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Monday, August 05, 2013

Two articles on the danger of (only) Young-Earth Creationism

I recently read two articles on the danger of Young-Earth Creationism. What, you may ask, is this danger?

As Carolyn Arends put it, in Christianity Today: "If we've misread Genesis when we've taken it as a scientific account, and if it turns out God has used millions of years and evolutionary processes to make this world, then we've asked our children to believe something untrue as part of accepting the gospel. Couldn't that lead them to leave the church, when the cognitive dissonance between the empirical data and what we're asking them to believe becomes too great?"

The answer is that yes, it could. 

The other article is by a Christian geology professor, who was raised as a Young-Earth Creationist. As he went through college and graduate school, he saw that what he learned in geology was just not compatible with a recent age of the earth. He says that he has also ". . . seen students break down into tears as they stood on an outcrop of rock and saw evidence that contradicted what their church had taught them."

There is another danger, which neither author mentioned. That is that non-believers, who know some geology, will say, aloud, or to themselves: "Well, if the Bible teaches that the earth is only a few thousand years old, and it really isn't, why should I believe what the Bible teaches about sin and redemption?" Or, as a pastor in a university town put it, wondering why so few science majors attended his church, "the evangelical posture towards modern science has missional consequences."

I am not a geologist, but I have read some geologists, Christian geologists, who are convinced that there is no way that the rock layers and patterns on earth can be naturally explained, other than by many, many years of geological activity.

Glenn Morton, who had a career as a petroleum geologist, after receiving training from a YEC graduate institution, describes how he "was almost through with Christianity," after he found that the Young-Earth geology he had been taught did not work. He asked other professional geologists with YEC training if they had used that training in their work. They had all found the same thing -- YEC geology doesn't describe the way things really are. They weren't using YEC geology in their profession, because it didn't work.

It is possible that Young-Earth Creationism is correct, in spite of the geological evidence, and that God created the world with the appearance of great age. But if that were true, it would raise other questions.

Is Young-Earth Creationism definitely false? I can't say that, because I don't know for certain that it is. But better bible scholars than I have said that the Bible does not need to be interpreted as supporting that view. Read Arend for a brief discussion. Young-Earth Creationism should not be presented as the only valid Christian view on origins. Doing so runs the risk of driving away some of our youth, and of unnecessarily cutting off some unbelievers from the gospel.

Thanks for reading.


atlibertytosay said...

The main problem of creationism (which as you know I believe in) is that it needs to be pitched with the caveat that, "In the end, while good to study and read your Bible and understand it intricately, THE ONLY message that needs to be understood perfectly is God's grace and the Salvation of Jesus Christ."

Creationism/Evolution/Origins are some of the mysteries that are yet to be revealed to us. If it were important to understand these mysteries now, on this earth, God would have revealed them to us or specifically enlightened his people.

What God has made very clear is that he is all knowing AND all loving, and by his grace, gave us Salvation by directly telling us in John 3:16.

Martin LaBar said...

Well, that's true, I guess. However, I think that some kinds of enlightenment are available through science.