After contacting Mellotron to request his permission to repost his critique of my journey from young-earth creationism to evolutionary creationism, he readily assented. So here it is, in full. For now, I’ll let my readers comment on Mellotron’s critique. After some time has passed, I’ll respond point-by-point in a separate post.
I’ve read through Mike Beidler’s blog and all of his “steps of the journey” so far, and I would honestly say that it IS an interesting blog by a sincere, honest, evangelical (at least so far) seeker of truth. A committed Christian man (at least so far). Really really clear explanation of Beidler’s life journey and how he arrived at the TE position. Sincere thanks for the head’s-up on this blog, Reb. I did enjoy reading it.
But, now that I did read about that Beidler’s journey, I would also say that there are some big problems there. I am not using that phrase “at least so far” in a comedic or joking manner.
Let me share some of my concerns.
Despite the clearly positive, intelligent, pro-dialogue approach of Beidler’s blog, and the obvious evangelical influences of his family (especially his father and his book-gifts), you can already see some really serious evolution-erosion (the kind Weisberg and Rachels talked about) brewing.
In brief, here’s the problems.
1. Beidler’s transition away from belief in OEC (a la the non-evolutionist John Walton) into Evolution via Gould and Van Till, is really really quick there….like a matter of mere months, not even a good full year.
That’s too quick, Reb. Beidler didn’t find any compelling evo-refutations of the overall OEC position that fast. In fact, as I reading each ‘step of the journey’, I don’t see where Beidler actually locates any compelling rational refutation (or set of refutations) from Gould and Van Till that would justify an abandonment of the overall OEC position itself.
Instead, at some point, he just stopped listening to the OEC’s (except when he needs somebody to run interference against the YEC’s). That’s not good.
I’m specifically saying that Beidler has gone too fast and thereby he FAILED to really “Test all things, hold fast to that which is good” (as the New Testament commands us) before jumping over to the TE position.
2. You can see clear erosion of Beidler’s biblical faith taking place even while Beidler was still transitioning from YEC to OEC.
Yes, Beidler was YEC-literate to some degree, with help from Daddy, but you can see from Beidler’s roommate hitting him with the starlight problem, that Beidler needed much more YEC education and training. And Beidler was apparently—totally—unprepared as a YEC to engage the challenge of TE when the roommate brought it up by suggesting evolution was compatible with Christianity. So the seeds of erosion were planted early on, especially in college.
Walton must also be mentioned in this respect. I have a lotta respect for OEC evangelical scholar John Walton (and one or two books of his as well), but one of Beidler’s discussion partners was able to point to the problem with Walton’s approach:
Walton’s “ANE approach”, when applied to Genesis, abandons the baseline Bible interpretation rule of “Scripture Interprets Scripture” and replaces it with “My Expert Opinion of ANE Texts Outside the Bible Interprets Scripture.”
(Indeed, when you hear Beidler say things like “the Hebrews would not have interpreted Verse So-and-so that way”—well, that’s exactly the same wording my atheist professor sometimes used to attack the historical and doctrinal reliability of the Old Testament!!)
Abandoning the “Scripture interprets Scripture” rule and replacing it with anything else…..hey that’s MAJOR erosion, bar none.
No wonder Beidler later allowed atheist Gould and TE VanTill to interpret Scripture for him. Beidler had already allowed Walton’s expert ANE opinions to interpret Scripture for him, instead of allowing Scripture to interpret itself. So when the other guys came along later……boom! Walton got dumped and so did the OEC position.
3. Speaking of Van Till……
| “(Van Till)rejected the idea of God as a supernatural being who took care to design every galaxy and blade of grass.
The God he sought couldn’t have designed everything at the outset, because the universe that science reveals is always unfolding, always changing.
(Please notice the highlighted part Reb—You’re talking about a Christian College professor who doesn’t even believe in the God of the Bible anymore!!! He had to retire early because he no longer believed in God whom he said he believed in when he originally signed the Christian College’s doctrinal faith statement. THAT’s what TE may ultimately do to a person!!)
|“If your faith requires supernaturalism, or a God who wields overpowering control over nature, then yes, evolution will challenge that,” says Van Till, who took early retirement from Calvin College in 1999. “The key is to correct your portrait of God,” he says.|
(Van Till rejects supernaturalism now. That means rejecting a supernatural Resurrection of Jesus Christ too. Think it over. He’s a TE.)
Source—”The New Theology”, Chicago Tribune, 1-19-08
4. Speaking of Gould and NOMA…….Notice that Beidler never ever mentioned how he was coping (as an evangelical Christian) with the first commandment of Gould’s NOMA:
The first commandment for all versions of NOMA might be summarized by stating: “Thou shalt not mix the magisteria by claiming that God directly ordains important events in the history of nature by special interference knowable only through revelation and not accessible to science.”
In common parlance, we refer to such special interference as “miracle”—operationally defined as a unique and temporary suspension of natural law to reorder the facts of nature by divine fiat. . . . NOMA does impose this ‘limitation’ on concepts of God . . . .”
—Gould, Rocks of Ages
In other words, gotta abandon ALL historical claims of God doing ANY miracles in history, period. Even the Resurrection of Jesus Christ goes in the trash can. Otherwise you’re violating NOMA. Gould really means it. He is not joking with you or me.
But Beidler never addresses that one. He went ahead and accepted Gould and NOMA anyway. But he says he’s a Christian. No resolution.
Beidler gives NO indication that he’s spent an equal amount of time (nay, make that “spent any amount of time”) studying rational critiques and rebuttals to Gould’s NOMA and Van Till’s conception of TE.
Okay. Didn’t mean to do all this writing. These are just some notes I took while reading the blog like you asked YEC’s to do. I’m just trying to show you that I took your suggestion seriously.
But here’s the most important thing.
By his own admission, Beidler has NOT shown that evolution is compatible with Christianity. He is still struggling and has NOT found a reconciliation between the two.
Read the final paragraph of the final step, Step #12:
| Of course, if you’re a committed theist as I am, there will certainly be a struggle involved in accepting the scientific evidence for biological evolution and the common descent of man.
There is much to consider, especially as it concerns such theological concepts as biblical inerrancy (including the inspiration of Scripture and the historicity of the opening chapters of Genesis), the origin of sin, the problem of evil, and what lies ahead in mankind’s future. It is to the discussion of these topics that this blog now turns …