Ross Olson's Web Site


A Reaction to the ______ _______ Lessons
Taught by _____________
February 2 and 9, 1997

The enclosed letters were sent to _____, after each of the lessons as points of discussion, with the understanding that they would be eventually made available to the class. _____ has chosen to not respond in writing but is happy to interact regarding these matters privately.

It is my hope that this issue can become a test case for the ability to respect and love our brothers and sisters in Christ at the same time as we discuss points of disagreement. This is a spiritual as well as an intellectual exercise. We can have fellowship and work together on the basis of our common membership in the family of God by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Some points of disagreement may be trivial, some may be significant. Some may be snares to the next theological generation. Which ones fit that bill is an area where we disagree.

_____ feels that Christians being too far outside the scientific mainstream becomes a hindrance to the gospel and an unnecessary barrier to unbelievers. I believe that being too quick to reject what seems to be a clear teaching of Scripture for the sake of what might be an ephemeral scientific understanding may put us in the position of rationalizing away some of the Lord's demands.

I hope I am speaking the truth in love, and if it is not perceived as the truth, that at least it is seen as motivated by love. It is all too easy to let human emotions influence thinking. In looking at a controversial issue, the heart must be right. I have to say to myself, "Could I be wrong? If so, could I be convinced? If I were convinced, would I be willing to change?"

Like so many aspects of knowledge, it is possible to see the truth on many different levels. Some look at a garden of beautiful flowers and say, "I know God made this." Others need to get hard data and look at the DNA before they conclude that it is designed. The depth is there for those who look for it. But not all need it or want it.

Ross S.Olson

February 5, 1997

_____ _______
Minneapolis MN


Here is a commentary on your February 2 talk. I send it to you now, prior to the next session, and will make it available to those who participated in the class at the conclusion of the series. You may obviously respond during the class next Sunday or in writing.

You stated that general revelation (nature) and special revelation (the Scripture) are equal and God is truthful in both. God can suspend natural law but if He does so all the time, it becomes impossible to learn anything about creation. I agree.

But the depravity of the human mind makes it possible to misinterpret either source of knowledge, but especially nature. The Scripture, because of its propositional nature, especially when taken as a whole, is much less likely to mislead, although I have seen the most bizarre ideas supported by a series of verses taken out of context. Also, the details of the plan of salvation are laid out only in Scripture. Often, people looking only at nature say, "I don't want to believe in a God who allows evil to happen." The origin of that evil is addressed in the Scripture and the incredible glimpse of God's love for us in His sacrificial response.

You commented on the method of science and mentioned the typical progression from hypothesis to observation leading to support or refutation resulting in rejection or revision of the hypothesis. I also basically agree. I only wish evolution were placed under those constraints. For example, change by mutations would predict many transitions between types, and fossils of these organisms ought to be scattered throughout the geologic record. When they were acknowledged to be absent, what Stephen Gould called "the trade secret of the paleontologist," he and Eldridge came up with the hypothesis of "punctuated equilibrium," which says that changes took place in such small isolated populations at such relatively rapid speed that they were not preserved.

Well, you might say, that's a revision. Yet since the genetic mechanism already stretches credibility beyond the breaking point even with vast ages, "relatively short" times makes it out of the question. And with the millions of transitions needed between all the varieties, there ought to be SOME preserved after all. Why was not the hypothesis of change over time rejected? As I stated, this is clearly because it is point of faith that there must be a natural explanation.

You did complain that some critics of origins studies make a big point of claiming that real science must include experiments. I do not necessarily disagree with that view, but do insist that there is a difference between experimental science and that which uses other types of evidence. You know very well, for instance, that some observations in medicine can be misleading and only hands-on data can decipher the truth. For example, I have seen hysterical pseudo-seizures that looked real and real seizures that looked fake. An EEG and perhaps a few other studies can help clarify.

Historical science's conclusions should not carry the same weight as conclusions based on carefully controlled experiments, even though I believe it is possible to gather and interpret data that builds a scientific case. Even so, there is a big difference between measuring the spectral output of a distant star and heating elements in the laboratory.

You also made a side comment regarding the type of references that are used to support an idea and the sort of publications in which an idea appears. I know what you are talking about and theoretically it has some validity -- for example, reports of extraterrestrial life in the National Inquirer don't carry the weight of the New York Times. But it also smells of intellectual snobbery. Does a degree from Harvard make you automatically smarter than a person with a degree from St. Cloud State? Not necessarily. And when there is ideological control of certain publications, some ideas are automatically excluded that might just be true.

You also spoke of the efficiency of science using Occam's Razor (the simplest explanation of those available, the explanation that needs the fewest assumptions and that best fits the data.) It also must be reproducible. "If you have to alter physical laws," you said, "reject the hypothesis."

This advice was not used, however, in the case of special relativity. To explain the Michelson Morley experiment, that the speed of light was the same in both directions, by hypothesizing that time distorts. There were and are other explanations, such as Herbert Dingle's and Thomas Barnes, that light is affected by the nearby bodies and its motion is relative to the electromagnetic fields of those bodies. This does not have to assume something so counter-intuitive as time distortion, something some might call "altering a physical law."

You spoke of several myths. One is that science can explain the supernatural. It cannot and I agree. Science also cannot rule out the supernatural. In other words, cannot say miracles do not exist. I'm sure you agree. Included in this would be the idea that science cannot say what God might or might not have done. For example, Stephen Gould claims that the sort of "jerry-rigged" arrangement of the Panda's extra thumb is an imperfection that a creator certainly would not have designed.

You also said that modification of scientific hypotheses is not admission of guilt (as in, "Aha! So you really are guessing after all!") I agree, but it does illustrate that the explanations we accept today may be rejected tomorrow and all of them, today's and tomorrows, could actually be wrong. You stated later in the talk that changes take place but that there are not 180 degree turns. I beg to differ. At one time, continental drift was considered a laughable fantasy. Now Plate Tectonics is the ruling paradigm. Once spontaneous generation was considered common knowledge. Then Pasteur showed that life came only from preexisting life.

You also claimed that "smoking guns" do not exist -- the idea that one piece of evidence can bring down a major theory. That is probably true in a political and psychological sense, but is not valid in matters of proof. For example, if a geologic formation is claimed to be a million years old, but as the layers are chipped away, in the full view of experts and cameras, a petrified 1957 Chevrolet is found, I submit that the dating must be considered faulty. (Of course, the charge of fraud would likely be made. Or you could say, "No wonder they call it a classic!")

I pointed out that pollen in the Pre Cambrian layers of the Grand Canyon and the presence of polonium halos without precursors in granite are pieces of evidence that could bring down a large house of cards. (Note: in February 2004, those articles were posted. See the TCCSA article archive.)

You said that arguments from silence exist only as a myth. In other words, it is not valid to say, "But there is no evidence that...." I agree that the approach can be misused, but when something is predicted, such as transitional fossils, there ought to be some accountability for their absence.

Also, You said that science is not performed behind closed doors, the implication being that it is all trustworthy. I am not harping on the few widely publicized cases of tampering with data or even misleading the public, such as the cigarette companies do. There is a powerful herd instinct in any human endeavor. It is hard to be an outlier and it is hard to change. There are subtle pressures to not even ask certain questions. (For example, can you imagine how hard it would be to do a major study with the hypothesis that homosexual orientation is conditioned and learned and can even in many cases be changed?)

You also stated that evolution is not the enemy of creation. I agree to the extent that is possible to believe that God created using evolution. As I said before, the real question is whether He did and if He did, what that does to our understanding of Him and Scripture.

In support of ancient age, you cited stellar evolution, the creation and change of stars as something that is still going on today. Yet, you would not suggest, would you, that creation out of nothing is happening? (Some do, of course, postulating "white holes" as the counterpart of black holes.) What is seen for sure is deterioration -- stars burning out and blowing up. The "formation" of stars from clouds of dust involves a great deal of conjecture. There are also significant theoretical problems with the whole idea of a cloud of dust pulling itself into a large mass, especially if it is in an expanding state from "the Big Bang."

You said ongoing creation is like a baby growing. Of course, a baby is programed to grow and develop with all the information carefully tucked into the incredible micro-miniature storage and retrieval system of each cell, ready to manifest itself as the biological clock ticks. If the Big Bang was programed to produce the universe we see today (a concept I once endorsed) then where is the information stored? Under that scenario, primordial matter must contain plans for everything. As we know from experiment, atoms do not automatically combine themselves into the complex systems necessary for life. Rather, they must be put together like the pieces of a machine.

Now, perhaps you will say that you only intend the growing baby metaphor to include the formation of stars and planets and you will call on God to form and modify life miraculously at various times during the life of the universe. If so, doesn't that violate "Occam's Razor?" Wouldn't it be simpler to say that God just did it all at once?

You spoke of the size of the universe and the way it is measured and I want to clarify what you are actually claiming. In a private conversation, you implied that the distance to all stars in our galaxy can be measured by parallax, but in your talk gave the correct information. That is, only a limited number of stars are close enough for their distance to measured directly by trigonometry. From there it involves a number of assumptions. The Cephiad Variable stars are assumed to have an absolute brightness that can be deduced from their period of variation. If this is true, their apparent brightness compared with absolute brightness gives us a distance. Yet that is not a for sure fact.

Further, even more tenuous is the assumption that the red shift is a Doppler Effect -- that stars are receding from us -- and that those receding faster are farther away. You will have to admit that there are reputable scientists, even without any creationist tendencies, who have trouble with the red shift and the Big Bang. There is the troubling "missing mass" which has to be present to keep things in the state they are. Isn't it a big assumption that there must be completely undetectable matter out there because otherwise the Big Bang is in trouble?

There are the great clusters of galaxies, actually most likely concentric spheres of relatively tightly spaced galaxies. This is the so called "lumpy universe" which in not predicted by an explosive origin. The slight irregularities in the background radiation are admitted by many to be inadequate to be a remnant of a process that accounts for this sort of picture. And anyway, how does a Big Bang produce structure? Would an exploding paint can decorate your living room tastefully?

Actually, some have suggested that the clusters are not real but that the red shift comes in discrete quanta, in other words, that not all shifts are seen, but only certain numbers. If these are interpreted as recessional speed and therefore distance, they may be falsely placed on the star map. It may actually have something to do with the nature of the red shift and be an indication that the interpretation is wrong. I am not saying that I have it all figured out, but rather that you need to include the anomalous data when discussing the red shift and not gloss over significant problems.

By the way, I did not say that simply having red shift all around us indicates that we are at or near the center of the universe. I did say that symmetrical red shift indicates it. Raisins in a rising muffin may all recede from each other, but those at the edge will see raisins receding from them on the other edges at twice the speed that they are receding from the center. Their perception of recessional speed would be much greater for some of the objects in that direction than in the other directions. Tell me if I am wrong but I do not believe anyone is reporting that sort of asymmetry in the universe.

Several times I have heard you say that the speed of light is constant, even adding, "Thank God, or else everything would be confusing." Let's forget relativity for a moment, because as I see it, if light really is the same speed in all frames of reference, things become very confusing! But let's just talk about our own frame of reference. Just because something is called a constant does not make it so. It is not possible to dismiss as completely insane the possibility that the speed of light has changed or is different in different media.

Sound, for example, travels at different speeds in different media and its speed is related to density and elasticity. In air, at higher altitudes, the speed of sound is faster. As you know, Barry Setterfield has proposed that light has slowed down since creation. Others suggest that light may be faster in deep space than it is under the influence of astromonical bodies such as earth or the sun. I am not saying that the case is necessarily strong for either, but it is intriguing. I do not think it is fair to dismiss these possibilities out of hand as ridiculous.

You claimed that an event taking place on a distant star, felt to be hundreds of thousands of light years away, showing up in the light now striking earth, means that a picture of the past is being shown and it happened hundreds of thousands of years ago and means that the universe existed at that time. Yet this does not seem to me to be the air tight case for ancient age that you assume. When you said that it would otherwise seem to show an event that never happened and thus make God a liar, that assumes that the distance and time it took light to arrive are known for sure.

I showed you one article that used the principles of special relativity to demonstrate mathematically that light can travel faster than the speed of light. I look askance at that whole idea because to me it demonstrates one of the internal contradictions of special relativity pointed out by people far brighter than me.

No, I do not believe that God would deceive us. (One Theistic evolutionist, on hearing my young age position asked me if I believe God created the dinosaur fossils in the rocks. I guess it was easy for him to assume that I must be simple minded.) But I also do not believe that it was deception to look at Adam and Eve at age one day from creation and think they looked thirty years old or that the tree they sat under looked a hundred.

You had us read the Genesis 1 account of creation and pointed out that I had not done so. Touche! Although I know this to be a Biblically literate group and since the scientific parts of my presentation have not been drilled into the audience the way the evolutionary viewpoint has been by Public Television and most public and private education, I felt I needed to concentrate on the parts many have never had a chance to hear.

I am concerned, however, where you will be taking us when you said to read the chapter at home and without thinking the Bible is wrong, look for "problems." Perhaps you are going to wonder how there can be evening and morning before the creation of the sun. Perhaps you will paint a picture of this as a description of creation as seen from the surface of the earth. And, indeed, that is a reasonable possibility, with first only a diffuse light, then the clarifying of the lights in the sky by the third day. That could be true and could even be so under a "normal day" scenario, not just a vast age interpretation.

And, by the way, the six days is also mentioned in Exodus 20:11. "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

It is interesting that time after time the created plants and animals are called forth "after their kind," emphasizing the distinctions and certainly not implying that one kind became another kind and eventually all kinds. Also in Job 40 and 41, God, in referring to his power, mentions two creatures that He had made and asks Job to consider them. "Behold the Behemoth which I made with you." God goes on to describe an animal of great size and power which Job must have actually seen (God doesn't talk about fossils.) Also, don't claim as some translators do that it is a hippo -- not with a tail like a cedar tree.

The Leviathan is described next, a fearsome creature with the feature of (at least apparent) fire breathing ability. Before you dismiss this a an obvious myth, consider what God's purpose was in the conversation. If God starts to tell fictional stories to support the notion that He can be trusted because nothing is too hard for Him, then we are all in trouble.

My real concern, however, is what it does to the heart of scripture to say at this point that it does not really mean what it says. The origin of sin becomes easier to dismiss as an evolutionary hangover than a moral choice made in a perfect environment. God's idea of perfection gets a little tarnished if the garden He called "very good" was actually standing on top of thousands of feet of fossils recording struggle, suffering and death, where the meek didn't make it. In that case, what will heaven be like?

For an example of science ruling over scripture, does the assumed "proof" that homosexuality is fixed and biological change what seems to be clear Scriptural teaching against homosexual behavior? Does the popular understanding that Christians are intolerant and arrogant for attempting to "impose" their morality on others mean that there really is no absolute truth? Are we going to accept the documentary hypothesis that the Bible was written by a committee of essentially pious frauds who made up nice stories to teach important moral truths? Will we finally agree that there are no miracles or after life and religion is only for the now or even for nothing? You obviously agree that at some point we will refuse to let science rule the Scripture.

In Christ,

Ross S.Olson MD

February 13, 1997

_____ _______
Minneapolis MN

Dear _____,

As we discussed prior to class on February 9, we disagree on a number of points but agree on the very most significant ones. We are brothers in the Lord and agree that the only hope for the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We agree that there is design in life that cannot be accounted for by chance and we can use this point to expose the irrational thinking of those who reject God. We disagree mostly on the age of the universe and the way to interpret both science and Scripture when there seems to be a conflict.

This topic will not be formally covered any further in ______ Class after your last session, but I wanted to make known, to those who were interested, some reactions to your presentation. Therefore, as I mentioned, this letter and the one from last week will be duplicated and made available to those who heard you. You told me you have chosen to not respond in writing but did say in class that you are willing to interact verbally with anyone who wishes to do so.

At the start of your talk, you stated that you did not intend to rebut creation but only to support an old universe. You also stated that you did not intend to support evolution, especially atheistic evolution. On what you meant by this, I think many in the class were confused because of things you said at the end of your talk. Perhaps you meant that you accept evolution but did not intend to make a case for it, given the constraints of time, or for other reasons. But more on this later.

You claimed that astronomy supports an old universe beginning with something like the "Big Bang" and that since this has no natural explanation, it is evidence for God and creation. I agree that this is a potential scenario and seems like a clean solution to some of the astronomical dilemmas you brought up.

The major difficulties fall into two categories, which you did not cover at all. One area is scientific problems with the Big Bang, heartily debated by astrophysicists with no theistic hangups but a great deal of difficulty with the data.

The other difficulty is that after accepting billions of years of stellar evolution, the tendency to then accept hundreds of millions of years of biological evolution. This leads to ideas like, for instance, that there were soul-less, human-like hominids around at the time of Adam and that physical death had been common long before sin, in fact, that it was the very way God did His creative work in producing biologic diversity. The theological and Biblical implications of those possibilities were not explored.

In analyzing Genesis 1 and 2, you stated that it is 1) a definition of God, 2) a refutation of pantheism, 3) a declaration of creation status -- for example, that the stars are not to be worshipped, 4) an eloquent summary of creation and 5) a beautiful poem. I have no real disagreement as far as that goes, unless calling it a poem is intended mean that it is only symbolic.

You stated that Genesis 1 and 2 are not scientific. (They do not clarify the way the sun -- a source of light, differs from the moon -- a reflector of light, as a "light."). They are not complete (do not list the planets, comets, galaxies as different from the stars among the lights in the sky), and are not continuous (Genesis 2 retells the story from a different perspective.) This is all reasonable, but ignores the question of what God wanted to convey and what means He had at his disposal to do so.

Time and again you spoke of the people of Israel as primitive, uneducated and unsophisticated, with whom God has to communicate in appropriately oversimplified terms. I suspect that this may come from an a priori acceptance of the evolutionary view that ancient people were dim-witted and we now are getting smarter and smarter. The rest of Genesis does not give that sort of picture, but rather of people very quickly building cities (without any help from Menard's or Knox Lumber), inventing music and animal husbandry, and, unfortunately, creatively corrupting the whole earth. Job, written at least 2000 years before Christ, handles the world's most difficult philosophical and theological issues with intellect and artistry.

You claimed that I presented no scientific case for a 6000 year old creation. This is not a totally fair assessment. While it is true that I have yet to locate Adam's calendar, I did present some of the evidence that points to that order of magnitude. The thickness of the dust layer on the moon is consistent with a few thousand years, as is the fact that oil (which I believe was deposited during the flood of Noah but conventional geology places at hundreds of millions of years ago) would leak out of the deposits into the surrounding layers if it had been there more than a few thousand years.

One area of misunderstanding or misrepresentation is given by the example of the mineral content of the ocean. If starting with fresh water, the ocean, assuming present rates of influx and precipitation of various minerals, would accumulate its present concentration of 33 different elements in an average of 100,000 years. "So!" say some critics. "That is not 6000 years." The point is that 100,000 is an outside limit. If the ocean started with some minerals, the time would be shorter as is the case if the rate of influx were greater in the past.

But can't you then make the rate of influx much less in the past and get more time? Well, maybe you can double the time with influx rate of one tenth, or even stretch the time ten fold (to a million years) if you really slow the worlds rivers to a trickle for most of geologic time -- something that is not predicted by the nature of the ancient climate. What you cannot get from that is 4 or 5 billion years.

As with so many dating questions, the most powerful evidence is written records, which is what we have in Genesis. In your analysis of "Why 6000 years?" you mentioned the genealogies and, as you said previously, you believe them to be basically correct. You even said you think that the dates of Tubal-cain, the inventor of bronze and iron metallurgy, might fit the archeological opinions on the dates of that age. (Well, not really, for although the bronze age is felt to have begun about 3500 BC, iron was not supposed to have been mastered until 1100 BC.)

The genealogies are rather tight, giving the age of a patriarch at the birth of a son, then the age of the son at the birth of his son, etc. This can be added together, with some variation based on how birthdays were calculated. For example, was it the year you would later turn 50 that your son was born, or was it after your 50th birthday, but perhaps even the next calendar year? The Chinese, for example, consider you to be one year old when you are born, giving a year credit for gestation. However, it is not possible to add a lot of years that way.

Also, although you mentioned the question of whether the years were literal, you did not develop it. Many have wondered if the years of the patriarchs were actually months, in order to cut down their incredible ages. That would lead to problems deciding when to switch to years since the ages drift down after the flood on a geometric curve, and there is no textual evidence to suggest anything but years. Regardless, if 900 years actually meant 900 months -- or 75 years -- then your genealogies have given you an even shorter time frame to harmonize.

You wondered whether the count for Adam's and Eve's age began at creation or at the fall, when they became mortal. If at their fall, perhaps a long time went by before they started to age and the genealogies began at that point. Is that going to add one or two million years to fit with the usual estimates of proto-human ancestors? Remember, the lights in the sky were to be "for signs and for seasons and for days and for years" so you would expect that they knew how to count.

But if they remained sinless and timeless for so long, are we to expect them to not have reproduced? If they had descendants, would they have sinned for all? ("In Adam, all sinned.") Anyway, I don't think it would have taken too long for something to happen like this. "Adam, honey, I just noticed this funny thing about the birds and the bees." Remember, there was no Monday night football.

You quoted Talmudic sources as saying there were man-like beings co-existent with the first family. It would not surprise me. They are commentaries, which Jesus did not reference as authoritative. That, if fact, distinguished him from the scribes who apparently answered questions with endless quotations of the teachings. Like the writings of church fathers, not all are correct. Some questions that begged to be explored are, "Where did Cain get his wife?" and, "Who was he afraid might kill him?" These problems could have stimulated some to say, "There must have been other races."

Yet it could also very easily be that by then Adam and Eve had many children, daughters and sons, who could have married in that perfect genetic environment without fear of recessive defects. The sons that were mentioned were singled out just as only certain lines in later generations were singled out, because they were significant for one reason or another. Cain was the first murderer, Able the first victim and Seth was in the promised line.

Again, I ask you, if God had intended to teach that Adam was chosen out of a group of pre-humans, I think it would have been fairly easy to do. Early rural or pastoral people would have understood animals even better that the typical 20th Century academic and God could have described how He picked Adam out of the "herd" as He later chose Abram out of the land of Ur. In fact, there are all sorts of neat sermons you could develop about that. To imply by saying He performed some sort of special act in fashioning man would be sort of misleading on the part of God, wouldn't it?

But that is exactly what it does say, read it! "The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) It doesn't even say, anywhere in Scripture, that we should be especially kind to our hairy hominids because they are our brothers (or brothers-in-law as the case may be.)

In analyzing the six days, you wonder if there are gaps, but then reject that possibility. That "solution" has been seriously proposed, claiming that God created but then left things alone for a long time. There are problems with this, such as the plants being created before the sun (although there was light). They could make it for a while but you would expect they be created after the full light of the sun was available. Also, the sea life is created two days after the land plants and on the same day as the birds, which couldn't have come from dinosaurs which were part of the land animal contingent created on to following day. (Excuse me if I misspoke -- as I now recall, the most current theory rejects dinosaur to bird evolution -- but it was true last year.)

Actually those problems apply to long days or "not literal days but actually long periods of time." The order does not fit and you will have to say that the sequence of the account is actually not important, because it is only a poem and God just wanted to say He made lots of stuff, everything, in fact, and let it go at that.

What of the Day=Age theory? Could that be what the record means? As I clarified in one of my classes, but you ignored in your own talk, indeed "Yom" can mean a long period of time. Just as we use the word "day" to refer to, for instance, "the day of Lincoln." But, also, as with English, certain modifiers clarify the meaning. When used with the ordinal number, "the first day, the second day" in Scripture, "Yom" always means an ordinary day. Also when used with "evening" or "morning" in Scripture, it always means an ordinary day. To note that God inhabits eternity and that a day is like a thousand years in his sight, as you fairly pointed out, is not a secret code to translate days (as in 1 day = 1000 years). I also mention in passing that a couple slips of the tongue had you saying that God "has a hard time" seeing things in time. You corrected yourself, but I truly believe that your view makes God seem closer to being fallible -- after all, He sure used a clumsy and messy way of creating the diversity of life. Maybe He does have a hard time putting Himself in our shoes!?? I don't think you believe it for a minute, when you think about it. So, please think about it.

In answer to several questions, I heard, "I don't know." I admire that as it is hard for a doctor to say. but, it also indicates to me that you have not worked out the details on your view. Is God still resting from His creative work if the seventh day was also a vast age? You said new stars were being created. But, even more, regardless of whether the ancient audience had an 8th grade equivalent education or not, couldn't a powerful God have come up with a better description of long ages of creation -- even in a poem?

Near the end of your talk you asked why we are upset with the idea of evolution. Here is where you implied that you indeed do accept it and even said that there is some evidence you accept. You did not clarify what evidence so I cannot respond specifically. Are you are referring to variation within kinds, which is not evolution at all but evidence of the wonderful adaptability that God built into every basic kind? Genetically there are incredible barriers between kinds. Mathematically there is no way a new feature can be added to an animal by chance, and even if by design, it would take re-creation and be essentially a new creature. You did not say if you were referring to the fossil record, which I have also discussed. It does not support evolution.

You also said that we are uncomfortable because evolution challenges our ideas that we are the center of creation, whether as ego-, ethno- or geo-centricism. But according to the Scripture, this Universe was made for man. We were given dominion over the earth (which does not mean that we pave it with blacktop as a parking lot -- rather we care for it.) The heavenly bodies are mentioned as being for us, as signs. Never mind that the average man in the wilderness did not know the size and number of them. But spiritually, to redeem us, Jesus became a man. Unless we are again being given oversimplified fare, it sounds like He retained that status. It seems that He is not a Martian or other alien. C. S. Lewis, in his space trilogy, hypothesized other worlds that, however, did not fall and thus did not need redemption.

You said that we must oppose evolutionism -- the substituting of evolution for God. I agree fully. As I have said, a theist can theoretically accept evolution, an atheist needs it desperately. Yet the question is not, "Could God have done it?" but, "Did He?" Paul says that the existence of God is so plain that those who reject it are without excuse. If the case for evolution is so strong that we have to say, "That is the way God did it," then the evolutionist can say, "Well, you can believe it if you want, but I see no need for that leap of logic. Evolution is proven, so we know the mechanism is just around the corner."

Another possibility to add time I did not hear you really explore is that someone could say, "There is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and 15 billion years of the Big Bang aftermath took place before God started to perfect the earth as a place for habitation." The Gap theory has been popular in the past. The problem is that those who want to accommodate vast ages for the astronomical picture also want the geologic column to be the record of the appearance -- and violent death -- of life forms over vast ages. That is where real problems with Scripture begin.

I believe that the geologic record was laid down by the flood, which was indeed massive, destructive, unique and world wide and did indeed destroy all humans and air-breathing land animals that were not in the Ark, as the record says. This is another area where I think you need to work out the details. If the flood were really local and only destroyed the then civilized world -- which is the only logical conclusion from the view you have stated -- then why did God have Noah build an ark? Why not just move? What does the promise of the rainbow really mean? It was made between God and "all flesh that is upon the earth" to indicate that He would never destroy them by a flood again? Why was a rainbow such a new thing if there were not massive climatic changes? Why had it never before, as the record clearly states, rained on the earth?

You indicated what really bothers you when you mentioned the Institute for Creation Research and their "drawing of lines in the sand." They bring down, you say, those who do not accept 6000 years and 6 days. But of course, Hugh Ross brings down those who do not accept the Big Bang. This is the very reason I want to promote a peace proposal. First there must be spiritual reconciliation and then mutual respect before the intellectual issues can be examined without incredible emotional overlay. I believe there is a right and a wrong answer and I believe we can Know it. I even believe some people are capable of change. But some are not and I can still love them. But I also constantly hope, sometimes beyond reason, that they will also respect and tolerate the view they reject.

As to whether God ever draws a line or allows Himself to be put to the test, what of Moses contest with the magicians of Egypt? What of Elijah and the prophets of Baal? What of Paul's statement that if Christ be not raised, we are of all men most to be pitied?

If I have only caused you to be a bit more cautious in speaking of this, I am glad. In a parallel situation, I discovered idealists who said that corporal punishment was by definition abuse, was illegal, was at least one of the major causes of violence in our society and ought to be totally eliminated. I responded that the scientific data do not support that view and that in the teaching of the world's wisest man, Solomon, it was almost exactly the other way around -- failure to properly discipline may lead to death. Ultimately the response came from spokesmen of the other side that there were many method of discipline that were preferable to spanking. That was a big movement from "throw the parents in jail" (non-violently, of course.)

It is hard to even look at a view and set of data that have been so been so negatively reviewed. Dr. Joseph D. McInerney, Director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study Center, wrote of attempts to allow discussion of the evidence against evolution and for creation in the public school classroom in an article entitled "Shall School Administrators be Ruled by Reason or Rhetoric?" In it he stated, "Ignorance and zealotry are the twin towers of creationism, structures deeply rooted in the rejection of reason, and in rhetoric devoid of scientific substance."

Aside from the irony of such a blast of substance-free rhetoric from one who accuses the other side of just such a tactic, it is clear that most people will want to say, "Of course, I am not like them." This goes for the people described by prolific science writer Isaac Asimov, who warned in a 1982 fund raising for the Humanist Association of creationists as "religious zealots...marching like an army of the night into our public schools with their Bibles held high."

It is almost tragic that the learned Dr. Asimov either did not know or lied about the fact that at the founding of this country it was required of public schools that they teach the Bible. But that is another topic and another area of suppressed truth. The common thread, however, is that if you believe the reviews, you may not check out the play. The popular opinion (and science also has popular opinions) "ain't necessarily so," as the old song goes.

The intimidating effect of political correctness is such that a certain position is made to seem so despicable that no one is willing to defend it. And thus the issue appears to have no other side. It takes risk and energy to investigate the possible truth in such an environment. Yet we who know the Lord realize that unbelievers are not going to make clear assessments of things that force them to face uncomfortable spiritual truths.

Does taking a long age position or even a theistic evolutionary position make it likely that scientific types will more easily listen and respond favorably? Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard Paleontologist, panned Darwin on Trial by Philip Johnson. Johnson deals with the evidence for design and against any naturalistic explanation of life but leaves room for long ages and Gould notes that Johnson is not a creationist like the "Biblical literalists." Yet Gould concludes that "Johnson's current incarnation of this false strategy, Darwin on Trial, hardly deserves to be called a book at all.... The book, in short, is full of errors, badly argued, based on false criteria and abysmally written..... The book is scarcely more than an acrid little puff."

I am reminded of a Russian believer who said he always suspected that the Bible must be important because the government tried so hard to get them not to read it. Johnson's book, even in the eyes of many who disagree, is considered to be a powerful case for creation. What drives away unbelievers is not 6000 years, although that may be a convenient handle, but the claims of a Creator on their lives. That is the offense of the gospel and the point of decision for those who shake their fists in the face of the most incredible love imaginable. Isaac Asimov, and Carl Sagan, now know the truth and gnash their teeth over the way they allowed themselves to be deceived by the master liar. We need not accept at face value their assessments of our brothers and sisters.

In Christ,

Ross S.Olson MD

Send comments to me at ross{at}

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