Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, by Gundry, Stump, Ham Ross, Haarsma, and Meyer ★★★★
I interrupted the reading of another book to read this book, as it had just arrived from Amazon. The other book, Darwin Day in America by John West is a book most needed to be written and read by many, and describes the consequences on society of a Darwinian Weltanschauung. I will be reviewing West’s book later, but will suggest that I’d probably give it more than 5 stars if I could. This current book was read as a step back, since its been at least 10 years since I’ve read any texts discussing the controversies of creation and evolution. My interest in intelligent design came in the early 1990’s from the appearance of Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, and has led me to have an Intelligent Design (ID) bias.
I’ve always appreciated the “4 views” texts, since they offer a discussion in a fair format for letting different views briefly present themselves. It’s weakness is that no view is able to develop itself fully, or defend itself fully. Yet, as this book demonstrates, it gives you a nice flavor of 4 different positions on Creation interacting with each other, and thus of value.
Ken Ham is a young earth creationist. He presents a mostly Biblical argument, supplemented here and there with scientific evidence, that supports a 7 day creation. I have deep sympathies for Ham’s thesis. My main disagreements include the fuzziness found in the Biblical creation language. As an example, Hebrew scholars are unsure as to whether Genesis 1:1-2 is a summary preface leading to the historical account of creation starting in Genesis 1:3, or whether the first two verses of Genesis are a part of that historical framework. I tend to side with the later view, though I won’t discuss the many reasons why I tend to lean that way. It is possible that the world was created with age, as Ham attests. Is that what God actually did? Only time will tell; hopefully, God fills us in on the details in the afterlife.
Hugh Ross has always been appreciated by me, as he writes well. He presents the old-earth view. He does not do an exegetical survey of Biblical creation passages in this argument, but mostly engages in the scientific rationale for his beliefs. The rebuttals were weak, though Stephen Meyer (ID defender) admitted that he had an old-earth leaning, and so had little to rebut.
Deborah Haarsma argued for a theistic evolution stance. Her arguments were quite flimsy when offering a scientific defense of her position. Her Biblical defense was even more flimsy. I believe that Meyer as well as Ross and Ham could have taken her to task much more than they did. Haarsma wishes to have her cake and eat it too. Evolution is unguided mutations leading to advanced biological life forms that God created by not guiding their evolution. Hmmmm. It’s a position that cannot be rebutted because it doesn’t make sense. What role DID God play in the formation of man? The position also leaves one very unsettled with the early Genesis narratives, especially with Adam and Eve.
Stephen Meyer offers the intelligent design arguments. Intelligent Design doesn’t fit the above categories, since it also assumes that you already have a position on young earth/old earth/theistic evolution, and indeed, members of all three of those camps live under the ID tent. ID doesn’t try to render a description for how creation happened, as God never gave us those details. Instead, it seems to be more of a negative argument, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the impossibility of unguided mutations leading to structures. ID actually does more than that, showing that even step-wise mutations would (in the case of complex machines like the flagella) demand thousands of correct simultaneous mutations for that structure to happen. You never see “loose parts” laying around awaiting a future function in a future biological machine. The main counterarguments from the young and old earth camp was that Stephen Meyer didn’t quote enough Scripture. This argument is specious, in that the discussion was NOT to establish the Scriptural grounds for a particular position. In the context of Scripture, ID tends to be strong and without need for defense. This is probably why the young and old earthers rely so much on the literature coming out of the ID camp.
Imagine the complexity of mutations leading to development of new organisms. Based on science, there is no precedent. We just don’t see that happening. Imagine if an organism had a mutation which rendered it superior in survival. This mutation must have had happened in either the gametes that came together, or immediately after the one cell organism came into existence before its first division. After the gonads are developed (which is fairly early in the embryological scheme of things), any further mutations will perhaps benefit the host but not its progeny. So, possible mutations in a species can happen only for a short period of time with a few cells. All other mutations will NOT be passed on to progeny. This means that Carl Sagan’s billions and billions of years are actually seriously reduced. In addition, the mutation cannot run through a “trial” to see if it is beneficial before being transmitted to another organism. Yet, there are other issues. Most genes are not dominant but recessive. This multiplies the problem since then, the mutation will need to have happened twice in exactly the same spot in order for the trait to be manifested. True, the genome has “hot spots” where mutations are more likely to occur. This might seem as a favorable trait for evolutionists, but it is just the opposite, since mutations are not necessarily as free to happen anywhere and everywhere in the genome. I don’t believe that the theistic evolutionists have adequately accounted for all the hurdles that need to be overcome, as it’s not good enough JUST for mutations to happening, even if they are favorable mutations. What about the time argument? All it takes is sufficient time, and anything could happen. In a purely materialistic universe, anything could happen. The entire world could have just come into existence 30 seconds ago, and this chance pop into existence could have born collective memory that misleads us into thinking that we had a history. Hey, if time and chance can explain the current universe, then it could explain anything. The multi-verse diversion (and it is nothing but a diversion) is an admission that there just isn’t enough time. In essence, all the multi-verse theory does is to contribute more time (though happening simultaneous with the current moment) to the equation. I guess that with enough time, even a universe like us filled with Donald and Daisy Ducks could (and will!!!!) eventually occur. All it takes is time and chance and every possible imaginative universe will eventually occur. When an answer actually explains too much, then the answer has failed. That’s my two cents worth, but not covered in the book.
Is this book worth reading? Maybe… It depends on where you are in the Creation debate. If you are new to the debate, just get a book by Ham, Ross and Meyer. I leave out Haarsma because I am still waiting for a credible argument for her position. Read the books, then read the 4 views debate and form your own opinion. My personal opinion is that either a young or old earth position can be true, ID supplements my belief in a theistic creation position, while ID tends to distract me from the theistic evolution position as being weak both scientifically and theological. Hier stehe ich!
Steve Meyer (whom I know from my ASA past) is by far the most competent of this list of book contributors. His discussion on YouTube with Gelernter and Berlinski demonstrates this:
Ham’s greatest expertise lies in his ability to demonstrate utter incompetence in handling ancient Hebrew literature, beginning with Genesis 1.
Nobody seems to be paying attention to good solid biblical exegesis, as found in the book, The Meaning of Genesis by Conrad Hyers.