Teaching College Students About Creation
There is no doubt that the evolutionary paradigm is dominant at virtually every college/university in the United States. Sadly, this is also true for a large number of ‘Christian’ colleges as well. Christians who are serious about the Bible should consider a college’s position on origins before deciding to attend. Many well-meaning parents end up paying tens of thousands of dollars to have their son’s or daughter’s worldview undermined through evolutionary teaching.
At Liberty University, all graduates are required to complete a one semester course that examines the creation/evolution controversy from a young Earth creationist (i.e. Genesis means what it says, in line with what the Lord Jesus Christ believed and taught as well) perspective. Although the course is considered an apologetics course and not a science course, most of the content is scientific in nature and taught by science faculty.
Currently, we use two textbooks both from [Creation Ministries International]. The first book is Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati. The second book is The Answers Book [now The Creation Answers Book]. We also make use of other resources from [CMI] including many of the excellent articles posted on the [CMI] Web site.
In our course, we include many of the popular arguments and evidence supporting evolution. Importantly, we teach about evolution but we do not teach evolution as the explanation for the origin of life and mankind. It would be irresponsible if we did not present information about evolution. If our students were not presented with the common arguments and evidence used to support evolution, then they will be poorly equipped to defend their faith. Therefore, we give them information about the evolution perspective and counter this with information from a creation perspective so that they can better refute evolutionary arguments.
Topics in our course include:
Introduction—One’s view on origins is foundational to one’s worldview. The importance of creation to an overall Christian worldview is presented. We discuss the logical outcomes of an evolutionary worldview, including racism, abortion, eugenics, and euthanasia. These outcomes are contrasted with the outcomes of a creation worldview that hold man as created in the image of God—an intrinsic value that does not depend on ability, age, handicap or potential benefit to society. Emphasis is placed on the Word of God in defending the Christian faith.
Limitations of Science—The scientific method is described, and empirical sciences are contrasted with historical and social sciences. The role of presuppositions is discussed, as well as how starting assumptions can influence or even determine the conclusions that are drawn. Emphasis is placed on how creationists and evolutionists can look at the same data and yet come to different conclusions.
Genetic Limits of Evolution—Contrasts are drawn between the evidence supporting small scale changes in organisms (sometimes called microevolution) with the inference that successive small changes can lead to large changes over long periods of time (macroevolution). We examine factors that influence microevolution, including genetic drift, gene flow and mutation. The ‘creationist orchard’ is contrasted with the ‘evolutionary tree’ with emphasis placed on the lack of mechanism and evidence for macroevolution. Neo-Darwinism and punctuated equilibrium are discussed.
Fossil Record—This topic begins with a description of how fossils are believed to form. The assumptions used to place fossils within the geologic column are discussed. The lack of transitional forms and alleged transitional forms are examined. Many evolutionary trees from paleontology texts are shown highlighting the missing intermediates. Punctuated equilibrium is discussed and how the problems it purportedly addresses are expected in the creation model.
Human Evolution—We discuss the significant fossil humans including Neandertals, and Homo erectus. Frauds such as Nebraska man and Piltdown man are also considered in the context of the desire to find the ‘missing link.’ Genetic evidence also comes to bear as we demonstrate that a critical examination of the alleged progression of human evolution is not strongly supported by scientific data.
Origin of Matter and Energy—The first and second laws of thermodynamics are presented to highlight obstacles for the spontaneous origin of matter, energy and information. ‘Big Bang’ cosmology is considered in light of recent creationist alternatives. Origin of the solar system and the moon is emphasized with the nebular hypothesis critically examined. The unique parameters of the Earth specific for life demonstrate the work of God.
Age of the Earth—Evolutionary dating methods are discussed and the intrinsic assumptions are addressed. Uniformitarianism and catastrophism are contrasted and compared with actual observations. Difficulties in applying uniformitarian principles are discussed. In particular, radiometric dating is examined. Alternative explanations to the millions of years that are being developed by creationists are mentioned. Emphasis is placed on trusting the Word of God instead of the opinions and theories of man.
Origin and Complexity of Life—Irreducible complexity and intelligent design are presented as important arguments supporting the need for a Creator for the origin of life. Evolutionary scenarios for the origin of the first cell are presented along with the obstacles that make them impossible. Stanley Miller’s experiment producing amino acids from methane, ammonia, water and hydrogen gas is discussed, as is the RNA world hypothesis. The complexity of the so-called ‘simple’ cell is presented.
Science and Scripture—Biblical evidence and arguments are presented supporting a young Earth creation perspective. This discussion begins with the work of each of the six days. The effects of Noah’s Flood are discussed from a biological and geological perspective. Compromise positions with Biblical Creation are presented and rebutted including theistic evolution, progressive creation, day-age theory, gap theory, and old Earth creationism. The significance of all men descending from Adam is discussed, with the problem of death before sin, in the compromise positions. The course concludes with tying the Creation to God’s plan of salvation in Christ Jesus.
The apologetics course at Liberty University is making a significant contribution to strengthening the Christian worldview of our students. Together with Dr Steve Deckard, we are measuring students’ worldview beliefs and attitudes both before and after the course. In a series of articles soon to be published, we document the changes that result from the instruction. There is a clear and consistent shift toward stronger young Earth creation beliefs after the class. For example, more students strongly agree with the statement ‘All things were created by God in six 24-hour days’ at the end of the course.
Creation ministries are a valuable resource for teachers who want to give their students credible information and evidence about creation. I strongly recommend that other teachers and professors include creation in their courses.
Others may be able to help by providing creation materials to college students. I recently participated in a church fair on a local college campus. We gave over 130 copies of Refuting Evolution to students. Many of these college students were interested in finding out about evidence supporting creation. [Your ministry] has many books and booklets available to use for creation evangelism and telling people about the evidence for creation.