Saturday, June 18, 2011

Old earth, young earth, theistic evolution debate

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- John Lennox, at left, kicked off Saturday's session at Fixed Point Foundation's "In the Beginning: 3 Views of Creation" conference with a Q&A session at 9 a.m.

Asked about the "goodness" of God's creation, the Oxford mathematics professor said he believes what Scripture says. "It's the reason I've taken a stand in the public sphere."

He likened God's pronouncements of his creation "good" until finishing on the sixth day and calling everything "very good" to a house. The building site is good, and so is the foundation, but it isn't "very good" until the house in completed.

Disputing scientists who say ancient man believed in miracles because he didn't understand the uniformity of nature, Lennox said, "You can't recognize a miracle unless you know natural laws."

"If I went into my hotel room last night and put $100 in a drawer, then put in another $100 ... and in the morning I check the drawer and find $50 I don't say the laws of mathematics have been broken; I say the laws of Alabama have been broken!" In the same way, "When God inputs into creation he doesn't break the laws of nature."

The "big bang" wasn't the only singularity God was behind, he said. "The Resurrection and incarnation (of Jesus) also are singularities. In fact, every time Genesis 1 says "And God said" is a singularity, he said. "That's God inputting information."

Lennox believes in a real Adam and Eve. "They were not made from a pre-existing homonid."

As to what the Nephilim are, who are mentioned in Genesis, Lennox said, " I haven't a notion."

But he did have a notion on Stephen Hawking's belief that the universe was created by gravity, not God: "What if God made gravity? It's a bit like looking at a Ford Galaxie and I say 'Is it the laws of the internal combustion engine -- or Henry Ford?'"

Hugh Ross holds up the Gideon New Testament he signed his name in at age 17 after determining Christianity was the only religion that jibed with science's view of creation.

Reasons To Believe founder Hugh Ross was asked during his Q&A time about whether God might have built in appearance of age, as young earth creationists believe. When Jesus turned water into wine, it was noted to be "good wine" -- or aged, a questioner said. Ross, who is an old earth creationist, said wine doesn't have to appear aged to taste aged. He pointed to a Japanese company that recently distilled new whiskey that tastes aged.

The astrophysicist also noted that the fossil record shows that at the instant the earth was capable of sustaining life, the fossil record shows that it actually did.

Hugh Ross speaks with an audience member before Michael Behe's Q&A.

Theistic evolutionist Michael Behe, speaking with an audience member at right, spent the first half-hour of his Q&A on the first question, which dealt with critics of his belief that the "irreducible complexity" in nature demands a designer.

He pointed to an assertion on blood clotting he made in the 1990s that was disputed by Russell Doolittle, the leader in the field. It turns out Doolittle had misquoted a paper that he thought had said two mutations brought about the same result as if there were none at all, allowing blood in lab mice to clot normally --the opposite of Behe's assertion. Doolittle had misread the paper and apologized by email, but not publicly, and others still quote Doolittle's rebuttal of Behe today.

Behe is Roman Catholic, but said he doesn't in his science speculate on who the designer is. "It's easier to see that ID (Intelligent Design) exists from looking to than to see who did it and why." He said he left those speculations to Ross and Terry Mortenson, a young earth creationist at the event, who both also have studied theology.

Behe charts why his theory on blood clotting is correct.

Hugh Ross, left, makes a point as Michael Behe and Terry Mortenson listen.

Fixed Point Executive Director Larry Taunton, at right, posed questions to the three advocates during an afternoon roundtable discussion. Taunton asked questions submitted by convention-goers, and eventually Ross, Behe and Mortenson, a young earth creationist jousted among themselves over the issue of whether science was subservient to Scripture or vice versa. All three men agreed Scripture is God's perfect revelation, though Mortenson said he prefers to go with Scripture when the two seem to disagree.

Behe noted that he doesn't get into the debate over whether Adam and Eve are literal, he sticks mainly with the science. He did note, however, that science isn't necessarily fact, but rather man's current understanding of nature, and that that understanding might change in 100 years.
Gilbert Lennox, a church pastor in Ireland and brother of John, preaches on Genesis 1 to close out the conference.

You should follow me on Twitter here and Facebook here.

Photos: Greg Richter Photography (Click on photos to enlarge.)