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Augustine: Young-Earth Creationist

Written by Gary North on October 15, 2016

Recently, I received an email from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which in my undergraduate years had a far better name: the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists. The new name is squishy.

The email contained a link to an article: “Is Christianity Anti-Science?” by John Zmirak. Publication date: September 30, 2016.

Mr. Zmirak wants us to believe that evolutionary timeframes are consistent with the Bible. Clearly, they are not. Read Genesis 1. He writes: “But what about evolution? someone will jump in and demand.”

I certainly will, and have often done.

His response:

The answer is simply, “What about it?” For centuries, science was unable to offer any insight at all about how the earth was populated by millions of different species, so even brilliant scientists such as Newton, Kepler, and yes, Galileo, leaned on the Book of Genesis for answers. As mostly Christian scientists, unhindered by any Church prohibitions on asking such questions, came up with natural explanations for things like fossils, some scientists then stepped back and acted shocked–as if the Church had ever sold the Bible as a geology or biology textbook. Of course, it hadn’t. Nevertheless, many believers found Charles Darwin’s insights into the development of species unsettling. They’d been using the magnificent design apparent in creation as proof of a Creator, and naturalistic explanations such as Darwin’s seemed to knock out one leg of their apologetics. Some Protestants had been resting on biblical literalism–which Darwin seemed to deflate.

“Biblical literalism — which Darwin seemed to deflate.” Indeed. Darwin believed this. Thomas Huxley believed this. Generations of Huxleys have believed this. The faculty members of every tax-funded university’s biology department believe this.

But then Mr. Zmirak overplayed his hand, as apologists for epistemological dualism — two standards of truth — so often do. He invoked a Church authority — in this case, Augustine. When it comes to a Church father, you cannot invoke one with greater authority. He is the Church father John Calvin cited over and over in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. Mr. Zmirak wrote:

“As far back as St. Augustine, Christians had known that the Book of Genesis was not an attempt at a literal, scientific recounting of the means by which God made the world. Augustine himself had noted that the “days” mentioned in Genesis were probably not twenty-four-hour periods, but might have been lengthy eons.”

Mr. Zmirak is an ignoramus, Augustine-wise. Here is what Augustine wrote in the City of God:

In vain, then, do some babble with most empty presumption, saying that Egypt has understood the reckoning of the stars for more than a hundred thousand years. For in what books have they collected that number who learned letters from Isis their mistress, not much more than two thousand years ago? Varro, who has declared this, is no small authority in history, and it does not disagree with the truth of the divine books. For as it is not yet six thousand years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, and contrary to, the ascertained truth? For what historian of the past should we credit more than him who has also predicted things to come which we now see fulfilled? And the very disagreement of the historians among themselves furnishes a good reason why we ought rather to believe him who does not contradict the divine history which we hold. But, on the other hand, the citizens of the impious city, scattered everywhere through the earth, when they read the most learned writers, none of whom seems to be of contemptible authority, and find them disagreeing among themselves about affairs most remote from the memory of our age, cannot find out whom they ought to trust. But we, being sustained by divine authority in the history of our religion, have no doubt that whatever is opposed to it is most false, whatever may be the case regarding other things in secular books, which, whether true or false, yield nothing of moment to our living rightly and happily. (City of God, XVIII:40).

(For the rest of my article, plus my video, click the link.)

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