Facts have an identity crisis, or rather, we have a crisis with how to identify facts.
The title of this post probably immediately brought to mind Institute for Creation Research (ICR) or Answers in Genesis (AiG). Creation apologetics has certainly become the mainstream appeal to aspiring Christian apologists, and also the popular target of atheist evolutionists. Unfortunately, though Christians, for the most part, have good intentions in bringing their apologetic teeth to bear in this way, the battle almost always takes the form of an apparent partnership at the outset. In other words, though some creation apologists have thrown in a pinch of presuppositionalism, mixing it with evidentialism, the attempt is all too familiar of the Christian who steps onto the other foundation in order to argue for the foundation they just stepped off of.
YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM
I am a young earth creationist. I also believe that young earth creationism, as an apologetic venue, leads to a point the atheist is not yet ready to argue. It is also a place I myself, admittedly, am unqualified to speak on, scientifically. Who are we kidding? I cannot pretend to know the ins and outs of genetics or quantum physics. But, this is not even the issue. The issue is mostly contained within the fact that, even if I did know these things, as a Christian, I would know these things in a different light than the non-Christian knows them.
For instance, the fact that, analogically, the Mt. St. Helen’s dwarfed version of the Grand Canyon was formed in fractions of the time it took the actual Grand Canyon to form, lends evidential weight toward the conclusion of younger geological features than previously thought, may seem as evidence to me. However, to the atheist it may just be written off as an anomaly or something which is to be expected as the result of such seismic trauma.
This reaction from the non-Christian is to be expected. After all, Scripture tells us that, “no one can please God in the flesh (Rom 8:8).” The Bible also says, “And you were dead in trespasses and sins… (Eph 2:1)” before we were regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). Moreover, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ (Ps 14:1).”
So then, how do we trust evidence to be interpreted for what it actually is by people who are spiritually dead and who can do nothing to please God? The simple answer is, we don’t.
THE IDENTITY OF FACTS
Facts have an identity crisis, or rather, we have a crisis with how to identify facts. The latter is true over against the former. Facts, in and of themselves, have nothing wrong with them. They were created as good, directly from the hand of God (Gen 1:1). Evidence is really the presentation of facts to back a proposition. However, as we have hinted above, facts, for the Christian, are what they are by virtue of the mind of God because God has created all facts. For the atheist, these facts can never have an objective identity because the truth about God, as creator of all facts, is suppressed in unrighteousness (Rom 1:19).
Herein is the dilemma…
Between the atheist and the Christian, there is no common way to view facts for what they truly are. This is a result of the pre-beliefs (presuppositions) either person comes to the facts (or evidence) with. The atheist omits God according to their worldview and thus the facts are going to be anything but products of a creator God, and if they are said to be facts “possibly” derived from a god, this god is surely not the Christian God.
Therefore, there is no way to “walk down the road” so to speak, with the atheist on the way to a true understanding of the world. There must be a head-on collision between the Christian and the atheist, a clash of worldviews, if you will. Now, this expression has been used before by many Christians, “clash of worldviews”, but do they really mean that? A worldview is not just a collection of a specific group of facts, or a mere category within the world. Speaking of “worldview” is speaking of all aspects of reality. Your worldview is the lens through which you view every aspect of your life and the reality in which you live. Thus, if we are discussing worldviews, we are not free to let drop one sphere and only talk about another. This is a comprehensive discussion which truly pits the Christian view of reality against the non-Christian view of reality.
In light of this, why would I take my Christian view of evidence into consideration while neglecting my Christian view of the depravity of man? Are not both to be considered for a proper understanding of our position? It would be as if I forget the Christian view of God while discussing my Christian view of Church. How could this ever make sense? Would it not make sense to place all facts, all of reality, in the context of the Triune God we, as Christians, know is responsible for all of this creation?
A BIBLICAL CREATION APOLOGETIC
The first thing, when discussing evidences, is to establish that all facts are what they are because God created them to be what He wanted them to be. In most discussions, this pill will not be swallowed easily by the objector. They will say something to the effect of, “you can’t prove God exists, much less that God created all facts!” Our response to this would be to expose the folly of their worldview by discussing their presuppositions concerning their own worldview and what foundations they have for facts, and knowledge of those facts, in the first place. We cannot elaborate on this point here.
Evidence cannot be seen as benign items which happen to point to a deity.
If we start at this point, in order to find common ground with the atheist, we adopt a lie. This lie is essentially that God may be instead of standing firm upon the conviction that God is. Submitting evidence as if it is something other than facts from the hand of God is also to place the mind of man in a position of ultimacy, acting as a judge to determine the truthfulness or validity of God. But, this doesn’t make much sense in light of a Christian theology which states that man is sinful and that God has declared Himself to be the Lord of all creation in the very first book of His written revelation (Genesis).
In order then to get to a Biblical creation apologetic, the presupposition must first be accepted by the atheist, that facts are what they are by virtue of the mind of the Christian God. Unfortunately, this will not happen within the typical conversation at street level unless God draws that atheist to Himself by means of the Gospel.
So, then, how do we do creation apologetics? I would submit that the argument with the atheist must be taken to the root, the presuppositions of that atheist. It’s those presuppositions which must be exposed for what they are, false and incompatible with the world in which we live, or in other cases, revealed to be borrowed from the Christian worldview. For example, since we live in God’s world, the atheist must use aspects of God’s reality in order to claim that he doesn’t believe in God. On the other hand, the non-existence of the Christian God is a presupposition of the non-Christian which must be exposed as faulty.
It doesn’t make sense, in light of Christian theology, to submit fact after fact in support of a God that the atheist has already outrightly decided doesn’t exist, according to their depravity. We must examine and address the pre-beliefs of the non-Christian first in order to gently and lovingly expose the folly thereof. All of this ought to be done with the priority to glorify God in the communication of the Gospel, in hopes that God would use the interaction to draw the non-Christian to Himself.