“As I have stated repeatedly, I accept without hesitation the fact that the world indeed looks old. Armed with naturalistic assumptions, I would almost assuredly come to the same conclusions as BioLogos and the evolutionary establishment, or I would at least find evolutionary arguments credible. But the most basic issue is, and has always been, that of worldview and basic presuppositions. The entire intellectual enterprise of evolution is based on naturalistic assumptions, and I do not share those presuppositions. Indeed, the entire enterprise of Christianity is based on supernaturalistic, rather than merely naturalistic, assumptions. There is absolutely no reason that a Christian theologian should accept the uniformitarian assumptions of evolution. In fact, given a plain reading of Scripture, there is every reason that Christians should reject a uniformitarian presupposition. The Bible itself offers a very different understanding of natural phenomena, with explanations that should be compelling to believers. In sum, there is every reason for Christians to view the appearance of the cosmos as graphic evidence of the ravages of sin and the catastrophic nature of God’s judgment upon sin.”—Al Mohler, arguing against the theistic evolutionist group BioLogos. This is the primary reason I consider the man a hack.

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About The Author

David Sessions

David Sessions is the founding editor of Patrol, and is currently a doctoral student in modern European history at Boston College. His writing has appeared in The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Jacobin, Slate and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter here.

  • http://twitter.com/timzila Timothy Zila

    Is it just me, or is half of what he says incomprehensible? For example “In sum, there is every reason for Christians to view the appearance of the cosmos as graphic evidence of the ravages of sin and the catastrophic nature of God’s judgment upon sin.” Um, what?

    • Amanda

      I believe that’s a reference to the first sentence of the paragraph: “I accept without hesitation the fact that the world indeed looks old.” To Mohler, the universe appears old because of the sin and judgment.

  • http://bensternke.com Ben Sternke

    Any time someone appeals to a “plain reading of Scripture” you know it’s downhill from there.

  • http://theycallmepastorbryan.com theycallmepastorbryan

    Mohler is certainly entitled to his opinion on this, but the implication that anyone who holds to anything besides what he states is in danger of not taking Jesus seriously is quite troubling. Why must we treat science like it is out to get all Christians again? And furthermore, what the heck is “a plain reading of scripture”? One that doesn’t take into account genre or differences of how we view the world over 4000 years? No thank you.

    • http://www.eng.uwaterloo.ca/~mboos Mike Boos

      I’ll echo theycallmepastorbryan – what is a “plain reading of Scripture” in this case? It doesn’t take a Hebrew scholar to tell that Gen 1:1-2:3 and Gen 2:4-25 are two different tellings of the story of Creation.

      The first account takes 7 days. The second takes 1, “in the DAY that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (the same word for ‘day’, ‘yowm’, is used in v. 4 – some translations write ‘when’, but if you’re going to be a stickler for “the word ‘yowm’ means a literal day” in the 7-day account, you can’t have it both ways)

      The first says the order was plants, celestial bodies, birds and fish, animals, and then men and women together. The second suggests the order was man, then plants, animals, and finally the woman.

      A “plain” reading then, if it means literal, is just going to leave you confused. Of course, I’m not saying throw the baby out with the bathwater. Both accounts are important to understanding God and the nature of his creation (‘very good’), and for beginning to establish the identity of God’s people.

      • http://www.jimjacobson.org Jim Jacobson

        Mike, I would disagree with your assessment, here is why..

        The Hebrew word for day in Genesis 1 is, as you state, yom.
        In the Old Testament it almost always means a literal day; and where it doesn’t, the context makes it clear.

        The context of Genesis 1 indicates that the days were literal days. Yom is defined the very first time it is used in the (Genesis 1:4–5) in two literal senses: the light portion of the light/dark cycle and the whole light/dark cycle.

        You will also note that Yom is used with “evening” and “morning.” Where these two words are used in the O. T., either together or separately and with or without yom in the context, they always mean a literal evening or morning of a literal day.
        Yom is modified with a number: one day, second day, third day, etc., which everywhere else in the Old Testament indicates literal days.
        Yom is defined literally in Genesis 1:14 in relation to the heavenly bodies.

        In Gen. 2:4 it is used to summarize without the qualifiers of either evening, morning, numbers, etc.

        There is no confusion when you let the word speak for itself, the confusion comes from science that presupposes no God.

        • http://www.eng.uwaterloo.ca/~mboos Mike Boos

          Thanks for pointing out that mistake. Indeed, I should have known better than to jump to such conclusions about ‘days’, especially given the cues from modern translations that use ‘when’. One might argue that my misunderstanding came from trying to read the text too plainly, (i.e. a plain reading), without taking the effort to grasp what the words actually mean.

          Even without looking at the number of days, there is a clear switch from an account somewhat poetic in structure (one can imagine Genesis 1 being sung in worship) to prose. And these two accounts don’t tell of things happening in the same order of progression. So I’m not sure how exactly my main argument has been undermined.

          I’m also not sure where you’re getting the notion of presupposing no God. Certainly there are people who think there is no God, but I am not one of them. Strictly speaking, there is nothing in science that presupposes no God either. Science looks at the natural world and tries to understand it. There are no tools in science to characterize or understand God. This is not because of some deliberate neglect of God, but because the supernatural falls outside the scope of the work of science. (Those who might try to use science to disprove God have misunderstood its purpose in seeing the world that God has created.) Similar to how we must be faithful in trying to understand and apply the Word, we ought to be careful observers of God’s creation, to grasp more fully some small part of the wonders he has placed for us to discover.

  • wendy

    It’s important to consider presuppotions in any argument — what’s ultimately important is what the text says, the Word of God, infallible and sufficient. If we believe the WORD is correct and infallible and that the WORD supports the earth’s age/evolution/etc, then that’s fine. Once we start putting the claims of science as higher and more credible than the living Word of God, well then, we’ve got bigger issues…

    • http://theycallmepastorbryan.com theycallmepastorbryan

      this would be fine if there wasn’t the question of context and interpretation. We’re reading an english translation of ancient languages that cross over many different genres of literature. Without taking the context in which these sacred documents were written and what it said to the time, we just aren’t taking the text seriously. Which is something that is sadly left out of many discussions on taking the text seriously.

  • David Cornwell

    His “plain reading” of the scripture apparently is vastly different from my “plain reading.”

  • http://www.jimjacobson.org Jim Jacobson

    I think calling Al Mohler a “hack” is counter productive. He’s a brilliant man who has contributed much to the discourse about faith. While you may disagree with him, calling him a “hack” makes you…
    -Just sayin. :-)
    I don’t agree with much of what I read here, but I do appreciate the contribution to discourse.

  • http://joshuakeel.com Joshua Keel

    I tend to agree with Jim that calling Mohler a hack is childish and even arrogant. Believers disagree on this issue. I don’t think Mohler is stupid or thoughtless or just being carried by the current evangelical wind. I think he actually has some decent points to consider. That doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with him, but I respect him enough to listen to what he has to say and evaluate his arguments on the basis of their merits. That said, I think the debate over evolution distracts from much more important issues we believers need to be talking about, like re-discovering who Jesus is and how we can be more like him.

  • Caleb Land

    Hmmmmm….so presupposing the truth of the Bible instead of presupposing the truth of Scientism makes one a hack, eh?

    I guess I’m a hack. Oh well.

  • Michael K.

    As a good Baptist, Mohler probably has a problematic relationship with someone like St. Augustine, but it might be interesting to look at what the latter had to say on this subject:

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion [quoting 1 Tim 1:7].”

    St Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, written in about AD 415. Noll, pp. 202-203, from the John Hammond Taylor translation of 1982.

    [quote stolen from http://johnthelutheran.tumblr.com/post/2635088669/usually-even-a-non-christian-knows-something

  • Mary

    One’s opinion on the origins of the world always tells more about the way one views God than about how the world was actually created, and one’s views of God tells more about that person than it does about God. I’m not sure what Mohler is so afraid of, but I find it interesting that he opposes evolution so defensively and views God as some sort of Wrathful Judge (is there some sort of correllation?).

    I’ve heard all the opinions in the world on this subject, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter whether the earth is young or old or if the yoms were days or eras. I have no doubt that God could have spoken and the world would be fully functioning, but I find that people who believe this focus only on the Power of God and miss many subtlties. Likewise, I find annoying the idea that God created the universe to look as if it was in the peak of its maturity–as if he decided that it would be a good idea to deceitfully lead everyone on–what does that accomplish? Anyway, I sort of like the idea that God took his time to thoughtfully develop his creation over a long amount of time. He has certainly proved to be a patient God otherwise–especially with his goal of cosmic restoration. I don’t think we should jump to quickly to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know.

  • Rob

    While I may disagree with Mohler on this issue, I do not at all understand your deeming him a “hack.” As others have noted, it comes across as arrogant and immature–a look that I have always insisted does not flatter your figure, Patrol. Moreover, calling Mohler a “hack” is patently incorrect: hackery connotes (in this context) the advocacy of certain ideas that one may very well not even believe for the purpose of currying favor with certain people. For example, [the average politician] is a hack because he claims to support [some cause or policy] in order to garner votes, but his voting record and personal correspondence tell otherwise. I see no evidence that Mohler isn’t sincere in his statements or that he is merely attempting to garner the approval of certain of his readers. Just because you don’t agree with his “plain reading of Scripture” or with his particular conception of cosmological origins doesn’t render him a hack.

  • http://strolling.info/Amerongen_bestanden/srypw.asp strolling.info

    Hi there, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this post. It was inspiring. Keep on posting!