To Which Will You Give the Benefit of the Doubt: ‘Science’ or Scripture?

The whole framework of science versus theology is incorrect. Science can only observe what is observable. When they venture to explain origins, they venture out of the purview of science and into the purview of theology and philosophy. They cannot even approach the question of origins without a philosophical basis, which they have found in materialistic naturalism, which is the belief that the origin and state of the world as it is can be explained according to natural laws and processes alone (which are seen as having been constant throughout time). This philosophy on which their whole scientific authority stands or falls, is unproven and unbiblical (as it allows for no significant role for any supernatural causes). Because their philosophical basis is flawed, they are left with no scientific authority whatsoever when speaking on origins theory—their theories are no more scientific and carry no more weight than any other philosophical or theological paradigms. The question of origins is an inherently religious question, and any endeavor to answer it is a religious endeavor, whether acknowledged or not. Any time that such a scientific method is employed in a way that addresses origins but does not acknowledge at least the “possibility” of a supernatural, young-earth creation, then it has already answered one religious question in the negative. Further, it is operating on an assumption regarding factual possibilities for which it has no evidence—so much for “scientific method.”

Is Science Objective and Free from Bias?

Some will object that science is objective and not biased. After all, doesn’t science produce many valid breakthroughs in understanding and many new useful technologies? Let’s be real, here. What science should be and what it is are two different things, in most cases. The ultimate, most pervasive human bias is the bias against the truths of God and His Word. Invariably, all unbelievers labor under this bias, which skews all their thinking. Therefore, when an unbelieving scientist deals with an area that does not particularly have to do with a divine truth like origins, such as developing microchips or cures for diseases, then his science can be reliable and objective. But when the unbelieving scientist deals with an issue that does have to do with a divine truth like origins, then the aversion toward divine truth that comes from the sinful core of his being clouds his judgment and skews his results from the start.

The supernatural is not testable or observable. If we could take a scientist back in time to Eden to examine Adam, he could reasonably claim to be able to duplicate the level of physical maturity of Adam in another man, by observing a newborn throughout twenty years or so. Because he has observed such development in other people, he can reasonably apply this to Adam and theorize that Adam is approximately twenty years old (a rough guess… he was mature enough to be given a wife). However, what the scientist cannot do, is to actually observe how Adam came into existence. He can theorize, assume, and even declare his assumptions as scientific fact, but his science is inadequate to the task, because Adam was supernaturally created, not naturally originated. The very practice of scientific inquiry into this matter is itself a presumption that nothing supernatural happened else scientific inquiry would be futile. Where God supernaturally acts, science has reached the end of all possible inquiry.

Even if the earth could be “scientifically proven” to be a billion years old, it would only be true according to the naturalistic presupposition that the earth was not supernaturally created more recently. God created Adam and the earth complete and mature. By “mature,” I mean only that it is fully functioning according to its God-given purposes. Fruit trees were created already with fruit on them, so Adam did not have to wait around for saplings to grow into trees bearing fruit. The earth’s crust was suitable for men and animals, and was not a molten mass of lava. The stars were created for man to see (among other reasons), and so—like the fruit already on the trees—the light from the stars was already visible from earth (functioning as intended). He created the universe in such a way that the light trails of billions of light-years were already in place and functioning. Scripture does not need to tell us how we see light from the stars. It tells us that God created the stars in the six days of creation. It is self-evident that we can see stars. Unless this text was intended to be meaningless, it refers to things that the readers could see and therefore understand the meaning of (stars). It is the fact that Scripture places the creation of the stars within the contiguous chronological account of six literal days that is the basis for understanding that God created not only the stars but the light between the stars and the earth. That light obviously exists, so either God created it or it was uncreated. Scripture elsewhere (Ex. 20:11) tells us that in six days God created the heavens and the earth and all that are in them. “All that are in them” would mean everything, including light trails. Such a universe only “appears” older than it is to those who presuppose that such a state requires a certain amount of time to achieve; however, such a presupposition when applied to origins is a skeptical presupposition, biased against a supernatural, young-earth creation.

Would a Recent Supernatural Creation be Dishonest on God’s Part?

Some object that it would be dishonest for God to create a world that looked older than it is. But this is not the case. Consider what is meant by the idea of looking old. For those who would say that it looks old, how are they determining what old is or how old the world is? Do they begin with the possibility that the historical account of creation in Genesis might be incorrect? Do they use a method of calculation that assumes that natural processes, as they are found today, are reliable as a constant by which to measure age back beyond what the straightforward, “common sense” reading of Genesis 1 would indicate as the point in time when God supernaturally created the world? If they do, then it is not God who is deceiving them, but they who are deceiving themselves. Rather than deceiving, God openly admitted to creating the world, and told us plainly when and how long He took.

This is not deception, but decision—a matter of chosen presuppositions and philosophies. The worldwide flood of Noah’s day is a fitting explanation for the fossil layers and many other geological “proofs.” The remainder of such proofs simply point to the mature state of the earth at creation. Would God have been deceptive to supernaturally create in one day an adult man, Adam? By all appearances, he would have looked much older that one day to any who might be open to the possibility that God didn’t really create him the day before as He said He did. When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples, even telling them to feel his hands and arms and see that He has flesh and bone and is not a mere spirit, wasn’t that just as deceptive—after all, He appeared as if He had never died. The supernatural acts of God are always deceptive to those who refuse to believe them. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, some might have been deceived into thinking that he had never died. When Jesus fed the five thousand, some might have been deceived into thinking He had brought enough food. When He turned the water into wine, the guests were deceived into thinking that the host had saved the best wine for last.

Can We Trust the Bible on Scientific Matters?

Although it is objected that the Bible is not a science text book, it is a book of factual history (among other things). The Genesis text is not a scientific account—it is an historical account of historical events. If the earth and its contents resulted from scientific processes, then scientific investigation would be appropriate; but if the world resulted from a recent supernatural creation out of nothing, then science has nothing to offer regarding the matter, as the question is not one of science but one of faith. The truth comes to those who are willing to believe; but those who prefer lies bring deception on themselves.

Could the Word ‘Day’ Be Figurative Rather than Literal?

Many object that the six days of creation are not literal but could mean any undefined period of time. However, the claim that the word “day” means only a measurement of time is not an accurate claim. The Hebrew word used is yom, and it is used just as our English word, day, is used. We use the word day as opposed to night, in the sense of “daytime;” we use the word day to mean a full 24-hour period, consisting of one period of daylight and one period of nighttime; and, we use the word day to indicate an age or era, such as, “in the day of the Roman Empire,” or, “back in my father’s day,” etc. Even though we use the word day for all of these uses, we are never confused as to which meaning is intendedwhy is that? Note this vital fact: anytime that a number is used with “day,” whether in English or in Hebrew, a literal day is meant. Look outside of the disputed chapter of Genesis 1, and you will find that the OT uses yom together with a number over 350 times, and every single use is undeniably a literal day.[1] This only makes sense—just look at the English: If I say, “back in my father’s day,” we all understand it to be figurative of an age; but if I say, “in my father’s third day,” you would immediately want to know, “Third day of what—third day of existence?” There is no ambiguity in how these words are used or what their meaning is. Rather, those who desperately want to find a way around the stark reality of what Genesis 1 indicates have simply grasped at this straw and now feed it to those who don’t know better as if they can’t rely on the meaning of “day.”

Is the ‘Gap Theory’ Credible?

Some believers feel so pressured by the claims of secular science that they try to find a way to fit an “old earth” into the creation account, by proposing a gap between God’s original creation (of Gen. 1:1) and the state described in the second verse (“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep”). Gap theorists maintain that God is not the Author of disorder and could not create the earth in such a state. They object that such disorder and darkness are incongruent with the Creator, and must have resulted from unmentioned catastrophe. They offer that satan’s fall from heaven to earth must have been the cause, ruining God’s previous creation and bringing chaos and darkness. They claim that the Hebrew text supports their view by the meaning of to become, such that “the earth became without form and void…” However, the Hebrew word here can also mean to come into a state of being. The text tells us that the earth came into the state of being of formlessness and disorder; but as for the prior state out of which it came into being, we have only the previous sentence to inform us. Therefore, the proper conclusion is that the earth came out of state of nonexistence and into a state of formlessness and disorder.

Gap theorists hold that God did not begin His [second] creative work until after the earth was present, but Gen. 1:1 clearly puts the creating of the earth at the beginning of that creative work: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible also clearly affirms, in Ex. 20:11, that the creating of the heavens and the earth were acts that occurred within the single, contiguous period of six days: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The only valid conclusion from the context, is that the earth was originally without form because that is how God wanted to created it initially, so that He could spend a full six days finishing His creating (for our benefit of learning, of course, since He could have done it all in a single moment).

What these gap theorists (or, “Old-Earth Creationists”) propose is not supported by anything in the text of the creation account. There is no indication in the text whatsoever that this is anything other than a contiguous, uniform chronology. Regardless of the condition of the earth when God brought it into existence, the text does not interject any pause into the chronology. Rather, it is they who interject the pause, based not on the chronological indicators of the text, but on their own ideas about what the condition of the earth should indicate. An earth without form or in a state of disorder would not give even the slightest indication of a pause in chronology. If God can create an earth of any kind out of nothing in a moment, then He can certainly create an earth without form out of nothing in a moment. Where is the indication of a pause between the bringing of the earth into existence and the later creative work of God? There is no such pause indicated.

Gen. 1 ESV

1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Reading the chronology as it is plainly presented, it is clearly uniform and contiguous. The remainder of the account after the first verse begins with “and…” There is nothing here to indicate a pause, a “gap,” or a beginning that was separated from the uniform, daily chronology of the remainder of the historical account. There is nothing ambiguous here from the beginning to the end of the sixth day. The question of how the earth got into the condition described in v. 2 (“without form and void”) is plainly and obviously answered in v. 1: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Obviously, whatever condition it was in as described in v. 2 was the condition into which God created it. There is no need to seek out any mysterious complexity.

Gap theorists object that Isa. 45: 18 contradicts the idea of God creating the earth “without form:”

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Notice that “created it not in vain [without form]” is contrasted with “formed it to be inhabited.” This is not a denial that the earth was initially without form. Rather, it is a praise to God that He did not create the earth for the purpose of being without form (and thus, permanently so), but for the purpose of being inhabited. This is why one cannot merely stress definitions—the context is equally important to meaning. According to the plain, literal reading of the creation account in Gen. 1, God did indeed create the earth to be inhabited—He just took six days to do it.

The chaotic state of the earth in Gen 1:2 was a kind of disorder that is the simple lack of complexity, in the sense that a lump of clay has not been ordered into a jar—the clay is yet without form. If the passage is to be taken at “face value,” then God created the earth in such a state—without any form yet put into order—so that He could spend six days putting it into order.

Since the sins of angels could not put them under that physical death sentence, then neither did their sin bring that physical death into the world. Since no physical death sentence or principle of physical degeneration and mortality can apply to an angel, then—obviously—it was not the sin of any angel that incurred that sentence or caused that principle of mortality to come into the physical world. Physical death was brought into the universe only by those sinners who bear its sentence: men. Just as angels are not affected by the physical world, neither can they affect the laws of the physical world. Only man is at once spiritual and physical. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin…” (Rom. 5:12a, ESV). Not only did death come into man, it came into the world.

The supposed gap that is theorized by many does not fit into some gaping lack of continuity in the text. Instead, it is shoehorned into a space so small as to be made merely of conjecture. It is not as if the text does not flow from v.1 into v.2 smoothly and without discontinuity—the language used works well on its own as a self-contained narrative of contiguous events. There is nothing in the text to indicate a previous order that was destroyed and turned into disorder—except when such an idea is read into the text. It is not enough to propose an alternative reading that is plausible—it must fit better than the plain reading that it is supposed to replace.

A Common sense, ‘Straightforward’ Hermeneutic is Best

Dr. Albert Mohler advocates a common sense, “straightforward” hermeneutic, “The pattern of evening and morning, the literary structure, the testimony of the rest of Scripture—all point to 24-hour days when studied in a common sense fashion,” and, “The straightforward and direct reading of Genesis 1:1–2:3 describes seven 24-hour days—six days of creative activity and a final day of divine rest.”[2] The meaning of Scripture should be determined by the text itself, with due consideration of the context, the book, the genre, and the whole of Scripture. Rather than approaching the text with some rule that everything should be literal or everything figurative, we should approach the text with the expectation that the text itself can give sufficient evidence of the writer’s intended meaning. And while the Bible does contain a variety of literary genre, and does have parts that are poetic, parts that are cryptic and apocalyptic, and much that is figurative and symbolic, it is—if the whole is considered—largely a book of historical, factual accounts. That is why we go by the axiom, “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” In other words, we should not approach any passage of Scripture assuming that the plain, direct, straightforward sense might not be the intended meaning—unless that plain sense itself does not make sense.

It comes down to the question of whether the reader gives God’s Word the benefit of the doubt, by interpreting Scripture according to Scripture alone and letting the text speak for itself, or whether the reader allows the so-called evidences and arguments from outside of Scripture (formed by those who do not give God’s Word the benefit of the doubt) to carry more weight than the text itself. Those of the latter method must abandon the normal standards of exegesis (a straightforward, common sense hermeneutic) and adopt a method that seeks any plausible way to insert time-lapses, gaps, or ambiguities, in order to read into the text the presuppositions and evidences of secular science.

Must Scientific Evidences in Favor of Billions of Years be Given any Weight?

When it comes to origins, the Bible and secular science are irreconcilable. The approach used by science is only legitimate if God did not in fact recently create the earth in a supernatural way—and such a biased anti-supernatural approach is incapable of arriving at a knowledge of the truth if God did in fact create supernaturally and recently. Therefore, the nature of the question of origins is determined by what actually happened. The nature of the question is not determined by one’s chosen approach to the question. If what actually happened was in some way a natural process, then the nature of the question is scientific and scientific evidence carries due weight. However, if what actually happened was a supernatural event (immediate creation out of nothing), then science has no place in the matter and scientific evidence carries no weight, as the nature of the question is religious. You see, the question is not as the scientist insists, “How old can we prove this rock to be?” but rather, “How ‘old’ was this rock when God created it?” This illustrates the faulty anti-supernatural ground on which the world’s truth claims are now based.

Scientists cannot detect and measure any trace of “miracle particles” left behind by the supernatural creation event in order to prove that a recent, supernatural creation occurred and determine how long ago it happened. But neither can it be disproven by the lack of “miracle particles”—any more than it could be disproven by scientific dating methods that presuppose that a recent, supernatural creation did not happen. Most who deny a recent creation presume that objectivity would give weight to physical evidence in a supposedly unbiased way; however, this would be a biased a priori denial of the real possibility of a recent supernatural event. When considering origins, it is just as biased to assume from the start that a recent creation did not happen as it would be to assume that it did. Giving any weight whatsoever to any physical “evidence” involves a biased, unjustified assumption that a recent supernatural creation is not a valid possibility—else physical evidence would be irrelevant.

Consider for a moment what it would mean if God actually did create the world in six literal days, approximately 6000 years ago. Can you see that if this really is what happened, then any weight given to the evidences of secular science would be a compromise of the truth, and would only result in erroneous conclusions? Now, if you will, consider on what basis we decide whether or not the plain, direct, straightforward sense of the passage (which indicates a literal, 6-day, young-earth creation) is what we ought to accept? If the thing that weighs against our accepting of a plain, direct, straightforward reading is the very thing that—if the straightforward reading is indeed fact—only compromises the truth if accepted, then to admit such evidence and acknowledge any weight to it is to give up the argument from the start. To give any weight to the claims of secular science is to beg the question of whether or not the straightforward reading of Genesis 1 is correct. To the degree that Christians are willing to give weight to the claims of secular science, in contradiction to the plain, direct, straightforward reading of Scripture, they will compromise the truth.

Both the plain, direct, straightforward reading of Gen. 1 and the old-earth claims of secular science require the benefit of the doubt (or, conversely, an affirmation of faith). The real question is, to which will you give the benefit of the doubt? Either the benefit of the doubt is given to the straightforward reading of Scripture (in which case the claims of secular science are deemed invalid), or, the benefit of the doubt is given to the claims of secular science (in which case the straightforward reading of Scripture is deemed invalid). Both are presuppositions and the choice must be made between them. Both require a certain degree of a priori faith in their validity, and they are mutually exclusive. The choice is ours, but the truth is God’s; and choosing wrongly is the gateway to organizational apostasy.

What is at Stake?

The truth claims of Christianity—the authority of an inerrant and inspired Bible—were delegitimized (in the eyes of the world) as the world accepted as legitimate the truth claims of evolutionary science. The truth claims of evolution, including the billions-of-years chronology, gained legitimacy in the eyes of the world only gradually. But the sinful anti-supernatural bias of secular scientists fueled the over-confidence by which they dressed their claims in such an overwhelming certainty. That deceptive certainty made Biblical creationism ever more worthy of scorn and disgust. Many in the Church failed to notice the faulty anti-supernatural ground on which the evolutionists’ truth claims are based, and unintentionally helped give over the high ground to the enemy by engineering a compromise by which the irrefutable claims of science could be read into the text of the first chapter of Genesis. Hoping to preserve the truth claims of Christianity, they actually assisted in delegitimizing them—because in the face of these compromises, the world smiles and winks, knowing full well that the authority of Scripture has been undermined and the anti-Christian worldview has gained a new legitimacy.

The ultimate, most pervasive human bias is the bias against the truths of God and His Word. That is where the battle is engaged… and we are losing. This is not only about origins. If the Bible cannot be trusted in the first chapter, it cannot be trusted in any other—and if its text can be creatively reinterpreted in the first chapter to suit the world’s truth claims, then the same can be applied to any other chapter. If we allow ourselves to be bowled over by supposed evidence that contradicts a literal six-day, supernatural creation, then we unknowingly surrender to the “irrefutable evidence” against any man physically rising from the dead after three days. The way that we are losing the current battle over the right of the Church to view homosexual behavior as sinful results from the delegitimization of our truth claims. By losing our reasonable ground of legitimacy, we lose all moral high ground, and the nation loses its collective conscience. What hampered hatred and persecution of Christianity is disappearing.

What is desperately needed is for the evangelical Church to take a firm, uncompromising stand on the truth of a recent supernatural creation, and to dramatically increase the teaching of apologetics in our congregations and in our evangelizing. To regain the legitimacy of our truth claims in the eyes of the world, we must show them that the anti-supernatural assumption on which their science is based is unproven and fails as a supposed high ground of reason against our “blind faith.” And further, we must point out to them that if God really does exist, then He is not only capable of recent supernatural creation, but He is also capable of revealing the truth of His inspired word with utter certainty to those who are willing to embrace Him and His truth.

Ken Hamrick, 2013

(Content updated 11-14-2013)


[1] Ken Ham, “Could God Have Created in Six Days?”, found at http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/could-god-have-created-in-six-days
[2] Albert Mohler, “Why Does the Universe Look So Old?”, found at http://www.icr.org/article/5669/

11 comments

  1. Pingback: Weekend Links: Saturday Night Movies, and some Serious Thinking « creationscience4kids
  2. Bob Cleveland

    If it were possible for science to somehow “advance” to a point where it could “prove” the existence of God, and demonstrate the truth of scripture beyond doubt, it would eliminate the need for faith in God and replace it with faith in, or trust in, science. That leads me to believe that science will never be able to prove anything Spiritual, and hence it will never be able to disprove anything Spiritual, either.

    As a result, I refuse to consider scientific evidence either supporting or denying the truth of the Bible. If I consider one, I must also consider the other.

  3. parsonsmike

    As noted, science leaves the scientific field and dives into metaphysics when it seeks to speak to origins. But many ‘christian’ scientists check their faith at the door and accept false religious claims.

    Good post Ken¡

  4. Ken Hamrick

    @2 Bob,

    Science will certainly never be able to prove anything spiritual or supernatural. They won’t even consider the possibility. So what exactly is your position on Gen. 1?

  5. Bob Cleveland

    Ken, Genesis 1 means exactly what it says. I believe in 24-hour days. God referred to them all as days, before and after He put the sun in place, which started the 24-hour cycle of light & dark. To use that term for differing periods would be confusing for someone simply seeking the truth, and God isn’t the author of confusion. So .. 24 hours.

    That’s my story and I’m stickin’ with it.

  6. Bob Cleveland

    Ken, my philosophy was always that I didn’t really care to discuss the “day” mentioned in Genesis. I simply wanted to believe it, and besides, any evidence for things the Bible says, in my mind, must necessarily come from the Bible itself. Not from anything outside the Bible or what the Bible specifies (like the firmament revealing His invisible attributes). So I never cared to mess with it until I noticed His use of the word “day”, and the timing of it all.

  7. Jess

    I’ll take scripture any day over science, because scripture is proven, and stood the test of time. I saw a picture of the earth taken from the moon. There the earth was alone, with nothing around it. I’m reminded of what Job said, “the earth hangs on nothing”. The scripture speaks of wind currents, and ocean currents. All this before any scientists came into existence. Only to prove what the scriptures already has declared.

  8. Pingback: Young Earth Creationism and Presuppositionalism: A Response to J.W. Wartick | SBC Open Forum

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