I also tip my hat to YEC proponents Todd Wood and Paul Nelson. Each was featured in the YEC film, Is Genesis History?, but neither dismisses proponents of EC with the back of his hand. They both have the courage and conviction to seek the truth, even if takes them places where their creationist friends don’t want them to go. For example, on the same day the film was released, Dr. Nelson dissented from how his ideas were presented in the film. Dr. Wood didn’t do that, but he does candidly admit elsewhere that “Evolution is not a theory in crisis,” that “it is not teetering on the verge of collapse,” nor has it “failed as a scientific explanation.” He finds “gobs and gobs” of evidence for evolution,” denies that it is “just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion,” affirms that it “has amazing explanatory power,” and frankly says, “There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.”I am quite sure that this last quote will haunt Todd Wood to the grave because most evolutionary creationists (including myself) keep it in their back pocket. Wood has taken on some heavy hitters who have misused science and has done so in an honest and thoughtful way and he has truly striven to understand biodiversity as it pertains to his way of thinking. Furthermore, unlike many in the young earth creationist camp, his posts are free of invective and insult. For these things and others, he should be commended.
There’s always the danger than one can overplay one’s hand, or forget that those who see things differently are also made in the image of God. Sometimes, one’s opponents in a public disagreement really are mean-spirited, arrogant, or intellectually dishonest, tempting one to respond in kind. In such situations, do your best to take the high road. Stick with the facts, spell out why you hold different opinions, and be fair to ideas defended by others, even when you strongly disagree: no one has a monopoly on truth. Intellectual honesty and humility do not imply cowardice or lack of commitment to the Gospel.This is something I am often guilty of. I find it all too easy to take a blowtorch to the writings of Answers in Genesis in a nasty way, typically because I am writing in anger. This often happens when I discover a post or article in which it is clear that the person writing the article has little knowledge of the subject about which they write and their tone is insulting or condescending. It is all too easy to open up both barrels. He finishes with an admonition to avoid indoctrination:
Individual Christians have every right to think for themselves, without being browbeaten into submission by fear, accused of holding dangerous views simply for favoring a different interpretation of Genesis, or publicly shamed as intellectual cowards for accepting consensus science.There is a great danger in taking the attitude that if two people have a disagreement about something, that one of them is not in the spirit. This behavior results in arrogance, haughtiness, broken relationships and lots of finger-pointing. We are all guilty of sin, especially the sin of self-righteousness.
Todd Wood responds by adding another way that he would like to see the debate change: less of “diagnosing the enemy”:
There's two big problems I see with Diagnosing the Enemy. First of all, it's just a profoundly arrogant thing to do. How can anyone seriously think that reading a Facebook comment or blog article would actually reveal all the intricacies and complexities of human thought? Some days, I can barely put two words together, and you think that's going to actually reveal the inner workings of my mind and years of study and research and prayer and thought?I am of two minds about this response. It is certainly correct that people are complex and that a single blog post or Bookface post does not remotely capture their complexity. As noted above, it is all too easy to fire off a response to a post that you know has gotten some basic information wrong.
Also arrogant is the ulterior motive of Diagnosing the Enemy: I have the cure. Because, let's face it, diagnosing a problem isn't really the point, right? The point is: if only my enemy would watch my video or read my book or do what I tell them, then everything would be fine. Because not only can I diagnose your problem by engaging in a superficial reading of superficial comments, I'm the guy who's gonna cure you! When you think about it like that, it's obviously and embarrassingly silly, but it still doesn't stop us from reading certain triggers and sticking people in that pigeonhole.
Which brings me to the second big problem: It's dehumanizing. Instead of complex people with complex thoughts and attitudes and personalities, we reduce our enemies to one simplistic issue. There aren't just ideas out there that float around having battles by themselves. Ideas are held by real people with real personalities, and histories, and values, and fears. And all of that immensely complicated personality gets entangled with the way we think about the world and our faith. When disagreements pop up, though, these people for whom Christ died suddenly become defined by one perceived "defect."
The problem is that when an entire body of work of an organization continually misrepresents science and the authors of that body of work show absolutely no interest in correcting this misinformation, a response is necessary. When an entire body of work is continually scientifically inaccurate, it begins to inform about the people who are producing it. In short, at least on one level, it makes it possible to “diagnose the enemy.”
If you read all of the posts on my blog or my writings on BioLogos, you would get a pretty good idea of what I think about science and theology. It might even be possible to “diagnose” me a bit. To be sure, you would not have insight into what I think about abortion, gun control or how good a father I am to my children, but it would be pretty clear that I am a card-carrying evolutionary creationist.
Davis's post is a clarion call for both sides to take the high road. That is often hard to do when you are being called “evil, stupid evolutionists” and you know that what they have written is just plain false.
Wood remarks that it is disheartening to see BioLogos identified as the “middle ground.” If we are not the middle ground, what are we? We are people who are firmly convinced in the salvation of Jesus Christ and the integrity and primacy of God's word to us. We are also people who want to understand the universe that God has created, but to do so in an honest, forthright, and scientifically sound way.
Evolutionary creationists are dismissed by atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris for believing in fairy tales and being scientifically compromised by their faith. This is a false charge. We operate within the scientific framework with the understanding that everything around us is God's handiwork. We are dismissed by many young earth creationists as being “compromisers” and not taking the bible seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth.
One of the things that seems to drive this invective is that atheists are convinced the Bible is false and that we are idiots for believing in it. Young earth creationists are convinced that their understanding of scripture is absolutely correct, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
It is easy enough to understand where the atheists are coming from, since they see nothing beyond the observable universe. It is the YEC perspective that I find perplexing. It leads to people like Wood, himself, saying about evolutionary creationists that they “ought to know better,” even though, by his own admission, there is a massive amount of evidence for evolution. Ken Ham takes it a bit further by questioning whether we are, in fact, Christians at all, and that if we pass on the EC perspective to our children, we are endangering their salvation.
Is it possible that Wood and his fellow YEC supporters are correct in their scriptural assessment? It absolutely is. Is it possible that we have evolution wrong? Is it possible that the earth was created six thousand years ago? Again, it absolutely is. But the weight of evidence currently doesn't support those positions. In fact, there is little to no empirical support for them. Many good, devoted Christians are out there are wrestling with these facts. To be told that they “ought to know better” than to accept them or that they aren't Christians if they do is insulting. Further, as noted above, it betrays a troubling aspect of this perspective: the idea that our understanding of scripture is unbiblical.
Secondary to this is that, in all of the young earth creationist literature that I have read, there is a remarkable lack of self-examination when it comes to scriptural interpretation. To those who support the young earth model: we might be wrong about our interpretation of scripture, but you might be, also. For the origins debate to change, there must be an acceptance of this on both sides of the aisle. Only then will progress be made and name-calling cease.