Al Mohler rejects the truth claims of a religion that Peter Enns is trying to syncretize with Christianity, and in two posts Enns makes three objections.
First, objecting to the idea that the earth was created with apparent age, Enns writes:
“Apparent age” is an arbitrary claim that makes the “facts fit the theory.”
Look how easy it is to turn this around: what Enns is doing is taking what Mohler regards as the “facts,” the statements of Scripture, and making them fit the theory, evolution. So Enns has his own procrustean bed, his own controlling assumptions, and they come from science not Scripture.
Enns writes of apparent age,
“Unless one were precommitted to a literal reading of Genesis, one would never think of making this sort of claim.”
But again his objection can be turned back on him: unless one were precommitted to the truth of evolution, one would never think of making the sort of claims Enns makes, either.
In a second post, Enns objects to Mohler because Mohler’s claims contradict what Enns regards as authoritative–not Scripture but science. Enns quotes 4 Darwin 2:3 to show that Mohler is wrong: “The world shows evidence of age and evolutionary development.” Mohler obviously rejects the reliability and authority of not just 4 Darwin 2:3 but the whole book of Darwin.
And why shouldn’t he? What has established this truth of the age of the earth and macro-evolution? The guys in the white coats saying so? Shamans and medicine men they are, and the fact that they hold sway in some places does not make them right.
The third objection Enns makes entails some assumptions about how Mohler deals with the world-picture that Enns asserts the Old Testament provides. I’m not sure what Mohler would say about this world picture (see Enns’s post for a brief explanation and a graphic), so here I speak for myself.
First, I don’t think it’s an open and shut case that the biblical authors thought the earth was flat and that the raqia (“firmament”) was a solid dome over the earth. In the lecture he gave at Westmont College, Enns himself acknowledges that not all people in the ancient world thought the earth was flat. So I’m not prepared to concede this ground (or the sky).
For the sake of discussion, though, let’s say the biblical authors did think view the world the way that Enns asserts they did. Here I think a move John Collins makes is helpful. He distinguishes between a “world-picture” and a “world-view.” The world-picture is phenomenologically correct. The world is being described as it appears. But are the biblical authors teaching the world-picture or the world-view? That is, isn’t their purpose to tell us where the world came from, who made it, who reigns over it, what it’s here for, and what’s going to happen to it? And as they tell us these things to shape the world-view of their audience, don’t they talk about the world the same way we do?
I’m not subtly shifting the ground of argument here, as though I want to say the Bible is theologically true but scientifically wrong. And unlike Enns, I’m not about to reject the way later biblical authors interpret Genesis. My point is simply that if I say God was glorified by the sunrise, I’m not making a scientific comment, so I’m not scientifically wrong. I’m not convinced that these statements, which Enns uses to produce the ANE world picture he asserts is inevitable (in the post but not in the lecture), are scientific claims.
The issue is one of authority. And the question is not whether there will be an authority but which religion’s authoritative claims will shape our thinking: will our world-view be shaped by the authoritative statements of the medicine men and shamans in white coats or by the Spirit-inspired authors of Scripture?