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February 21, 2006

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I am hoping someone can help me. This is such a dumb question, but... God loves us right? I was just reading that article about how God's love is never mentioned in Acts, but does that just mean that God's love is not to be our central focus? How do we strike a balance? Is it important that we know that God love us? Should we feel loved?? What is the extent of His love for us? Does He really "want what's best" for us? I hope this makes sense, and I know it's a weird place to post this, but I had to ask someone.
Thank you.

It's with genuine trepidation that I disagree with any of youse guys' reasoning, but I think you miss Ham's point, and I think it's a good one.

He's doing a Proverbs 21:22. The unstated philosophy of modern scientism is materialistic empiricism. They insist their position is superior to the Christian's because it rests on hard data, and requires no faith. In one simple question, Ham points out the emperor's nudity. It's a point worth making: any and every position rests on presuppositions.

If you don't mind my alluding, I argue this at a bit more length at http://www.bibchr.com/whychr.html

Kay:

John Piper's book Desiring God is likely to be helpful to you. You can read it for free online:

http://www.desiringgod.org/dg/id1.htm

(Click on the white box to the left of the chapter to read that chapter)

You see, although God loves us, there is another consideration: our focus should be primarily on God, and to focus too much on God's love for us puts us in the danger of actually focusing on ourselves. This book is about God's centrality. It is a hard doctrine, but when we learn to focus fully on God, everything falls in it's place. Including God's love for us.

Thank you Markku. I am anxious to look at that book online! Thank you so very much for your reply.
Kay

Thank you Melinda for highlighting a flaw in one particular YEC approach. While it is true that any empirical methodology must, ultimately, rest on a faith that accepts the veracity of data, such a truth does not, in and of itself, negate the validity of the data. Thus, what is really gained when one asks, "were you there"? I've attemtpted to illustrate this to YEC proponents by asking them if they believe that Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater (even though they weren't there).

to be fair, ham's somewhat-flawed approach is buttressed by the argument that someone *else* claimed He was there, and could lead to a discussion about the Bible.

to fire back about lincoln being shot would not address ham's ultimate point which is that to the modern mind no one was around at the beginning (including God) and so the best we have is guesses about origins. if asked about lincoln, though i wasn't there i could point to witnesses who claim to have been and then we can argue the validity of those sources.

ham's argument moves from dealing with scientific presuppositions straight to dealing with Scripture. i don't think ham intends the kids in the story to do that but it's probably where ham himself would go. it's certainly easier to argue for the reliability of Scripture than to argue for the reliability of dating methodologies without the Scriptures at all.

it's not the best approach, i agree, but doesn't commit suicide ultimately given ham's full argument. he's not arguing for personal eye-witness being the only valid source of knowledge, which seems to be greg and melinda's beef with it, but rather that *some* eyewitness, if reliable, is worthwhile testimony.

if the Scriptures are reliable testimony then they have something to say on the matter to the extent that they speak to it, and with authority commensurate with their reliability.

But you have to realize that scientific method is based upon observation, and experimentation. The line of reasoning creationists like Ham uses, shows that alternate views of creation don't reach up to that standard. We have no direct observation of the big bang or macroevolution of mammals. Does anyone know of any experiments that could be conducted that will show evolutionary theory correct? Do we actually have the ability to create our own universe according to our scientific theories? The point is, there are many scientific theories that can be tested and then proven or disproven... evolution is not one of them.

rswood,

The approach you describe is certainly a much more healthier way of addressing the topic. Unfortunately, the YEC proponents I've dealt with seem to think that the "were you there?" question is a show stopper. In asking them about Lincoln I'm hoping to get them to think about the reliability of empirical data because the claim that other witnesses were there can only be verified by analyzing the empirical data ("how do you know that there were witnesses there?). This is important not only for scientific theories but for, as you mention, testing the reliability of Scripture as well.

I think that it is very important for us to understand why we should believe a particular text (e.g., the Scriptures) and instruction in this area can't begin early enough (imo). I still remember a 7 year old playmate of my daughter questioning the story of David & Goliath with, "Well, how do you know it's a true story? Somebody could have just made it up and written it down."

rusty i think we agree. i don't know the YECs you mention, i'm just going on the story about ham, which follows i think my re-presentation of it.

for my own i'm struggling with this issue too. i'm closer to YEC than i've ever been but i feel i really need to understand various dating methods before i make that leap--since they are the final "proof" of the millions of years i can't run away without facing them. i refuse to be an uninformed whatever-i-decide-upon.

Seeing how STR supports Hugh Ross and his organization of course they are not going to have many nice things to say about Ken Ham or anyone from AIG. The were you there argument is to show that goo to man evolution science is not based on testability and isn't even a theory. It is based on fallible ideas. Are we going to believe someone who was there, God, or ideas of men who have a bias for naturalism? To each his own but I know where my faith is. I love science by the way and without the naturalism and the "things were in the past how they are today" bias I don't see evidence for a big bang and billions of years like Hugh Ross and also the goo to man evolutionists that are out there. Just so everyone knows Hugh Ross also denies a world flood and death and suffering before the fall of Adam and Eve. If anyone wants to talk to respond to me in private feel free to e-mail me our visit my web site. So in summary here is my list of complaints.

1. Ken Ham does not deny natural revelation. He just is denying ONE interpretation. This is a strawman arguement and should be corrected.

2. Ken Ham was making a point that naturalism is a belief, not a fact. You can come up with all sorts of ideas of what happened in the past but only God can tell us what actually happened.

3. STR supports Hugh Ross by having him and others from his organization on their radio show even though I believe they are way off base on some of their theology.

4. Try getting Ken Ham on STR, it won't happen. I have tried.

5. I still think STR is a very valuable ministry. They are just way off when it comes to origins.

Melinda & Rusty.
I believe you misunderstand Ken's 2 points in this comment.

1) If no one (human) was there then any (human) pronouncements must be based upon assumptions and so is a far less certain statement. I.e. A differentiation between operational science and historical science.

2) If the God of the bible exists, then He was there and so is an eyewitness.

Rusty, you analogy with Lincoln fails because there was someone there as an eyewitness,.

Rswood, check out the RATE project from ICR for some recent research on dating methods.
I also have a link covering the last years big stories in creation/evolution. Note particularly the link to
http://www.creationsafaris.com/crev200501.htm#geo119
which is a post on a secular journal paper which undermines isotrope dating.
http://alangrey.blogspot.com/2005/12/creation-and-evolution-years.html

i know koukl's position on genesis. he doesn't seem to make it a hill he's willing to die on, and has made the point that you can have different perspectives than him and he won't write you off as a heretic or whatever. i find that he has a perspective and works with it but doesn't do so dogmatically, for which i respect him.

i would love to hear a YEC like ham on str, but i don't expect to hear str have, say, dave hunt on to talk about soteriology either. str has perspectives on debated issues and that's fine, especially when they aren't dogmatic about them.

rswood, I know Greg doesn't hold a very strong view on the issue. I have listened to almost every show for 3 years. I would like to see them give someone from AIG airtime though. Maybe I'll run into Greg on one of his fishing trips in Wisconsin and we'll have a discussion on origins theology. That of course just makes me wonder, is that the last thing he would want to do on his vacation?

As with the other posters that are familiar with Ken Ham (I would consider myself a YEC), I believe his statement "where you there" has been misunderstood. That comment is used as an initial statement to the evolutionist that is preaching that evolution is the cornerstone of modern science and it should be the "law of evolution".

I would like to hear Ken Ham (and I'm also a fan of Kent Hovind) on STR. I believe that the YEC position is sorely misrepresented and having AIG on the STR show would help clear up some misunderstandings with the YEC position (it would at least give Ken an opportunity to defend himself).


Alan,

re: "you[r] analogy with Lincoln fails because there was someone there as an eyewitness"

And how do you know that someone was there (since none of the ones who claimed to have been there are alive now)? You do so by relying on empirical data. That's my point... any event from the past, to which there are no longer any eyewitnesses, must be analyzed based on the data.


Dewayne,

re: "I believe his statement "where you there" has been misunderstood."

I saw a video of Ham teaching the use of it as a response whenever faced with the proposition that events had happened millions of years ago...

Rswood,

Just f.y.i., to get the scoop on radiometric dating from an OEC position, here is an excellent paper:
http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/roger_wiens_radiometric_dating.pdf

If that doesn't work as a link or you can't find it, let me know and I'll email it to you. Also, RTB has some commentary on the recent RATE conference on their 11/8/2005 episode of Creation Update (see archives section).

You can also find many other articles and CU episodes about various dating methods, speed of light, Biblical genealogies, etc.

This comment is inspired by one of Matt's closing points.

STR has given Emergent Church proponents what I would consider a fair hearing on their afternoon radio program (Aug 7, 2005), so why not someone from AIG? I think it's a great opportunity to avoid some of the straw men arguments (unintended I'm sure) portrayed in the past.

And as a supporter of STR, I would like to see them exercise their own mantra in this case "Never read a Bible verse" with respect to the comments made by AIG. There is a lot of Creation material that seems to get taken out of context, as Dan and rswood have demonstrated.

I have asked AIG to respond to this blog. We'll see if they do. If they just respond on their web site I'll post a link.

Matt, you are mistaken about Hugh Ross: he does not deny the flood. He denies a GLOBAL flood. He states that the flood was local to the middle east. He has both scientific and biblical reasons for this.

He also believes that there was non-human death before the fall. Not Adam and Eve, but that there were "normal" life cycles for trees and animals.

Ignore the 1st paragraph. I read your post too quickly. My mistake.

Rusty comments: And how do you know that someone was there (since none of the ones who claimed to have been there are alive now)? You do so by relying on empirical data. That's my point... any event from the past, to which there are no longer any eyewitnesses, must be analyzed based on the data.

Fred Responds: So let me see if I have this straight... In order for me to rely upon the testimony of our creator, who was, by the way the only eyewitness to creation seeing that He created it, that testimony must first be analyzed BEFORE it can be considered reliable? By what higher authority do I even begin my process of analyzation? Are you telling me that the historical narrative of Genesis is not reliable in and of itself so as to be a framework to shape my thinking to know where I came from, how things began, and to interpret my present world? Even though it comes from the creator who has demonstrated His presence in our world time and again?

Spoken like a true philosophical evidentialist.

Robert comments: He also believes that there was non-human death before the fall. Not Adam and Eve, but that there were "normal" life cycles for trees and animals.

Fred responds: First off, Animals and trees (plant life) are not the same. Thus, plants "dying" is not the same as animals dying. This is an error Ross continues to pass a long through his publications even though he has been confronted about this mistake on numerous occasions.

Second, the Bible is quite clear that the creation (the world and all that it contains, including animals) was subjected to futility (Romans 8:20). Death, even animal death, is not a natural part of God's created order. Death is an unwelcomed intrusion. To suggest that death is a natural part of the creation and was present before Adam, creates havoc upon the atonement, Christ's substitution for sinners, the physical resurrection and the restoration of the created order. Ross, and other progressive creationists who argue for death before Adam, even if they wish to make it pertain only to animals and plants, do not realize how close they come to theological liberalism with this belief.

Fred

Fred,

The comments of mine that you highlighted had to do with the Lincoln analogy and not with the creation of the cosmos. What I'm trying to illustrate is that you and I have no direct access to eyewitnesses of Lincoln's assassination. Hence, we must rely on empirical data because... we weren't there.

I have no problem believing the testimony of our Lord and fully expect His general and special revelations to coincide. I also believe that His Word presents the Gospel and is not concerned with mundane matters (e.g., calculus). As such, any exploration of the calculus will involve a foray into the aspects of the created order.

Rusty comments: The comments of mine that you highlighted had to do with the Lincoln analogy and not with the creation of the cosmos. What I'm trying to illustrate is that you and I have no direct access to eyewitnesses of Lincoln's assassination. Hence, we must rely on empirical data because... we weren't there.

Fred Responds: I beg to differ. We do have direct access to eyewitnesses in the form of news articles, photographic evidence, and Lincoln's own blood stain shirt which hangs in the Smithsonian. The issue is not that we don't have eyewitness data - we most certainly do. The issue is more along the lines if whether we can trust that data we do have to inform our understanding of Lincoln's assassination. We have an eyewitness as to how the earth was made. God clearly tells us how it was made, when he did, how long he took, etc. Ham's point has always been that scientists.( who for the most part are atheistic secularlists) were not at the beginning of creation to tell how it happened. God was. He provide clear revelation as to how He worked. All that man offers is speculation as to what they observe (their own sinful interpretations of the observable world). Man's interpretations are fallible and prone to serious flaws. God's is not, seeing that He is the creator and He told us how He created.

Rusty continues:I have no problem believing the testimony of our Lord and fully expect His general and special revelations to coincide.

Fred Responds: Neither do I. However, GR is not an independent authority that can inform and correct the Bible if need be, a position most progressive creationist take as a given. Moreover, alleged scientific philosophy like Big Bang cosmology does not fall into the realm of GR. It is pure speculation about what is observed. Even Big Bangers bicker with each other over how the physical problems with the BB are to be explained, hence BB cosmology doesn't coincide with special revelation as you suspect.

Fred

Rusty,
I understand your point, yet if you seek to say that the present day data for an event that supposedly happened billions of years ago is of the same quality/caliber/trust-worthiness as eye-witness testimony from history, then I think you drawing a very long bow.
Comparing the two as if they are the same is just plain old wrong.

In doing this, it seems to me that you are arguing against special revelation as a good source of knowledge, which I don't think you want to be doing.

Hi Robert, I never said Hugh Ross denies Noah's flood. I said he denies a world flood. Like you said he thought it was local. I don't believe there is scientific or biblical evidence for this idea.

Robert, sorry, ignore my last post. I didn't read your 2nd post before replying. ;)

I think what this person is trying to do is point to how to address the assurance and absolute nature of the claims used by teachers and such when referring to origins and evolution. It's rampant in nature shows and textbooks, not to mention off the lips of people who as scientists and teachers ought to know better. They speak in terms of surety and truth rather than speculation and "theory." When a creature has coloration like it's surroundings, the word used is "developed" rather than simply "has" to describe this. The assumption is that it didn't start that way, and became thus colored.

When this happens, the person in question is making a very basic error in logic and sometimes an approach like "so you saw this, did you?" can be effective in shaking them up. Because their very defense will neccessarily prove that they cannot be so sure and should not use such language.

Just a thought.

Fred,

"We do have direct access to eyewitnesses in the form of news articles, photographic evidence, and Lincoln's own blood stain shirt which hangs in the Smithsonian."

We do not have access to the eyewitnesses (they are dead). But we do have access to the data.

"All that man offers is speculation as to what they observe (their own sinful interpretations of the observable world). Man's interpretations are fallible and prone to serious flaws."

So then, our interpretations of the Bible should similarly be just as prone to serious flaws? Refer to another STR post at
http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2005/11/can_you_trust_y.html

"...He is the creator and He told us how He created."

Well, He told us that *He* was the Creator and *why* He created, but very little about *how* He created.

Alan,

"...if you seek to say that the present day data for an event that supposedly happened billions of years ago is of the same quality/caliber/trust-worthiness as eye-witness testimony from history, then I think you drawing a very long bow."

Well, there's quite a bit to say about that issue (too much for these comment posts). Short answer: It depends. Empirical data can be reliable, or not, depending on the types of measurements, their level of precision, etc. Similarly, eye-witness testimony can also be reliable, or not.

"...it seems to me that you are arguing against special revelation as a good source of knowledge..."

No, I'm not arguing that at all. In fact, I believe that special revelation should guide our interpretation of general revelation.

Chris H. -- "There is a lot of Creation material that seems to get taken out of context, as Dan and rswood have demonstrated."

Thanks. I've felt oddly invisible in this discussion. /c:

Rust comments to Fred: We do not have access to the eyewitnesses (they are dead). But we do have access to the data.

Fred Responds: It does not matter if the eyewitnesses are dead, they have told us what happened and their testimony remains with us today. God was at creation, he is the creator. He revealed to us the who, what, when and where of creation. This is Ham's main point: God was there, sinful men with their theoretical speculations on origins were not. That is his point. Their speculations are flawed and we as Christians should not be unwise so as to not question them.

Rusty continues: So then, our interpretations of the Bible should similarly be just as prone to serious flaws?

Fred responds: Yes, they are. That is why there are heretical cults and denominations and outfits like STR exist. However, there are two distinct categories being discussed: our interpretation of the Bible and real world observable phenomena. Origins "science" is theoretical and speculates on how to interpret the observable evidence. Interpretations in turn are the product of one's presuppositions.

Rusty continues: Well, He told us that *He* was the Creator and *why* He created, but very little about *how* He created.

Fred responds: Does the Bible saying "God said" this, "God said" that qualify as to the how?

Fred, the Bible does not address its self to process. What we're told about creation is not to be a blow-by-blow exact scientific textbook on what happened moment to moment, as is plainly obvious. What we learn is that God, through whatever process he decided to, created everything and is therefore in charge and the final authority, utterly sovereign. I find the theory of evolution to be bad science and violating scriptural principles of human dignity and nature, but I try to avoid making arguments about specific scientific points from the creation account. Genesis is primarily theological, not scientific.

Christopher, you said "Genesis is primarily theological, not scientific."

In response I would say that is correct. Where Genesis does touch on history and science though we need to side with the Bible. Hugh Ross goes again the history taught in the Bible and instead favors selected ideas made popular by those that have a drive for naturalism.

Actually, no one in the room with Ham was actually "there." Since light and sound travel at certain speeds, one's empirical experience of Ham talking to you is not immediate. It is actually something that happened in the past. So, no one was actually there, except Ham, when he said it. Certainly, they were "there" a split second later, but what they witnessed was the past and not the present, and hence they weren't there when it really happened.

AIG's response to the LA Times article.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2006/0227lat.asp

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