“How Do I Stay Humble When I Know I’m Right?” Todd Friel asked in a recent Answers in Genesis Article. I found the title intriguing, given the young earth creationist organization’s penchant for certainty. The article began as follows:
Meet Bob. Bob booked a discount vacation to Phoenix that went terribly wrong. When the “Our Arizona Vacations are Hot, Hot, Hot” tour bus broke down, Bob and his fellow cheapskates decided to walk to Tucson. Without warning, a sandstorm kicked up, and Bob and 49 other skinflints were scattered throughout the Sonoran Desert.
Thirst from the scorching sun had almost driven Bob mad when a rescue squad appeared and administered an IV. He quickly recovered as the crew located another lost soul whose tongue was virtually stuck to the roof of her mouth. Bob pointed at her and howled, “Look at your tongue; what a loser! I would never get lost like you.”
You would think Bob is either very forgetful or very arrogant. Bob was not the author of his good fortune; he was merely the recipient. The Apostle Paul would rightly ask him, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (See 1 Corinthians 4:7.)
The moral of the story appears to be that when, on a cross-country tour, Bob was less injured than some of his fellow travelers, he took the credit for his good fortune rather than recognizing it as the sheer dumb luck that it was.
Friel goes on to explain his point:
Do you know why godly creation scientists believe God created the world in six 24-hour days?
- They are brilliant.
- They have PhDs.
- They understand the plain meaning of Genesis 1 and 2.
While all three of those options may be true, the real reason they know the earth is young is that the Holy Spirit taught them the truth.
The implication of this is really interesting. Friel seems to state outright, in this short passage, that belief in young earth creationism is about faith—about the prompting of the Holy Spirit—and not about scientific evidence, facts, or data.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Yes, creation scientists are intelligent, but there are plenty of other intelligent men and women who believe the earth is old or evolved all by itself. The real difference between the young-earth creationist and someone like Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Holy Spirit.
For Friel, this is the answer:
That is the answer to our question, “How can I be humble when I know I’m right?” We are right only because God has taught us to know what is right. How quickly we can forget that and become just like Bob.
The subject of Friel’s article is, ostensibly, about how to stay humble, but Friel’s actual text sounds terrifically arrogant.
Friel finishes as follows:
“Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1 (NASB)).
The next time you engage in a theological debate, don’t think about Bob. Instead, remember Jesus, who said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
That will keep you humble when you know you are right.
Perhaps the reason Friel’s article sounds so arrogant is his very starting point—how to stay humble when you know you’re right. We’re not talking about values or moral positions. We’re talking about technical scientific points.
Friel’s article, in other words, is about how to remain humble when you know you’re right about a technical scientific point because God told you so. Indeed, I’m not sure I can think of a premise that is less arrogant. His solution is no less so—you can remind yourself to be humble, he says, by remembering that you only know it because God told you it.
A couple of weeks ago my preteen daughter made a statement on a particular issue—I don’t remember now what it was—with absolute certainty. I took the opportunity to remind her that it is important to be open to learning more about an issue, and that it is important to never let certainty get in the way of openness to new information.
This, at least, is how I try to approach life. It is not, however, how Friel approaches life. His evangelical readers can know young earth creationism is correct, he suggests, because God told them so. Absolute certainty. No amount of other evidence matters.
In the end—and despite Friel’s protestations—I’m not actually sure it’s possible to hold that position and be humble.
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