Refuting Compromise: The Troubling Tone of Creationism

(system) #1
How creationists demonize other Christian opinions about origins.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Phil) #2

Great post Ted. It puts a lot into perspective. While Hugh Ross and Biologos differ in their interpretations, there seems to be a lot of mutual respect, and personally I have several friends active in Reasons to Believe, and appreciate the fine work they do for the kingdom of God.
It seems to all go back to the sin of arrogance and self, putting ourselves first rather than Christ, and our words before the Word.
Science done right requires humility, a willingness to put ideas out there and try to prove they are wrong, not that that idea is always reached. We need the same openness when approaching our scriptural interpretations also, a willingness to say, “Here is what I think. Where am I wrong?” Instead we too often accept a position because it pays our dues in the theological “cool kids club” as you so aptly described.


Nice article.

It get the sense some hostility is partly driven by fear. If their case was so strong, there would be no need to draw such lines. Instead, contrary ideas become forbidden thoughts. It’s more of a rearguard action than a positive, forward-looking position.

FM = FIDE Master. (Not ‘Facilities Management’)
A chess title granted by the World Chess Federation. I gather there are about 5K-7K such players currently.

Never encountered that title used by scientists in signing their scientific or theological articles. However, I have seen a few creationists also to cite membership in ‘Mensa’. I grew up surrounded by Quakers so maybe the emphasis on titles jumps out more to me.

(Larry Bunce) #4

The AiG attitude was common in the church when alternate ideas could be declared heretical, and persons harboring those ideas could be tortured into renouncing them, and burned at the stake if they didn’t. Name-calling may still be hurtful, but it beats the old-time way.
Our pluralistic religious environment is very recent in human history, and requires everyone to respect other people’s beliefs. This attitude is not consistent with fanaticism, where doubt or ambiguity is not tolerated.

(Phil) #5

Certainly is bizarre to tout your chess creds on a theology book, other than to say, “Look at me, I’m smart.”

(Jay Johnson) #6

Well said, Ted. For once, I don’t have anything to add.

(Richard Wright) #7

Also want to say well done. It was my kind of article - well-written, informative and evidence-based.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #8

“Upon investigation [Bryan] became convinced that the teaching of Evolution as a fact instead of a theory caused the students to lose faith in the Bible,


Thank you for this article, even though I have to disagree with you in the interpretation of how these events took place. The key to understanding the development of YEC is Fundamentalist movement which took root in the US.

"Continuing conservative militancy led to the founding of the American Bible League in 1902 and the subsequent publication of The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (1910–15), a series of 12 booklets comprising articles by conservative leaders from across the country. The series, which would eventually give the conservatives their name, attacked modernist theories of biblical criticism and reasserted the authority of the Bible, affirming all the theological principles that conservatives felt were being denied by modernist. Financed by two wealthy Presbyterian laymen and published by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University), The Fundamentals was freely distributed to millions of pastors throughout the world."
from "

Protestant Christianity as opposed to Catholic Christianity put must importance on the Bible. When German scholars in the name of science began to apply “higher criticism” based on the scientific method on the Bible, they cast doubt as to whether the Torah was written by Moses under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which was the accepted theory at the time.

The Fundamentals were published first as a series of articles, which had wide distribution and then a book which also was widely distributed. It is still in print (under the name of R. A. Torrey, editor) It is also on the internet, where it can be read for free.

The issue that The Fundamentals addressed was not the truth of science, but the Truth of the Bible. Its view was that anything that cast question on the truth of the Bible as they understood it was false, and clearly evolution which said that Creation took place in more than 6 days cast question on the literal inspiration of the Bible. This is the reason why evolution was seen as a lie and a threat to Christianity. This is also the basic reason why evolution is seen as a threat today by many evangelicals who are the spiritual descendants of Fundamentalists…

“In short, Christians ought to decide either to believe God’s Word all the way, or not at all,” citing Revelation 3:15-16 (The Modern Creation Trilogy, vol. 1, p. 95). .

The quote above is truth, Christians should believe in God’s Word all the way, if we are talking about Jesus Christ the Word, John 1 :1. However it is false and goes against the Bible if it refers to the Bible. The Fundamentalists believed that non-believers were attacking the Bible as they understood it, and they were right.

On the other hand their efforts to protect the Bible were to make it equal or superior to Jesus Christ, which was wrong. Nothing, not even the Bible is equal to Jesus Christ. All of the criticisms of other views are based on their view3 of the Bible, not science.

In order to save the Bible the Fundamentalists put Christianity in peril. They make people chose between the Bible and Science, which is true in as far se it reveals the Logos. The Fundamentalists also placed science and knowledge in peril, because it polarized science and faith and prevents the reconciliation which would benefit both and all.

It is difficult to criticize the theology of fellow Christians, but we must when we see that they are making an idol of the Bible.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #9


It’s certainly true that the same branch of Christians who identified themselves as “Fundamentalists” in the 1920s (when that word was first used, though the group has roots in the late 19th century) came to embrace the YEC view starting in the 1960s, but the great “Fundamentalist” leaders prior to that point were not YECs. They were all OECs, every one of them, including Reuben Torrey whom you name here. Indeed, Ham and his associates have been highly critical of the earlier “Fundamentalists,” as you will see if you follow some of the links in my column. Basically, they believe that the earlier generation sold the store by embracing the “gap theory” and the “day-age theory” instead of a “recent” creation of all things.

I’ve written several columns about aspects of this history for BL, but the best source for my views on this is the article linked in the reference list. Please read it carefully, and if you still have any questions then by all means raise them.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #10

My bad. The essay I have in mind will be cited in the next column, not yet in this one: Edward B. Davis, “Science Falsely So Called: Fundamentalism and Science,” in The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity, edited by J. B. Stump and Alan G. Padgett (2012), pp. 48-60. There’s an electronic version here:

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #11

but the great “Fundamentalist” leaders prior to that point were not YECs. They were all OECs, every one of them, including Reuben Torrey whom you name here. Indeed, Ham and his associates have been highly critical of the earlier “Fundamentalists,”


Thank you for the reference to your article on Fundamentalism and the note that Fundmentalists were not YEC.

My point, and I think that it is basic, is that the Fundamentalists attacked evolution as not Biblical. Bryan’s book was entitled The Bible or Evolution? YEC are attacking OEC because they say that in some way OEC is unbiblical. It looks to me that OEC Fundamentalists sowed the wind and Evangelical YEC are reaping the whirlwind.

That said I would agree that the fierce criticism of Hugh Ross that you cite is unfounded. One does not condemn others because they disagree with your theology, and here there is not even a difference in theology.

I have noted that Evangelicals who hold that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God have become Legalists, meaning that people are condemned not because of the quality of their lives, but because of what they think or are believed to think. This is exactly what Jesus told us not to do.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned." Luke 6:37

Is concordism compromise that should be rejected? I don’t think so, but I do not agree with it. The way se need to overcome differences is through reconciliation, which is the way Jesus deals with us.

On the other hand as I said we are not to compromise in our faith in the Word of God, Who is Jesus Christ, not the Bible. Jesus is the Source of our Life, not the Bible.

(Phil) #12

Roger, I guess it is just the cynical side of me, but deep down inside I wonder if being unbiblical has anything to do with it, or if it is just because it is a threat to their institutions to accept an old earth, at least at the level of leadership. Perhaps that is being too harsh.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #13

I agree with all of this, Roger. It’s quite an irony, that today’s YECs regard their spiritual forebears (who were nearly all OECs) as “compromisers.” It’s almost a crazy opinion, to be frank, but there it is.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #14

I think that’s entirely too harsh, Phil. The YEC movement began with individuals such as Morris and Whitcomb (who both drew heavily on George McCready Price), not with institutions. They did create institutions, to be sure, but at first the institutions did not have large, international ministries that needed to be maintained by lots of $$. I just don’t see any evidence that $$ drove the YEC movement, even though it’s needed to maintain it as we presently find it. I’m sure Ken Ham would be at least writing some books against the OECs even if AiG did not exist as an institution.

(Phil) #15

Yep, just the musings of a cynical old man! It is indeed wrong to assume motivations beyond those expressed. Guess I need to see my psychiatric chiropractor for an attitude adjustment.

(George Brooks) #16


I would love to read a concise treatment of these Old Earther’s… is there a journal article or book that you think best does this?

Thanks for your time !

(Vincent Torley) #17

Hi Ted (@TedDavis) ,

Thanks for a highly informative article. There’s one point, however, on which I would like to take issue with you: your claim that “William Jennings Bryan sought to outlaw the teaching of evolution in public schools and universities.” Actually, what Bryan was opposed to was specifically the teaching of human evolution; while he disbelieved in plant and animal evolution, he allowed that they might have occurred, and had no objection to their being taught in schools. Even as regards the teaching of human evolution, Bryan would not have opposed it being taught as a hypothesis, provided that its weak points were also presented. Finally, Bryan was against the idea of teachers who violated the law being fined, as he thought it would turn them into martyrs. I discussed all this in my posts on the Scopes trial, which I wrote a couple of years ago:

“Six bombshells relating to H. L. Mencken and the Scopes Trial” at

“Mencken’s Mendacity at the Scopes Trial: How he maligned William Jennings Bryan and the people of Dayton, Tennessee” at

See also “H. L. Mencken: The nail in the coffin” at


(Dr. Ted Davis) #18

For a short account, go here: and read the section on the age of the earth.

For a much fuller account, consult The Creationists by Ron Numbers. Very well organized so you will find the relevant stuff quickly.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #19

Interestingly enough, I have read that the New Atheists, who are often anti-philosophy, are critical of the “old atheists,” who are philosophy minded like B. Russell. because they are compromisers and not radical enough.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #20

I appreciate your corrective, @vjtorley. Everything you wrote is accurate. Human evolution was the bugaboo for Bryan, though he was sceptical of other evolution as well. Numbers’ account in The Creationists and elsewhere documents all of this, as far as I can recall. The Butler act was explicit about human evolution, but it can be read to imply evolution more broadly and so there is some ambiguity on that score:

“That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the Story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” The impression I have from Ed Larson’s book is that Butler himself was probably opposed to evolution pure and simple.