Revisiting the FALLOUT!
There is good news when dealing with the key excuses people use to reject Christ
We are all too familiar with the oft-repeated statistics: Two-thirds of youth raised in Christian homes eventually reject Christianity in today’s culture. CMI speakers minister in over 1,000 churches worldwide annually to create awareness of this problem, so we are all accustomed to parents approaching us to share the reality of the exodus, reporting “That’s my son you’re talking about!”, or “That’s my granddaughter! She was active in our church’s youth group too! What did we do wrong?” It’s an epidemic!
There are many theories about the causes of this flight. And there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer. But there is a major intellectual disconnect being experienced today by those being raised with a church background.
In Darwin’s time and for decades after, the prevailing paradigm was a belief in God being the Creator. Some reading this today (with a little grey in their hair) could vouch that at school there was not the rampant hostility to the Bible that there is now. And today this even starts at elementary school.
Darwinism is now taught as an accepted fact of science, and with easy access to information via the Internet, YouTube, and TV etc., the church’s teaching is ridiculed as merely Bible ‘stories’ that have no relation to how the world actually came into being. And it’s not just our youth. Many of us have struggled at some time to try and ‘make the Bible fit’ the science of the world. But we often do not realize that the ‘scientific’ paradigm of naturalistic evolution really means an unguided process without God. So, without being taught how to properly interpret what we are being taught in secular education, and that the real, observable evidence around us actually supports the biblical account, many young people eventually reject the Bible’s message. It’s a slippery slope to unbelief.
Sadly, many think that it only applies to other families, and that it won’t happen to their children who are enjoying the experience of their thriving church. But it’s two-thirds of someone’s family! So today, what are the key intellectual reasons that young people report as the reasons they reject Christianity?
An interesting survey
You might recall our FALLOUT! DVD documentary where we interviewed students on campuses as to their reasons for ditching their church involvement. Every single student who said they were raised in the church, but no longer attends church, said they now believed evolution to be a scientific fact. We then asked them what they thought were the best evidences for evolution. The main arguments raised were apes to humans, the fossil record, and the study of genetics, etc.
Other creation-focused ministries have done similar surveys. One by a good friend of CMI asked this exact same question and got similar results. This survey indicated that out of the top ten best evidences for evolution given by students, the top four categories amounted to 72% of the total responses. These were human evolution (24.8%), evolution theory proper (21.3%), fossils and transitional forms (15.1%) and science as an authority (11.1%).1 So, should we make these four ‘evidence’ points a priority target on our evolutionary hit list? You might be surprised that our answer is ‘no’, well…kind of, no.
The stronghold of deep time
In these surveys (including our own), students hardly mentioned millions of years (MOYs) as a best evidence for evolution. Was this really because the students felt this area was not a major conflict with the Bible? We think not, and it’s because they’ve already accepted deep time. For example:
- The fossil record in the rock layers (which allegedly took MOYs to lay down) is interpreted as evidence of creatures slowly transforming into higher organisms.
- Apes to human evolution is assumed to have occurred over MOYs due to the finds of fragmentary, alleged transitional fossils (‘ape-men fossils’ in the same rock layers).
- When we questioned the students and they mentioned genetics, they were referring to human-chimp DNA comparisons. Mutations over the assumed MOYs are said to account for this.
The major categories reported by the students are linked via one key factor that does not appear in these surveys. It’s the millions of years of deep time! Every ‘evidence’ raised by students needs MOYs for these processes to take place; it’s the ‘glue’ that holds the evolutionary story together.
MOYs was not mentioned because it was just assumed to be true.
The millions of years is the major reason for belief in evolution
For over 40 years, CMI has been involved in the origins debate. In churches, our speakers have experienced firsthand that although many believers did not believe in evolution, we constantly get challenged by Christians who are struggling with the idea of MOYs. We hear all sorts of compromise views such as ‘day-age theory’ or ‘gap theory’ or the ‘progressive creation’ view (Hugh Ross et al.). They are all attempts to fit MOYs into the Bible. Why? Sadly, it’s because many churches capitulated to the ‘deep time’ dogma not long after Darwin, and it continues today. Or at best, the topic is just avoided in our churches due to doubts by leaders on how to deal with the issue. Thus, deep time is already assumed to be true, that is, a ‘scientific fact’. At one time this was true for both authors of this article and the majority of CMI scientists.
Some personal experiences
I (Scott) can readily vouch from experience in hundreds of churches where I have spoken that most people, even Christians, already accept MOYs. And that was my own experience as well. Before joining CMI, I was on the teaching team at my church in California. However, I assumed that the ‘science’ of millions of years could not be wrong. As many do, I thought “in six days” had to be some sort of symbolic story, not the true history of the cosmos. This, in turn, led me to imagine God must have created in some other way than what Scripture clearly tells us.
As a young Christian in Australia, I (Gary) was very excited about my new-found faith in Jesus. I even recall poring through my Bible looking for passages that could tell me how God created using a process of evolution. Then I heard a creation speaker do a presentation on the Mt St Helens volcanic eruption in Washington State in 1980. I was shown how geologic layers were laid down in hours and not MOYs. Looking back, once the MOYs was demolished, my belief in evolution also came tumbling down because the fossil record could not have taken MOYs to form, and so there was no time for these transitional forms to evolve, and so on. The Bible had another explanation for them—Noah’s Flood!
Deep time is the slippery slope to unbelief
So, perhaps a better first question would be “What is the age of the cosmos?” We suspect that the overwhelming majority would say millions/billions of years, without a second thought. Subsequently, ask them what evidence they think supports evolution and millions of years, because, again from our experience, most people have no idea why they think the earth is billions of years old. It’s just assumed because that’s all they hear. Deep time is the foundation for all evolutionary thinking that must be demolished first. Yet, many churches and pastors think that the ‘time’ issue is irrelevant. “So what if God took millions of years to create? What does it matter?”, is often heard by our Events Managers when trying to book ministry for our speakers.
However, if you undermine the ‘science’ of millions of years, all the other alleged evidences come tumbling down because there is no time for them to occur. Furthermore, it is deep time that so thoroughly undermines the Gospel, putting death and disease in the world before Adam’s Fall put the cosmos “in bondage to corruption” (Romans 8:21). Therefore, we ask all our speakers to deal with the alleged geologic evidence for MOYs as part of any initial creation presentation. It is a great catalyst to opening the doors to then start dealing with the other matters.
How to stop the fallout
Note that we are not saying these intellectual rejections are the only reasons for abandoning the faith. We empathize with families who have trained their children and dealt with these arguments, yet their offspring have still left the church. Of course, there are issues of morality, wrong relationships, etc. that can cause our young ones to stray, but in our survey the academic reasons as to why students thought the Bible was wrong is the focus of our ministry’s mandate.
No MOYs—no evolution!
There is good news! If we are willing to first recognize the number one basic problem, and take action, then we believe Christian families will be better immunized against the strongholds of MOYs and evolution.
This is why CMI focuses on churches
Where does one find believers meeting together? In churches of course. While special conferences are great, the likely attendees are going to be those, like you, who are already convinced. To reach the culture, we need to reach doubting believers who have never heard an effective presentation on the origins issue, and the best place to do that is … in the main service in churches. With God’s enabling, training our churches and our own families, we can obediently follow this command from the Apostle Paul to his disciple, Timothy:
“Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Timothy 6:20).
What you can do
What about your church? Or other churches in your community where believers need to hear the truth? You could make a big difference, simply by introducing the idea of hosting a CMI event in your community. Our events coordinators make it easy for you to be a conduit of truth. Please take the time right now to contact our Events Department here: creation.com/events-123.
References and notes
- genesisapologetics.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/592/2016/08/Strategic-Creation-Ministry-Breaking-Down-the-Specific-Topics-that-Make-up-Evolutionary-Strongholds-Website.pdf Return to text.