This week, we're reviewing a series of essays in the Baptist Messenger by OBU's Whitlock-era religion hires. You may find the original article for this review here.
Can I be honest for a minute? I'm not even really sure where to begin speaking on this article.
The last two articles were not that bad. Honestly, I disagree with a lot of the implications of what they say and I'm not sure that those implications bode well for a liberal arts university-- but I wasn't grinding my teeth or anything to read them. At least, I understand where they're coming from. And having grown up in a pretty conservative church, I probably would've agreed with them for a lot of my life.
Actually, the most ironic part of the whole story is that if I hadn't gone to OBU, I would probably still agree with them! But I did go to OBU and found a safe place where I could open my mind to new ideas and see that God had created a much bigger world than I had once thought. And that is the freedom that I am trying to protect for future students. Some will still come out on the side of worldview and that's fine. But some will come out like me, and that needs to be fine too.
But when I saw this article, I cringed. The truth is, if this one had never been written, I'm not sure if this series would even exist. The underlying logical assumptions of the article are so flawed, I'm not even sure how to summarize it fairly as I did with the other two.
You'll have to just go read it yourself.
Probably the best thing I can say about this article is that the author chooses to quote the NASB-- which is at least not the sexist ESV. Did you know, the ESV was specifically made as a reaction against the NRSV in order to counter their effort to use gender inclusive language? Now you know. But the author does not choose this favorite version of Reformed thinkers everywhere (granted, he's not going for the gender inclusive NRSV either) to borrow his quotes.
However, since in this article not only God is male but also all humans, I think the point is moot and negated anyway. I just wanted to find maybe something that could be said for the positive.
The article begins by setting up a straw man of "the evolutionists" and explaining that all of "the evolutionists" believe the world came together randomly about 4.5 billion years ago. They say it came from dust, etc. without a creator, but maybe some aliens. In this process, humans came from "'ape' men" and without a maker have "no code of ethics and have no need of eternal salvation."
The author then contrasts this view with the "biblical" view that God made the world from nothing in six days and man [sic] was made from the dust of the earth in order to glorify God.
First of all, not only does the author set up a straw man of evolutionists as though they are all godless heathens or something like that, but it also creates a false dichotomy between Young Earth Creationism and atheism. We'll get more to that later. But first, I want to comment on the use of the term "the evolutionists."
Probably the majority of the OBU science department should be offended that this man is using the term "evolutionist" to imply atheist-- or at least all of the ones I've talked to. Also, probably a fair portion of the Bible professors I had should be offended that he's implying the only "biblical" way to see the world is Young Earth Creationism. But honestly, the part that gets me the most is this lie that people who are not Christians have no sense of ethics. Let's not be ridiculous. Everyone who is not a sociopath knows the difference between right and wrong and I know plenty of people who worship no God and are quite fine to be nice and even to treat their neighbors as they would want to be treated.
If he's basing his "worldview" on the idea that if you're not a Christian you're a terrible person, he's going to be very disappointed when he meets some very kind people who are just not interested in church. -- But I guess, in fairness, I'll give him the point that they most often are not interested in eternal salvation.
So now the options are godless heathen or young earth creationist. And if you don't read the Bible (which, by the way, never says anything anywhere about 4004 BC) and think you know more about the age of the earth than, I don't know, anyone who has ever dedicated their entire life to scientific research, then I guess you are doing it wrong. So, six literal days it is, that's the only way to read it.
But it's time for me to move on.
The rest of the article is not much more than some strings of bible verses taken out of context to "prove" whatever he is saying. It's pretty bland stuff: man [sic] is made to worship God, plants and animals can't, don't worship them either, man [sic] is supposed to be holy, man [sic] is accountable to God. (I hope you're all seeing the pattern. If anyone could let me know what women are supposed to be doing at this point, I'd be pretty grateful.)
God is forever, unchanging, made the world from nothing-- using words and in six days. Man [sic] is made to glorify God. We've all sinned, etc. Thanks to Adam and Eve we can all look forward to a lake of fire... But Jesus came to save us (now we are all called simply, sinners-- at least it's gender neutral?) if we believe in his death and resurrection.
The author then goes back to creation to mention again that all people are made in the image of God, which means reason enough to submit to God. Thus, there is right and wrong (interesting move, his prooftext for that is the 10 commandments. No thoughts, it's just interesting.). So man [sic] is not a "higher animal" and also genocide is wrong.
Finally, since all people are sinful and all people are in God's image (capacity to follow God), we should do missions and proclaim the way of salvation throughout the earth.
Mostly, I end the article confused, wondering how in this brief span of words-- most of which are quoted proof texts-- we managed to hit missions and genocide and also the sinfulness of all humanity. Also, I guess the implication is that everyone who believes in a literal six day creation believes all of this and anyone who doesn't, doesn't believe any of it.
Well, that sort of false dichotomy has no place at a university.
And if that's not enough, at the end of the page he suggests further reading material including a Young Earth Creationist apologetics book where "theologians" talk about "scientific evidence."
Oh, and answersingenesis.org -- which is the website run by the people who made the Creation museum.
I'm kind of surprised he didn't try to argue it like this. (Oh, it's real.)
Ok. I've been rude, and I'm sorry, but I'm just not sure if there is another appropriate way to respond to such an article.
But on a serious note, I am not saying that you shouldn't be a Young Earth Creationist. I'm saying you should be able to explore the options and decide for yourself which is the most convincing-- that's called learning. If you, like the author of this article, come out with 6 day creation in 4004 BC, then that's great.
But don't say that there's only one way to read that story. And don't think if people disagree with you that they are all godless. That's ridiculous-- and that attitude definitely has no place at a Christian university.