Continuing the discussion from Todd Wood on Exploring Creation's Hardest Problems:
Thanks, @J.E.S and @jammycakes, for the invitation to read and discuss The Quest by Dr. Todd Wood. There are many really positive takeaways that I have from this book. First, much like you, Dr. Wood seems like a guy I’d love to sit with and enjoy a beer or coffee. He seems quite genuine, clearly loves the Lord and has great respect for the scriptures. Also, he’s a very good writer. The content is easy to read, well organized, and very easy to understand. Finally, at the end of each chapter, he invokes a mini-chapter, called an “Adoremus” wherein he recognizes a single aspect of the creation, describes why it is special to him (personally) and then closes with a related verse or two from the Bible. I see this as a pause, or reset, at the end of each chapter where he (and the reader) can re-center on what’s important. This is an act of humility and a nod to majoring in the majors and not dwelling upon the minors… even if the “minors” are the topic of his own book. There’s very little to not like about Todd Wood.
In the Prologue (p. 8), Wood talks about cognitive dissonance. I really appreciate him doing so, because I could never understand how it is that YECs deal with it. Cognitive dissonance is the feeling one gets (it’s a discernible pain or irritation in the head) when presented with two supposed truths that contradict one another. Wood says, “I never really thought how I thought.” Somehow, he (and presumably others) are able to compartmentalize evidence that points to an old earth or to the validity of evolution being responsible for speciation against their spiritual or religious beliefs, without experiencing this dissonance. Many (maybe most of us) cannot do so. Understanding that many people do have a capacity to avoid this dissonance does help me to see why one can faithfully hold to a YEC position.
Wood (p. 71) encourages creationists to do real science. To not avoid the controversy that comes with the territory by merely getting any old degree. He encourages others to pursue the sciences that interest each individual.
He states (p. 87) that creationists “need an excellent position on animal death that is uniquely creationist and addresses the hard questions.” I disagree that it needs to be “uniquely creationist” but applaud him for recognizing that there are many hard questions regarding animal death. I have often been frustrated in such conversations where another feels that their understanding of the animal death issue somehow is a trump card, which it is not.
In chapter nine (p. 105) Wood says that, “The quest is a difficult calling for people. The quest asks us to embrace the unknown.” And that, “Rather than committing to the dogma of answers or positions or arguments, we must instead commit to continue seeking the truth. We commit to a way that we believe will lead us to truth and life.” While agreeing completely, I struggle with the thought that many creationists hold to the most dogmatic stances I’ve ever observed. Seeking the truth should mean truly seeking the truth , whatever it may be. Sadly, though, the YEC position inherently precludes any conclusion that differs from this dogma.
For instance, (p. 84) Wood states (seemingly to fellow YEC), “I want to emphasize one more time that I am settled in my commitment to young-age creationism, but just like all relationship commitments, making a commitment doesn’t mean I understand everything I’m getting into.” For those of us do not hold to a literal seven-day creation narrative, this is disappointing. For us, Wood’s quest, it seems, is over before it has begun. It becomes less of a passionate search, and more of a regular trip to the supermarket, because the outcome is known upfront. To be fair, Dr. Wood is saying that, though he supports evolution, he remains committed to YEC. But, for many of us on the outside, it is not his position on evolution that is problematic.
Wood (p. 109) explains that science is “littered with wrong ideas.” And that, our “favorite hypothesis in science will be proved wrong one day.” Further, that we all “need to be prepared for that by practicing humility.” I believe again that Dr. Wood is speaking to creationists about evolution, here, and not the age of the earth. But even so, one can only conclude that YECs believe that their interpretation of the Bible (in regards to the creation) is correct and that science is wrong, and will inevitably fail.
For Christians (OE or YE) it comes down to the testimony of scripture. Wood (p. 65) insists that the meaning is clear. “Genesis 1-11,” he says, “is best understood as a series of historical accounts that are rich with theological meaning.” To this, I say AMEN. That there are deep theological truths to be mined gets no argument from me. But the degree to which the first eleven chapters are to be “best understood as” reliably historical accounts is merely a statement that’s impossible to defend. There are so many positions along the continuum of understanding of this part of scripture that can be reasonably supported by the text. A dogmatic assertion that it’s “my way or the highway” makes the quest more of a conclusion up front than a search for the truth.
If I am going to engage with skeptics regarding the veracity of The Resurrection, must I not consider that Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead? If I’m fair in my discussion, and want to hear what the person on the other side is saying, I should be willing to consider his position. Similarly, if I’m on a quest for the truth, do I begin with that truth? This is where the book, and the discussion in general, leave me feeling unfulfilled.