Dr. Terry Mortenson holds an MDiv and a PhD in the history of geology. He has lectured in 35 countries and formerly served for 26 years with Campus Crusade for Christ in the United States and in Eastern Europe. He now serves as an author, speaker, and researcher with Answers in Genesis.
This chapter will summarize the historical development of geology and in particular the development of the modern uniformitarian view of the geological record and the millions-of-years time-scale.
Terry grew up in a church-going family. But it wasn’t until the spring of 1972 during his first year at the university that he trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior through the witness of a staff member of Campus Crusade for Christ. A few weeks later he encountered two books by Drs. Henry Morris and Duane Gish exposing the lies of evolution and millions of years, and from then Terry started reading everything he could on apologetics.
During his summer assignment on the staff of Campus Crusade in 1979, he heard a lunchtime lecture on creation and evolution by Dr. John Baumgardner. (This was before Dr. Baumgardner studied for his PhD in geophysics and became a well-known creation scientist). Dr. Mortenson asked Dr. Baumgardner if he could purchase a copy of his 35mm slides and the manuscript of his lecture. Armed with this resource, Dr. Mortenson started speaking on the subject. During his nearly 10 years of covert missionary work in communist Czechoslovakia (1980–1989), he had only one opportunity to give that lecture, but the talk and the slides were translated into Czech and used by others in the country. Over the years, Dr. Mortenson continued to study the scientific evidence in confirmation of the truth of Genesis.
Having read much creationist scientific literature over the previous 15+ years and while in seminary (1989–1992), Dr. Mortenson used every course he could to deepen his understanding of the biblical and theological side of the origins debate and improve his ability to refute various compromise views of Genesis in the church. He also had a few opportunities to speak on the subject. His PhD research (1992–1996) gave him time to more deeply study the historical and philosophical roots of this controversy and to speak in a few schools and churches. During these years, Answers in Genesis also became aware of his research, which later led to an invitation to join the AiG staff as a speaker and writer.
After receiving his PhD in 1996, Dr. Mortenson moved his family to Hungary where he served on a Campus Crusade team, providing biblical and theological education for Campus Crusade staff all over Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In the courses he taught, Dr. Mortenson had many more opportunities to teach and defend the truth of Genesis chapters 1–11 and was also able to give some public lectures in secular universities in a number of those countries. Just before he left Campus Crusade to join AiG in 2001, he had his first formal debate with an evolutionist—the head of the biology department at the University of Tirana in Albania.
Like most people, Dr. Mortenson grew up in an education system that taught evolution as fact. During his first year at the University of Minnesota (where he majored in math) and shortly after becoming a Christian, he began to see the fallacy of the idea of millions of years of evolution.
With a PhD in the history of geology from Coventry University in England and an MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, Dr. Mortenson has lectured on the creation-evolution controversy in 35 countries since the late 1970s. He has spoken in homes, churches, schools (primary, middle, and secondary), secular universities, Bible colleges, and seminaries. Several of his popular lectures have been produced as DVDs and as TV programs. He has also participated in seven formal debates with PhD evolutionary scientists in secular venues in four countries.
He is the author of numerous magazine and journal articles and several book chapters. The revised version of his PhD thesis was published as The Great Turning Point: the Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology—Before Darwin (Master Books, 2004), which explains how the idea of millions of years developed in geology and how and why most Christians so quickly made peace with that idea. With a deep burden to reach seminary professors and students, he co-edited and contributed two chapters to the scholarly 14-author book Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth (Master Books, 2008), and he edited and contributed two chapters to the 16-author book Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth About Man’s Origin (2016).
Dr. Mortenson is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), has presented seven creation-related papers at ETS annual meetings since the late 1990s, and spearheaded the formation of the Creation study group sessions at the ETS annual meeting, beginning in 2008. Since that same year, he has also helped to lead annual, by-invitation-only, seven-day raft trips down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon for more than 250 seminary and Christian college professors and other key Christian leaders from over 120 schools, churches, and organizations, and from 21 countries.
* Some evolutionists have questioned Dr. Mortenson’s academic training, especially the validity of his PhD. Please see Dr. Mortenson’s blog post “Regarding My Academic Training” for his response.
Terry and his wife, Margie, have been happily married since 1976 and have 5 daughters, 3 sons, and 16 grandchildren.
All these live talks are very well illustrated to aid understanding. They are generally 60 minutes long, but can be shortened, if need be. Except for the young children’s talk, Dr. Mortenson’s presentations are understandable for people 11 years old and up, regardless of the level of their understanding of science (though scientific arguments are fully documented for the well-trained listeners). But because of the use of lots of pictures, younger kids can also learn much from them. Any of these talks would also be suitable for non-Christians to hear. But especially for those well entrenched in evolution, “Origin of Species: Was Darwin Right?,” “Noah’s Flood: Washing Away Millions of Years,” and “Ape-Men, Adam, and the Gospel” would be challenging and eye-opening.
“Creation vs. Evolution: Why It Matters”
This is the most important talk and should be used in the first meeting (usually this would be the Sunday morning worship service[s]) in a multi-lecture venue or if Dr. Mortenson is speaking only once at the venue.
Many Christians today think that the question of origins (and especially the age of the earth) is an unimportant side issue, which can distract us from focusing on Christ and the gospel and over which we can just “agree to disagree.” But is this correct thinking? Dr. Mortenson presents some of the biblical, theological, and scientific reasons for believing that this issue is a vital topic for every Christian, because what ultimately is at stake is the authority of Scripture and the gospel.
Intelligent Design and the Intelligent Design Movement
In this lecture Dr. Mortenson begins by explaining and illustrating arguments that use design in nature to point to a designer and that such arguments are consistent with biblical teaching that creation reveals the existence and character of God. Dr. Mortenson also shows how leading evolutionists deny this obvious fact. In the second half of the lecture, he defines the Intelligent Design Movement and identifies some of its leading scholars, and then presents his assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of this religiously eclectic movement.
Inerrancy and the Undermining of Biblical Authority
This lecture begins with a discussion of some of the wonderful statements in the 1978 "Statement on Biblical Inerrancy" and the 1982 "Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics" produced by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. But then Dr. Mortenson points out the problematic wording in some of the affirmations and denials in those documents, which open the door to the acceptance of millions of years, explaining how an estimated 90% of the 307 signers of those statements could also still hold to their acceptance of millions of years. Dr. Mortenson then discusses new efforts to defend inerrancy as the Scriptures are increasingly under subtle attack within the evangelical world today. But as in 1978, so today many of the most outspoken and passionate defenders of inerrancy continue to undermine the Bible’s authority (and therefore its inerrancy) by their compromise with millions of years (either by encouraging the church to accept one of the old-earth views [gap theory, day-age theory, Framework Hypothesis, etc.] or by ignoring the issue and teaching the church directly or indirectly that the age of the earth doesn’t matter). To illustrate the point, some of the writings of Dr. Norman Geisler are analyzed. Dr. Mortenson concludes that only the young-earth creation view of Genesis chapters 1–11 truly and consistently upholds the inerrancy and supreme authority of Scripture on the question of origins.
To really understand what is wrong with belief in millions of years, we need to go back to the early 19th century and study the origin of this idea. This unique and interesting lecture, based on Dr. Mortenson’s PhD research, will clearly show that the idea of a very old earth was not the result of just letting the rocks and fossils “speak for themselves” but rather comes from antibiblical worldviews (or philosophical assumptions) being imposed on the geological evidence. The talk explains the key men who helped develop the idea of millions of years, the various ways that Christians responded, and the subsequent consequences of the church’s compromise with millions of years. Even non-Christians would find this lecture thought provoking.
This lecture first explains some of the biblical evidence that Noah’s Flood was a unique, historic, global, catastrophic flood. Then Dr. Mortenson discusses some of the geological and fossil evidence for this event. It will be shown that the idea of millions of years did not and does not come from the rocks and fossils but rather from anti-biblical worldview assumptions used to interpret the geological evidence. Included will be brief discussion (understandable to lay people) of why Christians should not accept the millions-of-years dates derived from radiometric dating methods.
“The Origin of Species: Was Darwin Right?”
Dr. Mortenson presents some of the overwhelming scientific evidence from biology and paleontology that Darwin’s theory is false. He shows that evolutionists have used misleading arguments to convince us that the fossils, natural selection, and mutations prove evolution. In fact, the evidence supports the biblical account of God supernaturally creating distinct “kinds” of plants and animals (with genetic information for variation within each kind, but not the ability to change into different kinds). The relevance of this issue to our everyday life is explained at the end.
“Ape-Men, Adam, and the Gospel”
Evolutionists work hard to convince us that man evolved from ape-like creatures, and an increasing number of theologians and other Christian leaders believe this falsehood. Consequently, some of those Christian leaders are also teaching the church that there never was a literal Adam and a literal Fall, but that this does not affect the truth of the gospel. Using both scientific evidence and the Bible, Dr. Mortenson exposes the lie of human evolution and the disastrous consequences with respect to racism, morality, and the gospel as a result of denying the literal truth of Genesis.
“Dinosaurs: Have You or Your Kids Been Brainwashed?”
This is especially good for junior and senior high kids and adults, but younger kids will benefit also.
This popular talk shows people that evolutionists really don’t know how dinosaurs came into existence or how they went extinct, and that they have no real evidence that they evolved into birds. Rather, the Bible gives us the truth to know how and when dinosaurs were created and why we find their bones fossilized in rock layers. The connection of the dinosaurs to the gospel is also made clear. This well-illustrated presentation will help kids and adults recognize the evolutionary brainwashing on this subject.
“How to Think About Origins”
This is especially good for junior and senior high kids and adults, but younger kids will benefit also.
This lecture challenges children to think, and motivates them to become better informed so that they are not deceived—and so that they can more boldly witness to their evolutionized friends. Dr. Mortenson begins by explaining the significant difference between operation science and origin science, and the role of assumptions in the interpretation of the scientific evidence regarding origins. Then Dr. Mortenson gives a number of concrete examples from biology, paleontology, and geology to illustrate this and expose the erroneous and misleading “evidence” that evolutionists present. The goal is to exhort the audience members to build all of their thinking on the Word of God.
“The Seven C’s of History”
This is especially good for kids ages 5–12, but parents will learn too!
“The Seven C’s of History” (Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation) help us remember the big events in history to understand the world we live in. This illustrated presentation will focus most of its attention on the first four Cs. The kids will have lively interaction with Dr. Mortenson as they learn vital truths related to the gospel and confirming the truth of Genesis chapters 1–11.
“Big Bang: Exploding the Myth”
In a way that is understandable for lay people and teens, Dr. Mortenson presents many scientific and biblical reasons why we do not need to bow the knee to the big bang idea or any other hypothesis of cosmic evolution (and the associated billions of years). Instead we can and should believe the Genesis account of the origin of the universe.
“Genesis: Key to Evangelism Today”
This talk explains how the teaching of evolution all over the world has kept many people from even being willing to listen to the Bible’s gospel message, much less to believe it. The creation-evolution controversy is not an irrelevant side issue, but is foundational to evangelism at home and on the foreign mission field at this time in history.
For 200 years Christians have been told that the Bible is just not clear about the length of days of Creation and the age of the earth. This presentation presents the biblical evidence for young-earth creation and then looks at some of the objections that have been raised by laymen, pastors, and Bible scholars against the young-earth view. Objections include the following: that Genesis chapter 1 is not a historical narrative to be taken literally; that too much happened on the sixth day for it to be 24 hours; that Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are contradictory creation accounts; and that the Bible is not a science textbook. Your grip on the truth of Genesis will be tightened as Dr. Mortenson carefully examines these and other objections with an open Bible.