False Charges Against Creationists
I’ve seen a lot of charges made against creationists, especially by those who are antagonistic to God, the Bible, and creationism. How should we respond to these kinds of charges?
When one encounters an ideological position with which he disagrees, there are several possible reactions. He could honestly reflect upon the new idea, carefully research it, and give it a fair consideration. That certainly would be the noble thing to do. Then again, if the concept makes him uncomfortable, he might simply ignore it, hoping it will “go away.” On the other hand he may, as a consequence of intense philosophical bias, immediately reject it with a vengeance. In such a case, it is possible that one may so despise a teaching that he will caricature it. That is, he will present it in an absurd light so that, hopefully, he can deter others from even giving it consideration. Unfortunately, this latter approach has been demonstrated repeatedly in the creation/evolution controversy. Evolutionists, and religionists who have been influenced significantly by them, are constantly misrepresenting biblical creationism in an effort to bolster their own faltering cause. In this article, I propose to highlight some of these spurious attempts to discredit the biblical teaching relative to the doctrine of creation.
1. Creationists believe that the world was created in 4004 B.C.
John Lightfoot (1602-1675), the prominent Hebraist of Cambridge University, once suggested that the creation events of Genesis 1 transpired the week of October 18-24, 4004 B.C., with Adam being made on October 23rd at 9:00 in the morning (Ramm, 1954, p. 174). For this speculation, of course, there is absolutely no support. Nevertheless, this incident is repeatedly resurrected by evolutionists (both atheistic and theistic) and associated with modern creationism. There is simply no validity to this tactic.
What creationists do contend is this. First, the Bible clearly indicates that both the Earth and the human family came into existence during the same week. The Earth, in its rudimentary form, was created on the first day of the creation week (Genesis 1:1), and man and woman were fashioned on the sixth day of the same week (Genesis 1:26ff.). Second, that initial week was a literal week of seven normal days. This is demonstrated by a consideration of Exodus 20:11 where it is apparent contextually that the “days” of the creation week were of the same type as the sabbath “day,” which every Hebrew was required to observe weekly. Third, there are chronological data in the Scriptures which indicate that the human family, back to Adam (the first man, 1 Corinthians 15:45), has been in existence only several thousand years—certainly not millions of years as evolutionists claim. While there may be some minor elasticity in the genealogical records (cf. Genesis 11:12; Luke 3:35-36), attempts to accommodate the biblical genealogies to evolutionary anthropology result in gross textual distortion. As J. Barton Payne noted, this concept “leaves the Bible’s detailed lists of figures as generally pointless” (1975, 1:831).
2. The creationist concept of a relatively young Earth is the result of a millennialist theology.
This allegation generally is employed to intimidate those who reject the notion of premillennialism (as well they should), but who are inclined to accept the Genesis record at face value, thus accepting the fact that all living kinds were made within the same creation week. An example of this ploy is seen in the following allegation. In referring to “scientific creationism,” one compromising writer alleged that “the theological basis of most” of this type of teaching is the result of “the close association with millennial tradition” (Clayton, 1993, p. 20; see Sears, 1983, p. 415, for the same charge). Of course, not a word of proof was offered for this baseless charge, because there is none.
There is absolutely no intrinsic connection between the affirmation that the entire creation was accomplished in six literal days—a truth clearly set forth in the Scriptures—and the theological speculation (with no semblance of scriptural support) that Christ will return to the Earth and reign for 1,000 years on David’s throne in Jerusalem. Elsewhere we have dealt with this matter more specifically (see Jackson, 1985). We are gratified that agnostic writer Ronald Numbers, in his book, The Creationists, has noted correctly that the writings issuing from the offices of Apologetics Press have not been associated with any type of premillennial assumptions (1992, p. 315).
3. Creationists believe that God specifically made each individual species of plant and animal life.
While some writers of the past argued for the fixity of species, modern creationist scholars do not. Those who have given ample study to the biblical text, and who have confidence in its reliability, simply affirm, in the language of Scripture, that God made all biological organisms “after their kind” (Genesis 1:11ff.). The term “kind” (Hebrew, min) is employed 31 times in the Old Testament (ten times in the initial chapter of the Bible). It is a generic word that certainly allows for considerable biological modification. As professor W.H. Rusch has observed, “There is absolutely no justification for equating this Genesis ‘kind’ with the species of the biologist” (1959, p. 14).
In Leviticus 11:16, Moses refers to “the owl...after his kind,” and yet there are more than 250 known species of owls. The original dog family probably included the potential for producing the more than 200 different breeds of domestic dogs, the Australian dingoes, coyotes, wolves, possibly jackals and foxes, and maybe even hyenas, though these animals are now classified as different species. Walter Kaiser has commented: “God created the basic forms of life called min which can be classified according to modern biologists and zoologists as sometimes species, sometimes genus, sometimes family or order. This gives no support to the classical evolutionist view which requires developments across kingdom, phyla, and classes” (1980, 1:503-504).
What the creationist insists is this: the Bible does not allow for the notion that all biological life forms have descended from a common ancestor (or even a few initial forms). Invertebrates have not produced vertebrates; fish do not evolve into reptiles; reptiles do not become birds; birds are not transformed into mammals, etc. The creationist believes that both Scripture and science support horizontal variation within basic kinds—not vertical evolution. There is a vast difference between the two.
4. Creationists are anti-science.
There is no truth to this charge. The fact of the matter is, creationists recognize that science deals with present phenomena; this discipline is, by the very nature of its methodology, incapable of determining events/ processes that transpired thousands of years ago. Paul Weiss expressed it like this: “All science begins with observation, the first step of the scientific method. At once this delimits the scientific domain; something that cannot be observed cannot be investigated by science” (1965, p. 40).
It is a scientific fact that water freezes at 32°F. It is not a scientific fact that biological life was “spontaneously generated” a few billion years ago. That is evolutionary speculation. Self-confessed agnostic Robert Jastrow has addressed this very point:
Perhaps the appearance of life on the earth is a miracle. Scientists are reluctant to accept that view, but their choices are limited; either life was created on the earth by the will of a being outside the grasp of scientific understanding, or it evolved on our planet spontaneously, through chemical reactions occurring in nonliving matter lying on the surface of the planet.
The first theory places the question of the origin of life beyond the reach of scientific inquiry. It is a statement of faith in the power of a Supreme Being not subject to the laws of science.
The second theory is also an act of faith. The act of faith consists in assuming that the scientific view of the origin of life is correct, without having concrete evidence to support that belief (1977, p. 52).
Creationists do not reject genuine (proven) facts of science. What they do dispute are unsupported theories that have been designed to explain those facts. For instance, it is a fact that there are certain similarities between the bone structures of animals and men. However, it is an unsubstantiated speculation to suggest that this indicates that humans evolved from animals. Creationists are not opposed to true science.
Additionally, it is worthy of mention that many of the greatest minds in the history of science have been firmly committed to the idea of supernatural creation. Men like Newton, Pasteur, Kepler, Lister, Boyle, Pascal, and others—household names in science—were not atheists; they believed that science and the concept of creation were quite compatible. It is the worst form of misrepresentation to suggest that those who believe in creation are anti-science (see Jackson, 1993).
5. Creationists take the Bible literally.
When the charge is made that “creationists take the Bible literally” the aim is to leave a negative impression. It is implied subtly that a “literal” perception of the biblical text reflects an antiquated, uneducated viewpoint. The truth is, such an allegation hints of the inclination to interpret the Genesis record in a symbolic (mythological) way. The real motive behind such an ambition is to accommodate the Mosaic record to Darwin’s evolutionary ideology. Two observations need to be made regarding this criticism.
First, there are no negative connotations per se associated with literalism. When the Declaration of Independence affirms that “all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” it is a valid assumption that the term “men” denotes real human beings, and that the authors of this document believed that there is a literal “Creator.” It is quite reasonable to view this reference in a literal way. In fact, a basic rule of literature interpretation is this: a statement ought to be viewed as literal unless there are compelling reasons for rejecting a literal concept and assigning figurative meaning to the language. There is no reason to view the creation narrative as a figurative treatise. There is a solid body of evidence which indicates that a literal God literally created the entire literal Universe in six literal days. Again we insist—there is nothing, except anti-supernatural bias, that searches for symbolism in Genesis 1.
Second, even literal and historical events can be depicted with figurative terminology without any sacrifice of genuine historicity. When the Old Testament affirms that the Ten Commandments were written with the “finger of God,” even though we acknowledge that Jehovah is not physical, and thus anthropomorphism was employed to describe Him, we still must conclude that God Himself actually gave the Decalogue in a miraculous fashion. When Jesus foretold that He had a dreaded “cup” to drink, we recognize the symbolism, yet we are aware that the Savior was literally going to be subjected to the bitter pangs of Calvary. Thus, the charge of “literalism” against creationists is meaningless.
6. Creationists attempt to make the Bible a textbook on science.
Again, the accusation is completely false, and, in reality, is a thinly veiled suggestion that the Scriptures are not trustworthy in scientific matters. There is an invalid form of reasoning known as false obversion. Such a fallacy obtains when one attempts to draw a negative conclusion from a positive statement (or vice versa). For example, a salesman in New England had difficulty selling white eggs, because people were used to buying brown eggs. So, he inserted in his store window a sign which read, “Our eggs are guaranteed not to turn brown.” Of course, white eggs can be kept under refrigeration for six months without turning brown. But he wanted people to draw the inference that the brown eggs people were purchasing were once white eggs that had turned brown. He committed the fallacy of false obversion. Similarly, when critics charge: “The Bible is not a textbook on science,” they are generally suggesting that it is factually flawed in areas of science. They have then committed the same fallacy (see Dillow, 1981, p. 1).
While it certainly is true that the Scriptures never were intended to be a “textbook” on biology, geology, chemistry, mathematics, etc., it is not the case that they contain blunders in these disciplines. For example, in its use of figurative language characteristic of apocalyptic literature, the book of Revelation suggests that 12,000 people were “sealed” unto God from twelve different tribes of Israel. The reader has every right to expect that the total number of this symbolic company would be 144,000—which is exactly the figure given by the inspired writer (7:4). The Bible is not a textbook on physics, but when it contends that the creation process is “finished” (Genesis 2:1), and thus by implication that nothing is being created currently, we are gratified to note that this is precisely what the First Law of Thermodynamics suggests. And when the Scriptures affirm that the Universe is “growing old” (Hebrews 1:11), we can expect that to be a statement of fact, as indeed the Second Law of Thermodynamics confirms. Just because creationists contend that the Scriptures are accurate, even when touching on incidental matters of science, does not mean that we are attempting to make the Bible into a science textbook. That is a false charge.
7. Creationists believe that dinosaurs never existed.
A charge occasionally made against creationists, in an attempt to make them look ridiculous, is the assertion that these simple folk believe that dinosaurs never existed in the past. It is alleged that creationists contend that God merely placed dinosaur bones in the Earth’s strata to make it appear that these huge creatures once roamed this planet. Can this accusation be documented from a solitary publication distributed by scholars of the creationist movement? It cannot.
While it may be true that a rare, uninformed religious person, who does not know how to deal with the dinosaur problem, will idly advance this uneducated opinion, it certainly is not representative of those who are well-informed in Bible/science matters. The truth is, creationists have published a considerable body of excellent material dealing with dinosaurs. Actually, we teach a more balanced and correct view of the dinosaur phenomenon than do the evolutionists.
True creationists—and I am referring to those who have not yielded to the compromises of theistic evolution—not only argue that dinosaurs lived upon the ancient Earth, but also contend that these marvelous examples of God’s wisdom and power were contemporary with ancient humanity, and that very likely there are allusions to dinosaurs and other extinct reptiles in the Bible. The book of Job (40:15ff.) may very well contain reference to these creatures (see Jackson, 1983, pp. 85-88; Bromling, 1993; Thompson, 1993).
In conclusion we confidently affirm that the creationist case is quite strong, and is not weakened by the misrepresentations of those who have no confidence in the Scriptures.
Bromling, Brad T. (1993), “Dinosaurs in the Bible?,” Reason & Revelation, 13:60, August.
Clayton, John N. (1993), “Book Reviews,” Does God Exist?, 20:19-20, March/April.
Dillow, Joseph C. (1981), The Waters Above (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Jackson, Wayne (1983), The Book of Job (Abilene, TX: Quality Publishing).
Jackson, Wayne (1985), “Premillennialism and Biblical Creationism,” Reason & Revelation, 5:17-20, May.
Jackson, Wayne (1993), “Are Faith and Science Compatible?,” Christian Courier, 29:25-27, November.
Jastrow, Robert (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: Warner Books).
Kaiser, Walter C. (1980), “Kind,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R.L. Harris, G.L. Archer, B.K. Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody Press), 1:503-504.
Numbers, Ronald (1992), The Creationists (New York: Knopf).
Payne, J. Barton (1975), “Chronology of the Old Testament” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 1:829-845.
Ramm, Bernard (1954), The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Rusch, Wilbert H. (1959), “Darwinism, Science and the Bible,” Darwin, Evolution, and Creation, ed. Paul A. Zimmerman (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).
Sears, Jack Wood (1983), “How The Worlds Were Framed,” Studies in Hebrews, ed. Dub McClish (Denton, TX: Valid Publications).
Thompson, Bert (1993), “The Dinosaur Controversy,” Reason & Revelation, 13:57-59,61, August.
Weiss, Paul (1965), Elements of Biology (New York: McGraw-Hill).