We are … biblical creationists?
Being careful not to play into the opposition’s hands …
(First appeared in a CMI newsletter in September 2010)
Since my own conversion over 20 years ago, I’ve had to try to understand some of the terms used to define certain aspects of the Christian faith. For instance, we use various short labels (e.g. Calvinist, Arminian, premillenialist, postmillennialist, etc.) to provide an ‘instant snapshot’ of what someone believes in a certain defined area.
It’s no different in the creation debate. For example, there are Theistic Evolutionists, Progressive Creationists, Gap Theorists, Day-Age Creationists and so on. Although the above have different slants on interpreting Genesis, they all hold to the idea of ‘millions and billions of years’. And to distinguish ourselves from them, it’s been common for creationists to refer to themselves as a ‘Young-Earth Creationist’ (YEC). It’s immediately obvious that you believe in a world only thousands of years old. But is this the wisest course of action?
We need to consider that it is now often used as a term of disparagement—and unfortunately, it’s often effective. This is because we’ve allowed the old-Earthers to convince people that believing in a younger Earth means that somehow one is anti-science, extremist in our thinking or that we’ve left one’s brains outside the church door—like believing the earth is flat. So when witnessing to an unbeliever, or even to another Christian who is confused about the issue of origins, such a label can cause them to put the shutters up even before they’ve heard a defense.
However, we actually know from experience that the evidence for a young Earth is convincing—even compelling, and fits what we understand about the ability of science to judge such things. Virtually every church we go to, lives are transformed and turned around by hearing a reasonable defense that the earth is young (compared to the secular view). In short, people are immensely encouraged that the Bible can be trusted—as written!
So if we call ourselves YECs, it permits us to be marginalized by old-Earthers—even though they are the ones that should be marginalized, because ultimately, ‘creationists’ (in the sense now often called ‘YEC’) are the ones who ultimately are prepared to believe what the Bible says.
A better way to go?
The term we should use for ourselves, I suggest, is ‘biblical creationists’. Because that is exactly what we are! Some other points in favor:
- The term immediately reinforces to the hearer that this (six days, recent creation) is what the Bible actually teaches (which is true—all other views come from trying to make it fit the secular view of vast ages).
- It also highlights that the old-Earth creationist doesn’t take a straightforward view of Scripture. If the Bible does not speak of these vast ages, then the old-Earthers’ authority about such things must be coming from another source and not the Bible alone. Better for them to be marginalized by terminology in this way, rather than the other way around! We can point out that:
- The earth is actually old—very old—to the order of 6,000 years; the only reason people feel this is ‘young’ is because of the indoctrination of billions of years. (See The earth: how old does it look?).
- All recorded human history aligns with a date of only thousands of years, and this is verified by population studies. The fossil record strongly supports and records the events of Noah’s Flood and the order of burial of the creatures that existed at that time.
- Radiometric dating methods, when one properly understands the assumptions involved, do not support an old Earth … and radiocarbon dating in particular strongly speaks against the belief in millions and billions of years
Another term to (re)consider
And it’s not just when talking about ourselves—but also the position we hold. Often people refer to ‘creationism’. But although, like YEC, the term may be ‘rusted in’, it could subtly suggest that believing in creation as per the Bible teaches is one more ‘ism’, an additional belief or even an oddity ‘tacked on’ to Christianity. In fact, believing in six days, recent creation and global Flood is really the time-honoured evangelical approach to Scripture—the historical-grammatical reading of what it means and believing what it says!
So perhaps we should try to stick to ‘biblical creation’ or ‘Genesis creation’. This reinforces what it’s really all about, just like the term ‘biblical creationists’. In short, let’s remember to do what we can to advance the cause!
Perhaps some who hold to compromise positions will be upset by this. But if it gets Christians to examine the evidence and what the Bible actually says—then that’s good! People need to be challenged to trust God at His Word when He said that He created the heavens and earth in six days. Such confidence in God’s Word can inspire the next generation of creation scientists too, like Jeremy S. who wrote:
“Your writings [Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s] played a big part in me becoming a Christian so just wanted to say thanks for that. I recently got a Master’s degree in Physics from the University of Manchester … I have a very keen interest in creation, which started when my older brother got me a subscription to Creation magazine about 6 years ago. He is now finishing a PhD in Astronomy.”
Once again, thanks for your support of this ministry that allows us to advance the cause in so many ways.