Worldview shapes one's conclusions about creation, Kurt Wise writes
Posted on Mar 10, 2003 | by Ken Walker
DAYTON, Tenn. (BP)--Scientist Kurt Wise doesn't expect his latest book to convince skeptics that God created the earth in a literal, six-day period about 6,000 years ago.
"I'm not trying to convince people of the truth of this position," said Wise, author of "Faith, Form, and Time." "It's not a decision of the mind but of the heart.
"It's a decision you make with the interaction of the Holy Spirit," he said. "It's by faith that we understand worlds were framed by the Word of God."
Wise is director of the Center for Origins Research and Education and an associate professor of science at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., where he joined the faculty in 1989. He holds a master's degree and a doctorate in paleontology (examining previous geologic periods) from Harvard University, where he studied under the late Stephen Jay Gould, a renowned educator who embraced evolution.
The keys to his book -- released by Broadman & Holman Publishers last fall -- are found in the first two chapters, Wise said, wherein he examines the biblical basis for God as the Creator and sustainer of life as well as God's attributes as perfect and all-knowing.
"Since he is truth and is uncompromised by sin, God is not only the sole eyewitness of the past, but he is also the only fully reliable witness," Wise writes.
This acceptance of God's supernatural power and belief in him as Creator forms Wise's basis for interpreting earth's origins. As a scientist, Wise said he can create any number of theories that explain the age of the universe based on various worldviews -- from deism to pantheism to Christianity.
This dimension of his book is more significant to Wise than chapters in which he reviews data that point to problems with various dating methods, along with indicators that support the idea of a young earth.
"It's the status of Scripture, faith and the nature of God that is critical to everything," Wise said. "Scientific theories and explanations that come afterwards are all built on that understanding.
"If that understanding is wrong, then everything else falls down. The claims of Scripture are the starting point. Based on that, here's how we understand the world."
Wise said his primary reason for writing the book was to present a broad picture of the young-earth creation model to help other creationists trained in various disciplines discern where they fit in the overall scheme of this field of study.
Faith, Form, and Time breaks new ground in two areas, Wise said:
-- Unlike many books written on this subject, instead of bashing evolution he wants to make a positive case for creationism.
"It's not an apologetic book. Its purpose is not to make the case for creation so believable that unbelievers will believe it. It starts with the assumption that biblical claims are true and then tries to explain the universe in light of those truths."
-- It brings together some ideas that haven't been published in a single volume previously; "I think it makes a better case for creationism than other books have," Wise said.
While the book is designed for college-educated readers, a more basic version for high school students and homeschoolers is being developed by a colleague, Wise said.
Ideally, he would like to write a "treatise" of 20 to 25 volumes to review the case for creationism. But since he doesn't envision that in the near future, he plans to write a number of textbooks on biology and geology that can be adapted for younger students.
Wise acknowledges that he embraces a minority view in scientific and academic circles, including Christian educators. At the most recent national conference of geologists, the creationists numbered a handful of the 8,000 attending; even in an Association of Christian Geologists meeting, Wise was in the minority.
The overwhelming sway of evolution in public education doesn't bother him. But he sees little support among Christian educators for the theory he embraces.
"I don't see a day in my lifetime when young-earth creationism will become accepted in the church," Wise said. "I have no idea how to convince believers [the earth is young]. People who have a particular position on this issue aren't at all convinced by evidence."
While his educational background often earns him the chance to address certain audiences, Wise thinks a person should be judged on the merits of his character and arguments.
Wise has had some success in discussing the subject with non-believers, which he attributes to presenting an alternative view of the earth's origins while avoiding criticism of evolution and its supporters.
Christians can get hung up on creationism versus evolution debates when their first concern for a non-believer should be the state of that person's soul, said Wise, an Illinois native who earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago.
"When I talk to an unbeliever, I don't want to talk about whether scientific evidence is consistent with a flood or a young earth," Wise said. "The most important issue to speak about with unbelievers is their status before God and their eternity. [Otherwise], you're not talking about the most important issue."
Broadman & Holman is the trade publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
From a Bible-based perspective, Wise's book, "Faith, Form, and Time" examines:
-- Scripture as the foundation of a complete, biblical philosophy of science.
-- The creation week and the length of each day.
-- The chronology and genealogies of Genesis.
-- The Big Bang theory/bio-evolutionary theories and evidence.
-- The Garden of Eden and the Fall.
-- Dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric man.
-- The post-flood world and the Babel dispersion.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: INTERACTING, GOD'S TIMING, KURT WISE and FAITH, FORM, AND TIME.