Monday, March 06, 2017

Todd Wood on Is Genesis History?

Todd Wood has a post on the reactions to the film Is Genesis History? and he makes some very good points and a couple of lousy ones.  First the good ones.  He writes:
Does the film present a false dichotomy? From the world outside of young age creationism, it definitely does. Lumping all the other positions on creation and evolution into one monumental thing isn't really fair to the vast diversity of opinions out there. That part is quite correct, and if I was an old-earth creationist or theistic evolutionist, I would definitely be bothered by that.
He is absolutely correct about this.  It does bother me that there is a false dichotomy presented here.  I do not for one minute think that the universe and all that is in it was created by blind, godless processes. I have a firm and strong faith in the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ and the creating power of God.   I also do not think that the universe was created six thousand years ago.  There is simply no defensible empirical evidence for that.  Second point:
Unfortunately, the reality is that we all divide people up into "us vs. them." Let's face it, BioLogos would have you divide up the world into BioLogos vs. those who reject all of science. That's not remotely fair. Paul Nelson wants the dividing line to separate those who accept design and those who accept only naturalistic processes. That division would exclude those, like BioLogos, who think the "naturalistic" processes are God's design. RTB's dividing line isn't so easy to summarize but I guess it would cut off Christians who think the world is young on the one hand and those who think evolution is real on the other.
Too much of this does go on, it is true. I don't think that he has completely accurately characterized the position of BioLogos and it is passing peculiar that he doesn't mention ICR or AiG and the fact that they are pretty specific about who is US and who is THEM.  I do know from my own blog posts and writings that I am guilty of this sort of thinking and that there are many different views along the continuum from the straight six-day model to flat-out atheistic naturalism.

Now the lousy ones.  First:
The theological importance of the historical Genesis is a giant theme of young-age creationism, even if you reject the way some creationists present it. In the case of RTB or Intelligent Design, the theme seems to be fighting over things that really matter like evolution, and not fighting over things that don't matter like the age of the universe. If we don't focus our real disagreement on the "most important" issues (like design), then we damage our witness by exaggerating the importance of secondary issues.
Wrong. None of these issues really matter to the faith. You can be a young-earth creationist, an intelligent design supporter or an evolutionary creationist and STILL be a Christian. In the grand scheme of things, evolution doesn't really matter.  Every Christian should believe the following:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the father, by whom all things were made.  Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man.  He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.   He suffered and was buried.  The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.  He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father.  He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead.  His kingdom shall have no end.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, and who spoke by the prophets.  I believe in the holy catholic and apostolic church.  I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.  I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. 
That's it.  If you believe those things, you are in the body of Christ.  Nothing outside of that is fundamental to the faith.  That includes evolution.  Second lousy point:
And finally, to those of you patient people who actually read all of this and are still fuming, "That movie was terrible and misleading, and the greater sin is theirs!" you are part of the problem, my friend. If you play the outrage card (BioLogos), you just add fuel to the fire. The response will be, "BioLogos is the one repeating tired old lies about young-age creationism!" So please think carefully before you email me your outrage, and maybe direct that energy to thinking about ways of moving forward and not just yelling the same things at our deafened ideological "enemies." I'd love to hear new ideas.
This gives cover to those who DO intentionally misuse and misrepresent scientific evidence for their own gains.  One of the things that drives me bat crap crazy is that AiG gets scientific information wrong almost all of the time. If you don't hold those people accountable for their abuses of science, and point out where these people are going off the rails, then they get off scot-free and mislead more people.  Wood himself has castigated other creationists for saying that there is no evidence for evolution when there is, in his words "gobs and gobs of it." 

I may not agree with Todd's interpretation of Genesis, but in his scientific endeavors, he always treats the science with respect.  The same cannot be said for many in the YEC universe. Here's a new idea: how about the folks at ICR and AiG actually treat the science with the respect it deserves.  Science is not the be-all-and-end-all.  It only describes the physical universe, but it does a pretty good job of that and if you are going to reject it, come up with some sound hypotheses that can be tested.


  1. I would welcome the fact that he was prepared to mention and link to this:
    However, like you, I find his ensuing comments about Biologos baffling. It's as if he hopes readers will reject what Davidson, Duff and Wolgemuth write concerning geological claims in the film - because Biologos were playing an 'outrage card' and "repeating tired old lies about young-age creationism". (I have not seen the film myself incidentally.)

  2. The "outrage card" comment confused me; I detected concern in the Biologos post, but it certainly didn't seem like a tirade to me.

  3. Never once have I seen outrage on the BioLogos website. That is one of the things that I like about their writing. On the other hand, you see outrage on a regular basis on Answers in Genesis.

  4. Todd is funny. He is very knowledgeable about molecular biology and genomics and spends almost all of his time working out some sort of model involving barimanology. Yet at the same time, he is constantly championing young earth creationist conferences and the like where most of the science is questionable at best and outright dishonest at worst. Is this a case of Gell-Mann amnesia? I am not sure. He takes out young earth creationists who misuse the genetic data and yet seems to give everyone else a pass. Hence the "you are part of the problem" remark aimed at BioLogos for their gentle correction of Del Tackett's geological problems. If Del Tackett had taken on genetics, I am not sure he would have responded the same way. It is hard to come away from the exchange without thinking that he is as ideologically hidebound as every other young earth creationist. Especially when he says that evolution is an important issue. Sure he stops short of saying that it is a salvation issue, but if it isn't then why is it important?