Thesis 3: Since we are created beings, we cannot fully understand the Creation. We are not attempting a definition or description of Creation, its timing, process, scope, extensiveness, or future.
Humans have always wanted to know more about themselves and the surrounding world. It is in our being to observe, to question, to look for answers, to develop concepts and beliefs. Far from being a damper on our desire for increased knowledge, the third thesis aims at highlighting the limits of our pursuit. When we create something, we can tell what it is and how we created it. We can explain when we did it and the procedures we followed for creating it. Also, we can explain the scope of that which we created, what it is good for, and for how long will or should it last. However, when it comes to God’s Creation, we cannot fully understand it because we are ourselves part of the Creation. We may do our best to observe, inquire, and try to understand it, but we will never have all the answers regarding the “when”, “where”, “how”, “what for”, and “until when” of the Creation process, which is not an “argument from ignorance” but is a realistic understanding of our limits. This should lead us to humility in understanding our limitations and to an attitude of carefulness in making judgements or assumptions about the Creation.
There are two major attempts at explaining the world: “creation science”, also known as “scientific creationism”, and the “theory of evolution by natural processes”, which is mainly based on the Darwinian model. Both of these worldviews are flawed. We will address here the failures of the so-called “scientific creationism” and in the following theses we will look closer at the theory of evolution.
The Failures of “Scientific Creationism”
Even though ideas about a natural process of evolution, cosmic and biologic, came as early as in the 6th and 7th centuries B.C., the prevailing concept about for the origins of life and all observable world was that they came from the acts of creation of God or Gods. The idea that Deity created the world predates the Book of Genesis by hundreds of years. Even if one believes that Genesis was written by Moses, which cannot be proven by any means, both Enuma Elish and The Epic of Gilgamesh, which are Mesopotamian myths, predate the time of Moses. Most religions have their version of creation. In Hinduism, the material forms like animals and plants are believed to be manifestations of a “pure consciousness” with repeating cycles of births and rebirths. In Orthodox Judaism, science is considered as true as the Torah and the discrepancies between what is expected and what really is point to the fact that, many times, things may be different from what they appear to be. If there seem to be irreconcilable points between the Torah and science, epistemological limits are invoked (source).
With the advent of the scientific revolution that started around the 16th century AD with the works of Copernicus, and especially after Charles Darwin’s publication of The Origins of Species in 1859, creationists were baffled by the naturalistic evolutionary theories, which slowly and surely eroded the belief in a “special creation”, the idea that God created in various places on Earth fixed forms of life (or baramins, according to Marsh). As Wikipedia shows, “Creation Science” is a form of Young Earth Creationism that appeared around 1960s as “a fundamentalist Christian effort in the United States to prove Biblical inerrancy and nullify the scientific evidence for evolution”.
Here you have the first two erroneous steps taken be the “scientific creationists”. On one hand, nobody can prove the inerrancy of the Bible. If you look closely at the 1978’s Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and 1982’s Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, you cannot help but notice the irrationalities and logical contradictions from one article to another. I do not intend to examine them here, but in my opinion these are nothing but political platforms for reinforcing the authority of the religious leaders by claiming the ever powerful “inspiration”. Our SDA church leaders, as I stated in other posts, play at “both ends” of the stick. They realize that “verbal inspiration” cannot be sustained and as such they deny it, but at the same time they affirm the “propositional truth, or inspiration” of the Bible, which is in fact the very same thing!
Besides the inability to prove the Biblical inerrancy, the “scientific creationists” cannot nullify the scientific evidence that clearly contradicts the “inerrancy” of the Genesis rendition of origins, firstly because they can’t sustain the Genesis report with science and, secondly, because it is not in their not-so-honest interest to do so. As I already stated, I am not a supporter of the evolutionary theory, for which I can offer harsh criticism, but I am not willing to offer a “blind eye” to the hocus-pocus of “here is the inspiration, here is not”. In the Article X of above mentioned Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy we read “WE AFFIRM that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture“, but… guess what? the autographic text of Scripture has not been preserved, it simply does not exist! Therefore, all the texts of Scripture, whether from OT or NT, are just copies more or less accurate of the supposed “autographic text”.
Among the creationists who prepared the way for a more modern “creation science” is George McCready Price, a Seventh-day Adventist who assumed the E.G.White views on the Creation issue. Price wrote works against evolution and pro-creation and was particularly interested in geology, or rather flood-geology, which he re-invented. But even he acknowledged that “the Creationary account of origins could never have been developed as a hypothesis from the study of nature alone, rather it was “suggested by our religion.””, as shown by the Wiki page mentioned above. Price tried to argue that the geological strata and the fossils they contain have resulted from the Flood. He was aware of the difference between facts and their interpretation, but his interpretation falls flat on its belly. Not only that the fossils are arranged from the simplest forms of life at the bottom of the strata to higher complexity as you move upward on the strata, but there are considerable age differences between various strata. With all the approximation or infidelity of the radiometric dating systems, claimed by the YEC rather without merit, all that strata containing fossils should show relatively the same age, accurate or not! Price didn’t know about radiometric dating methods then, but now we know.
Borrowing some of Price’s ideas, Henry M. Morris would later be considered the father of modern “creation science”. A believer in Bible inerrancy and literal reading of Genesis, Morris argued against the old age of the Universe and the Earth. In 1961 he wrote, with John C. Whitcomb, The Genesis Flood, which was heralded as the “strongest argument against evolution” since the Scope trial and “the first significant attempt in the 20th century to offer a systematic scientific explanation for creationism” (Wiki). Surely enough, his book was embraced by YECs who felt that they now had a solid scientific basis for their belief in the Genesis account of Creation. However, Morris has never been a scholar of geology or life sciences. Morris studies were on hydraulic engineering (PhD in 1950) and outside the YEC community his views on geology and creation were never taken seriously by most of the scientists. Again, the “scientific creationism” could not gain any recognition in the world of modern science because it has sprung from a religious belief and adherence to Biblical inerrancy and literal interpretation of Genesis, which we will examine in later theses.
As a short conclusion, “Scientific Creationism” is a contradiction of terms. There is nothing to be proven scientifically about God or His acts of creation since God is outside not only of the scope and means of science, but of our capacity to understand Him. Creationism, in any of its forms (including theistic evolutionism, which is taught at most Protestant seminaries) is therefore a religious worldview. But I suggest it needs to be also a cognitive, rational and humble religious worldview that does not affirm absolutes in regard to the fabric of Creation, but allows science to enrich our understanding of it.