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KURT WISE was a strange kid:       <http://www.preceptaustin.org/genesis_commentaries>,

Precept Ministries
Genesis Part I – Dr. Kurt Wise
Lesson 1 <http://www.preceptaustin.org/genesis_commentaries&gt; “Lectures Correlating with Precept Genesis Lessons,” Lesson One

This course will be dealing a lot with science. In this first lesson Dr. Wise will tell why Creation is important to him. Hopefully you will be convinced why Creation ought to be important to you.

Kurt Wise’s Story

Kurt was a strange kid, born and raised in Illinois. He lived in the country on a wooded piece of property and spent most of his time up in trees: in treehouses, hanging in trees and swinging from trees. It was in those trees as a child where he began to ask some serious questions about who he was, why he was, and what he knew. The questions most interesting to him during this time around ages 8-9 were about what he really knew. What did he know for sure? People had told him things but can you believe what people tell you? What do you know for sure?

He remembers seeing a squirrel up in the tree one day and thinking, “I can see that squirrel with my eyes. But if I close my eyes, I can’t see the squirrel. I don’t even know it’s there. I can’t see it with my shoulder or my elbow, so how do I know that the squirrel really exists? How do I know that my eyes aren’t deceiving me entirely and that the squirrel doesn’t really exist? Do I really know—does that squirrel really exist?” He was doubting it. Sometime later he saw another squirrel jumping around in the branches of the tree. He thought, “Wait a minute, when I close my eyes, I can also hear the squirrel.” So he could see and hear the squirrel at the same time. This must mean that the squirrel really exists, because if his eyes are deceiving him you wouldn’t expect that his ears would hear something that didn’t really exist at the same time that his eyes were showing him that the squirrel exists. He could see that his ears could be deceiving him independently of his eyes, and his eyes could be deceiving him independent of his ears, but both at the same time? No, couldn’t be. Must be that the squirrel really exists.

But—maybe not. What if there’s something that’s controlling both his eyes and his ears that’s trying to deceive him into thinking that the squirrel exists. If there was such a thing it would be clever of that thing to have both his eyes and his ears deceive him at the same time. “It almost got me! I almost fell for it.” He began to call that thing inside him that was deceiving him, his “imp.” Obviously, if he felt, saw, heard, it was somehow all controlled by this imp in a desire to deceive Kurt into believing that something exists when it really doesn’t.

One day he was walking down a path through the woods with a friend of his when the friend said, “Look! A deer!”

Kurt looked, and sure enough, a deer. Kurt saw and heard a deer. He asked his friend, “You saw and heard that deer?”

“Of course, I did. I just told you about it.”

Wow, that must mean the deer exists because here’s this dude who’s not Kurt who has just seen and heard this deer so it must be that this deer exists. It couldn’t be that he was being deceived. But, then again, how does he know that his friend exists? Because if Kurt couldn’t trust what he’s seeing and hearing, how does he know his friend really does exist? It’s the only reason

he knows he’s really there. And that’s just what an imp would do, isn’t it? An imp would create a friend who didn’t really exist to try to convince Kurt that the deer existed when it really didn’t exist. That’s what an imp would do. So that doesn’t help—he can’t know for sure.

Later, sitting in his treehouse thinking about this sort of thing, he asked, “What do I know exists? What do I know now? I know deceit’s going on. I know I’m being deceived. Wait—do I know that? Do I know if I exist?” It would be even more ambitious for an imp to create a Kurt who didn’t really exist, and then deceive that Kurt who didn’t really exist into believing in other things that didn’t really exist and get him to think about those things that didn’t really exist in order to keep his mind off of the fact that he didn’t exist. Kurt therefore could not conclude that he really existed. He must be the creation of his imp. That’s all he really knew for sure—the existence of his imp. On the other hand, how does he know his imp exists? It might be someone else’s imp who created Kurt’s imp to create Kurt to create his friend to make him believe that all the other things exist, but neither he nor his imp exists. So what did Kurt know? He knew there existed an imp. He knew there existed evil. But that’s all he knew.

Wednesday, before Easter Sunday in 1969, in his treehouse near Rochelle, Illinois, he decided that one week later, the next Wednesday, he would go up into his treehouse and figure out the most efficient way to kill himself, because evil was all that existed. He, therefore, was evil incarnate—his imp. Or, he didn’t exist and someone else’s imp created him. Killing himself would be good because it would either be killing the evil, or, if his imp didn’t exist, then he wouldn’t be doing anything at all. Therefore, killing himself would either be doing nothing at all, or it would be doing good. So suicide was the only way out.

(A parenthetical note: Kurt has heard some people tell lies such as, “People who are going to commit suicide are going to leave a note.” Why would Kurt leave a note? No one else existed. He wasn’t going to leave a note. He wasn’t going to feign suicide in order to get someone to stop him. No one else existed to stop him. Don’t believe people who assume this. When someone says they’re going to commit suicide, they, like Kurt at age 9, could be meaning it—truly. And that’s the only time you’ll ever hear them say it and then they’re dead.)

Fortunately, the Lord had other intentions for him. Because in between the two Wednesdays he went to Sunday school. It didn’t exist, his parents didn’t exist, so he’d play that game—what difference did it make? So he went to Sunday school and the teacher was talking about the third missionary journey of Paul. He asked at the end of the session if anyone would like to stay afterwards to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Kurt had heard this a whole bunch of times before but thought, “Why not? I’ll play the game? It doesn’t really exist; I’m not really here; he’s not really here; the Bible isn’t here… What difference does it make? Cool.” So he stayed afterwards.

The teacher took the Bible in front of him and pushed it across the table in front of Kurt. Here Kurt was with the Bible in front of him. The teacher turned to the verse:

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

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Kurt’s thinking, “Yes, I understand.” The teacher explained that Kurt was a sinner and Kurt thought to himself, “Well, yes, I’m evil incarnate. I already know that.” Then the teacher turned to:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The teacher explained to Kurt that the appropriate punishment for being a sinner is death. Kurt didn’t say it out loud, but he thought, “I’ve got that covered. Next Wednesday I’m committing suicide.” Then the teacher turned to:

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

At that moment Kurt thought, “Ah, I’ve made a mistake.” It isn’t true that there was only one thing that he knew: that evil existed. He realized that there was something else that he knew. He had acknowledged it, but never consciously. It was that not only did evil exist, but that evil must be done away with. That’s intriguing, because if evil was all there was, why would you want to destroy it? Why would evil want itself destroyed? That makes no sense. The existence of evil plus the existence of the fact that evil must be destroyed means that good must exist. Because only with the existence of good does it become necessary to destroy evil. Where evil is evil. If evil is all there is, then why not? What’s the big deal—just be evil.

That meant Good exists. And what would Good do but exactly what this verse says? He would die for evil. It’s ultimate good—to die for evil incarnate. And Kurt accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior that day. This most important decision of his life became important in what was to become the second most important decision in his life which came a number of years later.

Kurt lived in the country so he went to a K-8 school. At the end of eighth grade just before he graduated to go to the big city high school (scary), the last big event was a science fair. He chose early on in the year that his project would be evolution. He planned to learn everything there was to know about evolution and make a big project about it. So he went aggressively to the library and took out every book on evolution, read both of them, went to the closest big city, Rochelle, which had about 8000 people in it. (Scary place: Big city with lots of people so he didn’t like to be there very often.) There he checked out every book its library had on evolution, read both of those, then dug up everything he could find in encyclopedias or anywhere. He went to fossil shops, collected fossils and created an enormous project. That’s where he first memorized the periods of the geologic column: Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian…

Kurt created this project with steps made out of wood like stairs leading up to a front door. The width of each step was directly related to the length of geologic time that period was supposed to

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be in existence. He made up drawings to show where the water and the land was. He had the fossils from that particular era. It was a huge project.

The eighth graders had the entire day of the science fair presentation off to finish their projects. Several of Kurt’s classmates were initiating their projects that day, but Kurt was done.

He had gained a partner. Poor Carl. He had a great idea—something no one else had done before. It was a first time ever because no one ever thinks of creating a volcano for a science project [except for Peter Brady.] Carl was doing fine—had a beautiful volcano—but on the test run it was a very good example of an exploding volcano. Ceiling, walls, whole place… The teacher didn’t allow him to continue on that project; he didn’t want to see Carl create another volcano. Without a project Carl joined Kurt for the last couple of weeks.

So on the day of the fair Kurt and Carl were done with nothing to do. Everyone else was running around doing their projects. Kurt pulled two desks together and said, “Carl, I have a problem. I can’t reconcile this evolution thing with the first chapter of Genesis.”

Carl asked, “What do you mean?”

Kurt took out a Bible and read through Genesis chapter 1 out loud to Carl, who replied, “I see what you mean. It doesn’t seem to fit terribly well does it?”

Kurt: “No. I don’t know how to deal with it. I can’t figure out how to put the two together… Wait a minute—have I got an idea! This is the solution. I’d better publish this. People have been waiting for a solution like this. What if the days in Genesis 1 are millions of years old?” Kurt had never heard anyone suggest anything like this; it was completely new to him.

Carl said, “Wow! Yeah, that makes it work.”

Carl seemed to be completely satisfied with that explanation but Kurt wasn’t quite. It kind of smoothed out some of the rough edges but there were some burrs still getting at him because the order wasn’t quite right, like the sun coming after the plants in Genesis, which is not the way it is in evolution. Flying creatures come on day 3, while land creatures appear on day 5, when evolution says it’s the other way around. It’s like a burr under the saddle. Nevertheless, he put it on the back burner, shelved it in the back of his mind thinking it was probably something he shouldn’t be thinking about, like angels on the head of a pin or something. It satisfied Carl completely but it bothered Kurt. It kept bothering him the next year and the next…

Around his sophomore year of high school, Kurt snuck out and ran downtown to a store selling Bibles. He bought one secretly because of what he was going to do with it. He snuck it back home then late at night he took a flashlight and a scissors with a plan that whenever he found a verse that if evolution is true he would have to throw the verse out, he would snip out that verse. He started in Genesis 1:1. He worked on it for months. There were two reasons why he had to keep going and would not be satisfied with something short of the whole Bible: 1) He was obsessive-compulsive. 2) He didn’t want to make the decision he knew he would have to make.

His whole life, other than his relationship with his parents, revolved around science. He loved science. He had 36 hobbies and collections when he graduated from high school. Some of them were normal like stamps and coins but the rest of them were things like stuffed moles that he’d caught, birds’ nests and eggs, astronomy, etc. His mother used to say of his room, “Kurt, you are

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going to keep that room clean because I don’t under any circumstances want to have to walk into your room. Your room lives. It’s living, it’s moving.” Kurt had a terrarium but raised fungi in it instead of turtles. (Parenthetical note: He lived in the basement of the house and he was down there with his family as they were getting to know Marie, his fiancée. It was cold over Christmas so someone got her a sleeping bag to cover herself with. One of his critters, now dried, spilled out of that bag, but only after she had spent most of the evening with her feet in it.)

Everything Kurt loved was science: Collecting fossils, climbing trees, paddling around in rivers with the leeches. He loved science. He had been taught that evolution was equated with science. If you are into science, evolution is right in there. And if science is true then evolution is true and it was all part of what he loved. When Kurt was cutting his way through the Bible saying, “Evolution vs. the Bible” he was in a sense pitting everything he loves against the Bible. Back and forth. That’s why he didn’t want to get to the end and have to make a decision. The very last verse that he cut out of the Bible was the worst of all the verses.

Revelation 22:19 And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Snip, snip.

Kurt was one sweating dude, scared out of his mind. That night he was faced with the decision he’d been putting off for a year and a half—the length of time it took him to get through the Bible this way. The question he had was (after he ripped the binding off the book), is it possible to grab the Bible with two fingers and pick up the Bible? Is there enough there to hold itself together? Despite the fact that he’d left all the margin material, he could not lift up the Bible no matter how he tried to do it. There was not enough left of it to hold itself together. It couldn’t even hold up its own weight. You can grab just a part of an intact Bible and pick up the whole thing, but in his version there wasn’t enough left to hold it up. So Kurt had to make a decision: Does he accept the claims of this Word, the Bible, or does he accept the claims of evolution, which was entwined with everything he loved? Does he accept evolution and reject the Bible, or does he accept the Bible and reject evolution? How could he make a decision like that?

It came when Kurt thought back to the day in Sunday school class when his teacher took her Bible, pushed it in front of him and introduced him to Jesus Christ. That day Jesus saved him not just spiritually but physically. Kurt had been going to commit suicide but now he had a reason to live. Since that day, Kurt had come to know Him. Jesus was a friend. There was no doubt in Kurt’s mind that Jesus was alive, that He loved him, that He was real. Kurt came to know Him through His Word. Kurt couldn’t reject this Bible. He had to accept it therefore reject evolution. With that, he thought he was rejecting everything he loved—everything he wanted to do for the rest of his life. His dreams.

Two weeks later the Lord began to show him that it wasn’t a necessary conclusion when Kurt began to meet scientists who believed in the Bible. He realized you could tease evolution out of

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science. You could purify science of evolution yet still hold science and believe in the claims of Scripture.

Kurt got training in macroevolutionary theory as his primary field of study for his PhD work at Harvard University under Stephen J. Gould. Kurt can stand before us now and state that you can believe in every claim of Scripture yet still embrace, love, and do science all your life. Science is a means by which you can better know your God. He created every part of the universe. Just like how studying every work of a painter can teach you about that painter, every time you look in a microscope or a telescope or you open a door into God’s creation, which you can if you seek to do so, you better know your God. Science is a means by which you can know Him rather than what Kurt thought, which was a way of countering Scripture, arguing against Scripture. A lot of people see science as the antagonist against Scripture and against Christianity, but it’s not true. If you look into the origin of science, all the original scientists believed in a Creator. They did their science because they believed that there was a single God who created everything in the universe, and did it so that we could know Him through it, that you could figure out God by looking at the Creation. There are nice laws in the universe that make sense. You can actually study those things. Even if you are not a smart person, you can come to know Him better by looking at the Creation—by watching a caterpillar or a butterfly.

God created it so that would be true. Historically science came into being because people believed that to be so. In fact, Scripture, if you really look at the truth of the matter, historically provided the foundation for science. It’s the reason science came into being.

Before the first scientists in Europe began fashioning it for the first time, the Greeks believed in all these gods and goddesses. Think of the Odyssey. Poor Odysseus. He’s stuck on an island trying to get home because Poseidon has just nailed him. Feeling sorry for him, Athena gets him off the island. Poseidon knocks him onto another island. Thus, Odysseus is tossed about by the whims of the gods. If you believe in more than one god, can you believe in any rules the universe is going to follow? It’s like being a chess piece. What’s going to happen next? Am I going to get killed? It’s at the whim of this god versus that god as they argue against one another… You can’t do science. Who cares about science when you’re worried about getting nailed by the next god that comes by? Polytheism does not produce anything that looks like science.

What about eastern mysticism? A lot of it doesn’t even believe that the physical world is real. It’s just an illusion so why spend your time studying the physical world if it doesn’t exist? What kind of science are you going to do under those circumstances?

It’s specifically the God of Scripture that gives us the reason to even do science—to even think about starting to do science. Why should we think the universe is understandable except that God created it so that we can understand Him through it? He could have made it a whole lot more complicated because He’s certainly more complicated than we are. But He didn’t. He made it simple enough for a child to look at a caterpillar or an ant. Kurt was walking behind his kids on the sidewalk when one of them stopped dead in her tracks. She bent all the way down to put her nose to the concrete to watch an ant walking across the sidewalk. Kurt stopped himself just in

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time wondering why she was delaying their trip to church, when she said, “Look at the ant.” She was enthralled with that creation of God. Even a child can come to know Him better through the Creation. God created it so that was true and so all men everywhere through all time could come to know Him through it. What a spectacular God! It’s because of the claims of Scripture— actually it’s more basic than that: It’s because of the nature of God that science is possible. Scripture provides the foundation for science.

This gets right to the heart of what we’re about in the remainder of the time we’re in Genesis: Foundational to the Scripture itself is Creation. We’re going to see bits and pieces of this as we go along. But every single doctrine that you hold dear is founded on the Creation. There’s a philosophical reason for that to be true. The Creation is the act of God—the Word of God. These things came to be. That same God inspired the remainder of Scripture. That same God laid out the principles, the laws, the rules of conduct for us for all time. The mode of His Creation as laid out in the first few chapters of Genesis are a picture of what He says for the remainder of Scripture. That’s philosophical reasoning. If you look theologically through strings in Scripture, you’ll find over and over that the doctrines that we hold dear are founded directly on Creation.

When Christ was asked about marriage what did he do? He said, “You know the way it was in the beginning? In the beginning God created Adam and Eve—it goes back to that.” That referred to a divorce issue, a controversial issue. Christ was specifically asked about divorce and He goes back to the Creation to answer the question.

Capital punishment is another controversial issue. That first comes into Scripture in Genesis 9. Why is it that a man must be killed when he sheds another man’s blood? Because man is created in the image of God—it goes back to the Creation. Many people don’t know that it’s against the command of God to swear at another person—to curse that person. Why? Look in the Commandments: it’s because he’s created in the image of God so when you curse another then you’re cursing a picture of God.

Every doctrine we hold dear is based upon the Creation. Kurt has told you why Creation is important to him and hopes that you’ll begin to see bit by bit why the Creation should be important to you. You might not go into science. Even if it’s in psychology, proper psychology is founded in Scripture and ultimately in the Creation. You’re never going to get the right psychology from an evolutionist. You’re never going to get the right psychology from a Christian who believes in evolution—it’s going to come out. Your position on origins will determine the way you live your life. Whether you’re a plumber or a politician or a mechanic, a scientist, a psychologist—whatever you are—your belief about the Creation will determine your ethic. Because your belief about Creation tells someone what you believe about God.

God created reflective of who He is and what He is. If you believe something different about Creation then you believe something different about God. So Creation and Scripture is, or should be (because most Christians in most disciplines do not base their discipline on Scripture and the Creation), the basis. Ultimately, the other power of Creation is that it’s the foundation of all the doctrines that we hold true.

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