‘What if Jesus tells you you’re wrong?’
A.K., United States, writes in:
Hello, I have a question that I would greatly appreciate if you could answer for me. It seems that young earth creationists put so much emphasis and belief on the literal interpretation of the Bible that says that the universe is roughly 6,000 years. I read on the cover of one of your magazines something that said roughly the following: “The God of an old earth is not the God of Christianity.” The question I have for you is the following: What if it turned out that when you die, you go to heaven and meet Jesus, and He tells you that the universe is billions of years old, and that the six days of creation in the Bible is not the literal 24 hour days. What would your reaction be? Would you be prepared to say to Jesus that because it turned out that the earth and universe was not thousands of years old, you were really not worshipping and believing in the true/correct/real God of the Bible?
Lita Sanders, CMI–US, responds:
What if it turns out that when you die, Jesus tells you that you were wrong, and Muhammad is actually a true prophet of Allah and you should have been a Muslim?
I think both questions really address the same thing: what can we know with certainty from God’s revelation to us in Scripture? You trust in Jesus (I hope—your email sounds like you’re a Christian) because you are persuaded in the Bible’s teaching that Jesus is the Son of God who died on our behalf to save everyone who trusts in Him for salvation. You aren’t an eyewitness, nor are you privy to the heavenly reality that none of us can see. Your sole source for the salvation claims of Christ is the Bible. Anyone who trusts in Him does so (or should do so) on the weight of the testimony of Scripture.
Now we agree that Scripture is a sufficient witness, so much so that when it testifies about things that we can’t see or observe, we take it at its word, even against competing claims. Scripture communicates equally clearly about how God created, and the timeframe in which He created. If words mean anything at all, we can understand what the Bible says. Young earth creationists take the Bible at face value, and that’s the starting point for our interpretation of the evidence we see in the world around us. So when we see massive canyons with exposed sedimentary layers, we would attribute that to the catastrophic worldwide Flood of Noah’s day, rather than long geological processes over hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. See Did God create over billions of years?.
Jesus would not tell us the world is billions of years old any more than He would tell us to follow Muhammad—both contradict the clear teaching of Scripture.
Gage C., United States, asks:
I have had a question on my mind for the past few weeks. I have heard a number of skeptics claim that we use quote-mining, or trick people into signing pro-creation petitions. How should we respond to such claims? I have read many of the quotes found on your website, and in finding their sources I have found no cases of “quote-mining”. I have not been able to find any cases of the latter “trickery” so far, however, I was wondering if you have any advice on how to deal with such accusations. I look forward to your response and many other inspiring articles on your part.
Lita Sanders responds:
I don’t know of anyone who has deceptively gotten signatures for creationist petitions, but of course we would not condone deceptive practices.
Quote mining is the practice of taking quotes out of context to make them say something other than what the author intended, and then to use them disingenuously in support of one’s own agenda. It would be like an atheist quoting the Bible as affirming their belief in atheism, because 15 places in the Bible say “There is no God”. Of course, the Christian would point out that they are in contexts like, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you” (1 Kings 8:23) or “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 53:1). The surrounding words completely change the meaning, so it is dishonest to quote only the words that say what you want it to say.
However, when atheists complain about quote mining, they usually are actually complaining about using evolutionists as hostile witnesses against the theory of evolution. For instance, Alan Feduccia, a noted ornithologist, has scathing criticisms of the notion that theropod dinosaurs evolved into birds. He is an evolutionist, but we use his writing and expertise to argue against dinosaur-to-bird evolution. That is not quote-mining.
As a writer myself, I do not want to be taken out of context, so I personally want to make sure that I use integrity when I’m quoting others. So I will often say things like “Evolutionist ornithologist Alan Feduccia”, or so on, to make it clear that this particular person’s sympathies do not lie with creationists. But it is absolutely valid to use evolutionists’ quotes criticizing certain aspects of evolution to advance an argument for biblical creation.