|Comparing Views* of Creation, Flood
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.
* 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.