by Jack Hoehn

By Jack Hoehn, October 7, 2013
 

THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES,
Volume 5, No. 12,
March 20, 1879.

The Great Controversy

Between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels.”

Chapter Eight.

Disguised Infidelity.

By Mrs. E.G. White

It is inappropriate and embarrassing when the partisans of Young Earth Creationism and the impossible Ussher 17th century dating of creation republish parts of Sister Ellen White’s rightly intentioned but poorly informed response to the ideas that influenced Charles Darwin.

 

The ADVENTIST WORLD August 2013 article (page 33) is republished online October 1, 2013 accompanied by photos of a scary Tyrannosaurus from Creation Day 6 about 200 million years ago and a small but complex Trilobite from the sudden Cambrian Explosion of 20 of the 27 animal phyla found in fossils as sea creatures on Creation Day 5 about 500 million years ago.

This article has been edited twice, once in 1879 by Ellen White, and then again in 2013 by the ADVENTIST WORLD/REVIEW editors with ellipses … or …..

Ellen White’s article is itself a reworking of her chapter of the same name published 9 years previously in a book as SPIRIT OF PROPHECY, Volume 1, pages 85-90. I count over 25 words or phrases from that book that she leaves out in republishing the article 9 years later, including those claiming Divine instruction. (“I was then carried back to the creation…;” “I was shown that…;” “I have been shown that…;” are all omitted as this SIGNS OF THE TIMES was a missionary journal for the public and not written for Adventist believers.)

 

Most all of the changes are editorial and except for the omission of claims of inspiration the message of both articles is nearly the same but edited.

But clearly inspiration was Thought Inspiration, not verbal inspiration, and words can be changed by the prophetess or by editors in an inspired article. I guess the question we face now is can better arguments be made in support of a Divine Thought and can mistaken facts be corrected in an inspired article?

At the time of the flood, immense forests were torn up or broken down and buried in the earth. These have since petrified and become coal, which accounts for the large coal beds that are now found. This coal has produced oil. Large quantities of coal and oil frequently ignite and burn. Rocks are intensely heated, limestone is burned, and iron ore melted. Water and fire under the surface of the earth meet. The action of water upon the limestone adds fury to the intense heat, and causes earthquakes, volcanoes, and fiery issues.” (EGW, Signs of Times March 13, 1879)

I am thankful ADVENTIST WORLD/REVIEW has not yet republished the article in the SIGNS OF THE TIMES from one week before the one they choose. That article contains Ellen White’s discredited 19th century understanding of geology.

Anyone who has been to America’s active volcano in Hawaii understands that Hawaii has no coal, oil, or natural gas to burn (the coal fired power plant on Oahu burns coal shipped in from Indonesia!). There are no oil wells in Hawaii. There are no geologists, Christian or otherwise, who believe any volcanoes are caused by this mechanism.

The Adventist World/Review editors omit her Genesis 2:4 arguments that the “generations” don’t mean long periods of time for each Creation Day.

They omit her 4th commandment of Exodus 20 arguments.

They omit the argument that this is “unlike (God’s) dealings with mortals” to command us to keep a weekly Sabbath for a longer Creation Day.

They omit the section where she suggests that “many who profess to believe the Bible” accept the old age of the earth, some from the evidence presented by especially those who want to be “feel a freedom” from the fourth commandment.

They omit Sister White’s claim that not only bones but also “instruments of warfare are sometimes found” along with “ bones of men and animals” apparently proving humans were much larger than men now living.

They omit the phrase when she admits that “It may be innocent to conjecture beyond” (the inspired record).

They omit the 5 texts she quotes supporting the mystery of creation and our inability to understand God’s mind or plans.

They omit the sentence where she reveals she is fighting against
“infidel fables”.

 

The modern ADVENTIST WORLD/REVIEW version of Ellen White’s article leaves out most of the arguments she offered supporting her statements. This suggests to me that the present day editors expect us to accept as authoritative her assertions, and skip the parts where Ellen White sought to convince us that they were so. The edited version has a “Sister White said it, so believe it” feeling, not the same as the original SIGNS OF THE TIMES article where the prophetess gave arguments and Bible texts to support her statements. The original is much more “this is what I believe to be true, and here is why you should accept it, think about my arguments and see if you don’t agree” feeling.

 

I don’t accept that the Creation week was 7 short days in length, and they certainly didn’t happen 6,000 years ago.

 

But I also have no desire to be free of the fourth commandment as a happy and blessed Sabbath keeper.

 

I am not an infidel or atheist. I am a Bible believing creationist.

 

I do not accept fables of any kind, infidel or faith based. I do not believe naturalistic evolution or even theistic evolution is possible based on scientific grounds as well as scriptural teaching.

 

There are no “bones of men” much larger than those now living. That was started with a hoary 17th century misinterpretations of cave animal fossils by a Jesuit Polymath, Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680).

 

Although there were fossilized giant hoaxes in Ellen White’s day (see this report in Archiology), no humanoid fossil bones of humans “much larger than men now living” have ever been found. We had giant beavers, giant bison, giant turtles, and giant lizards in the past bigger than “animals now living”, but no bones of a human race of giant size other than the occasional pituitary damaged Goliath have been found.

 

So in the 21st century is a Long Term Creationist or Intelligent Design advocate involved in “innocent conjecture” or is it really the same “disguised infidelity” of the 19th century world of Ellen White?

In 1844 Adventist thought had a published competitor for the minds of men. According to Wikipedia VESTIGES… was published anonymously but was very popular and influential and widely discussed:

The book begins by tackling the origins of the solar system, using the nebular hypothesis to explain its formations entirely in terms of natural law. It explains the origins of life by spontaneous generation, citing some questionable experiments that claimed to spontaneously generate insects through electricity. It then appeals to geology to demonstrate a progression in the fossil record from simple to more complex organisms, finally culminating in man—with the Caucasian European unabashedly identified as the pinnacle of this process, just above the other races and the rest of the animal kingdom.”

When Ellen White first was inspired to write this article some time before 1870 it was likely not directly against Darwin’s ideas of human evolution. It was more likely against VESTIGES OF THE NATURAL HISTORY OF CREATION a very popular book published anonymously in 1844 by a Robert Chambers. This book was at that time much more popular and widely discussed that Charles Darwin’s first book. VESTIGES…was the book that influenced Ellen’s White’s generation and was much discussed and supported or criticized by both clergy and scientists before Darwin.

 

ESSAYS AND REVIEWS was published in 1860 by 7 liberal Church of England clergymen and was an influential liberalistic supposedly Christian acceptance of naturalism and the non-historicity of Genesis influencing the churches in Ellen White’s world. ESSAYS… spoke positively of the recently published Charles Darwin’s ORIGIN OF SPECIES in 1859.

 

Darwin later published THE DESCENT OF MAN in 1871 reformulating the poorly supported VESTIGES… by offering a more scientific theory of how things might have evolved without the need for Divine intervention. Darwin became more famous than the “infidel fables” (bad science, materialistic reductionism and racism) Chamber’s had offered. So in 1870 and 1879 Ellen White would have been writing mostly against Chambers and against liberal Church of England clergy but of course also indirectly against Darwin.

What is the Inspired Center of this brave attempt at defending the truth about Creation?

I believe God inspired Ellen White’s ministry through visions, and through Spirit inspired thoughts. It is clear she was also inspired by Bible study, and by reading good books. I accept her statements that she is not infallible and that truth is progressive, so that in 2013 I expect the church should know more and understand things previously imperfectly understood in 1870 and 1879. So although I find errors of fact in this article, and disagree with some of the arguments offered, I find the core thought to still be true, although it is embarrassing to republish the way it was presented to the church and world in 1879. I am encouraged to find that she edited and improved her article between 1870 and 1879 versions. I think she would completely rewrite it in 2013 if she were alive again today. Here are what I understand as the core ideas:

Yielding to (Satan’s) devices, men have turned from the plainest precepts of Jehovah to receive infidel fables.”

This is obviously true. The books influencing Philosophic Naturalism above were a bunch of wild speculation, bad science, and European racism, VESTIGES OF THE NATURAL HISTORY OF CREATION, was infidel fables by an anonymous atheist with journalistic but no scientific nor theological expertise. The liberal Church of England churchmen accepted German higher criticism, rejected Biblical historicism including miracles, the virgin birth, and the resurrection of Christ. As one old pastor exclaimed after listening to one of these Christ-less-Christianity presentations, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” ESSAYS AND REVIEWS was truly infidel fables in a Christian disguise.

The great God in his days of creation and day of rest, measured off the first cycle as a sample for successive weeks till the close of time.”

I agree with this, but find no evidence in nature nor necessity in Scripture that Creation Days had to be the same length as post creation days. I accept the Creation Week as a “cycle,” a “pattern,” followed by our week. A “sample” is not necessarily the same size as the real. A model is not the same size as the original. This is the same as the small Tabernacle in the wilderness which was patterned or dimensioned after the much larger Temple of God in Heaven. Our little week is a “memorial of creation,” not a clone or duplicate, it is a cycle set by God’s great Creation Week.

When men leave the word of God, and seek to account for His creative works upon natural principles, they are upon a boundless ocean of uncertainty.”

Naturalism, unguided, chance naturalism, without outside injection of information as a mechanism for creating novelties in body parts or plans has been shown by scientific evidence from fossils and from our knowledge of information theory as found in the amazingly organized and functional DNA and its supporting mechanisms, to be impossible as an explanation of the origin or complexity of life.

 

Philosophic Naturalism which intentionally and aggressively excludes any information, plan, design from outside nature is a religion of anti-religion and not based on any available evidence beyond hand waving and speculation.

 

Explaining the complex and designed creation on purely natural principles is a boundless ocean of baseless speculation and “just so stories.”

Just how God wrought in the work of creation he has never revealed to men.”

Meaning that God has NOT revealed in scripture that he created in 144 hours, 6,000 years ago. Your Bible has no dates for that week. Dates in your footnotes are ancient speculations, not revelation. And the assumption that the Darkness followed by Light Great Creation Days were 24 solar hours long is an interpretation. Like all interpretations, they can be revised by subsequent revelations of fact from nature or from later revelations. If you believe God dictated the words of this article to Ellen White, or gave her the details she used to support the central truths, then this may settle this for you. But your doctrine of inspiration may need some fine tuning?

 

It appears to me that Ellen White is telling me that God has left this mystery of how Creation happened for our investigation and delight by observation of nature, his “Second Book.”

 

(Now of course if you insist on interpreting this lovely statement as meaning, “God has never revealed this to any man, but there is one woman who knows, Ellen G. White!” I will respectfully bow my head in amazement at your argumentative skills. And go talk to someone else. )

Why would God permit his prophetess to make errors of fact?

Jesus used spit and mud to treat blindness. You are not permitted to do this now. God permitted Moses to make a provision for easy divorce. Jesus does not permit us to do so now. God permitted David to have 7 wives plus sexual consorts. Men are not permitted to do this now. Paul told Onesimus to go back to his slave master. You are not permitted to be a slave master now. Truth is progressive. The Bible does not forbid smoking. You may not smoke. Revelation has never revealed scientific truth, God has left this to our study and discovery through nature.

 

The length of creation days was assumed by the Christian world of Ellen White’s days to be 144 hours of creating followed by 24 hours of rest. For her to have taken another approach would have put her in the godless infidel camp, as far as most Christians were concerned. So using her best arguments she felt that the infidel fables would best be opposed by a Biblical Literalism.

 

It worked for me until about 2009. It has not worked as long for our scientists who have been prevented from expressing themselves in denominational employment for many years. It will not work for our Children and our Grandchildren.

Republishing Ellen White’s errors or weaker statements without editorial comments and corrections, is actually disrespecting her work as the Messenger of the Lord.

Ellen White writes of Martin Luther in his positive contributions to reformation of Christianity, she retells his high points. She does not recount his ugly and wrong anti-Semitism. She lauds John Calvin for his contributions to Christianity. She does not recount his condoning of the murder of dissenters or the unfortunate consequences of his predestinationism.

 

There is so much holy and good and beautiful that Ellen White has given me and the world, that I find it “Disguised Disrespect” for editors to try to use her 19th century revelations to contradict known 21st century scientific truth.

The Adventist Review is holding a good and holy woman up to ridicule and making her ministry and influence diminish when they select these fallible weaker passages as useful for the church in 2013. It is our duty to protect the truth about Creation with modern facts and better arguments than were available in Ellen White’s day. Take the core truths and do a better job of defending them with modern arguments and more accurate scientific facts.

Should we still be arguing using the 17th century misinterpretation of fossils and chronologies as the basis of our arguments? Free our scientists from a false doctrine of inerrancy in these chronological statements and ask them to reformulate the doctrine of creation with 21st century facts.