Sunday, July 5, 2015

An Open Letter to Dr Brown - Accepting Genesis Isn't About Scientific Acumen

Dear Dr Michael Brown,

Several months ago you took part in a debate (Smalley vs. Dr Michael Brown | Dogma Debate). At the start of that debate you said:

"I live to be respectfully challenged, or even challenged without respect." 

So I hope that you will feel the same way about me challenging you on your views on Genesis that I see as being clearly wrong according to the Word of God. 

My name is Brendan Larsen, and although I don't think we have ever met personally, you will probably have seen some of my comments on your Facebook page as "God or Absurdity" of which I'm the founder and main administrator. I also made the God or Absurdity website (www.godorabsurdity.com) and this blog. I have a theology Degree from Laidlaw College in New Zealand. (www.godorabsurdity.com/about-me.html)

On the positive side of things I'd like to tell you that I appreciate your ministry and agree with a lot of what you post on Facebook especially relating to your stand against gay marriage and your stand against Islam (although I think that you should make it clearer that "radical Islam" is Islam. I have no doubt that you love Jesus with all your heart, and no doubt that you are a man of God with great courage and zeal as I know from personal experience that it's not easy challenging issues like that online.

I've also been blessed by your teaching on revival and more than a decade ago I bought and read your book "Let No One Deceive You: Confronting the Critics of Revival." I got it when I visited the Brownsville Revival for a few days in the US summer of 1997 if I remember correctly. I was deeply impacted by the Spirit of God at that revival, and will never forget the whole experience and the strong sense of the holiness of God. I was so hungry for God to touch my life that I slept outside for 3 days in the parking lot to make sure I was at the front of the line and didn't miss out on the services. (It was the height of summer and very warm so a lot of others were doing the same thing). I can't remember for sure but it's possible I heard you preach at Brownsville, and may have even shook your hand when I got the book. 

I was glad to find that you've had the biblical creationist Dr Jonathan Sarfati on your Line of Fire show on Oct 2, 2013. I listened to that show and it was good, but in it you basically said that you didn't have the scientific acumen to know what to believe for sure about Genesis and concluded that the bottom line was that God is the Creator. I agree that God is the Creator. What I wonder though is how you know that the biblical God is the Creator when you aren't sure if Genesis means what it says?

But then just a few days later you had the Old Earth Creationist Hugh Ross on your show. "Special Guest: Hugh Ross - YouTube." (Oct 8, 2013). On the show you were singing Ross's praises and helping promote one of his books.

After Hugh Ross's guest appearance on your show there were a few people who voiced their concern on your personal Facebook page. It would seem on that occasion your motto of living to be challenged was on hold:


What Mark said here about Hugh Ross compromising the Word of God is true, and if you'd have asked Dr Sarfati about that he'd have said the same thing and explained why. After all he has written a whole book responding to Hugh Ross's compromise. The book is called "Refuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of 'Progressive Creationism' (Billions of Years) as Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross."

The fact that you know Hebrew well, have a PhD in Near Eastern Languages, and are such an influential teacher is one of the reasons that you should know better when it comes to these issues Dr Brown. Biblical creation of the literal 6 day creation type is clear in the English, but even clearer in the Hebrew. One of the world's best Hebrew scholars Professor James Barr, had this to say:
“So far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story.”

(Modern Hebrew scholars have said similar things - for more on this see here). And as you are a Messianic Jew I'm sure that you are more than well aware that Orthodox Jews date the beginning of Creation using the Hebrew Scriptures and have 2015 as 5775 years since Creation. (I don't believe we can know quite this precisely what year Creation took place, but they're not too far off of an accurate biblical time scale). 

I'd also like to point out that your views on Genesis aren't just a side issue but are foundational to the truth of God's word. By this I don't mean that you must believe in a literal Genesis to be saved but that if you reject Genesis as literal history then you no longer have any basis for trusting anything in God's Word.


If we can't believe that God meant what he said in Genesis, then we can't trust anything in the Bible to mean what it says. Furthermore, the doctrine of marriage being one man and one woman is founded in Genesis, so if you compromise on Genesis you are also undermining your argument against gay marriage - and the fight against gay marriage and the gay rights activists is one that has has become a major part of your ministry.

Coming back to the Dogma Debate show, at the 56 minute mark you were asked by Smalley what your views were on Creation: 

Smalley: So are you a Young Earth Creationist?
Brown: No, I'm not sure about the age of the earth in terms of scientific debate because I don't have the scientific acumen to decide. I know the general beliefs by the vast majority of scientists in terms of an old earth etc. But based on reading Scripture alone I don't believe that it makes clear what the age of the earth is. You can read it as a young earth creationist or you can read it in a different way. I'm trying to read it as written against its Ancient Near Eastern background and things like that... What I absolutely believe is in a Creator. Absolutely. And while there are certainly evolutionary processes that happened the only explanation for the human race, our make up, is that God created us.
Smalley: Ok. So you don't know?

Brown: I don't know.

[Emphasis added]

When you said that there are "certainly evolutionary processes that happened" I'm really not sure what you are saying. I'm assuming that you are referring to speciation - but that's not evolution or evolutionary processes so it's a shame that you've used the terminology that you have. Or are you actually letting slip your true views - that you believe that God used evolution? (Theistic Evolution).

When asked if you think there was an actual Adam and Eve (@57 min), you seemed to be saying that you believe that they were historical people but you also add that some people believe there were hominids. I'm not sure if this means that you think that theistic evolution is a possible option for Christians, but given what you've said already it would seem that you're open to that possibility.

Also when you say that you don't have the scientific acumen to be sure about this issue you are misunderstanding what the issue really is about - it's not about having a strong knowledge of science - it's about holding firm to the truth of God's word and doubting the fallible words of men. True science is about observations that can be made in the present, and so Origins science is not real science because you can never observe what happened in the past but must make many assumptions.


Further on in the debate at around the 64 minute mark you said, "I'm saying because I have all this evidence to believe in Him..." - This is an evidential argument rather than a biblical argument. Yes, it's true that the evidence for God is all around us, but this is not the primary reason we as Christians are to believe that God exists - we are to believe that God exists because the Bible is true, and the proof of this is if you reject it you can't know anything to be true. (See my blog post, The Biblical Basis For Presuppositional Apologetics and my website, www.godorabsurdity.com).

While I was impressed with your patience in your debate with Smalley it was at times, to be frank, a bit painful to listen to because you never really challenged his worldview in a presuppositional way. Without God professed atheists like Smalley can't account for how they know anything, and part of our job is to expose that fact.



Recently on your AskDrBrown Facebook page you posted this:


I agree with this Spurgeon quote, but I believe that this applies directly to you in terms of your thinking when it comes to Genesis - the Bible is clear that Genesis is literal history and that God made everything in 6 literal days, and yet because of the influence the world has had over you in terms of millions of years and evolutionary indoctrination you've been clouded in your mind over what the Bible actually says.

Unless you've somehow managed to avoid all contact with the outside world, never watched TV, never seen any movies, never been to a zoo, never been to any museums, never seen a nature documentary etc - unless you've miraculously managed to avoid all of those things - then it's almost impossible to avoid being exposed to evolutionary millions-of-years ideas. And unless you understand why those ideas are fundamentally flawed (e.g. fatal assumptions in radiometric dating) then it's easy to be influenced by them and think that a literal Genesis doesn't make sense. Then people start to look for alternative explanations for Genesis rather than accepting God's word as being true.

On my website I've put together a few pages on evolution that show in just a few minutes and with a few simple questions why secular scientific ideas can never get the right answer about a young earth if they won't start with accepting a literal Genesis. I hope that you'll have a few moments to have a look at it. (See www.godorabsurdity.com/evolution.html

Here's another recent meme you posted that has a similar theme as the previous meme:


Another post you made a month or so you rightly rebuked Rob Bell for rejecting the authority of God's word:


While you are nowhere near as far down the slippery slope as Bell, you are at the top of that slope, and by not taking a stand on a literal Genesis you are undermining Scripture.

It's my hope and prayer that you'll come back to the authority of God's Word on this issue, because whether you like it or not you've taken a compromise position that is undermining everything you are fighting for. A good book on this whole topic is Refuting Compromise, by Jonathan Sarfati. I hope that you'll look into this issue more and that you'll accept the truth of God's word.

At the end of the day it's not about having great scientific acumen - it's about trusting God's Word as our ultimate authority. I hope and pray that you'll do this and accept a straightforward and plain reading of Genesis.


Post Edit: Dr Brown's Response. (I was really pleased that he kindly took the time to read this open letter and to respond):


(See In My Father's Day - Creation.com)



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