Earth 2.0: Created By God

The apostle Paul once described a vital part of his ministry this way:  “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NLT)

Of course, he wrote it in Greek and he might have considered the simplified English of the New Living Translation a bit elementary. For the record, I always view the New Living Translation as what the Bible would read like if James (whose own book is notably blunt) wrote the whole thing.  At any rate, you can see what Paul is getting at here. He argued, debated, and took on the rigorous task of making the case for Jesus.  He believed in truth -not manufactured truth but the actual stuff that can hold up under examination. In fact, Paul called out other ideas as “false” and “proud” and threw water on mere “human reasoning,” pointing out that it sometimes “keeps people from knowing God.”

Just to keep myself out of trouble, I’ll mention the old English of the King James Version says things like “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.”

Whatever version you prefer, the bottom line is human reasoning, arrogance, false arguments, etc… need to be challenged. In love? Yes of course, but challenged all the same because this doesn’t end with the latest “scientific” finding, or the latest politically correct phrase to substitute for “baby” when describing an abortion. Those severed arms and legs are fetal tissue. That brain is a product of conception. That liver is a clump of cells.

The human race is increasingly good at fooling itself, of building layer upon layer of assumptions and what New Testament generously called “lies” to the point that down becomes up, good becomes evil, female becomes male or whatever, and we all feel pretty smug about how intelligent we are.

And to be honest, none of us are immune. We all have to guard against this no matter who we are or what we believe. Assumptions are insidious things that lie dormant until someone comes along and shakes things up.

That brings me to Jeff Schweitzer. Frighteningly, Schweitzer is an actual scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst with a Ph.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology. Recently, the Huffington Post published his article “Earth 2.0: Bad News for God.” in which he goes on the offensive against God. He explains that soon we will likely prove that life exists on other planets such as the recently discovered Kepler-452b and this will deal a decisive blow against all religions because it destroys fundamental truths the Bible teaches. Yes it’s true that the Bible isn’t the book of choice for many religions, but Schweitzer was evidently making an example of the Bible by taking it out to the woodshed.

He made his point with some of the usual tactics of modern atheism, throwing up various false claims including that the Bible claims the earth is the center of the universe (it does not), that because God did not tell Adam and Eve about other worlds then in effect the Bible teaches there can’t be other worlds (a strained argument to say the least), and that God couldn’t have created light on the earth because the stars were already there. (Which of course assumes a number of things including that the stars could be seen from earth at the time.)  He took a statement from a Roman Catholic Pope and made it binding to what all Christians must believe, and he prepped his readers with the assurance that the discovery of life will undermine all religion -even if they make excuses for it after the fact.

All of this, an attack on the beliefs of millions of people that God exists, that Jesus loves them, and that there is hope of eternal life, came from a discovery of a planet that is earth-like?  With all due respect this is where I draw the line. This is where it’s time to challenge the ever-increasing layers of what Paul would call mere human reasoning and false arguments. Why? Because I want to enjoy a new planet for crying out loud. I grew up watching Star Trek on television and at the cinema, too. I want to be excited about Kepler-452b (who names these things?) but now I’m supposed to be threatened. When I was younger, people hadn’t even found one planet. I always hoped they would, and now that we are finding them we have to listen to these attacks?

Fine. Have it your way.

The Bible doesn’t say anywhere the earth is the center of the universe.

The Bible doesn’t say we are alone in the universe.

But we probably are.

I say probably because without intelligence behind it, there’s virtually zero probability on the side of the appearance of life on any planet, anywhere. We don’t even know how it started here, and hey, I’m just repeating what Dawkins said.

How does Schweitzer not know the number of galaxies and planets out there is no where near, not even close, to the number needed to have the slightest infinitesimal chance to have life? If you think all we need is one in a million, well that many chances take place all over the earth and new forms of life aren’t springing up anywhere. If you think it happens one in a billion, billion, billion, trillion… you’re still not even close yet.

Planets? You don’t even have enough “events” (elementary logical operations) since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Dr. Don Batten explains in detail that the chance of getting one small amino acid chain together, just using the various combinations possible, results in a chance of 1 in 10 (to the) 195 power.  And that’s just one amino acid chain. You need a zillion other things for life to appear by chance. Mathematician Fred Hoyle determined that the chances of inanimate matter becoming life worked out to 1 in 10 (to the) 40,000 power. Way back in the day, atheist biophysicist Harold Morowitz came up with an even worse probability of 1 in 10 (to the) 10,000,000,000 for a simple bacteria to emerge.

How big are those numbers? Well the number of ATOMS in the universe is 1 in 10 to the 82 power. That’s the higher estimate. So quite literally, there is a better chance of putting an “X” on an atom and letting it float in the universe for a billion years, then going out into the universe (pick any of the billion galaxies you want) and plucking a single atom and get THAT ONE on the first try, than there is of life appearing by accident.

In other words, there may be a billion planets but the chances are statistically zero that life forms all by itself.  If we think we can find life on the very first planet we check with odds like that, well… the powerball lottery should be a cinch.

It led Hoyle to remark: “It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.”

So probably… there simply aren’t enough planets, 13.7 billion years is not enough time, and there aren’t even enough atoms.  In fact, the numbers say it is flat out statistically impossible for life to appear without anything guiding it.

Like a Designer for instance.

Our human reasoning, our pride, our false arguments need to be challenged. They keep us away from God if left unchecked, and well… they keep us from seeing the obvious. We are not here by accident.

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Creationism is Wrong, Trust Us

So sayeth those opposed to Creationism, the belief that an all-powerful God created the universe and all that we see and perceive in the physical or even spiritual world.  Regardless of your particular idea of creationism, whether you have a Muslim theology or a Christian one, or whether you believe the universe is very old or very young, you are simply wrong.  All the evidence is against you.

So sayeth others, therefore it must be true.

It’s been going on for awhile in case you missed it and thought it was still up for debate.  Writing about nutrition of all things for Real Clear Science, Ross Pomeroy was quick to compare fad-diets with religion.

“…both cults and diets profess to have “answers” and impart benefits that will irrevocably change your life for the better. Veganism’s pitch isn’t very unlike Scientology’s. Caveman Diet’s isn’t all that different from certain sects of Evangelical Baptism”

Excuse me what?  Baptism?  Are people getting baptized for it’s health benefits or even spiritual benefits? Why didn’t I know this? Someone should mention to Ross that baptism isn’t about its benefits. It’s a outward act that says I belong to Jesus from this day forward. It’s symbolic, not therapeutic for crying out loud. What a weird analogy.

But nice job coming after my religion when I was trying to read an article about dieting… geez.

Ross made a better analogy, at least in terms of actually having something to do with the subject, a bit later.

“With all the conflicting and poorly designed research out there, it’s easy to find evidence to back any dietary assertion. In the same manner, overly religious types, such as those who promote creation science, latch on to data that coincides with their beliefs and disregard everything else. Though their ideas are awash in woo, staunch creationists can present a very persuasive case.”

I certainly qualify as overly religious if that is possible. By this time I have forgotten that the article is actually over diet plans, and have become immersed in the typical attack of our culture against Jesus. Simply dismiss it without another word. Those of you who have been digging into the details, the evidences, and the facts are wasting your time. It’s decided already. No one won the debate, in fact Ross admits creationists can be persuasive, but that’s beside the point. It’s over.

As proof, and as proof that Ross was only mildly interested in writing about dieting, he linked an article attacking creationism entitled “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.”

After all who listens to nonsense? That’s the point, see. The argument is over.

Our world does not write these articles or say these things with the purpose of having an enlightening discussion. They say these things to scoff just as the Bible predicted they would in II Peter chapter three.  And although it was talking about something else, the advice of Revelation 14:12 “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus” applies very well.

Patience is very much in order, especially as I perused the article he linked.

You gotta love that the #3 Answer of the 15 Answers to Nonsense was upset that creationists give a “blanket dismissal of evolution.”

lol

Pot? Kettle. Kettle? Pot.

Ok, seriously though. What if we actually dug into these things instead of dismissing each other? I’d be willing to bet Bible believing Christians would realize that not all scientists are militant atheists, and militant atheists would realize that Bible believing Christians often have scientific degrees, credentials, and a valuable point of view.

And we’d all learn a lot of science.

For instance, the fact we do not find humanoid skeletons in the lowest layers of the earth does not prove humans evolved, even though evolution would predict that we would not find humans there.  Score one for evolution, but there are other explanations, even ones consistent with the Bible, which also predict finding the same thing.

Harder questions remain for evolution such as when it misses predictions, which it has often done. Evolution predicted that we would find junk DNA for instance, yet that turned out to be largely untrue. It predicted that Neanderthals would have smaller brains which is completely untrue, and it predicted we would find transitional forms, a slow development of life in the fossil record, and DNA proof that we all came from a single cell in one evolutionary tree.

And figuring out how something mutates into a substantially different creature sporting radically different DNA has been next to impossible in evolution so far. In other words, everyone tells you evolution happened, but no one can do more than guess at how it happened.  But trust us, they say, it did.

One final point. When you are left with blaming alien beings from outer space as your best guess for how it all started… you know you’re struggling.

The crazy thing is all of this is incredibly interesting. Too bad the discussion is over because this is the best it’s ever been. In fact, even though Christians are usually accused of being closed minded, the truth is most evangelical churches I know do NOT tell people to shun science.  Instead they advise to question everything and examine closely.

Even if the rest of the world is done examining.

Here Comes the Virus

If you’re like me, you hear American government officials and experts assure us that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Ebola and you wonder if they just don’t want us to panic. It spreads like HIV (and even then for only a few days) and therefore is highly controllable. Most fears are overblown, fear-mongering, especially if Donald Trump says it.

And then you watch the news, hear the doctors talk about it being out of control, and well… c’mon it sure seems like Ebola spreads a bit easier than HIV. Like one comment tweeted to the CDC, I feel like asking:

“We are told it can only spread through contact with bodily fluids-similar to HIV. But seems more contagious than HIV? Why?”

The CDC assured the tweeter that yes Ebola is spread like HIV and you need close contact with bodily fluids, and then only in a certain window of time.  Ok. Granted.

But…ummmm….

That’s not exactly like HIV, which takes more than mere “close contact.”

HIV is NOT spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva.  So says WebMD anyway.

Ebola evidently is.

The bodily fluids that do transmit HIV -like blood for instance- “must come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into your bloodstream (by a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur.”  So says the government. I added the italics.

The CDC, however, makes no mention of Ebola needing to come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue.  To catch Ebola, the CDC says you need only come in “direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person.”  They go on to explain that it spreads in hospitals where people are not wearing “protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves.”

Then when you go to the Canadian Health Department, it gets scary.  They add that people are at risk when, and I quote: “handling the bodies of deceased humans in preparation for funerals, suggesting possible transmission through aerosol droplets.” That explains the need for gloves and “protective equipment.”

Then shockingly, they follow up with, “In the laboratory, infection through small-particle aerosols has been demonstrated in primates, and airborne spread among humans is strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated.”

Again I added the italics because I was sitting there going “whaaaat???”

They end by saying poor hygienic conditions can aid the spread of the virus.

Ok, maybe the Canadians are fear-mongering despite the fact they are not named Donald Trump.  I don’t know. I’m not a researcher or any sort of an expert on Ebola or other pathogens.  Neither is it surprising that there is conflicting information about a disease we haven’t fully understood yet.

Nevertheless, it seems a bit obvious that Ebola is spread, and is spreading easier and faster than HIV does. The amount of close contact it takes to spread Ebola is much more casual, which is one reason why doctors don’t have to wear spacesuit-looking gear when taking care of a patient with HIV.

Hopefully, we will get all of these things ironed out, and the US government is not just trying to make us feel better.  Although, between you and me, don’t you just feel like it’s just a matter of time before someone in America gets carried into a hospital and tests positive? I hope not. I’m probably just thinking like this because I’m trying to quit diet soda.

So onto the big question:

Why God? Why did you ever invent anything like HIV or Ebola? Or E Coli for that matter??

If Genesis is correct and God created everything, then one would predict in the beginning everything was “good” like the Bible said.  Since then, however, everything would be breaking down.  The Bible says this started when sin entered the world.  The universe might have been created in perfect balance at one time, but when death and decay became part of the equation, we started to get more and more out of balance.  So a creation point of view would predict viruses or bacteria would get worse over time because they would break down, mutate, or get out of where they were supposed to be.

There’s an article on this you might be interested in, so I won’t go into as much detail, but suffice it to say that many viruses actually serve purposes, or at least didn’t kill us.  One virus was recently discovered that almost every human being has, which scientists theorize is meant to keep the bacteria inside our gut (we need bacteria) in balance.  In fact without bacteria, the world would die. Turns out at least some viruses play a bit of symbiotic role with them and thus… are actually necessary.  The implication is originally, before mutations took their toll, or the environment changed for the worse, that all these things were in balance, living where they were suppose to live, and doing what they were supposed to do.  You have “good”  E coli inside you right now, but there is one strain which lost some DNA somewhere that will make you sick now.  Creation would predict that sort of thing.

Which means that if Genesis is right, then Ebola would be expected to have had some purpose, or some place where it could exist and not harm humans.  For instance, the ocean is full of viruses but sharks and sea life still exist. (However, mutations or changes in that balance could also cause once harmless viruses or bacteria to cause problems. Like with the starfish dying off.)

So why did God create Ebola? I have no idea, but I bet in the beginning it didn’t harm anyone.  I bet  eventually we will discover it played a helpful role somehow. And ironically, if people followed God’s instructions on life, food, etc… We would have avoided many of those viruses. Weird, huh? It’s almost like he knew….

See, HIV didn’t wipe out the primates where it originally lived, and syphilis wasn’t killing sheep right and left either.  Originally, things were in more balance.

Or as the Bible said, it was good.

Since sin entered the world, however, the earth is slowly “wearing out like a garment”. (Psalm 102:25-26 and Isaiah 51:6)

I’m convinced God is letting the ship sink slowly (the earth) so people will look for the lifeboats.

Dear Senior Class 2014…

Thirteen years ago when you got home from your first day of kindergarten, most of us parents picked you up and asked, “How was your first day of school?”  A lot has happened since then. You tried to make good grades, you excelled in sports, in music, in art, or maybe in science.  It’s really amazing the talents you have developed.

This past week I picked up my daughter from school and this time my question was, “How was your last day at school?”  You have reached the last day, and just like that first day, we are excited for you and proud of you as we cheer for your success in life.

Did you know God cares about your success, too?  The Bible says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Knowledge can help you achieve the desires of your heart, of course, but God can do things no one else can. He has ultimate control over our success or failure.

I don’t know if you believe that or not. The Bible predicted “scoffers” would come in the last days and they’re here.  People will make fun of you for believing in Jesus. Religion is old-fashioned. We are evolving past it they say.  Bill Mahr says religion is the source of all our problems, and Bill Nye seems to think you can’t be a scientist or help the human race advance if you believe God created everything.

They can sound convincing, but that road doesn’t end well. The Bible talks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but it’s worth noting that it should have been Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.  Esau was the oldest son and should have been the next in line. His father loved him, wanted to pass everything down to him, but Esau just didn’t care.

He only cared about the here and now, and agreed to sell his birthright to his brother. The Bible says, he “despised” his birthright.  That decision destroyed his future.  That’s why we remember Abraham, Isaac, and his younger brother Jacob instead of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.

You’ve heard people say God has a plan for your life, but you don’t have to care either.  The world will tell you not to worry about it. The world cares more about the here and now, but I believe if you go down that road, like Esau, you’ll miss out.

So here are three old fashioned things to hang on to no matter what the world says: Continue reading

Ken Ham and Bill Nye Debate: Now That I’ve Slept on it…

Despite the protests of leading atheists who didn’t want to treat scientists and human beings who believed in God as worthy of anything other than to be ignored, Ken Ham and Bill Nye nevertheless faced off for an in-depth, internet broadcast, and CNN-hosted debate over creationism, evolution, the Bible, the flood, naturalism, and definitions of science.  It was enlightening at times as even Bill Nye the Science Guy noted after Ham’s opening presentation.  The Saturday morning television science teacher started his own presentation by looking at Ham and admitting he had “learned something.”  At other times, it left multiple questions begging for answers and more time.  The demand by Nye at one point that Ken Ham answer a list of four important questions was comically followed by the debate moderator’s (CNN’s Tom Foreman) formal announcement that Ham had one minute to respond.  All of the proceedings, taking place last Tuesday, February 4 at the famous Creation Museum in Kentucky, provided both the benefits of sincere, polite discussion, and the limitations of dealing with such a huge subject in a mere two hours.  I simultaneously wanted more to be said, while getting tired of hearing it.

And you might be tired of hearing about it too! So I’ll try to at least be concise.

I loved it when Bill Nye talked about how much he loves science. Obviously I wish he understood how much I love it, too, and many other creationists, but you can’t help but enjoy his passion for discovering things.  What so many miss is how many Bible-believing Christians are science buffs.  It’s why we can’t get enough of Louie Giglio.  And yes, we do go to secular universities and ace those tests too.  Those decorated scientists who provided Ken Ham with statements via video clips did not have Theology degrees.

I loved that Ken Ham used the opportunity he had to keep coming back to the Gospel, the good news that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world.  Sometimes, it seemed Ken sacrificed debate time to do this, but sharing the actual Gospel to a worldwide audience was beautiful.  I’m sure it didn’t come close to convincing the most hardened atheist, but God knew who needed to hear that last night and they did.  Awesome, awesome, awesome thing Ken.

I love the fact that we had a real, and polite, debate between diametrically opposed world views.  We can’t even debate tax policy anymore without competing to see who can roll their eyes the most, but last night we saw something we don’t often see in the world lately, and that is respect for another human being.  Judging by the comments and articles following the debate, atheists are quickly trying to put a stop to this nonsense, but for a brief moment yesterday, both sides argued their case on the merits and appealed to people with reason.  That’s pretty cool, and as one of the news organizations noted in an article this morning, that’s worth something at least.

I loved that the two men both used power point demonstrations that seamlessly integrated into the broadcast.  It reinforced that this debate wasn’t just a name-calling contest that we generally see on the internet or the dismissive disdain from a Dawkins’ column. We all learned something because we weren’t turned off immediately. Instead, the audience was respectfully taught, whether they were in the “choir” or not.

I loved the fact that Ken Ham included video statements, and references from other decorated scientists who didn’t just believe in God, but believed in young earth creationism.  Bill Nye in particular has taken up the atheist effort to portray anyone who believes in creation as anti-science and the sort of people who will destroy America’s competitive edge because they are incapable of becoming engineers.  Nye continually went back to this caricature at the end of the debate, but his effort was largely diffused by the irony of several famous scientists who evidently were able to engineer important inventions and discoveries despite the fact they believed in God. Ironically, the famous scientists from history that Nye mentioned were often very devout Christians as well, so it doesn’t seem that much of a hindrance after all. Here’s another scientist’s take on that very issue (and several others Nye has brought up).  This is important stuff because modern day atheism is dishonestly propagating a lie in their efforts to win people to their side. Why would they do so? I believe the real cause is the spiritual battle. There is a father of lies, and this is what he does.

Hmmm…. that started sounding negative.

Ok, a couple of times I wanted to jump through the screen, besides the times Nye started talking about how anti-science all these God believers are.

They are called polystrate fossils. This is in the category of “Well Someone Should Mention This….” Ok. So in the debate, Bill Nye said he would change his opinion, and Ken Ham could change the world, if Ham could show evidence of a fossil that went from one layer to another. Ham never responded, but …ummm… Bill, there are so many of those particular fossils they have a name: Polystrate fossils. Mostly trees and at least one whale. You know, just in case you ever need this for trivia.  One question I wish Ham had countered with was how come we don’t find meteorites in those lower levels? Did it quit raining occasional meteorites for billions of years?

Ken Ham’s answers on radiometric dating were incomplete. He kept going back to the “we weren’t there” statement, but everyone knows it should be possible to study evidence today and make some educated guesses about how it got here. We do the same with crime scenes as Bill Nye noted.  What atheists don’t often note is that there can be more than one theory as to how things got this way, just like there is often more than one theory on what happened at a crime scene. Ken Ham was correct to say we all have the same evidence. I just wish the topic of radiometric dating had been delved into a lot more because most people simply accept it as Gospel.

Seriously, most of you reading this have never dated anything yourself and weren’t with the scientists who did. We all usually just believe what they tell us. At the risk of totally shaking your worldview built on your trust that radiometric dating is incredibly accurate, you should read this article.  Don’t worry, it was written by a real scientist with four degrees and a lifetime membership in Mensa. You’ll find it interesting.

Finally, I thought Bill Nye had a couple of good questions concerning people who had never heard of the Bible and where the Bible came from. He didn’t really ask the last one, but referred to it a lot.  I wish Ken Ham had taken the time to answer those more, because there are real answers for both.  Ken did say that eternal life with God doesn’t depend on what someone thinks about the age of the earth or evolution or something like that. You don’t have to be a young earth creationist to be right with God. Lots of Christians believe heartily in evolution. They may be right or wrong about that, but it doesn’t condemn anyone either way.

We are saved based on where stand with God. The Bible teaches that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, even those who had never heard about him, both past, present, and future.  The Bible teaches that God reveals himself to the whole world through his creation. Someone might not know much about God, might not know anything about the Bible or Jesus, but they can still reach out to God because “the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of his hands.” That’s from Psalm 19 and it’s quoted in Romans when Paul was talking about how they had “heard” the message from God.  If that’s the message-just the creation-that’s not a lot to go on. Evidently though, it’s enough.  They might not have ever heard about Jesus in ancient China, but I believe God reached out to each person, and worked in their hearts and in their lives based on what they did know.  Jesus is preached of course, because Jesus is the message that God wanted the entire world to hear before the end, but God worked historically and works today on people who haven’t heard yet.

Like I said, It’s a good question and I don’t blame atheists for wanting to hear a fair answer to it.  My answer is way too brief, but there it is.

I’m just thankful for the debate. I learned stuff too, and as we all hash through it and argue amongst ourselves, we’ll keep learning. That ain’t all bad.

God bless.

Bill O’Reilly versus John Jay?

OReillyJohnJay

One of our founding fathers, a guy by the name of John Jay, was very open with his belief in Jesus and the Bible. He also happened to be, at one time or another, the president of the Congress, a diplomat, the author of the Federalist Papers, the original Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and the governor of New York.  That’s quite a resume. He once wrote:  “The Bible will also inform (people) that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed – that this Redeemer has made atonement ‘for the sins of the whole world,’ and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy, has opened a way for our redemption and salvation;”

You don’t hear that from the Supreme Court very often, even less from the governor of New York, but John Jay believed in a Creator, in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and in the need for everyone to be forgiven and saved from judgment.   God’s judgment.

These days, even conservatives and professing Christians like Bill O’Reilly won’t go that far.  Continue reading

Age of the Earth Makes You Crazy

Young Blue Marble EarthA poll conducted last year by LifeWay revealed that pastors of protestant churches were split on the question of the age of the earth.  What made it surprising to some was the pastors who were being surveyed were the types of people who usually take the Bible literally.  Most rejected evolution, but it was almost an even split over the question of the age of the earth.  In fact, the difference between the two sides was within the margin of error.  They were more united on other questions.  For instance, 82% at least somewhat believed that Adam and Eve were real people, and 72% at least somewhat disagreed with the idea that God used evolution to create everyone, but when it came to the age of the earth, they were split.

This may shock some, but it isn’t just a question between pastors.  A number of scientists and academics in the United States believe in a God-created universe, and as crazy as it sounds, quite a few believe in a young earth, too.  Yes, while many people view young-earth creationists as the equivalent of flat-earthers, this crazy viewpoint is actually debated and defended from the university campus to national news programs to movie documentaries.  In fact, the case for a young earth has spawned a multitude of organizations, websites, think-tanks, research groups, and even museums.  The most infamous museum is here, but there are many others, even some outside the United States.

Which brings about the question, why did half of the protestant pastors surveyed doubt the idea of a young earth?  Isn’t that what the Bible says?  Are they compromising?  Were they forced to admit the truth of science?  What?

Whether it’s good news or bad news probably depends on your perspective, but what you shouldn’t be–is surprised.  “Old-earth creationism,” the idea that God created everything BILLIONS of years ago, has been a common belief in Christianity for a long time.  Williams Jennings Bryan, the man who defended creation at the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” was an old-earth creationist.  There are Bible scholars, Hebrew scholars, and evidently half of protestant pastors who are in the same boat.  Many believe the “days” of creation were not 24-hour periods, but longer periods of time.  Others will argue there is a gap of time in the early verses of Genesis, which can account for billions of years.  There are other theories as well, but the difference of interpretation among Christians is so profound that in the book “Examine the Evidence,” Ralph Muncaster pleaded with Christians to avoid drawing a line in the sand over the age of the earth. “We should not allow these issues to weaken our presentation of the Bible,” he wrote.  And indeed, atheists and other skeptics should realize not every Christian who believes in the Bible, also believes the earth is 6,000 years old.

I used to be an “old-earth creationist” myself and as a result, I am very familiar with the Biblical arguments for it.  They were my arguments for awhile, too, and although I have since changed my mind and become a believer in a very young earth, I do sympathize with Muncaster’s point of view. In fact, I think he’s right when he argues that many people in our world will simply tune you out if they think you believe something goofy like the earth is young, or Noah built an ark.  This doesn’t mean we young earth creationists should be silent, but we should speak thoughtfully. After all, the vast majority of us have been told the earth is billions of years old for our entire lives and a 6,000 year old earth just sounds weird.  In the media, if someone is labeled as a “young earther,”  they are seen as losing credibility. Most people consider the age of the earth to be unassailable, and anyone who questions it is like someone who questions if 2 + 2 really equals 4.

So let me be reasonable.  The Bible never comes out and says how old the earth is, or on what date it was created.  To arrive at the age of the earth via the Bible, you have to infer it.  One way is by adding up the ages of the people listed in genealogies in the Bible.  Doing so arrives at an age of about 6,000 years. You can find those genealogies in places like Genesis 5, which gives a long list of people with weird names.  It details who was born, how long they lived, the names of some of their children, how long they lived, who their children were, and on and on….It isn’t the most riveting stuff in the world.  It’s almost like reading a phone book in France in fact, but if you’re trying to figure out how old the earth is according to the Bible, those numbers make a difference.  Fortunately, it’s ok if you still can’t pronounce the names.

Key questions remain, however.  Did the genealogies skip any generations? (Maybe) And regardless how long people have been around, the big questions surrounding those “days” in Genesis and the possibility of any gaps of time, still remain. How someone answers these questions, will determine where they land on the age of the earth from a Biblical perspective.  For a pastor, deciding what you believe is not just a question of the science, but a question of how to correctly interpret the Bible as well.

In some ways, this was incredibly freeing for me.  The mere fact a Biblical case could be made for an old-earth, meant I could look at the science without any preconditions at all.  I didn’t feel any pressure to accept an old-earth view just to match up with evolution.  I could listen to the questions about potassium argon dating, or the findings of helium dating, without having to automatically dismiss one view or the other.  The result was I listened to the argument for a young-earth with an open mind, and heaven help me, it made sense.  Scientific sense.

So I changed my mind.  I became one of the crazy young-earthers. And ironically, I did it precisely because I did NOT have to start with a conclusion.  This is not the case for those who are tied down to the idea of evolution, which requires an old age of the earth. It’s not the case for every Christian who is convinced there’s only one possible interpretation of Genesis.  But for many of those who take the Bible literally, and for protestant pastors, they can go either way on the age of the earth.