By Bob Allen
In his 2006 best-selling nonfiction book, “The God Delusion,” British biologist Richard Dawkins said he is hostile toward religion because of what it did to Kurt Wise.
Wise, a Harvard graduate who studied under paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, gave up his dream of teaching at a major university because he could not reconcile claims of science with his faith.
At one point, Wise took out a newly purchased Bible and a pair of scissors. Beginning at Gen. 1:1, he cut out every verse that would have to be removed in order for him to believe in evolution.
Months later, he cut out his final verse and one of the last verses in the Bible, Rev. 22:19, which reads, If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Wise describes what happened next: “With the cover of the Bible taken off, I attempted to physically lift the Bible from the bed between two fingers. Yet, try as I might, and even with the benefit of intact margins throughout the pages of Scripture, I found it impossible to pick up the Bible without it being rent in two. I had to make a decision between evolution and Scripture. Either the Scripture was true and evolution was wrong, or evolution was true, and I must toss out the Bible.”
Dawkins called Wise’s story “pathetic and contemptible.” “The wound to his career and his life’s happiness was self-inflicted, so unnecessary, so easy to escape,” Dawkins lamented. “All he had to do was toss out the Bible or interpret it symbolically or allegorically as the theologians do. Instead, he did the fundamentalist thing and tossed out science, evidence and reason, along with all his dreams and hopes.”
Wise’s current boss, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler, viewed it as a badge of honor. Mohler brought Wise to Southern Seminary in 2006 to lead the Center for Theology and Science.
Wise replaced William Dembski, a leading thinker in the theory of intelligent design, who moved to a sister seminary. Unlike Dembski, Wise is a so-called “young-earth” creationist. Based on his understanding of Scripture, he believes the universe is on the order of 6,000 years old.
After a global flood during the time of Noah, Wise believes, animals left the ark to disperse and multiply as God commanded, while humans disobeyed God’s command and settled in a city to build the Tower of Babel.
During that time, Wise theorizes, some animals became buried in layers of sediment during a series of catastrophic events that occurred while the earth was recovering from the flood and today are preserved as fossils. That would include the higher primates, such as the famous fossil “Lucy” discovered in 1974 that scientists believe is 3.2 million years old and an ancestor of humans.
Wise acknowledges fossil evidence interpreted as transitional forms between humans and lower animals lend support to evolutionary theory. He believes that because it is still a new science, young-earth creationism hasn’t yet come up with an explanation for the existence of such fossils – but it is only a matter of time before it does. That is because he thinks science inevitably leads to incorrect conclusions unless it appeals to the Bible.
“It seems to be a clear reading of Scripture that God told us that the earth is young, and I hold that position for that reason,” Wise said recently on Mohler’s radio program. “I also believe science is such that these are theories of humans, so if it’s a choice between God’s clear Word and humans’ reason, then I’m going to take God’s Word over it. That’s why I am a young-age creationist as opposed to an old-age creationist.”