How do we “bend the curve” in the trend away from Christianity?

Hi Prode,

Unfortunately it is not as simple as that. You see there’s something called “evidence.” The fact remains that the earth contains vast swathes of very robust and unambiguous evidence for 4.5 billion years of history. Similarly, both the fossil record and genetic comparisons contain similarly strong and unambiguous evidence for common ancestry between humans, chimpanzees and other animals. It isn’t realistic to claim that this evidence is based on atheistically motivated misunderstandings either, when much of it comes from commercial applications such as oil exploration or medical research. Geologists are under a lot of economic pressure to produce results that are correct, not results that are ideologically convenient.

Whether we accept or reject the evidence, as Christians we must be honest in how we approach it. It is unwise and reckless to deny its existence, or to try and portray it as being weaker or more ambiguous than it really is. These are matters that can be fact-checked and potentially shown to be incorrect. Herein lies the rub: people aren’t leaving Christianity because they have been taught about evolution, but because they have been confronted with indisputable evidence that their pastors, teachers, parents, or other people in a position of trust, were teaching them things about it that were demonstrably untrue. Such a thing is a breach of trust, and it can be utterly toxic to faith.

On the other hand, there is evidence that when Christian students are taught about these things honestly, by responsible pastors and authority figures in their churches and schools, it actually strengthens their faith.

Beyond that, how we respond to the evidence is a matter of debate. Some people just say, “Well God could easily have done it in just six 24 hour solar days anyway,” but that would mean that at some point, He must have created evidence for 4.5 billion years of history that never happened. Instead, the sensible approach is to ask ourselves whether we have understood Genesis 1 correctly in the first place. This may mean that we need to ask questions about its genre, or about its historical context, or about who wrote it and when, or about what figures of speech were used and why. This isn’t denying the authority of the Bible; on the contrary, it’s taking heed to things that it is saying that a strict literal reading might have overlooked.

You’ve probably heard it said before, and you’re probably sick of hearing it said, that the Bible is not a scientific textbook. But let’s just do a thought experiment here – what if it were? What if Genesis 1 had been written with the intention of explaining scientific facts about the size and age of the universe to ancient Israel? Here’s what would have happened: they wouldn’t have understood it, it would have completely confused them, they wouldn’t have taken it seriously, and the message that it actually seeks to address would have been at best diluted, and at worst completely lost.

3 Likes

@Prode

The God of Truth knows how to work with the truth of the Age of Rocks.

Any world view that has to turn this truth into a lie has no legitimate authority over humanity.

We all have the same evidence. How we choose to interpret it depends on our assumptions regarding the initial conditions of the existence for that evidence.
The bible is a historical book containing statements which can be examined scientifically, in the same way that you can examine the statement that a nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Except for one itsy, bitsy, tiny little detail: No one can go back into history to witness the actual origin of the heavens and the earth. There is no documentation that covers that aspect. Which leaves us having to make assumptions and interpret the evidence based on those assumptions.

You have evidence, so do I. In fact it’s exactly the same evidence. I choose to go with what the bible clearly says about our origins, you choose to accept the atheistic worldview that God had nothing to do with it. The only difference is that you claim that “God did it by setting it in motion”. You then come with that background firmly established as the truth and then have to reinterpret the bible in the light of what you believe is true, so-called scientific evidence.

We’ll never agree on this issue since we’re approaching it from diametrically opposite directions - I take the bible as the word of God as my authority regarding our origins, you take the word of the atheist as your authority regarding our origins. It’s as simple as that. Science really has a very little role to play there since any story pertaining to pre–history is fundamentally un-scientific according to the measures of a strict scientific method - no observation, no verification, impossible to falsify and as malleable as you please.
I’m just pointing it out, once again, as so many others have done before me.

As for how you reinterpret the word of God, which you claim to believe, just look at what P Enns and others have done to Exodus 20:8-11.

Perhaps you can give us your version of what those verses represent?

Very strong statement there, George.
You realize of course that the very word of God completely disagrees with your age of Rocks - just read Exodus 20:8-11. So you’re absolutely, dogmatically asserting that the One who inspired the word of God has utterly zero authority over humanity.
Very interesting comment indeed.

Strangely, the israelites needed no prompting to apostatize, they simply went off on their own volition. So much for them not having lost the word of God. In similar fashion, modern society have been beguiled by the “scientific” interpretations of the evidence and have gone off to worship at the altar of the atheistic evolutionary paradigm. No one forces anyone to do that, they are simply beguiled by the so-called “truth” of our origins, having been hoodwinked by the clamor of popular media and visibility of scientists who proclaim the good news of the age of rocks.

Prode, with all due respect, I don’t know if you realise this, but the guidelines of this forum clearly lay down some definitions of “gracious dialogue” which include the following:

Assuming legitimate Christian faith on the part of other commenters, unless they identify otherwise.

At no point have I ever self-identified as an atheist, nor have I ever claimed that God had nothing to do with it.

For what it’s worth, the claim that an ancient earth is an atheistic worldview is demonstrably untrue. Case in point: oil exploration. Geologists have to determine both the age and the thermal history of the rock strata in order to ensure that the oil deposits will be of a usable quality. Too young, or too cool, and they’re “premature” – still solid and impossible to get out of the ground. Too old, or too warm, and they’re “postmature” – uneconomical at best, and at worst baked into complete oblivion. They are under strong financial pressures to deliver results that are correct, not results that support their worldview. There is no room whatsoever for any kind of presuppositions, atheistic or otherwise, in oil exploration.

(For a more detailed explanation of this, see the article “Can Young-Earth Creationists Find Oil?” on the Age of Rocks blog. The author is a Christian geochronologist.)

As far as Exodus 20:8-11 is concerned, 2 Peter 3:8 and Psalm 90:4 say that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day. In other words, God’s days are not the same as our days. Placing young age constraints on the age of the earth quite clearly goes beyond what the Bible demands.

Ah, the good old “were you there?” argument. It’s true that you can’t go back into history to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth. But there’s one other, itsy, bitsy, tiny little detail: you can cross-check different studies to see whether they give the same results. It’s the whole principle of everything being established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

In this case, there are hundreds of thousands of witnesses. Hundreds of thousands of studies from independent disciplines, whose assumptions are independent of each other, that provide a very close agreement for ages far in excess of six thousand years. On top of that, scientists can make other testable predictions to check whether their assumptions are valid or not. Again, there are vast numbers of such tests.

In any case, the “were you there?” argument would falsify the entire field of forensic science if it had any merit. If you could argue it convincingly, you would make a fortune as an expert witness in criminal defence cases.

1 Like

@Prode

I prefer this text from Exodus 13:17

“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt…”

This passage explicitly tells us that at the time of Exodus, the Philistines had entered their final bellicose phase against the Egyptians. That would be around or after 1130 BCE.

Genesis places Abraham in the land of the Philistines 800 years too early.
And if Solomon’s reign starts around 970 BCE, then there are no more than 160 years
between Exodus and Solomon. If we subtract 40 years from the sojourn/pause in Sinai
and 40 years from King David’s reign, we are left with just 80 years to cover all the events
of Joshua and Judges!

Let me know if your numbers come out differently …

The word “like” doesn’t stand in the way to interpret those verses as you’d, well, like, of course…
Perhaps the context doesn’t bother you either?

So yo prefer to ignore what the text of Exodus 20:8-11 clearly states and choose to follow your own way?

Some translations say “like,” some say “as.” It doesn’t make any difference. My point still stands.

One thing to note about the context of both passages is that, contrary to what some YEC articles claim, both of them do talk about creation. See 2 Peter 3:4-5 and Psalm 90:2.

Oh, and one other thing. Psalm 90 was written by Moses – the same author as Exodus 20:8-11.

In the future, please try to avoid telling other people what they think and believe or assigning motivations to other people’s thoughts and beliefs. It thwarts gracious dialogue. You don’t actually know what other people think and believe or what motivates them until you ask.

Amen, amen and amen! This is by far the biggest problem with YEC in general. It seems determined to portray anyone who disagrees with it as disciples of Richard Dawkins.

It’s this attitude, more than anything else, that’s driving young people away from Christianity in general. They see that the evidence for an ancient earth is far, far stronger and far, far more unambiguous than what they’ve been taught, and they don’t know who they can to turn to for advice and support on how to make sense of it all without being denounced as compromisers or otherwise selling out.

@Prode

The whole point of the BioLogos position is to accept some texts of the bible as figurative, symbolic … and even on the odd occasion - - erroneous!

Exodus 20:8-11New International Version (NIV)

Exodus 20:8-11
“8. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God . . . 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

You fixate on the idea that if the Bible says it is true, it must be true.

Jesus said the mustard seed was the smallest seed. It isn’t.

The Book of Job wrote about snow and hail being stored in the heavens above the firmament. It isn’t.

Genesis makes it pretty clear that there is an ocean above the firmament - - hence the blue sky. It isn’t.

Various parts of the Bible refers to falling and shooting stars as something smaller than the Earth … so they can crash right in front of you. They can’t.

The flood could have happened anywhere within -500 or +1000 years of when most YEC’s place it … because that would have put the flood right in the middle of Egyptian civilization … which pretty much only documents the regular flooding of the Nile. Ditto in Sumeria … except it’s the Euphrates and Tigris rivers flooding here and there.

The Bible is clearly in ignorance of the Egyptian presence and dominance in the Sinai, the Levant and southern Syria - - - from the time of the Hyksos Expulsion to 1130 BCE. This is a huge problem… because even during the Amarna period, Egyptian troops and messengers were criss-crossing the area … even up into the hill country where Jerusalem received and sent messages to the Father (Pharaoh) in Egypt.

The New Testament writers believed that the Old Testament predicted a New Testament period virgin birth … but that part of the Old Testament was referring to a pending birth 700 years prior to the time of Jesus.

Taking the Bible as inerrant is, pun intended, a Fundamental Error.

Readers should be aware that when @gbrooks9 mentions the “BioLogos position”, that may or may not represent what BioLogos actually thinks. George is not an official representative of BioLogos. I refer readers to our belief statement or Common Questions pages for our official positions.

2 Likes

Sorry to say but your point is as clear as mud to me. How are you trying to use these texts to justify a belief in billions of years when the bible expressly short-circuits any notion of that?

The context of those passages really has no bearing on how long God took to create the heavens and the earth. Peter is talking specifically to those who question whether Jesus will ever return [and in fact by reading the little add-on he seems to be talking directly to those who believe in the uniformitarian paradigm of things going on exactly as they did before, i.e. the basis of evolution!].
Peter is addressing the patience of God in waiting for sinners to repent. God’s patience is not bound by human days or notion of time - to God it doesn’t matter whether he is waiting 1 day or a thousand years - such time is the same to Him. The passage [or the one in Psalms] does not solve the problem of Exodus 20:8-11 for you.
Even if you changed the six days into a thousand years you still fall terribly short of the required billions of years. By simply making a statement that God’s time is not our time you’re simply avoiding having to explain the very exact context presented in Exodus 20:8-11 [and Ex 31:17 too for that matter].

I’m simply pointing out that the claim that they have nothing whatsoever to do with creation is demonstrably untrue. Creation may not be the primary focus of these passages, but it is a subject that they discuss nonetheless. 2 Peter 3:4-5 and Psalm 90:2 in particular clearly refer to creation. In fact, both passages talk about creation in the same way – to relate it to judgment and the Second Coming of Christ.

That is correct. However, the implication of verse 8 is, “So what if the earth is billions of years old? God’s promises still stand.”

This is just pedantry and completely misses the point about God’s time not being the same as our time.

Look, here’s what it boils down to. The only alternative to billions of years is to claim that God created evidence for a long history of events that never happened (the omphalos hypothesis). You may think that 2 Peter 3:8 and Psalm 90:4 are pretty weak in terms of support for billions of years, but at least they are something. In support of omphalos, the Bible gives us nothing.

Actually, the definitive study of the genealogies in Genesis was done way back in 1890. You should check it out: Primeval Chronology by W.H. Green. A few of the highlights:

THE question of the possible reconciliation of the results
of scientific inquiry respecting the antiquity of man and
the age of the world with the Scripture chronology has
been long and earnestly debated. On the one hand, sci-
entists, deeming them irreconcilable, have been led to
distrust the divine authority of the Scriptures; and, on
the other hand, believers in the divine word have been
led to look upon the investigations of science with an un-
friendly eye, as though they were antagonistic to religious
faith. In my reply to Bishop Colenso in 1863, I had occa-
sion to examine the method and structure of the biblical
genealogies, and incidentally ventured the remark1 that
herein lay the solution of the whole matter. I said:
“There is an element of uncertainty in a computation of
time which rests upon genealogies, as the sacred chronol-
ogy so largely does. Who is to certify us that the ante-
diluvian and ante-Abrahamic genealogies have not been
condensed in the same manner as the post-Abrahamic?
. . . . Our current chronology is based upon the prima
facie impression of these genealogies. But if these
recently discovered indications of the antiquity of man,
over which scientific circles are now so excited, shall,
when carefully inspected and thoroughly weighed, demon-
strate all that any have imagined they might demonstrate,
what then? They will simply show that the popular
chronology is based upon a wrong interpretation, and that,
a select and partial register of ante-Abrahamic names has
been mistaken for a complete one.”

It can scarcely be necessary to adduce proof to one who
has even a superficial acquaintance with the genealogies of
the Bible, that these are frequently abbreviated by the
omission of unimportant names. In fact, abridgment is the
general rule…
In 1 Chronicles 26:24 we read in a list of
appointments made by King David (see 1 Chron. 24:3; 25:1;
26:26), that Shebuel,1 the son of Gershom, the son of Moses,
was ruler of the treasures; and again in 1 Chronicles 23:15, 16,
we find it written, “The sons of Moses were Gershom and
Eliezer. Of the sons of Gershom, Shebuel was the chief.” Now
it is absurd to suppose that the author of Chronicles was so
grossly ignorant as to suppose that the grandson of Moses could
be living in the reign of David, and appointed by him to a
responsible office. Again, in the same connection (1 Chron.
26:31), we read that “among the Hebronites was Jerijah the
chief;” and this Jerijah, or Jeriah (for the names are identical),
was, according to 23:19, the first of the sons of Hebron, and
Hebron was (v. 12) the son of Kohath, the son of Levi (v. 6).
So that if no contraction in the genealogical lists is allowed,
we have the great-grandson of Levi holding a prominent office
in the reign of David.
The genealogy of Ezra is recorded in the book which bears
his name; but we learn from another passage, in which the same
line of descent is given, that it has been abridged by the omission
of six consecutive names…
This disposition to abbreviate genealogies by the omis-
sion of whatever is unessential to the immediate purpose
of the writer is shown by still more remarkable reduc-
tions than those which we have been considering…
The genealogy of Moses and Aaron is thus stated in the
sixth chapter of Exodus: – …
There is abundant proof that this genealogy has been
condensed, as we have already seen that so many others
have been, by the dropping of some of the less important
names.
This is afforded, in the first place, by parallel genealo-
gies of the same period; as that of Bezaleel (I Chron. ii.
18-20), which records seven generations from Jacob; and
that of Joshua (I Chron. vii. 23-27), which records eleven.
Now it is scarcely conceivable that there should be
eleven links in the line of descent from Jacob to Joshua,
and only four from Jacob to Moses.
A still more convincing proof is yielded by Num. iii.
19, 27, 28, from which it appears that the four sons of Ko-
hath severally gave rise to the families of the Amramites,
the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites; and
that the number of the male members of these families of a
month old and upward was 8,600 one year after the Ex-
odus. So that, if no abridgment has taken place in the
genealogy, the grandfather of Moses had, in the lifetime
of the latter, 8,600 descendants of the male sex alone,
2,750 of them being between the ages of thirty and fifty
(Num. iv. 36)…
But do not the chronological statements introduced
into these genealogies oblige us to regard them as neces-
sarily continuous? Why should the author be so partic-
ular to state, in every case, with unfailing regularity, the
age of each patriarch at the birth of his son, unless it
was his design thus to construct a chronology of this
entire period, and to afford his readers the necessary ele-
ments for a computation of the interval from the creation
to the deluge and from the deluge to Abraham? And if
this was his design, he must of course have aimed to make
his list complete. The omission of even a single name
would create an error.
But are we really justified in supposing that the author
of these genealogies entertained such a purpose? It is a
noticeable fact that he never puts them to such a use him-

1890.] Primeval Chronology. 297

self. He nowhere sums these numbers, nor suggests
their summation. No chronological statement is deduced
from these genealogies, either by him or by any inspired
writer. There is no computation anywhere in Scripture
of the time that elapsed from the creation or from the
deluge, as there is from the descent into Egypt to the
Exodus (Ex. xii. 40), or from the Exodus to the building
of the temple (I Kings vi. 1). And if the numbers in these
genealogies are for the sake of constructing a chronology,
why are numbers introduced which have no possible rela-
tion to such a purpose? Why are we told how long each
patriarch lived after the birth of his son, and what was
the entire length of his life?..

For the answers to those questions, read the article. It is amazing that a conservative Biblical scholar, simply comparing Scripture to Scripture, could convincingly refute the idea that the genealogies of Genesis are useful for calculating the age of the Earth – and do it in 1890 – but we are still talking about it.

2 Likes

This “interpreting the same evidence” rhetoric is unequivocally and objectively false.

The defining characteristic of evolutionary denialists is that they ignore/avoid/misrepresent most of the evidence.

Really? Then let’s have a discussion of twin nested hierarchies and their significance.

1 Like

Also endogenous retroviruses, radiometric dating of meteorites, cross-checks between lake varves, ice cores, tree rings, radiocarbon ages and known historical events, cross-checks between radiometric dating and direct GPS measurements of continental drift, oil exploration, videos of evolution happening in the lab, nylon eating bacteria, antibiotic resistance, distant starlight, and the total absurdity of accelerated nuclear decay.

1 Like

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.