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KKLA Creation Dialogue with Drs. Jason Lisle and Hugh Ross, Part II April 3, 2010

Posted by Dave Landis in science.
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Dr Ross said “Psalm 19 refers to the record of nature as a book.  It is actually in the Belgic Confession 1561. Both books are utterly trustworthy and reliable.”  I urge you to go the link provided to see if his claim if factual.   The Belgic Confession says “as a most elegant book” and “are as so many characters”.  This is different than saying nature “is an elegant book”.  Ross is equating nature with a book, this Confession is using a simile.  The two are not identical.  What disturbs me about Dr. Ross’ claim is that if both “books” are “utterly trustworthy and reliable”, then it follows that Dr. Ross is adding another book to the canon of Scripture:  nature, and hence scientific interpretations of nature.

I would agree with Dr. Ross that Scripture is “utterly trustworthy and reliable”.  But, he is on dangerous ground using science.  Truth cannot be determined from science because it relies on empirical data to draw conclusions.   It explains things from specifics to generals.  This is an inherent logical fallacy.  Science certainly can help with the understanding of natural processes, but it cannot provide us with truth.   Scientific theories have been known to be revised or even rejected as new data comes to light.

Not so with Scripture.  Let us be reminded of Christ’s words, “Sanctify them in truth; your Word is truth.”  John 17:17.

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Comments»

1. Kirk Bertsche - April 4, 2010

I don’t follow the main objection that you are raising here. You quote Hugh Ross as saying ““Psalm 19 refers to the record of nature AS a book.” This statement uses AS just like the Belgic Confession does. Hugh Ross and RTB realize that the “two books” is metaphor.

God reveals Himself and His truth to man in diverse manners. Hugh takes the position that ANY true revelation from God is “utterly trustworthy and reliable.” Divine truth is equally “true”, hence equally “trustworthy”, no matter how God communicates it to man. But God’s various modes of communication are not identical. (Hugh no longer makes his earlier unfortunate claim that nature should be considered a 67th book of the canon.)

Also note that the “book” which Hugh describes as “utterly trustworthy and reliable” is NATURE, not SCIENCE. There is an important difference between the two, which Hugh recognizes. He realizes that science is an interpretation of nature, and that it can be wrong.

For more about the views of Hugh Ross and RTB on the “two books,” I would recommend their recent “Dual Revelation” DVD (http://www.reasons.org/catalog/dual-revelation).

2. Kirk Bertsche - April 4, 2010

FYI, Spurgeon’s comments on the two books were much stronger than Hugh Ross’ on KKLA. Do you have similar concerns about Spurgeon’s position?

“In his earliest days the psalmist, while keeping his father’s flock, had devoted himself to the study of God’s two great books—nature and Scripture; and he had so thoroughly entered into the spirit of these two only volumes in his library that he was able with a devout criticism to compare and contrast them, magnifying the excellency of the Author as seen in both. How foolish and wicked are those who instead of accepting the two sacred tomes, and delighting to behold the same divine hand in each, spend all their wits in endeavouring to find discrepancies and contradictions. We may rest assured that the true “Vestiges of Creation” will never contradict Genesis, nor will a correct “Cosmos” be found at variance with the narrative of Moses. He is wisest who reads both the world-book, and the Word-book as two volumes of the same work, and feels concerning them, “My Father wrote them both.”
[Charles H. Spurgeon, “Psalm 19,” Treasury of David.]

Kirk

3. Ting Wang - April 6, 2010

Hi Kirk, I much appreciate your insightful comments. You write that “God reveals Himself and His truth to man in diverse manners.” Could you list for us some of these manners?

In addition, you seem to support Ross’s contention that Nature (and not Science) is “utterly trustworthy and reliable.”
Could you please expound upon this? Perhaps you could define “nature” so we can better understand what you intend?

And two perhaps not-so-relevant questions—1) Do you believe that true knowledge comes to us via sense perception?, and 2) Do you recognize a distinction between so-called Special Revelation (many definitions; for the purpose of this post, that God reveals his Scripture to his people) and General Revelation (often defined as the knowledge of God that is perceived by all humankind)?

Thanks so much,

ting

Kirk Bertsche - April 8, 2010

“Diverse manners” is from the KJV of Heb 1:1, but I was actually thinking more broadly. God has revealed truth through prophets, visions, talking donkeys, the heavens, etc.

By “nature” I mean the physical universe, which I believe is roughly the same way that Spurgeon uses the term. This is roughly the same as God’s “works” in creation and providence. I view it as a subset of General Revelation (GR). GR also includes such things as conscience and history; perhaps these should be included as “nature” but I think of them as a bit different.

I certainly see a difference between GR and SR (Special Revelation). GR reveals things about God, but does not reveal Him in a personal way and is not sufficient for salvation.

Kirk

4. Ting Wang - April 6, 2010

Hi Kirk, thank you for presenting to us the Spurgeon comments. Some parts of Spurgeon’s comments I do indeed find a bit troubling. Although I do agree that “the true ‘Vestiges of Creation’ will never contradict Genesis.’” This at least makes Genesis the standard by which we interpret the world around us.

To be fair, Spurgeon was a foe of evolution, at least as the theory was understood in his day. But Spurgeon did also say (pre-“Origin of Species”): “Can any man tell me when the beginning was? Years ago we thought the beginning of this world was when Adam came upon it. But we have discovered that thousands of years before that God was preparing chaotic matter to make a fit abode for man, putting races of creatures upon it who might die and leave behind the marks of His handiwork and marvelous skill before he tried his hand on man” (from a September 2, 1855 sermon on, of all things, Unconditional Election!).

When Spurgeon says, “We have discovered that thousands of years before [Adam], God was “putting races of creatures upon it who might die. . . .”

Who has discovered this? The geologists of Spurgeon’s day? If so, on what grounds do the proclamations of a geologist trump the pronouncements of Scripture? Would not the same geologists likely say that it is impossible for a man to rise from the dead and appear to many people?

In addition, there is a man who can tell Spurgeon when the beginning was–Jesus says, “But at the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female’” (Mark 10:6).

And I think too that it is problematic that in Spurgeon’s view, creatures die thousands of years before Adam. Perhaps I am old-school, but I understand death (human, and because humans rule over creation, animals as well) to be a consequence of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12).

Thanks and blessings, may the Lord be glorified,

ting

Kirk Bertsche - April 8, 2010

Yes, Spurgeon was anti-evolution but was old-earth (like Hugh Ross and RTB). As you probably know, from the early to mid 1800s to the mid 1900s, most of the leading conservative Bible teachers and scholars held to the “Gap Theory,” like Spurgeon.

The context of Paul’s comments in Rom 5 is MAN’s sin, death, and justification. His comments cannot justifiably be extended beyond man, unless one violates the principles of hermeneutics. (And if Paul were saying that Adam’s sin brought death to animals, his logical argument would require that Christ’s death brings eternal life to animals!) I was pleased to hear Jason Lisle imply that his view on this comes not from Rom 5, but from other passages.

5. Ting Wang - April 19, 2010

Hi Kirk, we are agreed that the context of Romans 5 deals directly with “man’s sin.” Nonetheless, I think we should probably also understand that Adam’s sin carried broad implications and ramifications for all of creation, considered more broadly. 🙂

For instance, in response to sin, God tells Adam, “cursed is the GROUND because of you” (Genesis 3:17). This seems to indicate to me that Adam’s sin did more than just cause the death of humans. An immediate consequence of Adam’s sin is that the ground would “produce thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:18). This I think indicates that plant life was adversely affected by Adam’s sin.

Similarly, just prior to the flood, we read, “The LORD was grieved that he made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth–men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air–for I am grieved that I have made them'” (Genesis 6:6-7). So animal life was also adversely affected by sin (in addition to the serpent and also the animal whose skin was used to clothe the naked Adam and Eve).

Moreover (although prophetic passages are notoriously difficult to exegete), the redemption of people also carries implications for creation more broadly. As Isaiah writes, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:6-7).

I think it significant that the diet of the lion has changed as a result of redemption. Since redemption oftentimes recapitulates elements from Eden, it does not seem far-fetched to me to understand that pre-Fall animals also did not kill to eat.

And Paul also mentions that the redemption of people–the “children of God”–carries implications for all of creation. For instance, Paul writes that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

Considered together, I think these passages enable us to refine our Romans 5 parallel: Adam’s sin brought death to people and decay/bondage to creation, and Christ’s gift brings justification and eternal life to the elect, but also renewal and life to those parts of creation (including animals) that God has chosen to renew.

May God be glorified–and Kirk thanks so much for the sharpening,

ting


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