This coming January I will have the wonderful privilege of studying with a very unique scholar with a unique name. January 14-18 I will be in Louisville, KY to take a class simply entitled "Origins" taught by Dr. Kurt Wise. This is a class I have looked forward to for several reasons. '
First, I did my undergraduate studies in Applied Science and Physics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I became a follower of Jesus during my sophomore year at UNC in the middle of my studies in the hard sciences. The questions surrounding the Scriptures view of history, science and the nature of the cosmos became important for me at this juncture as well as my interests in Christian Apologetics. During my studies at UNC I immersed myself in some young earth creationist literature for a brief season but over time evolved to more of an old earth, recent Adam creationist yet firmly maintaining that the first 11 chapters of Genesis were a trusted, though not comprehensive, view of human creation, sin and early migrations. I would say I have stayed somewhat abreast on the discussions between theistic evolutionists, progressive creationists, intelligent design theorists and literary framework views. The interesting thing about my upcoming class is that Dr. Wise is in fact a young earth creationist...and one of considerable intellectual talent.
Dr. Wise did his undergraduate studies in geology at the University of Chicago, a masters in geology at Harvard along with a Ph.D. in Invertebrate Paleontology, also at Harvard University. His doctoral work was actually supervised by the late Stephen J. Gould, quite the proponent of various evolutionary explanations of life. Wise has even drawn the attention and disdain of the high priest of the new atheism Richard Dawkins who said the following of Dr. Wise:
Wise stands out among young earth creationists not only for his impeccable education, but because he displays a modicum of scientific honesty and integrity.
And then of course the following:
Kurt Wise doesn’t need the challenge; he volunteers that [that he is a six day, young earth creationist who believes the Bible), even if all the evidence in the universe flatly contradicted Scripture, and even if he had reached the point of admitting this to himself, he would still take his stand on Scripture and deny the evidence. This leaves me, as a scientist, speechless. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have a mind capable of such doublethink. It reminds me of Winston Smith in struggling to believe that two plus two equals five if Big Brother said so. But that was fiction and, anyway, Winston was tortured into submission. Kurt Wise—and presumably others like him who are less candid—has suffered no such physical coercion. But, as I hinted at the end of my previous column, I do wonder whether childhood indoctrination could wreak a sufficiently powerful brainwashing effect to account for this bizarre phenomenon.
So I have the upcoming privilege of spending 8 hours a day for five days with this highly credentialed scientist and young earth creationist. My biggest question is whether Dr. Wise will consider me Mr. Foolish if I do not accept the 6 day creationist conclusion...and will I care. I look forward to the reading and discussion ahead and will enjoy engaging all of these issues in the coming weeks as I do the reading...and he did just assign some reading. He did go to Harvard after all.
For those interested here are the books on the list for my class in Origins:
- Miller, Keith B., editor, 2003, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 528 p.
- Ross, Hugh, 2006, Creation as Science: A Testable Model Approach to End the Creation/Evolution Wars, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 291 p.
- Wise, Kurt P., 2002, Faith, Form, and Time, B&H, Nashville, TN, 287 p.