Human Wisdom: Something to Suspect?
In this article from BioLogos, the author examines the idea of “human wisdom” versus “God’s wisdom” as described in 1 Corinthians 1:18–24 and attempts to apply her conclusions to young-earth creationists’ (YECs) view of science and origins. The author fundamentally argues that YECs wrongly apply the sentiment of 1 Corinthians 1:18–24, that God’s wisdom trumps man’s wisdom, to dismiss “human learning and scientific achievement,” presumably regarding the ideas of evolution and millions of years. She asserts that YECs often counter scientific claims with the contention that those are just “man’s wisdom” and that Christians should depend on “God’s wisdom.” With this overview in place, let’s analyze the author’s arguments in more detail.
The author says at the end of her introduction,
Does what the Bible says really justify or require dismissing human learning and scientific achievement?
Do YECs really “dismiss human learning and scientific achievement”? Of course not.
It is strongly implied here and throughout the article that YECs dismiss scientific knowledge and advancement whole-cloth because they reject evolution and millions of years. Do YECs really “dismiss human learning and scientific achievement”? Of course not. We celebrate those things because they lead to human flourishing and are only possible because the biblical worldview is true. What we actually reject is the practice of elevating man’s arbitrary guesses about history over God’s clear Word and eyewitness account to concoct the ideas of evolution and millions of years. Ironically, the author is using a common strawman argument often employed by atheists.
Also notice that the logical fallacy of bifurcation is front and center. This is when it is proposed that there are only two options regarding an issue when in fact there are other alternatives. The author essentially argues that either you agree with the “scientific” ideas of evolution and millions of years, or you disagree with them by wronging applying 1 Corinthians 1:18–24 and dismissing “human wisdom.” But there is another option: the right option. The option the rightly understands God’s Word and the true nature of the conflict we see today on the issue of origins. This is the option that will be fleshed out throughout this response.
The author spends quite a bit of time going through 1 Corinthians 1:18–24 and rightly conveying the general idea that God’s wisdom in salvation is backwards to human wisdom. And allow me to state that I rejoice in the truth of the gospel that the author shared that is indeed “backwards” to the thinking of the world. But dear reader, please be aware, the positions BioLogos takes on origins and Scripture ultimately undermine the biblical authority and doctrines foundational and necessary to the gospel itself.
As the author is presenting her argument, she asks,
What is the human wisdom of the world that the gospel destroys, discards, and makes look foolish? Does it have anything to do with scientific research or academic preparation, things that are frequently dismissed by YEC proponents as worthless “human wisdom?”
Another strawman is employed. Here at Answers in Genesis we love sound academic preparation and scientific research. We reject what God rejects: the use of secular ideas to trump and reinterpret the Word of the living God.
Later, she answers her own question,
Clearly, the “human wisdom” being overturned by the gospel is not the same thing as academic knowledge or scientific understanding.
But, the “human wisdom” we are warned not to rely on doesn’t have anything to do with science.
At the core of the debate on the issue of origins (and every other issue) is a foundational battle between God’s Word and man’s.
Please note, the general truth of 1 Corinthians 1:18–24 can and must be applied to every issue of life and reality. This truth is the fact that God’s wisdom, revelation, and Word are always right and authoritative. Anytime man’s wisdom or ideas conflict with God’s, man is always wrong. Yes, 1 Corinthians 1:18–24 is applying that reality to the issue of salvation, but that does not mean it stops there. And at the core of the debate on the issue of origins (and every other issue) is a foundational battle between God’s Word and man’s.
Next, the author utterly dismisses two key issues regarding origins that are intimately connected and of paramount importance. Worldview and the difference between “operational science” and “historical science.”
In short, your worldview is how you view the world. It’s a compilation of your most basic assumptions about reality that are assumed before you engage the world. Ultimately, either your worldview is built on the foundation of God’s Word, or it’s founded on the arbitrary ideas of men. Everyone has a worldview—it’s impossible not to—and that worldview is the filter through which all of reality is understood.
What about “operational” versus “historical” science? Operational science is using the scientific method in the present to gain and apply knowledge. Operational science is observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable. Historical science is using present-day observations, such as rock layers, fossils, radioisotopes, and interpreting them with a set of assumptions about the unseen past, a worldview, to make a guess about their origin and age. Since the past is gone, historical science is not observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable. Thus, historical science is drastically different from operational science. In historical science, your assumptions about the humanly unobserved past drive your conclusions in the present. And if you start with the wrong assumptions (wrong worldview) built on the wrong foundation (man’s ideas), you will likely get the wrong conclusions.
The ideas of evolution and millions of years are purely the result of a naturalistic, atheistic interpretation of evidence within the category of historical science. Largely in the early to mid 1800s, people like James Hutton, Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, and many others essentially argued that you can explain everything with only natural, present-day processes. Thus, they assumed, before even looking at the evidence, that the Bible’s extraordinarily clear history of a recent supernatural creation and global flood was not true. Don’t miss this—they assumed in their own wisdom that the Bible was wrong before addressing the evidence. They were not unbiased, neutral observers. Neutrality does not exist. Either God’s Word is your authority and foundation or man’s ideas are. This is vividly on display in the realm of historical science.
So, as Bible-believing Christians we can consistently celebrate and practice operational science while simultaneously rejecting the secular historical ideas of evolution and millions of years which are the direct product of secular assumptions in the genre of historical science. This is the correct, other option the BioLogos author ignores or is ignorant of.
It’s About Authority
In this sense, the “human wisdom” that the gospel overturns in 1 Corinthians 1:18-24 is the same kind of “human wisdom” to be rejected regarding evolution and millions of years. In both cases it is man saying he knows better than God; thus he is declaring himself the authority over God. The word blasphemy comes to mind.
In her conclusion the author states,
All truth is God’s truth, and we should pursue it, both through academic study and through spiritual discipline.
I could not agree more. And we pursue God’s truth by standing on God’s Word as our authority in every area. How we live in the present, understand the past, look forward to the future must all be grounded in the immovable rock that is the Word of God. God’s Word tells us that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). If you want to begin to know anything, you start with God and his revelation as your authority. We are told to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, emphasis added). Every thought about every issue is to be placed into submission to God and his Word. And we are warned, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
God’s Word tells us that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). If you want to begin to know anything, you start with God and his revelation as your authority.
To build any part of our thinking on any other foundation—particularly any that are in opposition to clear Scriptural claims and important doctrine, such as the gospel itself!—is to elevate man’s thinking over God’s and to trust in a foundation that is eternally doomed to utter failure. And, since God’s Word is truth, we shouldn’t expect unbiased scientific findings or observations of God’s world to contradict it. And we don’t.
When is “human wisdom” suspect? Anytime it raises itself up against the knowledge of God. Pretty simple, really.
SourceThis article originally appeared on answersingenesis.org