Respecting Disagreement

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

Two Apostles

Two Apostles by Carlo Crivelli, 1475

The apostles Peter and Paul had some famous disagreements.  Ultimately however, it was their shared, unswerving love for Christ that propelled their ministries.

I recently attended a lecture by Dr. Ian Hutchinson, a scientist with impressive technical credentials—and a Christian.  His topic addressed science-faith issues, and concluded with his belief that a Christian worldview is consistent with, and complimentary to, a scientific worldview.  I agree and am thankful that there are scientists of Dr. Hutchinson’s caliber who are willing to share their faith in public forums.  (Let’s be real—who am I to disagree?)

The first question from the audience at the end of the lecture involved the age of the earth and the six ‘days’ of creation.  Dr. Hutchinson’s response was along the lines that the universe is very old (13.7 billion years, again I agree), and that he believes we should not take the creation account in Genesis too literally—that the text is ‘figurative’.  And here we have a fork in the road.  I think it is somewhat dangerous to give up on the text in Genesis too easily, and to ascribe a figurative intent on the part of the author (Moses) when in fact there may be more to the inspired text than meets the eye.

In addition to his work at MIT, Dr. Hutchinson is also a lecturer for the BioLogos Foundation, founded in 2007 by another prominent Christian, Dr. Francis Collins.  These brothers and sisters in Christ adhere to the idea of theistic evolution, which—rather than have my take on this topic—you can read about directly from the BioLogos website.  There are many wonderful Christians who ascribe to the ideas of theistic evolution.

I’m just not one of them.  After studying the matter in detail, I have a different understanding.  I ascribe to old-earth creationism.

Hugh RossDr. Hugh Ross and his colleagues at Reasons To Believe have a great deal to share on this topic.  First, Moses never wrote that the universe was created in six days.  Excuse my provocative statement, but I did it to make a point— ‘day’ is an English word.  Moses did not write in English (which has a million or more words), he wrote in Biblical Hebrew (which only had a few thousand words), and the word that was written was ‘Yom’, which clearly has multiple meanings including the idea of an epoch or age.

Hugh Ross came to faith in Jesus Christ not by anyone’s witnessing efforts, but by independently reading the foundational texts of the world’s religions as an astrophysicist.  He discarded them one-by-one based upon their scientific inaccuracies, until he came to the Bible.  In the creation accounts in Genesis Dr. Ross discovered 14 scientifically accurate statements about the initial conditions and cosmology of the universe, in the correct sequence.  He computed that even if Moses had been given the correct events, the odds of him getting just the sequence correct are one in six billion.  Pretty compelling prima facie evidence for the reliability of the Bible.  And a long way from the idea of theistic evolution or a figurative off-ramp.

Dr. Ross has a very interesting and unusual testimony which you can read here, or listen to here.  He has spent his life thinking very deeply and technically about the Bible and concludes that it is inerrant and infallible.  There are many of us who support the Chicago Statement, but few—if any—can bring such impressive scientific study to bear on the old-earth creationism position.

My point in writing this post is twofold: first, we should not throw rocks at theistic evolution or those who may hold those views (these debates are not essential to the Christian faith).  And secondly that there is a wealth of incredible teaching we should consider before coming to the rather easy out that the historical text in Genesis is figurative.

As Tim Keller noted in this 2008 interview, opinions are all over the map.  He concludes, “I don’t have to figure this out before I figure out is Jesus Christ raised from the dead.”   All those who would enter into the debate on theistic evolution versus old- or young-earth creationism would agree.

Or as the apostle Paul wrote, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully.”  How we disagree says much about what we believe and whom we serve.

About John Paine

This blog is topical and devotional--we post whatever interests us, whenever. If you want to follow in an orderly fashion, please see our Kaqexeß page. View all posts by John Paine

2 responses to “Respecting Disagreement

  • dwwork

    I was fortunate to be able to attend a seminar put on by Reasons to believe a few years ago and got to hear Dr. Ross speak. He really has a gift for bringing science and Christianity together in an understandable way. Great post.



    • John Paine

      I took a course from Reasons To Believe last Spring. It was amazingly inspiring–not just because of the incredibly rich content, but also because of their style. They showed us video clips and texts from the best that those with opposing views had to offer. I have never studied anything anywhere where the best opposing arguments were taught. They really want students to make up their own minds, not merely accept their position. Really high integrity and a class operation all the way.


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