Answering close family on creation questions
Biblical creationists are used to the outright rejection and ridicule of our stand on the Bible that is so common in today’s world. However, it can be very hard to deal with when it occurs in one’s own marriage. In such cases, extra grace and tact is clearly a necessity in approaching the debate, because it can undercut the God-designed unity of the marriage bond testified to in Genesis. Dr Jonathan Sarfati helps point a believer to some of the information that may be helpful in moving the debate forward.
I want to start by thanking you for your valuable ministry. One of the reasons that my wife is no longer a Christian because she accepted the millions of years picture of history and couldn’t fit the Bible into this with any consistency.
I have always been open to a 6 day creation, world-wide flood and so on, but have considered myself open to various possibilities, such as some combination of creation and limited evolution. However recently, I done some significant research, including reading your articles and watching Creation Live TV, and am now firmly convinced that the world is only thousands of years old.
The only problem with your view is that my wife now knows that I subscribe to it, and she is no fan of yours! She is very concerned about me and thinks that I am in a bad state (midlife crisis??). Evidence for a young earth is great for my edification but has been almost useless in our recent discussions as she refuses to listen to a word and thinks that it’s all biased and ridiculous.
In general, she thinks that I am closed-minded and when she asks me to investigate an issue, that I only look at the material that supports my viewpoints. She thinks that I am scared to openly investigate the truth of the Bible. She has given me a few issues to investigate but stipulated that I do not go to ‘Christian’ sources for answers but look up books, encyclopedias, etc. I fear that whatever response I give to her, it will not satisfy her need for me to show ‘open-mindedness’. I really don’t know how to deal with this.
This is a complex issue because although she has fallen for the millions of years sucker-punch and refuses to listen to me, she is otherwise very intelligent. I would love your assistance through this process.
CMI’s Dr Jonathan Sarfati replies:
This must be a very hard time for you. Also for CMI in a sense, because we can provide information, but advice on dealing with loved ones is another thing.
I think in this case, the most important thing is to deal with the point of facts v interpretations, and the myth of neutrality. These are the main problems with her approach, and need to be addressed.
Even if you don’t show her these articles, the points can be made from them. Then you could gently point out her double standards: she doesn’t want you to go to sources from “your side”, Christians (very open-minded to refuse even to consider Christian sources), but then why should you take heed of sources from her atheistic side? Make no mistake, this is just as biased (and I would say ridiculous). The above articles document the strident anti-theistic bias of many evolutionists.
Of course, if we were never to go to Christian sources, we had better not discuss the laws of motion, gravity, spectroscopy, cooling, since they were discovered by the creationist Isaac Newton. Nor should we ever have MRIs, because it was the creationist Raymond Damadian who first discovered that diseased tissue produced a different signal.
Also, when it comes to bias, the scholar N.T. Wright made a point about the New Testament writers: yes, they were biased, but why were they biased? He argues that the only thing that could have produced such a bias, in the face of cultural norms and outright persecution and even torture and murder, was unshakable witness to the Resurrection of Jesus. There are at least 17 factors that meant Christianity could not have succeeded in the ancient world, unless it were backed up with irrefutable proof of the Resurrection.1
Another point about bias was made by C.S. Lewis, who coined the term “Bulverism” for a common type of logical fallacy:
“you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly.”
For more, see Is Belief in God a case of Christian wish fulfillment? as well as this explanation of the genetic fallacy: the error of trying to disprove a statement of fact by tracing it to its source.
OK, what if she goes to a theistic evolutionary source, to claim something like, “look, even Christians accept millions of years and evolution, so it’s not an atheistic conspiracy”? But then it would be worth showing that it’s disingenuous to promote them, on the lines of, “These authors claim that evolution and Christianity are compatible, but you clearly don’t believe that. So why should you expect me to read books that don’t even convince you of their main conclusion?” Also, this is not really independent confirmation, since these churchian evolutionists really have views of origins that are indistinguishable from those of atheistic evolutionists, for all practical purposes.
Finally, I would point out that all our books and articles cite secular sources. And my book, The Greatest Hoax on Earth?, refutes the best arguments by world champion Darwinist and atheist, Richard Dawkins. So you will “get the other side” by seeing his arguments and my responses.
I hope these points give you some help, and wish you all the best.
Thanks Jonathan for your quick and considered answer.
I will read your links. I have your book The Greatest Hoax on Earth and loved it. I will read it again though.
My wife’s strongest suggestion to me is to look at history, as she feels that this is more likely to show that a ‘literal’ reading of the Bible is not valid. For instance, she says, “There were 14 million people in China at the supposed time of Noah’s ark. Do you think they were all destroyed by a flood and started again?” So I’m looking closely at finding the source material for Chinese History—she believes that there is written documentation proving that there were 14 million people in China (and many in India) around 2500 BC or so. Most likely, I will find that the source material is not documentation but artefacts and fossils which are dated using flawed methodologies. Then I can point out that I accept the basic tenets of Chinese History but am not convinced by the dates.
My real fear is that nothing will convince her that I am open-minded enough. If I give her answers, she says that she doesn’t want answers. But if I don’t have them, she says that I can’t answer her questions and it shows that the Bible is not true. I am also scared of mentioning the Tower of Babel as an explanation for the spread of people groups. If she treated me with such disdain when I said that dinosaurs were on the ark, what will she say when I mention the Tower of Babel!
Jonathan Sarfati replies:
One must wonder about how anyone would know there were that many people in China, and of course the dating methods as you note. However, the Encyclopædia Britannica says on China: “The first dynasty for which there is definite historical material is the Shang, or Yin (18th–12th century BC).”2 Also, studies of the earliest Chinese writings on oracle bones show that they were based on events recorded in Genesis.3 See also Dating of “oldest pottery” from China is based on assumptions (and the related issues in How does Göbekli Tepe fit with biblical history?).
Well, it really seems that something else is going on here, and these pseudo-intellectual arguments are a smokescreen. It might be worth trying to find out what is really her beef with Christianity or her apparent anger towards God. I am no pastor or biblical counsellor, yet this sort of expertise might be what is needed.
After all, supposedly you are not open-minded, but she closes her mind to any Christian source. She apparently thinks that her questions are unanswerable, but then doesn’t want your answers. I suppose Christians are intolerant, yet sensible explanations about dinos on the Ark are treated with disdain (including the recent discoveries, published in the leading secular science journals, about dino growth spurts and multiplying dino names—see How did dinosaurs grow so big? and Dino ‘puberty blues’ for paleontologists). The Tower of Babel perfectly explains the distinct language families.
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- See documentation by James Patrick Holding, The Impossible Faith, Xulon Press, Florida, USA, 2007. https://www.tektonics.org/lp/nowayjose.php. Return to text.
- ‘China’, Encyclopædia Britannica 3:230, 15th ed., 1992. Return to text.
- Nelson, E.R., Broadberry, R.E and Chock, G.T., God’s Promise to the Chinese, Concordia, Saint Louis, MO, 1997; see also the more recent Faith of our Fathers, top right. Return to text .