Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lectures - Reformed View of Origins

Last Thursday I completed a series of three lectures under the heading "What is the Reformed View of Origins?" The Reformed Bible College had invited me deliver these lectures, which took place on April 22, 29 and May 6 in the Abbotsford Free Reformed Church. The outlines are listed here. Each lecture was about 2 hours long, with additional time for questions and a coffee break. About 100 people, mostly Canadian Reformed, attended each lecture.

Lecture 1 surveyed the historical context of current challenges to Genesis, the deeper implications, limits of science, and the naturalist worldview. Some of the material covered can be found in the posts Dubious Dutch Connections, The Cost of an Old Earth, Evolution and the Fall, and War of the Worldviews.

Lecture 2 covered the Reformed Worldview and its implications for Genesis. Some of the material covered can be found in Is the traditional view of Genesis Reformed?, Genesis and Dr Clark, Accommodating Error, and Genesis and Ancient Cosmology.

Lecture 3 addressed the question as to how Christians should approach science and apologetics. Some of this was covered in my posts A Christian Perspective on Physics, Can we trust scientific data? and War of the Worldviews.


  1. Were these recorded? If so, are the recordings available?

    Jim Witteveen

  2. Yes, the sessions were recorded on video. They should be available within a few weeks at the Reformed Bible College website:

  3. Make sure you put up a post alerting us.

    Pretty please.

  4. From John Vandervliet:

    My main topic of interest in the debate right now is how an evolved, old earth and species, etc., change the witness of creation to its Maker. I am thinking especially on Psalms 111 and 104 in my meditations, with Rom. 1: 20 as the focus point: God's invisible nature, His power and deity, are perceivable in the things that He has made, and these are plainly shown to us in so many providences which we take for granted.

    In conversation I sometimes use an illustration from a grade 8 class, in which the teacher tried to teach Averages and Probabilities. He had one student standing in front of the class repeatedly tossing three quarters into the air at one time, and the rest of the class recording results, whether heads or tails won out. He also bet (euphemistically speaking) that heads would win by a landslide. Even he was surprised when that actually happened. My conversation then goes into explaining why that happened, how each toss was a fifty - fifty probability no matter the results before. The next day tails might win out. Another day may result in a close race. All the results could be counted as fifty - fifty probabilities, with favour resting on none of them.

    Transpose that observation over to the 'time-plus-chance' argument for evolution and you can begin to see that millions and millions of years of evolutionary process, to the point we are at today, from slime to beings calculating and reasoning to find the factual basis of our past, can hardly be called chance in the conventional sense of the term. It would be the same surprise result that the teacher got, only much more radically so. Maybe we could accept a thousand years of heads winning out, like maybe heads would win out for one day in school, but all year long, every day? Every year? All the time? For generations? For millions of years? But that would be exactly what Evolution would entail.

    Ps. 104 speaks of the evidences of God's providence in nature, not merely design. Design could possibly speak of a deist's god, who made a good design that would last, but doesn't necessarily act into it now. But fruitful seasons, resulting in feasts by men who reap the goodness of the earth demonstrate providences, not chance results.

    (to be continued)

  5. From John Vandervliet (continued):

    Even we as Christians tend to take for granted that heads wins every time as if on a normal basis, and some of us cannot see more than natural results in it. But chance, held true to form, could as easily result in death as life. It does not favour the good over the bad, productive years over pestilence, that everyone has enough food unless there are extenuation circumstances. We take them for granted because we miss the fact that the earth was made to do these things, to produce, to grow, to create new things that never were before. The normal course of this creation is for the sustaining of life. The world cannot help itself but to attribute a motherhood status on nature, how much more should we attribute providences to God, and not to chance

    When we look at creation, what do we see? Do we see a great and abundant witness to process and great lengths of time? Or do we see a witness of God's power and deity? Do we agree with the Psalmist, who has all creation joining God's people in praise worship, not in words, but in how much they witness to God's nature in their nature? Or do we think the Psalmist has nature taking a leap of faith, that nature arbitrarily worships God even though it really does not display God's nature in itself?

    This question holds in every area of values, It holds for questions of morality, of truth, and of all the rest of the areas of goodness that the providence of a living God blesses mankind with. For what happens when a law becomes based on men's constitutions rather than on divine law? What happens when "all men are created equal" is grounded on the American constitution rather than the Bible? This would be a necessary conclusion if any of Adam's cousins and their descendants, about whom the Bible says nothing about receiving a God-breathed soul, survived the so-called "local flood". The result would be that all men are not created, much less created equal; and therefore it would be that "all men are created equal" would be rooted in the American constitution rather than in the Bible. There would no longer be a valid reason to outlaw slavery, or discrimination against certain races, except by the goodwill of men, as long as men thought this to be goodwill. Without God at the centre it would be much more than religion that would disappear from view. Our North American culture may have accepted a separation of church and state which excludes God from the latter, but only because it is greatly inconsistent with itself.


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