Controversy of the Ages

Why Christians Should Not Divide over the Age of the Earth

Theodore J. Cabal and Peter J. Rasor II

Theodore Cabal is Professor of Apologetics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His PhD is from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the general editor of The Apologetics Study Bible. He was a visiting scholar for Reasons to Believe in 2018.

Peter J Rasor is on the faculty of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix,AZ. His PhD is from Southern Seminary. He teaches worldview,philosophy,apologetics and ethics.


p13 Interesting recap of Cabal's journey from OEC to YEC and back to "non-dogmatic OEC".

p14 Diagnosed with multiple myeloma, partnership with Rasor, enough remission to continue to write.


1. Science and Theology at War

p15 Quotes Thomas Huxley to introduce "war"

p15-16 An articulate blast at Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson

p17 Eloquent and articulate and arrogant statement of Thomas Huxley: "Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules; and history records that whenever science and orthodoxy have been fairly opposed the latter has been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed if not annihilated; scorched, if not slain."

In a century when Paley's watchmaker and natural theology had made such a big impact to affirm a Creator, you can feel Huxley's delight at having a materialistic hammer with which to hit back at faith.

p17-19 The best brief critique of the Draper and White distortion of history that I have seen. To make their campaign for the war of science and religion they did pretty dishonest and sickening propaganda books to further their hostility for religion.

p18 Discussion of Jerry Coyne's modern mimic of Draper and White.

2.The Copernican Conflict

p27 A good survey of the Galileo story.





3. Darwinism: A New Kind of Controversy Altogether

p51 Definitely the best brief survey I have seen of Darwin's work and agenda. Fair treatment of what Darwin discovered and his scientific thought, but also points to Darwin's anti-faith agenda and hostility to Christianity. And Thomas Huxley surely saw Darwin's work as a weapon with which to further his aggressive materialist agenda.





4. American Evangelical Responses to Darwinism: Setting the Stage

p73 "Evolutionary creation is an evangelical Christian approach to evolution .. Evolutionary creation contends that humans evolved from prehuman ancestors, and that the image of God and human sin were gradually and mysteriously manifested. Most importantly, evolutionary creationists enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus." Denis Lamoureux, "The Evolution of an Evolutionary Creationist."

p73 "Without question, evangelicals in the United States have had far more battles over evolution both with the culture and with each other than anywhere else in the world."

p74-78 Excellent brief summary of the Scopes trial and the dishonest history in 'Inherit the Wind'"

p79 Describes the time around 1880 when the fully materialistic implications of Darwinism hit the evangelicals and was denounced.

p79-80 "Darwinism forced evangelical apologetics to shift from the reigning stronghold, the argument from design, to a defense of biblical inerrancy itself."

p80 Biblical epistemology: completeness, inerrancy and clarity.

p81 Evangelical Anti-Darwinism Champion: Charles Hodge. Princeton Theological Seminary defended evangelical orthodoxy and biblical infallibility in the 19th century. Hodge trained about 3000 ministers.

p81 Charles Hodge: "It shocks the common sense of unsophisticated men to be told that the whale and the hummingbird, man and the mosquito, are derived from the same source. Not that the whale was developed out of the hummingbird, or man out of the mosquito, but that both are derived by a slow process of variations continued through countless millions of years. Such is the theory with its scientific feathers plucked off." Systematic Theology, p2:14

p82 "Hodge rightly discerned that Darwin used 'the word natural as antithetical to supernatural. Natural selection is a selection made by natural laws, working without intention or design. It is, therefore, opposed not only to artificial selection, which is made by the wisdom and skill of man to accomplish a given purpose, but also to supernatural selection, which means either a selection originally intended by a power higher than nature; or which is carried out by such power.'" "What is Darwinism", p40-41

p83 "These tendencies led some in science not only to 'speculate, but dogmatize, on the highest questions of philosophy, morality and religion.' " "What is Darwinism" p125-139.

p83 The 20th century saw a cranked up hostility to Darwinism with conservative Christians seeing the Darwinian shift as "not simply a mistake in scientific judgment but to adherence to a world view antithetical to Christianity."

p83 "Methodological naturalism became the order of the day. 'Nonbelief (though not unbelief) became science's reigning methodological principle.' " Jon Roberts and James Turner, The Sacred and the Secular University, Princeton 2000, p31.

p84 "Though most scientists were not consciously anti-religious, their new vision resulted in bringing virtually everything under the domain of naturalistic explanation. American culture became increasingly agnostic or secular."

p84 "Traditional Christianity had 'lost its central place within higher education, and evangelical Protestants were displaced from their role as the major intellectual arbiters of American culture." Ibid Roberts & Turner, 119.

p84-85 Mentions "The Fundamentals"

p85 Mid 20th Century, formation of American Scientific Affiliation in 1941

p85-88 Discussion of ASA

p88 Henry Morris and the Institute for Creation Research: Anti-Evolutionism and More.

p89 Backlash of YEC, partly against ASA. Morris & Whitcomb's Genesis Flood made a big impact.

p89 The book: "not only was theistic evolution wrong-headed, but a unified recent creation and flood geology approach was 'the only orthodox understanding of Genesis.' " Ronald Numbers, Darwinism p55.

p89 "In substantial, though undetermined, numbers they abandoned the once-favored day-age and gap theories, which allowed for the antiquity of life on Earth, accepting instead the strict creationism of flood geology, which limited the history of life to no more than 10,000 years and affirmed creation in six twenty-four-hour days." Numbers p5

p89-90 "The importance of the extremely influential movement launched by the publication of The Genesis Flood cannot be overstated. By the 1980s, a new standard of 'virtual orthodoxy' dominated among conservative evangelicals with the term 'creationism' almost exclusively associated with young earth flood geology."

p90 Creation Research Society (CRS) in 1963 and Morris formed the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in 1972. Produced 55 books in a little more than a decade.

p90 "ICR would dominate the YEC world in influence for decades until the death of Morris in 2006 and the meteoric rise of Answers in Genesis."

[Interesting that he does not mention Ellen G White and George McCready Price. ]

p91 "since the mid 20th century, the most significant development has clearly been the rise of YEC."

p91 Evangelicals Engaging Evolution Today: Four Different Ways

p92 Survey of AIG. Ken Ham came from Australia in 1987 to work with Morris' ICR. Founded AIG in 1994 but the name AIG dates to 1997.

p93 Reasons to Believe and Hugh Ross. Contains several statements from RTB documents.

p94 Biologos and Francis Collins

p95 ID discussion, Stephen Meyer

5. Flood, Fossils and Strata: Geology and the Age of the Earth

p99-100 Interesting story of mastodon bones and the kinds of investigations they generated.

p101 In 16th and 17th century there were many religious initiatives related to the Biblical flood. This part of the book has many parallels to The Rocks Don't Lie.

Investigating geology and the flood
  • Burnet
    • Calculated not enough water to cover mountains.
  • Woodward
    • Protector of universal flood but major contributor to fossil record.
  • Whiston
    • Flood advocate.
  • Werner
    • Subsurface studies for mining.
  • Hutton
    • Cyclic history with same processes operating today.
  • Lyell
    • Uniformitarianism as principle, but denied role of catastrophies. Opponent of flood connections
  • Buckland
    • Universal flood but old earth.
  • Linnaeus
    • Father of taxonomy.
  • Steno
    • Father of geology, supported flood, but observed strata, principle of superposition.
  • W. Smith
    • Father of English geology, mapped strata, coined 'stratigraphy'.

p102 In 17th & 18th Centuries, Thomas Burnet (1635-1715) and John Woodward (1665-1728). Burnet calculated that all the water on Earth could not cover mountains.

p103 William Whiston (1667-1752) Flood advocate, necessary water trapped in core, "slosh" effect of comet contribute to flood.

p103 Theorists doubted catastrophic flood.

p104 Attempts to understand the flood contributed to the rise of modern geology.

p105 Abraham Werner (1749-1817) Subsurface studies, mining technology cataloged layers of earth.

p104-105 Mining and drilling contributed much to the understanding of the Earth.

p106 James Hutton (1726-1797) Cyclic earth theories. All geologic features resulted from past natural processes still operating today at same rate.

p106 Lyell (1797-1875) and uniformitarianism

p107 "the burgeoning knowledge of the earth's strata led to an increasing marginalization for all-encompassing flood theories in the last half of the eighteenth century."

p108 William Buckland (1784-1856), geologist at Oxford who defended the universal flood, identified tropical area fossils in Kirkdale Cave, England, held to old earth.

p110 Leonardo da Vinci and Robert Hooke contributed to fossil understanding - fossilized shells established organic nature.

p111 Linnaeus (1707-1778), father of modern taxonomy, classified fossils.

p112 Woodward made big collection of fossils and mineral samples still existing at Cambridge.

p112 Strata: The Layers Reveal Their Secrets " While the organic origin of fossils was being settled, problems for recent creation and traditional flood theories were mounting."

p113 Nicholas Steno (1638-1686) often viewed as the father of geology: "They sin against the greatness of God, who do not wish to observe the actual works of nature but, satisfied with the readings and writings of others, imagine and fabricate various hypotheses."

p113 William Smith (1769-1839), Extensive maps of England and Wales, coined "stratigraphy",

p115 Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) Father of modern paleontology, proposed law of faunal succession, advances in stratigraphy, dealt with the series of extinctions followed by distinctive new fauna.

p116 The Flood Column Becomes a Creation Column

p117 "By the early nineteenth century, the same evidence that led the overwhelming majority of Christian geologists to view the strata as a creation column also convinced them the earth was very old."

p117 With the idea of the creation column in place, "Christian geologists continued to look for the effects of the flood." Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) "demonstrated that glaciers best explained surface features rather than diluvialism." By the 1850s glacial action was seen as the cause for many surface features.

p118 Later dating methods -- includes radiometric dating.

p119 Alfred Wegener (1880-1930) postulates continental drift. Accepted in UK by 1925, 1960s in US.

p119 "The floors of the oceans thus continually regenerate themselves by spreading from the center and sinking at the edges. The resolution in geology produced by plate tectonics cannot be overstated."

p120 "Historians of geology agree that the rise of old earth geology involved much more than the acceptance of the theories of Hutton or Lyell. The vast majority were creationists opposed to evolutionary ideas as well as uniformitarianism. Most geological pioneers sought in varying degrees to correlate their understanding of the earth's past with the Bible. Many of the geologists working at the time were evangelicals and believed in the truth of the Bible."

"Similar to the Copernican controversy Bible-believing Christians practiced the conservatism principle in the lead-up to modern geology. They reluctantly courted the possibility of an old earth and whether the flood could explain most or at least major parts of modern earth science. ... Old earth evangelicals, whether day-age or gap theorists, also never wavered in their commitment to biblical inerrancy."

"There was no major controversy about the age of the earth or the geologic column two hundred years ago."

6. Young Earth Creationism: Responding to Geology

p121 "There seems to be no possible way to avoid the conclusion that, if the Bible and Christianity are true at all, the geological ages must be rejected altogether." Henry M. Morris, Scientific Creationism

121-122 Interesting story of the debate between William Bell Riley (day-age-view) and Harry Rimmer (Gap Theory). Both were part of the fundamentalist movement, but neither held to a young earth. This "gap" was between the Bible's first two verses.

p122 Only a small minority, mostly 7th Day Adventists, held to recent creation in six literal days, and only they thought it important in the 1920s.

p122 Riley graduated in 1888 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which "favorably taught the day-age view".

p122-132 An overview of the "Scriptural Geologists" whose movement lasted for about fifty years from early 1800s. Concern was that modern geology was a threat to Scripture. Held to (1) thousands of years old earth, and (2) all geology formed in creation up to and including the flood. This implied that the column of fossils had to be considered a "flood column" and not a "creation column".

p123 Referring to Riley (day-age), Rimmer (gap), and Seventh-day Adventists, he summarizes: All three groups thought of themselves as biblical literalists, and primarily only the Adventists regarded the earth's age or differing views of Genesis as particularly important in the contemporary battle of ideas."

124 Cites Mortenson on Scriptural Geologists as agreeing that there is no direct link between the Scriptural Geologists and modern YECs, although there are areas of agreement.

124-130 Story of Scriptural Geologists told with reference to Grantville Penn (1761-1844), his allies and detractors.

P131 "No Christian groups during that time, or in the past, had suggested that the age of the earth was an essential Christian doctrine."

p132 A couple of paragraphs of quotes of Terry Mortenson which are rather apocalyptic, suggesting that departing from YEC ideas is a profound danger to the faith. Introduces one of them with "Terry Mortensen grimly writes .."

p132 "Within just a few decades of its inception the scriptural geology movement was over. It had never attracted a large following or wielded much influence. Conservative Christians did not view the age of the earth as an essential doctrine, and old earth creationism became the standard in American Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and apologetics texts into the twentieth century."

p133 Since some with young earth convictions had charged that old earth views like the day-age and gap views were responsible for losing the battle against Darwinism, Cabal reflects: "No doubt William Bell Riley and Harry Rimmer would have been shocked to hear that their own views, not Darwinism, were the problem."

p133 Discusses the extraordinary fact that the influence that brought YEC back to the forefront in the U.S. in the 20th century was not careful study or detailed theology or philosophy, but the visions of Ellen G. White and Seventh Day Adventism!

Seventh-day Adventists Doctrines:

  • required Sabbatarian observance of Saturdays
  • the Sanctuary Doctrine Wiki
  • veneration of the prophetic ministry of Ellen G. White.
    • believed to have had as many as two thousand visions!
    • 1864 out-of-body vision when God revealed that creation week was a week like any other.
    • vision of a planet-wide, devastating flood that reshaped the whole earth
    • directed prophetic rebukes to anyone interpreting the creation days as long periods.

George McCready Price

p134 Ellen G. White's prophesies were brought into the 20th century by George McCready Price (1870-1963) who sold her books door-to-door, was sold on her "visions", and was amazingly persuasive. Cabal comments, with amazing reserve: "George McCready Price (1870-1963) brought together White's prophetic voice with the authority of science, or at least his own geological ideas."

Some of Price's experiences:

  • With no formal education in geology, nor field experience, he read widely in geology.
  • Taught science in Adventist schools, although his formal education was at the level of teaching elementary school
  • Wrote prodigiously for decades, became popular in anti-evolution circles.
  • Published "New Geology" in 1923, >700pgs, challenging the ideas about the geologic column being logically and informatively ordered.
  • With his "new geology" he found compelling reasons to promote a recent creation, helped by the prevalent passion to combat Darwinism
  • Wrote "Theories of Satanic Origin" to bash "the theory of long geologic 'ages', marked off by the differential dating of the fossils."

Henry M. Morris

It may well be that George McCready Price's major impact on history was that he convinced Henry M. Morris, who then had a much greater impact.

p138 "The Adventist flood geology movement did not win over the greater evangelical world. Evangelical anti-evolutionism remained largely committed to old earth gap or day-age theories. But Henry M. Morris vividly described an evangelical revolution that changed all that: "One of the most surprising phenomena of the second half of the twentieth century has been the resurgence of creationism - not a compromising amalgamation of evolutionary thought with theistic overtones, but a clear-cut, Bible-centered, literalistic, young-earth special creationism." This is on pg 13 of his 1984 book "A History of Modern Creationism".

p138 The Genesis Flood, by Morris and Whitcomb, was published in 1961. It was shortly after that, in my early years of physics graduate school, that Ron Jones, Clayton Teague and I debated Robert Gentry about the book. Robert was Seventh Day Adventist and was very convinced by the book, and went on to be quite influential in the YEC arena.

p138 Interesting comments about Morris' high regard for William Bell Riley and Harry Rimmer and their old-earth fundamentalism.

p139- Discussion of Morris:

  • p139 comments on the profound influence of Price on Morris
  • p140 Morris completely bought Price's view that the geologic column had no logical order!
  • p142 Morris & Whitcomb made use of the human footprints alongside dinosaur, the Paluxy River Bed stuff in first two editions, removing their most persuasive evidence in the 3rd edition.

p145 Statements made by Henry Morris and others in the YEC movement strike me as outrageous because they judge that anyone who disagrees with their interpretation of scripture is a "compromiser" who undermines Christianity itself. This paragraph from Cabal sets the tone for these extreme statements:

"Just as with the scriptural geologists and George McCready Price, Morris continued the tradition of declaring that the issue of the age of the earth and the flood are of supreme importance. In The Long War Against God (1989), Morris argued that modern old-earth geology itself was part of the long war against God because it destroyed flood geology and opened the door for evolution. Any evangelical believing in an old earth obviously was part of the problem. But even a biblical inerrantist not accepting that 'a world-wide cataclysmic deluge would have completely reworked and redeposited all the geologic strata' qualified one as part of the 'compromise' with evolution. Morris had redrawn the boundary for essential Christianity with young earth creationism and belief in the the flood column constituting the line. And he proclaimed the stakes could hardly be higher. 'The fact is ... that the failure of Bible-believing Christian churches and schools to aggressively defend and promote true biblical creationism is a major cause of the takeover by evolutionary humanism of our entire society - its schools, news media, courts, and all other aspects thereof.'"

p145 "In many ways The Genesis Flood has become like a constitution for modern YEC.

p147 "Finally, the tone Morris set may be the hardest part of his legacy to amend. By all accounts he was a godly and kind man. But because he believed his viewpoint so important, he felt it imperative to thunder like a prophet to God's people. Some of his sternest reproaches were directed toward those who shared his deepest concerns (anti-evolution, defense of inerrancy, etc.) if they 'compromised' with OEC geology."

7. Do Young Earth Creationists Practice Evolutionary Science?

p149 "Christians' faith is not built by wedding atheistic theories of history with the Bible" Ken Ham and Terry Mortenson. Sounds sort of ok until you find out with a shock that what they mean by "atheistic theories" is anything old earth, the big bang, modern geology and astronomy, etc.

p149-150 Reviews his early story about his run-in with Terry Mortenson about his paper suggesting that the age of the earth was not a first level issue, only to hear from Mortenson "the age of the earth is absolutely foundational to the Christian faith."

p150 "His inferences made it personal, casting aspersions on the integrity of anti-evolutionary old earth creationists (OECs), claiming they hold their views 'because of a fundamental refusal to be subject to the authority of God's Word' and that most OECs for the past two centuries have done so 'trying to maintain and intellectual respectability' while 'trembling at the words of scientists'".

I take the time to quote the above just to remind myself of how outrageous Mortenson is. When he brings integrity into the mix, I just want to remind him to read Romans 1:20 and John 1:3.

p150-151 Add to the outrageous attacks the cheap propaganda use of the word "evolutionary". Anything that doesn't fit their presuppositional approach to Genesis plus the flood geology coming from Ellen G White's visions warrants the epithet "evolutionary"! Big Bang? Astronomical evolution!, Creation column of fossils presuming deeper is older? Geological evolution! Biological evolution?, well, ok, evolution. A propaganda structure that makes them the heroes because they are 0/3 evolutionary, OECs are 2/3 evolutionary, and Theistic evolutionists are 3/3 evolutionary.

p151 Earth's Catastrophic Past: A Test Case. Henry Morris, late in his life, asked Andrew Snelling to write an "updated and revised version" of "The Genesis Flood". I didn't know that.

Snelling did write "Earth's Catastrophic Past: Geology, Creation and the Flood" and Cabal rates it as "the most comprehensive systematic treatment of young earth creationism today." He credits Snelling with being "generally more measured the way he describes those who disagree with him." Also credits him with being less dogmatic.

p152-155 General description of Snelling's approach to things, with some credit to Snelling for reasonableness.

p156-158 Snelling's response to radiometric dating.

  • Claims no one can "determine the original number of atoms of daughter isotopes"
    • As a geologist, Snelling is undoubtedly aware that we have been able to determine original concentration of daughter elements in many systems since the 1950s
    • With isochrons like the Rb-Sr whole-rock isochrons, you determine the daughter concentration at last melt.
  • Seeing the pattern of radiometric dating clearly, he still calls it unreliable and still believes in young earth.
  • Has to postulate dramatically increased decay rates during first 2 1/2 days of creation week and during the flood.
  • Recognizes that the dramatically increased decay heat could melt the earth, but presumably credits a miracle with avoiding that.

p158-159 Plate Tectonics. Snelling notes the agreement between the plate movement obtained from radiometric dating and that from distance and speed measurement. But then, holding onto the accelerated decay presumption, presumes that there was "catastrophic plate tectonics" with high speed plate movement. I became aware of these presumptions at the Apologetics conference when I heard Baumgardner speak. Snelling and Baumgardner were two of the five authors on a paper proposing this. I got to talk to Baumgardner - very nice fellow and reasonable in conversation. A real expert in computer simulation, so he had done the modeling of the catastrophic plate tectonics.

P160-162 YEC and modern astronomy. Morris used the dodge "nobody was there" to avoid the evidence. CRS allowed for a big time span between Vs 1 an 2 of Genesis, but most, including Snelling hold to a young universe. Some use light "created in transit" but Faulkner knows about supernovae and balked at "imaginary supernovae". Snelling uses Humphries' Starlight & Time model with the "event horizon of an expanding white hole" as a second option.

p161 In the middle of all this weirdness, Cabal quotes George Smoot "There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing." Straight out of big bang cosmology.

p162-167 YEC and Modern Biology. Lots of material here, and lots of it new to me. I didn't know that YECs had a whole system of speciation after the flood in order to get all the animals we have now. They call it "speciation" and certainly don't call it "evolution". There was shuffling and diversification, and a whole set of terminology around the concept of "baraminic" processes. I still don't have a clear concept of a "baramin" but it means "created kind".

p168-170 Internal YEC controversy. Cabal pretty well concludes that YECs do about the same thing that they accuse OECs of doing in accommodating their science to their model.

p170 "YECs themselves practice the very same approach by correlating their biblical interpretation in the light of science they believe true. But condemning others for doing the same thing is hardly consistent or considerate."

I was impressed with his fairness and consideration of Snelling throughout this chapter. He gave credit where credit was due.

8. Biblical Inerrancy and the Age of the Earth: Three Evangelical Approaches

This is the best one-chapter assessment of the impact of and attitudes toward the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy that I have seen.

p171 "The Chicago Statements on Biblical Inerrancy and Hermeneutics 'opened the door to false ideas in the church'." Terry Mortenson, "Affirmations and Denials Essential to a Consistent Christian (Biblical) Worldview"

p171 "In our day .. it is clear that inerrancy is an intellectual disaster." Kenton Sparks, "After Inerrancy: Evangelicals and the Bible in a Postmodern Age".

As a member of a Southern Baptist church where the Chicago Statement and the position of biblical inerrancy are assumed, these were shocking statements. I did not know about this extremity of reaction against the Chicago Statements. So both YEC and Biologos react strongly against the Chicago Statements for radically different reasons.

p171 I loved his story about one of the architects of the Chicago Statements, Carl F.H. Henry, coming to his seminary classroom and interacting with the students. That's partly because I am approaching the age he is describing, and identify with his lapses in memory: "All the files are still there; they just take longer to find."

p172-173 Actually, I was (and am) pretty ignorant about the details of the CSBI and the reaction to it, so I learned a good bit of detail about it:

  • Henry was an early member of the American Scientific Affiliation, but when it did an about face and endorsed universal common descent, he left it.
  • Strong conservative reaction to the ASA's stance made the way ready for Henry Morris and The Genesis Flood.
  • Fuller Seminary abandoned confessional biblical inerrancy, another shock to the conservative community.
  • Henry gathered with several hundred evangelical leaders to produce the CSBI in 1978.
  • Along with Henry, signers of the CSBI were D.A.Carson, Norman Geisler, Walter Kaiser, J.I. Packer, and R.C.Sproul.

p173 "The CSBI has been described as 'probably the first systematically comphrehensive, broadly based, scholarly, creed-like statement on the inspiration and authority of Scripture in the history of the church'."

p174-175 Detailed comparison of the CSBI and CSBH to the discussion of Galileo in Ch 2. On pg175 gently approaches the statement, contained in the CSBH, "that in some cases extra-biblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations". That's enough to make a disciple of van Till and his presuppositionalism break our in hives. Henry Morris probably fainted when he read it.

p175 RTB is the only one of the three (YEC, OEC, Biologos) that affirms the ICBI.

p176-180 AIG and Inerrancy AIG actually praises a good bit of the ICBI but then object to the portions "related to creation, evolution, and the age of the earth were inadequate and opened the door to false ideas in the church". Even the creators or signers of the Statements, if they deny a recent creation, "have compromised with man's ideas in Genesis." "they deny this belief by their inconsistent treatment of Genesis. They plainly show that they do not accept millions of years, astronomical, geological, or, at times biological evolution because of the biblical text demands it but, rather, because of the supposed scientific data. It's a clear compromise of God's Word that undermines biblical inerrancey."

This is very interesting and informative to me. Those are pretty extreme statements, and particularly after Cabal's careful treatment in Ch 7 about how YEC use about as much scientific inference as OEC, just cherry-picking the data that supports their presuppositions. Then they make great counter-intuitive and counter-evidence claims about accelerated radioactive decay rates and corresponding catastrophic plate tectonics.

177 Mortenson attacking the ETS: "And because these members 'haven't read Genesis carefully or creationist literature', they 'compromise with anti-biblical naturalistic myths about origins.' Thus most inerrantists today 'are trembling at the words of men called scientists rather than trembling at the Word of God."

I take that to be so outrageously arrogant that I would have a hard time believing that Mortenson said it if I hadn't heard him personally at the Birmingham apologetics meeting. He started out with a large-print slide declaring that the earth is 6000 years old with the confidence of one who thought anyone who didn't believe it was an idiot or an infidel or both. I was sitting there thinking about trees we have found with nearly six thousand rings, and the correlated buried trees of the European forest that total to well over ten thousand years, not to even approach lake varves and ice cores. I have to wonder how Romans 1:20 and John 1:3 strike Mortenson.

p178-179 Good detailed story about how AIG wrote their own revisions of the CSBI. Cabal's treatment in this chapter makes in abundantly clear how far outside the large CSBI affirming community that the YEC organizations lie.

p180 Describes the pressure exerted on AIG's pressure on its supporters to support their revisions and contradictions to the the CSBI and CSBH. This is news to me.

180-184 Biologos and Inerrancy: Detailed description of Biologos' response to inerrancy in general and the CSBI in particular. Extensive reference to Kenton Sparks, who is far enough outside mainline evangelical Christianity to be shocking to me.

184 Conclusion: RTB accepts CSBI, AIG wants to emend it with YEC and flood geology, Biologos rejects it out of hand.

9. Theological Triage: Drawing Doctrinal Boundaries

p188 Making reference to Al Mohler's book "A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity", he lays out the three-level doctrinal boundary framework:

  1. First-level doctrines essential to Christianity.
    • Trinity, full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, the authority of Scripture.
  2. Second-level doctrines that do not define Christianity but will create significant boundaries.
    • Meaning and mode of baptism, women as pastors?
    • Many of most heated disagreements at second level.
  3. Third-level doctrines over which Christians may differ but remain in close fellowship.
    • Different views of eschatology

p190 Daring to apply theological triage to three evangelical creationist ministries. Discusses his bias: conservative evangelical, thinks earth is old but not dogmatic about it, holds to CSBI with conviction, but feels strongly about being open to those who disagree.

p190-196 Biologos.

  • 190-196 Detailed story of conservative Christian scholar B.B. Warfield who was open to ideas of evolution, but with enough caveats to provide advice to the more extreme views of BioLogos.

p196-206 Answers in Genesis

  • 196 Grateful that most YECs treat age of earth as third-level doctrine since in his denomination, church, and school YECs outnumber OECs.
  • Feels AIG has drawn boundaries for inerrancy too narrowly.
    • Include earth's age, fossil column,
    • Far too aggressive in charging that those who disagree are responsible for the major problems of the world.
    • p197-198 Long quote of an outrageous diatribe by Terry Mortenson
    • p203 Ken Ham is hung up on death before the fall. Criticizes him for making everything a salvation issue.
    • p205-205 Discussion of YEC Todd Wood who doesn't make the age of the earth a salvation issue.

p206-209 Reasons to Believe. He is pretty light on RTB.

  • Commends RTB for completely affirming CSBI
  • Fusses at Hugh Ross for stretching out to the eleven space-time dimensions of string theory and making theological speculations about them in Beyond the Cosmos.
    • 207 William Lane Craig reacts negatively to this hyper-dimensionality of God
  • 207 Fusses at Ross for a call for evangelical councils because he compared to the Council of Jerusalem
  • 207-208 Reacts negatively to Ross's "testable creation model" because in the process he suggested that the YEC groups were not open to changes from our increase in knowledge.
    • Cabal disagrees and points out the changes in YEC groups in response to new information.
  • 208 Includes a criticism from Biologos that RTB has not responded to new information in regard to advances in genetic understanding.

p209 General lessons learned from this study. Comes down strongly on the conservatism principle in science-theology conflicts. "The practice was founded on the assumption of biblical inerrancy, the coherence of biblical and natural facts, and a reluctance to adjust biblical interpretation unless proven science made clear the biblical interpretation had been wrong." Argues that even AIG had practiced this within limits. Bemoans the fact that Biologos maintains no commitment to biblical inerrancy.

p210 "The mission of BioLogos places the promotion of evolution foremost with details of pertinent biblical doctrines to be worked out in its light. I believe AIG draws theological boundaries too narrowly and BioLogos too broadly. I have by far the deepest doctrinal concerns regarding the effects of BioLogos on the church. But I also have serious concerns about AIG's effect on the unity of the church."

p210 The Three Major Creationist Ministries: Drawing Lines

p210 Reasons to Believe

  • Suggests halting the tests to demonstrate the superiority of its model over its counterparts.

p210-213 Answers in Genesis

  • Thinks that the age of the earth should be a level-three doctrine, and they make it almost a level-one doctrine.
  • p211 An excellent discussion of AIG's "intitutionalization" not only of demanded YEC, but character assault on all those who disagree. A strong condemnation of the broad blaming of all ills on the failure to buy their YEC view (from Ellen G White to Price to Morris to demand for reformulation of the CSBI).
  • Holds them accountable for "baraminology" which is essentially back door evolutionism.
  • Critical of their "divisive rhetoric".

p213-217 BioLogos

  • BioLogos makes no commitment to to full scriptural inspiration,does not practice the conservatism principle, and will possibly be prone to substantial doctrinal reformulations.
  • Unifies around evolution, but with a sparse doctrinal basis.
  • Is very concerned about the position that God created humanity by evolution and then endowed him with His image.
  • Rejects special creation of human beings
  • An evolutionary account of the development of human morality?
  • Doesn't think it is a constructive resource for the church.

10. Patience and Peace

p219-222 Discusses the patience needed to work through the Galileo battle, and the understanding of science in relation to faith.

p223 "Though only about a half-century old, in conservative evangelical circles the age of the earth controversy feels like a major science-theology conflict on par with Darwinism."

p224 Reflects on the power of the three creationist organizations to court and obtain allegiances which may divide them from their fellow Christians.

224-225 "The conceptual instability and emotional atmosphere suggest that those who are uncertain what to believe should trust their Bible and wait for further light on the details. Those Christians can trust that the God of truth will have the final say in the outworking of history. But for those who believe they understand things rightly, they should humbly and patiently teach so as to nurture the unity of God's church. And if boundaries must be drawn, and at times they must, may they be outlined with exquisite Christian kindness and gentleness."


Reading Reference
Reasonable FaithR Nave
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