblical understanding of the issue…but until now I didn’t know what the MB Herald had to say about the issue, so my understanding was mediocre, at best. Now, J Janzen (MB Herald editor), Brian Cooper (adjunct faculty at ACTS Seminary), Robert J. V. Hiebert (actual faculty at ACTS Seminary), Brian Gobbett (faculty at Briercrest), and Paul Teel (Phd candidate and teaches a course at UVic) have spoken and straightened out anyone in the MB Conference who was confused on the issue!
So, since these lads have tossed their stuff out in print, I’m going to interact with them.
I’ll take the articles in order of appearance in the Herald, so first off we’ve got J Janzen’s article entitled My Creation Confessions on page 4.
Instead of re-writing his article, I’ll simply pick out some quotes and the main points of his argument. My comments will be in italics.
Let’s get started!
J Janzen’s article was a short diatribe opening with “I’m puzzled by the notion that science and faith are at odds with each other.”
- Science and faith? These categories are deceitful and completely useless. The creation question has never been a fight between science and faith. Science is the name we give to the process of gaining knowledge of the empirical (physical) world through observation, hypothesis, prediction and experimentation. Science is simply a process, not a council or some uniform understanding of anything. And faith? Biblical faith is essentially “trusting God’s word”. Science cannot possibly be at odds with biblical faith.
- The battle is between sinful man and a holy God, and always has been. Sinners (whether they are scientists or not) don’t believe in biblical creation because they’re actually unable to do so. Evolution is one among a long list of theories that sinful man has devised over history to explain their origins outside of God’s clear and propositional revelation of the actual origin of the universe in the scripture. Sinners, by nature of being sinners, suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. Heb. 11:3 says that one cannot believe in the Genesis account outside of the divine gift of faith. No unbelieving scientist, and no amount of unbelieving scientists working together, will ever arrive at the biblical account of the creation of the world. The truth is evident and the data is all there, but sinners suppress the truth because it conflicts with their desire to sin.
Janzen also expressed being trouble when people suggest that “true Christian faith must include belief in a six-day creation.”
- True. Janzen is right on this one. True Christian faith isn’t marked by belief in a six-day creation. I doubt that the thief on the cross thought that…but true Christian faith is marked by a trust in God’s word, and God’s word clearly teaches something that is utterly irreconcilable with any form of the theory of evolution. Any Christian who studies the first chapters of Genesis and reject its truthfulness on the basis of the findings of unbelieving scientists have (at bare minimum) good reason to question their understanding of the nature of scripture and the unbelieving mind…and should worry a whole lot more about reading the gospels than Genesis. There’s not an unregenerate scientist in the world who believes any of the stuff in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and that’s pretty darn important! Conception without sperm? Walking on water? Making food out of thin air? The existence of demons at all? Healing things like leprosy instantaneously? Raising from the dead? The testimony of naturalistic science against any of that is utterly univocal, and that stuff is inseparable from the Gospel.
Janzen then questions a straightforward reading of Genesis with only 3 arguments:
1. The light with no sun argument.
2. The vegetation with no sun argument.
Janzen literally says “How is it possible for light to appear (Gen. 1:3-5) and vegetation to survive (Gen. 1:11-13) before the sun is created (Gen. 1:14-19)?
I’ll hit both of these arguments at once, since they’re easily defeated. Here’s my answer:
- Light can come from something other than the sun, and so can plant life. In Revelation 21, we see the new heavens and new earth. Rev. 21:23 says that there’s neither sun nor moon in the new heavens and new earth since God’s glory lights it up. Rev. 22:2 says that there’s at least 2 trees there, and there’s still no sun. Even in nature, not all light or life comes from the sun. There are both light and plant life at the bottom of the Cayman Trough, and not a speck of sunlight reaches down there.
- In Genesis 1, Janzen is assuming that the sun was made for the purpose of giving general light or giving life to vegetation. Neither of these is true. Genesis 1:14-19 says that the lights in the sky were made to separate day from night (which preexisted them both in Genesis 1:4-5), to indicate seasons, days and years, and to give light to the earth. There was already light, but the earth had a regular allotment of that light apportioned to it when the sun and moon were created. The sun was the principle light of the day and the moon was the principle light of the night.
3. The evolution isn’t really that big a deal argument. Janzen says “supposing evolution is true, how does that prove God doesn’t exist”?
- Well, if evolution is true, it proves that God is a liar since Genesis 1-11 is untrue. Evolution and God’s word cannot coexist as equally true: regardless of the age of the earth, Genesis unavoidably teaches that every single human being descended from a single, mature, human couple (Gen. 3:20) anywhere from 7-20,000 years ago, and every version of the theory of evolution that I know of unavoidably cannot coexist with that single fact. If that one fact is not true, then God is a liar. God may exist but people have no way of ever knowing since his self-revelation about himself in the scripture may be anywhere from 0-99% true, but there’s absolutely no way to ever know. For all intents and purposes, God then becomes entirely irrelevant.
Janzen then talks about how he had an existential dilemma in when he was young that was solved by his mother simply asking him “Do you really think all of this could have happened by chance?” At that point, J Janzen somehow knew that God existed and quotes Colossians 1:16.
Janzen wants us, like him, to “reserve judgment when it comes to questions of genesis” because “I can’t help but think that our arguments about origins are less than helpful because we ask questions to which we don’t have the answers, and make conclusions on the basis of evidence that is partial at best. Why not wait until we have more information?”
- Well, I don’t have to wait, and I’m not going to trump the clarity of Genesis 1 & 2 with the ambiguity of Colossians 1:16. I’m going to let the scriptures give me as much information as they do and I’m not going to pretend that the Bible doesn’t say what it does. If I ask questions about mechanics (what the actual physical processes involved in creation were), I won’t find answers beyond what the Bible says, and the bible says that the mechanism of creation was divine speech. Whether or not there were physical processes involved in some way, or what the mathematical relationship between gravity, mass, time and divine speech are, only God knows. The Bible gives a very simple, very short answer to the question of mechanics.
- I’m also not going to pretend that any empirical scientific experiment will ever be able to contest the truthfulness of Genesis 1 & 2. Regardless of the contemporary physical processes in the universe, I have good reason to think that these processes were not always happening at the same rate, and in the same way, during creation. In fact, the Bible clearly warns me against the usage of uniformitarian arguments (calculating backwards based on the rate of modern physical processes) by unbelievers to suppress the truth of the creation account in 2 Peter 3:3-7, and this was written almost 2 millennia before the modern theory of evolution! The Bible is clear that the creation week was a 6 day period. The Bible is clear that light from every star appeared at the same time, regardless of their current distance from the earth. I don’t have a clue how any of that worked mechanically, but I believe that it happened in 1 day because God clearly tells me that was what happened, he is incapable of lying, and he’s the only eye witness there has been, or ever will be. Any unbelieving scientist who disagrees with the testimony of Genesis is speculating at best since he can never confirm his hypothesis by travelling into the past (leaving his scientific process unfinished, pushing all “scientific” opposition to anything in Genesis into the realm of philosophy), and is disagreeing with God.
So, the granite slab of scripture stands unharmed from the attack of the feather of Janzen’s skepticism.
Next up, I’ll take a stab at the article by Brian Cooper.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “The Armchair Creationist” Unger