It has been some time, but Bill Evans had written a response to Al Mohler's presentation promoting Youth-Earth Creationism (YEC) on his blog [HT: The Aquila Report]. While there are a lot of interesting things that can be said in response, chief of which is that Mohler is a popularizer not an expert in YEC, I would like to focus on one particular aspect of the conversation concerning Creation and the Age of the Earth question — that of studious ignorance and non-interaction with the YEC position.
As someone who has read YEC literature and am convinced of the YEC position, I have been exposed to and was taught the Framework position at Westminster Seminary California, in which I am a student. There is of course nothing wrong with studying what other positions are. In fact, it was an interesting experience in and of itself reading [M.G.] Kline and others. The problem however is the almost total ignorance I have found of the YEC position, something that I have seen is extended to much of the Reformed world, or at least those segments that think themselves part of the Reformed intelligentsia.
Such ignorance of the YEC position is seen everywhere. The portions of the creation reports of both the OPC and the PCA are woefully inadequate, the authors in the the Three Views of Creation are nobodies in the YEC community and I have seen few if any interact with the scholarly work done by any of the actual YEC intellectuals! In WSCal, the only major YEC they mention is E.J. Young, and while not denigrating Young, Young is no YEC scholar! He is a OT scholar, not a YEC scholar, and the two are not the same! One does not have to be an expert in the YEC position after all to be an OT scholar.
In Evan's articles, the usual stuff are paraded before us, all without any interaction with YEC answers. Now, the YEC answers may or may not be correct, but it is totally unscholarly that Evans should post the usual objections to YEC claims while not interacting with answers provided by those who actually defend YEC. Non-interaction with the YEC position is preaching to the choir, and would certainly fail to convince YECs like me who actually know the arguments for YEC.
First of all. Evans claimed that the rationale for YEC is to slam the door shut on Darwinism. While that is certainly a beneficial result of YEC, Evans failed to realize that there are YECs, like me, who are YECs because they believed Scripture teaches it, not because of any perceived reaction(s) against Darwinism. Secondly, Evans repeats the usual "scientific consensus" concerning the Age of the Earth, failing totally to interact with the criticisms of the dating methods in the scientific literature of the YEC scientists. As a non-scientist, Evans should not be taking sides in the scientific debate unless he interacts with the scientific arguments. Furthermore, to rely on "consensus" to argue for truth is fallacious, for the "scientific consensus" changes over time. Does Evans really want to tell us that Christians ought to have defended geocentrism based upon the "scientific consensus" during the Medieval period? Evans commits here the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum. Evans also has taken a realist epistemic view of Science, totally ignoring the seismic shift in the philosophy of science that Thomas S. Kuhn brought about.
Thirdly, Evans shows himself totally ignorant of YEC claims concerning the age of the earth and the fossil record. It is simply astounding that Evans speaks about the "apparent age of the earth," since YEC scientists deny such a thing. The earth does not come with an age tag! There is no apparent age, just faulty dating methods that claim to tell us the age of the earth. Fourthly, Evans confused common grade with science, as if General Revelation is equatable with the findings of "Science" (whatever that means). The problem is that there is no such thing as "Science," defined as an impersonal set of natural truths about the world. As both Michael Polanyi and Thomas Kuhn (though coming from different angles) have pointed out, there are only scientists doing experiments in a discipline that people call science. Scientists are NOT people following the "scientific method" (which eliminate all biases) to find the brute empirical facts! General Revelation is true and infallible, but our interpretation of General Revelation (in the scientific enterprise for example) is fallible and often false.
Fifthly, Evans produced the same canard about death before the Fall, ignoring the fact that YECs generally distinguish biological death from the the death of the nephesh chayah. Now, whether that is a good explanation is beside the point here. The point is that: one should not caricature the position one is critiquing. Nobody claims that there was no plant death or bacteria death before the Fall, and for Evans to think that is the YEC position further shows those opposing YEC have no idea what they are talking about.
Sixthly, and lastly, Evans assumes a certain interpretation of the ANE creation myths, and the worldview they supposedly had. Such a view of course is not new. The idea that those dim-witted ancients were idiots coming up with mythological tall tales, and those cosmologies were total myths by those ignoramuses, comes from liberal scholarship. That there were works like the Ennuma Elish and the Gilgamesh Epic is besides the point. The point is: How should these works be interpreted? The mainstream interpretation adopted by lots of those opposing YEC is that the ancients think in terms of myths of gods and goddesses, but why should we think such was the case? Why should we think there were such things as "ancient cosmologies" that the ancients invented for the purpose of proclaiming the superiority of their god(s)? Why can't those "ancient cosologies" be seen as the distorted versions of the truth subsequently written down by Moses? Why can't we see that those ancients really believed those events actually occurred? The Sumerians probably believed Gilgamesh and Enkidu actually existed, and that those events described in the Gilamesh Epic actually happened in the times of their ancestors, even though YECs would say the Epic itself was a distorted story of Noah and the Flood event.
The problem with Bill Evans, as with many of those opposing YEC, is that seldom if at all do they actually interact with YEC scholars. Popularizers such as Al Mohler are easy targets, but it would be actually helpful if those opposing YEC actually interact with the position itself, not build a plethora of strawmen and light them on fire for all to see.