To find truth, beliefs must begin with Godís Word
How can I convince my friend that what he believes about origins is wrong? Although he believes in God he tries to explain first origins with Progressive Creation. I am trying to show him that this is really a matter of belief in the Bible and about believing the clear teachings of Genesis chapter one.
I applaud your efforts and your insight in recognizing that this is really an issue of Biblical authority and not just an interesting side issue. I will not address the specific problems with Progressive Creation now but instead will try to answer your question directly about how to convince him.
First, it is important to understand how deeply ingrained the assumption of old earth is in our culture. Unless we recognize that this presupposition is really the heart of the issue then we will be frustrated and confused about how to engage this debate. The assumption of an old earth has become so basic that most people do not realize they are assuming it.
James Hutton (1726-1797), a Scottish physician, popularized the notion of uniformitarianism, which means that present processes have always been the same and to understand the past all you need to do is study present geologic process. The acceptance of uniformitarian ideas and thus long ages caused many theologians to scramble around to find a way to make this "square peg" fit into the "round hole" of the Bible. Most notably is the discredited Gap Theory developed by Scottish theologian Thomas Chalmers in 1817 and recently Progressive Creation promoted reverently by a scientist named Dr. Hugh Ross. (Of course, Hutton was not the first to propose long ages. The ancient Greeks debated this idea long before Hutton.)
I believe the essence of this problem is that it appeals to experts instead of the Bible and the words of Jesus. The admonition of Christ is "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock." In Acts 27 the centurion believed the "expert" instead of the man of God and the result was destruction: "But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship, then by what was being said by Paul." (verse 11).
Scientists can never explain first origins because science deals with the here and now; with observation and repeatable experimentation. Thus, for Christianity to seek knowledge about first origins from any source other than the Bible is futile. The Bible must be the authority in all matters. Someone said, "Give science enough time and it will catch up with the Bible." The Bible is clear, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" Proverbs 1:7. Adding to the Bible with the so-called science of Progressive Creation simply corrupts the clear teachings of Scripture. We must let the Bible speak for itself, then explain science accordingly.
This is the real harm that these compromise views have caused. They have demeaned the truthfulness of Scripture. This admixture of so-called science and the Bible has simply demoted the Bible to just another explanation of naturalistic philosophy. (By "naturalistic philosophy" I mean the concept that all phenomena can be explained by natural processes.) Francis Schaffer said, "Christianity is not just a series of truths but Truth--truth about all reality." Arno Clemens Gaebelein wrote in 1927, "If Christianity is robbed of its supernatural character then it is mere religion and has no more power to save man, to bring the knowledge of God to the starving souls of men, then Buddhism, Brahmanism or Confucianism. This robbery of the supernatural element of Christianity is being carried on today." How much more true is this in the year 2000!
Before you can try to refute Progressive Creation you must try to bring him back to his assumptions. The question to him should be, "Are you starting with the assumption that the Bible is true?" Then you should make it clear to him that relying on modern science is dangerous. Although the founders of modern science were devout Christians (Isaac Newton, John Ray, Robert Boyle, e.g.) science took a left turn with Darwin and Hutton inserted the unconscious assumption of long ages. Accepting this assumption then trying to make the Bible fit it is nothing more than the sin of adding to the Word of God. Revelation 22:18 shows us the gravity of this sin, "I testify to everyone who hears the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add the plagues which are written in this book."
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Perhaps you could get my column published in your local paper, too! Have your newspaper editor contact me. Also, feel free to email me with any of your questions, comments or disagreements.
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen