The book itself is good, though I imagine the editor would have done it differently. The essays were fairly informative and well-written, though young earth advocates would no doubt have wished someone like Lisle or Doug Kelly would have replaced Ken Ham.
Ken Ham: Ham insisted he be allowed to have a longer essay than the rest since he, and he alone, “was defending the authority of the Bible vs the authority of Scientists.” Ham’s outlook is simple: will we trust Scripture and let Scripture determine how we view science?” That sounds noble, but can he pull it off? Sadly, he cannot. Ham’s strength is his relatively clear portrayal of one interpretation of Genesis 1-2. Note, however, that not only does Ham ignore other creation accounts (e.g., Job 38-39; Ps. 104), he refuses to bring them into the discussion because they are “poetry.” Poetry, on his account, cannot teach truths. Ironically, Ham is very close to liberalism at this point.
Hugh Ross: Ross presents “moderate concordism,” the view that we can have a testable model of creation that can give us historical predictions. His science seems fairly accurate. As one author noted, the layman is in the unfortunate prediction of trusting one scientific authority over another and just hoping for the best.
Deborah Haarsma: This is the theistic evolutionist or “evolutionary creationist” account. She has the unenviable task of defending evolution. I do not think she succeeds.
Stephen Meyer: Updated Intelligent Design. I agree with everything he says, but, as others note, his position does not really need the Bible.
Young Earth Creation
There are good scholars and defenders of Young Earth Creation. Ken Ham is not one of those. His essay probably set the movement back twenty years. He does not understand how biblical hermeneutics works and regularly confuses his interpretation with God’s interpretation. His essay is not all bad, though. It is relatively clear and straight-forward.
* According to him, his is the “clear and natural reading.”
* Genesis 1-11 is history.
* Yom means a 24 hour solar day.
* When God creates, he creates supernaturally.
* The chronologies do not have gaps.
* No death before the Fall.
His chapter also touches on a worldwide flood, but that is actually irrelevant to the creation account, though it probably does touch on fossils and the like
That it is “a clear and natural” reading is precisely what one should prove. I do believe Genesis 1-11 is history, but that is not all it is. Yom has other meanings besides a 24 hour solar day, as a lexicon can show the interested reader Even today, the word “day” alternates between 24 hours and 12 hours. If I worked “all day,” I do not mean I worked for 24 straight hours.
I do not dispute that when God creates, he does so supernaturally. I think that point was more aimed at Haarmsa. Moreover, as Ross points out, Ham contradicts himself. He says humans were eyewitnesses to parts of the creation week, yet elsewhere says they were unobserved (Ross 31).
The biggest problem that Ham has to overcome is the issue of starlight. If the universe is 6,000 years old, then how does Ham account for starlight that is obviously from much older stars? The initial response is that God created the light, like he did Adam, fully formed and functional. The problem is a bit deeper than that, though. On Ham’s reading, light is coming from stars that never existed. Information is coming to us from no source at all. This is a problem for all Christian justifications of science. At this very point we cannot account for the rationality of the universe. The comparison with Adam does not work. We do not currently see Adam. We do see starlight.
Old Earth Creation
Hugh Ross has probably the best argued chapter, though it is by no means perfect. He argues:
* The surface of the earth’s water is the frame of reference in Genesis 1.
* Poetry can convey truth, which means we are allowed to go to Psalm 104 and Job 38-39 for information about creation.
* Day Age creation. The days were six sequential, non-overlapping long time periods.
* Even if one wants to say there was no death before the fall, there was entropy, as phenomena like metabolism suggest.
* The Bible itself hints at earth’s antiquity. It speaks of the mountains as “ancient” and “everlasting,” which would not make much sense if the mountains were only a few days older than man.
The biggest problem with Ross’s essay, as one can imagine and as Ross himself anticipates, is the presence of death before the fall. Ross points out that Romans 5 only mentions human death as a result of the fall. It says nothing of animal and plant death. Even if all the carnivores were vegetarians before the Fall, it still has them consuming possible life. Moreover, one would have to say that they all became carnivores after the fall.
I am still not 100% satisfied with Ross’s account. It is logically consistent, but something just does not set right.
There was no overall clear winner. Ross had the best essay. Ham had the worst.