Volume 1, Issue 17
December 11,  2011
Comparing Views* of Creation, Flood

   Views untitled




It is painful to make an egregious error as led to my apology last week to Dr. Andrew Snelling. I was delighted to receive several friendly responses from Creationists, who I had just criticized in a high-handed manner. The best way to develop one's understanding is a fruitful exchange with someone holding an opposing view - what some of us call a "threshing floor." That will not take place unless we respect those holding other views. The reason there is so little progress in understanding our origins is lack of respect for those with opposing views. 
I did not just write that we must respect every view. Opinions, beliefs, or views must gain our collective respect. We ought to test every view. Let us be rigorous and unsparing in testing beliefs, especially our own, but let us respect those who hold them. Stamping out ignorance (like my view of the atomic processes that create C-14) is not genocide. It is a victory for the cause of science.
It seems that the only teachings concerning origins that have gotten this kind of test are the words of the Bible. The words of the Bible have been hammered and subjected to the fires of the severest criticism. Many of us have learned to revere the words of the Bible, but the Scriptures are capable of defending themselves. "Defend the Bible? I would rather defend a lion!" [Quote from Spurgeon] So, what am I doing? Not apologetics, which would not be needed were the Bible's words actually and properly used. I aim to use those words to discover our past and help stamp out the darkness that keeps us from knowing it.
The term Creationist may be confusing. The above table (from my book) shows that almost every view about origins that is held today is in some sense a Creationist view. It may shock Darwinists to be described as "Creationists." They do have a different Creator: Chance and Nature. By contrast the Aristotelian view, long the chief contender to the view of origins in the Bible, was not Creationist. Aristotle believed the world to be eternal and uncreated. Rather than created, most philosophers, Eastern and pagan religions have believed the world either eternal, cyclical, or episodic. But Darwin and most of modern science hold that linear view of time that is in fact rooted in the Bible. Darwin's mentor Charles Lyell disliked his student's theory because it reminded him of the progressive Creationists (see below), a view obtained from using the light of the Bible.
Today, the term Creationist is becoming ever more restricted to the views of the Young Earth Creationist. This young earth view is rapidly taking hold with evangelicals, though around the middle of the twentieth century the term evangelical was adopted by Billy Graham and the National Association of Evangelicals specifically to distance themselves from this view! They found it embarrassing due to what they saw as its "negative view of science." In the eighties, due to an attempt to get their view accepted in public schools, advocates of the young earth view re-baptized it Creationist Science. No wonder folks are confused.
My view (the last on the list) is Creationist in the broad sense. It is how I see the world and mankind's origins in what I trust as the infallible light of the Bible. The Bible explains the heavens and earth as being created together, which explains my 13.7 billion year age of the earth. I don't know whether the 13.7 billion years that is currently used as the age of the universe is even close to being accurate, but the 4.5 billion years currently given as the age of the earth would at best be the age of the rocks that formed during the creation of the earth's crust. This biblical cosmology, more completely explained in my book, better explains the universe as astronomers are coming to know it. Darwinists may not like my disagreeing with their "young earth" view. Creationists are right in saying that a lot of assumptions and circular reasoning go into computing the earth's age.


Instead of Creationist, I would rather describe my view of origins as Biblicist. I cannot assure you that it is the biblical view. It is definitely a biblicist view, to use a word that is not very popular today and which the Creationists seem to ever more avoid. The problem is that my view is also determined by my fallible knowledge of what fallible observers have discovered about the evidence from ancient times. It also incorporates my fallible reading of the Bible.
Unlike the Creationists, I do not claim my view to be scientific. How can anyone studying the earth and its history in the light of what he recognizes as divinely inspired Scripture claim to be scientific? Even worse, I believe in unseen spirits and acts of God that contradict the ordinary pattern of things. I do believe that my view is informed by the best empirical and scholarly evidence, that I use sound reasoning, and try to actually follow what is sometimes called the scientific method (more heralded than actually used). Very early in my scientific career, I grew disillusioned by what I saw as science's dogmatic materialism. I was then a self-described atheist. That led me into philosophy at a time when many other scientists were discovering the same thing due to developments in quantum physics.


In truth, none of these views about our world's origins are scientific in the sense of practical science that is responsible for advances in various technologies. Rather, they are philosophical paradigms that are used for interpreting or dismissing whatever happens to be known about our world's history. Some things however are more simply explained in the light of some of these views than the others. Instantaneous creation better explains why an evolution of species is never seen in the fossil record (Darwin's still missing links). My view that the evidence of the Flood is currently interpreted as the Ice Age explains better than the Creationist view why we do not find the evidence of antediluvian man among the fossils.
If not scientific, my view is perhaps the most historical. I do not mean that my historiography is necessarily or in every instance accurate however much I aim for it to be so. I mean rather to describe how well it connects ancient remains to human history. It is a feature that places it squarely in line with the Bible's own historical view of the world and man, from which linear time and all historical views derive. None of the other views from the Darwinist to the Creationist very well explain how man migrated from the place of his origins to the point where historians first recognize the various nations. 
Best regards,


Philip Williams
* Some describing their view of origins by these names have slight differences from what I list or adjust their beliefs to keep up with what they believe to be the latest scientific claims.
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In this issue
Comparing views of Creation/Flood
Teaching the controversy
Another Noah's Ark discovery?
Progressive Creationism
The other Creationist theories
Teaching the controversy
A great way to learn
Instead of teaching dogma about our view of origins, either evolution or Creationism, advocates of Intelligent Design propose that students be taught the controversy: the case for and against evolution. Polls show that most Americans agree. We do not like our beliefs about origins to be dictated.
Should there be any doubt that our state-supported scientific establishment is in reality a state-supported priesthood, the fact that the scientific establishment wants evolution taught as dogma should remove all doubt. Formerly, advocates of the teaching of evolution decried proscription of the teaching of evolution by calling for academic freedom. 
Even so, as the table above shows, more than one type of Creationism needs to be taught. There is also need for teaching different theories of evolution, why some evolutionists hold to the theory of punctuated evolution to explain why evolution is never seen in the fossil record.
Teaching these controversies is also a great way of teaching both evolution and Creation. You may be surprised to learn that I began my search for the archaeological evidence of a worldwide Flood as a theistic evolutionist. That changed one day in the early nineties when I heard Phillip Johnson interviewed on NPR. This Professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Law is the founder of the Intelligent Design movement. I discovered that I believed in evolution not because I knew too much, but because I knew too little. Moreover, almost everything that I knew about evolution was false. I still have the little book that I read more than fifty years ago that convinced me of evolution.
I suspect that most Christians who believe in evolution are a lot like me. They have been taught the arguments for evolution. They have never seen these arguments demolished, nor have they seen the case for Creation in the fossil record. It may be because they suppose the alternative to evolution to be the kind of Creationism that is being increasingly identified as Young Earth Creationism. 

Another Noah's Ark discovery?

Not really, but there was an announcement made this past Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. by Hawaiian businessman Daniel McGivern: the "finding" of a 24X123 piece of the Ark less than 400 feet from the summit of Mt. Ararat. If he indeed has radar that can distinguish frozen wood from icy soil and rocks under 100 feet of ice, NAMI could sure use it., but it seems to be the same "Ark" that Randall Price has found. As mentioned in my book, what they have found but cannot see 100 feet below the surface is likely the mountain. 
This hastily arranged announcement appears to be a response to my mention last week that rival Ark searchers seem to be giving up on their own searches. It is not just that the announced expedition leader, Dick Bright, is a colleague of Drs. Price and Patton and captain of those "Indiana Jones" Ark searchers referenced in my newsletter, but someone's use of Dr. Andrew Snelling in 

 CBN's coverage of this press report.
Has Dr. Snelling changed his mind about Noah's Ark not landing on Mt. Ararat, about bold and spectacular claims, especially when made in the interest of the Bible? Dr. Snelling does seem to have changed on the latter, but his careful words hardly mention the discovers' claims. Why then this use of a geologist who does not believe that Noah's Ark landed on the mountain where these explorers claim they have found it?
Progressive Creationism 
What is it? 
The term Progressive Creation dates to about the middle of the twentieth century, but this view of origins in fact derives from several centuries of studying the earth in the light of the Bible: which rocks belong to the initial Creation, what was deposited by Noah's Flood, and what was deposited in antediluvian or post-Flood times. The geological column was an expansion of this pattern from the light of the Bible. 


The progressive development of the geological column had to compete with Aristotelian geology that saw no history in what it taught as an eternal pattern of growing and eroding mountains. Progressive creation was also opposed by Deists like Darwin's mentor Charles Lyell, who denied that that the earth's rocks and fossils showed a history of development. Lyell believed that the earth's processes were cyclical.


The fossil record was key to the victory of the progressive creationists. The earth's deepest fossils were those of shells and fish. Those of creatures like dinosaurs appear at higher levels. Even higher were the fossils of mammals. Last to appear was evidence of man. Understanding as is widely believe today that dinosaurs were birds, this aligns with the biblical order of Creation. The modern forms of fish and birds appear prior to the appearance of the mammals, showing that God's fifth and sixth workdays were indeed distinct.


A great victory of the progressive creationists was in proving against evolutionists that many animal species once living had gone extinct. Lamarck, the great champion of the evolutionists, declared that species do not go extinct but rather evolve. The question was settled decisively in favor of the progressive creationists by Georges Cuvier, the founder of paleontology. Cuvier used a mummified ancient cat recovered by Napoleon's soldiers to demonstrate that evolution is not occurring among the modern kinds of animals. This did not mean that species or subspecies whether produced by animal breeders or natural selection do in fact share common ancestors among the created kinds of life.

NAMI's Ark documentary
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The other Creationist views 
Explaining the Gap (ruin and restoration) and Framwork interpretations of Genesis

For most of the twentieth century, the popular interpretation of Genesis among the most conservative Christians was an old-earth view known as ruin and restoration. This was a teaching also employed by medieval rabbis and increasingly favored from the late eighteenth century that saw a great gap between the first and second verses of Genesis. Advocates of this view taught that God's initial Creation was ruined by the rebellion of the Devil and his angels, leading to the chaos mentioned in the second verse. This led to a second creation as described in the following verses. 


The teaching became popular among the most conservative Christians due to its mention in the highly popular Scofield Reference Bible. Another reason for its increasing popularity is that it explained what discoveries were making clear: an earth far older than man. My problem with the view is that it means that the Bible fails to give a good account of Creation.


Recently, another ancient interpretation of Genesis has been revived to explain what are seen as great differences between the teachings of science and those of the Bible. The Framework view was first put forward by Augustine of Hippo. It explains the days of Genesis as in fact different days when the Lord revealed his Creation to Moses. On these different days, God simply revealed to Moses different things that he had created without specifically mentioning the order of his Creation. That makes the Bible compatible with almost any scientific view, especially if one sees God creating through secondary causes - the laws of science. If science is our authority for origins, we just ought to honestly say so. 

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Christian Leaders & Scholars is the newsletter and publication site of Philip Ernest Williams, author of The Archaeological Evidence of Noah's Flood (2011). The site is also a ministry not only to Christian leaders and scholars but all who are interested in the more difficult issues pertaining to the Bible and its implications for science and history. (Read more)