What is your authority?
Christians who invoke millions of years cannot make their arguments from the biblical texts.
First appeared in a CMI newsletter.
Is the age of the earth an important issue, really?
Pastors often love CMI speakers to take questions as part of our ministry program at their churches. These often flush out the discordant views of some members, surprising the pastors.
Q & A sessions are not always easy for our speakers. We don’t know what’s coming, or whether rabid anticreationists, some with scientific qualifications, are attending, intent on demonstrating the ‘ignorance’ of the visiting creationist. In the hot seat, we now have to be instant ‘experts’ in paleontology, biology, geology, cosmology and even theology. Of course, no one is an expert in all fields, but we do our best to show there are answers!
Sadly, the most hostile audience members are usually Christians agitated by our ‘young-earth’ (biblical) presentation. I’ve come to realize this is because they believe they’ve sorted out the apparent conflict between ‘science’ and the Bible years ago by adding the millions of years somewhere in Genesis. So, who are we to ‘rock their boat?’
Not long ago after the main presentation in a church, we opened the floor for questions. A middle-aged man bolted up (his look of disdain immediately told me I was about to be in the firing line), and sure enough, openly expressed disappointment at my “narrow” view of Scripture. It went something like this.
Questioner: “N. G. [name omitted] is a great apologist. His books are required reading in many seminaries. He has no problem with a billions-of-years-old earth. Who are you to say he is wrong?” [Now please note here that despite his public put-down of my own seeming lack of credentials, he was ‘inviting’ me to criticize another Christian. If I did, it could cause others to lose focus on the question.]
Me: “I agree that he is a good apologist. But I think you could actually answer the question for me. For instance, could you show me anywhere in Scripture, if I read it at face value, where I can read the term millions or billions of years? Or, even get the impression—just from Scripture—that the universe or the earth is that old?’
Me: “So, the idea of some ancient Earth is not derived from Scripture then? Is that correct?”
Qu: “I suppose.”
Me: “So, even though Mr N. G. can be very good in other areas of apologetics, and can even claim that the Bible is his sole authority; when it comes to deciding the age of the earth, he did not derive his ideas from the Bible, but from outside it. And most importantly, those old age ideas came from people who are not Christians to start with, and are trying to explain the universe without God. Respectfully then, on this issue the Bible was not his authority, and if any Christian says that the universe is billions of years old, then the same applies to them.” [The man sat down as he realized what he had just done].
The age of the earth is not the issue!
The point I am trying to make here is that most people don’t realize what authority they accept when they do this. Many Christians wrongly believe there is overwhelming evidence to prove the earth is old. One of our main goals during presentations is to show that operational science cannot give us ages of things such as fossils or rocks. The ages are derived from interpretations of facts based on beliefs about such things. The lights go on when people realize how they’ve misunderstood this all along.
The real issue for Christians is about the authority of God’s Word. In other words, “Did God really say?” (Sound familiar?) Doubting the Bible’s history in Genesis causes many to reject the Christian faith entirely. One of the most famous apostates was a preaching contemporary of Billy Graham, the famed evangelist Charles Templeton. He died a few years ago, publicly rejecting his former belief in a Savior. And the reason? He’d been taught (like most people) that the fossil record was proof of millions of years of evolutionary history on Earth. He knew that Genesis was foundational to the entrance of sin and death into the world, and saw it as being undermined if there were eons of death before Adam. If only he had been exposed to solid creation teaching that showed the fossil record could be explained as an order of burial from Noah’s Flood. What a tragedy!
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6)
We’ve belabored the awful statistics of our Christian youth going down the same road as Templeton, and for the very same reasons. CMI exists to provide information to ‘stop the rot’. So, please think of someone you know who needs to hear this information, ask to have a creation presentation at your church, or support CMI through prayer or financial means to enable us to keep producing information. It only takes a little effort to be involved.