Monday, September 23, 2013

Whose rules rule?

Mature creation rubs a lot of folks the wrong way. Not just unbelievers, but many professing believers. Why is that? Well, perhaps there's more than one reason. For one thing, it isn't a scientific explanation. Rather, it's a theological explanation. It transcends the scientific framework. It operates at a different level altogether.

Nowadays, even scientific creationists are apt to shy away from mature creation. As scientists, they prefer scientific explanations, wherever possible. 

Also, some people find it desperate. We beat you fair and square, so you changed the rules! 

Historically, there may be some truth to that allegation. As ever more ostensible evidence piled up for the antiquity of the earth, something more drastic was required to maintain the traditional dogma. 

Mind you, even if that's the case, I don't think that's a damning admission. There's a term for that: paradigm shift. Yes, that's become a cliche. Even folks who never read Kuhn use that phrase. 

When classical physicists lost, they changed the rules. Quantum physics changes the rules. Nonlocality. Schrödinger's cat. 

When Newtonian physicists lost, they changed the rules. Relativity changes the rules. Einstein had a fundamentally different concept of time and space. In science, you can't get more fundamental than that. 

So even if Christians like Gosse were guilty of changing the rules after they lost, so what? That's nothing new or shameful. 

Secularists think everyone should play by the same rules. Their rules. 

Speaking for myself, I admit that I play by a different set of rules. However, I didn't change the rules. I never agreed to their rules in the first place. And I invite them to play by my rules. 

Ironically, what many people find objectionable about mature creation is what I like about it. Yes, it's theological. And as a Christian, I naturally gravitate towards theological explanations. Explanations that require God–directly or indirectly.  

God is greater than we can possibly imagine. Do we really take that into account? Or do we piously nod, then quickly forget it. By definition, creatures tend to lead mundane lives. That's what it means to be a creature. Nature is ordinary. That's what we're used to. 

We must constantly remind ourselves of what God means. The ultimate, unfathomable reality of God. The difference he makes to anything and everything. 

Mature creation is the flip-side of methodological naturalism. The atheist exclaims, "Ah ha! That just goes to show what happens once you let a divine foot in the door!"

But from a Christian standpoint, the universe is just a snow globe in God's almighty hand. 

Original creation is a uniquely divine act. Something only God could do. God has endowed some creatures with the ability to recreate or procreate, but not originate. 

Likewise, when critics bring up genetic commonalities between humans and apes, I've responded by invoking the principle of plenitude. That's a theological explanation rather than a scientific explanation. But if we take God's existence seriously, then what's implausible about that? And if we don't take his existence seriously, then so much the worse for us! 

Howard Van Till pushed God so far into the background that one day he woke up an atheist. 

Of course, mature creation could still be wrong. But not for the usual reasons. 


  1. "I never agreed to their rules in the first place."


  2. "as a Christian, I naturally gravitate towards theological explanations
    Me too. But given the various view set forth, is there a good methodology for discerning which is correct?

  3. Apart from divine revelation, we really can't tell from the inside what the outside is like.

  4. Steve, what is the best literature in defense of mature creation? And who are its major proponents? Have you written anything you see as adding to the argument?

    (I have benefited from you pointing to the premier literature on YEC stuff - very helpful - its hard to know where to start otherwise)

  5. Also, when you say "As ever more ostensible evidence piled up for the antiquity of the earth" - do you have in view a particular book or line of evidence? What are the best books against YEC? I'd like to read both sides,

    Many thanks,

    1. Here's a standard treatment: The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth, by Davis A. Young & Ralph Stearley ( IVP Academic, 2008).

      Of course, that wouldn't faze YECs, who are quite familiar with the stock objections.

  6. Thanks, any pointers for Mature Creation?

  7. God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe, by John Byl

    Faith, Form, and Time: What the Bible Teaches and Science Confirms about Creation and the Age of the Universe, by Kurt Wise

  8. Thanks, I hope to read them both. I imagine this approach is unpopular with some other YEC-ers then?