Tag Archives: Creationism

Genesis: Paradise Lost, the Big Bang, … and Dogs Who Eat Homework

Some Christian friends of mine are all abuzz about Genesis: Paradise Lost, a new movie being shown in select theaters across America, November 13 and 16, 2017. Should Christians go see this film? (SEE MY DISCLAIMER at the bottom of the post, updated AFTER I first published this post).

In a promotional video for the movie, Dr. Charles Jackson, a professor of Creation Science at Liberty University, explains that the Big Bang Theory, of how the universe expanded from a single point, some 13 billion years ago, is part of a secular mythology, at odds with the Bible. As Dr. Jackson goes onto say, “there are all of these ‘dog ate my homework’ stories” that “atheist evolution theory” proposes to explain how stars were formed, in the wake of the Big Bang. Jackson argues that such explanations are “impossible” and “can not happen.”

The conclusion? Christians should reject Big Bang cosmology. Instead, they should embrace a Young Earth proposal, that the universe was created only some 6,000 years ago, based on a particular interpretation of the Bible. The film’s primary concern is to help Christians have a greater confidence in their Bibles, and to win those who have doubts, to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, which are critically important aims, that all believers can boldly affirm.  Genesis: Paradise Lost is endorsed by Answers in Genesis, the apologetics organization behind the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, located in Kentucky. Just based on this brief presentation, without any further knowledge, Dr. Jackson’s argument might sound fairly compelling.

But is what Dr. Jackson saying true?

Does Big Bang cosmology really contradict the Bible? It seems like the modern scientific consensus agrees with the Big Bang. If the Bible is out of step with the Big Bang, what does that mean?

What if, indeed, the opposite were the case? What if the Bible, written a few thousand years before scientists in the 20th century confirmed the evidence, aligns with the Big Bang? What if the Bible, accurately describes the scientifically-observed expansion of the universe? What is the likelihood of ancient, pre-modern Israelite prophets, perfectly articulating the precise nature of the universe, in a manner that exactly coincides with what modern scientists, have only recently seen in nature?

As I blogged about several months ago, Dr. Hugh Ross, of the apologetics ministry, Reasons to Believe, makes this very case.  Dr. Ross goes onto explain that the Big Bang was actually a fine-tuned expansion of the universe, and not a chaotic explosion.

But here is the kicker.

Dr. Ross makes the stunning claim that the Bible anticipates the discovery of the Big Bang by several thousands of years. Here is a quick sample of some of these Bible verses: Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; and Zechariah 12:1. Look them up at BibleGateway.com, where ancient Israelite prophets wrote about how God “stretched out the heavens,” a description consistent with modern Big Bang cosmology.

Is this merely a coincidence? Do Christians need to come up with other “dog ate my homework” stories, to explain features like this in the Bible, or are there better explanations that exist? Think about it.

Should a Christian go see Genesis: Paradise Lost? Sure, consider the evidence that the film presents, as Dr. Jackson does raise some good questions, and the film makers have a genuine, rightly-motivated interest, in presenting the Gospel message to non-believers. Amen to that! But do yourself a favor, and also consider a different viewpoint, from another Christian perspective.

Or better yet, read and study what the Bible itself says, and then come to your own conclusion.

As Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

Below is the Dr. Charles Jackson clip, from the Genesis: Paradise Lost film, being used to promote the movie, then followed by an 8-minute presentation by Jeff Zweerink, an astronomer with Reasons To Believe , explaining what the Bible has to say about the Big Bang. Zweerink is part of the scholar team, along with Hugh Ross, at Reasons to Believe. Genesis: Paradise Lost should not be confused with an earlier film this year, Is Genesis History?, by Del Tackett and Thomas Purifoy, Jr. The earlier film has pretty much the same message, but the outdoor cinematography in Is Genesis History?, is spectacular, whereas Genesis: Paradise Lost relies more on 3D computer-generated graphics.

UPDATE (November 11, 2017): Though I published the above post a few days ago, I just learned something about “Doctor” Charles Jackson. Yes, Charles Jackson does have a doctorate. This is true. However, it is not in any particular science field. Rather, he earned his doctorate in the field of education, from the University of Virginia (UVA). He is not a practicing scientist, but rather he is a grade school science educator. This type of sleight of hand is not outright deception, but it is not entirely truthful either. At least, Is Genesis History? featured credentialed PhD-level scientists, having done doctoral work in their specific scientific field. Genesis: Paradise Lost relies on experts, that lack the level of expertise, as comparatively found in Is Genesis History?.  Eric Hovind, the producer of the latest film, should be embarrassed. Let the viewer of the film beware!!

 


Humans Came From East Africa, Southeastern Europe, (or Somewhere Else)?

Hominin footprints, by the shore of an island, near Crete, discovered by a Polish researcher.

The common evolutionary story is that modern humans first arrived on the biological scene, roughly 200,000 years ago, in East Africa. However, a controversial new discovery challenges that narrative. Does this news have any impact on Christian faith?

Most of the fossil or footprint evidence for hominins; that is, creatures that are thought to be biological ancestors to modern humans, have been found in Chad, Ethiopia, and Kenya, dating back several million years. However, a new study published in August, 2017, offers evidence of human-like footprints that have been found on an island, off of the coast of Crete (Greece), that date back to 5.7 million years ago. The age and location of the discovery may cause scientists to rethink where modern humans actually came from.

New Scientist magazine suggests that this latest research implies that modern humans may have come from southeastern Europe, and not way down south, in East Africa. In my mind, it opens up the possibility that the first humans might have actually come from somewhere roughly in between, in the nearby Middle East, which fits in with some models of Old Earth Creationism, or Evolutionary Creationism, that postulate that the first human beings, Adam and Eve, lived in an area of the Middle East. Many Old Earth Creationists would nevertheless contend for a definite break in biological development between hominin creatures and modern humans, whereas Evolutionary Creationists would see biological continuity between hominins and humans.

The 5.7 million year old dating, of course, creates a problem for Young Earth Creationism, that insists that the earth is less than 6,000 to 10,000 years old. I have heard of possible explanations by Young Earth Creationists, that suggest that the dating is completely wrong, and that the footprints were made shortly after the global flood.  The footprints would have come from either (a) human beings, and not hominins at all, or (b) ape-like creatures, that became extinct after making these prints. I am not sure how this all works, considering the facts that the evidence does not seem to indicate that these footprints were made by modern humans, and that we have no evidence of such ape-like creatures going extinct within the past 10,000 years. Would a pair of these ape-like creatures been aboard the Ark?

No matter what becomes of this discovery, it in no way undermines the biblical teaching about the sinful nature of humanity. After the story was released to the public, vandals found the site, spray painted part of the area, and stole several of the footprints, destroying some of the data. Thankfully, the site was not completely destroyed, and so it will hopefully remain a place that might yield some future discoveries.

For a closer look at what the Bible might have to say about the existence of hominins (or “hominids,” as some say it), you can dig into Veracity here.


Is It A Stretch?….The Big Bang and the Bible

Veracity blogger-in-chief, John Paine, has done it again with another Veracity “Vlog,” otherwise known as a “video blog.”

Now, I know that a number of my Young Earth Creationist friends are not too crazy about the “Big Bang Theory,” as they argue that the Big Bang can not be found in the Bible…. and I am not talking about the TV show, but rather the cosmological theory….

But try this one on for size:

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
     covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent(Psalm 104:1-2 ESV)

The continuous expansion of the universe, that results from the cosmological Big Bang, ties in very well with the psalmist’s metaphor, of God “stretching out the heavens like a tent.”

Okay. I am not necessarily saying that a psalm writer was consciously thinking about the modern physics of cosmic radiation, underneath his Middle Eastern tent, over twenty-five hundred years ago.

That would be a “stretch!”

Yet we are dealing with not just a human author, but a supernatural author, as well. It seems to be more than mere coincidence that God’s Word just happens to have a metaphor, that perfectly matches the description that astronomer Edwin Hubble first discovered in 1929. As John Paine demonstrates, the history of the universe from science is a good argument to help people who do not accept the Bible, to consider the possibility of believing in the God of the Bible.

True, having conversations with your neighbors about the Big Bang, rarely by itself will  lead them to profess faith in Jesus. But it can create a pathway to share the Gospel. Otherwise, to refrain from appealing to general revelation in our conversations, is like trying “to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Think about it.

Perhaps the connection between the Bible and the Big Bang is not such a “stretch” after all.

 

If you are still a bit confused, Christian astrophysicist Hugh Ross at Reasons to Believe gives us some background on the Big Bang Theory (two videos, about 90-seconds each).  If you want to know more about how we at Veracity approach the debate over creation, just find the search field on the Veracity blog, type in “creation” or “creationism,” and click GO!….. (SLIGHTLY OFF-TOPIC: John Paine filmed the promotion video for Faith Bible College. Check that out, too!)


Dating the Adam Thoroughgood House …. (And While We Are At It,… the Earth, Too)

Adam Thoroughgood House. An historic colonial home in Virginia Beach, Virginia (credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston)

Adam Thoroughgood House. An historic colonial home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but how old is it? (credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston)

I write this post in memory of my dad, who died one year ago today. My dad was a brilliant man, an architectural historian by trade, who inspired in me the desire to pursue the knowledge of the truth, even if that truth might challenge popular convictions. So while there is an application towards Christian apologetics here, I want to frame it within the context of one particular fascinating mystery in the history of colonial Virginia, a mystery that captivated the thought and imagination of my dad….

Let me take you back to Princess Anne County, a few hundred years ago, in the Tidewater of the Virginia Colony…

Adam Thoroughgood was a 17th century English Puritan (roughly equivalent to an evangelical Christian today), who obtained his passage to Virginia as an indentured servant, in the 1620s. After paying off his indentured servitude, Throughgood returned to England, married a wealthy woman, and came back to eastern Virginia, in modern day Virginia Beach, to become one of the most prominent land owners in the colony.

The traditional story was that Adam Thoroughgood built a brick home, in 1636, thought to be one of earliest structures of its kind in North America. None of the other surrounding structures, such as the slave quarters, have survived, but the Adam Thoroughgood house became one of the great prides of the area, as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, to boot, with all of its unique history…. or so it seemed. Continue reading


Is Genesis History?: Del Tackett, Alternative Facts, and Building a Defensible, Biblical Worldview

I recently received an email from a local church promoting a new film, in theaters for only one night, February 23, 2017, Is Genesis History? The film is a project of Del Tackett, the creator of “The Truth Project” small-group educational series, distributed by Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family has been a very influential Christian organization, dedicated to helping families struggling against the detrimental influence of the surrounding secular culture. The Adventures in Odyssey radio broadcast, produced by Focus on the Family, is a favorite resource of mine!

When Focus on the Family originally promoted Del Tackett’s, “The Truth Project”  in 2004, Christians in many churches, including my own, went through the 12-week, DVD-based curriculum, impacting some 12 million people all over the world. The series was well received by many believers, as a beneficial aid to help Christians develop a more Biblical worldview.

However, I have known a number of other, respected Christian friends who have gone through that curriculum, but who walked away from it with some misgivings. Del Tackett, the instructor on that series, had many good teachings in several areas, but regarding some topics, Tackett’s critics have thought that his approach was myopically opinionated and too narrow. Too get a flavor of this criticism, there is a Christian website, that I have found helpful, “The Truth Problem,” that extensively addresses some of the problems with “The Truth Project.”

So, when I saw the advertisement for Del Tackett’s new film, I thought I should review some of the advance material, and find out what it is all about. I am glad I did, as I have some concerns. Here is the film’s trailer:

What is Del Tackett’s “Is Genesis History?” All About?

An analogy from current events might be of assistance when it comes to evaluating Del Tackett’s Is Genesis History? Cultural commentators have grabbed onto the politically-charged phrase of “alternative facts” to describe the type of world we live in, in 2017.  Speaking of “alternative facts,” among those who defend the concept behind the phrase, implies that there are facts out there that are routinely suppressed or ignored by the media, academia, or other sources of supposedly trusted information. To resist against this trend, we are urged to become more exposed to considering “alternative” views.

However, for others, “alternative facts” is just a form of Orwellian double-speak, a fancy way for distorting and obfuscating the true reality of things, exchanging the truth for a lie.

Sorting out exactly what are “alternative facts,” and how they relate to “true facts,” can get rather confusing. Who do you trust? To dispel the anxiety, we can simply turn off our TV, with its 24-hour news cycle, and our social media feeds. But when it comes to how Christians understand the Bible and its theology, the stakes are much higher. What correctly constitutes “true facts” can have eternal consequences, and thus, this discussion can not be taken lightly.

If you carefully observe the Is Genesis History? movie trailer, you will sense that Del Tackett is making an appeal to consider his narrative of “alternative facts.” In a recent interview, Del Tackett states:

“Evangelicals have a tendency to read Genesis in the historical narrative as it was written. And they want to read it that way. But the hierarchy within evangelical Christianity is increasingly persuaded by a deep-time paradigm. And that deep-time paradigm does not lend itself to the historical reading of Genesis. …. It deeply concerns me, because I’m a worldview guy. That’s the call right now on my life – to do everything I can to help the body of Christ get healthy. Well, a biblical worldview is rooted in Genesis.”

Del Tackett has his concerns with negative trends in the church, and some of them are properly justified. Many Christians do lack a healthy, Biblical worldview. But are there any concerns about what Del Tackett himself is proposing? Let us take a look.

What Is Del Tackett Proposing?

According to the promotional material, Is Genesis History? seeks to provide a new look at the evidence supporting Creation and the Flood. But it is important to realize that Del Tackett is putting forward one particular view as to what this means, namely a Young Earth, of no more than about 6,000 years old, and a global Flood in Noah’s day, covering the entire planet.

In the byline for the film, Tackett notes that there are “two competing views… one compelling truth.” The problem here is that Tackett is oversimplifying what is indeed the case among evangelical Christians, just from viewing the film highlight clips on the movie’s YouTube channel. There are actually more than “two” views to consider. For Tackett, the one view he advocates for rejects the concept of “deep time,” the modern scientific consensus of a 4.5 billion year old earth, that helps to explain the origin of our planet and its universe, within the scientific disciplines of geology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and others, as taught in every American public school and public science museum.

For Tackett, this “deep time” paradigm strikes disaster at the very heart of a Biblical worldview, and specifically the meaning of the cosmic Fall, as taught in the Book of Genesis. There are many skeptical, non-Christian scientists and thinkers who would agree, thereby rejecting the Bible. However, there are also a number of other Christian pastors, Bible teachers, theologians, and believing evangelical scientists who find no difficulty reconciling the concept of “deep time,” with an authoritative, inerrant view of the Bible and its teachings.

The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah's Flood Explain the Grand Canyon? is a beautiful new book, with lots of great photography, that makes the point that fossil record shows that the distribution of different animal remains are found in distinct layers, which a global flood model does not account for.

The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon? is a beautiful new book, with lots of great photography, that makes the point that the fossil record in the canyon shows that the distribution of different animal remains are found in distinct, orderly layers. In the radical turbulence proposed by the alternative, global flood model, we would expect animal remains to be jumbled around in the fossil record. However, unlike what Del Tackett’s experts insist, this expectation is contrary to actual, geological observations.

In the film, Del Tackett makes the extraordinary claim that there is sufficient evidence to warrant overturning this “deep time” paradigm. For example, with folksy, laid-back guitar music in the background, Del Tackett takes a trip to the Grand Canyon, marveling at its grandeur, with striking photography. However, his scientific guide tells him that there is evidence here for a global flood, a great catastrophic event that carved out the Canyon, not over millions of years, but rather, in a period of less than one year.

The film has just enough scientific jargon to convince you that there is real science going on here, but not too much to overwhelm those who are freaked out by science lingo. If you examine the names of the scientific experts Tackett uses in his film, it reads like a virtual “Who’s Who” of the Young Earth Creationist scientific community. These are indeed really smart and brilliant people, with PhDs to back up their work. These experts are no “dummies,” and several of them are known for their irenic disposition towards other Christians who view this issue differently. Based on those film trailers, Del Tackett does not appear to be attacking other Christians who do not share his perspective. However, you will not see a single Old Earth Creationist, nor a single Evolutionary Creationist, interviewed or listed in the credits for Is Genesis History? Not a single one.

Therefore, a lingering question remains: Is the scientific evidence truly there to support Tackett’s claim, overthrowing the reigning paradigm of millions of years of “deep time,” with respect to earth’s origins? Well, if there really is, and folks like Tackett and the scientists he interviews could produce it, then such folks would be considered as heroes and superstars in the scientific community, presumably winning Nobel Prizes right and left. If such evidence can be amassed by Tackett’s scientific collaborators to tell a convincing story to overturn “deep time,” well, then, more power to them! But to date, such a movement to overthrow the current paradigm has yet to emerge in a compelling manner.

But What Difference Does This Really Make?… (and Does It Really Help, or Confuse?)

Del Tackett is quite a gifted and compelling communicator, and he is to be commended for his intended efforts to help Christians develop a more Biblical worldview, to face up to the challenges presented by a contemporary culture, that seeks to undermine the Bible and its authority. However, we can only defend such a Biblical worldview built upon a stable foundation, and not on the shifting sand of speculative Bible interpretations.

For example, the physical evidence for the Big Bang is overwhelming, and this great scientific discovery is consistent with the idea that there indeed was a beginning, just as the Bible teaches. Also, the physical evidence for a large, yet non-global flood in the Ancient Near East, that could have wiped out all of the known, sinful humanity at the time, is perfectly consistent with an extensively catastrophic event, that demonstrates God’s judgment against the humanity of Noah’s day, just as the Bible teaches. Nevertheless, Young Earth Creationism rejects both the ideas of the Big Bang, as well as a large local flood for Noah’s flood, as contrary to their interpretation of Scripture, so it really leaves me scratching my head. Is Del Tackett stirring up controversy where none is needed?

Defending the faith against the onslaught of secularism is difficult enough as it is, without adding the extra burden of trying to dismantle the idea of “deep time” in the sciences. Del Tackett’s efforts to philosophically tackle “deep time” might be theologically correct, but it really is a massively long shot when trying to sync this idea with modern science.

The philosophical presuppositions shared by Del Tackett and his scientific collaborators in the film can be quite heady and elusive to grasp. So, my greatest concern is that uninformed Christians who see the film might be drawn to embrace a form of pseudoscience, one that can not withstand the most rigorous critical scrutiny, when faith is put under pressure. Is Del Tackett really giving his film viewers reliable, intellectual weapons to defend the faith, or will those same weapons fail the Christian, when put to the test?

Should a Christian go see the film? Sure. Go see it in on February 23rd. Del Tackett’s view deserves philosophical and theological consideration, if you have never considered it before. Make up your own mind. Just remember that Del Tackett is only giving you one particular Christian view, his version of “alternative facts,” and he is not giving you different Christian perspectives, that line up better with the modern scientific consensus, to adequately compare and consider.

If you do want to see how Del Tackett presents his views among other Christians, who are not convinced by his arguments, you should consider viewing this dialogue between Del Tackett and others, particularly theologian R. C. Sproul, Intelligent Design science advocate Stephen C. Meyer, and theologian Michael Horton. Otherwise, be careful in how you evaluate Del Tackett’s “alternative facts” in Is Genesis History?

Note: I attempted to contact Del Tackett via email at deltackett.com, asking him to answer some of the concerns I had with Is Genesis History?, and after several weeks, I received no response. As the film is being heavily promoted in our area, I sensed it imperative to get the word out via this blog post, and urge Christians to apply principles of discernment.   ……  With respect to Del Tackett’s “The Truth Project,” I have not viewed the entire series myself, and perhaps someday, I will have the time to watch all of the sessions, and then develop my own, informed opinion. But based on some of the other informed reviews available, it would appear that for all of the good work Del Tackett has done, there are enough missed opportunities for promoting a wider-range discussion, that such deficiencies take away from “The Truth Project”‘s overall effectiveness. For more analysis of Del Tackett’s work in “The Truth Project”: a review from a  progressive evangelical apologist, Randal Rauser, or from a dispensational-Arminian perspective at the Berean Call. Del Tackett definitely has his critics from across the evangelical spectrum.


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