The Reformation and Creationism

Everyone is aware that the Reformation began 500 years ago. It was on 31 October 1517 that Martin Luther first promoted his grievances against practices of the Roman Church. Creationists are jumping all over this anniversary, claiming that the Reformation was all about them.

A good example is at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom: Luther and Biblical Creation, 500 Years Later. It was written by James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. He has two middle initials, which is very classy, and he not only has a law degree, but he’s also a Doctor of Theology. He’s described at the end as “Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Unsurprisingly, a review of Luther’s treatment of Genesis shows how taking Scripture seriously logically leads to taking creation seriously. … Luther defended the Genesis account of creation, refusing to exchange it for popular yet unbiblical opinions of his generation.

Huh? What’s he talking about? Darwin wasn’t born until 1809, so no one was arguing for evolution in Luther’s day. Johnson says:

Ironically, those who opposed a six-day creation account during Luther’s lifetime decided that God should have created everything at once, in an instant, because He could. But God chose otherwise, and Luther affirmed that God told us (through Moses) how He chose to do it — in six normal days.

The existence of that debate is new to us. After quoting some scripture, Johnson concludes by saying:

It is no surprise that a serious reliance upon the God-given Scriptures for authoritative and relevant truth leads one to take seriously the Genesis account of the creation week. Here we stand.

Okay, good for them. There’s also Reformation talk from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. His new post is titled It’s Time to Ignite a New Reformation!

Oh yeah, that’s what we need. Hambo says, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

So many Christians are no longer thinking with God’s Word as their guide. Instead they are allowing the world to influence their thinking and are reinterpreting God’s Word in light of man’s fallible ideas. It’s time to get back to the right foundation! We recently hosted our annual Answers for Pastors and Christian Leaders Conference here at the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky.


I challenged the pastors and Christians leaders in attendance to consider the collapse of Christian morality and growing secularization of our nation, the mass exodus of young people from our churches, and the lack of a biblical worldview among the current generation. What is happening? I submit to you that the problem is a foundational one — God’s Word is no longer the authority. Instead, man determines truth — man determines right from wrong. This secular mindset has infiltrated the culture and much of the church and is the foundational problem giving rise to symptoms such as abortion, gay “marriage,” racism, and more.

We wrote about that event at the time. In Ken Ham and His Reformation, we expressed concern about his incendiary language, and repeated something we had said before:

Hambo must be aware that the original Reformation wasn’t a peaceful affair. Wikipedia says: “The Reformation led to a series of religious wars that culminated in the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), which devastated much of Germany, killing between 25% and 40% of its entire population.” They also say: “Witch trials became more common in areas where Protestants and Catholics contested the religious market.” Their article European wars of religion gives estimates of “the deaths of civilians from diseases, famine, etc., as well as deaths of soldiers in battle and possible massacres and genocide,” and the total is approximately 18 million.

The Discovery Institute is also discussing the Reformation. Klinghoffer just posted The Reformation and Science: No Simple Answers, but Some Clear Foundations. It’s exceedingly chaotic, with lots of quotes from various people. Klinghoffer seems to argue that the Reformation was responsible for the rise of science — Discoveroid style science, that is. He says:

A century after that October day in 1517, the scientific revolution really took off with the work of Galileo, Kepler, Boyle and Newton.

But then he quotes an article by David Wootton in Nature (History: Science and the Reformation) which argues:

The link between the Reformation and the scientific revolution is not one of causation. But it is more than a coincidence, because both were made possible by the rapid growth of printing in the years after 1439, when Johannes Gutenberg developed his press. Where previous reform movements, in both science and religion, had failed dismally, the press made it possible for these two to succeed. If we are looking for the preconditions of modern science, it’s to Gutenberg, not Luther, that we should turn.

Klinghoffer disagrees:

Even more basic is the Judeo-Christian concept of a Creator who is unchanging in truth and morals, a non-capricious Designer operating the universe in a non-capricious way. Try to imagine these ideas emerging from Darwinism!

In his final paragraph he says:

At the very least, the Reformation rejuvenated scientific values that had long been grounded in ancient propositions believed to have been revealed from a personal God who created a meaningful cosmos, and then created man in His image and instructed His sons and daughters about the right way to think and live. That is what Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Francis Bacon, Boyle, Newton, and the other giants of the scientific revolution took for granted.

Make of it what you will, dear reader. Creationists can rhapsodize about the Reformation, but we remain steadfast in our insistence that modern science, political liberty, free enterprise, and all that’s good in the modern world were made possible by Enlightenment.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “The Reformation and Creationism

  1. Michael Fugate

    How exactly is the fickle, inconstant, changeable, variable, mercurial, volatile, unpredictable, temperamental god portrayed in the Old Testament non-capricious?

  2. @Michael Fugate
    You beat me to this point. One day sacrifices are good, then they are bad. It is OK for the magic sky man to force a father to kill his child only to stop him just before the deed. But one bite of an apple is grounds for punishing every living creature that will ever exist.
    Seems the very definition of capricious.

  3. Klingly et al., I don’t understand why differences in opinion about 6,000 year old myths have anything to do with the development of science.

  4. There are a lot of believers in God who are not Lutherans.
    BTW, Luther ddn’t think so highly of heliocentrism. He was consistent in accepting the Bible.
    Anyway, this is just a lot of distraction from the lack of an alternative for evolution. What does God have to do in designing, when all he has to do is create.
    Here is what Luther had to say about creation in his Small Catechism:
    I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

    What does this mean?
    Answer: I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason, and all my senses, and still takes care of them, he also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals and all that I have; He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and defends me from all evil; and all this he does out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all this it is my duty to thank, praise, serve and obey him.

    That has nothing to say about evolution being fase. It has nothing about a barrier between “kinds”.

  5. Michael Fugate

    If the Judeo-Christian God were really constant, then either we have no idea what that constancy is or one has to ask then why aren’t Christians still Jews?

    Authoritarian religious followers claim timeless truths in morality – something that clearly has no basis in fact. One would think that they would ignore an issue like slavery, but there is ol’ Ham demanding that Christians and Jews have always opposed it. They really do believe that everything they believe is found in the Bible – it doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t. What matters is that they believe it is and this gives them “authority” to act as they choose – laws be damned.

  6. “Huh? What’s he talking about?”
    My bet is that he’s talking about Luther defending geocentrism against a certain astronomer of his time.…B05K

    I especially like “the clear and literal interpretation of the text of the Bible, except when there were compelling reasons for doing otherwise.”

    “The Reformation led to a series of religious wars that culminated in the Thirty Years’ War.”
    I think I have written it before – it’s not this simple. In those wars catholics (from France for instance) often fought against catholics (from Spain and Austria).

  7. I wonder how people around the time of the Reformation viewed the idea of an all-knowing, omnipotent god who nevertheless didn’t anticipate the Fall of Adam or the perversions that would later lead him to destroy all life on earth except some people and animals on a boat. Or the weird story where God incarnates himself to get himself killed to allow himself to forgive mankind for something he allowed to happen.

  8. The Catholic Church likes Protestant creationism so much, the Vatican did not invite the Discoveriids to the churches seminar on evolution, held in Rome about ten years ago. Furthermore, the work of Kepler. Boyle, Newton and Galileo does not contain any magical explanations or supernatural events, unlike the Discoveroids green screen wizardry.

  9. The ” Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research” has a J.D. and a Th.D, but not a science degree? Figures.

  10. Ted Lawry notes:

    The ” Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research” has a J.D. and a Th.D, but not a science degree? Figures.

    It does indeed figure in a world in which Sam Clovis, bereft of any background in science (but complete conviction that global warming is ‘junk science’), can be nominated by the Tweeter-in-Chief for the post of ‘chief scientist’ at the USDA.

    Such are the opportunities for idiots in our Age of Endarkenment…

  11. “a non-capricious Designer operating the universe in a non-capricious way”; that sounds a lot more like al-Ghazali’s Islam, with the constancy of God’s will the essential link between natural cause and natural effect, than a religion in which God Incarnate turns water into wine to help people get drunk at a friend’s party.

    Anyway, what’s all this about Luther starting the Reformation? Hasn’t anyone heard of Jan Hus, or Wycliffe?

  12. Michael Fugate

    Wouldn’t intuition tell you the universe is very capricious? Hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, asteroids, disease, etc.
    When I hear many religious people commenting after these seemingly random acts of violence, they always claim a god saved them or their property while killing their equally pious neighbors or destroying their neighbors’ property. Has Klinghoffer not read Job?