My Evolving Views on Creationism

Several years ago, I introduced my children to the world of dinosaurs through BBC’s fabulous Walking with DinosaursDVD series. I enjoyed watching their jaws drop as the computer animators brought the extinct animals “back to life,” but I cringed every time the concept of evolution was mentioned, or whenever “XXX million years ago” popped up on the screen. The only reason I allowed those things to be viewed was that I felt I owed my children the benefit of grappling with the same questions I had as a child. It would surely do no good to shelter them from the creation/evolution controversy; I would better serve my children by exposing them to all sides of the issue, thus allowing them to work things out for themselves.During the course of my life as a Christian, I prided myself in looking at every theological issue from as many points of view as possible. I knew that an honest assessment of the facts would require me to know the opposition’s point of view thoroughly and represent it as faithfully as I could. Strangely enough, that approach would make me realize how easy it is to misinterpret Scripture, especially when I (or the opposition) failed to utilize the historico-grammatical method of interpretation and honor the historical and cultural contexts in which the Bible was written.

Using the historico-grammatical method of interpretation in the past, I had tackled the subjects of soteriology and eschatology with vigor, firmly grounding myself in Reformed and preteristic theology after agonizing paradigm shifts. For some reason, however, I was not quite ready to apply the same methodology to the debate over origins and the proper interpretation of Genesis 1. My unwillingness to explore these topics began to crumble as a close friend and I began meeting on a semi-regular basis to discuss all sorts of theological issues. Having considerable respect for my friend’s intelligence and knowing him to be a devout follower of Christ, I figured that questioning my YEC position would probably do me some good.

Approximately one year ago, I began reading David Snoke’s A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, which presented a strong scriptural defense of an old earth. I was still unconvinced, however, of Snoke’s method of explaining the six days of creation as anything other than six, 24-hour days, especially considering the use of the phrase “there was evening and there was morning—the nth day.” At the same time, I was asked to critique and copy-edit Tim Martin and Dr. Jeff Vaughn’s Beyond Creation Science (see cover above). Martin and Vaughn’s arguments began to reinforce those of Snoke’s. It wasn’t long before I went for the “90% solution” and accepted the scientific evidence for an old universe. Still, the proper method of understanding Genesis 1 eluded me. I knew that the historico-grammatical method would prove to be the key, but I didn’t know where to look for resources that used this method faithfully.

Perhaps it was God’s hand that I had just purchased Dr. John H. Walton’s NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, which, coincidentally, my good friend had also purchased. After several conversations on the origins debate, we decided to read the book together. What I read in those first few chapters blew me away. I had discovered the key to resolving (in my own mind) the YEC/OEC controversy!

More on this book’s impact in my next post . . .

7 Comments

Filed under hermeneutics, old-earth creationism, protology

7 Responses to My Evolving Views on Creationism

  1. Tim

    Dr. Walton was a prof of mine in college. I ate breakfast with him every day for two years. He is amazing – and is known as one of the top Old Testament scholars in the World (liberal, conservative, or anything else). I’m sure he’s not always right, but he’s worth reading. I am a boring old traditional creationist, but I look forward to reading your blog.
    Tim

  2. Tim,

    Thanks for dropping by! My brother went to Wheaton, and I’ve always been jealous of the opportunities he had as a student to study under some of those outstanding Bible scholars.

    In an upcoming post, I’ll briefly discuss some of the most important take-aways from Dr. Walton’s commentary. If you’re already familar with Dr. Walton’s interpretation of Genesis 1, I’d love to know what your impression is.

    Also, I’m also curious to know why you consider yourself to be an “old traditional creationist.” Did you merely grow up in the young-earth tradition, or did you examine the other creationist positions before landing in YEC territory?

    Looking forward to the interaction …

  3. You know, I was accepted to the MA program for Biblical Archaeology at Wheaton. I kick myself daily for choosing the historical linguistics degree at UGA that I’m still working on.

    Walton’s Genesis commentary is really very good. His take on Genesis 1, in particular, is superb. As often as I get a chance, I like to link to an hour-long Flash presentation by Dr. Walton that served as my introduction to his view.

    I described this view to a postgrad student in ANE studies at a secular university, and he didn’t seem too wowed: he said that this was not a unique interpretation, but was in fact a quite common view in the scholarly world. I wondered, “Why haven’t most Christians even heard of it?” The unfortunate answer is that Warfield’s words have yet to sink in to the Church: we’ll have our literalism or else.

  4. Steve,

    I’m only 3 minutes into the presentation and all I can say is, “I’m gonna send this to everyone who is scratching their head over my conversion to EC!”

    During my Christmas shopping at Borders last month, I ran across a large coffee table book called Biblica: The Bible Atlas. I turned to the chapter on Genesis and creation, and what did I find? Essentially what Walton presented in his commentary, with a few extra insights that Walton didn’t mention! Of course, I bought the book. 😉

  5. Not directly related to this particular post, but I’ve been puzzling over your definition of “Evolutionary Creationism” in your blog subtitle and poll. It sounds like it’s roughly equivalent to or at least compatible with ID; common descent, genetic modification with God’s active guidance.

  6. Steve,

    Evolutionary Creationism (EC) is not equivalent to Intelligent Design (ID) and it does not assume God’s active guidance in the evolutionary process.

    I’ll create a separate post to continue this discussion … =)

  7. Ok. Is it related to Lamoureux’s use of the term?

    I did not think that was what you meant by EC. But seeing it distinguished from TE made me wonder. I could see, however, wanting to modify the term theological term “creationism” to make an emphatic theological confession of ultimate divine agency and intentionality. I figured you’d approach that topic elsewhere, but wanted a hint 🙂 I guess I’ll just wait and see!

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