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Dr. Stephen C. Meyers
Dr. Stephen C. Meyers
Since the passing away of Dr. Arlton Murray in 2006, Dr. Meyers has taken over as president of the Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies.
Courses at Baptist Bible College from 1972-76.
B.S., Christian Ministries from Tennessee Temple University in 1980.
M.Div., Old Testament Studies from Temple Baptist Theological Seminary in 1981.
Post-bachelor studies in Classical Greek and Latin at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga from 1983-84.
Th.M., Old Testament Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1989. Thesis entitled, A Biblical Cosmogony.
M.A., Counseling from Liberty University School of Lifelong Learning in 1994.
Th.D., from Trinity Evangelical Seminary of Florida in 1997. Dissertation entitled, The Date of the Exodus in Ancient Writings.
Special Courses in Egyptian Studies and Biblical Archaeology from University of Pennsylvania.
Courses in Archaeology, Geology, Paleontology, and Astronomy from the Wagner Free Institute of Science.
- From a Legalistic Young-Earther to a more Liberal Old-Earther
- My Journey to the Dark Side (according to fundamentalists) or, My Travels toward the Liberating Truth.
I was raised in a strict fundamentalist Baptist church (GARB-General Association of Regular Baptists) where nothing but a white shirt, suit and tie were appropriate. If a pastor wore a pastel color shirt, he was considered liberal (this was in the 1960's). Skirts above the knee were indecent. Guitars and any music with a beat was evil. Attending a movie was forbidden. Billy Graham was an apostate, while Jack Van Impe flew in to proclaim that the world would surely end in 1976. Van Impe now claims the date 2001. See 2001: On the Edge of Eternity.
Right Doctrine is everything
In the 1970's I attended very strict fundamentalist colleges, one in the north and the other in the south. At BBC Billy Graham was still apostate. It seemed that only fundamentalist Baptists would be in heaven. Movie theaters were paid money for any student caught going into their theater. Starting a new church was forbidden. Separation from the world was key especially in doctrine. In "secondary separation" one must not talk to someone who associates with someone else who is considered apostate which was most people and organizations unless GARB approved. The result, many pastors and people fight among themselves for who is the holiest, and then separate from them. Believing exactly the right doctrine was the most important thing. There is no room for tolerance. I was refused graduation because I did not believe exactly the same way they believed on every doctrine. I did learn enough Hebrew and Greek to point out their inconsistencies.
Outward appearance is everything
In the south it was very different. Doctrine was not as important as your outward appearance and evangelism. Win the lost at any cost. I attended TTU (Tennessee Temple University) where men had to have very short hair cuts, and no mustache or beards. Women were forbidden to wear pants which was considered an abomination. Mixed swimming was forbidden which I never heard of before (men and women can not swim together). Men and women had to stay 6 inches apart, were not permitted to hold hands, and never, ever kiss. Even if you are married, couples are not permitted to hold hands or kiss in public. A public display of any affection is strictly forbidden.
At one chapel service the dean of the school said that he saw a couple kiss before she went into her dorm. He demanded that they report to his office. After chapel 50 couples lined up to confess. This same dean was later caught committing adultery with the Chancellor's secretary. This had been going on for a number of years.
Evangelism was the top priority
One must have a big bus ministry to bring in lots of children and get them saved by bribing them with candy or a toy. It was up to you to get them saved. Only if you have a large church and large bus ministry, could God be blessing, and you could be considered successful. The result, a revolving door of many professions of faith, followed by immediate baptism. If you have the slightest doubt, you must not be saved, so many get saved over and over again. Repeating a simple prayer after me will save you forever even if you are the son of Sam.
The Pastor is considered the dictator, the pope who takes God's place. What ever he says goes. No one must question his authority. He is held in very high esteem, if not even worshiped. This is no more evident then at branch chapels where amazing things happened. One pastor would call up where you work to find out exactly how much money you made so he could figure out exactly how much tithe you owed the church. Then you are required to pay up. Some pastors and visiting speakers want you to empty out all your pockets in the offering plate. One person was torn between putting all his money in the offering plate or buying a pair of shoes that his child desperately needed. Another key point is starting the service exactly on time or else you get locked out; however, the pastor ends the service whenever he is ready which is usually very late, and his voice is about to give out from yelling for the past hour about how sinful you were this past week, and that I am endanger of hell fire if I don't repent. After about 50 choruses of Just as I am, and repeated pleas to come forward for salvation the service ends unless someone comes forward and needs to be baptized. It seems that many of these pastors are on a big ego trip, and come from broken homes with an alcoholic father. The classic example is Jack Hyles.
Memorization of Scripture: Is it a magic cure?
Does the Bible have magical powers? One preacher I knew had memorized the entire book of Revelation, but would beat his wife and kids. One day he held up his Bible as if it would magically protect him to cross a busy highway with no stop light. He was confined to a mental hospital for a few days after he threatened to burn down the house his wife and children were in unless they came out. I sometimes wonder about Jack Van Impe and all the verses he has memorized, yet he keeps setting the wrong date for the return of Christ.
Black or White, Right or Wrong!
For fundamentalists there are no gray areas. Everything is either right or wrong. Usually, I'm right and you're wrong. Most church problems are because of personality conflicts, yet it is blamed on wrong doctrine. The results are extreme positions with no middle ground. Some examples are extreme positions on abortion, the KJV, separation, psychology, and politics.
All or Nothing!
All scientists must be wrong because they believe in evolution. All psychology must be wrong because they follow Freud. One must go to a Christian doctor, Christian counselor, and Christian stores. The result is the Christian Yellow Pages. Bill Gothard pushes the evils of hospital births. One should give birth at home with a midwife. Gothard wants to train future doctors by watching other doctors, not by going to medical school which is wrong. More on Bill Gothard.
The end of the world always seems just around the corner. There are all sorts of government conspiracies, cover ups, and world take over scenarios leading to one world government, the beast, the Antichrist, the illuminati, and the infamous mark of the beast, 666. Some churches have tried to out smart the Antichrist by running up debts, building huge churches, and not planning to pay for them because the end is near, then loosing their property because Christ did not return. Harold Camping proclaimed the end of the world in 1994. Christians were willing to quit their jobs, sell their homes, and send Camping their money. More on Harold Camping.
Cabbage Patch and Barbie dolls will make me mentally ill!
When I first attended a Bill Gothard Seminar in 1973 in Philadelphia, I thought Bill Gothard was great. Now it is very difficult for me to listen to him without wanting to jump up and say you're wrong. The magic of his seminars are the 7 or 10 simple steps he offers you to follow to cure all of your problems. In reality these do not always work the way he says they will. Big drops in attendance is evidence of this. One of my favorites, is his claim that having a cabbage patch doll will lead to mental illness because their middle names are demonic. More about Bill Gothard and Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles.
Another favorite claim is by Dr. Dobson who says that playing with Barbie dolls will mentally harm your daughter. So far I have not found the clinical studies to back this up. For another side of James Dobson see the book, James Dobson's War On America by Gil Alexander-Moegerle.
Our founding Fathers were all Christians!
For Fundamentalists history is quite different. It is claimed that our founding fathers were (fundamentalist) Christians. America was a Christian nation, but most of the founding fathers were deists. They believed God created the world and left it like winding up clock. Thomas Jefferson made his own Bible by cutting out all the miracles, yet he composed the Declaration of Independence. According to the Bible we are to obey the government, yet fundamentalists claim the Revolutionary War was right. One supposedly good Christian wrote in his diary how he would read his Bible all morning and then go out and commit adultery in the afternoon.
Limited Library, Book Ban!
Books are banned from their library that do not agree with their doctrine or standards. One book from Bob Jones University was banned because it did not give TTU a high fundamentalist rating. One hears only the one side of the story that they want you to hear and read about.
The Bible is Scientifically accurate!
I thought the Bible was filled with all kinds of scientific facts thousands of years ahead of its time for example, Isaiah 40:22 mentions the "circle of the earth." My thesis was to show if this was true. My conclusions were the opposite. The Bible is not a scientific book, it is a spiritual book. See Do the Bible and Science Agree?
How old is the Earth?
All my life I was taught that the earth was very young because the Bible said so, and "true" science confirmed it so. Henry Morris was my hero. I never heard evidence from the other side. When I began to study geology things just did not add up. How could the flood have created all the wide variations in the different layers of the earth? How could there be dinosaurs tracks, dinosaur eggs, nests, and young dinosaurs running around in the middle of the flood. Did not the flood destroy all life? How could all the dinosaurs fit on the ark? After careful study of both sides, the geologists had far better answers and evidence. See How Old is the Earth
When I was at the last International Creationist Conference (1998) I learned that Henry Morris' views on the flood were passť, while his son John pushed a new view of surge tectonics.
Hassan, Steven. Combating Cult Mind Control. (Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press, 1988). This is an excellent book about cult mind control.
Miller, David. Breaking Free: Rescuing Families from the Clutches of Legalism. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992). This is an excellent book on legalism and its affects on the family.
My Journey to the Dark Side (according to fundamentalists)
My Travels toward the Liberating Truth.
Audio clip: My Journey to the dark side, or right side? (20 minutes)
Part 1 Bible as Science
It all began one sunny day when I enrolled in a class in a fundamentalist seminary on Isaiah where one must translate from the Hebrew. Since I was interested in Bible and science, I choose to do a paper on Isaiah 40:22 where it has the amazing statement the circle of the earth. The Hebrew word for circle is chug. From the concordance I found out that there are three circles: the circle of the earth, the circle of the sea, and the circle of the heavens. This seemed to me conclusive evidence that the earth and the universe were spherical in shape.
It goes on to say in Isaiah 40:22b that the heavens are stretched out like a curtain. Is the universe being stretched out, or expanding? Sure enough! The latest scientific discoveries show the universe is expanding. The Bible indeed is way ahead of its time.
In addition to the heavens being stretched out, the earth is also said to be stretched out (Isaiah 42:5, 44:24). This sounded just like the scientific discovery of plate tectonics. I was on the mountain top of having discovered amazing scientific truths in the Bible, yet not realizing that I was about to descend into the deep valley of doubt.
I desired to continue my education so I applied, and was accepted at WTS. Since another language was required for their Th.M. I enrolled in UT at Chattanooga and took Latin, Classical Greek, and German (Side Bar: never take three languages at the same time). For a Greek class, I wrote a paper about the circle of the earth and heavens. What I discovered was that the ancient Greeks described the earth and heavens very similar to the ancient Hebrews.
At WTS I knew that I wanted to do my thesis on the phrase circle of the earth, and circle of the heavens. I spent much time researching these phrases in ancient literature. The key question: Was the circle of the earth an amazing scientific statement in the Bible, or was it just a common phrase used in the ancient Near East?
I did not like the answer that my research came up with, but I had to be honest with myself. The phrase circle of the earth and other supposed scientific phrases were just common phrases used in the ancient Near East. In fact I had misunderstood their meanings. The ancient Hebrews would never have understood these phrases in scientific terms. I had poured my modern scientific ideas back into ancient Hebrew phrases. Today I see the young-earth creationists, and old-earth creationists pouring their modern ideas back into the scriptures just like I did.
The next key question was: How did the ancient Hebrews understand these phrases? I think a better translation would be the vault or dome of the earth. Since Isaiah 40:22 is poetry, the next parallel phrases help us to better understand chug or vault of the earth. It is said to be like a tent that is stretched out over the earth. The ancient Hebrews would not have understood this phrase as meaning a spherical earth. For a detailed study of this see Genesis 1.
All the supposed modern scientific statement in the Bible that I had studied turned out to be just common pre-scientific statements. Many of these phrases indicated a false scientific view of the universe. The Bible mentions the pillars of the earth and pillars of the heavens. The ancient Hebrews saw the mountains as pillars that held up the earth and sky.
The Bible could no longer be a science book with scientific phrases. I thought I had reached the bottom of the valley of doubt, yet not knowing I would fall deeper. I started to climb out. The key to this was realizing that my wrong view of inspiration had to change. I discovered in 2 Timothy 3:16 that the Bible does not claim to be a book for instruction in geology, astronomy, or biology, but for instruction in righteousness. The Bible was a spiritual book, not a science book. See Do the Bible and Science Agree?
Part 2- Bible as History
One day I noticed a course being opened to the public about Biblical Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania. I knew I had to take this class. Being at a secular university I knew I might have to straighten out the teacher because I knew that archaeology proved the Bible was true. To my surprise the teacher covered ancient texts that related to the Bible. Being from a fundamentalist background, all I needed, or looked at was the Bible. This course inspired me to look at the archaeological evidence for the Exodus, so I decided to do my dissertation on The Date of the Exodus in Ancient Writings. See The Date of the Exodus According to Ancient Writers and Evidence of the Exodus from Egypt.
What I discovered was that the archaeological evidence does not fit the fundamentalist date of 1446 BC for the Exodus. Ancient Jewish, secular and church writers did not place the Exodus at this time.
As I began to study the history of archaeology, I learned that the first part of the twentieth century was the golden age of Biblical archaeology. Hopes were high that archaeology would conclusively prove the Bible was true. William Albright was the leader. As excavations went on, problems started to emerge. The dating of the fall of Jericho did not match the fundamentalists date. There was no occupation of Ai at this time. Skepticism started to settle until by the end of the century most of the Bible stories were seen as myths and legends. This is seen in the popular book The Bible Unearthed written by Finkelstein and Silberman. See The Bible Unearthed.
The Ancient Bible History group at Yahoo.com was also helpful in expanding my horizons to see other viewpoints. One key web site is www.bibleorigins.net.
As I began to read scholarly works outside of fundamentalism, I proceeded to see that these scholarly works were much better, and more in depth than the shallow fundamentalist works. I discovered that the internal and external evidence for the fundamentalist view of the Bible was wrong. Not only was the Bible not a science book, it was not even a historically accurate history book.
Part 3 The Bible: Young or old earth Creation?
With the foundation of the infallibility of the Bible destroyed, I could now start to accept some of the teachings of science. I was a young-earth creationist who was chopping at the bit to debate anyone who claimed otherwise. I had started young-earth creationist clubs at the UT of Chattanooga and in Philadelphia.
At Biblical Seminary I found Christians that believed the earth was very old. Before this I did not think that Christians could or would believe in an old earth (4.6 billion years old). Dr. Newman was very helpful and his organization the Interdisciplinary for Biblical Research Institute. See www.ibri.org.
As I studied the evidence, the young-earth arguments seemed to fall apart. Even Answers in Genesis points out many of these false arguments. See "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use" by Answers in Genesis. Unfortunately, many young-earth creationists still hold to these false arguments.
The Journal Creation/Evolution published by NCSE, was very helpful in seeing the evidence on the other side the story. Their Editor, Dr. Petto was very helpful in getting the answers to my questions. Back issues of Creation/Evolution are at www.ncseweb.org/article.asp. One key detailed book is Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy written by Arthur N. Strahler. One very good web site is www.talkorigins.org.
I had now plunged from the pinnacle of fundamentalist young-earth creationist to the depths of an old-earth creationist. The arguments for an old earth were too overwhelming. One key old-earth creationist leader that I enjoy listening to is Hugh Ross the founder of Reasons to Believe. See www.reasons.org. His web casts keep me up-to-date on the latest discoveries. Hugh Rosss book Creation and Time points out many of the problems with the young-earth creationists arguments.
Many of the evidences young-earth creationists reject, are powerful evidences for God and creation. For example, the Big Bang is powerful evidence that there is indeed a beginning to creation, but young-earthers vehemently reject this. They have also rejected Einsteins theories of relativity, plate tectonics, and radiometric dating.
Part 4 Bible and Evolution
I had fallen from young-earth creation to old earth creation, and now I was on the verge of descent into the murky realm of theistic evolution. One key book is Finding Darwins God written by Kenneth Miller.
I see two major lines of evidence: Geology and Genetics. The first main evidence for me was an old earth with progressively evolving fossils. Humans are not found with dinosaurs, and dinosaurs are not found with trilobites.
Secondly, Genetics seems to be unraveling the mysteries of our origin. We are about only 2% genetically different from chimpanzees. African and Asian elephants are far more genetically different. This is easily explained by evolution, but not creation.
Most of our DNA is junk. Is this evidence of a creation or of evolution? The junk DNA most likely is left over from many years of evolution, not a creation.
For many young-earth creationists there is a rapid evolution of animals after Noahs flood. Because all the animals of the world will not fit on the ark, they must have rapidly evolved after the flood. For example, all the different kinds of dogs in the world must have rapidly evolved from one pair that was on Noahs Ark. Young earthers call this micro-evolution. The problem is that according to genetic measurements dogs did not evolve into their different breeds in just 4,000 years.
Micro or Macro evolution! That is the question! This is like saying I believe in micro-gravity, but not macro-gravity. Everyone believes in evolution. It is the young-earth creationists who have qualified it with the word micro. See 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution and Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ (pdf).
It seems to me that God used evolution to create life on earth. Did not God command the earth to bring forth or evolve forth life?
So now I have completely fallen to the bottom of the barrel, and Im in danger of falling out of the barrel into atheism according to fundamentalists. But maybe, just maybe, I have stumbled across the liberating truth that has set me free from the bondage of fundamentalism.
Dr. Stephen C. Meyers (2003)