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Pete Enns on Al Mohler and the “Apparent” Age of the Cosmos

Pete Enns has just posted the next installment of his critique of Al Mohler’s views of creation, evolution and the book of Genesis. Mohler argues that the universe just looks billions of years old when, in reality, God created it only about 6,000 years ago with apparent (but not actual) age.

Mohler’s view is clearly an ad hoc way of dismissing evidence that runs counter to his literalistic reading of the Bible.  Far from being a theory that attempts to do justice to all the available evidence, Mohler’s view is a sort of procrustean bed designed to amputate inconvenient truths.

Let me be frank: I think Mohler’s position is deeply, deeply mistaken.  But Mohler’s voice is a prominent one amongst evangelicals in Raleigh, and so I think it is important to draw attention to Pete’s critique.  Pete puts it well:

Such explanations [as Mohler’s] demonstrate that the theology driving them is a barrier to truth more than its guardian.

Note: I have edited my original post as my initial choice of words for expressing my disagreement with Mohler’s stance was insufficiently charitable.



7 thoughts on “Pete Enns on Al Mohler and the “Apparent” Age of the Cosmos

  1. Hey, just tell us what ya think! lol Seriously, I agree, though I am rather conservative to say the least (Reformed Anglican), but I am an Old Earth Creationist myself. My father RIP, was a scientist and physicist. Note, I was raised Irish Roman Catholic in Dublin in the 50’s and early 60’s. But I have really noted how central this is (Young Earth Creation) with many American Evangelicals. It is ‘the Orthodoxy’ for so many! And I am living in the US right now also.

    I should note, I am not a great fan of Tom Wright either however. A modern Neo-Orthodox to my mind! And yes, I have Barth’s CD, and read him. Though like McCormack, I would not press or place Barth in the Neo-Orthodox fully myself.

    Posted by irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert | October 13, 2011, 6:41 pm
    • I have, and have read Enn’s book: Inspiration and Incarnation, etc. Fair overall, but we still need other works here. Note the depth of “Further Reading” books Enn’s gives in this book. I pray for further dialogue here in the Evangelical community! 🙂

      Posted by irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert | October 13, 2011, 7:04 pm
      • David, (I have a son name David btw),

        Since Wright is a Brit or English Anglican, I have issues with not just his NPP work, etc. but with his pastoral approach. This would include his place of women in the ministry, and then he backs off when the natural progression of that would be women Bishops (as Rowan Williams desires). I am of course traditional and complementarian. Don’t get me wrong Wright is brilliant, but just like RW, brilliance does not always mean orthodoxy! I am a Churchman myself, and again here Wright just does not measure well in my regard. He was never a good Bishop! Not a personal attack really, but both a theological one, and also pastoral. How does a Bishop leave his post, for academia? Unless he was never suited to the call. This also shows the grave weakness of the bishopric in the CoE, sadly! But these are my personal feelings, hopefully pressed by theology.

        Posted by irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert | October 13, 2011, 7:57 pm
    • Thanks for commenting, Fr. Robert! I have been stunned at how often I have run into this sort of literalism since moving to Raleigh. But this is an issue that we have got to get past.

      I am an Anglican, too, by the way. Good to (e)meet you!

      I am surprised to hear you describe Wright as a modern Neo-Orthodox. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that. Why do you say that, exactly?

      Posted by dmwilliams83 | October 13, 2011, 7:21 pm
  2. When you say that Mohler’s position is “theologically vacuous, intellectually irresponsible, utterly indefensible, and just plain embarrassing for the Christian community” are you referring to the “apparent age” view itself or to how Mohler engages with others who don’t hold to this view? I’m hoping that you are not attaching that language to all people who hold to “young earth”/”apparent age”, because if you are, you would be undermining the very critique you are presenting against Mohler, which is that the way he engages in the dialogue actually hurts open, charitable, and respectful dialogue amongst Christians.

    Posted by Lindsey Williams | October 13, 2011, 7:23 pm
    • I agree with David that the “face” of many Evangelical Young Earther’s (American), is harsh quite often. The “age” of the earth is simply not within the biblical, theological preview, at least to my mind. And we cannot make this a sign of “orthodoxy” either. But I agree that if one holds to the YE, that’s their biblical and theological right. But we simply must leave this an open issue & question, on both ends! Note some of the Reformed here, American and Dutch…Meredith Kline, and Herman Ridderbos, etc.

      Posted by irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert | October 13, 2011, 8:18 pm
    • Hey Lindsey! I do have issues with the ways in which Mohler “engages” those with whom he disagrees, but my comments were directed at the specific position of “apparent age” and I would say the same about “young earth” views in general.

      I know that that sounds harsh. I understand that young earthers are trying to be faithful to what they think the Bible says, and on that score I have the utmost respect for and sympathy with them. I flirted with joining that camp, too, at one point, and that was precisely because I wanted to take the Bible seriously and to be faithful. I know and love plenty of young earthers. Frequently they are good folks. Orthodox. Kind. Well-meaning.

      But I need to state categorically that I do not think that the young earth view has a leg to stand on, whether biblical or scientific or whatever, period. The fact that some of the evangelical intelligentsia–who really should know better–continue to cling to this view, trying to explain away an ever-growing body of counterevidence with increasingly ad hoc just-so stories, is just inexcusable. Moreover, it breeds the worst kind of anti-intellectualism amongst evangelical laypeople, and does so at a time when the church really cannot afford to collapse into anti-intellectual isolationism the way the fundamentalists did after the Scopes Trial. If this were the 19th or early 20th century, I would give young earthers more credence. But given the current state of the evidence, I just cannot, in good conscience, pretend that theirs is a theological view that should be taken seriously as a viable intellectual option. The evangelical community simply must grow out of this. Jesus deserves better thinking from us.

      Sorry, Lindsey. I know that was probably not the response you were looking for.

      Posted by dmwilliams83 | October 13, 2011, 8:50 pm

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NCSU Graduate Christian Fellowship

Hi! I'm David, the campus minister for InterVarsity's graduate and faculty ministries at NC State and Meredith College. I hope you'll join me as I learn to "practice resurrection" in the City of Oaks, in her universities, and in the wider world. You can contact me at dmwilliams83@gmail.com

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