Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Grudem On Creation

Wayne Grudem’s chapter on Creation in his Systematic Theology is quite a challenge. There is much discussion about the age of the earth that may be frustrating for those Christians like myself, who have already seen the wheel reinvented. I say this knowing that Christians must always be willing to reevaluate their beliefs. It is just frustrating to spend an entire chapter to basically come to the conclusion of “on the other hand”, it could be…

Grudem seems persuaded by Davis Young’s argumentation that the old earth model is “based on many kinds of scientific data from different disciplines…too be very strong.” He says this while also concluding that this militates against the natural sense of Genesis 1-11 especially 1-2.

In his section on Flood Geology he writes,

“I am not persuaded that all of the earth’s geological formations were caused by Noah’s Flood rather than by millions of years of sedimentation, volcanic eruptions, movement of glaciers, continental drift, and so forth."

This is all very interesting since even Flood Geologists don’t claim this in the absolute sense. Mount St. Helen was clearly changing the landscape post flood as recently as 1980. But he continues on to say something that is even more troubling:

"The controversy over Flood geology is strikingly different from other areas of dispute regarding creation, for its advocates have persuaded almost no professional geologists, even those who are Bible-believing evangelical Christians."

He then argues how there are books objecting to Darwinian-evolution since the theory’s inception. This is precisely the problem. Why should one accept geology that is outside of the biblical framework while not accepting Darwinian evolution? Let’s face it. It is easier to see the relation philosophically between biological evolution and special creation of Adam than it is between geological evolution and the Genesis Flood. The Flood is one of the most unbelievable stories in the Bible. We simply ignore the major impact it has on the narrative of Redemptive-history and its massive impact on the earth itself.

On page 299 Grudem writes, “These arguments favor an old earth view…” What arguments? He writes:

“Some of Young’s most forceful arguments for an old earth, in addition to those from radiometric dating, include the time required for…continental drift (fossil-bearing rock fields near the coasts of Africa and South America were apparently previously joined together, then separated by continental drift, something that could not have happened in 20,000 years at the present rate of two centimeters per year)…”

This reminded me of an atheist acquaintance I had back in New Hampshire, who said to me, “The flood could never happened because there is not enough water on the world to cover the earth. Look at the mountains for crying out loud.!”

This kind of argumentation is a clear example of violating the very thing we say we ought not to do. Whenever we read into the text of Scripture our traditions, then we do violence to the text itself and mute God’s voice.

One Flood geologists sings in a song he wrote:

Millions of dead things

Buried in rock layers

Laid down by water

All over the earth

Flood geology may not be convincing to the modern mind (evangelical or otherwise), but I have been reading and hearing story after story of how we find fossils and sedimentary layers all over the earth laid down by water activity. I must agree with Geologist Steve Austin. He argued in a video that Mount St. Helen will someday radically change geology science. I once saw a Nova [if I remember correctly] Special that interviewed scientists of many different fields making predictions about what life will be like for years to come at Mt. St. Helen. For the first half of the program all of the scientists made predictions based on their evolutionary worldview. The last half of the program was something I’ll never forget. They all had to reject what they had learned in school. Their predictions were flat wrong.

Simply because men assume that the continents have always been drifting at the rate of 2 cm per year doesn’t mean that is true. It is assumptions like that and that water could not cover the earth because the mountains are to high when Psalm 102 tells us that the mountains were raised after the flood that cause unbelief in the "natural interpretation" of the text. (For some reason, Grudem accepts the world-wide flood. But the arguments against his belief is based upon the exact same arguments!)

In conclusion, although, I agree with Grudem that if a text is unclear about a scientific position, science could perhaps gives some insight into a text. What I disagree with Grudem whole-heartedly is that all of the disciplines of man should submit to the authority of God’s Word, especially the clear teaching of Scripture. I have yet to understand why men radically change their hermeneutic when it comes to Genesis, but they are so willing to die for a literal crucifixion and burial and resurrection. Grudem must be aware that resurrection is just as radical as Flood geology, if not more so! It makes me wonder if men like Grudem are truly confident that Christ is coming again and that at His coming He will very quickly restore the heavens and earth? (I know he is, this is just a rhetorical question.)

May I recommend an excellent video by Steve Austin that addresses many of Grudem's concerns. You may get it here. You will never view geology the same way again.


Paul said...

I was hoping that you would do some more posting about Genesis. I am not sure you ever received my email about some questions some of my friends were asking. At any rate, the subject of biological evolution and geological science has been in the back of my mind for about 6 months. All boiling down to the inerrancy of scripture. I have been reading men like Hitchens (not very scientific, but a good launching point), Daniel Dennet, and Dawkins. Specifically dealing with the area of biological determinism. This all started with a gentleman I have been visiting with at work. All that to say, I hope you do some more posting on this, since the resources seem to be all over the map on this subject. This Grudem post is a good example. I will admit, there are times when Satan is quick to shoot doubts of inerrancy into my mind. However, ALL, and I mean ALL of scripture is inerrant. Grudem would agree I am sure. For some reason we seem to bow to the “scientific” world as evangelicals. Why? I think it is because we (collective evangelicals) do not truly believe every word is inspired. I can personally think of things in Genesis that are harder than the flood to deal with (time, space, light, man, language, animals, plants, etc…) But these and the flood are clearly laid out in scripture and it is without error. And for anyone who thinks I am being naive, the evolutionist and their theories are 100x more naïve.

Howard Fisher said...


First, I did send you an email in response to a question you had about resources. It was the only one I had seen.

As for this post, there were many problems that I could easily have pointed out and probably needed to in order for this post to really make sense. If I did, though, then it would be a mile long.

I should say that Grudem most definitely defends infallibility, yet he walks a fine line when he does so. His chapter is lengthy and in one sense very good at having the willingness to interact with many resources and topics. On the other hand, he doesn't follow through with his own supposed hermeneutic. When someone is inconsistent in their interpretive method, you know immediately that a tradition (scientific or otherwise) has altered the conclusion.

For instance, is he really going to believe in continental drift and volcanoes and earth quakes as being "very good"? This obvious point didn't even seem to come across his radar.

Simply because Flood geology is rejected by most geologists is ridiculous. I once asked a Christian who taught geology why he believed in the old earth model. His response was simply an assumption. The assumption being that natural processes have always occurred and blah blah blah..... Yet he rejected biological evolution. On what basis did he do so? The contradiction in Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15 is too obvious.

Who believes in a real global flood that radically changed the world? Do we really need to? For some reason it is just the unspoken 3rd rail. It is simply assumed.

God Bless

Howard Fisher said...

Allow me to pose the question another way. If Grudem is so convinced that the earth has been full of volcanoes and suffering continental drifts for millions of years, then is it not a safe assumption that the world today is pretty the same as it has been for at least a million years? If this is the case, what does the creation need to be liberated from? Why do we need a new heaven and earth? Why does Jesus speak of the regeneration? Regenerating what?

This kind of thinking leads to liberation from mankind's pollution or mankind's poor social behavior.

Anonymous said...

If you have never been exposed, might I suggest the teachings of Ken Ham with Answers in Genesis. I struggled for as long as I can remember with this issue and after the first session of his video series, it was all she wrote. Hope it helps.

Howard Fisher said...

Thanks Jason. AiG is a great ministry and resource. I think they might agree with what I wrote, if they could follow my poorly written thought.


God Bless

Howard Fisher said...

I thought I'd make a clarification on Grudem's statements on the flood. He believes that the flood is a real historical event. Yet he also ascribes to geological evolution such as Africa separating from south America. If we accept the geologist's premise of long periods of time, how could the flood be above every mountain?

In other words, to be consistent, Grudem would have to admit that it takes millions of years to form mountains. There simply is not enough water to cover Mt. Everest at the current rate of growth working backwards 4-5 thousand years ago.

Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.