Editor: CMI published a critique by Professor Benno Zuiddam of a paper by Dr John Dickson that argued that the Jewish scholar Philo and various Christian church fathers took a figurative view of the days of creation in Genesis 1. Dickson argued that this set a precedent for today’s interpreters who want to interpret Genesis in a ‘non-literalistic’ way that would leave the Bible open to accommodating modern secular hypotheses about the origin of everything (which of course would have to include evolution and its billions of years). Dr Dickson’s response follows here, and then Dr Zuiddam replies. We would encourage the reader who reads Dr Dickson’s response to read all of Dr Zuiddam’s original paper (as well as Prof. Zuiddam’s reply here) and see that Dr Dickson has not responded to the latter 2/3 of what Prof. Zuiddam wrote, which includes the most important ramifications of Dr Dickson’s ‘non-literalistic’ reading of Genesis for Christian theology.

Dickson in his own words

A response to Benno Zuiddam

I am grateful to be able to offer a response to Professor Benno Zuiddam’s critique1 of my ISCAST journal article about how I read the first chapter of Genesis. There are many commendable things about his piece—the clear and compelling writing style, his love of patristic writings and his obvious concern to contend for the truth of Scripture. My criticisms are substantial but they cannot take away from Zuiddam’s admirable intellect and intentions.

A blow-by-blow self-defence would be tedious and appear more wounded than I really am. And, in this case, it is quite unnecessary. Three broad observations will suffice to explain why I feel Prof Zuiddam has not been careful, accurate or fair-minded in his treatment of my essay.

1. Misrepresentations

Prof Zuiddam has misrepresented the article he criticizes in three striking ways.

1.1. A haven for evolution?

First, Zuiddam consistently portrays me as someone trying “to create a ‘safe haven’ for faith and Scripture in the onslaught of Neo-Darwinism and other secular scientific views on the origin of man.” This is far from true. I can only imagine he judged me insincere when I offered the following straightforward statement in my paper: “My rejection of the literalistic reading of Genesis 1 offers no direct support for old-earth, progressive creationism (or ‘theistic evolution’, as it is sometimes called), nor is it intended to do so.” This was no sleight of hand….

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