Sam A. Smith
In writing this series of articles I have repeatedly stated that I am a Bible-believing Christian with over forty-five years of Bible teaching experience and twenty-two years in Christian education (Bible and science). I believe every word of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I believe that the six days of Genesis were literal, twenty-four hour days, likely less than ten thousand years ago. I believe that all of the living kinds were made by God during the six days of Genesis, and that no new kinds have emerged through any natural (evolutionary) processes, though considerable variation within kinds has occurred. I believe in all of the miracles recorded in the Bible, including the worldwide flood of Noah’s time. I believe that Moses parted the sea in which the Egyptians subsequently drowned, and that Jesus rose bodily from the dead and will one day return. But one thing I do not believe is that the Bible teaches a recent creation ex nihilo (i.e., a young universe). I do believe that even though life is fairly recent in cosmic history, simple observation of the physical Universe provides abundant attestation to the fact that the Universe is much older, almost certainly on the order of many billions of years. I believe that to deny the obvious is to deny common sense and one’s ability to think, or even understand the Bible; and I believe that if we train a generation of Christian youth not to think, we will reap what we sow. Sadly, this is precisely where much of Christian education at the elementary, secondary, and Sunday school level is headed.
In previous articles the case has been presented that 1) the Bible does not teach a recent creation ex nihilo (out of nothing), and 2) that a recent creation ex nihilo is inconsistent with observed astronomical facts. If the case for these two points has not been made by now, there is no need to continue reading, for no additional evidence will be presented. What I would like to do here is to implore pastors, parents, Sunday school teachers, Christian school teachers, and anyone involved in the education of Christian youth to consider the outcome of teaching Recent Creationism. I do this with mixed feelings because I believe that recent creationists have done much good in refuting biological evolution, and I know many recent creationists who I believe to be devout, sincere, well-intentioned people. Nevertheless, I am convinced that while refuting one error, they are promulgating another, which I believe to be a ticking time bomb in the minds of Christian young people. Let me share with you why I say that.
Recent Creationism distorts the message of the Bible
One of the great appeals of Recent Creationism is that it’s fairly simple to understand, and there is a certain appeal in simplicity. Another attraction is that it’s promoted as “biblical.” What “Bible-believing” Christian wouldn’t want their beliefs to be “biblical”? The problem is that Recent Creationism isn’t what it professes to be because it isn’t biblical. I demonstrated this in the first article. Remember, recent creationists don’t claim that a recent creation could be “compatible” with Genesis; they claim that a recent creation is what Genesis teaches; and as I demonstrated, they then proceed to restructure the Genesis account to fit that view. This is how virtually every false teaching in church history started: someone got what they thought was a great idea and decided to find biblical support for it, whether that support existed or not. Please stay with me here; if we take the position that what recent creationists have done is okay because they say they claim to believe the Bible and they are refuting evolution, then where does this ultimately lead? I’ll tell you: It ultimately leads to the inability to distinguish truth from error. In such a mindset motives weigh more than truth, and that’s dangerous ground. Why would we want to teach our children that facts don’t matter?
Recent Creationism teaches a theory of origins at odds with the physical Universe
Evolutionists claim to have evidence for biological evolution, but they don’t. In the forty-five years since I graduated from college I have yet to learn of even one piece of physical evidence proving that even one transmutation has been documented scientifically. The problem is that many scientists, and especially science educators (I’ve been one) have difficulty distinguishing between an observation (a fact, if proper) and a theory (which by definition is not a fact). This is almost universally the case with teachers of biology (again, I’ve been one). So when I say “physical evidence” don’t think of the kind of evidence to which biologists appeal in support of Darwinian type evolution. I’m talking about a different kind of evidence, “hard” evidence, the kind that in a court of law could send a person to prison for life; and there is no better evidence that an event happened a certain way than a clear, detailed video of the actual event. If biological evolutionists had that kind of evidence (say, a verified and unbroken video of an actual transmutation as it occurred in the past) they would really have a slam-dunk case, but they don’t. Such is not the case with astronomy. Astronomical evidence is unfamiliar territory for most people, so let me state a basic concept: When we look at a distant heavenly body we are looking backwards in time. For example, if we were to look at the Sun (not a good idea), we would see it as it appeared approximately eight minutes ago. Why? Because it takes that amount of time for the light of the Sun to reach Earth. If we extend this further out into the Universe it should be obvious that the further out we look, the further back in time we are looking. In essence, the Universe allows us to actually observe the past just as if it were happening right now! There is no biological or geological equivalent to this type of evidence. The physical evidence for an old Universe (older than ten thousand years) is incontrovertible. Some of this evidence was discussed in the previous article. Dismissing the so called “evidence” for biological evolution (often an amalgam of data and hypothesis), and dismissing the evidence of an old Universe (based on actual observation) are two entirely different things, and it is critical that we understand the difference. The difference is in the type of “evidence.” Have you ever wondered why recent creationists seldom focus discussion on astronomy? Well, your kids are about to find out when they get to college, and what they will find is that the Universe of the recent creationists and the real Universe are not the same! The light images from space constitute a visual record of the Universe’s history, and that history is clearly much longer than ten thousand years. What will our young people do when faced with that evidence? I don’t have to guess; as a teacher I’ve seen it. They might deny the obvious (there’s a name for that), or more likely, they’ll just put their Bible on a shelf with their other books, or perhaps they might decide to somehow try to live with the contradiction (very uncomfortable). In any case, they are likely to feel betrayed by churches and schools that failed to give them a proper understanding of the creation. I have seen all of these scenarios played out; don’t let this happen to your child! We can stick our heads in the sand and hope for the best, but the Universe is too big to hide, and sooner or later your son or daughter will likely be confronted with this evidence, so don’t put a ticking time bomb in your kid’s backpack because that’s exactly what Recent Creationism is, a ticking time bomb.
Recent Creationism establishes a false conflict between the Bible and Science
There is an irreconcilable gulf between the biblical view of creation and the view of modern naturalism, which currently dominates science. Of course if the God of the Bible is also the God of creation there should be no conflict between the Bible and true, objective science. The Bible, when properly understood as the original authors intended, will always be in harmony with facts uncovered by true science. The problem with Recent Creationism is that it sets up students to distrust not just naturalistic theories, but factual evidence. To be suspicious of or to reject a theory is one thing, but to refuse to fairly consider factual evidence is something else. In my years as a Bible and science teacher in a Christian school I have seen the effect this has on young minds; they have been systematically trained to disbelieve, or at least to disregard facts that fall outside of their very limited worldview. This does not bode well for the future of Christianity.
Recent Creationism conditions students to accept nonsense as truth
As Christians engaged in an on-going conflict with Neo-Darwinian evolution we frequently have to remind evolutionists of the difference between facts and theories, but there seems to be a lot of confusion on this point among recent creationists as well. Recent creationists recognize that the Universe appears to be very old, in fact billions of years old; that’s why they have proposed various explanations of how it could look so old if, according to them, it’s fairly young. One of the early suggestions made by some recent creationists was that since creation the velocity of light has slowed to its present level. It was proposed that this could explain how light from distant stars could have traveled so far in such a short amount of time. Such theories are now generally dismissed by knowledgeable recent creationists, since they lack experimental support and would violate the Law of the Conservation of Matter and Energy as it relates to special relativity. According to Einstein’s famous formula, E=MC2, any change in the velocity of light would have to be compensated by a change in proton mass, which would have resulted in a Universe with a very different chemistry than the one in which we live. Currently the dominate theory among recent creationists is the “Appearance of Age Theory.” As has been pointed out in previous articles, this explanation attempts to account for the apparent age of the Universe by claiming that because it was created in a mature state it naturally looks older than it is. While such an explanation might sound okay at first look, it actually doesn’t address the real problem. As I said in the previous article (Recent Creationism: Astronomy Tells a Different Story), if the Universe simply appeared “mature” such a theory might not be a problem, but the Universe doesn’t simply appear mature, it appears to be old, with all of the “scars” associated with countless billions of events having happened through the progress of time (stars having exploded, galaxies in collision, intergalactic gravitational interference, etc.). In order to rescue the Appearance of Age Theory, which in turn rescues Recent Creationism, recent creationists have been forced to the conclusion that the Universe must have been created with the appearance of events that never actually happened (i.e., a false history); and to make it all look very real, all of those events that never happened seem to have obeyed all of the laws of physics, including gravitation and motion within a uniform temporal context! This conclusion, from which recent creationists have been unable to escape, is truly the most bizarre explanation imaginable. Frankly it’s every bit as bizarre as the idea of life from non-life! If this theory were true we could throw science, theology, philosophy, and common sense out the window, for we could never be sure that anything is what it appears to be, or that common sense has any relation to reality. Sadly, this is precisely the message that Recent Creationism is sending to Christian young people, unintentionally of course. The only redeeming factor in all of this is that many people never think deeply enough to see these problems, so they live their lives oblivious that the two ends of the proverbial “string” don’t meet in the middle, so to speak. Is this the kind of intellectual environment in which we want to raise our young people, that any explanation, no matter how bizarre is acceptable as long as it serves the purpose of refuting evolution? Roads that have ditches usually have them on both sides. It’s time to realize that Recent Creationism is simply the other ditch.
Recent Creationism consigns Christian students to academic oblivion
Christian students in higher education already face a lot of headwind academically regarding such issues as the nature of faith, the reliability of the Bible, miracles, etc. Do we really want to send them off to college with a totally “off the rails” view of the Universe too? If we choose to do so we risk making their lives far more difficult and their academic success far less likely. If they were suffering for the sake of truth such sacrifice would be commendable, but that’s not the case; to the extent that they will suffer due to a belief in a recent creation ex nihilo they will be suffering for something that the Bible nowhere teaches, and for which there is abundant physical evidence to the contrary.
Recent Creationism severely limits the advancement of Christians in the physical sciences
Bible-believing Christians are facing increasing obstacles both to entry and to advancement in the physical sciences, especially fields like physics, cosmology, astronomy, astrophysics, and space science. Adding Recent Creationism to their resume is the proverbial “kiss of death.” Ask yourself how many Christian schools offer degrees in these areas, and if they do, how many of their graduates obtain jobs outside of Christian education. Again, if Christians were suffering academic and professional isolation for the sake of truth that would be a worthy cause; sadly, some of the social, academic, and professional isolation that recent creationists experience is brought on because they have espoused some truly bizarre ideas as truth. If Christian students in higher education are suffering due to their belief in a recent creation ex nihilo, they’re suffering because their churches, schools, and in some cases even their parents, have let them down.
Is anything “right” with Recent Creationism?
While most of what I’ve said about Recent Creationism is negatively critical, some of the work of recent creationists has been very positive. Recent creationists have for the past sixty plus years been at the forefront in pointing out the fallacies of biological evolution, and they have done a truly excellent job. They have also helped to provide a better understanding of the geologic and fossil records and the problems associated with modern scientific dating. In addition, the recent creationists whose presentations I have heard over the years appear to be dedicated, sincere, and well-educated people. All of this is commendable. If the movement were named “Biblical Creationism” or some such title, and if there were not an insistence on a recent creation (i.e., a young Universe) I would have nothing but positive things to say, but the reality is that Recent Creationism is called “Recent Creationism” for a reason. I don’t recall ever attending a seminar where a recent creation speaker, no matter what the topic, didn’t bring in the concept of a young Universe; that is by design. Time is to evolution what fuel is to a fire; take away the fuel and a fire dies, take away time and evolution dies. The problem with this approach is that we should have realized early on that even if the Universe is old, even infinitely old which virtually no one now believes, the evolution of life from non-life would still be impossible. Adding time to the impossible does not make it possible; life is no more likely to develop from non-life in billions of years that it is in ten thousand years, because life is not a natural condition in the Universe, in spite of what many scientists now believe. It seems that recent creationists took an unnecessary shortcut to refute evolution and in the process, unintentionally I’m sure, did damage both to the Bible and to science. The real question is: Will the church and Christian education continue down this path, and in the process lose all credibility.
Copyright 2019, by Sam A. Smith
All Rights Reserved
Published September 2019 by BiblicalReaderCommunications.com