Which Southern Baptist Professor Proposes/Teaches This?

For the theodicy I am proposing to be compatible with evolution, God must not merely introduce existing human-like beings from outside the Garden. In addition, when they enter the Garden, God must transform their consciousness so that they become rational moral agents made in God’s image . . . (The End of Christianity, 159).

Any evils humans experience outside the Garden before God breathes into them the breath of life would be experienced as natural evils in the same way that other animals experience them. The pain would be real, but it would not be experienced as divine justice in response to willful rebellion. Moreover, once God breathes the breath of life into them, we may assume that the first humans experienced an amnesia of their former animal life: Operating on a higher plane of consciousness once infused with the breath of life, they would transcend the lower plane of animal consciousness on which they had previously operated—though, after the Fall, they might be tempted to resort to that lower consciousness. (The End of Christianity, 154-155).

This is from one of the latest books (The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World [Broadman & Holman Academic, 2009]) by William A. Dembski, who is a research professor in philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle.

When a Christian reads the above quotes, the average believer responds with, “What?????? This is bizarre!”  But it is more than bizarre—it undermines the authority of the Word of God.

Tonight begins our Defending the Faith conference in Sevierville, Tennessee.  Around 2,500 people from all across the USA (and other parts of the world) will be attending.  I pondered and prayed over the kick-off, keynote talk that I am to present, and I decided to concentrate on looking at the compromise in the church that is undermining the authority of God’s Word, which is the real problem in our culture.  God’s people need to be called back to God’s Word and its authority.  A significant portion of my presentation will center around the teachings of William Dembski  and others (such as William Lane Craig associated with Talbot Theological Seminary and Biola University) who sadly contribute to the loss of biblical authority in church and culture.

But please keep in mind as I make these observations that I am not questioning anyone’s Christian faith. We are encouraged to know that many Southern Baptist leaders (e.g., the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, Dr. Paige Patterson, and others) have been standing up for biblical inerrancy, but Answers in Genesis is concerned that there are some professors in Southern Baptist schools who are actually undermining biblical authority.

So why does Prof. Dembski propose ideas such as those above?  As I will document in my presentation—and to further quote from Dembski—it is the following:

The young-earth solution to reconciling the order of creation with natural history makes good exegetical and theological sense. Indeed, the overwhelming consensus of theologians up through the Reformation held to this view. I myself would adopt it in a heartbeat except that nature seems to present such a strong evidence against it. I’m hardly alone in my reluctance to accept young-earth.  (The End of Christianity, 55).

Note that if one takes God’s Word as authoritative (“. . . makes good exegetical and theological sense . . .”), then it is obvious the earth is young.  However, note the “except” word when he states that “except that nature seems to present such a strong evidence against it” (emphasis added).

So what does Dembski mean by stating that “nature seems to present such a strong evidence against it?”

He further states:

A young earth seems to be required to maintain a traditional understanding of the Fall. And yet a young earth clashes sharply with mainstream science . . . (The End of Christianity, 77)

In an article, he writes:

Dating methods, in my view, provide strong evidence for rejecting this face-value chronological reading of Genesis 4–11 ( William A. Dembski, Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science, 49).

It really comes down to the fact that Dembski accepts the fallible secular dating methods (based on numerous fallible assumptions) and uses their results to trump the Word of God!  That is the problem with the church—accepting man’s words over God’s words.

But without even dealing with the age of the earth issue (as we have numerous articles on our website dealing with this topic), let me compare parts of his “theodicy” with Scripture—and you be the judge.

Consider these statements of his quoted above:

God must not merely introduce existing human-like beings from outside the Garden. In addition, when they enter the Garden, God must transform their consciousness so that they become rational moral agents made in God’s image . . .

We may assume that the first humans experienced an amnesia of their former animal life: Operating on a higher plane of consciousness once infused with the breath of life, they would transcend the lower plane of animal consciousness on which they had previously operated.

Could God have introduced human-like beings” into the Garden? Dembski is saying the Garden was perfect, but because of his belief in billions of years, death and suffering existed in the world with animals eating each other, etc. What I understand he is saying is that because God is infinite and knew man would fall,  He created a world in which there would be billions of years of death and suffering—so that when God gave Adam and Eve souls and they were then made in the image of God, they would fall (sin) in a perfect Garden and then see the effects of their sin in the death and suffering outside the Garden (which chronologically existed before sin but is actually a result of their sin, as God knew they would fall)!

Let’s consider this passage of Scripture:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

Note the order here: God made man from dust, added the divine breath, and this caused Adam to become a living being. The Hebrew words translated “living being” are the same Hebrew words used to describe sea creatures, birds, and land animals in Genesis 1:21, 24, 30 and Genesis 9:10.  So the Bible is absolutely clear: God did not make some human-like living being and then added the divine breath that became man. The Scriptures teach man plus divine breath equals living being, not living being plus divine breath equals man. Paul affirms the literal truth of Genesis 2:7 when he says (in 1 Corinthians 15:45) that “the first man Adam was made a living soul.”  This is further confirmed by the judgment of God in Genesis 3:19.  Adam was made from dust, and when he died, he returned to dust—he did not return to a human-like or ape-like being! Also, consider these passages of Scripture:

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)

And Adam said:  “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman,  Because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23)

Note that Eve was made from Adam (by supernatural surgery, not by any natural process) after Adam was in the Garden.  Eve did not come into the Garden as some “human-like” being and then was transformed by God into a full human being.

Note also what the apostle Paul wrote as part of the infallible Scriptures:

For as woman came from man . . . (1 Corinthians 11:2)

For man is not from woman, but woman from man. (1 Corinthians 11:8)

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (1 Timothy 2:13)

These passages all quote from Genesis 2:23 and Genesis 2:24 as literal history—so the literal history from Genesis is that the woman was made from Adam after he was  already in the Garden.

Also, while in the Garden, God had made the animals and brought certain land animals to Adam for him to name and to show that he was alone.  Obviously these animals weren’t aggressive, so God had to have non-aggressive animals in the Garden, but outside the Garden, according to Dembski, there was a world that was “red in tooth and claw,” as the poet Tennyson stated. (Actually, Genesis 1:30 states that all the animals were plant eaters originally—not sure how Dembski handles this, but maybe he would suggest this was just for the animals in the Garden.)

Another fatal flaw in Dr. Dembski’s theodicy (i.e., the question of evil)  is that he proposes that God judged the world with millions of years of animal death, disease, and extinction and other natural evil—and this judgment was because of man’s sin, which occurred after all this natural evil.  What kind of judge would punish a man with prison resulting in great suffering for his family before he committed a crime? Dembski’s theodicy turns God into a grossly unjust Judge.  But as Genesis 18:25 says, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

There are so many other inconsistencies in Dembski’s beliefs. But what they show are the outrageous lengths some Christian academics will go to to try to compromise billions of years with the Scriptures, and yet try to keep their belief in a literal Adam and Eve and the original sin!  For in-depth critiques of Dembski’s proposal of how to accept millions of years of animal death before Adam sinned and still believe that natural evil is the result of Adam’s sin, see this article by Dr. Terry Mortenson  (from AiG) and this article by Dr. Tom Nettles (Professor of Historical Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky), as well as Dr. Nettles’ response to Dr. David Allen’s defense of Dembski (Dr. Allen is the professor of Preaching and dean of the School of Theology at SWBTS, where Dr. Dembski teaches).

My first presentation tonight at the conference is to awaken the church as to what is being taught to students in many of our conservative seminaries, Bible colleges, Christian colleges, etc.  We need to call these people to account, and one of our missions for the future is to do just that—even more than we have ever done. We are losing this culture, and sadly, much of the church is to blame for compromising God’s Word with the pagan religion of the age (millions of years/evolution) to explain life without God.

What I have quoted above is only the “tip of the iceberg” in regard to what students are really being taught at most of the Christian institutions in the United States and in the rest of the world.  It seems to me that because of “academia,” fellow academics often defend each other—instead of being prepared to stand for the authority of Scripture and “call a spade a spade.”

I also want to make sure people understand that we do not call the age of the earth a salvation issue, but it is an authority issue—and it is biblical authority that is being lost from the church and culture.  And for all of these “academic” positions like Dembski’s that are pervading the church—look at the culture—something is dreadfully wrong.  The church is not touching the culture like it used to because we have allowed the culture to invade the church, which in reality is what Dembski’s thesis so clearly illustrates in regard to  training up the next generation of pastors/missionaries—no wonder we have such a mess in our world.

Where England is today spiritually (it is all but dead), the USA will be tomorrow if we keep heading in this direction.  Christian leaders representing the church need to stand up in this nation and condemn the compromise with the pagan religion of the age (millions of years/evolution—the pagan religion of the age to explain life without God) and stand for God’s authoritative Word. Only then will we see God’s blessing on the church and the resulting change in the culture that is so needed. Of course, we don’t question whether such scholars are Christians, but we still need to point out their compromise of accepting man’s opinions over God’s Word. 

Note that there are a handful of Christian institutions that do take a very strong stand on biblical authority beginning with Genesis, and I will feature one in the next couple of days on this blog.

Please pray for the Defending the Faith Conference.

Devotion

Unto God the Lord belong the issue from death

(Psalm 68:20)  He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.

The Lord Jesus Christ knows all about death having decreed it as the wages for sin, and He defeated death at His Cross, as He alone is able to save us from death and hell.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken