Monday, July 09, 2012

Christianity Today: “A Tale of Two Scientists”

Christianity Today has an article by Tim Stafford on Darrel Falk and Todd Wood. Darrel is the president of BioLogos (Disclosure: I write for BioLogos) and Todd Wood is the biologist at Bryan College in Dayton Tennessee and, as far as I can tell, the only young earth creationist who honestly treats the geological and biological evidence. Of Falk he writes:
He took a postdoctoral fellowship in Southern California. On one memorable day, he was at the beach with his family when he saw a church bus arrive in the parking lot. From the lettering on the side, he could see the bus was from a Nazarene church, the denomination of his boyhood. "This church family, I reasoned, was having a picnic, just like I used to love so much." The sight prompted deep sadness, as he thought of his daughters. They would never go on a church picnic. They would never gain the richest part of his heritage. "I longed to go back, if only for the sake of my daughters. But I could not go back—the chasm that separated us was too great. One of the widest sections of the gulf was my belief in gradual creation."
When I read this, I realized that it resonated with me. I was in church one day and my pastor was giving a sermon on Genesis, in particular the pre-flood world, and it shook me. While I believe in Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings, I realized I didn't believe what my pastor was saying. What he was describing was an outgrowth of a deep, convicted faith that is unencumbered by modern science, or by racking doubts of whether anything in the first eleven chapters of Genesis is true in a literal sense or is it all myth. I can't go back to that faith. I know that it puts me at odds with a great many of my friends but, as Falk alludes to, the gulf is too great. When my friends ask me to explain why I think the evidence for an old earth and evolution is so good, I hesitate. In some ways I don't want them to lose that innocence and yet, in other ways, I am convinced that the young earth hermeneutic is wrong and can be destructive to the faith.

Wood has always struck me as someone who has a very regard for scientific integrity and the ability to correctly analyze scientific research, even if he does not believe their conclusions. In the past, I have been critical of what I perceive to be cognitive dissonance in his approach to his science. That is perhaps, unfair. I think that he truly does believe that there is evidence of change but that this points to something we just haven't fathomed yet.

Having said that, the biological/evolutionary evidence doesn't exist in a vacuum—it rests on the geological and biogeographical evidence of an ancient earth—and he has yet to properly address it and its relationship to biological diversity. As of now, he seems either unwilling to do so or feels it is irrelevant to his research. Given his approach to biological science and his general castigation of the level of research of his fellow young-earth creationists, I would be curious to know what he thinks of this evidence.

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