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Sunday, October 21 2018

I don’t know conservative firebrand author Matt Walsh.  The closest I ever came to meeting him was when I was invited to emcee an event he was keynoting a couple years ago.  Due to a prior commitment, I was unable to accept.  Still, I have followed Walsh’s writings sporadically for several years and have appreciated his uncompromising stance on the sanctity of human life as the single greatest moral issue of our time, as well as his defense of the importance of the nuclear family.

But not everyone bats a thousand.  And days ago, Walsh’s train of common sense derailed in terrifying fashion during a Twitter thread he launched to undermine the authority of the Genesis creation account.  I’m not sure why Walsh felt this was an area he should wade into publicly, but given his large following – a significant percentage of whom are professing Christians – I felt it incumbent to offer a response to what he posited.

In the course of this response, my intent is to be charitable, yet earnest and resolute in my defense of Scripture that I believe was callously maligned – undoubtedly carelessly rather than maliciously.  Perhaps this writing is more for my catharsis than anything, but I hope it will be edifying to others as well.

It all began with Walsh bizarrely announcing:

“I’ve never understood how anyone who has actually read the creation story in Genesis could come to the conclusion that the Earth was made in seven 24 hour periods. The Sun doesn’t even exist until the fourth day. There can’t be a 24 hour “day” without a Sun, by definition.”

First of all, it seems very peculiar why Walsh can’t fathom a person reading the creation account and concluding that Moses (the likely human author of Genesis) understood the six days (not seven as Walsh suggests) were literal, 24-hour periods.  There are plenty of passages of Scripture that are poetic or symbolic, but that is clearly discernable from the language and context present.  Nothing in the language or context of Genesis 1 offers reason for anything but a literal understanding of the text – which is why the ancient Jews, to whom the book was written, understood it to be literal 24-hour periods. 

When his tweet received significant pushback, Walsh dug deeper:

“A day on Pluto is 150 hours. Jupiter is 9 hours. Venus is 2,800 hours. Why assume that the God of the Cosmos operates by Earth days?”

Walsh may not be a theologian, but he’s read enough of them to know this is a silly thing to say.  The Bible claims to be the God of the Cosmos’s divine revelation to man – on Earth.  If God is really speaking directly to those of us on Earth, it would only be logical for Him to speak in language that conforms to the natural laws we experience.  It’s not that God operates by Earth days – it’s that God knows we operate by Earth days, and so He’s speaking to us in a voice we understand.

That aside, the crux of Walsh’s argument was summarized in these two posts:

“…science absolutely definitively tells us that the universe was not formed in a 7 day period. No legitimate scientist anywhere will dispute this. So, if you are unnecessarily married to the 7 day creation (which you need not be, theologically)…”

“Then that means you must do two things: 1) Completely reject modern science altogether, which confirms atheist suspicions that we are anti-science fools. 2) Claim that God made the universe to look older so as to deceive us, which makes God a deceiver.”

These two tweets are a startling, yet sadly critical reminder to Bible believers that even those who seem to voice our views consistently on political or social issues are still fallible, and they are still capable of saying incredibly dangerous and even destructive things.  Where to begin?

Notice what Matt absolutizes as the final authority here.  It’s not the Word, it’s the world.  He begins with mortal man’s interpretations of the natural world and then strains to make the Bible fit it.  For those who hold a Biblical worldview, understanding the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, that is startlingly backwards.  Walsh absolutizes modern, decidedly agnostic, scientists’ interpretations of geology and astronomy, setting up parameters for God (something he would later explicitly say was wrong to do). 

The problems in doing that, for a self-described Christian, are numerous:

1. Modern science tells us that a human being cannot reanimate and come back to life after being dead.  Walsh’s professed belief in the resurrection of Jesus contradicts everything we know about science.  So why does he believe it?  Because he trusts the evidence, the majority of which is explicitly presented to him in…wait for it…the Bible.  This is true for every miraculous, supernatural act of God.  There is nothing less reliable about the Bible’s words “Let there be!” than its words, “He is risen!”

2. It doesn’t make God a “deceiver” to have created Adam a fully formed human adult rather than an embryo.  So then, making the planets, galaxies, and starlight a fully formed universe rather than a smoldering ball of energy ready to erupt in a giant bang, obviously doesn’t make Him a deceiver either.

3. Walsh doesn’t seem to realize that “all modern geology, astronomy, cosmology,” and the “deep time” associated with those disciplines is predicated upon an a priori rejection of the existence of a supernatural Creator.  The “science” that “absolutely definitively tells us that the universe was not formed in a 7 day period,” as Walsh states, is not operational science at all – it’s data interpretations made and promoted by those who have committed themselves to explaining Earth’s origins without even entertaining the possibility of the Divine.  Walsh is not only playing on their playground, he is desperately seeking their approval.  I’m not sure why.

4. If Walsh has convinced himself that he is merely questioning the wisdom of mortal men who believe in a 6-day creation account rather than questioning the Word of God, it is he who is sadly deceiving himself.  In Exodus, the finger of God – not the pen of a confused Moses – carves into tablets of stone His Ten Commandments, the 4th of which reads in part:

“In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

The Israelites were told that in the same way God created the world in six literal days and rested on the seventh, they would work for six literal days and rest on the seventh.  Again, this isn’t man’s interpretation; this is God’s own finger writing His own words to us.  Is he lying?  If “day” in this context means, as Walsh supposes, millions of years, the ancient Jews had one really long work week ahead of them.  Again, context is provided by Scripture, and it is unmistakable.  Walsh must choose whether or not he trusts the Word.

5. Not only did Walsh regrettably turn his trademark sardonic scorn on faithful brethren here, he proceeded to join in with the ungodly to mock those defending the efficacy of Scripture – even jabbing that they believe The Flintstones was based on a true story.   But his ridicule cannot cover a rather glaring lack of understanding of the serious and credible science that supports a young Earth; almost as though he has never even researched it. 

To say that “no legitimate scientist anywhere” would support a young Earth is not only wrong, it’s stunningly uninformed.  I’ve met scientists from the Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, young Earth geologists with degrees from leading universities, and can attest to the fact that my brain, Matt’s brain, and Charles Darwin’s brain all put together wouldn’t rival the intellectual capacity of just one of these men or women.  The secular science world blackballs them because of their theology, not their science.  I would have hoped that someone like Matt Walsh would have had their back.

6. In addition to his lack of awareness over young Earth evidence, Walsh doesn’t seem to grasp the mammoth assumptions upon which the modern scientific view is precariously balanced.  Uniformitarianism, debunked and discredited theories on ancient man, carbon dating, fossils, and continuing testimony from the rock layer persistently undermines this school of thought.  If Walsh fears looking like a fool, he might want to be cautious which team he joins.

7. Perhaps most concerningly though, Walsh seems oblivious to the theological minefield he creates for Christians in advancing a “deep time” age of the universe.  That model is established for the sole purpose of lending credibility to the scientifically impossible molecules-to-man evolutionary tale.  That tale directly undermines the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  Romans 5 tells us that sin entered the world through Adam, and “death through sin.”  A deep time universe model that includes the macro-scale evolution of molecules-to-man necessitates that death is a part of creation long before Adam ever arrives on the scene to sin.  But if death is in the world before sin, death is not the punishment for sin.  And if death is not the punishment for sin, then Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross cannot pay your debt and you are still in your sins.

Matt pays lips service to this concern, weakly retreating behind the old veil of “Well, Romans is talking about spiritual death that doesn’t apply to anything but man. Animals were already dying.”  But this is not the testimony of Scripture that tells us God created Eden in a state of perfection, where He dwelled with man.  Is Walsh suggesting that perfection included the maiming and slaughter of living creatures for millions of years?  The Bible is clear that human sin brought a bondage not just to man’s spiritual state, but to creation as a whole.  That’s why God’s curse extended to creation, which according to Romans 8 “groans” for redemption.  What we see of it today – the disasters, the death, the suffering, the famine, the droughts – that is not the natural state of God’s creation.  It is its sin-stained state.

It is peculiar that Matt Walsh cites G.K. Chesterton as one of his most admired theologians.  After all, it was Chesterton who resisted a movement within the church to abandon the miraculous events of the Bible in an effort to appear sophisticated in the scientific Age of Discovery that immersed his time.  How I wish Walsh would use his platform to do the same today rather than demonstrate fealty to the scientific spirit of the age.

All this said, I feel it incumbent to reiterate that Walsh has been and will undoubtedly continue to be a key ally in cultural battles.  I wouldn’t advise unfollowing him or undermining his important work.  I’d merely remind fellow believers who read this that all men – even those we agree with politically and socially – are fallible and must be held accountable to the only standard that isn’t.  That is the authority of God’s Word alone.  In this case, Matt Walsh fell short, something all men (myself certainly included) are wont to do. 

I don’t know how old the universe is, or how old the rock layers on Earth are.  I wasn’t around to see them formed and therefore any position I take will be based on a reasoned evaluation of the best evidence available.  Having come to be convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, that’s where I begin.  I’m willing to adopt the millions-of-years position that Walsh takes if he – or anyone else – can best reconcile it with the testimony of Scripture.  But until that time, the ground they beckon me to stand on, wearing the name of sophisticated science or not, is sinking sand.

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 07:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email