Does Young-Earth Creation Make Atheists?

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An argument used in some recent blogs and social media posts is the idea that teaching young-earth creation leads to atheism!

In a recent blog post, James McGrath, associate professor of religion and philosophy at Butler University (and well known for his opposition to Answers in Genesis), associates biblical creation with idolatry and says that we are leading people toward atheism. He claims, "The irony is that not only the wall young-earth creationists build, but the system of thought that they are protecting, is entirely a human construction—exactly the sort of thing that they tell people is at best shaky and at worst diabolical.”

Is biblical creation really “entirely a human construction”? Of course not! Biblical creation comes from a plain, natural reading of the Scriptures—reading Genesis (which is written as historical narrative) the same way we read the accounts of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. In order to try to get millions of years or evolution into the text of Genesis, you must go through interpretative and theological gymnastics. It requires taking man’s fallible words and reinterpreting God’s infallible Word.

The interpretative methods used in Genesis by many Christians who believe in millions of years are not interpretative decisions that most biblical scholars would apply to any other place in Scripture! So, why Genesis? Well, because  these Christians  tell us that that “science” (practiced by fallible scientists) has shown us that we need to believe in millions of years, and thus we must fit the long ages into the Bible—even though they do not fit!

This religion professor accuses me (thus including all Christians who take God at His Word) of weaving a "web of lies," and the saddest part of that accusation is that he ultimately is calling God a liar. But the Scripture itself states, “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19).

Genesis is clear. The account of biblical creation we hold to comes straight out of God’s Word, so to claim that it’s a lie is to claim that God’s a liar. And if God lied in Genesis, then where did He stop lying? And what does that say about our holy God’s character?

I remember a young lady once telling me that her pastor was preaching from Genesis and telling the congregation that what was stated was just a myth to explain religious truth. This pastor insisted people had to believe evolution and millions of years and thus couldn’t take the account in Genesis literally. This lady was a young Christian, and she related to me that she went to the pastor and said, “So when does God start telling the truth in His Word?” Good question—and God’s Word has the answer:

Your word is true from the beginning. (Psalms 119:160)
McGrath states that biblical creation is simply my “own dubious understanding of Christianity,” but it just so happens that biblical creation has been by far the dominant view of creation for most of Christian history as well as for the Jews before Christ. It is those compromise positions like theistic evolution, the gap theory, the day-age theory, the framework hypothesis, or progressive creation that are new to the scene. Those views developed only after geologists abandoned Scripture and began assigning old dates to the rock layers! The reason most scholars and people of the past two hundred years believe those compromise positions has nothing to do with what the Bible says in Genesis—it’s because they’ve been influenced by secular beliefs about man’s past. Beliefs that developed because of a rejection of God’s Word!

I find it ironic that McGrath is an associate professor of religion at Butler University (Indianapolis, Indiana) and claims young-earth creation is a stumbling block to Christians, and yet the example he cites to justify this is actually a blog from an atheist known for his disdain of biblical Christianity—someone who clearly has no regard for God's Word and its authority. This atheist thanks me in a blog post for teaching biblical creation because (apparently) once people realize it’s false they will reject all of Christianity and turn to atheism. It’s people like this atheist who teach false information to generations of kids to undermine the authority of God’s Word. And sadly, those students that come from church homes by and large were not taught how to defend the Christian faith and answer skeptical questions. That’s why we at Answers in Genesis have worked so hard to challenge the church to teach creation and general biblical apologetics to the coming generations so they won’t be led astray by such false teaching.

Now, it is true that some people who have been taught to trust the Bible from the very first verse do leave Christianity. Satan is very clever at drawing people away from God and, remember, faith is not a matter of being exposed to enough evidence. Even those who saw Jesus raise the dead didn’t believe (Luke 16:31)! People walk away from the faith for many different reasons and not always intellectual ones. Now, that being said, studies—like the one we did in partnership with America’s Research Group—show that the vast majority of young people are walking away from the faith because they doubt God’s Word. While having good, solid answers does not always guarantee faith, it certainly does help, and we receive hundreds of testimonies from people who have been strengthened in their faith or brought back to the faith because of our ministry.

McGrath and the atheist he cites make statements, or may give an example they know of—but at Answers in Genesis we have used a professional research group to find out what is really happening. This is why we published the book Already Gone in 2009. If you haven’t read this, I encourage you to do so and find out what real scientific research has found in regard to young people leaving the church.

McGrath also says, “If [young earth creationists] could let the flood of truth and knowledge sweep away the garbage they have piled up, without being swept away with it, they could build a worldview that acknowledges God with what remains, and do more to glorify God, precisely because they are no longer surrounding an idol with a flimsy rampart made of pages from the Bible.” I would like to challenge him with the Word of God: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Biblical creation is not an “idol”—it comes directly from the Word of God and we are only upholding and proclaiming God’s Word as Christians have done for centuries—and it is not surrounded by a “flimsy rampart made of pages from the Bible.” The Word of God is “living and powerful” and certainly an impenetrable rampart because it is “flawless” (Proverbs 30:5) “truth” (John 17:17) that “endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8) and will “never pass away” (Luke 21:33).

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken

 

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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