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Book Review - Refuting Compromise

Updated on May 17, 2013

Subtitle: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of Progressive Creationism (Billions of Years), As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross

Author: Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.

Publisher: Creation Book Publishers

Length: 410 pages

Dr. Sarfati earned his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. He is a long time speaker with Creation Ministries, and has authored several books as well as numerous magazine articles on the subject of Biblical creationism.

As the subtitle makes clear, this book is a polemic work against the work of Dr. Hugh Ross. It is not aimed at any specific book of Dr. Ross’ but includes all of his apologetic works. In the Introduction Dr. Sarfati includes a list of Dr. Ross’ works, as well as material to which he makes frequent reference. This book is well referenced, both within the text and by footnotes. The reader will be able to refer not only to Dr. Ross’ work, but also to works that substantiate the claims made by Dr. Sarfati.

If you are short on time, the Conclusion and Summary provides a useful summary of each chapter. If you have a little more time, the Introduction provides a reason for the polemic approach, as well as summaries of the differences and similarities of the two apologetics.

Dr. Sarfati begins his argument from the Scriptures. The biggest difference between long age creationists and young earth creationists is the acceptance by long agers of billions of years. Dr. Sarfati argues for Sola Scriptura, scripture alone. Chapter 1 is the Authority of Scripture. In this chapter, Dr. Sarfati presents the argument for scripture and the perspicuity of scripture. That latter phrase means that the Scripture is written for ordinary people to understand. Dr. Sarfati also questions the Magisterial vs. the Ministerial use of science. Does science rule scripture or is it the servant of scripture? In long age apologetics science is the master, making scientists the new priests, only they are capable of truly making plain the meaning of the scriptures. In Biblical creationism, science is the minister, helping us understand but not interpreting scripture for us.

In the next two chapters, The Days of Creation and The History of Interpretation of Genesis 1-11, Dr. Sarfati looks at what the words of Genesis 1 tell us. Looking at what the words might mean and what other words might have been available, Dr. Sarfati compares and contrasts the views of the two sides. Establishing a meaning for the passage in Genesis 1, he then moves on to examine the interpretation of Genesis 1-11 throughout history. He compares his view of Genesis with that of earlier interpreters to see what differences, if any, exist, and why they exist. He establishes that the intention of Genesis 1 is to show a literal week composed of seven 24-hour days, and that this is also the historical interpretation of the church.

The longest chapter in the book is The Big Bang and Astronomy. The Big Bang Theory is fundamental to most long-age creation apologetics. Dr. Sarfati carefully explains the Big Bang Theory, the evidence it uses, and its flaw and failures. There is also an examination of the formation of the Solar System and the problems secular theories have with this. He examines the apologetic value assigned to the Big Bang by long agers and shows how it is unnecessary. Dr. Sarfati concludes with an appraisal of alternative theories, including secular ones. The final theory presented is the White Hole Cosmology of Dr. D. Russell Humphreys, a fellow Biblical creationist.

Chapter 6, The Origin of Death and Suffering, begins with the following sentence. “Probably the most serious problem with all compromise views of Genesis is the origin of death and suffering.” Death and suffering are also two of the most common issues facing a Christian apologist. Dr. Sarfati details the doctrinal implications of long-age creationism. There is an examination of what the Bible says and how this has been interpreted over the years. If death originated before Adam, there can be no connection between sin and death. A long-age view overturns the doctrine of Romans 5 and Romans 8. There are four brief case studies before Dr. Sarfati concludes the chapter.

The next two chapters deal with the Flood. Chapter 7, The Created Kinds, is a little bit broader because Dr. Ross, while accepting long-ages, rejects evolution. Dr. Sarfati looks at what the Bible means by created kinds and how they differ from species. Evolution is examined and refuted, and then speciation is examined and shown not to be evolutionary. Chapter 8 is The Global Flood and Noah’s Ark. While some long-agers accept a global flood, Dr. Ross does not. Both the scriptural and scientific implications for this are huge. Again, Dr. Sarfati begins from scripture, explaining what the scriptural account actually says. He follows with a review of the history of the interpretation of the passage, establishing that it is a global flood. There is then an examination of the scientific evidence for a global flood. A look at Catastrophic Plate Tectonics, a Biblical creationist explanation of the Flood is included. Dr. Sarfati devotes a considerable portion of the chapter to a detailed refutation of Dr. Ross’ arguments.

All long-age theories must have pre-Adamites, people who lived before Adam. In Chapter 9, The History of Mankind, Dr. Sarfati deals with the both the Biblical and scientific ideas about the creation of mankind. The fossil record is considered with a detailed examination of Neanderthals and modern humans. Dr. Sarfati shows that both Neanderthals and Homo erectus were varieties of Homo sapiens, and therefore human. Biblically there were no pre-Adamites, and scientifically fossil humans are just that, humans.

There is a brief consideration of Old Earth arguments from the Bible. Dr. Sarfati looks at the use of words and shows how the choice of words works better for a Young Earth.

Dr. Sarfati then goes on to provide evidence for a young earth in Chapter 11 Science and the Young Earth. These are nine evidences, each of which has been reported on in its own article in creationist literature. The nine are: 1) Earth’s Magnetic Field Decay, 2) Helium in the Rocks, 3) Salt in the Sea, 4) Supernova Remnants, 5) Comets, 6) Lunar Recession, 7) Dinosaur Blood Cells and Hemoglobin, 8) Radiohalos, 9) Erosion of Continents. Dr. Sarfati shows how each of these subjects is evidence for a young earth.

In Chapter 12 Refuting Old Earth Arguments, Dr. Sarfati looks at seven evidences for an old earth and refutes them. The evidences are 1) Varves, 2) Evaporites, 3) Too many Fossils, 4) Biodeposits, 5) Fossil Forests, 6) Noah’s Mud Bath?, 7) Radiometric Dating. Some have claimed that these evidences for an old earth are irrefutable; Dr. Sarfati shows that this is not the case and refutes them.

In the Conclusion and Summary, Dr. Sarfati provides a summary of each chapter and the conclusion is worth reading by itself if you are pressed for time. There are three indices to the book, a subject, name (of authorities quoted), and scripture.

Dr. Sarfati, in a detailed examination of both scripture and science, has shown that Progressive Creation is unbiblical and contrary to science done by Biblical creationists. Biblical creationism provides a better apologetic then does the Big Bang or any long-age theory.

The book is very readable, being written at a high school level. The breadth of the subject matter makes this a useful book in any apologist’s library.


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    • barrydan profile image

      barrydan 4 years ago from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

      HeadlyvonNoggin, what saith the scripture?

      “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Cor. 15:21-22

      “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Cor. 15:26

      If the death referred to is only spiritual, then the resurrection is only spiritual. The New Testament clearly teaches that Christ was raised bodily from the dead:

      “And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.” Luke 24:3

      The resurrection is therefore physical, and maintaining the language requires that the death referred to in 1 Cor. 15 is also physical. Death is not natural, it is an enemy that needs to be destroyed.

      If Jesus died physically then the comparisons between his death and the death brought in by Adam must refer to physical death.

      “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son;” Romans 5:10

      “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;” Rom. 5:12

      “For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hat abounded unto many.” Rom. 5:15

      “Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment cam upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Rom. 5:18

      I reiterate, if the death of Jesus was physical, so the death brought in by Adam must also have been physical, otherwise the comparison makes no sense.

      Let’s go back to the punishment of Adam, the curse which God made at that time.

      “…cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of they life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;” Gen. 3:17-18

      This is the origin of thorns and thistles according to the Bible. According to the long-age interpretation of the fossil record, thorns and thistles predate humanity. Either this passage is wrong or the long-age interpretation is wrong.

      The clear teaching of the Bible is that Adam was the first human (1 Cor. 15:45). It was through the sin of Adam that death entered into the world (1 Cor.15:21-22). As there is a physical death there will also be a physical resurrection (1 Cor. 15:22).

    • HeadlyvonNoggin profile image

      Jeremy Christian 4 years ago from Texas


      I promise I'm not trying to wear out my welcome here. You just write about one of my favorite topics and I'm constantly compelled to talk about it. I won't get into the whole old/young earth debate with you any further, but I would like to tackle the death before Adam.

      Remember the verses you quoted me a few days back dealing with the two Adams, the first being physical, the second spiritual? There are also two kinds of death. There's nothing wrong with physical death. It's a natural part of life. All humans and animals die. Are animal deaths tied to sin (or original sin) as well? If Jesus were to have lived the entirety of his 'natural' life, would he, being without sin, have died a natural death at some point? If so, would this be due to the sin of Adam?

      While I can't and don't speak for anyone beyond myself, in my 'old earth' view, Adam was not the first human but rather the first human capable of behaving contrary to God's will. In natural terms, with God being the equivalent of natural law, our capability to behave contrary to God's will is the equivalent of being capable of behaving contrary to gravity. It's a big deal. It's a very powerful, potentially dangerous and destructive capability.

      Life and death are natural. What happens beyond that is beyond the scope of science. We just don't know. But the bible makes it clear, with it's blood sacrifices and such, that passage to the 'other side' must be made with a clean slate. You still die, physically, but as long as your sins are accounted for, you go on to eternity in heaven. Without it, that is the death that Adam introduced. Spiritual death. Before free will, before we were capable of behaving contrary to God's will, then there was no danger and no need for blood sacrifice or the washing away of sins because there was no sin. Only through free will can there be sin and evil.

      Without physical death we wouldn't be here as we are today. And that goes well beyond the age of Adam. But spiritual death, that is a different matter. This is how the old earth view works without conflicting with the rest of the bible. In fact, it makes the rest of the bible much more clear.