God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Monday, November 25, 2019

20 Myths About Old Earth Creationism

Introduction

Last month I was alerted to a debate on Justin Brierley's podcast "Unbelievable." This debate was a discussion between a young-earth creationist (Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis) and an old-earth creationist (Jeff Zweerink of Reasons to Believe). This, of course, caught my attention because of my focus on science/faith issues. I decided to take a listen but found myself quite frustrated within just minutes of Justin giving his introductions. Here is a link to the episode for those who would like to hear it for themselves:

Do we live on a young or old earth? Ken Ham vs. Jeff Zweerink

Throughout the discussion, Ken Ham presented many strawmen and misrepresentations of Zweerink's old-earth creationist view in order to argue against the view. I recognized many of these myths as ones I've heard over the years that remain popular today despite their falsehood and countless attempts at correction.

In today's post, I have compiled twenty of the myths that Ken Ham presented in the "Unbelievable" discussion, and I have provided a short, one-to-three paragraph explanation of how they are false and what the correctly understood old-earth creationist (OEC) position is. Since I have written on many of these topics in the past, I have included links to previous posts where they can offer a more detailed response. My intention for this post is three-fold for both believer and unbeliever.

First, for the unbeliever, I want them to understand that the young-earth view is not the only view held by Christians. They do not have to affirm young-earth creationism (YEC) in order to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and remain logically consistent.

Second, for the believer, I want them to understand that, claiming that a logically consistent Christian must hold to the YEC view, is simultaneously a detriment to our evangelism and to worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).

Finally, for those who are honestly investigating the biblical, philosophical, and natural data to resolve this issue (both believer and unbeliever), I pray that this post also serves as a quick stop for addressing many of the myths, strawmen, and other mischaracterizations of the OEC view in a single location.

But, before I get to the perpetuated myths of old earth creationism, it is important to recognize where Ken Ham (YEC) and Jeff Zweerink (OEC) hold much common ground in their two views. Even though there are significant differences, there are even more significant commonalities that they can shake hands with each other and give them a hardy "Amen, brother!" I compiled a list a while back that is certainly not comprehensive, but is a large list to see where the differences between YEC and OEC may be fewer than is commonly understood:

What Do Young Earth and Old Earth Creationists Agree Upon Regarding Origins?

Now, on to the myths of Old Earth Creationism!

Myth #1: The debate is not about whether the universe is young or old, it is about whether you believe God's Word or not. 


Fact:
Ken Ham began with this myth. It implies that anyone who disagrees with him on the interpretation of Genesis 1-11 does not believe God's Word. This could not be further from the truth. It is the very belief that God's Word is true and authoritative in the Christian's life that Christians try to understand what it means. In order for a proposition (or collection of propositions, such as the Bible) to be believed and applied to our lives, we need to correctly understand the meaning of the proposition(s). If we did not believe that the collection of propositions that constitute God's Word is true and authoritative over our lives, then we wouldn't bother with trying to understand what the author (and Author) meant to communicate in it. Saying that a Christian, who interprets differently, does not believe God's Word is simply false. The debate is not about belief but rather about correct meaning.

For more, see "Man's Fallible Ideas vs. God's Infallible Word"

Myth #2: Big bang cosmology is based on naturalism. 


Fact:
Naturalism holds that there is nothing that exists outside this physical universe. Big bang cosmology has two requirements that necessarily exist outside this physical universe. Firstly, because big bang cosmology posits an absolute beginning to the universe and nothing that begins to exist can cause its own beginning to exist, the big bang necessarily requires a cause that is outside itself (this physical universe). Secondly, because of the fact that the universe's physical laws are finely-tuned to support advanced life, the cause of the universe not only has to be super-natural but it also has to be intelligent and purpose-driving in His creative act. These are attributes of a purposeful agent not just another mechanism (naturalism), or deism (we've now left naturalism behind), or even basic theism. These attributes of the Cause mirror those of the Christian God. Not only is it false that big bang cosmology is based on naturalism, big bang cosmology necessarily implies that the Christian God exists by the attributes of the Cause required to produce what is observed in the universe.

For more see these four books:

Myth #3: You cannot see "age" in nature.


Fact:
One of the foundational beliefs of science (that allow it to discover events of even the recent past) is constant laws of physics. For the Christian, this foundational belief for science is even affirmed in Jeremiah 33:26 (see my post "How Naturalism Defeats Science As A Knowledge Discipline"). What is very nice about constant laws of physics is that if we have a correct understanding of processes from one moment to the next, we can work backward in time (via deductive reasoning) to come to sound (necessarily true) conclusions about the past, including the age of things. This is done for trees and corals using the number of rings and layers, respectively, and the well-understood rate of the formation of those layers. The idea that age cannot be determined by observing nature alone is correct, but when combined with the constant laws of physics and deductive reasoning, the ability to accurately determine age by observing God's creation cannot be escaped by the Bible-believing Christian.

Myth #4: The same people who promote big bang cosmology deny the virgin birth of Jesus. 


Fact:
This is quite a sweeping statement. In this myth, Ken Ham places all who affirm big bang cosmology into the same naturalistic category of those who deny miracles and God's interaction with creation (including the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity and the Resurrection of Jesus). It is obvious, though, that Christians do not belong in the same category as naturalists when it comes to miracles. Some YECs who insist on this categorization, though, insist that Christians can believe both but only inconsistently.

The problem here is that affirmation of big bang cosmology in no way implies that supernatural miracles are not possible. In fact, as shown above in Myth #2, the big bang assumes a supernatural miracle for the universe's existence! If anyone is being inconsistent in their beliefs regarding the big bang and miracles, it is the naturalist who affirms the big bang yet denies supernatural miracles are possible. So, Christians who affirm big bang cosmology do not deny supernatural miracles such as the virgin birth of Jesus and are under no compulsion by logic to even entertain such a ridiculous claim. We do not deny the virgin birth of Jesus, and our view does not imply even the possibility of such a denial. While naturalists do deny the virgin birth of Jesus, inconsistently, the Christian affirms it consistently.

Myth #5: People only debate the meaning of the word "yom" in Genesis 1 because they want to fit millions of years into the Bible.


Fact
Implied in this myth is the idea that "yom" was never debated until it was discovered that the universe was billions of years old and/or when Darwin came along and proposed evolution, which presumably would require billions of years of slow changes over time. However, this is demonstrably false. The meaning of "yom" has been debated for centuries before scientists posited billions of years for the age of the universe. St. Augustine, for instance, defended the contention that "yom" was different from a 24-hour day. Numerous other Church Fathers also debated "yom"'s meaning. Since it was debated before scientists posited billions of years for the age of the universe and earth, such a discovery cannot serve as the motivation for the debate continuing to this day. For more on the Church Fathers and their debates over the meaning of the word "yom" in Genesis 1, I recommend checking out "Coming to Grips With The Early Church Fathers' Perspective On Genesis" by Dr. John Millam.

Myth #6: The idea that the universe is young has been well-established in Church history; therefore, it is true.


Fact:
This is an interesting argument. The falsehood is not found in the first part; young-earth creationism (along with other views) we debated and held by many Church Fathers; the falsehood is found in the logic. A well-established doctrine is not necessarily a correct doctrine (this goes for all sides of the age debate). Ken Ham, as a member of the Protestant tradition of the Church, would hold that many well-established doctrines of the Church (Catholic Church, at the time) were false. So, being well-established does not mean true, even for Ken Ham. Anyone who argues this way is simply incorrect.

Now, many people try to claim that young-earth creationism originated with the Seventh Day Adventist "prophetess" Ellen G. White, but since some of the Church Fathers already held to this view, it can hardly be said to have originated recently. But, again, that early origin does not mean true. Young-earth Christians need to be careful about which conclusion they are drawing from the early articulation of their view, and old-earth Christians need to be careful about which conclusion they are drawing from a later (more developed) articulation of the young-earth view.

Myth #7: Believing that the universe is old undermines God's Word.


Fact:
Many young-earth Christians (but not all) are not even open to alternative views because they have heard this myth so many times, presented in so many different ways, that they believe it. As mentioned in my response to Myth #1, this is not true, as demonstrated by the very attempt to reconcile God's Word with God's actions (creation). That recognition is enough to demonstrate the falsehood of the myth in general. But what about the more specific forms of the myth (additional myths, in themselves)? In a past post I took on five common ways that this myth is articulated. Take a look at these additional myths in the post "Does Old Earth Creationism Compromise Scripture" to see if you have fallen victim to believing them.

Myth #8: You weren't there to witness the creation; therefore, you cannot know what happened except by an eyewitness testimony (God's Word). 


Fact:
This myth attempts to strike at the foundation of scientific claims about origins: the ability to know origins. In this myth the young-earth creationist takes a hyper-empiricist view of knowledge that states that only the five senses can reveal truth about the physical world: in order to know anything that happened in the past, you had to be there to witness whether it happened or not, and since we were not there to witness the creation, we cannot know how it happened. They then say that we can only rely upon the eyewitness record in Genesis 1, which they assume is only compatible with their view (see Myths #1 and #7 above).

Even if we were to grant that the Genesis 1 account was only compatible with the young-earth view, they have a serious problem. If we cannot know something happened in the past unless we witnessed it, then how do we know that Genesis 1 was reliably handed down through the generations? We were not there to witness each transcription. In order to defend the reliable transmission of the text to today, we rely upon another source of knowledge that uses inductive and abductive reasoning (neither of which are sense-based). If those are valid sources of truth to discover past events, then the young-earth creationist must allow such sources of truth in the debate over origins. So, by their own epistemology (how we know what we know), this myth falls, and falling further, their attempt to use the process of elimination to get to their view also fails. This myth is so prevalent in the origins debate that I have written quite a bit about this it in the past. Check out these additional posts for more:


Myth #9: Only the YEC believes the eyewitness of God's Word.


Fact:
As demonstrated in my answer to Myth #8, this myth falls flat immediately. However, it gets worse for the YEC, not only can they not know that they have the eyewitness account about origins as it was originally recorded, they cannot know that they have a reliable eyewitness account about the Resurrection of Jesus as it was originally recorded! The staunch YEC may be able to live with not having a reliable account of the events of creation, but I do not believe for one second that they are willing to follow the logic to its necessary conclusion and accept that we then also do not have reliable accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. For such a necessary implication would give us no confidence whatsoever in the truth of Christianity, which would then give them no foundation for holding onto their YEC view. The ground crumbles beneath them.

This is not a problem of belief (I know Ken Ham believes that the Bible we have today was reliably transmitted through the generations), but rather it is a problem of a lack of a foundational explanation for the belief in the reliability of the transmission of the Bible. If Ken Ham is to maintain the "you weren't there" mantra, then he has no explanation for the reliable transmission of the Bible, and worse he has unwittingly provided an explanation for precisely why the Bible he holds in hands cannot be trusted as what was originally inspired by God! This is the myth, among all other ones because it strikes at the very foundation of the Christian worldview, that must die in the Church:



Myth #10: Animal death and suffering are incompatible with the all-powerful and all-loving God of the Bible.


Fact:
I find it very interesting that young-earth creationists often raise the logical problem of evil against God in these discussions. Simply put, the logical problem of evil has been a go-to challenge to God's existence for atheists for centuries (and still is today in popular/internet atheist circles), but such a challenge is no challenge at all. The challenge relies upon the idea that an all-powerful and all-loving God could not possibly have justifiable reasons for allowing evil, pain, and suffering in the world. However, since we cannot possibly know all of God's purposes comprehensively, this challenge fails on epistemic grounds- no one has enough knowledge to make such a grandiose claim. And not only that, the Bible teaches that any suffering that God does allow does has an ultimate, eternal purpose.

So we do have enough knowledge to claim the very opposite: that God does have a purpose for allowing all pain and suffering, even if we cannot specifically identify that purpose with our current amount of knowledge. This would include any and all animal suffering. So for the young-earth creationist to be in the company of atheists with raising this challenge is to simply place the God of the Bible in the same box that the atheist attempts to place Him: "since I cannot see what purpose God may have for suffering, He must not have one." This is only one way to demonstrate the falsehood of this myth, but others exist as well. For more information, I encourage you to check out these posts:



Myth #11: Having animal death before The Fall makes God responsible for moral evil.


Fact:
Related to Myth #10 above, Ken Ham tries to show how God is responsible for moral evil if animal death existed before the Fall of Adam and Eve. Since the Christian God is not responsible for moral evil, then if there is a view that necessarily implies that God is responsible for moral evil, then it is false and its god is not the Christian God. Ken Ham argues that animal death is a moral evil, and since old-earth creation requires that God is responsible for it, then old-earth creationism must be false. He attempts to release God from the responsibility of animal death by saying that the Fall introduced death to the animal kingdom. Many YECs have proposed different models for the Fall introducing death into the natural order (changed laws of physics, attributing creative power to sin, and punctuated equilibrium are just a few) in order to escape the implications of their own accusation.

But all this effort is actually unnecessary because animal death is not morally evil. For an event, action, or behavior to be morally evil, the perpetrator must be a moral agent with the free will to choose to do otherwise, and the offended party must be of intrinsic value. Both of those features are necessary, but neither are present in the physical creation prior to God's creation of Adam and Eve. Animals are not moral agents, and they are not created in the Image of God, which would be the source of intrinsic value. These are precisely why we do not classify animals killing other animals as murder. "Murder" is "killing" with moral status. Without the moral status, animal killing is just killing, not murder. Since animals killing animals is not performed by moral, free agents and animals are not intrinsically valuable, there is no foundation for calling such death "morally" evil. It does not matter how much death happened before the Fall of Adam and Eve, it was not morally evil. So even though God is the Creator of the natural order (which includes animal death), He is NOT responsible for any moral evil here. Thus this myth is demonstrably false. I go into more detail in these posts:


Myth #12: If you can understand the general message of the Gospel without scholarship then you can understand the details of creation without scholarship.


Fact:
This myth implies that because the basics of the Gospel can be understood and acted upon by the youngest and least educated among us, that the deeper and more refined details of the Gospel can also be discovered without the need for scholarship. Ken Ham holds that the same applies to ideas of origins: if the basics of creation can be understood without scholarship, then so can the details be known without scholarship. In the podcast, Ken Ham appeals to biblical scholarship to make his case, then he comes back later to deny the value of such biblical scholarship. He seems to hold that the "plain reading" (as would be understood the first time a person reads a passage) is the correct and comprehensive understanding- there is no need for further scholarship to determine details. Because Ham both uses and denies the value of biblical scholarship in the same conversation, it is hard to determine which of the mutually exclusive views he takes. But since he pounds the drum of "the plain reading" so much, it is reasonable to think that he (at least by his words and his actions) denies the value of biblical scholarship and affirms that there is no need to pursue further study beyond one's initial reading of the text.

Interestingly enough, the Apostle Paul denies such a view explicitly in 1 Corinthians 3:2. Paul tells the Corinthian church that he gave them the theological basics and called it "milk," but affirmed that the theological details, which he called "solid food," still remained to be grasped by them. A deeper study (scholarship) is required if we are to get to the truth of a view. If we eschew biblical scholarship, then we run the same risk of the Corinthian church and being satisfied only with "milk" and never graduating to "solid food." When we look deeper into the first chapters of Genesis, we discover that the YEC view is not the only view compatible with the inerrant text. In fact, a range of views are fully compatible. If a person is to pursue the correct understanding, they must begin with the correct list of available options, then use further scholarship and sources of truth to determine which of those available options is the correct interpretation. This myth, denies such a pursuit, which is in direct contradiction to Paul, so it must be false.


Myth #13: OEC takes something from outside the Bible to use it to reinterpret God's Word. 


Fact:
What is very dangerous about this myth is that it makes a simple statement but never explicitly states the conclusion or the logic to the conclusion. It is true that OEC takes something from outside the Bible and uses it to interpret God's Word. What does OEC take from outside the Bible? God's actions: His creation. Time after time, the Bible affirms that God's actions (His creation) are a valid source of truth. Psalm 19 states that the heavens declare the glory of God; Romans 1 affirms that the knowledge (truth) available to all in creation is so reliable and visible that it is enough to condemn a person; and Jeremiah 33:25-26 states that the laws that govern the universe are as constant as God Himself! (see Myths #16 and #20 below for more on this).

Not only is it biblical to use God's actions, it is perfectly logical to use a person's actions to help interpret what their words mean. We do this every day. We even do this when trying to interpret what America's Founding Fathers meant when they penned the Constitution (see my post "Deconstructionism, The Constitution, and Biblical Interpretation")

This myth is simply an attempt at a scare-tactic. It is presented as if OEC is concluded because people have approached Scripture with an atheistic presupposition (see Myth #2 above and Myth #14 below) and are trying to make Scripture subject to atheism. If God tells us that His actions are reliable sources of truth, then it is perfectly legitimate to use His actions to help us interpret His words. And to refuse to allow God's actions to guide our interpretation is another way that we refuse to accept "solid food" and remain satisfied with "milk" (see Myth #12 above).


Myth #14: OEC tries to fit millions of years into the Bible because the secularist needs it for evolution.


Fact:
Similar to Myth #2, Ken Ham attempts to discredit using God's actions (His creation) to interpret His words by appealing to atheism. Myth #2 already demonstrated that big bang cosmology not only does not indicate atheism but it requires theism. This myth is necessarily dependent upon the idea that the currently measured age of the universe (~13.7 billion years) is enough time for unguided evolution to produce what we see today. This could not be further from the truth.

Big bang cosmology and a 13.7 billion-year-old universe was not a relief for the naturalist when it was discovered; it was a brick wall that evolution slammed against then and continues to slam against today. This was one of the key reasons that big bang cosmology was rejected by naturalists for so long! 13.7 billion years is orders of magnitude too young for unguided evolution to produce what we see today! In fact, many naturalists are positing that an infinite multiverse exists that would provide them with enough time across all of reality just for evolution to produce what we see today even one time! Big bang cosmology is no friend to the secularist. Not only does big bang cosmology require a Cause and a Designer, it chronologically constricts the naturalist's evolutionary story to suffocation! Big bang cosmology is rather a powerful enemy to the naturalist, which adds yet another reason for its truth (see my post "Evidence for the Empty Tomb of Jesus and Big Bang Cosmology").

For more see:

Myth #15: Allowing nature to interpret Scripture opens the doors to immoral, secular views (including gay marriage).


Fact:
Since Ken Ham is under the mistaken impression that allowing God's creation to help us interpret Scripture sneaks in an amoral view (naturalism), I can understand why he would be scared of this myth (and propagate the same fear to his followers). However, it is not the act of allowing nature to interpret Scripture that is the source of moral conclusions, rather it is the presupposition that one approaches the Scripture. If one already has the view that atheism is true, then all behaviors are permissible in their view. However, as seen in Myth #13, the usage of God's actions (His creation) to help interpret His words is grounded in Scripture which already holds that the Scripture (which includes the ethical claims) is inerrant and authoritative. A Christian allowing God's creation to help them interpret God's words does nothing to damage the ethical claims of God's words and actually affirms their truth by affirming the truth of the biblical claims of the physical world.

Ham is also fond of saying that a Christian can follow biblical ethics and believe in the big bang but they are doing so inconsistently. As discussed in Myths #2 and #14 above, though, big bang cosmology is not an atheistic but rather theistic view of the origin of the cosmos, so there is no logical inconsistency between the Christian who agrees with both biblical ethics and big bang cosmology. This myth is simply false.

For more see these posts:

Myth #16: Allowing nature to interpret Scripture undermines the authority of God's Word.


Fact:
If it is not clear from the previous fifteen myths that this myth, too, is false, then allow me to offer these additional points. First, if Christians who affirm OEC did not believe that God's Word was both true and authoritative, they would not bother with trying to find the correct interpretation. Nobody looks at a work of fiction (on page or on screen) and attempts to reconcile its claims with the real world. We simply do not do that for stories that we believe are false and have no moral authority over our lives. The very fact that Christians take so much time to dig into biblical and scientific scholarship (the "solid food" of 1 Corinthians 3:2) to find the correct understanding (what the author and Author intended to communicate to their respective audiences) demonstrates their respect, belief, and submission to the content of Scripture.

Second, the only thing that is undermined by deeper scholarship is falsehood. Unlike God, man is not infallible, so his interpretations can be incorrect. It is through deeper scholarship that these incorrect interpretations are discovered and can be rejected. While it is important to study God's Word to discover the range of possible interpretations that are compatible with an inerrant (and reliably transmitted) text, it would be irresponsible of us to neglect God's actions (His creation) to rule out possible interpretations or even positively identify the correct interpretation. To refuse to conduct such a study and submit ourselves to God's actions (as well as God's Word), and even encourage others not to as well, is to affirm one's own infallibility- something that no humble Christian should do, even implicitly. This is not to say that deeper scholarship will always lead to what is true (many scholars hold many different views about origins, many of them are mutually exclusive), but the more knowledge we have from the sources of truth that God has given us, the more information we have to reason with and come nearer to the correct view in the details.


Myth #17: OEC is a compromise in the Church.


Fact:
By this time one should see how this myth is completely unfounded. OEC has compromised nothing true nor important. OEC does not compromise the truth of God's Word nor its authority in the Christian's life. OEC only compromises the YEC interpretation, which is a human interpretation that is not infallible anyway. What has been compromised is falsehood, which is precisely what the Christian wants to compromise! This myth may have rhetorical power on the surface, but when we dig deeper into the scholarship (again, the "solid food" of 1 Cor 3:2), we find that the myth loses it rhetorical power with us because it is a lie. Now, I know that many young-earth creationists are concerned about more than just the age of creation (as well they should), so I have two posts that directly addresses (40) areas of full agreement with YECs and other common areas where "compromise" is claimed against OEC:


Myth #18: OECs talk about nature as the 67th book of the Bible.


Fact:
This myth originates from a claim made by Dr. Hugh Ross back in the 90s (if I recall the timing correctly) that was misunderstood. He stated that nature, as a trustworthy and infallible source of truth (since it is from the infallible God), was akin to a 67th book in the inerrant Bible. But many Christians misunderstood and misrepresented his analogy as his attempt to "add to Scripture" and was trying to say that nature can provide enough information to save a person. Of course, Dr. Ross never intended for either of these to be communicated by his analogy because he does not believe them, nor does his view logically imply or even indicate them. His attempts to correct the misunderstandings over several years were not accepted by his critics, so because of these misunderstandings and to attempt to avoid further misunderstandings of his view, Dr. Ross abandoned this analogy in the mid-2000s. Ken Ham was one of these critics and to this day, still claims that OECs use this analogy. Today, OECs do not talk about nature as a 67th book of the Bible, and have not for well over a decade precisely because we do not wish to be further misunderstood and misrepresented. Because the myth is dependent upon a misunderstanding of an analogy, and that analogy is no longer even used, the myth is false on two counts.


Myth #19: The creation is cursed, therefore it cannot be trusted to reveal truth.


Fact:
If we refer back to myth #3, we see that this myth is false already on that count alone. However, when we further study the Bible, specifically Psalm 19 and Romans 1, we see that the authors affirm (through divine inspiration) that the creation can be trusted to reveal truth. This is not a debate about over whether God's creation reveals truth or whether or not the creation is cursed (as also affirmed by the Bible). The debate is over the nature and extent of the curse. Since Jeremiah 33:25-26 affirms constant laws of physics, we must exclude limitations on the creation's ability to reveal truth (again, see Myth #3 above). If we are to include limitations of the creation's ability to reveal truth as part of the curse, then we essentially must deny biblical inerrancy since Psalm 19's and Romans 1's (along with the numerous other passages that affirm's creation's revelation of truth) would be false. The creation was not cursed in a way that prevents it from revealing truth. Creation was indeed cursed, but its ability to reveal truth being removed was not part of that curse. The creation's ability to reveal truth remains intact despite the curse.

While this myth is incorrect on biblical grounds, let's also not forget that Ken Ham attempts to use the creation to demonstrate the truth that it was created by a Designer. Old-earth creationists agree with this; however, if the creation cannot reveal truth, then Ken Ham's appeal to it to tell us something true about its origins is a pointless appeal- why would Ken Ham use an untrustworthy source to reveal truth? The reality is that Ken Ham's own defense of his view using God's creation is logically incompatible with his view of the curse in Genesis- every "scientific" critique that he offers against big bang cosmology is without a foundation. If God's creation cannot reveal truth, then it also cannot reveal a defeater or even a mere challenge to any view of reality because it would be challenging a truth-claim. Challenges to truth claims, based upon God's creation, is philosophically off-limits on Ken Ham's view of the curse. But, lucky for Ken Ham, this myth has been biblically demonstrated to be false, so he can continue to bring his critiques, see them undermined, and be faced with what God's creation actually reveals about its supernatural and awesome history.

For more see these books:

Myth #20: Children are leaving the Church because they see the conflict between millions of years and the Bible. 


Fact:
This myth capitalizes on Christian parents' greatest fear: that their children will reject Christ. As we've seen, though, there is no actual conflict between the universe being billions of years old and the Bible. The reason children see conflict is because Ken Ham still perpetuates the idea that there is a conflict by consistently presenting these myths as fact. By perpetuating these myths Ham is essentially presenting children the false dichotomy of "accept YEC or deny Christ." God's creation denies YEC (both deductively and abductively), yet God's Word (and history) affirms Christ, so our children are caught between a rock and a hard place. Their sin nature tends to make this decision easy, though: deny Christ. By presenting the false dichotomy of "YEC or atheism," Ken Ham is unwittingly setting up our children for spiritual failure; it is this false dichotomy combined with their sin nature that is the reason our children are leaving the Church. Ken Ham perpetuates this problem then complains about it saying that his view is the cure, but if he is perpetuating the problem using a false dichotomy, false accusations against competing views, and a scientifically (the testimony of God's creation, itself) demonstrably false alternative, how in the world can he hold the cure? Are our children leaving the Church because they see this conflict? Yep! But the conflict they see is a false conflict, perpetuated by Ken Ham. This is the only myth in this list that is true, but the myth testifies not against old-earth creationism but against the false dichotomy of "believe YEC or reject Christ" that Ken Ham claims that logically consistent people must choose between. 

Conclusion- Post-Modernism Has Sneaked Into The Church

None of these myths are new. I remember hearing many of them in my teens when I first became aware of the origins debate within the Church. What is really disheartening, though, is that while Ken Ham has been corrected numerous times over the decades, he still insists on using these strawmen to argue against a view he disagrees with.

I recently finished reading the book "Time for Truth: Living Free In A World of Lies, Hype and Spin" by Os Guinness. As I was reading through the part of this book where Guinness talks about the importance to the post-modernist of controlling the narrative (whether with truth or falsehood) in order to preserve and promote a relative or subjective "greater good," I couldn't help but think of how so many Christians misrepresent and communicate myths about views they disagree with, in an effort to defeat that view in the market place of ideas. As Christians, when we refuse to correct our own misrepresentations of a view we're critical about, we treat truth with no more respect than does the post-modernist. Let's ensure that we are not guilty of this ourselves.

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Other myths about the OEC view not mentioned by Ken Ham in this discussion:



4 comments:

  1. For someone to stop forcing themselves to be a YEC, you need to really address two items:
    1. Animal death is immoral (you did, but it's really #1 in most YEC's minds)
    2. OEC's believe there was no literal Adam and Eve (you didn't mention this, some may but a large percentage believe there were, and that it's essential to the need for Jesus)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment!
      Indeed, animal death before the fall is an issue for YECs. However, this is not an issue with accepting the Bible, rather it is a matter of interpreting it correctly. Animal death before the fall being tied to #1 is addressed at length in the book "Peril In Paradise" by Mark Whorton.

      Regarding the literal Adam and Eve. It is actually quite common for OECs to accept a literal Adam and Eve. Reasons to Believe's model defends such a view scientifically and theologically. This is where they would agree whole-heartedly with YECs. Here is a video where Dr. Rana discusses the literal Adam and Eve with a theologian:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZndoRkXpfc

      Dr. Rana and Dr. Ross also wrote a book that focuses on the literal Adam and Eve:

      http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2016/05/book-review-who-was-adam.html

      The claim that OECs (and specifically RTB OECs) reject a literal Adam and Eve is another myth that is often perpetuated. I didn't address it in this list since I was limiting the myths to the content in the Unbelievable discussion.

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  2. I think that you make some interesting points in your interaction with various young earth creationist assertions. It is very much unfortunate that there has to be so much hostility and inflammatory remarks made by these people, which only hinders discussion. I too am very much open to the idea of an ancient earth and solar system.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Jesse! If you want to do more research into the biblical case for an ancient universe, check out these two excellent books:

      The Creator Revealed by Michael G. Strauss
      A Matter of Days by Hugh Ross

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