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Set Forth Your Case – Paper #14

Part 14 of a 16 part series…

To catch you up, my father, Dr. Michael Ruth (an author, family therapist, and pastor since the late 70’s) gave me an assignment to read the book Set Forth Your Case by Clark Pinnock and to write a 1-2 page response to each of the chapters.  It might be a little difficult to fully understand my responses to or summaries of the chapters without reading the book, but I wanted to share my work anyway.

Set Forth Your Case by Clark Pinnock
Chapter 14: The Grand Myth

Like you might suspect any book on apologetics to do, Pinnock devotes a chapter to the topic of evolution and its appropriate place in the context of Christian doctrine.  Evolution is an interesting subject to talk about, and frankly it seems to me like an issue that should not require as much discussion time as it does; however, one of the main goals of an apologist should be to effectively communicate to his audience.  Part of the success or failure of that communication is no doubt how effectively we identify the makeup of our audience, and in this day we must be sure to educate ourselves on the best way to deal with the supposed challenges that evolution presents to Christianity.  As Pinnock states, “Every generation has its myths, and it is always easier to detect the myths of other cultures than our own.”  I wonder if the main issue in our day is identifying just how deeply evolutionary thinking has been allowed to seep into our culture.  Indeed Pinnock says something very similar, “So pervasively does it (a cultural myth) envelop the culture, and so exactly does it coincide with the contemporary spirit, that its inner absurdities go almost unnoticed.”

As Pinnock points out, science is constantly evolving (no pun intended).  In the 1100’s, the greatest minds in the world were certain the earth was flat.  But Pinnock warns that evolution poses a greater threat to Christianity than we might like to admit, not at all for the fact that is holds any truth or factual evidence that would challenge a creationist worldview, but rather that it has grown so large that it has become a religion unto itself; and not only that, but it is a dangerous religion because it attempts, as Pinnock points out, “…to furnish a total world view into which all reality will neatly fit.  It places the whole phenomenal world, the realm of sense data, under the umbrella of naturalism, and leaves religion with the noumenal realm, the upper story, about which we can know nothing, but believe much.”

The problem for any thinking person should be extremely obvious – as an evolutionist you must believe that everything you see, touch, taste, smell and hear literally came from nothing, and that the orderly world in which you live sprang from chaos.  However, that stands in direct opposition to the laws (especially the 2nd law) of thermodynamics.  You would think a trained scientist could never make this philosophical jump themselves, and yet they do.  This suggests that the issue goes deeper.  As Pinnock states, “Scientifically the concept of evolution has almost outworn its usefulness.  So many inner contradictions have been pointed out that the hypothesis has ceased to be helpful.”  Pinnock has a great analogy – it would be as if an explosion in a printing factory somehow magically resulted in the twenty-four volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica!  Or, as he more eloquently puts it earlier on, “…a mechanical nature which runs on the lines of physical causation cannot easily become the mother of free and significant human beings.”

The problem is that the indoctrination in our schools, TV shows, press, etc. continues the conditioning without check, and it is largely successful because, “…the myth allows secular man to retain his autonomy without losing his freedom…,” as Pinnock states.  In fact, evolution conveniently seeks to set man at the top of some worldly pyramid.  According to Pinnock, if you choose to jump on the evolutionary bandwagon, it won’t be because the facts are so compelling, but because it’s a religion that lets you be your own boss, and you’ll want to join the church.

As apologists we must realize, however, that evolution is a construct that is far from neutral.  It sets out with the presupposition that there is no divine creator, and it must do so if its intent is to be, by nature, an alternative world view.  Evolutionists try to gather facts to suit their theories, and if they can’t find the supporting evidence, they’ll make it up or toss it out altogether.  The Christian understanding of origin provides a much sounder platform from which scientific exploration can leap.  As Pinnock points out, “It (the Christian view of origin) frees the scientist from the need to provide an all-embracing theory of origins which his data simply will not sustain, and provides him with a stable world view in which his researches have solid foundations.”  However, as Pinnock has astutely pointed out earlier in this chapter, we are not always dealing with issues of science.  In fact it might be more accurate to say that science is the secondary issue, and once again man’s unwillingness to surrender his pride and autonomy to His creator God is the primary issue that needs addressing.

Copyright © 2013 Jonathan Ruth


2 thoughts on “Set Forth Your Case – Paper #14

  1. “In fact it might be more accurate to say that science is the secondary issue, and once again man’s unwillingness to surrender his pride and autonomy to His creator God is the primary issue that needs addressing” – this has a familiar sound to it.

    I was listening to a Tim Keller sermon yesterday and in a part of the sermon Keller addressed the following question: what separates Christians from those posing as Christians. The answer, the same reason Pinnock has laid out for why evolutionist humanoids cannot accept the intelligent design by a divine creator concept. “Real” Christianity is surrendering your will to Gods (something I often struggle with). That is how we have a true relationship with the Creator. That is how Jesus will know us when we arrive at the gates.

    Posted by John Lacey | March 27, 2013, 8:39 am
    • Such an awesome comment John! Thanks for sharing your experience and insight! That is totally something I struggle with as well, along with trying to learn what it means to live by faith. I have faith in God no doubt, but I’m starting to realize through His grace how little I put that faith into action.

      Posted by Jonathan Ruth | March 27, 2013, 4:02 pm

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