How I became a Christian
Geologist’s confidence strengthened by evidence for global Flood
Published: 18 February 2014 (GMT+10)
When I was small I went to a Presbyterian school where the Lord’s Prayer was recited each day before class, and from about the age of six I believed in God. Around the age of eight I found an old Bible, having never seen one before. As I read the first words of Genesis I felt I was somehow reading God’s own description of the creation. There was a simple power, eloquence and authority.
In the years that followed I became aware of the idea of Darwinian evolution through books and occasionally television. When I was ten my family went on a tour of a large cave system and the guides told us that the stalactites and stalagmites were a million years old or more. I started to think that the Bible was largely based on mythical stories. As I grew up I became an agnostic, and by sixteen was practically an atheist, and accepted Darwinian evolution as fact.
Out in the bush
When I left school I worked on and off as a geological field assistant and jackaroo.1 Working in the remote Queensland and Northern Territory bush seemed to draw me closer to God. We often camped under the stars, without tents or even a tent-fly when the weather was dry. Sometimes I’d wake in the middle of the night, and see the stars shining brightly with a quiet beauty that naturally made me think of God and eternity.
Beginning to play music at this time also made me more receptive to God, I believe. I was happier, because it was something I’d wanted to do for a long time. There were many nights in the bush where I practiced by the light of a kerosene lamp.
For some reason I started to think not only of God again, but also of evolution, completely out of the blue. Did evolution really happen like the school textbooks had said it did? I read the Gospels, and also a book by Francis Schaeffer on the book of Genesis, and other Christian apologetics books. I began to wonder if Darwinian evolution and the millions and billions of years might not be true. Eventually I believed in Jesus and became a Christian when I was twenty-one.
In my late twenties I completed an arts degree, majoring in music. But a music career at that point seemed unlikely, so I went back to university again to become a geologist like my father and uncle, and I put music aside. In order to study geology, I decided that a change in my thinking was necessary—I would learn to accept Darwinian evolution and ‘geologic time’, the billions of years of ‘prehistory’. In those days I had never heard of a geologist who questioned the concept of billions of years, or Darwin’s theory. I would try to combine secular theory with belief in the Bible.
Thomas Phillips, R.A., 1770–1845
Adam Sedgwick (1785–1873), one of the founders of modern geology.
At university I saw a poster advertising a talk on creation by Dr Don Batten, a Christian plant physiologist. I rejected many of the things he said, as at that time I believed in orthodox long-age geology. However, the talk was almost over when he put a drawing of Adam and Eve on the screen, depicted in the Garden of Eden, and in the ground under their feet were the bones of many long-dead creatures, which represents the situation if the Bible is interpreted to accommodate millions of years of geology. Yet this was meant to be God’s “very good” creation.
Even so, theistic evolution seemed the only option for a Christian geologist. What happened next is that I started losing faith in the Bible again. I felt that if evolution were true, God should have told us. It is a story easily told, and readily believable by both the simple and the sophisticated. Many ancient people believed in some type of evolution. Christian theology—especially the doctrine of fall and redemption, and the whole purpose of Christ—became a mess once I accepted Darwinian evolution. I still believed in the divinity of Jesus, and the Resurrection, but my doubts were growing.
As the geology degree progressed I was motivated to look more deeply into secular geological assertions of earth’s alleged long history. I started to question things that tended to be taken for granted by geology students—the ‘just so’ stories of secular geologists. I went to the geology section in the university library and the State Library of Queensland and did a lot of extra-curricular reading.
I also studied-up on the ‘founding fathers’ of geology such as Charles Lyell. Modern geology has been built at least partially on an anti-biblical foundation that was representative of a strong philosophical movement amongst western intellectuals at the time. Eventually I rejected the view of secular geology that there is no evidence for a global Flood.
Evidence for the truth of God’s existence, and His creation, is all around, and the Bible says we have no excuse not to believe. Acknowledging the reality of the biblical Flood is important too, and Peter in the New Testament prophesied that a time would come when many scoffers would reject the truth of it. He foretold the rise of Lyell’s uniformitarianism, the philosophy of secular geology which so influenced Charles Darwin, saying the scoffers will believe that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation”, linking this with denial of the global Flood.2
Just before the geology degree was completed I found some books outlining problems with the theory of evolution, by Michael Denton and Jonathan Sarfati. I was very encouraged by what I read, and soon after discovered Creation magazine. My Christian faith rebounded.
Keeping what is good
It has been the experience of many Christians that rejecting anything in the Bible on the scientific advice of those who are philosophically committed to disbelief can lead towards a similar state of general disbelief. Anyone keen to discern the “true truth”, as Schaeffer put it, should rigorously check the assertions, evidences, assumptions, preconceptions and underlying philosophical commitments of those who have a big influence on something as eternally important as faith in God. A person who refuses to see will simply not see.
Christ said to let your lamp shine in the world, and not put a cover over it. These days, I’m playing music again. And having entered one of Australia’s most respected geology faculties believing in the articles of faith of secular geology, and having come out the other side as a young Earth believer, I felt I would one day like to write for Creation Ministries International, which I now do on a part-time basis.
References and notes
- A jackaroo is an term in Australia and New Zealand for a young man living and working on a sheep or cattle station to gain practical experience in managing the property. Return to text.
- 2 Peter 3:4 (KJV). Return to text.
I love that line: "rejecting anything in the Bible on the scientific advice of those who are philosophically committed to disbelief can lead towards a similar state of general disbelief." Brilliant and true.
Why would we reject the bible based on the scientific advice of those who are biased against the Bible and who let that bias affect their scientific investigation?
Thanks for the article Jonathon.
My journey in faith has some similar moments. One thing that made me think was the caving mention. We are often told that stalagmites take thousands of years to form. 10cm per 1000 years. I just saw an article on ScienceFocus.com called "How long does it take stalagmites and stalactites to form" which that illustrates this.
What always bothered me was that as a caver - seeing how small some formations were, when they should be immense. Also how short a time it takes for objects in mother shiptons cave to be covered in calcium, such things as teddy bears and toys, these take years not thousands of years, and so why can't formations take this long? We have to filter out the assumptions of the past in such articles - thanks for your inspiring story. God bless
What a struggle ........ but thank God you came out on the right side. I hope that you might be an encouragement to others, in your life and in your writing.
Awesome testimony! I am not a scientist but I have been studying the creation/evolution argument for many many hours over the last 7 years and talking with many atheists, evolutionists and Christians struggling in their faith over this issue. You don't see a ton of fruit [at least I haven't], but this encourages me to go on and trust that the Lord does reach some people who are open to the truth.
Praise God :-) ...and straightway the father of the child cried, and said with tears, Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief! ...Jesus said, I am the way, the truth & the life... Mt 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Ac 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ...........Thank you, Lord, and thank you who labor to share the testimony. May we all be as faithful....as the angels rejoice at the salvation of every saved soul, it is not the Lord's will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, and the Day is fast approaching.
Excellent article! It's great to see that someone can go through a secular education in GEOLOGY and come out as a young-earth biblical creationist. Glad to see that you were able filter out all of the naturalistic bias. Hope to hear more from you in the future in Creation magazine