I realize that this is “old news,” but a conversation with my lovely and patient wife last night reminded me that I had written a review of Ben Stein’s “documentary” Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I wrote it shortly after seeing the movie, because many people with whom I am acquainted were asking about my opinion of it. I thought that even though the movie is more than a year old, you might want to know what I thought of it. If you haven’t seen the movie, perhaps my review will get you to rent it and watch it.
One of the most important things one must remember when dealing with a controversial issue is to look at all sides. If we are ever to assess the validity of a proposition, we must look at it from the proponents’ point of view and from the opponents’ point of view. This is one of the reasons most materialistic evolutions are not critical thinkers when it comes to the origins issue. They don’t really look at the science creationists have to offer. Instead, they believe the caricatures promoted by those who do not want to think. As a result, the miss out on what science really says.
So now that I have read one of the main books that promotes open theism, I decided to read a book that diametrically opposes it. A friend of mine who I respect and admire quite a bit told me of God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism by Bruce Ware, so I thought I would start there. Since there are aspects of open theism that bother me, I was hoping to find a solid defense of classical theism and a solid rebuttal of open theism. Unfortunately, I found neither of them in this book.
Now that I have the scientific philosophy out of the way, it is time to discuss the major data that lead me to believe in a young earth. The first issue is the phenomenon of planetary magnetic fields. We all know that the earth has a magnetic field. It’s what makes the Boy Scout compass needle point north. If we look at the other bodies in the solar system (planets and moons), some have magnetic fields, while others do not. Mars, for example, has no planetary magnetic field. It has some residual magnetism (which is important), but there is no significant planetary magnetic field. Mercury, on the other hand, has a magnetic field (which is also important).
Scientists have been studying the earth’s magnetic field since 1835, and since that time, its strength has been decaying. Also, it appears that at least a few times in the past, its poles have reversed. Most likely, then, at some points in the past, the Boy Scout compass needle pointed south.
I recently gave a speech to some of the future leaders of our nation – graduates of homeschools throughout the state of Indiana. I never give speeches from a written text, but I often write out what I am going to say in order to prepare myself. I took the ending of this address from a speech I gave at the senior recital of one of the brightest, most talented students I have ever known. She is now an adult, and she is literally changing the world. While she was the inspiration for this speech’s ending, it is appropriate for most homeschool graduates. Below the fold, you will find the approximate text of this speech.
Having told you why I am skeptical of the idea of an ancient (millions or billions of years old) earth, I would like to give you some of the data that lead me to believe in a young earth. I am certainly open to changing my view on this, as I see no inherent reason to believe in any specific age for the earth. However, based on what I know about science right now, it seems to me most reasonable to believe that the earth is on the order of thousands of years old, and it seems to me incredibly unscientific to believe that the earth is on the order of billions of years old. So over the course of the next few weeks, dear reader, I hope to present to you my “top five” reasons for thinking that the earth is young.
Before I do that, however, I need to provide bit of scientific philosophy on this issue. I don’t think most scientists are equipped to evaluate this question, at least not in any scientifically meaningful way. In fact, I personally think that creationists are the only people who can address the age of the earth scientifically. I don’t think that all creationists are qualified to address this issue (as will become apparent in a moment), but I don’t think a single committed evolutionist is qualified to weigh in on the age of the earth, at least not in a scientific manner.
I think I might know why Answers in Genesis has such a hard time interpreting Hebrew. It seems they cannot read English very well! In their “Around the World with Ken Ham” blog, Answer in Genesis quotes one of my entries:
This is why I say that organizations like Answers in Genesis promote poor theology. There is simply no good theological reason to insist that the word yom means a 24-hour day when it is used in Genesis 1. As a result, it is simply poor theology to insist that the Bible teaches a young earth. While I agree that this is a possible meaning of Genesis 1 (indeed, it is the meaning I take from the passage) . . .
and then says:
So, it’s poor theology to insist the days of creation are ordinary days, and there is “no good theological reason” to insist this—but he takes that meaning himself anyway! Now, that means he must now be using “poor theology” himself, and he must have a “good theological reason” to believe in ordinary days, though he says there is no such “good theological reason.” I am truly perplexed.
The writer is perplexed because, of course, he doesn’t understand plain English. I say that it is poor theology to INSIST that the days of Genesis are 24-hour days. I did not say it is poor theology to believe that they are 24-hour days. It is GOOD theology to agree that a possible interpretation of yom in Genesis 1 is a 24-hour day. However, it is GOOD theology to pay attention to the experts and understand that there are many other possible interpretations of the word yom in Genesis 1. It is POOR theology to INSIST that the ONLY POSSIBLE interpretation is that of a 24-hour day.
Once again, the science from Answers in Genesis is quite good. However, when they have this much trouble reading plain modern English, I would certainly not take their word on ancient Hebrew!
Ellision research is a full-service marketing research firm in Phoenix, AZ. They research all kinds of things, but recently, I saw their report entitled, America’s Definition: What Is an Evangelical? This study polled just over 1,000 Americans (age 18 or older) and asked a very simple question:
The phrase “evangelical Christian” is used in the media a lot. In your own words, how would you define exactly what an “evangelical Christian” is? Please be as specific and complete as you can in your answer.
In my previous post, I quoted Clement of Alexandria. He said that the days of Genesis 1 were not 24-hour days. Instead, they were simply used to indicate priority. In the end, he said:
And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist. 1
I find this statement intriguing, because even though it was written in the early third century, it indicates a modern understanding of time.
As I said in my previous post, young-earth creationists (I am one, by the way) often distort church history. They try to make you think that the early church was unanimous in its interpretation of Genesis 1. For example, Answers in Genesis claims:
What did the early church believe about creation? In its first 16 centuries the church held to a young earth. Earth was several thousand years old, was created quickly in six 24-hour days, and was later submerged under a worldwide flood.1
Of course, the same article from which I just quoted immediately contradicts itself by then admitting that three very influential church fathers (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Augustine) did not see the Genesis days as 24-hour days. In fact, they were not the only ones. There were many very influential people in the early church who did not believe that the Genesis days were 24-hour days. Of course, this view was probably a minority view, but nevertheless, it was not something held to by just a handful of early church leaders. It was a view that has existed from the earliest writings of Christianity.
Even though I am a young-earth creationist, I get weary of reading a lot of young-earth creationist literature. Why? Because such literature often promotes poor theology as well as a distorted view of church history. The young-earth organization Answers in Genesis, for example, is one of the most reliable sources of information when it comes to the scientific data that relate to the creation/evolution debate and the age of the earth. One reason they are so reliable is that they have a team of scientists reviewing their materials, which helps to ensure a reasonable level of scientific accuracy. Unfortunately, when it comes to theology and early church history, they don’t seem to have much of a clue.