Monday, June 20, 2011

Who was best at creationism, theistic evolution conference?

Hugh Ross addresses the conference in favor of old earth creation.

I've written the past four days about my attendance at Fixed Point Foundation's conference "In the Beginning: 3 Views on Creation." But I didn't give much opinion. I'm a trained journalist, and presented the speaker's words as objectively as I could. Still, I do have opinions.

I went into the conference knowing little about any of the speaker's views except for Hugh Ross. I watched his show Reasons to Believe years ago, and also read his books and heard his podcasts. Whether he's got everything exactly right none of us can know, but I was impressed that he takes science and Christian faith equally seriously and has no problem harmonizing them. I was so impressed, in fact, I bought copies of his book, The Creator and the Cosmos, and gave them to anyone who would take them.

So, needless to say, being able to see Ross up close and rub elbows with him was pretty cool. (A guy named Benjamin Moon who tweets as @CaptainAhmazing put it: "I totally just random campered Dr. Hugh Ross and Dr. John Lennox. They're like my Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift.")

Much like Captain Ahmazing, it was a given I'd like Ross' presentation of old earth creationism. The question was, would Terry Mortenson, a young earth creationist or Michael Behe, a theistic evolutionist, be able to sway me?

Unbeknownst to me, John Lennox, at left, would present yet a fourth view as he spoke on opening night. Actually, Lennox's theory sounded a lot like Hugh Ross' with some differences here and there. Lennox postulates that God really did "create" on literal 24-hour days, but it took perhaps millennia for that command to be carried out before he spoke another command on another literal day and the process began again.

He was jolly in his presentation, and I liked how he said it was just a theory and he isn't willing to die for it "though some of you wish I would."

I felt something of a kinship in that every time I tackle any theological controversy I always end up believing both sides are somewhat -- if not completely -- correct. That's how I found out in Bible college I'm a Molinist on the predestination/free will debate.

Each speaker had a little under an hour to present his case, and Mortenson, the "biblical creationist" or young earther wasn't able to give me enough details without purchasing the books and DVDs he had for sale out front. Every speaker was selling books, DVDs and CDs that he pointed to for more detail, but Mortenson did so the most. Since I didn't have the money to buy any, I was left without knowing why light seems to have traveled millions of light years when the universe is only about 6,000 years old. He did touch on carbon dating being unreliable, but Hugh Ross seemed to refute that argument later.

Still, Mortenson made some points about uniformitarianism and the danger that in parts of the world where the doctrine of creation has been dropped other important doctrines have fallen like dominoes behind it -- notably, original sin. I also respected his willingness to uphold the veracity of Scripture. He did nitpick a bit, though, on some of Hugh Ross' points, i.e. saying that Moses wouldn't have used "one rotation of the earth" as one of the meanings for "day" because Moses didn't know the earth rotated. Well, no, that was just Ross' terminology for a 24-hour day, not Moses'.

On the day Behe spoke, I stayed in bed most of the day with a migraine, so I heard only the ending of his talk, though I was able to make his Q&A session the next day. I'll have to wait until I get the DVD of the conference to hear his full argument. But I did learn that he doesn't get into the theological aspects of creation, just the biology. Behe is the Lehigh University biology professor who speaks out for Intelligent Design based on the fact that plant and animal "machines" are far too complex to have occurred through chance mutations, as Charles Darwin asserted. Though a Christian, he makes no attempt to harmonize biology with Scripture, instead noting that life is "irreducibly complex." In other words, it couldn't have slowly built up from scratch with no designer guiding it along.

I liked Behe, too. In the way I respect Mortenson not wanting to see Scripture belittled, I respect Behe for not wanting to see science taken as unimportant. Though I should be clear: Both men do respect both the record of nature and Scripture. That said, I still think Ross best explains how the two work together.

But maybe this journalist was already biased to think that.

You should follow me on Twitter here and Facebook here.