This week I had the pleasure of interacting with Mario Anthony Russo of Biologos. Russo is a God-loving Christian who used to be an outspoken young-earth creation apologist and is now with Biologos, the largest theistic evolution promoting organization. We had a debate in 140 characters or less on Twitter.
It was in response to his new article titled “Tales of a recovering Answer Addict: From young-earth apologist to Evolutionary Creationist” (http://biologos.org/blogs/brad-kramer-the-evolving-evangelical/tales-of-a-recovering-answer-addict-from-young-earth-apologist-to-evolutionary-creationist). Here is some more background info on Russo:
The following are screenshots of our Twitter debate. Since it is kinda confusing to go into Twitter and see everything, I tried to reassemble it in chronological order below. Of course Twitter is not the most preferred format for a debate (and hard to screen cap – you will see a couple duplicates, etc), it certainly gets to the point quickly.
I hope you will be able to see how I believe he dodged several direct questions and was not willing to admit that he interprets the Bible through his beliefs about science…
This entire debate can be summed up in this image:
YES and a little bit no. Let me explain…
Yes, there are some human factors that are contributing to the decline of our natural resources. There are also some natural factors that just happen on our planet from time to time and naturally recover itself as well. There is good science to suggest both. Should we make changes to help cut down the depletion of our natural resources by human consumption? Sure! Why not? What we shouldn’t do is buy into the fear-mongering that if we don’t change we will destroy the planet for our children. That is obviously an unbiblical position.
Those that know the Bible know how this all ends. We know that Jesus returns to bring his people home. Doesn’t that suggest that his people do not die out by the depletion of natural resources before His return?? Does that mean we should be irresponsible with what we’ve been entrusted with? No, of course not.
Some creationists have been weary of global warming science due to the same assumptions being used in evolution science. They take a very small amount of historical data and extrapolate it out to virtually create a scenario that is unseen. Evolution does that to our past and global warming does that to our future. I understand their point and concern.
Some see global warming as an excuse liberals use to advance their agenda. Maybe there is some truth to that. Liberals are classicly known as being less biblically minded. Just as evolution science leaves God out of the picture, global warming science leaves God out as well. Biblically-minded Christians get concerned at both of these positions. We know that God is in control, and that He has a plan that no man can alter.
Should we do something about human over consumption? Yes, of course. Should we buy into a fear-mongering campaign about the end of civilization by some godless liberals? Of course not!
In February of 2014 Bill Nye debated Ken Ham at the Creation Museum. Millions of people watched online. Although many good points were made on both ends, many were left wondering more in the wake of it.
In March of 2014 PureFlix released their most ambitious Christian movie project to date called “God’s Not Dead”. The story about a college student challenged on his faith by an atheist philosophy professor resonated with Christians across the country. Skeptics saw the movie as barraging worn out stereotypes and that no serious atheist would be affected by the message.
In September of the same year another debate-style Christian movie was released called “A Matter of Faith”. This one focused in on the creation/evolution controversy. I anticipated this movie since I felt that topic was severely missing from the former movie. The fact that Answers in Genesis fully backed this one got me excited as well. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that good! See my review for more on why that movie let me down.
Even before ‘God’s Not Dead’, I had a vision of writing a movie around the creation/evolution controversy. After the let down of ‘A Matter of Faith’, I decided to finally take things into my own hand and pen the script of the debate movie I wanted to see on the screen. That script is finished! It is called “Answer the Question”.
The age-old question that affects everyone is addressed! Tom, a well-known and well respected leader of a Christian apologetics organization, challenges a nationally known science champion to a public debate on creation vs. evolution. A local news reporter is drafted to moderate which causes tension with his staff. The debate is held at a local public library which causes controversy within the library staff. Three student friends with differing worldviews attend the debate and question their beliefs. Leaving the final conclusions up to the audience, all angles are presented in-depth. How will you answer the question?
I attempted to write it as partial as I could. I even got assistance from an atheist in helping point out when I was being too sterotypical in my characterizations. One very unique thing about this project over the previous is that this one actually includes theistic evolution alongside young-earth and atheistic evolution. All three main positions are presented. The movie tries very hard not to necessarily promote one position over another. It leaves that decision up to the viewer. It will end with an invitation to the viewer to log on to the movie’s website and vote for which argument was the most convincing so they can actually answer the question!
To promote the concept to film companies I would like to produce an audio version of the script, like a read-through complete with music and sound effects. I have already had volunteers submit recordings for four of the nine characters. If anyone would like to volunteer to record lines for the remaining five characters email email@example.com. I have outlined the characters below…
TOM GARING: Leader of a Christian organization DONE
WILLIAM NIEDBALSKI: famous atheist speaker DONE
BRIAN JENKINS: News reporter as moderator (atheistic evolutionist) DONE
KERI NIELSEN: News assistant (creationist) DONE
BOB TRAMMEL: Library official (theistic evolutionist)
PEGGY HUFF: library boss (atheistic evolutionist) DONE
GREG MULLINS: creationist teen friend
AMBER FURLER: atheist teen friend
MARCUS McKEEHAN: theistic evolutionist friend
Here is a general outline of how the movies goes. It is very debate centric as I felt those were the scenes in the previous movies that people were really going to see. I’ve also attached some approximate timings of each scene so you can get an idea of the pacing.
ACT 1 (49 min.)
ACT 2 (60 min.)
ACT 3 (20 min.)
TOTAL TIME = 2 hrs. 5 min.
And now, for the world premiere of an excerpt of the script. You are going to get to read Scene 8 from Act 1. This is where Tom, from the creationist group, is contacting Brian Jenkins, the local news anchor, to see if he will moderate the upcoming debate. Notice in the following how I have infused apologetics into each scene of this script. Yes, Act 2 is the actual debate – but each scene includes some form of intellectual exchanges like the following scene. I would appreciate your feedback and if you’d be willing to volunteer to record some lines for the audio version please contact me! Thanks.
Tom contacts Brian to be moderator. Brian runs it by assistant Kerri, they discuss the topic. Brian contacts Peggy at the Library to push for it to which she agrees. (10 min.)
(phone call between Tom & Brian)
WTMG, Brian Jenkins speaking.
Brian, Tom Garing, Grace With Salt. We are an apologetics organization.
We are putting on a formal debate with Dr. William Niedbalski next week and were hoping you might moderate the event.
Oh wow, Niedbalski, eh?
Yeah, big deal, right?
Might just be.
So, what do you say?
Well we try and stray away from too many controversial subjects here at the station, but this one might just be worth it. Where’s it gonna be?
Were shooting for the public library, but I haven’t heard back yet.
Yes, good idea. I’m good friends with Peggy over there – I’ll put in a good word. Shouldn’t be a problem.
Hey, that’d be great.
So.. I’m on your website here. And… I’m guessing this is like a creation-evolution thing then?
And.. you are defending creationism?
Yep. But we don’t try to phrase it as “creationism”?
Well right off the bat you’ve biased the terms.
If it’s evolution vs. creationism… one of them has an “ism” on the end. That is automatically the weak point before the debate even begins.
Ah, I see. Well, I’d love to do it. I think it’s going to be a trainwreck for you… but if you’re willing, so am I.
Well… thanks I think.
No prob, I’m gonna call Peggy right now and I’ll get back with you about the format.
Sounds great. Thanks Brian.
Brian hangs up phone, and is approached by his assistant Kerri.
What in the world was that all about?
Oh.. actually kinda interesting.
Was a guy from this Christian group who has challenged William Niedbalski to a public debate.
Yeah, the guy’s outta his mind if you ask me…
Nah, I find that pretty bold. I wish more Christians were willing to take a stand.
Uhuh. Sorry, forgot you’re all in that camp.
Let me ask you this Kerri, do you really think this world is less than 10,000 years old?
Actually, I do.
Really?? Cmon, there are dinosaur bones way, way older than that. Heck, the station here sits on rocks that are billions of years old. Do you just ignore that?
No, we just interpret the evidence different.
What do you mean? Sorry – my investigative journalist side is kicking in.
All right, I’m no expert but the way I understand it is that we have the exact same evidence. Same rocks, same bones, same trees, same earth. But we interpret what they mean based on the history recorded in the Bible.
What a lot of evolutionists do –
Hold up… evolutionist?
Yeah, someone who believes in evolution.
One doesn’t just believe in evolution, we understand the science.
What do you want me to call them?
Wow… ok. You do realize there are people with PhDs working in creation science right?? You don’t even have a PhD Brian.
Yeah, ok… well continue… interpretation?
Evolutionists… interpret the data through the assumption of uniformitarianism. Basically meaning that the present is the key to the past. How we observe things work today is the way they’ve always worked throughout all of history.
It actually does, until you realize that if the Bible is true – then it describes a very different start to our world. We interpret the evidence through an assumption of catastrophism. A few short, but drastic events shaped the world rapidly rather than gradually.
Sounds like a lot of assuming. That’s not science.
Ok… but both sides are assuming.
But if we’re assuming it is based on observations, you’re assuming based on some ancient text.
Brian, how do you know George Washington was the first president of the United States?
Did you read it in a book?
I’m gonna call Peggy and set this up, make sure you’re available too. Gonna be a heck of a night!
Kerri smiles and walks off, Brian picks up phone to call Peggy.
Peggy, it’s Brian Jenkins.
Hi Brian! What can I help you with?
Tom Garing called me just now. Wants me to moderate this debate thing.
Oh wow, you huh? You gonna do it?
Well, it is certainly going to be a spectacle isn’t it?
Yes it will be.
So, we’re a go?
I feel sorry for the Christians, they are going to be humiliated… but I can’t discriminate so I’ll give them their chance to shine.
Great… I’ll see you there.
The following post was inspired by Reddit user stcordova (http://www.reddit.com/user/stcordova) who posted in the Creation Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/Creation/2pnvao/almost_simultaneous_origins_of_civilizations) a topic I realized I had never blogged about here before.
The Bible claims that at the Tower of Babel, God dispersed all gathered peoples by confusing their languages. Many Christians understand this as the starting of the different people groups / civilizations from one original group about 4000 years ago. If we use this proposition as our hypothesis, the evidence in the world appears to confirm this claim over and over.
The following graphic called the “Cradle of Civilization” maps the earliest emergence of each major world civilization.
And… none of them earlier than 3000 BC. That seems to confirm our hypothesis so far! Now see this graphic detailing the earliest emergence of languages:
Again, in this data – we have no record of any major language before 3000 BC which is in line with our hypothesis. The other remarkable part of this list (click the link to see more) is that the majority of the world languages originated at roughly the same time!
Another point of evidence to consider is world population growth:
The growth of population matches well with what we would expect given a Young-Earth / Flood / Babel scenario. The population explosion begins shortly after 3000 BC which correlates well with the data on languages and civilization emergences.
Also interesting to note on this topic is an article written by K.J. Duursma for creation.com about linguistics and how under an evolutionary worldview we should expect a common ancestor of all languages – which we do not find:
“The ultimate question is whether all human languages are genetically related, but the evidence for this is scarce. There are few words which are similar in all languages… This is a problem for secular linguists. If man evolved from an ape-like ancestor, man would at some point have gained the ability to speak. If speech did evolve somewhere, somehow, we would expect to find that all languages are genetically related. They clearly are not.”
Young-earth creation would predict that recorded human history would begin following the flood, approx. 4000 BC. Data across multiple disciplines including historical civilizations, languages, population growths, and historical linguistics confirm this prediction.
Following the big creation/evolution debate by Bill Nye and Ken Ham, Buzzfeed published a pictorial that went viral of creationists asking questions of evolutionists. Some of the questions were thought-worthy, some were cringe-worthy. Now the same has been replicated with the opposite: evolutionists asking questions of creationists. See the display here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/messages-for-creationists-from-people-who-believe-in-evoluti. Again, some were thought-worthy and some were cringe-worthy. I will not replicate all the pictures out of respect for the photographer and publisher, BUT nevertheless, let’s go through them!
If my great-great-grandpa rode bareback on a TRex – why can’t I?
After man chose to disobey God in the garden of Eden, the world changed. Evil and suffering permeated God’s good creation. Years, decades, centuries past and evil accumulated. With this came all kinds of things God never intended us to face including carnivory, bloodshed, etc. So, is it possible that early humans could have ridden dinosaurs? Yes, but I apologize to inform you that at this time they all seem to have gone extinct.
How do you explain the fossil record and the established science of geology?
If a worldwide flood decimated this planet in the times of Noah, we would expect to find (predict) billions of dead things buried in sediment layers laid down by water all over the world. That is exactly what we find in the fossil record. Geology is the study of these layers and fossils we now find. We have no problem with Geology itself, but we do disagree with many of the interpretations they offer of past events outside of observation or repetition.
What’s with all the raping and pillaging, God?
Please provide a citation where God himself raped and/or pillaged. You see, that’s the difference – God never did. His creation did. Sometimes he put in place situational laws that dealt with the rampant sin in the society. For example he talked about ethical laws for keeping slaves. Do not confuse this with God okaying keeping slaves. He is saying – if you are going to keep slaves, then at least follow these guidelines. Also keep in mind that slaves in Biblical times were more like indentured servants: workers paying off a debt owed.
If there is no such thing as evolution, how come snakes have no legs, but evidence of once having legs?
I believe you are referring to vestiges. These are usually body parts scientists find and assume are left over parts from an earlier ancestor. Vestiges is a very sketchy science to bank on. We are constantly learning uses for things we used to consider vestiges. The belief that snakes used to have legs comes first, THEN you interpret the body part as a vestige. You interpret through your worldview – not the other way around. The evidence doesn’t convince you. You find something you are curious about, and make it fit the worldview.
Does God get bored with the finches of Galapagos every few generations? Mix it up?
Rapid speciation actually hurts your overall argument. Most evolutionists blast creationists for believing a few thousands animals could come off the Ark 4000 years ago and adapt out to the millions of species we have today. Yet the quick changes of the Galapagos finches shows that rapid speciation is possible. It is simply adaptation to environment – 100% compatible with Biblical creation.
How can you ignore evolution as a theory if there are entire disciplines dedicated to it?
Creationists do not ignore evolution. In fact we agree with almost all of it… up to a certain point. We believe in natural selection. We believe in micro-evolution (or adaptation with species). We even believe in certain types of speciation up to the point where one animal kind would turn into another. We do not agree with that because there is no evidence for macro-evolution, the idea is actually unscientific. We’ve never observed or repeated any type of macro-evolution. It is merely a philosophical idea of what could have happened, but not science.
Why do you believe carbon dating is so unreliable?
We don’t. We love carbon dating. Carbon dating helps us prove the earth is young. Carbon’s half-life is 5700 years, yet we find it consistently in rocks and diamonds that are supposedly billions of years old. How is that?
You may have meant radiometric dating. Radiometric dating takes a rock and looks at a particular isotope’s observed decay rates and extrapolates that rate through all of history to declare a starting date for that rock. There are too many assumptions at play for that date to be accurate. Take this example: you walk into a room with an hourglass pouring sand in the middle of its cycle. You want to determine how long it has been going for. You measure the rate at which the sand is going through. You extrapolate that back to determine the sand has been falling for 4.5 billion years. BUT you don’t really know if all the sand was on the top when it was originally turned over. You also don’t know if the hourglass was ever interrupted. You have assumed it has never was interrupted and that it was full when started. That’s a lot of assumptions!
How can you deny microevolution?
We do not. Natural selection is a selective process, not a creative process. Animals adapt to their environment and develop different traits. This is not an addition of new information; this is a switching on or off of preexisting information.
Show me the facts! How can you possibly find evidence that an omniscient being created everything?
Sure! The facts are we have never observed nor repeated life coming from non-life or information arising from non-information. It is 100% unscientific to believe otherwise. It would go against all known and recorded evidence to believe the opposite. Therefore, the world was created by intelligence.
I require my textbooks to be newer than 4,000 years old.
The Bible is not a science textbook. No creationist organization I know of claims this. The Bible is the word of God though. Therefore whenever it touches on areas that affect biology or geology or astronomy it would be the authority. That would then make it the authority by which we should then judge our own opinions about these matters. I would also challenge you: at what age is something automatically unreliable?
Creationists and evolutionists unite – science certainly does rule! I have four children who absolutely LOVE science from growing up in a creationist home. I never cared much as a kid myself. I like Bill Nye’s show, but that was about as far as I went with it. My kids are little scientists doing experiments daily! I love it.
If you accept religion as truth, why is your religion “more true” than all the others?
The God of the Bible is the only deity attributed with creating time, space, and matter – thus the ultimate God who exists outside these three foundational elements. Also the 3 major religions all follow backwards to the same common God of the Old Testament. Also, the Bible’s history is the only reliable standard that stands up to observation of the current world and history. This is too big of a topic for a quick answer so I would refer you to the over 40 articles I’ve written on Biblical authority: https://gracesalt.wordpress.com/biblical-authority/.
Assuming “The Flintstones” was a documentary, what was Jesus’ role in having dinosaurs in the workplace? They seem like a safety hazard for Mr. Slate.
Dinosaurs, especially herbivores, would have made really great helpers in the workplace. I’d say dino-power would be more efficient than horse-power.
How did Noah’s Ark stay afloat even with termites on the Ark?
Noah put the termites in a box, and then put that box in another box, and that box in another box. J Or perhaps termites adapted to eating wood after they came off the ark?
What is your explanation of the human genome that was found dating back 40,000 years?
I am not aware of the dating method that was done to determine that age, but if it is like most dating methods I encounter – they are based on uniformitarian assumptions. That’s a big fancy way of saying “the present is the key to the past”. We observe constant rates today and **assume** they’ve remained that way for all of the unseen past. We are not sure how rates and processes may have worked during a 6-day rapid creation, or in the pre-curse world, or in the time during the flood or immediately following catastrophic world. There are many Biblical reasons to reject uniformitarianism.
Explain rock layers and plate tectonics?
The rock layers are exactly what creationists would expect give a worldwide flood of sediment being moved all over the world and settling. There is a wealth of published information about flood geology and how it works. I would suggest starting here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers#/topic/geology. PhD geologists have recreated several instances that confirm our suspicion that the rock layers were laid down during the flood and after as the waters receded.
The creationist explanation of plate tectonics is basically the same as secularists. We believe all the continents were together at some point in the past, and were violently ripped apart. We just disagree to the timeframe. Secularists measure the rate they are moving today and then using uniformitarian assumptions about the past declare a deep time for how long they’ve been moving. We believe that when the Bible talks about the “fountains of the great deep bursting forth” that is the onset of plate tectonics.
How do you explain fossils that are millions of years old?
Fossils do not come out of the ground with a nifty name-tag like you see in museums today telling you it is 65 million years old. That is the interpretation applied by scientists who believe that their radiometric dating methods are reliable ways to achieve ages of rocks that the fossils are embedded in. See the above answer about carbon dating for more on how these dating methods are fallible – not to mention the hundreds of dating methods that disagree with traditional dates!
Do you really believe in a talking snake?
Do you really believe in talking apes? Evolutionists believe humans are nothing more than evolved hominids. The questioner seems to be implying that he has a problem believing the spiritual realm can impact the physical world, i.e. miracles. Miracles are a historically and modernly documented activity.
Keep religion out of my science class.
From my research I have not found one creationist organization pushing for creationism in the public school classroom. I believe the questioner may have been confusing the fact that we want children to hear the creation message with some agenda to put creationism in the science classroom. That is not the case. In fact when I personally decided to testify in front of the Indiana State Board of Education, I contacted Answers in Genesis for guidance and they attempted to talk me out of it. I only went ahead for the public forum to point out the difference between observational and historical science.
I want to challenge the question-asker here though. If macro-evolution must be accepted on faith (since it is outside of observation and repeatability), doesn’t that qualify it as more religious than scientific? My message to the state board was that evolution and creation are BOTH belief systems. If they are going to censor one, they need to censor both.
Creationists and Pastafarians – we’ve got to stick together!! Won’t you support our religious right to have our Pastafarian story in science classrooms as well??
See above answer. No belief systems should be in public science classrooms. Perhaps philosophy, religion, or history classes.
Read more than 1 book.
I have a master’s degree. I have read more books than I want to. But no matter how much I read in the world, I must always compare worldly knowledge to an authority on all matters – or else I could fall for anything!
Jesus riding a dinosaur?? ‘Nuff said.
I guess it’s possible, but we have no record of it. From my understanding reports of men hunting and killing large lizard-like reptiles (that they often referred to as “dragons”) extends well into the 11th century AD. The King James translation of the Bible refers to dragons many, many times. There always seems to be truth buried in most legends, especially legends as well referenced from so many societies as dragons. If they were fire-breathing monsters, I don’t know – but what I do know is some men saw large reptilian creatures that no longer exist today. ‘Nuff said.
Please also see our Top 20 FAQ for more questions & answers, also our recent post about how Ken Ham won the debate whether you agree with his positions or not, and finally our post fact-checking Bill Nye‘s original creationism video.
Those who read my blog know that I favor arguing more from a pre-suppositional perspective than at the evidential level. I feel we can go back and forth all day over different evidences, but at the end of the day we can still only interpret the evidence through our starting assumption. But nevertheless I feel compelled to share with you a recent video I watched on YouTube by Dr. Thomas Kindell recorded at the Seattle Creation Conference. Dr. Kindell presented 52 minutes of evidences for a young-earth. He does a much better explanation of these topics then I could do, but here are some highlights that I enjoyed:
… and much more. WARNING: the video quality is pretty low, but the message still makes it through. See the video below: