A small response to the Ham/Nye Creation/Science debate:
1 Peter 3:15-16 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having good conscience: that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
As a lifelong Christian I was raised with a foundation of steady faith. I ask that you read the following thoughts to the end. Give me the benefit of not assuming that you already know what I’m going to say.
When histories, seemingly contradictory doctrines, and detractors would expose me to information that did not fit into my childlike faith I would dismiss the information, happy in my happiness. Time went on and when those same conflicts of reason and faith arose I decided to face them head on, so they wouldn’t get in the way of my joy anymore. “Head on” means that I chose to recognize that there was something that unsettled me and I would give occasional thought to the matter, keeping my mind open to possible answers.
There are some perfect calamities that rock our human soul and shake our foundation and leave us lost. These often result from unreconcilable differences between heart and mind. Is it possible that we prematurely give up on these seeming contradictions, and abandon what could have become our highest joy? The crux of the Nye/Ham debate seemed to hinge on the doctrine in the following verse, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead, (1 Corinthians 15:21),” or specifically, the introduction of death to the world through Adam. The belief, “There was no death before Adam,” in light of what we observe in fossils, ice layers and tree rings that tell the story of an Earth history longer than 6,000 years leaves many who have a hope in Christ with doubts and which, when embraced, can lead to personal apostasy.
The question, “But, what about the dinosaurs?” used to require me to fracture my beliefs as I felt forced to either dismiss a glaring discrepancy or marginalize my faith.
Because I choose to stand firmly in my faith in Jesus Christ and his plan of redemption I approach these “contradictions” with the assertion, “God is real and I know it – This other information also appears to be true. How can they both be true?” This is not a rhetorical question, it is a mission statement.
For Young Earth Creationists, their belief system demands that all of these Earth layers and fossils had been created/organized formed in approximately the last six millennia. This doctrinal demand comes from the assertion that there was no death before Adam, meaning that during Adam’s lifetime the animals, plants and people began to die. I assert that the Bible does not demand that we believe death to be 6,000 years old.
Nye and Ham each stood with a flag shouting, “This is truth,” and, “This is truth.” As an observer I appreciate the wonderful opportunity to receive as much truth as I am willing to receive.
Do I have a dog in the fight? Absolutely! I have a life which has been built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All of my joy has come through this life of faith; the man I chose to marry, the incredible peace I have felt when I should have crumbled, the joy of wholeness through the miracle of forgiveness, the hope for a reunion with loved ones lost to death. I have found wholeness and joy in this life and am teaching my children the joy of faith. The world offers me nothing in comparison. I am determined to keep the faith.
Mr. Ham was asked, if there were proof that the Earth was not created in 6 days and was less than 10,000 years old, would he still believe in Jesus of Nazareth and that Jesus was the son of God? He sidestepped this hypothetical by stating that if you believe in decomposition and death beyond 6,000 years ago – you have a problem with the Bible.
I look around me and the reason that settles easily on my mind is that the world around me is very old. I love the Bible and its teachings. I used to have a major issue with my religious understanding of my world in light of my observed surroundings. No longer. I do not have a problem with the Bible. I’ll tell you why.
To justify and address the “incompatibility” of the pivotal principle of the doctrine of death with the evidence of prehistoric and pre-Adam death, I will begin with another doctrine.
There was no Atonement before Jesus Christ.
From the beginning of man to the fulfillment of the Atonement, the children of the Great I AM performed sacrifices in similitude of the great and final, the eternal and infinite, perfect sacrifice that would fulfill the law of Justice and enact the laws of Mercy through Jesus of Nazareth.
There was no Atonement before Jesus Christ.
The Children of Israel performed sacrifices, sin offerings, days of Atonement, the slaughter of the scapegoat, prayers and incense. The Jews felt the effects of the Atonement before it was physically performed. This pattern is set forward in the book of Job. In Job 42: 7-8 the man Eliphaz is commanded of the Lord to take bullocks and rams to Job for sacrifice, because Job is acceptable of the Lord. Eliphaz is to do this lest the Lord deal with him “after his folly.” Through sacrifice Eliphaz was spared what would have been his undesirable wages.
There was no Atonement before Jesus Christ: True
There was Atonement before Jesus Christ: also True.
This same standard can be placed upon the assertions:
There was no Death before Adam: True
There was Death before Adam: also True
These were the characters who introduced spiritual atonement and physical death to the world, the consequences of their actions were not bound by time.
Retroactive Physical Death, as brought about through Adam, need not be a stumbling stone, just as Retroactive Spiritual Life, graced to all those who would receive Jesus Christ, even those who lived before his life, is widely embraced.
Further, The Fall of Adam was necessary to introduce the beginning of Spiritual Death into the world, a literal beginning because he was the first with the capacity to sin. In parallel, the Atonement of Jesus Christ introduced the beginning of Immortality, a literal beginning because he was the first to be resurrected.
This is the conclusion we have settled upon in our home. I share it not with the assertion that it is doctrine, that it is the gospel truth, nor that this belief is necessary for salvation. I only share it with the peace and confidence that this is a pretty reasonable approach that appreciates both the assertion of the Bible, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead,” as well as the tale told by the Earth. I am a Christian Apologist. I will defend the reality of my God, my Savior and the Holy Spirit. The workings of God in my life are as real and tangible to me as the soil between my toes. If this conclusion is not right, at the very least it offers something I can hold onto until fuller truth and knowledge come my way. There are answers. Let’s not abandon the cause of Joy just because we cannot understand all things right now.