Tom Ascol, over at the Founders blog, has documented an odd kerfuffle involving Dembski, Nettles, and Patterson. On the face of it, this is rather puzzling.
1. To my knowledge, Dembski has never made a secret about the fact that he subscribes to OEC rather than YEC. Didn't SWBTS know that when they hired him?
2. By the same token, OEC tends to be a package, just like YEC. Just as YEC typically subscribes to a global flood, OEC typically subscribes to a local flood. So why would it come as any surprise that Dembski subscribes to or inclines to a local flood interpretation?
3. After Nettles highlighted this and other issues, Dembski issued a public retraction: “If I were to write The End of Christianity now, I would do several things differently. At the top of the list of things I would change is its problematic treatment of Genesis 4–11. The book’s main focus is Genesis 1–3, and my argument for _the retroactive effects of the Fall_ does not require going beyond these first three chapters. Yet, in a brief section on Genesis 4–11, I weigh in on the Flood, raising questions about its universality, without adequate study or reflection on my part. Before I write on this topic again, I have much exegetical, historical, and theological work to do. In any case, not only Genesis 6–9 but also Jesus in Matthew 24 and Peter in Second Peter seem clearly to teach that the Flood was universal. As a biblical inerrantist, I believe that what the Bible teaches is true and bow to the text, including its teaching about the Flood and its universality."
Well, I suppose that, in the age of specialization, this disclaimer is possible. I must say, though, that it strains credulity. He's pushing 50. He has two earned doctorates (from the Ivy Leagues). He has a degree from Princeton Seminary.
He's been immersed in the natural sciences. And his work in ID-theory has forced him to position himself in relation to creation science. So I find it implausible that someone with his scientific curiosity and theological curiosity, at his point in life, doesn't have a considered position on the extent of the flood.
Seems more likely that he caved under pressure from the administration.
I suspect this is what happened. Patterson made his reputation as a staunch inerrantist who helped wrest the SBC from the liberals. Patterson probably found Nettles' review a personal embarrassment. Here’s a dreaded Calvinist in the SBC who’s taking a position to the right of the position taken by a prof. at the seminary where Patterson presides.
As long as Dembski maintained a low profile about his OEC views, all was well. But when a prof. from a rival SBC seminary drew attention to those views, that put Patterson in a bind–since YEC represents his natural constituency. So he tapped David Allen to write a hit-piece on Nettles to deflect attention away frm his own administration.
4. On a different note, it occurs to me that there's an ironic parallel between Dembski's kairotic/chronological time and Gosse's prochronic/diachronic time. In both cases you have historic effects without the antecedent history.