Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. — 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 (ESV)
As I get older, I hope I am getting wiser. Two things I have learned is that I probably don’t know as much as I think I know, and there are probably things that I think I know with confidence that I am wrong about. Part of wisdom is understanding and acknowledging that we are often wrong.
I have no doubt that I am wrong about some of the doctrines I hold as an Evangelical Christian. For me to believe that I am right about everything and that everyone else is in error would be extreme arrogance. The challenge is that I don’t know where I am wrong, though I am sure some of my readers have their ideas of where I am wrong. I am also sure that I am wrong about some things I write about the geosciences. Again, I don’t know what those things are.
If I am wrong about a doctrine, it is more likely to be a doctrine on the edges of Christianity—such as what I think about the new Heaven and new Earth—rather than in the core doctrines I hold to, which are in line with the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. Likewise, if I am wrong about certain things in the geosciences, it is likely to be on secondary issues, such as whether the sandstone layers near my house were formed as part of a barrier island along an ancient shoreline or if they were formed slightly offshore and completely submerged. I am less likely to be wrong about basic geological ideas such as the fact that the shale beneath the sandstone had to have been deposited first, which is an understanding based on the law of superposition.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is primarily addressing the fact that both Jews and Gentiles were rejecting Christianity as foolish because of what we say about Christ: God in the flesh, executed on a cross, risen from the dead.
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. — 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 ESV)
Then as now, there were people who scoffed at the idea that God would or could become human, that God’s messiah would be executed, or that a man who had been executed and buried could be resurrected from the dead. In all of these things, I am glad to be included with what the world considers foolish. Paul is encouraging the Corinthian Christians to stand firm when being accused of foolishness, because what the world sees as foolishness is really an expression of God’s wisdom, and the philosophers and skeptics will, in the end, be exposed as the real fools.
However, Paul is not defending ignorance or poor reasoning. Elsewhere in 1 Corinthians, he writes, “Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (14:20 NIV). Christians, as new creations, growing in the likeness of Christ, should have strong minds. Not all Christians will be intellectual giants, but throughout history the church has been blessed with some great thinkers, including the apostle Paul.
Sometimes Christians say foolish things in defense of what they perceive to be Biblical truth (I include myself in this statement). I understand that there is a difference between being wrong and being foolish. When some Christians first advocated that the moon could not be billions of years old because if it were it would be covered by a think layer of meteorite dust, they may have been guilty of simply being wrong. When Christians continue to use the moon dust argument even when most young-Earth creationist scientists say it is bogus is quite simply foolishness.
As I have said before, let it be the foolishness of Christ—his incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection—that the world rejects, not our own foolishness.
Grace and Peace
Most young-Earth creationists acknowledge the validity of the law of superposition. There are exceptions.
A history of the young-Earth creationist argument on moon dust can be found at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/hovind/howgood-yea.html (Proof #2).
Answers in Genesis includes the moon dust argument on its Arguments We Don’t Use page, under the heading of “Arguments that should never be used.” That doesn’t stop a number of YEC teachers from continuing to use it.
I know one YEC organization that (as of 2011 when they presented at my church) still uses the “human and dinosaur footprints together” argument (Paluxy River tracks), even though this argument was abandoned by the Institute for Creation Research in 1986, and is also on AiG’s Arguments We Don’t Use page.