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Dr. Terry Mortenson earned an MDiv (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and a PhD in history of geology (Coventry University) and has lectured on the creation-evolution controversy in 25 countries since the late 1970s. Before joining AiG, he served for 26 years in university campus ministry in the US and Eastern Europe with Campus Crusade for Christ and has written many articles and books, including The Great Turning Point and Coming to Grips with Genesis. View resources by Dr. Terry Mortenson.
As we trace the history of this idea of millions of years, we will see that it is the product of speculation rooted in anti-biblical philosophical assumptions.
Terry grew up in a church-going family. But it wasn’t until the spring of 1972 during his first year at university that he trusted 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 Henry Morris and Duane Gish exposing the lie of evolution and millions of years and from then on started reading everything he could on the subject.
During his summer assignment on Campus Crusade staff in 1979 he heard a lunch-time lecture on creation and evolution by John Baumgardner (before John had studied for his PhD in geophysics and became a well-known creation scientist). Terry asked John if he could purchase a copy of his 35mm slides and the manuscript of his lecture. Armed with this resource, Terry started speaking on the subject. During his nearly ten years of covert missionary work in communist Czechoslovakia (1980–1989), he had only one opportunity to give that lecture, but it and the slides were translated into Czech and used by others in the country. Over the years Terry continued to study the scientific evidence in confirmation of the truth of Genesis.
Having read a lot of creationist scientific literature over the previous 15+ years, while he was in seminary (1989–1992) he used every course he could to deepen his understanding of the biblical and theological side of the origins debate and his ability to refute various compromise views in the church. He also had a few opportunities to speak on the subject. His PhD studies (1992–1996) gave him time to study more deeply 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 AiG staff as a speaker.
After receiving his PhD in 1996 he moved his growing 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 he had many more opportunities to teach and defend the truth of Genesis 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 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 25 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). With a deep burden for 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).
He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, has presented seven creation-related papers at ETS annual meetings, 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 rafts trips down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon for more than 180 seminary and Christian college professors and other key Christian leaders from over 90 institutions and 10 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 11 grandchildren.
All these 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, they all 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 lots of pictures younger kids can also learn much from them. Any of these talks would be suitable for non-Christians to hear. But especially for those well entrenched in evolution, “Origin of Species: Was Darwin Right?” and “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 vitally important 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 infallibly 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 it’s 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, which explains how an estimated 90% of the 307 signers of those statements could also still hold to their acceptance of millions of years. He 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 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 was not the result of just letting the rocks and fossils “speak for themselves” but rather comes from anti-Biblical 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 fits very well with 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. 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 the evolutionists really don’t know how dinosaurs came into existence or how they went extinct and have no real evidence that they evolved into birds. Rather the Bible gives us the truth to know how and when they 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 to 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 kids 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. I begin 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 I give 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 them 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 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 for why we do not need to bow the knee to the big bang theory or any other theory 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 explains how the teaching of evolution all over the world has kept many people from even being willing to listen to the gospel, 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 that Genesis 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 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 carefully examine these and other objections with an open Bible.