SBTC on the Inerrancy of Genesis

by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 24 December 2002

The SBTC declares that they adhere to a literal reading of the Bible, and they indicate or insinuate that this is in contrast with many in the BGCT. However, some SBT publications prompt questions as to what they understand to be a "literal" reading.

The May 1997 Plumbline included a two page spread including articles interviewing Dr. Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe. At the end of the second article, an editor's note provides a 1-800 number to call to obtain the Reasons to Believe newsletter. This organization, and Ross in particular, however, do not adhere to a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 regarding a six-day creation. In "The Shell Game of Evolution and Creation," Ross states: "...I concur that the normal physical science definition for evolution is well established--things do change with respect to time and in some cases over a time-scale of billions of years... A literal and consistent reading of the Bible, taking into account all its statements on creation, makes clear that the Genesis creation days cannot possibly be six consecutive 24-hour days." (See also "The Creation Date Controversy", Hugh Ross and Kathy Ross, RTB web site.)

Ross has spoken to churches in Texas and elsewhere and promotes a theology which elevates the revelation of nature to the level of the revelation of the Bible. At Dallas Theological Seminary he stated, "Therefore it allows me to make an interesting paraphrase of John 3:16, if you'll permit--'For God so loved the human race that He went to the expense of building a hundred billion trillion stars and carefully shaped and crafted them for sixteen billion years so that at this brief moment in time we could all have a nice place to live.'"

In August 1998 I wrote a letter to the Plumbline pointing out the facts regarding a separate article (see letter below). I also pointed out the position of Reasons to Believe regarding Genesis, offering them an opportunity to retract their implied endorsement. The separate article was retracted in the Oct. 1998 Plumbline, but no reference to the implied endorsement of Reasons to Believe was made, and I have received no personal response to the aforementioned letter.

The possibility that some SBTC leaders do take this flexible view of Genesis 1 is further suggested by the January 1995 Texas Baptist, which included an article "The Big Bang and Biblical Truth" by J. Walter Carpenter. It states, "Is there any way to reconcile the Genesis account of a six day creation with what science is showing as a 15 billion year old universe? The answer is a resounding YES, both are literally true!" The article leaves considerable ambiguity regarding whether or not the author accepts a 144-hour creation. The statement is consistent with a belief in the "gap" theory, or creation in six non-consecutive days.

Appendix 1: Letter to SBT Regarding "Missing Day" and Reasons to Believe and Plumbline Response

24 August 1998
Brownsville, TX 78520

Skeet Workman, Editor
1729 Gross Road
Mesquite, TX 75149

Dear Mr. Workman,

Regarding your August 1998 story "Bible Supplies Missing Info for Scientists," cited from the Evening Star: the incident described never occurred. I know of no successful efforts in the past 28 years to verify Harold Hill's story, and the computer activity described is impossible to perform.

The newspaper you cited carried this article in 1970. Harold Hill, the cited source, was never involved in NASA computer operations. Individuals who contacted him regarding the story say that he could not identify the source of the story, and by one account he disavowed the article as written. NASA and several people involved with NASA have been unable to confirm any aspect of Hill's story.

Hill's story does coincide remarkably with one in a 1936 book by Harry Rimmer, which claims that an astronomer related the story to C. A. Totten in 1890. An 1890 book by C. A. Totten cites no astronomer but concludes the existence of a missing day on the basis of questionable biblical chronology.

Computer analysis is incapable of finding any missing day on the basis of current astronomical observations and any form of calculation. While obtaining my degree in astronomy, I used computer programs to extrapolate the motions of planets forward and backward in time. Such techniques can never verify the Joshua account--not because it didn't happen, but because they are fundamentally incapable of providing such information. Specifically, unless astronomers already knew the exact positions of the planets for some point in time before Joshua, they do not have a basis for comparison from which to find a missing day.

Further discussion of the facts behind this "urban myth" may be found in the July 1989 Bible-Science Newsletter (publication of the Bible-Science Association) and in the Summer 1991 Skeptical Inquirer.

On a related topic, in the May 1997 Plumbline, a set of three articles discussed the organization "Reasons to Believe" in a positive light and gave subscription information for their newsletter. This organization, as demonstrated by documents on their internet web site, rejects a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account. Can I assume there was no intention by the Plumbline to imply endorsement of these views?

Wm. Robert Johnston

[note: should be Mrs. Skeet Workman]

[From the bottom of p. 31 of the Oct. 1998 Plumbline:]

It seems the article in August Plumbline entitled "...Missing
Info for Scientists" is an old article and NOT true. As part-time
editor and volunteer; it slipped by me. We will keep trying.
Thanks, SW.

© 2000-2002 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 24 December 2002.
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