This past Saturday night the Jarvis Street Baptist Church college & career group hosted a talk by Rod Martin, Senior Director of New Media for Answers in Genesis. I was excited about this event, because I have heard very good things about AiG. A while ago I had read a book by Ken Ham that I thought hit heavily at the religious foundations of evolutionary theory. I also have a friend who really struggled intellectually when trying to reconcile the evolution he had been taught in university and the creationism of the Bible; he saw AiG last year and came out a convinced creationist. If they could do such a good job at convincing him, I figured they must be good.
Rod Martin’s presentation was well done. It was clear, engaging, funny and definitely communicated his point. He began by addressing the so-called “new atheism” of men like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. These are secular intellectuals who have been travelling around North America propagating their new brand of atheism to great effect. Martin gave a long quote by Dawkins explaining why God, if he exists, is a bully and why it is dangerous to believe in him.
The point of Martin’s lecture was to show why the Book of Genesis is important. It was less scientific and more for those Christians who might struggle with the question of “Why does it matter?” He provided seven reasons why the Book of Genesis is relevant and important for the issues of today. These are essentially seven reasons why Christians can trust their Bible.
1) Internal unity: it took 1600 years to write 66 books with 40 authors who had 19 occupations in 11 different locations writing in three languages. Yet in all of this diversity, there is a great unity in the message of Christ.
2) Historical accuracy: here he didn’t really explain his point, but rather showed how naturalism reads evidence through naturalistic glasses and then explained why the Hebrew word “yom” in the Bible meant 24 hour literal days. He did mention the familiar story of the Hittites who had recently been discovered by archaeologists, thus debunking the debunkers who said they didn’t exist and the Bible was false.
3) Scientific accuracy: here Martin gave examples from the Bible of quotes that comport with what we now know scientifically, that maybe weren’t always accepted in the past. For instance, Job spoke of the earth being suspended in the sky by God; Jeremiah refers to the stars as numberless; Isaiah said the earth was a circle (not flat); and other such examples.
4) Prophetic accuracy: the example given to show the accuracy of prophecy in the Bible is from Ezekiel 26 where the prophet exclaimed the downfall of Tyre, and how to this day Tyre is no more.
5) The Bible’s honesty: the Bible is honest about itself and its characters. Most historians of the past, when writing of their own nation’s history, only mention the good and leave out the bad. The Bible on the other hand makes no bones about how bad many of the key characters were apart from God’s grace: David had an affair with Bethsheba and had her husband killed; Jonah outright defied God; Paul killed Christians; John wanted to see a whole city destroyed, etc.
6) Nothing else answers the important questions of life: the Bible provides answers to such questions as where we come from; why there is evil in the world; where marriage came from, etc.
7) Faith: and of course, as any Christian should affirm, the veracity of the Bible is something that ultimately must be understood by faith.
I must admit, as a Christian, I did not find everything that Rod Martin said too compelling. It was good to be reminded of certain of these things about the Bible’s reliability, but I don’t think that he made the case for unbelievers. Every one of the points provided have been and will continually be derided by non-Christians. Just because the Bible is honest about itself doesn’t make it true (5); maybe the Bible provides answers, but what arguments were given to show they were good answers? (6); how do we know that fulfilled prophecy wasn’t just made up, or that the dates for prophetic books were written after the events? (4); but science and religion don’t mix! Do they? (3); who cares if the Hittites were discovered, this is just one area where it shows the Bible has some accurate history, it doesn’t make the whole thing accurate (2); there is no unity, what about all of the contradictions? (1) and of course Christians have to take it on all on faith, isn’t faith what Christians have when they can’t explain things? It’s a cop out.
Of course, I believe every single one of Rod’s points, don’t get me wrong. What I am here saying is that I don’t think he really did the job of convincing non-believers using these evidences.
At one point, in the Q & A period, a gentleman asked Rod the question, “How do we answer Richard Dawkins’ claim that God is evil, a bully, a woman-hater, etc?” Sadly, Rod didn’t answer the question and danced around it a little. Yet it to answer it would have devestated Richard Dawkins’ arguments against Christianity altogether.
What foundation does Dawkins appeal to to determine right or wrong? Based upon his own assertion, human beings are merely products of evolution and have no intrinsic value. We are all random pieces of matter with nerve endings, and though we may be more sophisticated in our construction than a cockroach, we really aren’t that much different. Who cares about right and wrong, and if belief in God is evil? What is evil?
The very fact that Dawkins, or Harris, or any other atheist can mention and understand the word “evil” and use it proves that in their heart of hearts they know God. Only Christianity can account for evil, therefore only people who know God can properly speak about it. When Dawkins speaks of evil, he is unwittingly presupposing Christianity. He is using, as Van Til would say, “borrowed capital.” Quite frankly, when Dawkins strings two words together in a sentence, he is proving the existence of the Christian God. For only the Christian God is behind the logic and order behind language and communication.
I really do wish that Rod Martin had dealt the more foundational issues of Christianity versus evolution. Had he done so, I believe all of his hearers would have been better equipped. And he would have done a greater job at closing the mouth of the lady who was there who was so antagonistic to the faith.