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An emotional response to the age of the earth

by CMI staff

Photo by Joy Luke The girl with a tear running down her cheek, has won several photography awards (photographic judges are emotional too!)
The girl (not the sister in this article) with a tear running down her cheek, has won several photography awards (photographic judges are emotional too!)

Peter Milford’s article ‘But the New Testament does not make a big deal out of the Age of the Earth’ prompted a reader to send this account of a quite remarkable experience:

What a troubling issue this is in Christianity today! My sister, who helped me become a Christian many years ago, and her family, will now no longer talk to me about this topic. They appear to be long-age Christian believers.

The last time I tried to talk to her about it she burst out crying, her head in her hands, pleading that she just “wanted to be left alone!”, yet I had hardly said a thing to her.

She and her family cannot bear to even think about a young Earth. I must admit, it actually seems to be an abomination of an idea to them; an extremely troubling idea.

How confusing for me! I don’t understand their distress.

So much for the oft-heard contention that the age-of-the-earth issue is “not an issue”! We asked selected CMI staff from our offices around the world if they could offer any insights into this quite astonishing account. They sure did! We reproduce them here, as each was able to make some quite astute observations, each from their own perspective, which readers might find useful to bear in mind when the topic of a “young earth” comes up in conversation.

Calvin Smith:

I think a reaction like this comes from people who very clearly see the inconsistencies (death before sin, a loving God using evolution to create [i.e. God made all of our problems] etc) that we point out but still believe in evolution as fact. The intellectual turmoil of not wanting to lose your faith and living with the dichotomy of two conflicting beliefs is the only thing I think would bring forward such an emotional reaction (just leave me alone, I don’t want to think about it!).

Editors: Of course, evolution and long ages are not fact, as the articles on this website make clear. Note that we don’t claim that one can’t be a Christian and a long-ager. Many people are saved despite ‘blessed inconsistency’—there is no hint in the Bible that the ability to hold mutually contrary thoughts in the same skull is an unforgivable sin. See also:

Gary Bates:

I think it could be an emotional reaction possibly due to the following things:
  1. The discomfort that they believe they will endure being young-Earth “pariahs”.
  2. The thought of having to get their heads around it is too much to contemplate.
  3. The wrong assumption that it causes people to lose their faith.
  4. That arguments about creation ensue destroying fellowship.
  5. And of course, it’s not a salvation issue.

Emil Silvestru:

How about the—false—image the Dawkinsian media and many churches associate with YEC? You know, the good old flat earth society (invented by Washington Irving) nonsense

Tas Walker:

There could be other factors at work too, such as conflicting loyalties. Perhaps her husband or father is a long-ager and she feels pulled in two directions. Crying too can simply be a “get-my-own-way” behaviour like anger and suffering. Another possibility is that debates in the past have become personal and she has felt hurt or offended by the way she was treated. It’s obvious that this is not just a matter of evidence and logic but there are very strong emotional conflicts at work.

Rob Carter:

“Cognitive dissonance” is a powerful psychological force and surprisingly easy to trigger in certain circumstances. The spiritual aspects of this are not to be taken lightly, and play an ever larger role than psychology. You never know how your words or actions will challenge a person. They are living through a string of circumstances we know little about and then we walk up and say things like, “Do you trust Jesus as your personal Lord and savior?” or “Face it, the Bible says the earth is only 6,000 years old!” Depending on the moment, they might react in all sorts of ways. Sometimes our words fall like a lead balloon. Sometimes—Shazaam!— they get hit with a lightning bolt. But even then, the lightning might be enlightening or just plain uncomfortable.

We battle not against flesh and blood. We are ambassadors of a Greater Power. And we know not what we do! We are not completely in the world, and therefore we do not completely operate by the world’s rules. Things happen that cannot be accounted for because 1) the enemy knows us and resists God working through us, and 2) the system is gamed in our favor by the Creator of that system (making #1 a moot point). There is not much left in this old world to shock and surprise me. I don’t feel like a puppet, but I do know that I am being used for purposes I cannot fathom.

Editors: One of those purposes is not to “stir up division” between Christians over the age of the earth. Rather, our sincere desire is to see the authority of the Bible being upheld, and to see people putting their faith in our Saviour Jesus Christ, and to see them grow as Christians and be effective in helping fulfil the Great Commission.

As one CMI speaker has said recently “I’m so happy when I can get past the issue of Creation/evolution and the age of the earth, and on to the real task of encouraging people to trust in the authority of the Bible, and begin applying it, with confidence, to all of our lives.”

Published: 28 March 2009

Helpful Resources

Refuting Compromise
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati
US $12.00
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Six-Day Creation
by Robert Gurney
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15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History
by Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan D Sarfati
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