My response to John Mackay and Diane Eager’s first review of Creation Unfolding: A new perspective on Ex Nihilo. I will respond to the second review in due time.
This review can be found here:
This response to the first book review by John Mackay and Diane Eager will not only seek to defend my book from their scientific criticisms, but also defend my creationist convictions, and, sadly, my Christian character which was also merged into this “review.” I use quotation marks here because, as my response will show, their book “review” only sparsely touches on the book’s deeper content, while spending an inordinate amount of time on anecdotal personal stories related to John Mackay, 19th century geology, and extended monologues and rabbit trails that have little to do with the topic under discussion.
I encourage the reader to follow the link below to the book review conducted by Creation Ministries International. The reader will immediately notice that, although the reviewer is critical about some of the book’s content, he does have some positive thoughts. More importantly, the reader will not find any underhanded tactics that denigrate me as a person or my Christian convictions and motives. All good book reviews that I’ve ever read follow the etiquette modelled well by Doyle in this CMI review. This review can be found here:
I feel it is important to address Mackay and Eager’s “review,” as the personal criticism that permeates all of its 4779 words is becoming more and more prevalent in the young-age creationist community at large, and seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to what some, including Mackay and Eager, are calling “the new creationists” and/or “young-earth evolutionists (YEE).” Mackay and Eager, as well as others opposed to these apparent “new creationists” and/or “YEE” are, however, creating a false “us versus them” dichotomy, sharply separating the entire creationist community into two groups based on a perceived set of “right and wrong” scientific opinions. I personally have a good relationship with some of these “new creationists,” but that doesn’t mean I accept all of their scientific conclusions, as I know that they don’t accept all of mine, although we all hold to the essentials outlined below. In reality, all creationists, Mackay and Eager included, have varied scientific, philosophical, and even theological opinions about the events that occurred during Creation Week and the Flood of Noah, opinions sourced from varying theological perspectives and life experiences. This diversity of opinions makes it almost impossible to foist upon the creationist community a reductionistic “us and them” distinction. As I will demonstrate below, other young-age creationists not “branded” as new creationists or YEE, have certain ideas that don’t align with those of Mackay and Eager’s, but does that mean we should draw a line in the sand and ask them to “please step forward—or else!”? Simplistically lumping young-age creationists into two groups and then setting siege ramps against “the baddies” is not only uncharitable; it is profoundly mistaken.
At the outset, it needs to be clearly stated that myself, as well as all other young-age creationists involved in this reductionistic “us versus them” disparity hold to a high view of Scriptural inerrancy and a faithful interpretation of Genesis 1-11 as history. This includes, but is not limited to the following:
1. That God supernaturally created not only an entire planet, but an entire universe in literally, six days, all of which occurred no more than about 10,000 years ago.
2. That Adam was created from the dust of the ground and Eve from his side in a single day.
3. That God supernaturally created major groups of organisms including birds, pterosaurs, bats, land and aquatic dwelling reptiles, amphibians, dinosaurs, various groups of land, aquatic, and flying mammals, insects, plants, and various other groups, all in six days.
4. That sin was brought into the world through the transgression of Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit, thus advancing a literal Fall of the human race into a fallen spiritual state that brought with it the entrance of both physical and spiritual death into the world.
5. That God cursed the earth.
6. That God brought a world-wide Flood of water over the earth that killed all land breathing animals including all humans, except the eight that were in Noah’s ark.
7. That prior to the Fall, the earth was created in a “very good” state.
I think this list covers most of the essential doctrines relevant to young-age creationism that can be found in Scripture. And what I’m about to say next is very important: Outside of these very basic, yet also very restrictive parameters, young-age creationists should be allowed the freedom of expressing their personal, and non-dogmatic theological, philosophical, and scientific hypotheses without fear of recrimination, bullying, and/or any form of public shaming that might cast suspicion on their Christian motives and/or character. The reason for this is obvious. Outside of the fairly detailed list above, there exists a lot of “white space” that is simply not discussed in Scripture.
Although creationists can lovingly weigh in and critique the “white-space-ideas” of other creationists, it is not their job to “patrol” it, setting themselves up as official “white-space police” who then use their self-appointed authority to invoke suspicion by either playing the “unbiblical” card, or using language that is clearly intended to point in that direction.
I ask the reader to keep all of this in mind as they read my response to John Mackay and Diane Eager’s first “review” of my book. Blue text are direct quotes from Mackay and Eager, and black text are my comments.
My Response to Mackay and Eager’s first “review”
“Throughout his whole book Coulson draws a very obvious dividing line between those using the modern scientific method and those who don’t. The scientific group is usually presented as an objective, reliable and independent source of accurate observation and information.”
This statement is very misleading. It wrongly suggests that I’ve presented secular scientists as being immune from making misleading, false, or even openly deceptive conclusions. Yet, in my book, I write the very opposite of what Mackay and Eager claim. Here it is on pages 167-168:
“The Bible clearly teaches that the entire world is under the power of a deceptive, spiritual force (2 Corinthians 4:4). The apostle Peter tells us that this unseen power, Satan, is out to spiritually “devour” those unwaveringly committed to God’s standard of spiritual Truth (1 Peter 5:8). Skeptics are incredulous that anyone could believe such “nonsense,” but Christians know that spiritual warfare is a reality and that without God’s Spirit, there can exist only spiritual blindness. Scientists are not immune from Satan’s influence. Taken together with the sinful, fallen and selfish heart of man (Jeremiah 17:9), Christians should be very cautious about large-scale scientific theories that seek to describe reality.” (Emphasis new).
“But can we really dismiss ‘normal people’ [the non-scientist group] as being so ignorant.”
This quote comes from a section on page 1, last paragraph of the “review,” and essentially discusses my perceived treatment of the non-scientist group (the scientist group is discussed above).
(I apologize ahead of time for truncated quotes such as this. Copyright only allows 10% usage of the original material).
I never claimed nor even implied that these “normal people” were “ignorant.” The use of this latter word by the authors is misleading. The fact is, most people are not scientists, and as such, they are going to lack basic geological and/or other scientific skills and knowledge. That’s all the term “normal people” was meant to imply. In context, I was alluding to the fact that most Christians, as non-scientists, haven’t really thought through the scientific events that occurred during Creation week. I can say this from experience because I get to communicate with my university students all the time, and yes, most of them they have never really considered these things.
“Ken emphatically states ‘evidence does exist supporting the antiquity of the earth.’” (Page 1 of the “review,” third paragraph from the bottom).
Mackay and Eager seem quite opposed to these statements I make on page 6 of my book, “much evidence exists in nature that supports the antiquity of the earth, the solar system and the universe” and “evidence does exist supporting the antiquity of the earth.”
Throughout the book, I make it clear that I am a young-age creationist. That is, I believe God created the planet and the universe about 6000 – 7000 years ago. I believe the evidence supports the perception of “antiquity,” not the actuality of antiquity. (This is made categorically clear in the book).
And I am in good company.
Respected young-age creationist John Baumgardner has proposed that the entire earth: core, mantle, and crust, came together using processes that the secular scientific community discovered. The main difference is, he believes this occurred supernaturally during Creation Week. He says (Baumgardner 2000, p. 50), “This means in my opinion the processes of nuclear transmutation, mantle convection, magma generation and cooling, together with a spectrum of tectonic and geological processes must have unfolded at rates many orders of magnitude faster than we observe today.” If Baumgardner is correct, how might these data be interpreted by the secular scientific community? The critical reader will no doubt agree that, without recourse to biblical revelation, the scientific evidence will clearly point to the antiquity of the earth. Yes, this interpretation would be in error, but the truth can only be discovered by faith.
John Baumgardner also has this to say about radio-isotope “ages” (Baumgardner 2000, p. 87), “I propose that on the order of 4.5 billion years’ worth of nuclear decay at present rates unfolded rapidly in the earth before the end of Day 3.” Since, according to Baumgardner, “4.6 billion years’ worth of nuclear decay” is recorded in earth’s crust, then any secular scientist, without recourse to biblical revelation, would interpret those 4.6 billion years of radio-isotope decay in terms “real” time. In other words, this evidence, whether right or wrong, speaks to the antiquity of the earth.
Answers in Genesis’ Andrew Snelling also seems to understand the implications of Creation Week processes. Speaking of rapid erosion and deposition of sediments he says: “What is clear from the biblical record is that the perception of a human observer on the earth during Creation Week would have been that countless millions of years of earth history at uniformitarian rates had been compressed into six days of normal human experience.” (Snelling 2009, p. 469; emphasis mine). So, how might a secular scientist interpret these supernaturally deposited sediments? It seems quite clear that, without the aid of special revelation, they will use the present rates of change to interpret the “age” of those sediments. In other words, Creation Week sediments would furnish the scientist with evidence in support of the antiquity of the earth.
Answers in Genesis’ lead astronomer, Danny Faulkner has proposed that hundreds of millions of years’ worth of meteorite bombardment occurred over the moon, and all our solar system’s planets, in less than 24 hours during Creation Week (Faulkner 2014). Once again, we are left with a piece of scientific evidence that, without recourse to special revelation, will only be interpreted in terms of the antiquity of the earth/moon system.
Importantly, creationists like Mackay and Eager believe that young people are leaving the faith in droves once they attend secular colleges and universities, and accuse creationists such as myself for assisting in this departure. Yet the observations raised above are not going to go away. As creationists committed to both good science and the authority of God’s word, we must prepare our children for college and university by adequately equipping them from the onslaught that awaits. Telling them that there is “no evidence for the antiquity of the earth” is not only unwise, it actually detracts from the glory of God’s word that firmly speaks in terms of mature creationist doctrine (by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God. Hebrews 11:3 ESV). In other words, yes, scientific evidence exists that, without special revelation, will only support the antiquity of the earth and universe. Keep that from our children and it won’t take long for secular colleges and universities to steal-away their faith.
“From cover to cover we never encounter one instance … where Coulson asks the question a young unchurched teenager put to me recently as we discussed what effects sin has had on both our longevity and our intellectual capacity, from Adam to the present. For a 17-year-old that was a profound question. The absence of a similar inquiry in the work of a PhD physical scientist is alarming, and it is a question we strongly recommend Ken Colson [sic] needs to ask. The answer literally is mind shattering!”
This is a classic straw-man, tear-down tactic. More importantly, however, it is unfounded. Below are just a few paragraphs from my book which demonstrate categorically that Mackay and Eager are wrong, and misleadingly so:
“Apart from the physical aspects of the Curse, there was also a spiritual component. Clearly, prior to the Fall, there was an intimacy that the physical realm experienced with its Creator. That intimacy was broken at the Fall and remains broken to this day. The consequences of this spiritual separation are described by the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV): “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” And Paul in Romans 3:11 (ESV): “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Clearly, fallen humans seek to glorify themselves and fulfill their own desires, abandoning the Creator God altogether.” (Page 80).
And also here:
“Although I do not believe in a scientific conspiracy out to wantonly lead Christians astray, I do believe that all Christians are in a spiritual battle: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10: 4 – 5 ESV). The Bible clearly teaches that the entire world is under the power of a deceptive, spiritual force (2 Corinthians 4:4). The apostle Peter tells us that this unseen power, Satan, is out to spiritually “devour” those unwaveringly committed to God’s standard of spiritual Truth (1 Peter 5:8). Skeptics are incredulous that anyone could believe such “nonsense,” but Christians know that spiritual warfare is a reality and that without God’s Spirit, there can exist only spiritual blindness. Scientists are not immune from Satan’s influence. Taken together with the sinful, fallen and selfish heart of man (Jeremiah 17:9), Christians should be very cautious about large-scale scientific theories that seek to describe reality.” (Page 167-168).
Notice that, collectively, these quotes from my book unambiguously unpack the “intellectual” effects that sin has on fallen humanity, scientists included!
The clarity and frequency in my book where I address what they “claim” is supposedly absent, causes me to genuinely wonder if they’ve actually read it? Yet they claim they have read my book “from cover to cover and have not found one instance” of the biblical teaching of sin and its consequences on the human heart from my book? (Emphasis mine).
This particular example is important because it was brought up in a meeting that took place in August of 2022. Mackay’s pastor and my pastor – pastors in the same network of churches – were both given a copy of his book “review” for feedback prior to publication (actually in October 2020, a year before it was published in October 2021). I was also given a copy at that time. This pre-publication copy was issued at Mackay’s initiative, not our request. We all provided detailed feedback about clearly misleading statements in the “review.” We all finally met in August of 2022 to discuss our concern over the issues raised two years prior. Note: we did not meet in August of 2022 to discuss scientific hypotheses, but misrepresentation of my beliefs and my book. In this meeting, we specifically discussed the issue raised by the 17-year-old and how it was factually erroneous – as pointed out by the citations from my book!
Mackay and Eager did not, however, apologize then (in August of 2022) for their clear error, nor for the insult it portrays (“a mere 17-year old supposed much wiser than a Ph.D”). Nor have they sought to since. But most importantly, not one word from this section of the review was changed (as of 10/02/2023). (Actually, almost nothing was changed from their entire “review” even though numerous erroneous, misleading and aggravating comments just like this one were pointed out in writing and in our meeting. This is tragic, and tragically unchristian.)
Regarding my comment calling the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “bad:” “A bad tree? Why so Dr Coulson?… Coulson’s comments reveal a gross biblical ignorance on this point.” (Page 3, fourth paragraph down in the “review”).
Again, these words are misleading as they suggest that I was saying God created something evil. Yet in context, I wasn’t saying that the tree was “bad” as in God made something that wasn’t “good.” Given the context, I was simply saying that this is how Adam and Eve, and the unchurched today, might “perceive” the tree. My error here was not putting the word “bad” in quotes, and for that I take responsibility. But should I have been maligned by their accusing me of “gross biblical ignorance”? Also, keep in mind that this was all pointed out to both Mackay and Eager on at least two occasions, as was everything else in this response.
Regarding my comment that “humans know by experience that planets, stars and solar systems do not form in six days using known rates of natural change,” Mackay and Eager say, “But do humans really know that Ken? Based on what?”
Well, it’s based on what the writer of Hebrews says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” I know that planets don’t pop into existence in 2 days naturally because if they did, the writer of Hebrews would have no need to point me back to the book of Genesis for the purpose of accepting its message by faith. If this planet could naturally come into existence in two literal days, then these words by the author of Hebrews make no sense.
Consider Jesus’ turning water into wine as an analogy. Are we to apply scientific methodology for the purpose of discovering exactly how Jesus turned water into wine? Of course not. Jesus’ turning water into wine was a miracle that requires an act of faith to believe it. Consider a skeptical new believer who questions this miracle. We can console that person in one of two ways: 1. We can suggest that a scientific explanation, although non-existent at this time, may nevertheless one day present itself Or, 2. We explain that Jesus performed an extraordinary miracle for the purpose of revealing his divine nature.
This is why God created the universe in six days! It was to reveal his divine nature and awesome power. A slowly evolving universe that can be explained using the normal rules of science diminishes the glory God deserves as the Creator. Yet creationists often do the same thing. Many creationists often miss the forest for the trees here. They think that somehow, in some unfathomable way, God created the universe in six days using the normal rules of nature. As though one day someone is going to discover a scientific explanation for how we get a differentiated planet, complete with crust, mantle, and core, in just 48 hours! This is the same thing as trying to explain how Jesus’ wine came from water using scientific methodology. Yet to do this with the wine, or with the universe, simply detracts from God’s glory as Creator, and Christ’s as our Redeemer. More than that, it actually undermines special revelation because we are specifically told these things were miracles. Yes, I’m convinced that the Bible tells me the earth cannot be differentiated into core, mantle, and crust in two days (Hebrews 11:3). If the answer lay in natural laws that we just haven’t discovered yet, then why did God have to tell us how long it took to make the universe? God told us because without that knowledge we would assume it took great ages. The events recorded in Genesis were extraordinary. As such, God took special care to convey to humans the timing of those events.
I am also in good company here since the hypotheses of the well-known and respected creationists discussed above (AiG scientists included) are clearly supernatural in nature.
“In Ken’s statement about ‘using known rates of natural change’ (whether he intends it or not) is the atheistic evolutionist assumption that ‘natural change’ itself can actually produce planets and universes.” (Page 3, second paragraph from the bottom).
First of all, I’m not assuming that “natural change,” even in the evolutionary model, can produce planets. Consider this from page 91:
“There are a multitude of problems associated with all cosmological models. The reason, of course, stems from a lack of experience with evolving planets, stars, and galaxies. That scientists cannot see or even detect about 96% of the known universe only compounds the problem (Moskowitz 2011). Extrapolating cosmological rates of change backwards into the distant past will, therefore, be fraught with difficulties regardless of one’s religious or scientific presuppositions. Given this, I think it extremely presumptuous of modern humans to think that the current leading cosmological model—the Big Bang—must be the metaphysical truth upon which all other observations rest.”
Second. What do Mackay and Eager make of Baumgardner’s hypothesis above, whereby the entire differentiation of the earth’s crust out of the mantle, occurred in six days? Or of Danny Faulkner’s hypothesis about millions of years’ worth of Moon cratering in a single day? Notice that these authors are using secular ideas of “natural change,” and adapting them to a fully creationist model that depends on supernaturalism. What Mackay and Eager seem opposed to here is the use of secular scientific hypotheses that in any way whatsoever seek to demonstrate “how” planets and stars may have originally been put together. This is how they perceive “natural change” and “evolutionary assumptions.” Yes, the evolutionary community are in error in that they seek to apply this “natural change” to the universe without the aid of God, but does that mean creationists must reject every facet of their hypotheses?
Danny Faulkner from AiG has anticipated this very objection (Faulkner 2014, p. 13):
“Some recent creationists may respond that this [the Moon cratering hypothesis] is the same as the evolutionary history of the solar system (for instance, see Henry 2003, 2010). However, there are several differences. First, this process would have been very rapid taking a day or less to accomplish rather than millions of years. Second, this would have been an event directed by God rather than a random process. Third, being during Creation Week, elements of miraculous rather than purely physical processes that we see operating today likely were at work.”
Notice that Faulkner has adapted some of the “evolutionary assumptions” associated with the secular scientific model of Moon cratering, incorporating them into a fully supernaturalist model of origins.
That Faulkner is not necessarily opposed to creationists using secular scientific models is clear from one of his most recent papers published in AiG’s Answers Research Journal (Faulkner 2021, p. 425):
Therefore, the conclusion that [the secular view of] star formation is possible at least in some situations seems unavoidable. I hope that this review can stimulate discussion, perhaps resulting in some consensus of how much, if any, of this [evolutionary] theory recent creationists may accept. If all of it is rejected, it is important that we develop alternate explanations of the observed objects that are interpreted as protostars or even young stars.
Now, Faulkner does add some caveats about evolutionary models of star formation (Faulkner 2021, p.425), “It is not the intent of this review to promote mainstream theories of star formation,” but neither is he outright rejecting them. Instead, he is willing to investigate the theories to see if there is anything creationists can use as they develop their own models.
And Faulkner is not the only one to incorporate “natural change” into a fully supernaturalist cosmology. Consider Russell Humphreys, a phenomenal young-age creationist physicist who champions a young-age creationist cosmology, called the white hole cosmology. In this model, which I personally rank very highly, all matter in the universe was condensed into an earth to solar-system-sized “singularity.” This is different from the singularity postulated in the secular Big Bang model, but in comparison to the current size of the universe, even an initial solar-system-sized lump of matter can be considered as almost infinitely small. In Humphreys’ model, and I’m quoting an AiG article (Humphreys 1998), “The collapse [of a black hole] is considered to have lasted one day-and then, in a creative act of God, the black hole was converted into a white hole. The result was a rapid, inflationary expansion of space.” No, this is not the “Big Bang,” but it is similar in many respects. In this “inflationary expansion,” the entire universe as we know it, including space itself, dare I say it, “exploded,” expanding out from the location of our planet to form the entire universe. Importantly, in this model, all of the universe’s trillions of stars and planets, except earth, formed in close accordance with evolutionary scientific models of star and planet formation—that is, gravitational collapse of cosmic dust and debris.
Since this model depends on general relativity and the rate of time being influenced by gravity, the amount of time passing near the earth is hypothesized to be different to that passing at the edge of the expanding universe. Humphreys says (Humphreys 1998), “the time dilation effects of relativity theory permit ‘billions of years’ worth of physical processes [to take] place in the distant cosmos.’”
What I want to point out here is Humphreys’ dependence on various “evolutionary assumptions,” such as, the expansion of the known universe from a single location, the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets from gravitational condensation of galactic dust, the dilation of time in accordance with Einstein’s general relativity theories, the general effects of gravitation on matter within black holes, and of course the passing of very real, albeit removed, billions of years of time. Notice that all of these scientific models were first developed by the secular scientific community, who subsequently applied them to their own Big Bang cosmology. Only later has Humphreys adapted and applied them to a creationist model.
So, are Humphreys’ ideas accommodating of “evolutionary” ideas? Keep in mind that star formation theory, relativity theory, black hole theory, and the idea of “billions of years” are not mentioned in the Scriptures. They are strictly secular scientific ideas that have been utilized and adapted by Humphreys, and this is important, for the purpose of resolving discrepancies that exist between a plain reading of Scripture and science.
Regarding my comment that “Observing Day 3 unfold would be kind of like looking at a time lapse video,” on page 52 of my book, Mackay and Eager say, “So where do you or we get such information about seedlings or pre-created seeds Dr Coulson?”
Well, I got these ideas from other well-known and respected creationists, including a Master’s Seminary Hebrew Professor, Emeritus Bill Barrick, who wrote this in his commentary:
“Let the earth sprout” ( ת דְַשֵא האָ רֶָץ , tadšē’ hā’āreṣ) might indicate God had already created the seeds for all these plants. He might have done so at the very moment he caused the land to rise out of the global ocean. The sprouting implies a process by which the seed germinates and the sprout pushes through the soil to the surface to grow and leaf out … Although there may have been an actual process take place, it took place at a much faster rate than it would thereafter in the normal order of things (Barrick, forthcoming; emphasis mine).
Danny Faulkner from AiG says something similar (Faulkner 2014, p. 13), “For instance, on Day Three, plants sprouted and rapidly reached maturity.” It is true, the text doesn’t say that the trees grew from seeds or seedlings, but does that make our (many creationists) assumptions unbiblical and/or heretical? Neither does the text explicitly mention the moving of continental plates, mass sedimentation, and mass erosion, but that doesn’t stop creationists from hypothesizing about the processes God may have used during Creation Week. Isn’t this nit picking? This is “white space” and should be treated as such.
“A major geological criticism we have … is that it sadly demonstrates a profound ignorance of the pathway geology travelled to arrive at ‘Destination Old Earth’… ‘How can anyone with a doctorate in geology actually write a book referring to the history of geology without once bringing in Charles Lyell?’ This omission is beyond our comprehension. … Coulson’s dependence on … Lyell et al, certainly seems to have reaped a harvest of confusion in his thinking.”
My book isn’t about the “history of geology.” So, of course it doesn’t talk about the “pathway geology travelled.” The book is a philosophical treatise; it is not even about geology per se. (Technically speaking, the “geology” in the book is more related to geophysics and seismology than sedimentary rocks anyway). Secondly, neither did I mention Nikolas Steno, James Hutton, William Buckland, Adam Sedgwick, and even Charles Darwin (yes, he was a geologist too)! How many 19th century geologists would I have had to have included to avoid a “major geological criticism”?
More importantly, and once again, the reader can discern the unnecessary personal attacks: “Coulson’s book sadly demonstrates a profound ignorance” and “how can anyone with a doctorate…” and “Coulson’s dependence on … Lyell … seems to have reaped a harvest of confusion in his thinking.” These comments are misleading and once again move the reader from the book to the author’s character and credibility.
“We also suspect Coulson’s PhD training at the small USA Seventh Day Adventist University has been a victim of Boston Tea Party Syndrome.”
Here is another personal attack. The use of the words “small” and “Seventh Day Adventist” are not pertinent to the discussion at hand. Mackay could simply have said that I went to an American university, which in and of itself justifies his rather parochial view of American education (see full quote on page five, third paragraph from the top). I trust that those reading this can detect the strategies that Mackay and Eager are using throughout. These kinds of cheap-shot anecdotes and strawmen tactics have nothing to do with the book. They are aimed at making me, the author, look foolish and stupid. This is so sad and is not what Christ has called us to.
But now I digress to discuss the authors’ claim about my supposed “dependence on Lyell’s natural rates of change concept,” also known as uniformitarianism. This statement is simply stunning. I don’t believe in uniformitarianism. Let’s go over a few things that I do believe and compare them with Lyell’s uniformitarianism. First, here is a dictionary definition of uniformitarianism:
“Uniformitarianism, also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity or the Uniformitarian Principle, is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in our present-day scientific observations have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe.”
Ok, now let’s compare that definition with what I believe. 1. I believe that God supernaturally created not only an entire planet, but an entire universe in six literal days. 2. I believe that the crustal plates of the earth moved at perhaps many meters per second, slamming into the continents at rapid speeds, and then being subducted down into the mantle in perhaps just a few weeks or months (Let me just confirm how stupendously preposterous this scenario seems to uniformitarians). 3. I believe that all mountains were uplifted to their present height either during or after the Flood (today, mountains grow at cm per year. Holding this belief puts me on the same level as Flat earthers in the eyes of my secular colleagues, by the way). 4. I believe that most of the earth’s coal reserves came from forests that lived and died over periods of just hundreds to thousands of years (Have you any idea how incredibly fantastic such an idea seems to a uniformitarian?) 5. I believe large plutons many kilometers in length and breadth were emplaced and subsequently cooled in just hundreds to thousands of years (such an idea is considered madness in the secular world where time frames are on the order of tens of millions of years). 6. I believe the Ice Age occurred in just a few hundred years, and that large ice sheets moved billions of cubic miles of rock around in just a few thousand years (again, madness from a uniformitarian perspective). I could go on and on, but these six should suffice to completely eradicate any notion that I in any way hold to uniformitarianism.
It seems to me as though the authors are conflating my understanding of the way God used “natural processes” during Creation Week with “uniformitarianism.” Yes, I suggest that God might have used the same processes he currently uses to sustain the earth to create it in the first place, but that doesn’t mean I’m pushing uniformitarianism. The similarity between uniformitarianism and universal natural law, and perhaps the similarity that has drawn the angst of the authors, is that both depict a world that is primarily governed by natural, rhythmic, predictable, periodic, processes. In other words, like it or not, the universe runs according to “uniform” laws. Uniformitarianism, however, is a philosophical system invented by man that demonstrably rejects the idea of God intervening in His very “uniform” universe. Since I wholeheartedly accept the former and reject the latter, I cannot be accused of holding to uniformitarianism.
Regarding universal natural law, isn’t it possible that God actually did use processes during Creation Week (as discussed by Snelling, Baumgardner, Faulkner, and Humphreys)? And isn’t it possible that those creative processes in some way set the stage for all future sustaining processes? In other words, isn’t it possible that extrapolation of present processes backwards might, just might lead us to understand how God put the planet together? If God is presently adding oceanic crust to the sea-floor and continental crust to the continents (and He is. See all the references, including creationist ones that affirm this in the book), then why does it seem so fantastic to suggest that He might have used similar processes when He created the crust in the first place? No, I don’t know that for sure, but isn’t that what we do as creationists? Don’t we put forward hypotheses (white space)? Importantly, there is absolutely nothing in this hypothesis that contradicts or negates Scripture. Most creationists don’t like this idea, from what I can tell, not because it’s not biblical, but because it affirms some aspects of modern geophysics. But is that such a bad thing? Isn’t it ok to suggest that the secular community might just have some of the mechanisms correct? Yes, the timing is all off and requires the presence of special revelation to accept, but does that mean we have to throw the baby out with the bath water? Can we not learn anything from secular geophysics? Not according to Mackay and Eager, it seems.
“And it [my apparent ‘uniformitarian thinking’] will never work. Coulson should take notice of the Apostle Peter, whom (to be consistent) Coulson would have to class as one of the ignorant ‘normal people’” (Middle of page 5 in the “review”).
First, as I explained above, I do not in hold to “Lyellian” uniformitarianism. I don’t think I need to belabor that point further. But I trust the reader caught the strawman tactic used by the authors to make it look as though I don’t respect or trust the Apostle Peter? This is pushed to absurdity by the authors when they suggest that “to be consistent Coulson would have to class the apostle Peter as one of the ignorant ‘normal people.’’’ There is simply no need for these kinds of unchristian and uncharitable personal attacks in a “book review,” but more importantly, by a brother who attends the same church network.
Although I need not continue further (since I do not hold to uniformitarianism), I do want to address the authors’ erroneous interpretation of 2 Peter 3. Peter is appealing to those who do not believe in a special creation and a global Flood. Creationists often use this verse erroneously to condemn uniformitarianism. Yet is that what Peter is doing? Peter knew that God was at work upholding the universe using regular, rhythmic, periodic laws of nature. Surely, he is not condemning people for believing that God uses these natural laws? If he did, then he is contradicting what the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 1:3.
So, what is Peter talking about? Peter is condemning those who fail to believe the testimony of Scripture. The “scoffers” are those that don’t believe in God’s past and coming judgements. The reason Peter mentions Creation Week is to point out that the “earth was formed out of water and by water” and that “by these waters the world of that time was deluged and destroyed [judged].” Peter’s “scoffers” weren’t thinking to themselves, “well, since we know that God rules his world using natural laws, it only makes sense that catastrophic global Floods don’t occur.” Rather, they were thinking to themselves, “God is not a God of judgment. He is a kind God who allows us to sin in any way we like.” Go back and read 2 Peter 2 for context. Peter is dealing with licentious, antinomian behavior not rationalistic physics.
“He refers to the need to rationalize the ‘many horizons of stromatolites buried one atop the other in some of the earliest rocks on earth’ … I (John) have to take task with Ken’s claim.(Last paragraph of page 5 in the “review”).
Mackay then proceeds to explain this stromatolite growth in a pre-Flood context.
Although many stromatolites likely did cover pre-Flood continental platforms, John Mackay seem to have missed a pertinent piece of information that is there in the book. These stromatolites occur in Archean rocks. Every creationist I know puts the Archean period in the Creation Week. I even quoted two people, one from the Institute of Creation Research and the other from Answers in Genesis, that categorically state this (see page 56 in my book). That means these stromatolites must have formed during Creation Week. If John Mackay wants to move these particular stromatolites into the post-Fall, pre-Flood world, then he must take to task every creationist geologist I know, including Andrew Snelling from AiG and Tim Clarey from ICR. Failing that, then he must explain how you get multiple horizons of stromatolites during Creation Week…which is all I’m trying to do (again, white space).
“Neither will this book encourage Christians to grow in their faith. Rather we suspect the opposite will happen in many cases, where it will produce people asking ‘Did God really mean six days?’”
Well, that remains to be seen. I include here a review from Amazon (emphasis mine):
“Dr. Coulson’s book Creation Unfolding is a powerful new approach to young-earth creationism. I am a high school student, and a christian, and Dr. Coulson’s book meets a pressing need. Far too many young Christians fall away from the faith because they have been told all their lives that evolution is a baseless scientific theory that no sane person would believe. When these Christians attend college, and inevitably take evolution-centric classes, they find that evolution is not baseless, but rather has some convincing evidence supporting it. These students are unprepared for any convincing evolutionist arguments, so when they encounter them, they quickly abandon their previous positions. They have no way to reconcile the scientific evidence with their young-earth beliefs, and so they abandon those beliefs. Dr. Coulson’s book provides a way to reconcile that scientific evidence with a conservative Christian viewpoint. He continues to hold fast to the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, but he also acknowledges that there is a large amount of scientific evidence that would seem to contradict the Bible. But rather than dismiss that evidence out of hand, he provides Christians with a way to reconcile modern science with the inerrancy of the Bible. Students who read Dr. Coulson’s book will not only be able to withstand the blistering attacks brought about by our country’s academic environment; they will also be able to provide a logical, humble response to those attacks. I know that Dr. Coulson’s book has made a profound difference in my life, and I am confident that the Lord will use his book to preserve the faith of many other Christians. Creation Unfolding is not only useful for students, it is a boon for any Christian desiring to make a reasoned defense for their faith.”
And since the book was published, I’ve had multiple responses just like this. Most of these “churched” Christians have grown up and been fed the typical creationist mainstay, that for the most part, only attacks secular thinking without really providing solid creationist models. Many of these “churched” Christians fall away from the faith when they get into a science-related field at university. Taking pot-shots at “evolutionists” is only going to go so far. As long as the audience for this kind of young-earth-creationist apologetic stays out of college, they will more than likely be just fine, but when they get to college and university, they often fall away. I’ve met multiple Christians doing bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, and PhDs, that have found a safe haven in this kind of creationist apologetics.
“Perhaps he’s trying to be a young earth creationist who does not want to publicly bear that label, presumably for fear of being dismissed by academic scientists and theologians?”
This is a rather strange statement since I have a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, and a book that denies the evolution of man from apes, believes in the special creation of the entire biosphere in six literal days, holds to the reality of a global, catastrophic Flood, pushes for the belief in a literal Fall, excludes animal death and predation from a pre-Fall world, accepts the reality of specially created kinds of animals, and speaks out against a world billions of years old? How in the world can anyone say that I “don’t want to publicly bear the creationist label”? I get slammed regularly by online atheists for believing in these things.
“Finally … it [the book] is certainly not Biblical Creation either!”
Where is the book “not biblical”? And what is meant by “Biblical Creation”? This is a strong claim. For those that have read the entire “review,” they will notice that the authors do not furnish a single verse supporting this claim. Eager used the “very good” of Genesis 1:31 and a vague connection with Ephesians 5:26 (page 2, last paragraph of “review”) to oppose my hypothetical description of Adam’s skin being less than “perfect” (in other words, possibly having freckles or blemishes), but surely that is not what either of the authors mean by “unbiblical”? Mackay didn’t like me calling the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “bad,” and so likewise quotes the “very good” passage from Genesis 1:31 (but see above). But surely that does not warrant the use of “unbiblical” either. Mackay also uses 2 Peter 3:3-7, but since I’m not even close to a uniformitarian (see above), that verse does not apply to me or my book (not that it applies anyway). That’s it! in nearly 4800 words, these are the only three verses that the authors use to support their claim that I have been “unbiblical”! If the book is truly “unbiblical,” then I would like to know where I’ve contradicted Scripture? Since a clear, concise, biblical defense is completely absent from the “review,” I can only ask that the authors refrain from accusing me of being “unbiblical.”
The sentence below comes from a paragraph that was later attached to John and Diane’s “review” and appears on the webpage but was not incorporated into the original version sent me in October of 2020. My comments below continue to demonstrate that Mackay and Eager seem quite intent on ad hominem, personal attacks that call into question my Christian convictions and motives:
“In spite of Coulson’s insistence that he is a Bible-believing Christian believing in six days of creation…”
This statement will lead people to believe that I am not. But I am a Bible believing Christian. The authors are not the judge of my heart, my motives, and my convictions. God is. More importantly, the claim is unsubstantiated. As I’ve outlined above, apart from the authors’ issues with some obscure interpretations from two verses of Scripture, they have yet to prove this claim.
Dear reader, please take some time to get to know me and what I believe. Below is a select portion of some articles I’ve written and some videos I’ve made. Please don’t take somebody else’s word. I plead with you to know my heart; watch the videos; read the articles and make your own mind up.
Yours Sincerely in Christ,
Answers in Genesis article. 2023. Should Biblical Creation Become More Like Evolution? https://answersingenesis.org/young-earth-evolution/should-biblical-creation-become-more-evolution/
Barrick, W.D., forthcoming. Genesis 1 – 11, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife/Lexham Press
Baumgardner, J.R. 2000. “Distribution of Radioactive Isotopes in the Earth.” In Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, edited by L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling and E.F Chaffin, 49 – 94. Dallas, Texas: Institute for Creation Research, and Chino Valley, Creation Research Society.
Faulkner, D.R. 2014. Interpreting Craters in Terms of the Day Four Cratering Hypothesis. Answers Research Journal 7:11–25.
Faulkner, D.R. 2021. A Review of Steller Star Formation. Answers Research Journal 14:417-426. www.answersresearchjournal.org/arj/v14/stellar-formation-theory.pdf
Humphreys, Russel. 1998. Dr. Russ Humphreys’ A Young-Earth Relativistic Cosmology. Accessed 23/01/2023. https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/cosmology/dr-russ-humphreys-a-young-earth-relativistic-cosmology/
Snelling, Andrew A. 2009. Earth’s Catastrophic Past: Geology, Creation and the Flood. Part II. Dallas, Texas: Institute of Creation Research.
Coelacanth: Strong evidence in support of a young biosphere. Part 1
Coelacanth: Strong evidence in support of a young biosphere. Part 2
“Pre-fall” human cannibalism: What should Christians think?
Isaiah 11:6-9: Is predation in animals the result of the Fall?
Romans 8:18-22: Did animals suffer before the fall of Adam and Eve? Part 2
The first of a 3 part series showing that dinosaurs did not evolve flight
Here is also a PDF of an article I just published with e-origins on soft tissue in dinosaur bones
An article showing that I believe in a global Flood
 See the Answers in Genesis article in reference section titled, “Should Biblical Creation Become More Like Evolution?”
 The word “evolution” is not limited to biology. It is a comprehensive word that includes the “evolution” of galaxies, stars, solar systems, planets, mountains, streams, lakes, etc.