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Does creation damage Christianity’s credibility?

Published: 28 March 2015 (GMT+10)
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While CMI predictably regularly receives feedback from sceptics criticizing our stance on creation, some Christians also write in who believe that creation is actually harmful to biblical Christianity. C.M. from the US writes:

The damage you people are doing to the credibility of the Christian worldview is simply incalculable. You are attempting to force upon intelligent people a false dilemma: either believe in the well-established facts of geology, or believe in YOUR unreasonable and incorrect interpretations of Gen1 and Rom 8:19–22. Correct Biblical interpretation requires that vague or ambiguous words and passages be interpreted using the light provided by clear words and passages. In Genesis chap 2 the word "day" clearly means "era." There is no sound reason to invent a DIFFERENT meaning for the same word in Gen 1. Similarly, you cannot ignore a biblical passage’s context & hope to arrive at a correct interpretation. Paul is speaking to humans ABOUT humans in Romans. What type of vicious God would punish poodles and potted plants for a human being’s sin? What kind of monster do you "Christian" saboteurs worship? May God forgive you the ENORMOUS damage you have done and will do.

CMI’s Lita Cosner responds:

I’m a little confused. You’re angry because you feel we are doing damage to the Christian worldview, so I would assume that means you’re a Christian. But the angry tone you address us with does not fit with the way Christians should address each other.

Our foundational belief is that the Bible provides a reliable historical record, against which all competing claims must be measured. As a Christian, is there something ‘science’ might come up with that you would reject because of the Bible’s teachings, no matter how ‘well-established’ that fact might become? If so, you simply draw the line in a different place than we do. If not, I would suggest that you aren’t really thinking as a Christian in this area of your life.

Our interpretation of Genesis is not novel—Christians have been interpreting Genesis in this way literally since the time of Jesus; see The use of Genesis in the New Testament. Long-age interpretations only began to take hold with the advent of uniformitarian geology. This indicates that the long-age interpretation is not found in Scripture itself, but is an attempt to fit secular geology into the Bible. See Six Days? Really?

Genesis 2:4 only indicates that, just as in English, the Hebrew word for ‘day’ can mean a variety of things. However, the way it is used in Genesis one, in a series of days, each with an ordinal number and “evening and morning” strongly conveys the meaning of a normal-length day. Exodus 20:11 is nonsensical otherwise.

God does not ‘punish’ poodles for humankind’s sin—but animals do feel the effects of sin, as all of Creation does. And in fact, only biblical creationists have a coherent answer for suffering in the animal world—see Did God create over billions of years?

Charles, biblical creation does not damage people’s faith; Christians are enormously encouraged and bolder about sharing their faith when they realize they can trust the Bible from the very first verse. I hope you will reconsider both your compromise on this very important issue and the tone in which you address fellow Christians.

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Readers’ comments

Hiskia M.
Yes, Genesis is always meant to be simple, and it's meant to be understood by people all over the world including me which from the third world country who doesn't understand so much about evolution, science and the like. From what i experience, what makes some people seem to be reluctant to believe that God says what he says is that the over exposure of authoritative claim, "science TV", and personal desire upon something which are too be good to be wrong.They force us to deny God without letting us experience Him ourselves.

One of the example when I was trapped in the power of "illustrative cosmology" or "sci-fi" possibilities (where we can see the beauty of the universe (picture or video) and the narration that explains "What life is" and then found out that the real video is only 3D simulation, and the picture taken from the satellite is far more ugly and they just put the color in it :( I was even more dissappointed when i found out how the media works, and how the authoritative play politics. I gave up when they talk about God or life, i prefer enjoy the existence of God from my own personal life experience which is far more beautiful than the illustrated universe with some complicated disputable formula behind it.

we can use every possible idea to accept or deny Him, but the real decision always comes from that familiar word that says" Did He really say?" then we ought to push the button on/off ourselves. there's no excuse for whatsoever.

People call me uneducated, ignorant, and delusion. I'd say, yes, The Lord had told me that the world will treat me so and hang on the bus a little longer.Bless you CMI, without ever knowing you, i could have been trapped in cosmic illusion and evolution claws.
Alan J.
I note that CM has not responded to any of the rebuttals...
David N.
The integrity of the scriptures has been under attack for many years, from unscientific sources, When the LORD was speaking with Job it was with Creation He questioned him. Thank you for revealing Creation with scientific integrity, as you do Creation takes it's rightful place as the handiwork of the only Omnipotent God who id creator.
Robert B.
CM and others who share his views on the Creation account have found enough uncertainty in the scripture that they believe that the multi-billion year scientific consensus can be accommodated in Genesis 1 and 2.

I have heard pastors teach the same thing and I've heard the same arguments from Hugh Ross and now CM is here trying the same approach.

What is noteworthy is that none of these seem to be willing to confront Noah's Flood. It's as though they sense the third-rail nature of it. There isn't much ambiguity for them to latch onto there. If a global flood happened, then the geologic timescales are worthless. Yet if a long ager discounts the flood by making it figurative or local, then the credibility of Jesus and that of entire Bible should also be questioned by them.
Lee H.
Excellent response! The key to Biblical Christianity rests in the term Biblical. The Word is the standard by which truth/error is determined, and at every turn, scientific and historical discoveries fall in line with it. The creation is no different. For me, the rule of thumb is: If a passage can be taken literally, do so. If it can't, then determine the poetic or symbolic meaning. The Genesis account is factual in nature, with no language that would hint at a day/age proposition. In addition, the connection to day and night as each day seals the deal, establishing firmly that God is speaking of literal 24-hour day/night periods. Any "christianity" that discards the Word regarding truth is simply not Christian in the least, and will tend to begin a slide to error, heresy, and apostasy...a dangerous road to take.
Rudy R.
All I have to say is good article. I'm glad I found your website CMI.
Martin K.
Your title for this email got me interested but I was disappointed that the fan letter was so bitter. It was not very intelligent at all. I do have some contention with creationists who count the biblical genealogies backwards to come up with the age of the earth. If GOD had wanted us to know the age of the earth I think he would have just come right out and given us the number. My bible study group is going through the Old Testament and GOD gives numbers for every little thing in the book of Numbers. I also disagree with the fan letter when he says that days were to mean "eras" in Genesis. I think that days in Genesis meant real days. I also remember that GOD and Adam walked in the garden for "long time".
I truly believe that we, as mankind, are not ready or prepared to know how old our planet is. It will always be a mystery, just like future date of our planet's destruction will be a mystery. All christians should be prepared and live their lives as GOD wishes us to and that mystery will unfold as GOD intended it to.
Lita Cosner
We can't know exactly (i.e. down to the exact year) how old the earth is. But we can know approximately how old it is, because God gave us the chronological data for it. Adam did not walk in the Garden with God for 'a long time', or else he would have had children with Eve who were unfallen. But even if he had, we are told his total lifespan--he was 930 when he died; it doesn't matter how many of those years were spent in the Garden, they are still part of his lifespan.

It is misguided to appeal to 'mystery' when God has revealed something to us.
Michael Y.
The credibility of Christianity certainly does NOT rely on how well we conform to the "world" but ONLY on how well we align ourselves with the Word of God and honor Christ. Too many people dishonor our Lord when they value the "world" and the praises of others more than they value King Jesus and His Sword, which is the Word of God.
Burt L.
And what are the "well established facts of geology"? We are to uncritically accept Lyell's view of geology dispute all the evidences to the contrary? He was a lawyer who did not believe the Bible account of creation or of the global flood. Could this Moses hater (Charles Lylell, "so-called father of geology) actually have misinterpreted the evidence to fit his own godless worldview?

What really hurts the "Christian worldview" is people who place man's speculations over God's Holy Word. Great response Lita! Keep up the good work of contending for the faith: "once for all delivered to the saints."
Dorothy S.
Trust Science really! The theories change every few years. In the 60's I had to take Science to get into nursing. In 1965 I went to finish my degree at the university. All the high school Chem. theories had changed in 3-4 years!! Trust the Lord.Heb. 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever! How evolutionary theories have changed in the last 50 years? Only God and His Word can trusted.
G. F.
I came to faith when I was 47 years old. The friend who witnessed to me quoted verses from the Bible and nothing else. It took a year for God's words to cut through my blindness. I had no problem accepting the resurrection, virgin birth or any of the miracles. I do have a strong background in science and have never accepted the young earth creation. That does not affect my salvation. I believe the Bible is the literal word of God. He made the heaven and the earth in 6 days, however, He is outside of time and that makes a huge difference. We see the universe from one point in space. I am grateful my friend did not make an issue regarding the young earth - something that she believes. It would have been a huge stumbling block for me. I don't believe I would be a Christian had she made that an issue. It was difficult enough to listen to the Bible verses. I think what the writer in the article might be saying is: if the college educated cannot come to faith because of the emphasis on a young earth, we may be destroying their chances of going to Heaven. Is it okay to allow the biologists and geologists who cannot see past their college education, to die in their sins when we could be telling them about Jesus without the history lesson attached?
Lita Cosner
Gail, you are correct when you say that God is outside of time. That means when He says He created in 6 days, He has to be talking about human time, because He is outside of time.

I think compromise on the age of the earth is actually harmful on a far deeper level than you claim creation is to the potential faith of the college-educated. If we disbelieve Genesis, we are saying, the Bible is a nice story, but for matters of reality and history, you have to go to the academy, and what science is saying about the origin of the earth this week (and it may change that quickly!).

More importantly, we do not rely on ourselves to convince anyone of the Gospel's truth; only God can do that, and He is the one who inspired the Scripture that says He created in 6 days. So apparently He does not think it is a barrier to faith.

In reality, I sympathize with people who may find creation to be a 'stumbling block'. But really, it's only such a stumbling block because they've been taught all their lives that the earth is billions of years old, without ever hearing all the evidence that the earth can't be that old. See Did God create over billions of years?
Terry D P.
Comment on…
«…either believe in the well-established facts of geology, or believe in YOUR unreasonable and incorrect interpretations…Correct Biblical interpretation requires that vague or ambiguous words and passages be interpreted using the light provided by clear words and passages. — C.M. of USA»
This reminded of some of verses in the Bible which provide clear and unambiguous advice on how one should go about interpreting it:
BUT FIRST note this: no one can interpret any prophecy of Scripture by himself. For it was not through any human whim that men prophesied of old; men they were, but, impelled by the Holy Spirit, they spoke the words of God. — 2Pt1:20-21
And so he [Paul] does in all his other letters, wherever he speaks of this subject, though they contain some obscure passages, which the ignorant and unstable misinterpret to their own ruin, as they do the other scriptures. — 2Pt3:16
These and many other verses in the Bible tell me this: If I cannot understand any part of Scripture, the right course of action is to ask the Holy Spirit aka God for enlightenment; it is not rational to go off half-cocked, accusing believers of misinterpretation.
Atheists will find this advice impossible to stomach, because they cannot find it in their hearts to admit that there is a God in whom they can trust for enlightenment.
Keaton Halley
One point of correction regarding 2 Peter 1:20–21. It's speaking about how Scripture came about, not how to understand it after it's been written.
john P.
C.M. is the person doing damage to Christianity by compromising with secular ideas and evolution which is clearly a myth and the original scam started by the devil in the Garden of Eden. This person either does not understand or does not want to believe what God is telling us. There never were eras of millions and billions of years, there is no such thing as prehistory etc. C.M. thinks science has proven this stuff-how, by going back in a time machine?Hardly!

C.M., do not become one of the scoffers Peter is talking about- you can look it up where he prophesies scoffers coming in the last days and even the elect being led astray. We see this before our eyes today. Scoffers have been gaining ground the last 150 years or so- not that they will win, of course- we are ever closer to the end of the Age of Grace and closer to the Rapture which will be followed by the Tribulation

Genesis is part of the Protogospel. Jesus believed its accuracy and quoted from it, which is not surprising, considering He is the Creator of the Universe and God the Son. C.M., you are dangerously close to saying you know more than Jesus. Step back and consider what this means- He won't take that attitude lightly when you meet Him face to face.

It is not us creationists and biblical revelationist damaging Christianity, rather anyone adding to or taking from the Gospel and compromising it, trying to squeeze in man's myths or speculations. None of us is meant to be judge lest God judges us.Check out Revelations 22v18-19 and see what John warns us about.
Keaton Halley
Note: By publishing this comment, CMI is not endorsing any particular view of the timing of various eschatological events.
Nathanael L.
I don't think the response goes far enough. We need to point out the inherent hypocrisy in this response - he is trying to take out an alleged speck when he has a veritable forest of planks in his own. Presumably this person is either a long-age creationist or a theistic evolutionist. So if he gets upset because of the consequences of the Fall in terms of suffering (not a punishment) why is he advocating a position that means God either directly created through (theistic evolution), or allowed in the progress of creation (long-age creation) millions of years of suffering violence, death and pain. Such a God is cruel, malevolent, psychopathic, two-faced or schizophrenic (claims to be loving yet chooses to create this way), barbaric, evil, sadistic, pagan. Claiming that this is retrospective effects of the fall as some do is no better. We rail at the injustice at the old whipping boys of princes - if the prince did wrong, the other boy, not him, was whipped, but here we have countless aeons of all kinds of animals suffering for the sins of humanity who in this view would occupy only a few millionths of the time at best.
Alan J.
"you cannot ignore a biblical passage’s context & hope to arrive at a correct interpretation" - but that is exactly what CM is doing. I do hope CM will respond to the rebuttals, which have been gently given by Lita.
Keaton Halley
Yes, the context of how the word "day" is used in Genesis 1 is different from how it is used in Genesis 2. So the critic, C.M., is wrong to think "day" has the same meaning no matter what the context.
Robert D.
"Correct Biblical interpretation requires that vague or ambiguous words and passages be interpreted using the light provided by clear words and passages. In Genesis chap 2 the word "day" clearly means "era." There is no sound reason to invent a DIFFERENT meaning for the same word in Gen 1"

So in your theology "Day" is "Vague" when meaning "a literal 24 hours", but not "An Era"? 24 hours is now an invention, a NEW meaning? Even when it is spelt out "Morning and evening, the first day"? Is Gen ch2 really "Clearer"? Seems to me they are both exceptionally clear. And clearly different.

We can commend what you have said regarding exegesis, it is quite true. But it is also important to recognize during your exegesis the range of meanings of a single word, and how to correctly choose which meaning applies.

Ch 1: "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." Context shows light and darkness are part of first morning and evening. Can only mean a literal day.
Ch 2:2: "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made." Still a single, 24 hour day. Do you work for 6 era's and worship for one era?
Ch 2:4: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens," There is no contextual reason to take this as a 24 hour day. Here a broad overview ("These are the generations") of the 24 hour days of creation are referred to as "in the day" by Moses as he writes it thousands of years later. As "In the day of King Richard". But no-one would deny that if we were talking about "The day of King Richard's birth" the labour didn't last millions of years!
Don H.
I think Jesus is wonderful. Jesus and only Jesus can and has saved me. The anger of my fellow Christians bringeth forth "not" the righteousness of God. I find the discussion interesting but neither God nor the Bible needs me to defend them as they have been doing that precisely and correctly for ever passed and into the future. CMI have been wonderfully instrumental in my head knowledge. But in my heart I pray the peace of God be found by all dissidents, let Jesus find you, He's knocking and the handle is in your hand. Open the door and He will come in if you invite Him. I was 51 when I stopped being a know all and let Him in. Praise you Jesus and thank you;
Don
Keaton Halley
Don, glad we've been helpful. Regarding the idea that a defense is unnecessary, though, I recommend you read Caged Lions to see why we think the Bible should be defended.
Simon F.
A "false dilemma" implies a deliberately ignored third choice - often it suggests that we can have a both/and situation rather than be forced to pick from the two choices offered. Is there a choice beyond the literal interpretation of scripture and naturalist historical assumptions? We clearly can't accept both together.
Joseph M.
So why does the poster think that someone being resurrected to life after three days being dead be any more credible? Or a virgin birth be any more credible? Or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walking in the midst of a burning fiery furnace, not hurt be any more credible? Or feeding thousands with five loaves and two fish be any more credible? ... etc., etc., etc., be any more credible to the intelligentsia?!

God created in six literal days and the Ten Commandments makes this clear while Jesus (the one who establishes the Christian worldview) repeatedly endorses the Ten Commandments. Well-established facts of geology constantly change, so his vexation concerning the principle of the ‘well-established’ of ‘now’ becomes irrelevant in the future because science is a generalization fallacy waiting to be disproved by the exception.

If the poster thinks defending creation is damaging to the credibility of the Christian worldview, what justifies him in thinking that the foolishness of the cross is any less damaging? 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” My advice is Ephesians 6: 13, 14 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
Neil O.
Does this educated individual mean well established facts like the dinosaurs were wiped out by the bubonic plague as taught by expert evolutionary scientists in the 1970's or Sodom and Gommorah are fairy tales though the Ebla tablets have records of trading with these cities
rodney A.
in this instance the critic is actually saying loud and clear, I DO NOT BELIEVE THE WORD OF GOD, end of debate.
Murray H.
Excellent article. Yes, the Bible is the yardstick, not so-called science. "Science" keeps changing its mind on almost everything not just "origins". I would rather stick with the proven dependability and consistency of the Bible. Great work Creation Science. I look forward each day the next email from you guys.

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