Mohler Responds to Giberson

In short, Mohler concedes an historical detail but presses Giberson on the larger theological point. Giberson and the folks at BioLogos need to grapple with the substance of Mohler’s argument. The dating of Darwin’s lapse into unbelief is not what this debate is about.

60 Responses to Mohler Responds to Giberson

  1. Derek August 25, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    Mohler’s letter is a helpful overview of Darwin’s biography. Giberson’s spin on Darwin seems hard to reconcile with the broader context of his life and upbringing, particularly given the strong Unitarian connections.

  2. Nate August 25, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    As has been the case since Origins of the Spieces was written, followers of Darwin use rhetoric over facts to expound their evolutionary agenda, even to the point of attempting to view Darwin as a “religious” young man who was really attempting to assist the church.

    Brian McLaren follows a similar ruse today.

  3. Steve Potts August 25, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    The divisiveness and dogmatism on both sides of this debate–Dr. Mohler’s insistence on Young Earth Creationism and Dr. Giberson’s advocacy of theistic evolution–is unfortunate. General revelation does not “trump” special revelation, but it must inform our interpretation of special revelation. Christians who rejected Galileo’s correction of the geocentric view of the solar system thought they were being faithful to a literal interpretation of the Bible, but they were mistaken. To insist that only young earth creationists can truly be faithful inerrantists and consistent evangelicals is unnecessarily provocative and divisive. Many of the leaders of the inerrancy debate among evangelicals were not young earth creationists, such as Walter Kaiser, Gleason Archer, Norman Geisler, Millard Erickson, as well as J.I. Packer, and other that Dr. Mohler mentioned in his orginal address. The list of conservative Christian scholars who are not young creationists is substantial. Certainly all of them could be wrong about this, but to indicate that denial of young earth creationism will inevitably undermine Christian orthodoxy and is tantamount to rejection of inerrancy is unfair, untrue, and unwise. Dr. Giberson and some others at Biologos may indeed reject inerrancy or at least some definitions of it, but this does not mean that all old earth creationists or even all theistic evolutionists do. Can we tone down the harsh edges of this debate and recognize that solid evangelicals and (Southern Baptist for that matter)have a diversity of views on the precise ways to reconcile Scripture and science? Is it wise to draw the lines of acceptable interpretations on this matter even tighter and push those who aren’t young creationists out? Shouldn’t we instead strengthen the common ground between all evangelicals who heartily affirm that we believe in our glorious Creator?

    Steve Potts
    pastor, Westwood Baptist Church
    Birmingham, Alabama

  4. Donald Johnson August 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Mohler wrote: “The theory of evolution is incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ even as it is in direct conflict with any faithful reading of the Scriptures.”

    These are bold claims that Mohler makes. My preference would have been for him to say he “could not see how …”.

  5. Nate August 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    How are these bold claims? What in Scripture would lead you to believe we are descendants of apes? If not, then the gospel needs to be shared with apes and any other organism linked to man. Man is the pinnacle of creation and has no connection to animals, other than we are to be stewards of the earth as we rule over them (Gen 1:26-28).

    Donald, seriously, are you even hinting that man can into being other than by the direct hand of God from the dust of the earth? (Gen 2:7)

  6. RD August 25, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    I think Giberson made a huge mistake by making the biographical accuracy of Darwin the subject of his letter in the HP. And Dr. Mohler has followed him down the pointless path of trying to show (or not show) what kind of Christian Darwin was or wasn’t. The very crux of the difference between Giberson and Mohler is the issue of evolution itself and whether or not an old earth view can be compatible with the Gospel of Jesus. I hope that both men continue the dialogue but I hope they steer the conversation in the direction of theology and away from who knows the most about Charles Darwin and what kind of Christian Darwin was or wasn’t.

  7. Nate August 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Old Earth advocates are not heretical, unless, they hold to Darwinian evolution as the vehicle of the formation of man.

  8. RD August 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    “..are you even hinting that man [came] into being other than by the direct hand of God from the dust of the earth?”

    I don’t presume to speak for Donald on this question, and hope he sees the question and offers his own response. My take on it, though, is that there was no historical first man and woman from whom all human beings are thus genetically linked to. I think Adam and Eve are literary figures used by ancient Hebrews to address the larger issues of where humans came from, why people and plants and animals (but, mostly, people) die, where the earth came from, etc. And the stories of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel are literary narratives that explain the theology of why people commit horrible acts against other people; even people they dearly love.

  9. Chris Garner August 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    But if Gen 1-3 is a just a literary device then it really doesn’t address any the issues you claim it does. If it’s just a literary device then the story of creation is nothing more than a myth and doesn’t explain any theology at all.

  10. Nate August 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    RD: Then you are against the gospel. There would be, under your scenario, no reason for a second Adam (Christ) to come and lay down His life as a substitute for the sin of Adam to those who will receive Him. It would all simply be a literary device to show that mankind desires to reach up to God. Of course, if the word of God is simply a literary device, then God is as well.

  11. Donald Johnson August 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    The Bible speaks of God creating/bara and forming/yatsar humans. Forming is something humans also do, like forming a bowl from clay, but bara/creating is something only God does.

    The Bible claims that God created/bara and formed humans and I believe that, but there are a multitude of ways God could have accomplished that. If you look at the other ways these words are used in the Bible, they can take time and be indirect.

  12. Nate August 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    Donald, the Hebrew specifically says that he formed man from the “dust” (the earth, debris from the earth) of the “ground” (land). What multiple ways do you think this could have come about without a miracle, there is absolutely no insinuation that evolution from another animal is taking place here. This is divine creation.

  13. Donald Johnson August 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Psa 95:5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

    Here is an example of the use of the word formed/yatsar elsewhere. Ask yourself how dry land forms, it forms by water going downhill to the oceans. Yet God is said to have formed it with his hands.

    For me, this is an anthropomophism, as God is spirit and does not really have hands to form anything. God is involved, yet it can look like entirely natural processes (e.g., water going down to the sea) to us.

  14. Donald Johnson August 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Amo 4:13 For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth– the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!

    Here is an example using both forms and creates. Mountain formation and wind creation are normally seen as natural processes today, but God is involved.

  15. Nate August 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Who cares? Genesis chapter two says that God used the dust of the earth. It says it twice in Gen 2:7.

    Donald, you are drudging up a straw-man to avoid the direct question. Do you believe man to be an evolutionary figure, descended from other life forms, or do you believe that God created and formed man uniquely and distinct.

  16. RD August 25, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    “the Hebrew specifically says that he formed man from the “dust” (the earth, debris from the earth) of the “ground” (land). What multiple ways do you think this could have come about without a miracle, there is absolutely no insinuation that evolution from another animal is taking place here. This is divine creation.”

    Donald is right. There is much in scripture that attributes God with human characteristics (a voice, hands etc). Nate, the bottom line is that you read scripture and take the words to be literal. If it says God “breathed” life into dust, then that’s how it happened. Other Christians are not as comfortable with that kind of literalism.

    I think that true theology requires us to start from scratch, to approach our study of God and faith with no preconceived ideas. We have to approach the text and see what it says (and what it means within the cultural context of its day). When you read the scriptures (without bringing a preconceived understanding of, as Dr. Mohler lists, “creation, fall, redemption and completion”) you see that in Genesis there is no discussion of sin leading to eternal/spiritual death (and certainly not for all of humanity from Adam onward), in the OT there is no belief among the ancient Hebrews in hell. There are no demons or notions of demonic battles in the OT. In fact, even Satan is rarely discussed in the OT. It is only much later in Hebrew history (during the reign of the Persians who conquered Babylon) that the ideas of Satan begin to appear in the Biblical narrative. If this is the case, if the idea of an original fall is the product of much later Jewish thinking, then we have to honestly look at how a fact like that impacts our theology. I don’t think God would have us approach it any other way.

  17. Chris August 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Donald, I think where your logic fails is in the assumption that the natural processes of nature post Fall is the same processes that God used in creation.

    In Genesis 3 we see that the created natural order which was created perfectly good has changed due to humanities sin:

    17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

    18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

    19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

  18. Nate August 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    RD: It is all a literary device for you so you are free to make it into whatever you contrive. That has already been established by you. This is not a historical view of Scripture and you cannot cite the apostles, Paul, the early church fathers, or the Reformers to support your argument. As I said earlier, you are against the gospel. Yours is a “coming to God” of your own choosing and as you said you think God is cool with you approaching it that way.

    In approaching theology with no preconceived notions you come to the study as your own god. If you can approach the text without an understanding that is in the infallible, inerrant, word of God, then you have already determined that God is what you will make of Him, not what He will tell you He is.

  19. RD August 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    “Four great challenges to the traditional reading of Genesis have emerged in the last 200 years or so….The first of these is the discovery of the geological record…The second great challenge was the emergence of Darwin’s theory of evolution…The third great challenge in terms of the traditional understanding of Genesis came with the discovery of ancient near eastern parallels to the Genesis account…The fourth great challenge to the traditional interpretation of Genesis was the development of higher criticism, and in particular the development of the documentary hypothesis…These four movements together were devastating in terms of the larger Western consciousness to the traditional interpretation of Genesis. When you add together fossils, Darwin, ancient near eastern parallels, and the documentary hypothesis, you have a brew for a massive shift in understanding. Now when we ask the question, “Why does the universe look so old?” we’re asking it over against these challenges…” -from Dr. Mohler’s speech.

    But, what if every one of these four challenges are absolutely true? Dr. Mohler acts as if these challenges are all totally false and specifically designed to oppose the Gospel. But, what it they are true?! We have to be willing to examine our theology in light of new understanding if we are to approach theology honestly. What if we were to hear people making statements like “the idea that you can flip a switch and have light in your house at night is crazy. The idea that you can speak into a plastic mouthpiece and talk to someone across the ocean is crazy. The fact that the moon is made of rock and not cheese is crazy. The idea that over 100 people at one time will get in a contraption and be able to fly across the ocean is crazy.” We would think they they were hopelessly misinformed and out of touch with modern understanding and modern reality. All new discoveries are met with a certain amount of scorn and durission, especially by those who are staunchly entrenched in a pre-existing paradigm.

  20. RD August 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

    18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

    19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

    Chris, Thanks for posting these verses.

    No mention of hell.

    This is a clear literary narrative of why it’s so difficult to grow crops in the arrid middle eastern desert, why life is hard and survival is tough and what happens when we die (according to ancient Hebrew teaching).

  21. Donald Johnson August 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm #


    I am not dodging any question, I am trying to show you what the words mean in the Bible according to the Bible itself.

    Your question assumes that there must be a dichotomy, a choice of one or the other, but not both. Some atheists will say one must choose and cannot have both, and some Bible literalists will say the same.


    Were there thorns and thistles before the fall?

  22. Chris August 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Donald according to the text no, but what is your point?

    RD what does that have to do with the Middle East or any specific geographic location? What has happened is that nature and humanity now have an adversarial relationship.

    Also there is no use of the “word” hell but what is your point?

  23. D.J. Williams August 25, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    I’m an old-earther, but I’ll take Dr. Mohler over the BioLogos guys any day of the week. The tone of the Huffington Post piece, and BioLogos’s handling of Scripture in general, is embarrassing.

  24. RD August 26, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Chris, My point is that when we use the Genesis narrative as the basis of original sin that leads to hell for an unbeliever, we are reading a concept into the text that is clearly not there. God makes no mention of an afterlife for humans. He plainly states that Adam came from dust and, when he died, he would return to dust. NO mention of hell. A study of ancient Israelite religion can trace the developement of the idea of hell to a time when the Persians were ruling the Israelites in conquered Babylon. Christian writers like Brian McLaren are addressing what is plainly on the minds of many Christians (and many people who are seeking God and considering what it means to be a Christian) and that is, how do we answer these very real questions concerning the notion of original sin. Can we go back to the Genesis story and really see that God is declaring this idea? Or is God saying in this narrative, mankind will always struggle to sustain life on earth. It will never be easy, it will always require the sweat of the brow, there will always be natural adversaries man must confront (weather, animals, other tribes of peoples, sickness, etc). This is a the story of why life is what it is.

  25. Nate August 26, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    RD: Clearly then you do not see Jesus as Divine, because He spoke often of hell. (Matt 5:22,29,30; Matt 18:9; Matt 23:33), just to name a few. Furthermore, Peter referenced hell in the Old Testament in 2 Pet 2:4-10). And since the New Testament writers have divine insight, they actually interpret the Old Testament for us.

    As you already established yesterday, you don’t believe the bible to be the word of God, but a literary device. If you do believe parts are actually “God-breathed”, then you devise them in your own vanity, thereby providing this forum with little insight.

    This is a discussion on old-earth vs. young-earth, not the validity of scripture. As I said yesterday, any old-earth advocate that holds to Darwinian evolution as the means of the formation of Adam is a heretic. The old-earth position is not heretical, but to claim that Adam evolved from apes is heretical.

    Brian McLaren is a heretic who is leading people astray from the gospel that can save them.

  26. Nate August 26, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    Donald, you are dodging the question. Just because a poem uses anthropormorphic language of the same Hebrew word does not negate the word being used in a narrative like Genesis 1 and 2. That is, unless you believe Genesis 1 and 2 to be a poem. The Amos passage is a direct comparison and would hold to the same definition being use in the language of Genesis 1 and 2.

    Nevertheless, I asked you a direct question, “Is man an evolutionary figure?” Or was he divinely and uniquely created from the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7)? It is a simple question of your understanding of the Genesis narrative (again, unless you don’t believe Genesis 1 and 2 to be narrative).

  27. Donald Johnson August 26, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    I see that there are covenental structures to the Pentateuch and that this is deliberate. Part of this are covenant preambles, which are the toledots (generations).

    I see Gen 12 and following as historical narrative inside of those overall structures. I see Gen 1-11 as narrative with poetic elements and/or poetic narrative. The flood story is a massive chiasm, as far as I know the largest in the Bible. Believers can disagree over what is poetry and what is not, just like they can disagree over end times things.

    I mostly agree with Biologos and admire their efforts, altho they do make mistakes. Atheists and some believers who understand Gen 1-11 differently than I do claim that one needs to choose between faith and modern science, but I agree with Biologos in that I want to choose both. I do not have all the answers.

  28. Donald Johnson August 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    Giberson responds to Mohler.

  29. Nate August 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Donald: you should be a politician with your ability to avoid the obvious questions put to you.

    Let me respond to your post in similar fashion. Since Gen 1-11 is a poetic narrative, (or a valid narrative when you should so choose), the genealogy at the end of Gen 11 is just a depiction of a godly line, not a real genealogy. Therefore Gen 12 cannot be viewed as historical narrative unless you want to identify Abram as the first legitimate person in the Bible, and by doing so, you are now the authority on who and who is not a real person in the scripture. Moreover, as you pointed out earlier, God does not have a mouth, therefore He cannot speak to Abram in Gen 12:1, because you have already declared Gen 2 to be poetic in its structure and the same word for speaking is used in Genesis 2 when God speaks to Adam (and since Adam is not a man, therefore God is not really speaking). This was your argument to me previously. Therefore, this (Gen 12:1), is merely a device to describe Abram’s search for truth. So Gen 12 and following is really just a quest of a man (whose name might be Abram, but since the Hebrew means “exalted father” it is probably just a depiction of all fathers in search of truth). And since there is a toledot of the generations of Abram as well, it’s simply a depiction of a covenant that men use as they attempt to find God.

  30. Kyle Roberts August 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    It seems to me that Dr. Mohler and other young earth/ young universe creationists need to deal with Gibberson’s substantive claim (detailed in his first open letter) that if creation is actually very young, when it appears to be very old, then we have been deceived. It’s strange that evangelicals who are concerned that God would never deceive in special revelation don’t appear to share the same concern when it comes to general revelation. I’m sure there are substantive counter-replies from creationists to this point, so it would be helpful to hear those.

  31. Nate August 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    Kyle, you would need to expand on your question in order to get a better response. Where in the bible does it say that we should be able to know all of God’s way? (Isa 55:8-9) Where does it say that our understanding can supercede His wisdom? Job 38:1-2; Job 38:4-5, essentially all of chapter 38, but specifically enough Job 38:1-22.

    That’s part of the problem Kyle with those who think science must answer all questions, as if, science is more powerful than a Creator God. Even in special revelation evangelicals don’t attempt to truly understand the incarnation or the trinity (because it is beyond our capabilities in toto), we merely have faith (given to us by the grace of God) so that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died but has rose again and gives eternal life to all those who receive Him in faith. (Rom 10:9-10)

    I don’t have to question miracles in the bible because I believe that God does what He wills. (Ps 115:3) God specifically says that the gospel (and I would argue all of Scripture) is foolishness to those who are perishing. (1 Cor 1:18-25). It is by faith we believe, not by science. (Heb 11:1-3) Cain and Abel are not poetry, but people. (Heb 11:4) Enoch really did not die (Heb 11:5), and the flood of Noah is true (Heb 11:7). Because without faith you will not please God. (Heb 11:6)

    Science is a gift from God; not God.

  32. Chris August 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Kyle my biblical view on this is that it is not God that would be the deceiver but Satan or sin that is deceiving.

    If one looks at Genesis we see:

    – The Serpant is the deceiver
    – A result of humanities disobedience is a change in the perfectly good created order

    Therefore one can make a strong theological and logical supposition that the Enemy would and could manipulate this change in the created order as a weapon to deceive humanity.

    Since nature’s behavior itself has changed it’s no stretch to believe that what we observe and analyze through the man made discipline of science cannot be the absolute truth of God.

    Even physicists admit the laws of physics breakdown around the singularity of a black hole.

    So while our limited scientific knowledge may lead us to attach age to our universe based on our own scientific methods we cannot say that we are seeing God’s truth in our own conclusions.

  33. Donald Johnson August 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm #


    In your post 29 you go much further than I do or would. I think you are trying to show your case by a reduction to absurdity argument.

    On science, I do not see God being a deceiver, tricking up into thinking the universe is old when it is really very young, I accept the evidence for a very old universe and very old earth. There are many, many evidences for an old earth, many of which were not even suspected of existing when the first ideas were forming pushing back time into deep time.

    For me, that means I cannot read the Genesis origins stories in the literalist way that you and Mohler seem to do. Maybe Mohler and yourself would abandon the faith if you could not read these stories that way, in that case, by all means keep your faith. But do not think others are required to follow you in doing this or else they are not being faithful or worse, heretical.

  34. Donald Johnson August 26, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    is Enn’s response to Mohler’s talk. He asks some specific questions about Scripture interpretation that others here may wish to answer.

  35. Nate August 27, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    Donald, just because I went further than you do (and I did to make a point) does not mean that you still have refused to answer the pointed question. I simply replied to you in like manner.

    To then bring Kyle’s question into our discussion is another means to avoid the issue. As for your link and the reply to Mohler, Enns uses a very similar subterfuge (as you have been doing) in avoiding the issue. To insinuate that Job 26:12-13, Ps 74:13-14; 89:10 and other passages are speaking about creation is absurd. They speak in poetic terms of God’s power, but it is a farce to say these passages are speaking of creation.

    Furthermore, even though I went further than you did, you can’t deny (although you will certainly avoid) the issues I laid out about reading Gen 1-11 from a poetic narrative standpoint, the inability to sustain credibility in who is and who is not a “real” person, and then simply to assert that Abram in Gen chapter 12 is the beginning of true history.

    Moreover, since you brought Kyle’s question into the discussion, then answer the statement in Heb 11:4 where the writer (who is clearly writing narrative) speaks of Cain and Abel as historical figures. So do believe Cain and Able or Enoch (Heb 11:7) to be historical figures in Gen 1-11? Are they part of your “narrative with poetic elements”? And if Cain and Abel are real historical figures, how can Adam and Eve not be, since Scripture says that Eve gave birth to them? Or will you now declare that Hebrews 11 is not narrative?

    As I have said all through this thread, I don’t claim that those holding to an Old Earth position are heretical. I do understand there can be disagreement over the age of the earth just like the end of time. However the overwhelming majority of those who hold to an old earth believe that man is unique among the creation, so I will stand on the statement that I have asserted and you have refused to answer…

    If Adam or whomever you want to call the “first” man is a product of Darwinian evolution they are a heretic. So what say you (for about the 4th or 5th time)? Is man a byproduct of Darwinian evolution or is he a uniquely created human, who is separate from the animals, never came from the animals, and was created and formed by God apart from evolution?

  36. RD August 27, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    “So do believe Cain and Able or Enoch (Heb 11:7) to be historical figures in Gen 1-11? Are they part of your “narrative with poetic elements”? And if Cain and Abel are real historical figures, how can Adam and Eve not be, since Scripture says that Eve gave birth to them? Or will you now declare that Hebrews 11 is not narrative?”

    There is no way to know any of this with absolute certainty (in the way we can prove, say, who your great grandfather was). My own belief, after carefully reading the passages concerning Cain and Abel, are that they are NOT actual people, but were literary characters in a narrative. After the Cain and Abel account in Genesis, they are never mentioned again (that I can see) in the Old Testament. In fact, Genesis chapters 4 and 5 clearly indicate different writers at work. Gen 5 begins, “This is the written account of Adam’s line.” and then begins with the birth of Seth. No mention at all of Cain or Abel. And, future OT geneaologies do not lead back to Cain. The whole account of Cain and Abel is a self-contained narrative.

  37. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    The Hebrew word tanniyn found in Ps 74:13-14 is the same word found in Gen 1:21 so it is relevant to discuss Ps 74 and how it relates to Creation. Translations can obscure this by using different words for the same Hebrew word.

    The Hebrews thought that each of the 3 kingdoms of air, ground, and seas had a large being at the top of the food pyramid. The one for the water is mentioned in Gen 1. So Gen is using conceptual ideas to say God create/put-in-order everything, including the top of the food pyramids, as the Hebrews thought of them. Now it is at least a question whether this thousands of years old viewpoint is correct from a scientific viewpoint. I think it is not, but that does not mean the Bible is wrong, it means the Bible used the ideas of the people to whom it was written at the time it was written.

  38. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    Similarly, the firmament was thought to be a hard shell, after all that is what the sky looks like and is why planetariums work. That is, the Bible uses terms that describe how the heavens APPEAR, not necessarily how the heavens are. And this is true for many other things in the Bible. Does this mean the Bible is wrong, no it does not. It means it used conceptual categories that were in use at the time it was written.

  39. Nate August 27, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    RD: It is already well established by you that you do not believe the bible to be the word of God. So I would not expect any other answer from you on this matter, which is fine. We know where you stand. I appreciate your candidness. However, from as Denny pointed out in his thread today the bible speaks throughout Scripture of Adam being a real person. 1 Chronicles 1:1, Luke 3:38, Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 11:8-12, 15:22, 15:45, 1 Timothy 2:13-14, Jude 1:14.

    Donald, as I stated you would, you have avoided the direct questions, both of Adam’s origin and Hebrews 11. We have already established that the use of a word in poetry does not necessitate the same meaning in narrative. You, however, unlike RD, continue to dodge answering straightforwardly. Why is that? It’s not like I am anybody. Why can’t you simply tell us plainly what you believe about these matters? Is Hebrews 11 narrative? Are Cain and Abel real or imiginary people, if real, then how can Adam not be? If not real, is the author of Hebrews confused?

  40. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    I am not sure and am undecided.

    I am not sure if some people in Gen 1-11 existed or if they were “according to appearances”. I think Moses and later redactors wrote Genesis. He wrote inside the conceptual worldview of the ancient near east, so we should read it using that worldview as much as possible and not our modern one. His text attacked other paradigms such a polytheism and tiered strata of people into VIPs and commoners.

  41. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 10:06 am #


    Do you believe the firmament and Leviathan exist?

  42. Nate August 27, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    I do tend to believe that it is quite possible and probable that there was a firmament that encapsulated the earth pre-flood, perhaps like a greenhouse. It would assist in explaining Gen 6:11 in the floodgates of heaven opening. As for the Leviathan, I do believe it to be a literal beast. There are many extinct species we know nothing about. I have no reason to doubt that creatures existed at the time of Abraham (most probably Job’s timeframe) that do not exist any longer.

  43. Nate August 27, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    Sorry Gen 7:11

  44. Nate August 27, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Donald, so what about Hebrews 11? Is the writer speaking of non-real people?

  45. RD August 27, 2010 at 11:06 am #


    I emphatically do believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. I just don’t think that in order for it to be considered inspired by God that it has to absolutely be read literally in every instance.

  46. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 11:08 am #


    The way you (apparently) try to reconcile the Bible with science is often termed concordism. I see this as a very flawed method of dealing with science as it is full of special cases, God doing things that result in deceiving us. Since I do not think God is a deceiver, I cannot go that route.

    On the people in Heb 11 that are in Gen 1-11, I am not sure. I think it likely Noah existed in a local flood.

    Do you think there are ANY “according to appearances” persons in the Bible?

  47. Nate August 27, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    I have already commented that I do not see God as deceiving me simply because I cannot understand Him fully. I don’t even pretend to think that God has to reveal His full knowledge to us.

    As far as Hebrews 11 goes you do have a conundrum. I’m not even sure how you could support a hermeneutic that would say Noah was real, but Cain, Abel, and Enoch were not, in attempting to exegete Hebrews 11.

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by according to appearance people? Other than angels who appear as men (Gen 18:1-2 for example), I would have to say no. Can you help me understand your question more.

    RD: Forgive me if I have misunderstood you, but you did say that Scripture was a literary device. How do you decide which narratives are true and which narratives are ficticious? Is it just you who gets to choose? Is it simply left to everyone to decide for themselves? We are not speaking about poetry, parables, or prophecy, but narratives.

  48. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    God is infinite and I am finite, so I have no chance in understanding ALL of God, but God chooses to reveal God in general and special revelation.

    An “according to appearances” person would be a person who is like Leviathan or the firmament, not really existing but thought to have existed in the ANE. But you think Leviathan and the firmament existed in some form.

  49. Brian Krieger August 27, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    I do hesitate to chime into a very well worn debate, but…..
    I’ve heard the God deceiving part a few times (not just here, natch). I don’t get that conclusion. In a nutshell, our view of life here is based on a fantastically incomplete set of knowledge and that conclusion (deception) leans towards a reduction of the incredible power of God and an elevation of what we see as well. Dr. Mohler did specifically address this (one of his first points). In a fantastically crude analogy, if I send my sister flowers on her anniversary, she would say that, judging from evidence, her husband sent them (her husband always sends her flowers on their anniversary, he always uses a particular florist, he always sends her favorites). I haven’t deceived her, she made assumptions (well thought out, but still faulty). Furthermore, I sent her a note that said it was I who sent them. She wouldn’t protest saying no, they must be from her husband, nor would she call me a deceiver. Furthermore, what you say tends towards the idea (to me, overtly says) that if science says something should be, then it must always have been that way and always should in all circumstances. This brings a Jeffersonian view to the bible, since miracles would be deceptive (science says people can’t raise from the dead, water doesn’t turn into wine, the sick don’t have demons, water-soaked meat cannot combust, etc.). The view of aging the earth is rife with assumptions on our part. We have an incomplete knowledge. The great liar is there, prodding and saying did indeed he say… Now, all of that said, I’m not saying that this is a proof of YEC, I just think the deception bit is at best a shaky argument.

  50. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    There are more and more people that were taught YEC being the only faithful option and end up looking at the (overwhelming) evidence and have a crisis of faith, since they have been taught YEC is the only faithful option. Some then drop Christianity (which I think it a shame) and some drop YEC.

    I highly recommend “Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology and Biblical Interpretation” by Godfrey and Smith. It describes how 2 YEC people were “dragged kicking” into dropping YEC understanding of Scripture. I also hear good things about “The Bible, Rocks and Time” by Young but have not read it yet.

  51. Nate August 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    “There are more and more people that were taught YEC being the only faithful option and end up looking at the (overwhelming) evidence and have a crisis of faith, since they have been taught YEC is the only faithful option.”

    Please! How many people are being fooled into believing that Darwinism is a proven fact (which it isn’t) and that it has all the answers because, well, science knows more today than those who wrote the bible? Because of this they lose their faith in God and turn into secular humanists.

    Please, poll after poll shows that evangelicals believe in a literal creation over evolution. Among all Americans, 55% in a 2006 CBS news poll said they believed in a literal creation, only 13% believed in Darwinian evolution as the source of the creation of man.

  52. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm #


    People usually take small steps. I agree that YEC as a paradigm is totally incompatible with an evolutionary creation paradigm, since the later assumes deep time. First one needs to evaluate the evidence for deep time before one would even consider the latter.

    I wish no believers became secular humanists, but some do as they see no other faithful option. This is why I see the common YEC claim of “my way or the highway” as so harmful.

  53. Nate August 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    YEC people don’t claim universally my way or the highway. As I have stated multiple times on this thread and the majority of the YEC advocates agree, an old earth creation is not a problem (even if we think it is not the best way). However darwinian evolution and Christianity is incompatible. It is heresy. There is a huge difference between an old earth belief system and darwinian evolution.

  54. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Yes, one first needs to accept an old earth in order to even discuss darwinian possibilities.

    The way I would word it is darwinian evolution and some forms of Bible literalism are incompatible. As you think that Bible literalism is the only way to be a faithful believer, then you deduce your claim about Christianity.

  55. RD August 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    “YEC people don’t claim universally my way or the highway.”


    Dr. Mohler made a claim very close to that when he said that the idea of an old earth and an evolutionary explanation of the developement of the creation was completely incompatible with the gospel of Jesus. If the president of one of the major seminaries within the largest protestant denomination in the country says that if you believe in the science of evolution then there is no way you can also believe the gospel of Jesus what are people to think who see the scientific data, find it compelling and decide that it is very very plausible?

  56. Derek August 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Young Earth Creationists are not “literalists”, at least not in the pejorative sense that Donald Johnson and Giberson imply. We believe that Scripture uses many symbols and metaphors and idiomatic statements that have to be understood in context and in light of the literary method (of the author).

    So the claim that YECs are “literalists” is extremely simplistic and even unfair.

    Genesis 1-11 does follow a pattern we see with other Creation narratives (Mesopotamian), but it is far more specific in describing the characters (including God) and the characters in the narrative. The terminology and writing pattern that Moses used does not automatically lend itself to a symbolic or allegorical reading. At best, such a rendering is problematic and ignores certain cues and patterns that we observe throughout Scripture.

    Just as a person might read a passage of Scripture in an unwarranted literal or wooden manner (e.g. RD’s example of God “knitting” us in the womb in Ps. 139), there can be and are examples where an individual chooses to turn a narrative into something much more abstract and subjective. Indeed, there are dangers to this side of the coin as well – as demonstrated by Giberson.

    Given these considerations, I think it is really sloppy and disingenous to throw around the “literalist” label (in reference to YECs).

  57. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    Here is a quote from Mohler’s Ligonier talk.

    “I want to suggest to you that when it comes to the confrontation between evolutionary theory and the Christian gospel we have a head-on collision.”

  58. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    On my using the term “literalist” I am not trying to be disparaging, I was trying to come up with a distinguishing term on how we read Gen 1-11. I guess I could call myself a “poetical narrativist”, but that sounds too much like puffery to me on first reading. Someone who thinks there is less poetry in Gen 1-11 than me is therefore taking some of the text in a less poetical and more literal way than me. That is all I meant.

    I see signs in the text that Gen 1-11 is NOT to be read as strictly historical narrative, and these signs can get obscured by translations, which lose some things.

  59. Nate August 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    RD: You are correct. An Old Earth theory that declares Darwinian evolution to be the means that mankind came into being IS incompatible with Christianity. It is a Heresy. But the majority of Old Earth Creationists don’t believe that Darwinian evolution is how Adam came into being. They believe that Adam is a historical person and sin (at least man’s sin) originated with Adam. This is a huge difference.

  60. Donald Johnson August 27, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    I guess I am fortunate that God is my judge and not Nate.

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