Sunday, August 27, 2006

PTers are a rather transparent lot

The Panda’s Thumb (PT) gang treats the Young Earth Creationists (YECs) as useful idiots.

It's like this: 99.9% of the time PTers overtly regard and characterize the YECs as little more than in-bred, red-necked, biblical-hyper-literalist, flag-waving, fundamentalist, homophobic, sexist, racist, taliban-like, mouth-breathing NASCAR fans.

Ask your average PT type about a YEC's concomitant interpretation of virtually anything in the bible--such as the scripture's stand on homosexuality or the role of women, and you’ll get no-holds-barred condemnation.

However, there is one passage in which the YECs are seemingly held in high esteem by the PTers--namely the interpretation of Genesis One as six literal 24-hour days. Here, rather than treated as sub-Neanderthals, the YECs are presented as exegetical savants. Yes, the YECs get everything else wrong, absolutely everything, but in this instance, by-George, they are spot-on.

Why do the PTers make this claim? It is very simple.

  1. They do not want the bible to be consistent with science, and so…

  2. They dismiss any exegesis (such as the day-age view) that can reconcile the creation account with science and so…

  3. Having “established” the YEC position as the only possible intelligent interpretation, they can…

    • return to treating YECs as idiots and,

    • tout all the scientific evidence for an old earth and,

    • by this rather transparent stratagem they “demonstrate” bible-science incompatibility and, as a corollary, they “refute” biblical inerrancy, a doctrine that they consider beyond the pale.
Christians, across the board, OECs and YECs alike, while often engaging in heated disagreement over what exactly constitutes good science and/or good theology, agree that science (done correctly) and the bible (interpreted correctly) must be harmonious. For, unlike the PTers, God does not abide dissonance, and thus His general revelation cannot possibly be at odds with His special revelation—that is, in spite of our disagreements, neither group buys what they PTers want to sell: that the bible (even if you must accept it as God’s word) does not align with nature (even if you must accept it as God’s creation.)

The evidence, I’m happy to report, shows that the YECs are smarter than the PTers. Because while PTers like Jason Rosenhouse write, regarding Genesis One:
I don't say this very often, but I think [Ken] Ham has a point. The clear and simple meaning of the text is that “day” refers to a standard twenty-four hour day. To interpret it any other way is to suggest that God laid out a creation story riddled with obfuscation and ambiguity.
I haven’t seen evidence of Ken Ham (or someone similar) taking the bait and writing: “see, even on Panda’s Thumb and EvolutionBlog they know that only a 24-hour interpretation of the days in Genesis One is sensible.” No I suspect that Ken Ham would recognize, quite plainly, that Rosenhouse’s compliment here is just a ploy.

By the way, I want to draw your attention to a small detail in the Rosenhouse’s article to which I linked. You’ll notice a disclaimer at the start:
I have slightly revised the third paragraph of this essay.
What was revised? You’ll find it buried in my first comment on that post, where I wrote:
You [Rosenhouse] wrote:

“No one who wasn't specifically trying to reconcile the Bible with modern science would interpret the days of Genesis as anything other than twenty-four days”

This is demonstrably false—since it is well documented in the writings of the post-apostolic church fathers that a very common (if not the majority) view in the early church was that each day of Genesis was a thousand years. I can provide references if you like. They did not take the view that 1 day = 24 hours, even though (obviously) they were not trying to reconcile Genesis with modern science.
What Jason removed from his post was an incorrect claim that only someone trying to reconcile the bible and modern science would interpret Genesis in anything other than literal 24 hour days. Since it was pointed out to him that it was an easy exercise to find church fathers who interpreted the days as something other than 24 hour periods, even though they had no scientific reason to do so, he updated his post with the trivially-false argument removed.

But that is really the killer to Rosenhouse’s entire argument, which he essentially repeats on a post on his new blog.

If all the church fathers agreed that the only reasonable interpretation of Genesis One was 24-hour days, then it would be a better argument --but not bullet-proof--that only a misguided attempt to reconcile the bible with science could explain deviating from that interpretation. It wouldn’t be bullet-proof, because I could still argue that, having no evidence for an old earth, it is understandable that the early church uniformly affirmed a 24-hour view. Happily for me, I don’t have to make that argument, because the early church fathers did not see the 24-hour view as the only possible interpretation.

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