|The following item was originally posted in October 2009, and I have added it to my blog recycling program. Because I have new readers of The GeoChristian, I will occasionally go back and re-use some of my favorite blog entries (sometimes with a little editing). This post quotes from Michael Spencer, the late author of the blog Internet Monk (Dispatches from the Post-Evangelical Wilderness).|
Creation evangelism: using young-Earth creationism (Earth < 10,000 years old, most of geology is the product of Noah’s flood) to win people to faith in Christ.
There are many people who have come to faith in Christ through young-Earth creation ministries such as Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, and a multitude of smaller organizations. I rejoice when people come to Christ or have their faith strengthened.
There is another side to this, however. These same organizations also needlessly drive perhaps millions of others away from Christ. The arguments presented by the young-Earth creationists for a young Earth or a global flood may be convincing to those who don’t know much science (and specifically, geology), but when critically examined these arguments are far from persuasive. The result is twofold. First, scientists (and other scientifically-minded people) are driven away from Christ. They are basically told that in order to become a Christian, they have to check their brains at the door. The second result is that many of our young people eventually leave the faith, not because of what the Bible actually says, but because of what the young-Earth organizations have given them as solid evidence for the truthfulness of the Bible. When they see that these arguments are not valid, they often chuck their Christianity along with their young-Earth creation dogmas.
Here’s a tragic story, illustrating the failure of “creation evangelism” from Internet Monk: Niki Made Her Choice and, Apparently, So Did We.
Her name is Niki. (Not her real name.) She’s a Japanese student who lived with an American family for a year and attended a Christian school. She took a year of Bible. She attended worship and heard lots of preaching. The Gospel was explained to her many times. She was well liked and sociable.
A very smart girl. A great student, much advanced over the average American student. She made A’s in everything, including Bible.
She left America after graduation and went back to Japan.
She came to America an atheist and she returned to Japan an atheist, and very aware that she had rejected Christianity.
Before she left, she talked with one of her teachers.
“I am an atheist because I believe in evolution. When people here explained to me what they must believe as Christians, I always ask them about evolution, and they say “You cannot be a Christian and believe in evolution.” So I cannot be a Christian, because I believe that evolution is true.”
No doubt, Niki has met many Christians who told her that she could not be a Christian and “believe” in evolution. No doubt, few, if any, of those Christians took the time to explain what they meant by evolution. Most probably meant that the Bible teaches that the earth is 10,000 years young, that no biological death of any kind happened before sin and the major Creationist ministries such as AIG have all the answers to the hard questions of physics, astronomy and science. (”Were you there?”)
Was Niki ever told about the the thousands of Christians in the sciences who believe the “Big Bang” is evidence for creation by God? No, she wasn’t. Was she told of the many conversions to Christianity among scientists who have been moved by the evidence for God as creator now available in astrophysics? No, because that would complicate the views of Creationism she was told were non-negotiable.
Was Niki ever told that the vast majority of Christians on planet earth don’t believe now and haven’t ever believed science and Christianity answer the same questions in the same way? No, she wasn’t.
Was Niki told that millions of Christians believe in some form of evolution? (For Catholics, it’s in the Catechism!) Some form of an old earth? That millions of Christians do not accept the claims of the Creationist ministries as representing the Bible accurately or correctly? No, she wasn’t.
Was Niki told that even atheists are largely agreed that evolution does not equal atheism, and atheists like Dawkins are wrong to claim that is the case?
Niki, who heard about Jesus for weeks and weeks in her Bible class, could not bring herself to believe in creationism, so she cannot be a Christian.
Many are zealous defenders of young-Earth creationism. They try to use it to try to win non-believers to Christ, and blame Satan when it doesn’t work. But how much of this resistance to the gospel is due to Satanic blinding, and how much is due to the errors of young-Earth creationist teachings on topics such as the age of the Earth, the geological work of the flood, or biological evolution?
With love for the body of Christ and unbelieving scientists.
This was originally posted on October 4, 2009. Click here to read the original comments.
36 thoughts on “The tragedy of “creation evangelism””
Good points here. The way I see it,
Jesus represents The Truth (alongside The Light and The Way).
Even though I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church,
I can side with Thomas Aquinas, who realized that lies only turn people away.
It has nothing, and yet everything to do with keeping
a contemporary viewpoint towards The Truth.
Peace to you! UT
It’s not that you can’t be a Christian and an evolutionist too, but you can’t be a consistant Christian and an evolutionist at the same time. One is a Christian because he believes in the miracle of Christ’s ressurection on the third day, and an evolutionist because he doesn’t believe in the miracle of God’s creation in six days as clearly taught in Genesis one or in the miracle of a world-wide flood as clearly taught in Genesis 11. They seem to want to pick and choose the miracles they want to believe in. The advent of sin changed physical creation from that which was created in the beginning. Where does our faith come in when everything matches modern day scientific interpretations? Christ said in John 3:12 – “If I told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?” A point well taken.
If the YEC organizations tell me wrongly of earthly things and I believe them not, I can still believe the heavenly things spoken of by Christ.
It isn’t a question of whether or not I believe what the Bible says. I do believe the Bible “from the very first verse.” What I don’t believe is many of the YEC interpretations, which often go beyond what the text itself says:
— I believe in a six-day creation, just not in a “literal” six rotations of the Earth six thousand years ago. What is a day without the sun? Not necessarily the same as our days. That should be one clue to us that there may be more going on in Genesis one than the YECs would have us believe.
— I’ve addressed the issue of the worldwide Flood at https://geochristian.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/the-yec-did-god-really-say-tactic/ , and I know you are familiar with my line of reasoning on this because I’ve heard you speak on it. I believe that YECs go far beyond what the Scriptures themselves say in insisting on a global Flood, and in claiming that most of the geological record is a result of the Flood.
— The Bible simply does not say that there was a radical change in the physical creation after Adam’s fall into sin. This concept is a YEC extrapolation beyond the text, not an interpretation from within the text.
I have confidence in the Scriptures in things that the Scriptures address. I don’t have nearly as much confidence in YEC geology, and that leads back to the tragedy of creation evangelism. YECs take things that are not stated in Scriptures, hold them forth as the standards of Christian orthodoxy and truth, and in doing so drive many people away from Christ, such as ‘Niki’ in the long quote from Internet Monk.
I am sorry we can no longer talk face-to-face about such things. Greet those in the Bible study for me.
Grace and Peace.
”These same organizations also needlessly drive perhaps millions of others away from Christ. The arguments presented by the young-Earth creationists for a young Earth or a global flood may be convincing to those who don’t know much science (and specifically, geology), but when critically examined these arguments are far from persuasive. The result is twofold. First, scientists (and other scientifically-minded people) are driven away from Christ.” The author seems to suggest that the ignorant young-earthers just aren’t too “scientifically-minded”. I would suggest however that the issue is not science at all. After all we’re talking about the origin of the universe, something that science cannot speak to since it is dealing with the issue of history. Science deals with the observable, testable, measurable, repeatable realm. It is for this reason that Answers in Genesis, for example, poses the question “were you there?” Instead I would suggest the issue at hand is dealing with presuppositions, standards of authority, and the interpretation of that standard. There are no living eye witnesses of creation, however as Christians we do have an eye-witness, God. The God-head was there and has revealed to us through His special revelation some information (not comprehensive) as to how He created and He even left very detailed lists of genealogical accounts of generations beginning with the very first man and woman. Since we do have special revelation from our Creator it makes sense that His image bearers would go to this revelation to glean historical information about the origin and history of the universe. So if we begin with the presupposition that the historical narratives found in Scripture are true, then it follows that where Scripture speaks to the issue it is authoritative. My question to the author would be “are these organizations “needlessly” driving millions of people away from Christ by attempting to study Scripture as it pertains to history and apply that information to the practice of science?” If the author is honest he would have to admit that he would be equally guilty of “needlessly driving millions away from Christ.” His argument can be flipped around to say that his dogmatic claims of the old age of the universe needlessly drive millions to believe that the universe came about by chance random processes. The real issue is the assumptions that we bring to the table not science. The young-earthers are using the same evidence that the old-earther/evolutionists are using, they are simply interpreting that evidence based upon certain presuppositions. I suggest that the author’s assumptions are not founded upon the sure Word of God, but are instead founded upon an extra-biblical philosophy. The author goes on to tell the story of the “smart” Japanese girl and how great of a student she is (even in her Bible class). Along come the ignorant, not-so-bright creationists (bless their hearts). But alas this very intelligent Japanese girl just can’t buy off on the fairy-tale stories these foolish Christians keep telling her about a young earth… Oh if only there were some more sophisticated “scientific-minded” Christians around that could have witnessed to her, perhaps then she would have been saved. If the author is actually interested in having any meaningful dialogue with the “simple-minded” creationist, I would suggest he take a bit different approach. The sob story really does not do much for those of us that are familiar with organizations like AiG and ICR. Anyone can quickly go and research the credentials of those involved with these ministries and they will find that these men are far from inexperienced “back-water” Christians with a misplaced zeal for God and His Word. These ministries offer an exceptional archive of well researched, well thought out articles dealing with the origins debate. This author does a great job at setting up the straw man to knock down, and that is about all that he has to offer.
Eric – Put in paragraph breaks. That block of text is impossible to parse.
Is it good to use bad arguments in defense of Christianity or the reliability of the Bible?
Of course not. But the young-Earth creationist movement has a history of using questionable scientific reasoning as apologetics, and the result has been that many people have become convinced that they would have to throw their brains in the trash can in order to become Christians.
I am not saying that all young-Earth creationists have thrown their brains out, or that they are a bunch of ignorant country bumpkins. On the contrary, I have a good amount of respect for the current crop of YEC geologists, such as Andrew Snelling, Marcus Ross, Steven Austin, and Paul Garner. They are intelligent men who have earned their degrees (three of them with doctorates). They make good geological observations, have been able to weed out some of the bad geological arguments of earlier YECs, and their writings challenge me at times. Most of all, they are my dear brothers in Christ.
However, I think their geological interpretations are both wrong scientifically and unnecessary Biblically. I have written about this a number of times; a good place to start in terms of geology would be my analysis of Snelling’s arguments for the flood at Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis. It is not an issue of presuppositions; many of the YEC arguments do not work no matter what presupposition one starts with.
Regarding old-Earth Biblical interpretation, I would suggest that you read my The YEC “Did God really say…?” tactic (related to the “Were you there?” tactic) and Death before the fall — an old-Earth Biblical perspective. Or if you are more ambitious (and open to more than just what the YECs have to say), I would suggest you read something by Dr. John Collins, such as Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary, or Science & Faith: Friends or Foes. You will find Collins’ arguments to be deeply rooted in the Scriptures.
The fact is that many, many conservative Bible-believing scholars and pastors believe that the Bible is the word of God, and that it does not require a young-Earth. For example, you should spend some time reading through the notes in the ESV Study Bible, some of which I have excerpted and commented on here.
One more point: You use a very narrow definition of science. Some sciences are laboratory sciences, where one does a repeatable experiment. In chemistry or physics, one can set up an experiment, run it, analyze it, and come up with some sort of conclusion. In historical sciences, such as geology, forensics, or archeology, the experiment has already been run. The job of the investigator is to figure out what the experiment was. It is still science, even though one cannot put Earth history in a box and repeat the experiment (though geologists still do a lot of laboratory work).
So back to Niki. If she rejects the gospel because she has been told that she would have to believe in a 6000-year old Earth (which the Bible is ambiguous about), whose fault will it be? Let us not put unnecessary stumbling blocks in her path! This is the tragedy of young-Earth creation evangelism.
Apologies for the lack of paragraphs, it was a copy and paste error.
Thanks for the reply. To give you some context as to my original response, I had come across the blog post via facebook, an elder (whose not a fan of AiG) from my church had posted. At any rate not having any background information from your site here, it smacked as a bit elitist. After writing my original remarks above I was able to go back and dig through some of your previous articles/blogs… I do appreciate some of what you are saying. I do see (as you are arguing) that there is a danger of potentially ostracizing some Christians and non-Christians if we are not careful in our approach.
I don’t however buy the idea that there are droves of scientists and scientifically-minded individuals out there that are all ready to cast their vote for Christ, if it weren’t for those pesky fundamentalists and their insisting on a literal 6 day creation, young earth, global flood… While there are plenty of conservative pastors who have made their positions known on this issue I have yet to find any that would suggest you must be a YEC in order to be a Christian. I guess I just find the whole premise that had the general Christian consensus in North America been overwhelmingly “old-Earthers” instead of “young-Earthers,” that Niki would now be a sister in Christ. I personally believe that the ‘evidentialist’ approach to apologetics is faulty.
Should the origins issue be a matter of orthodoxy? I think it is prudent to say no. On the other hand I do see the very real danger of allowing extra-biblical philosophy (in the guise of science) as becoming a false standard. That is truly my concern.
Sincerely in Christ,
I agree with most of what you have to say. Many who reject Christ will do so no matter how sound our arguments are. We don’t know what “Niki” would have done if there were no age of the Earth/creation-evolution controversy. Likewise, most skeptics would still find ways to reject God even if we had indisputable evidence that the Earth were only 6000 years old.
At the same time, much of what has been promoted as Christian apologetics in the past fifty years has been rather counter-productive. I sincerely believe that the vocal promotion of young-Earth creationism has placed an unfortunate and unnecessary barrier up that prevents many from even considering Christianity as a viable alternative.
Thanks for your contributions to the discussion.
I have been following along, and then I stumbled upon John Graham’s site.
Finding it poignant and completely relevant, I’d love for you to allow me to post this.
Thank you! Interpretation, with you-know-who in the details.
Thanks for the link. One thing that is clear (if one can overlook the rotating globes that dominate the margins) is that there is a lot more to Genesis 1 than one would know if they only read AiG/ICR/Dr Dino materials.
Eric, from personal experience, I know two pastors and five church leaders who all insist that while in theory one can be a Christian without following the 6-day creation theory, you are not welcome to attend their church if you don’t believe. While that is not _quite_ as bad as saying one can’t be a Christian without believing the YEC interpretation, it drives people away from Christ just as efficiently.
For a more widely known examples: While he’s not a pastor, he has far more reach than most pastors, Ken Ham has explicitly stated numerous times that one can’t be a Christian if one doesn’t believe the 6-day creation theory. I’ve also been to several of the AiG conferences where the speakers have stated straight up that one can’t be a Christian and deny a 6-day creation. “Dr. Dino” reaches at least many thousands, still, and he was quite vehement that you can’t be a Christian and still deny the 6-day creation.
A problem that even Ham and his groups talk about extensively, is the problem of people leaving Christianity. Certainly not all of it is due to the issue of YEC being put forward as a requirement in churches, but almost every study done on the subject shows that it is a significant part of people leaving.
Their interpretive methods are lousy, and YEC organizations use the “evidentialist” approach to theology heavily, only they do it after horribly warping and misusing the evidence. When people are steeped in the view that a YEC view is required to be a Christian (in practice, even if it is theoretically not required) and later learn that the interpretive methods supporting the YEC view are less than solid, and the supporting “evidence” for the view is horribly warped and misused by the leaders of YECism, then it is little surprise to see that so many studies all agree that YEC is a significant part of why people leave Christianity.
Allow me to suggest, that from your perspective and experience, you are just not seeing the great damage done by Ham and those sorts of people.
“While he’s not a pastor, he has far more reach than most pastors, Ken Ham has explicitly stated numerous times that one can’t be a Christian if one doesn’t believe the 6-day creation theory. I’ve also been to several of the AiG conferences where the speakers have stated straight up that one can’t be a Christian and deny a 6-day creation.”
Do you have a link to a direct statement? I ask because I know that Ken Ham says that belief in a 6-day creation is not a salvation issue. To me, this would contradict what you say here.
I am not a fan of Creation Evangelism, fwiw.
AiG is in Malaysia at the moment doing the First Asian Creation Conference. So, YECism is spreading. :(
Perhaps I am wrong, but I do not think you can find a direct statement on the AiG site that states that one must believe in a young Earth in order to be a Christian. However, they certainly look at anyone who doesn’t go by the young-Earth party line as some sort of second-class “compromising” Christian.
My personal interaction with Ken Ham has been limited to the following:
GeoChristian: Ken Ham and I are in complete agreement
Ken Ham’s reply: blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2010/11/03/do-old-earthers-and-young-earthers-agree-on-anything/
In his reply, Ham states, “I appreciate reading an old earther quoting me in regard to salvation, understanding that I do not say, and have never said, that a person has to believe in a young earth to be a Christian. Salvation is conditioned upon faith in Christ—not what one believes about the age of the earth.”
That is pretty clear.
There are other YECs who are quite muddled when it comes to the gospel.
Thanks for that.
I’ve heard the ‘compromised Christian’ line. I was somewhat surprised to see WebMonk say that Ken Ham said ‘that one can’t be a Christian if one doesn’t believe the 6-day creation theory’.
If there is anything out there (YouTube video?) that shows Ken Ham saying those words, I would like to see/hear it for myself.
In 1994 , before YouTube and before I had a video camera, I heard Ken Ham say “If you believe the earth is old, then Jesus Christ didn’t die for your sins!” That comes pretty close to the line.
Thanks for that, Tim. Do you know if Ken Ham has softened his stance since then or not?
He’s definitely softened his stance since then. With the advent of cheap audio and video recording devices, he’s more careful about what he says.
Along with Tim (well, not literally), I attended numerous AiG conferences where it was very specifically stated by Ken that denying the YEC interpretation of Genesis was just like denying the resurrection of Christ. “You can’t be a Christian and deny the Bible,” is a phrase that stuck with me. “Deny the Bible” was referring to denying the YEC view.
Ham most certainly has stated that you can’t be a Christian without believing the YEC view of the Bible. In the last decade or two he has moved away from that stance, but back when I was still attending, that was an oft-repeated concept in the seminars.
There’s also the issue of “fuzzy language”. There are LOTS and LOTS of articles by Ham where he says things that almost-but-just-barely-don’t say that you can’t be a Christian without believing the YEC view of the Bible.
For example, phrases such as “If you deny Genesis is true, how can you believe in Jesus” and “those who believe in evolution are denying the Bible” aren’t _technically_ saying you can’t be a Christian and believe evolution, but they are close enough that it makes no difference, IMO.
People don’t follow the dictionary-based and carefully-parsed grammar of statements, but rather the theme and thrust. The theme and thrust of AiG’s message for thirty years has been that if you believe in evolution, you can’t be a Christian. The followers of AiG certainly tend to follow that teaching even if Ham puts out the occasional (false) statement that he hasn’t ever claimed it.
At the 50-year anniversary of the Genesis Flood seminar they put on at the Creation Museum a few weeks ago, I heard Ken Ham say during one of the breaks that he thinks creationists make the best Christians because of their zeal for the scriptures. Think about what that statement is implying for a few minutes! I don’t suppose that will make it on the video they will publish soon on the conference.
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Thanks, Webmonk. Many times, YECs have assured me that one CAN be a Christian and believe in evolution, BUT, like you said, there is a lot of ‘fuzzy language’ that seems to indicate otherwise.
Regarding fuzzy language:
The YECs I know who have a good understanding of the gospel acknowledge that belief in a young Earth is a secondary issue. We are made right with God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, not by holding to YECism. Other YECs on the other hand, have a hard time accepting people like me as a true Christian. Usually I can get them to grudgingly accept me as a Christian (albeit a second-class Christian) by pointing out that if I am not a Christian because of my acceptance of an old Earth, then neither are people like Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, or John Piper.
If a YEC doesn’t accept me as a true Christian, then their problem with the gospel is much more serious than any problem they accuse me of having.
And being a YEC doesn’t make one a Christian either. Consider the fact that a number of Muslims and most Jehovah’s Witnesses fall into the YEC category.
So, in your opinion, do the major Christian YEC organisations (AiG, ICR, CMI, etc) have a good understanding of the gospel? Or, are they just poor communicators? It seems many people are getting the message from them that one cannot be a Christian and believe in anything other than a young earth and special creation.
A bit of both, yewnique. At least IMO. They are so very strongly and stridently promoting the position, that it becomes hard to admit that someone who disagrees can be in any way related as a brother. That’s a feature of a lot of “hot topic” issues, not just the YEC position.
The statements become so strong, and the positions so firmly entrenched, that all outlooks become “us vs. them”. That “us vs. them” approach pits the “us” YEC against the “them” non-YEC. That separation is so important that everyone in the non-YEC side of things, Christian or not, becomes the bad guys.
One can have an understanding of the Gospel, and still let that understanding be largely subsumed by other issues. That’s where you get the plenitude of statements that broadly and boldly state Christians can’t be non-YEC (such as “If you believe the earth is old, then Jesus Christ didn’t die for your sins!”), but when absolutely nailed down, they will backtrack and claim they don’t actually believe that.
Maybe in their hearts they believe one CAN be non-YEC and a Christian, but get wildly carried away in their statements.
Maybe they truly speak from the heart in saying one can’t be non-YEC and Christian, but when nailed to particulars just backtrack to sound better.
One can’t tell for sure what is in anyone’s heart. However, regardless of what they really believe “deep down inside” the damage done by the words is the same.
Thanks for that, WebMonk.
I have had a person IRL who told me at first that a belief in YECism is not a salvation issue. But later, after getting over the initial shock of finding out that I am not YEC (he had NEVER met a Christian who wasn’t YEC) and after I rejected his attempts at ‘converting’ me, he changed his position and said that it is a salvation issue after all. He told me this to my face: “It IS a salvation issue.” (I’m still trying to process that over a year later.)
At the moment, a YEC commenter on my blog has denied that Ken Ham has ever said anything like you have claimed.
Sad. Very, very sad. So that person is telling you to your face that you aren’t a Christian? That’s mind-boggling.
He didn’t exactly say I am not a Christian, not in those words, no. But, really, I don’t know how else to take it.
Hmmm, never underestimate the power of people to hold mutually exclusive opinions both to be true. I had someone in college say to me that while he has no doubt I was a Christian, that believing in baptismal regeneration (of his particular flavor) was an issue that was necessary for Christians to believe to be saved.
When I pointed out the contradiction, he modified it so that people have an excuse if they’ve never really thought about the position rejected the position. That didn’t help any, obviously, but the conversation moved elsewhere.
I’ve wrote that particular bit of stupidity off to coming from a college kid enamored with a theological idea. (As an employee of the college, and a good three years past my own college time – I was oh-so-much more wise and understanding! :-P ) That same sort of bizarre logical inconsistency exists in everyone in different ways. (Except me, of course! :-D )
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Because YECs tie their views to the authority of scripture and salvation (openly or in fuzzy ways), I think that they become confrontational and judgmental because their taught to fear science. In their minds, most scientific research is performed by non-christians who have an agenda to disprove the existence of God. I have found most to become very aggressive towards me for standing up for OEC (I reject biological evolution), and accuse me of heresy and compromise of the bible, and these were supposed to be my friends!!
Question: If believing OEC means that I’m not saved, why aren’t they lovingly trying to show me the errors of my ways and encourage me to turn back to Jesus? It is because they cannot defend the YEC position. Many don’t even know much about it. They were taught it as fact from their childhoods (so was I), and were told to accept it as fact and not to question it. That is blind faith! 1 Thess 5:21 Test all things and hold fast to that which is good [true]. Psalm 19 The heavens declare the glory of God. Day by day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. Science is the study of God’s creation, and it testifies to His truth. Therefore, science (correctly interpreted) will be completely compatible with the Word of God.
When we take the bible literally and consistently concerning His creation, we must read not just Genesis 1&2, but Psalm 104, Proverbs 8, and Job 37-9. When we read all 4 accounts of creation week, we can only rationally conclude that the universe is very old (billions of years).
Paul — I run into hostility from YECs from time to time as well. After explaining my old-Earth position, some of them (having been raised in a very sheltered or insular environment) have said, “I didn’t know there were Christians who believed in an old Earth.” Others assume I’m not a real Christian, but then grudgingly admit that I might, after all, be a real Christian after all when I explain the gospel to them.
I disagree with your final statement. Looking at all the passages that pertain to creation, I don’t think that the only rational conclusion is that the universe is billions of years old. This comes as a shock to some, but I do not believe that the Bible teaches that the Earth is billions of years old. What I do believe very strongly is that the Bible also does not require that we believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old. So, I do not teach “the biblical basis for an old Earth,” but “the Biblical basis for ambiguity regarding the age of the Earth.
My guess is that you would call yourself a Theistic Evolutionist, sorry I haven’t dug deep enough yet to learn your name(s).
The idea that accepting as Christians concerned with evangelism, the evolutionary viewpoint of history, and this will somehow allow an atheist to become a theist is absurd.
First of all because evolution itself is born out of a desire of mankind to explain himself and his existence apart from God. True evolutionists, who are not looking for a
God to help out the evolutionary theory, but looking for evolution to replace a creator God, are never persuaded to faith in God by theistic evolutionists. This evangelistic pretext is an excuse by individuals for their defense of their naturalistic perspectives. It only allows this incorrect handling of both scripture and science to enter into the
unprotected and naive Christian community. It is a ploy, not a means to winning the unbeliever.
No scientist was present at the creation of the earth or life on earth to witness these events. No life has been observed coming about randomly from non life today.
This puts this discussion out of the realm of science and into the realm of philosophy. Why do some theoretical scientists, actually many, spend so much time trying to convince and demonstrate indirect inferences to evolution? Because they want to believe it. It is for them a requirement of their naturalistic bias. Why are they so driven, because they are wishing to be free from the restraints of responsibility to a creator God who is by virtue of His creative acts Lord of the Universe. Maybe they are in disagreement with Him as to why He runs his universe the way he does, maybe they just don’t like to be under his authority. Oh well. If atheism accomplishes that for you, well more power to you. However, the Biblical definition of God doesn’t allow this approach and even warns throughout of it’s dangers.
There is plenty of good scientific observation that points to a young earth, to a flawed geological column, which is the basis on which paleontology and the age of the earth discussions come from. Plenty of observation of the universe and the galaxies that points to a recent origin by an incredibly nuanced process and that disallows any “BIG BANG” explanation. The Bible doesn’t just present a young earth(and believe me it does present a young earth – it even spells out the amazing lifespans of it’s characters and the age at which they gave birth to their children. No room for thousands of years of play there anywhere without turning it into some sort of bizarre parable as theistic evolutionists often try to do) , but it presents a good earth, that was made perfectly good and holds Adam and Eve and their offspring responsible for the entrance of sin into the race and then God responsible for subjecting the entire creation to futility, corruption, decay, Romans 8.18 and following, in hope that the experience of a broken earth and a broken genome, and a broken natural world would drive man back to his senses. It didn’t work well, and a rebellion of a portion of the angelic world led to a near extinction of mankind, that required a removal of almost all of life on earth and a repopulation in a new world, vastly altered from the first.
This is the message of hope, that God is able and willing to go to great ends to win to himself a people who love and are committed to a right relationship with God and man.
Hope according to the Bible is born out of undesirable circumstances, not the opposite, and a promise of the entire creation one day being set free from slavery to corruption, death, and decay.
Millions of years of random mutations and mass extinctions before these judgments that are carefully described by God in detail through his prophets, not only alters, but destroys the Biblical message. If your goal is to preserve a faith in God as creator, don’t mess with the core message. If you think you have good news, don’t dilute it by denying the bad news. The bad news is real, and God’s love is a delivering love that pursues and overcomes in spite of mankind’s amazing rejection. Working with people week in and week out, we are not this virtuous lot we like to present ourselves as. We are corrupt, weak, and flawed. This is the doing of our forefathers and our own
corrupt desires. We need a God who is as amazing as the creator of Genesis 1 and 2, who is able to rescue us. We are not masters of our destiny. We are not
getting better through natural selection, nor through our charitable efforts to improve water supply and sustainable energy. We are doomed to extinction and not that far in the future, unless Jesus returns to rescue us. His rescue, according to scripture is not to just fix this planet, but to remove the earth that is and create a new heavens and earth.
You can believe what you will, but the Biblical message is clear and consistent, and leaves no room for theistic evolution.
The scientific facts don’t point to theistic evolution.
The personal facts don’t indicate that you will have time to see anything of what you claim to be true about evolution to come true.
As a theistic evolutionist your faith is more fantastic than you even realize.
Your accomadation approach to scripture never has been the way to truth or to a defense of the gospel. If the apostle Paul were answering you he would
say, if I or an angel from heaven were to come to you with any other gospel other than the gospel I preached to you, let him be accursed! That is how crucial what you are messing with is when you propagandize theistic evolution as an alternative to the straightforward reading of scripture on the creation and fall of man.
CCASTravel — I apologize for my delay in approving your post. I was out doing field work and didn’t have time for The GeoChristian blog.
I don’t address the issue of biological evolution very often on The GeoChristian, but I’ll share a few thoughts. My summary of what the Bible says directly about biological evolution can be found here. In other words, the Bible doesn’t directly address the topic. Genesis says that organisms were to reproduce after their kinds, but doesn’t elaborate, and doesn’t place limits on how much variation could occur within those kinds. It is quite possible that all the Bible is saying is that horses give birth to horses and butterflies give birth to butterflies, without placing a limit on variability. One of the main YEC arguments against biological evolution is that animal death did not occur before the fall, but the Bible nowhere teaches this doctrine. Neither Gen 3, Rom 5, Rom 8, nor 1 Cor 15 say anything whatsoever about animal death.
I don’t believe the Bible requires a young Earth, and YEC geology has proven to be a dismal failure. That is why I believe YEC “creation evangelism” is a tragedy.
Many people have been driven away from Christianity and the gospel through the bad science of YECism. This is especially tragic for our youth who are brought up on a steady diet YEC resources. They have been taught that if YEC isn’t true, the Bible isn’t true, and the gospel is a lie. For many, no real harm is done. But many others grow up and discover that much of what they have been taught simply is not true, and they throw out their Christianity along with their Dr Dino videos. This is a great and unnecessary tragedy.
My acceptance of an old Earth in no way compromises the gospel. You can read my Creation Creeds. Where is the compromise?
Yeah, Romans 8:20-22 reveals animals were subjected to death and is probably the best scripture for pointing this out. Verse 20 clearly says the creation, which includes the animals, was subjected to “vanity”. And vs 22 clearly shows animals were subjected to “corruption”. KJV
Any reputable theologian is going to tell us this is describing what happened as a result of the Fall. Do a study of the words vanity, or futility as some translations have it, and corruption. The utter absolute truth conveyed here is that animals were subjected to a transient nature where death, decay, and the corruption of their natures resulted because of Adam’s sin. One must deceive one’s self to see it otherwise once these verses are studied in depth. If you want to believe animal death occurred before the Fall, go right ahead. Just don’t say the Bible doesn’t teach it. Again, stop saying the Bible doesn’t teach animals didn’t die before the Fall when it clearly does.
At stake here is a proper and accurate understanding of the nature of God. You actually believe God put His enemy death into the creation and subjected animals to suffering, disease, and death. Do you also believe He caused them to be wiped out by 4 mass extinction events before Adam and Eve were created? Did God do this for some psychotic pleasure, or because he made mistakes 4 times. Kind of like Thomas Jefferson building his home at Monticello, and then had it torn down because he decided on another design. At least Jefferson got it right the second time.
God’s nature makes it impossible for Him to have animal death before the Fall. The God who hates death and who actually is wonderous, incredible eternal life put death in creation, huh?
The genealogies in Genesis require us to assign a young age to the Earth.
People are driven away from Christianity because of their own sin and infidelity to God. YEC evangelism drives people away? Kevin, I’m sure your familiar with the story of Charles Templeton. Part of what drove him away from the faith was this millions of years stuff and evolution. http://creation.com/the-slippery-slide-to-unbelief-a-famous-evangelist-goes-from-hope-to-hopelessness. Many have rejected the faith because of the very stuff you promote on this blog Kevin. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need us to lie to save people or keep them in the faith.
Scott — I am familiar with the story of Templeton. I am also familiar with the stories of many who were brought up in Christian homes, fed a steady diet of bad science and questionable Bible interpretation from YECs, and who fell away from the faith.
Why is the creation groaning in Romans 8? It appears from the text that the primary reason the creation is groaning is that it is awaiting the perfection of the children of God. The creation was designed to be under the lordship of godly humans, whom God placed over creation in Genesis 1. The creation is now under the tyranny of fallen humans, who exploit and deface creation rather than cultivating and nurturing it. The creation has not experienced the transformation that was intended. Rather than enhancing the creation, we have degraded it. If all you read from Romans 8:20 is animal death, I think it is you who are missing the main thrust of Paul’s argument. Don’t accuse me of promoting a lie for seeing more in Romans 8:20 than what is found in the narrow YEC interpretation.