[Note: This guest column was submitted by a medical doctor who prefers that we keep his identity hidden so that the college in question is also kept private.]
I was a fourth-generation student pursuing a pre-med biology degree at a denominational Christian college in the 1980s. I was assured by the third generation that the college was theologically conservative. But I discovered that a lot can change in a quarter-century.
In retrospect, I am not too surprised that while attending the Christian college, all of my science courses taught evolution as fact, with the usual peppered moths (variation within a species) and Haeckel’s (fraudulent) embryonic drawings presented as supposed evidence. I was surprised, however, to find that the Bible department had been replaced by a religion department staffed by non-Christian professors.
Eventually I transferred to a more “conservative,” non-denominational Christian college where I was delighted with the wide variety of Bible courses available, as well as the Christian undertones in the “secular” courses, which were taught by Christian professors. But there was an exception: the college’s science department. Evolutionary principles and old-earth suppositions were explicitly taught. There was no place on campus to hear any teaching on evidences for creation.
Fortunately, at this time in my life, my brother-in-law introduced me to Answers in Genesis (AiG). Christian college was not helping me to reconcile the conflict I faced in trying to believe that God’s Word was inerrant and authoritative while playing theistic-evolutionary games regarding Genesis so that I could “have my cake and eat it too.” I truly believed that I needed to either give up my faith or figure out how the Genesis creation account could be true—despite all that I thought was “proven” about evolution and the age of the earth.
Flash forward 20 years. My brother-in-law (an avionics engineer) and I (an M.D. family physician) are now quite knowledgeable regarding the arguments for creation and against evolution, especially after reading thousands of pages of AiG’s magazines and many books made available by creation groups like AiG. We also have read that many Christian colleges are still compromising on the teaching of Genesis, so a mutual curiosity had grown regarding the status of our alma mater.
So, last year, we requested and were granted an audience with the current president to discuss the school’s official stance on the teaching of evolution versus creation.
The president was very gracious, giving us an hour of his time. But we were disappointed to learn that he had a rehearsed answer for students or parents who ask about the official college position on Genesis and creation: he said that 1) God created the world and everything that is; 2) human beings are a special creation in the image of God; 3) Scripture is the ultimate authority; 4) humans are fallen and have a limited understanding; and 5) inside these parameters there is room for debate.
The college president thinks there is “room” for more than one cosmology, since so many “thoughtful” Christians believe in old-earth cosmologies. Twenty years after our graduations, we have discovered that a student at the college will graduate having heard the arguments in favor of evolution and/or compromise-theories of creation, with only a random-chance likelihood of hearing the evidences for a biblical, young-earth, six-day creation cosmology.
A few months after our visit to see the college president, we were even more disappointed to read in the college’s student newspaper that the head of the Biblical Studies department believes that “the Genesis account of creation was meant to be interpreted as literature, not science.” He added that he doesn’t “know of any leaders in the early church that interpreted it literally” since, he claimed, Genesis 1 is just “a poem written in seven stanzas” designed only to “show us how to relate to God as Elohim, as Creator.” Additionally the science department’s position statement on creation ends with the words: “. . . at the same time we allow for, and even celebrate, diverse opinions and interpretations on those issues on which the Scriptures themselves do not speak with decisive clarity.”
Our final communication with the college president (through a follow-up letter) ended like this when we wrote:
We do want to continue to encourage you to think on the fundamental theological problem of placing death, disease, and suffering before Adam & Eve's sin, and thus also including death and suffering as part of God’s original ‘very good’ creation. We hope that, perhaps, you have had an opportunity to view the DVD we left in which [AiG President] Ken Ham expounds more thoroughly than we could upon the potential for ‘old earth’ cosmologies to undermine the authority of scripture that you espouse as a foundational principle for education at [name of Christian college withheld].
As we attempted to convey during our discussion, our goal is not to see [your college] force the ‘young earth’ viewpoint on anyone. Rather, we desire that the excellent evidence for it and the problems with an ‘old-earth’ view be presented to all your students so they can draw well-informed conclusions. Most fundamentally, we desire to see each student's confidence in the absolute authority of the Bible reinforced.
When AiG discusses the importance of young people choosing a Christian college carefully, it is not understating the problem of how Genesis is often being taught in a compromise fashion. Parents should help their children be selective in their college education choices and (diplomatically) challenge their alma maters to truly support biblical authority versus simply giving it lip-service.