Monday, May 9, 2011

Determinism or Chaos?

This morning I was reading through Chalcedon magazine, and came across a fantastic article by RJ Rushdoony. First off, let me state my high admiration and respect for Rushdoony. I wish he were still alive so I could meet him somehow... Ah well, in heaven! :)

Anyway, this article addressed the caving in of churches and Christians to the idea that it took God longer--perhaps as long as billions of years--to create the world. Basically, the surrender of many godly people to the theory of evolution. First of all, I don't presume to judge any of my brothers and sisters in Christ who may believe in theistic evolution, or just plain evolution (I might argue that it's basically the same thing, but that's another blog post). I simply seek the TRUTH and this argument made sense to me...

Just like creationism, evolution relies on DETERMINISM and craves it. Determinism = the fact that there is order in any given circumstance, and that we as human beings discern situations from the perspective of already having a determined way it ought to be. The problem with evolution is that it rejects an idea of a supernatural being, so it cannot find a way to use determinism in its theory. Yet determinism is REQUIRED. The opposite of determinism is CHAOS. Let me quote directly from the article as the wording is perfect...

"Science thus WANTS a universe of law and of causality without God, but it would rather ascribe all the magnificent order of the universe to chaos rather than to God, because the scientists involved are fallen men, in rebellion against God and bent on suppressing their knowledge of Him. Men will either presuppose God, or they will presuppose themselves as the basic reality of being."

So if evolution rejects determinism, and the alternative is chaos, therefore evolution began out of chaos.. WAIT A SECOND. Is this really science? Science is socially thought to be a marketplace of ideas that are rationally and reasonably tested, hypothesis applied, theory applied, and finally fact applied it if holds up under the testing and scrutinizing of scientists. How can the very idea that our entire UNIVERSE sprang from chaos even have a seat--much less a high one!--amongst academic science!

OK so you believe that God DID create the world, he just did it a whole lot slower than six 24 hour days... This would lead us back to the Bible--does the word day mean day or DAY!? The word day in Hebrew literally means 24 hours. This is a whole lot simpler than many have made it....

There is a whole lot more from this article, but I will just encourage you to read this book. Find a review HERE.

We can either give glory to chaos and chance, or to a mighty God who DOES exist and who each one of us will see face to face once we die. I pray for a reformation among Christians and non-Christians alike, and a return to moral creationism as opposed to amoral and chancy evolution.

14 comments:

Micah Martin said...

That is an interesting post. However, have you considered that Genesis may not not even be addressing the creation of the physical universe? That is a big assumption that RJ and many other Young Earth Creationist make. Is that assumption correct? Is that how the original ancient near eastern audience would have understood Genesis.

RJ also assumes that God can't work through Chaos or randomness. A man who says that God can't uses evolution or is not in control of randomness seems pretty prideful to me. Especially since he never even bothered trying to prove his very first and basic assumption. So therefore, he is essentially saying that his "interpretation" of Genesis (with it's basic assumption that it is speaking about the physical world) is more powerful than God.

Have you ever read John Walton's "Lost World of Genesis One"?

Blessings,
Micah

Katie said...

I truly don't understand what is so bad about God creating the world in 6 days. Why is there this burning desire in many Christians to try and reconcile "science" and evolution with creation of the world? For thousands of years it was generally understood by the Christian community that God made the world in 6 days, but ever since Darwin and his wicked attempts to make man god, Christians have been slowly but surely buying their way into a mixed up view of creation.

Either the Bible is true, or it's not, Micah. If you take one part of it and say it didn't REALLY mean what it said, where will it end? Did Jesus REALLY die then? What about him rising from the dead? The Jews still don't believe it happened. Once you start questioning one part of the Holy Scriptures, every other part is up for debate, and it's very dangerous ground.

No I have never read that book. I have no doubt in my mind that Lord God created this world in precisely 6 24 hour days, and he did it just to show his glory and defy the "wisdom" of the world, who says it's impossible. What care we what the world says? Friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James).

God can work through ANYTHING, including chaos, but that is not the debate here. Rushdoony and Sproul were/are Calvinists who believe in the total sovereignty of God, so they believed this too. These men just have no doubt that God meant precisely what he says in his Word, and that man is not the final say, but God is, and that his word can stand alone.

I agree with them and hope you do too at some point. Thanks for the discussion.

Micah Martin said...

Katie,

You may have misunderstood me. RJ was a presuppositionalist but he ignores his own presuppositions.

That is my main point.

You also missed my point that evolution has nothing to do with the debate. I am take a non-concordance view of Scripture. Genesis is not talking about the material creation of the universe.

It is the YEC crowd that agrees with the presupposition of the atheist who try's to use evolution to destroy faith. You both believe that Genesis has to be taken "scientifically". Do you see how that works? Since you both are starting from the same presupposition then "science" and "Scripture" become enemies.

There are a whole lot of people who reject that presupposition and have no problem with science and the Bible.

I would also encourage you to really look into church history on this subject. It may be a lot different than what you have been told.

Whitcomb and Morris admitted that their brand of YEC is a directly descended from 7th Day Adventist, Price who got it from Ellen G. White, a 7th Day Adventist Prophetess.

Geology is what convinced the world (including the majority of the Christian world) to accept an old earth, half a century before Darwin even wrote his book.

Before that most took a non-concordance view. Example: Augustine had instant creation of everything and took the days of Genesis to be prophetic of 6 ages. (Actually a very good view that is being developed again). Read what Calvin said about the days. Luther on the other hand took a view that was probably the closest to the modern YEC view and he admitted that he was going against the Holy Fathers by taking this view. (Interestingly enough he fought Galileo and Copernicus bitterly, much like Ken Ham, Kevin Swanson and others do today.)

Spurgeon believed in millions of years, except you wouldn't know that from AIG because they edited his sermons. It was only after they were called on it that they allowed their followers to know the truth.

There are plenty of books and papers written on this subject. Most will be hidden from you if you are in that crowd.

The larger point is that you are taking a "man's" interpretation and setting it up as inspired. Evolution is not a threat to Christianity any more than Helicentricity was. It is a threat to certain peoples paradigms, interpretation and PRESUPPOSITIONS though.

Causing fear in people is the fastest and easiest way to enslave them.

Christian evolutionist, YEC, OEC and non-concordance people all hold to the same level of "Biblical Authority". It is simply a lie to say that if someone doesn't hold to your interpretation means that they don't believe in the authority of the Scriptures.

It is very clear to me that Jesus predicted his return before his generation died. Just because people disagree with me doesn't mean they don't hold to my level of "Biblical authority". Same with my view of Genesis.

Keep studying and keep broadening your horizons. There is nothing to fear because you are secure in Christ.

Thanks for the continued discussion. Blessings in your Journey.

Micah

Katie said...

I would like to again reiterate that all of this is a lot more simple than you have made it, in my opinion. If we believe God's word is true and without error, how can anyone say that 6 "days" really meant 6 "ages." The basic fallibility of this logic is glaring. Science, who believed what, and strong but dead men of faith aside, let's just look at the word of GOD. If it says that in 6 days God created the world, who are we to second guess God? Where do you get your authority to say that Genesis is not talking about creation? The word there IS creation! I don't "assume" anything. I believe what is printed in the Bible. And I'll again state that once one part of the Bible is held up for change of the actual WORDS, all of it is liable. Dangerous place to go.

How do you explain these verses:

Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
Ps 102:25

Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He established them for ever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed. Ps 148:3-6

Again, that word CREATED. Used in Genesis 1 and also here, and in other Scriptures as well when referring to HOW the earth was formed.

Again, many Christians I know, including myself, don't think that Genesis has to be taken "scientifically" or any specific way at all--beyond just BELIEVING. Every word of God proves true. If we believe that every word of Scripture is inspired and applies to ALL of life, then yes in a sense we would take it scientifically. But we'd also take it spiritually. The Bible is not just for spiritual matters, but for every matter under the sun.

Where did you get all of your information on the history of Genesis? True I have grown up in a community that believes in a young earth, but again, I believe the Bible is true and do not put my own reasoning above it. If the Bible says the world was created in 6 days, then it was! Now I have no qualms with studying it deeper, but if ANYTHING I read even remotely contradicts what the Bible says outright, I put it down immediately, unless I keep reading just to learn how to argue AGAINST such heresy. Anything that says the Bible is not true, or didn't mean this when it said that, is a dangerous book that should be carefully explored, and shunned if it even remotely contradicts Scripture. The Bible is totally complete without additional books and writings. They can be helpful, but they can also distract and confuse. We MUST believe this as Christians, or everything we believe is held up for debate and we have become little gods, deciding for ourselves what works for us (hence, all the denominations within the church!).

You cite quite a few reformed names to me who believed in an old earth. I have not yet studied this with old reformers, but even if these great men DID believe in an old earth, that was in my opinion their mistake. I hold no one's word above the word of God. And everyone make mistakes.

I completely disagree with you that evolution is not a threat to Christianity. Evolution is a cancer that has attacked Christianity, like so many other evils have attacked it. It's a slap in the face of very God, Micah, to say that God did not (or could not) create the world in 6 days--he had to work with the elements to do it. God is all about glory for himself. Not glory for science, man who interprets science, or glory for a mother nature sort of thinking. In a word, Evolution doesn't even line up with God's character.

You talk about interpretation a lot. Sure many different people have different interpretations. But if truth DOES exist, then someone is wrong. A lot of people are wrong

Micah Martin said...

Katie,

There are a few things in your post that I want to respond to. You will have to give me an extra day or so.

In the meantime, here is an article that does a great job of showing how the "heavens and earth" language refers to a people group, specifically Israel. It is written by Gary DeMar and David Chilton.

Seeing that you have one of Davids books on your favorites list it shouldn't be at all suspect for you. Another person of interest on this topic that makes some of the same connections is James Jordan. All three are YEC, to my knowledge, (and Reformed) but they clearly make the argument that I am making.

I also would present Jeremiah 4 for you, especially the last part. Notice how when Israel is in apostasy the prophet goes into "de-creation" language.

Remember Joseph's dreams. His father new exactly what he was talking about when he said that even the "sun and the moon" bowed down to him. Eleven stars where his brothers and the sun and the moon was his father and mother (Jacob - re-named Israel)!

All of this language is drawn from Genesis 1. In my next post I will point out some passages that equate Gentile Nations with "fish of the sea".

A 7 day creation week is very common in Scripture. It was used to dedicate the Temple, Tabernacle and in the feast's of Israel. I do not dispute the 7 day (or 6 day) aspect of Genesis one. My objective is to find out how the original audience would have understood it, because it was communicated to them and we will only understand it fully when we understand it through their eyes and cultural context.

There is much in Scripture that points to "creation" as "Israel", God's Covenant People or a mixture of Israel and other Gentile nations. All of that language is rooted in Gen. 1.

So I will post another response responding to some of your other observations later on this week. For now, read this article and let me know if you see how they can easily make the same connections I am making. And by no means, you don't have to agree with DeMar or Chilton, I just want you to see how my hermeneutic is on solid ground from those who agree with you on Genesis 1.

http://americanvision.org/3603/what-does-peter-mean-by-the-passing-away-of-heaven-and-earth-a-study-of-2-peter-3/

Blessings,
Micah

Katie said...

Hi Micah,
I see your point about all the language in the Bible that is figurative rather than LITERAL. And I agree that much of the language in the old Testament, and some in the NT (especially Revelation) is figurative. The Jews were a very visual people and thought in images.

Also, it would seem we share the same eschatological views. We agree with David Chilton and DeMar on the meaning of Revelation and that Matt 24 is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem rather than the end of the world (can't get around that "this generation" talk).

I read the article you pasted the link to--thanks it was very good and I agreed with it. Please note, however, that the article never said that Genesis was under the same heading of "figurative" as Revelation, parts of Peter, Hosea, and multiple other verses quoted.

Would you not agree that Genesis through Chronicles is a recitation of EXACT history? God is telling the story, through Moses and others, of the beginning of the world, and then the history of his chosen people, Israel (under the old covenant). Consider that all the other "figurative" language in the Bible you are using to prove your point is under the category of either PROPHECY or SONGS/PSALMS. In both of these genres figurative language is indeed used often, and is even the norm. HOWEVER, WHEN RELATING HISTORICAL EVENTS, FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE IS NOT USED. This would defeat the purpose and put all of history up to question. When did the "figurative" language of Genesis 1 end? Is all of Genesis then figurative? I believe you would say "of course not!" But, starting with creation, Biblical history is one straight line all the way up to Chronicles, after which prophecies and psalms/songs are written down (and figurative language takes a prominent place in Scripture).

Why would the very beginning of the Bible be figurative and then right after that, with no discernible break, there is real history recorded? Where is the break? It doesn't make sense.

Thanks for the discussion and God bless.

Micah Martin said...

Hello Katie,

I agree, this is a great discussion.

To bring it back to the big picture, my original point was the Rushdoony's comments are entirely based on his pre-suposition that Genesis 1 is talking about material creation.

This assumption causes him to mix evolutionary theory with teleology (purpose). This is a fallacy. The theory of evolution is simply a mechanism. It can't address the "purpose" issue and doesn't disprove or prove the existence of God. Calvin was very adamant that God reveals some things in nature that he doesn't reveal in his Word. The two books argument.

The people who actually agree the most is the YEC crowd and the militant atheistic crowd. Both agree 100% that Gen. 1 should be taken woodenly literally because they believe that interpretation proves their point. The YEC believes it proves their scientific theory and the atheist believes their science disproves Gen. (If read literally)

This is a false choice. Just like Galileo's astronomy didn't destroy the Bible, if the evolutionary mechanism is accepted it has no bearing on the authority of the Bible.

Now let me say this. I am not an evolutionist. There are still some holes in the theory as far as I see it. But I am not a scientist either. I have great respect for Dr. Francis Collins and other believers and have done great work in areas working within the evolutionary theory framework. From the little that I have studied, it does make some sense and it can make accurate predictions.

(Geology is what make me believe the earth is really old. I live right next to Glacier National Park.)

If God's book of nature vindicates some sort of evolutionary process it won't damage the Bible one iota.

Randomness and chance are still under God's sovereignty according to every Christian evolutionist that I have read. It is the atheistic evolutionist and the YEC that tries to make evolution a teleological issue. We understand this is completely inappropriate in all other forms of science.

When the YEC people make the charge that the belief in the scientific theory of evolution is incompatible with belief in the Bible they are pitting their (man's) interpretation against God's revealed truth in nature. (whether or not evolution is true) Not a good place to be as history has shown. Most of the time God's truth in nature wins out over man's interpretation of the Bible.

Again, I am not saying that evolution is proven or has to be accepted. I am just challenging RJ's assumption (and other YEC's) and showing that much of their position has not even been proven or honestly questioned.
TBC

Micah Martin said...

I am very glad you got to read that article. D. Chilton was one of my favorite writers. I am also glad we agree on some stuff regarding eschatology, although I will admit up front that I am a full preterist. (Chilton came over to FP before he died as well.)

As to your points about the article. No, Gary never made the same conclusions that I did but that is because he is starting with a YEC pre-supossition.

Follow this logic. Gary says that 2 Peter is using the flood account to show the soon to be reality of Cov. judgment on the Old Cov. people Israel. But then he argues for a local / Covenantal judgment in AD 70 all the while assuming a global (non-covenantal but the whole globe) flood.

If he was consistent he would see the flood judgment as the same (covenantal) and that would mean that it was not necessarily "global". (Think about the global language that is used to predict AD 70) So, with a local flood that destroys flood geology. No flood geology means there is no way to account for the fossil record (in a YEC paradigm). No way to account for the fossil record means that physical death existed before the fall and that the earth is really old. I hope you are seeing the dominos that would fall if someone were to be really consistent with DeMar's interpretation. Chilton certainly saw the dots and connected them.

And to answer your question, yes, the Bible is one complete story (I would say completed) and is certainly history. That doesn't mean that the history is recorded exactly like we would to today. It comes to us in the cultural context of the original audience. For example, all of the prophetic writings in the prophets and Psalms are dealing with real history. Gen - 2 Chronicles is also "history" but look at how Paul interprets it. He calls it types and shadows. For example there is clearly prophecy in Gen. 2:23-24 which is really speaking of Christ and the Church. (Eph 5) Paul says that this Scripture is talking about Christ and the Church! There are many many examples of this type of typology within Israel's history. (Think about Christ on the cross... what flowed from his side? Water and blood? The New Adam in a deep sleep (death) and what does God make from his side? A new Eve, the church!

I know, as a partial preterist, you will already be a tune to see these kinds of connections. I would just say that the assumption that Genesis one is an exact record of material creation might cause some major problems when you handle the Bible through the original audiences eye's.

If you read that article again you will notice that when Owens or Chilton deal with Isaiah 65 they run into their own assumptions about Gen. 1. They are divorcing Isaiah 65 away from Gen. 1 but then turning around and connecting it with Peter. But then they have to divorce Rev. 21 from either Peter and Isaiah or Gen. 1.

I hope you are seeing the problems and how the assumptions about Gen. 1 are not always thought all the way through. Add to that the rhetoric that comes out of popular speakers calling those who take any interpretation of Gen. 1 other than the strict YEC interpretation as "Compromised" Christians and you may start to see some problems. Are they defending the Bible or are they defending their interpretation and pride?

TBC

Micah Martin said...

Now, I am sorry this has gone so long but I wanted to address one more point you made in a previous post.

You said "friendship with the world is enmity towards God (James)".

I would humbly ask you to examine that passage closer. Who is Jame's audience. What is he writing about to address. Is he using the word "world" in the same way that John uses it in 1 John 2:17?

Maybe the "world" that James was talking about was the Judaizer's that were infiltrating the Church and saying that it was Christ + circumcision (law) that equaled salvation?

Maybe Jams's "world" is the same as Peters Heavens and Earth and the same as Johns world that was "passing away"?

If this is right then that would cause us to take a step back and really re-examine the way we interact with our "world" and the world of unbelievers?

Just something to ponder.

Ok, this has been way too long. I apologize and thank you in advance for indulging me.

Here are two presentations that I think you will find intriguing and stimulating.

This one is a great presentation on the continuity of the language of creation from Gen. to Revelation.

http://podcast.ad70.net/2010-covenant-creation-conference-lecture-07-tami-jelinek/

(The same thing in written form here in case you would rather read.)

http://www.newcreationministries.tv/Articles/languageofcreation.htm

And this presentation shows that the days of Genesis through Augustines eyes (Prophetic) which is actually a very strong argument.

http://podcast.ad70.net/2010-covenant-creation-conference-lecture-01-norm-voss/

I also would recommend "Beyond Creation Science". It catalogues the intimate relationship between Dispensationalism and Young Earth Creationism. Most YEC people don't even know that modern YEC came out of Ellen G. White (7th Day Adventist "prophetess") and her "visions". (There are some really funny ironies there but I won't go into them.)

I have a few copies laying around if you are interested in reading it and exploring the evidence for yourself.

In the meantime, this has been a great discussion. Thank you so much. Feel free to respond with any observations or questions. I wish more Christians had your eagerness to study and think critically.

Blessings,
Micah

Micah Martin said...

I found a great discussion I had a year or so ago about the "world" the NT writers talk about. The one that was passing away 2000 years ago.

Here you go.

http://www.thediscussionthread.blogspot.com/

Blessings,
Micah

Katie said...

Hi Micah,
Sorry for the late response here... I had family in town and didn't have a chance to respond to your rather lengthy post ;)

I agree that whether one believes in evolution or creation, it doesn't change the fact that God exists. But there IS truth, and only one truth. Truth is not relative. So either God made the world in 6 days, or evolution formed it over time. It cannot be both. Which means someone is wrong... I can see how you arrived at the conclusion that Genesis is figurative, especially now that I see you are a preterest. But I still don't agree that Revelation and Genesis can be viewed the exact same way... More on that later.

Something I thought of the other day in defense of a 6 day creation, is in Romans 5, when it says "Therefore, death reigned from Adam to Moses..." If it truly took thousands/millions of years to create the world, how can death only have reigned after Adam? In reality, death would have been around way before Adam, according to an old earth belief. Just a thought.

Apparently you do not believe there was a global flood. I definitely do not share this belief because the Bible clearly says there WAS a global flood, and again, the language used is not allegorical, but factual. This is really going to come down to how we interpret the LANGUAGE of Genesis. And we interpret it differently at this point. Anyway, the flood caused catastrophes to occur, which in turn caused things to happen to our earth that would usually have happened over millions of years (of course, this is not proven so we don't even know how many years it would take on its own, since the earth hasn't even been around that long). In reference to your belief that a world wide flood never happened, what of nearly ALL heathen nations that have a story of a world wide flood in their historical story? How could all of them have arrived at that conclusion, or how could all of them have made up the same story? In my opinion, they didn't make it up, their ancestors all came from NOAH and his three sons, so the flood story has been passed down throughout the world... wow that is so cool it gives me chills. :)

Katie said...

More on the figurative versus factual language. It's quite clear in Revelation and other prophecies, that those passages of Scripture are VISIONS. However, there is absolutely no distinction made in the beginning of Genesis. Genesis isn't started with "And Moses was sitting on the mountain, and received a vision from God concerning the old covenant" or whatever. It just starts out "IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH." All other prophetic books start out with some sort of placing, a context where the vision was received, or some indication that this is a prophecy, and not actual history. And Moses could have said this (if it were true). But he didn't, because God didn't tell him to, because God was writing REAL history, not giving a prophecy or a vision to Moses.

I mean, Micah, where does it end? Is Exodus then also just an allegory, or a picture of something? What is concrete history and what is figurative? I need a little more than just assumption to say that Genesis is a picture like Revelation. In Revelation it's quite clear that John is seeing a vision. There is no such clarity in the beginning, or anywhere else, in Genesis.

Your parallel between Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5 doesn't prove that Genesis is literal, it just has Eph repeating something from Gen.

As for your comment on James and the "world," there's another verse in James that says "true religion is this, that you minister to orphans and widows in their distress, and keep yourself unstained by the world." We can do gymnastics all an words, but world means world! God isn't stupid. He knew who his audience was then, and he knew who his audience would be thousands of years later. He also knew that his people would always be tempted to become fleshly and like the world, living according to the flesh rather than according to the Spirit (Romans 8). So he gave us plenty of warning. One cannot serve two masters, for you will love the one and despise the other--in the same way, you cannot love both God and the world--you cannot be friend with God and the world.

I hope that God continues to reveal his holy word to both of us, and that we remain humble in our respective opinions. God bless.

Micah Martin said...

Katie,

I am working on a response to your last post. I am sorry it is taking so long. Summer up here is really busy.

I did want to let you know that I am going to be doing a radio interview tonight at 6pm mountain time. The topic is Graced Based Parenting and we probably will touch on some stuff that you and I discussed. Anyway, if you want you can tune in live and even call in. If not, the podcast will be up in a few days.

I think you may really enjoy the show.

You can tune in at www.ad70.net and it is called the "New Covenant Eyes" show. (Just hit the listen live button and you will automatically tuned in.

I would love to get your feedback.

Blessings,
Micah

Micah Martin said...

Hey Katie,

I hope this finds you doing well. I came across this blog the other day.

http://questioninganswersingenesis.blogspot.com/

It is written by a really nice guy who used to attend and OPC church there in Western CO. He now lives in Las Vegas. Anyway, he is a trained geologist. His blog is chock full of great detailed info. If you really want to get a good idea of the OEC belief from a fellow Reformed believer (even one who is accepted within your own denomination) check it out. Like I said, he has ton's of information on his blog. I will be reading up on it for a while.

Blessings in the Kingdom,

Micah