Shane Scott & the Creation Controversy

by Tim Haile

September 27, 2000

     God condemns those who have "an unhealthy desire for arguments and word battles," for their controversies generate "envy, strife, hurtful talk, evil suspicions and wrangling." We are commanded to withdraw ourselves from such individuals (1 Tim. 6:4-5). Furthermore, we are not to give attention to arguments that do nothing more than produce unanswerable questions (1 Tim. 1:4). However, this same verse tells us to pursue "godly" edifying that is in the faith, and the previous verse tells us that this pursuit involves a direct assault against false doctrine. Timothy was to "charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (1 Tim. 1:3). Jude clearly stated the Christian's duty in this regard. We are to "earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). We are the guardians of the gospel, the trustees of the truth, the custodians of the faith. When errors are taught, the Christian's primary objective is to invoke the sword of the Spirit and refute those errors (Eph. 6:17; 5:11). His first concern is truth, and he is not concerned about the consequences of teaching it. The true disciple has bought the truth and he will not sell it (Prov. 23:23). He can "do nothing against the truth, but for the truth" (2 Cor. 13:8). He does not calculate whether or not his resistance to error will result in controversy. He merely acts by faith "holding forth the word of life" (Phil. 2:16). He is a wary watchman (Ezek. 33:6), not a "dumb dog" that refuses to bark (Isa. 56:10).

Reflections on Controversy

     Some people are appalled by controversy and they see it as disastrous to the cause of Christ. As we shall soon see, controversy is not all bad, however it is certainly true that it does reflect one sad fact: Either deception or proud rebellion has prevented someone from speaking as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11; Isa. 8:20). And let us remember that truth lovers and truth defenders are not responsible for division. Common adherence to God's word always unites people (Jn. 17:14, 20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 3:16), and error always divides them (Rom. 16:17-18). Furthermore, truth never tears people down. People have their faith "ruined" by false doctrine (Tit. 1:11). Paul told the Ephesians that the word of God's truth was able to "build them up," not tear them down (Acts 20:32). Please remember this passage the next time you hear conscientious truth teachers being slammed as "trouble-makers."

     Just as controversy reflects certain sad facts, it also reflects some good ones. It demonstrates that some people love the truth enough to take an open and active stand for it (2 Thess. 2:10-12). As those who have been made free by the truth (Jn. 8:32), we rejoice to see and hear others "walking in," preaching and defending "the truth" (3 John 3-4; Phil. 1:18). I have also observed that controversy often encourages diligent Bible study. During such discussions, open-minded, truth-loving individuals will energetically investigate the scriptures to determine truth from error (Acts 17:11; 1 Jn. 4:6). Upon discovery of that truth, such a person will study and prepare even harder to present the truth in a persuasive manner (2 Cor. 5:11). Thus, regardless of what sad event launched the controversy, it may still result in profitable, faith building Bible study (2 Tim. 2:15).

Shane Scott and the Creation Controversy

     As we have noted, controversy arises when serious doctrinal differences are discussed. And, when men of faith and deep conviction step onto the polemical battlefield it is expected that they will make their appeal to scripture and press their points firmly and persistently. Invariably, the disputant that lacks biblical support for his position will eventually employ diversionary tactics. One of the more effective of these being the victim complex. He depicts his opponents as mean and ugly. He complains of being mistreated. By discrediting his spiritual foes, he comfortably excuses himself from the battle.

     The creation controversy has witnessed this response. On his web site, at the URL:, Shane Scott tells us of his perceived mistreatment. He wrote the following:

     "In the past few months I have come under harsh attack by some brethren due to issues surrounding biblical teaching concerning creation. Though I do not intend to become mired in constant wrangling over these matters, I feel I must refute the charges made against me. I do not intend to write any more about this controversy than what is stated here, since I firmly believe that an honest and objective reading of the following responses will demonstrate that I am innocent of wrongdoing."

     Notice that Shane characterizes his opposition as launching a "harsh" attack against him and that he would not become mired in constant "wrangling" over these matters. If he has reference to the contents of the Open Letter to Florida College, then I emphatically deny that he was treated "harshly." I also deny that open discussion of Bible passages qualifies as "wrangling." Of course, it may just be that Shane considers it harsh treatment for someone to quote him verbatim and answer his arguments with scripture. If this is the case then Shane has two options. 1). He can repent of his false teaching, or 2). He can cease all religious teaching - period! Shane may have had the false impression that Bible teachers have no accountability for their work. If that is his understanding I would recommend a careful reading of James 3:1 and Acts 17:11.

     In his article in Sentry Magazine, in March of 1995, while writing about the creation "days" of Genesis 1, Shane said "the days cannot be literal" and "the days must be ages." He also said:

     "Some Bible believers insist that the world, according to Genesis 1, was created in six twenty-four hour days. I believe, however, that the days of Genesis 1 should not be interpreted literally."

Shane Scott and the Jehovah's Witnesses

     A brother recently sent me some excerpts from "Life-How did it get here? By evolution or by creation?" The book is a product of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and was copyrighted in 1985. Please consider their comments under the subtitle, "How Long Is a Genesis 'Day'?"

     "Many consider the word 'day' used in Genesis chapter 1 to mean 24 hours. However, in Genesis 1:5 God himself is said to divide day into a smaller period of time, calling just the light portion 'day.' In Genesis 2:4 all the creative periods are called one 'day': "This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day [all six creative periods] that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.

     "The Hebrew word yohm, translated 'day,' can mean different lengths of time. Among the meanings possible, William Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies includes the following: 'A day is frequently put for time in general, or for a long time; a whole period under consideration . . . Day is also put for a particular season or time when any extraordinary event happens.' This last sentence appears to fit the creative 'days, for certainly they were periods when extraordinary events were described as happening. It also allows for periods much longer than 24 hours."

     Pay careful attention to the last statement, "It also allows for periods much longer than 24 hours." The Jehovah's Witnesses say people are wrong for believing that the Genesis 1 days are 24-hour days. Shane Scott said the days "cannot be literal" and "must be ages." In describing the opposition view, the Jehovah's Witnesses said, "Many consider the word 'day' used in Genesis chapter one to mean 24 hours." Shane Scott said, "Some Bible believers insist that the world, according to Genesis 1, was created in six twenty-four hour days." Shane Scott's approach to the Genesis 1 creation days is quite similar to position held by the Jehovah's Witnesses. I am not accusing Shane of getting his ideas from the Jehovah's Witnesses. I am merely pointing out that those who leave the scriptures will sometimes reach similar false conclusions about things. Neither am I suggesting that Shane Scott is wrong because his views parallel those of the Jehovah's Witnesses. I am only saying that the "day-age" view of the Genesis 1 days is unscriptural. And by the way, whether one says the Genesis 1 days are "1000 years" long or a hundred million years, he is just as wrong.

The Bible Against The Day Age Theory:

     1. Moses told the Jews that the Genesis days were literal, 24-hour, consecutive days (Ex. 20:9-11). In this passage Moses appealed to the Genesis 1 creation week as the pattern that formed the basis of the Jewish workweek. Just as God did His work in 6 days (Gen. 1:31), so would the Jews. Just as God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2-3), so would the Jews (Ex. 31:17).

     2. Genesis 1 uses 3 sets of contrasts to distinguish the "days" as 24-hour days. Each day consisted of light and dark, day and night, evening and morning (Gen. 1:4-5). This language will not accommodate the "day-age" explanation.

     3. One of the most basic rules of hermeneutics is that a literal interpretation is the default approach unless there is some immediate or remote contextual evidence to the contrary. Honest Bible students do not automatically assume a figurative application, then look for contextual evidence for a literal application. Such an approach would be highly unreasonable.

     4. When the Hebrew word for "day" is attached to a number (e.g. "first...second...third...") the day is always a literal, solar day.

     5. Plant life can survive 12 hours of darkness, but it cannot survive hundreds of millions of years of darkness (Gen. 1:12-14).

     6. Mankind was created on the 6th day of creation (Gen. 1:27,31). Genesis 2:1 plainly states that God "finished" His creative work on that same day. The next two verses tell us that God then "rested on the seventh day." Since God's "rest" is cited as an accomplished fact, and since man was created on the 6th day, those days cannot possibly be multi-million years ages. Adam was pretty old when he died, but not that old (Gen. 5:5)!

     7. The Bible plainly states that the creation was the immediate result of God's command. Isaiah recorded, "I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass" (Isa. 48:3). He went on to say, "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together" (Isa. 48:13). These verses acknowledge the instantaneous creative results of God's creative commands. This is precisely the point in Psalm 33:9: God "spoke and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast."

     8. Jesus said God made the man and the woman "at the beginning... of the creation" (Matt. 19:4; Mk. 10:6). 2 Peter 3:4 uses this expression to refer to the creation week. Jesus' statement is easily seen as accurate if the Genesis 1 creation days were 24-hour, solar days. One would merely conclude that Jesus was using overlapping statements. That is, the expression "in the beginning," in Matthew 19:4, would be synonymous with the Mark 10:6 expression, "the beginning of the creation." However, if the day age theorists were correct, then there would be no way to harmonize our Lord's statement with the Genesis record. The day-age view has hundreds of millions of years passing before man was made. If such were the case, in no sense could it be said that man was made "at the beginning"!


     Error begets error. "Profane and vain babblings will increase unto more ungodliness" (2 Tim. 2:16). It certainly will not surprise me to see the "day-age" theory and the "gaps-between-the-days" theory generate other false views. Will the day come when some of our own brethren will go so far as to espouse doctrines like the "framework hypothesis"? This theory classifies the entire Genesis 1 account, including several successive chapters, as being a mere literary device to accommodate human curiosity. Will other theories be entertained? How far will they go? It appears to me that some Christians of the present generation are only reluctantly holding back. What will happen with the next one? I call upon Shane Scott, his collaborators, his defenders, and others who simply aren't troubled by what he teaches, to repent of their error and/or apathy, and return to the truth about creation.

by Tim Haile

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