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Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, AiG–U.S., examines a special issue of the Christian Research Journal devoted to the origin of life.
The Christian Research Institute (CRI) has just published a special issue of the Christian Research Journal devoted to the origin of life. In this “Where did we come from?” edition, CRI’s president, while declaring “evolution is a farce,” serves up a curious blend of good scientific and biblical answers mixed with many dangerously compromised ones. While straining theology to accommodate billions of years in the Bible, the magazine offers no significant discussion of a biblical young earth position—either from the Scriptures or science. Though it claims to prepare readers with “well-reasoned answers,” this apologetics magazine itself is unbalanced in its treatment of the issues. More importantly, it undermines biblical authority, erecting stumbling blocks to faith.
Many commendable articles in this journal demonstrate the impossibility of Darwinian evolution and the bankruptcy of theistic evolution. For instance, “Why Natural Selection Cannot Explain the Origin of Animal Development” powerfully demonstrates the impossibility of the modern Darwinians’ supposed mechanism for molecules-to-man evolution. Another, “Unlocking the DNA Enigma,” explodes the myth that minute random evolutionary changes could produce the incredible complexity of the structure of the cell and the information in DNA. “Thinking Clearly about God and Evolution” torpedoes the philosophical bankruptcy of theistic evolution. Other articles explain the theological necessity and biological feasibility of Adam and Eve being historical people.
Unfortunately, however, some arguments fall back on “deep time” and human evolutionary concepts such as “the emergence of true humans.” Indeed, there is an uncritical acceptance of the millions and billions of years of geological and astronomical evolution throughout the pages of this journal, even while rejecting biological evolution. The CRJ authors (bar one) ignore the ample documented evidence for a young earth as well as the fatal flaws and inconsistencies in the geologic and astronomic methods used to support an old earth. This evident lack of critical thinking should be apparent to any reader (creationist or evolutionist) who understands the dependence of biological evolution on so-called “deep time.” Evolutionists regard it as “the hero of the plot” and therefore an unassailable given.
Thus, there lurks throughout the journal a general assumption of millions of years of living and dying. There can be no argument that the fossil record is a graveyard full of evidence of disease, violence, carnivory, suffering, and death. To assume (as many authors implicitly do in this journal) that such miseries were all part of God’s “very good” creation (so named by God in Genesis 1:31) is to impugn God’s character. If God had called a world already full of bloodshed and death “very good,” then He either had a cruel sense of irony or didn’t know what He was talking about, or worse, He is a liar.
Several articles offer theological positions that strain the plain reading of Genesis to reconcile God’s Word with long age beliefs. For instance, “The Framework Interpretation of the Days of Creation” praises the framework hypothesis but ignores the many published scholarly papers critiquing that view and showing it to be untenable in the light of Scripture. While we do appreciate CRI’s efforts to reveal the problems with molecules-to-man evolution as a scientific hypothesis and to refute the biblically compromised position of scientists like Francis Collins of BioLogos, this magazine promotes other positions of equal compromise.
Given the implicit long-age background evident in the CRJ’s anti-evolution and theological articles, what position does the magazine formally take on the age of the earth? Only one of the featured authors takes an unequivocal young earth position—Dr. Steven Austin. “Grand Canyon, Creation, and the Global Flood” by Dr. Austin only focuses on the catastrophism evident in the Grand Canyon, but Austin commendably does make it clear he believes in the six literal creation days and the year-long global Flood. He also mentions gross discrepancies between radiometric dating methods, and he notes the Grand Canyon’s geological features could not have survived for “tens of millions of years.”
While Dr. Austin’s article at least introduces the possibility of a young earth, “How Old Is the Earth? What God’s Creation Professes”—directly addressing the age of the earth and apparently inserted to counter Dr. Austin’s position—trots out the same old earth arguments that have been regularly refuted on this website and elsewhere. The two geologist coauthors outnumber the lone young-earther and express unbridled confidence in “radioactively determined ages.” The two authors assert, in essence, that the unverifiable assumptions underlying each of the dating methods they describe are verified, simply because all three methods they discuss point to something very old. Well of course these methods do! Both the tree-ring and varve chronologies the authors describe are calibrated by radiocarbon dating—a fact conveniently not mentioned. Therefore, these three methods must agree. How could they do anything else? Can you spot the circular reasoning? Furthermore, the authors ignore the voluminous published data demonstrating that fossils, coal, oil, and even diamonds supposedly millions of years old yield radiocarbon “dates” of only thousands of years.
Ironically, these two geologists write, “The question of age has become a stumbling block to faith”—a statement we make ourselves, but for different reasons. They contend their reasoning is “obvious” and imply young-earth positions “drive people away from faith in Christ.” Yet they conveniently ignore the many scientific refutations of their claims. Furthermore, they choose their own circular reasoning over God’s clear statements, such as what He Himself wrote on stone: “
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11; 31:17–18). However, we maintain that circular reasoning does not gain credibility just because it is piled atop more circular reasoning. Furthermore, their whole stack of “reasons” is unable to stand against the plain reading of Scripture—the eyewitness historical account of earth’s history given by God. In fact, stumbling blocks to faith arise when people see Christians resort to theological gymnastics to force billions of years into the Bible, making a mockery of the Bible from its beginning.
Jesus—by whom all things were created and who is “
before all things” (Colossians 1:16-17)—said people in “
the days of Noah” were eating and drinking and marrying—living ordinary lives—“
until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27). He described the Genesis account as literal history in which there was a real Ark and a Flood that destroyed all people not in it. Jesus also said, “
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12), just before summing up the gospel message “
in a nutshell” (John 3:16). Surely the catastrophic historical global Flood qualified as an “earthly thing” on which Christ’s word was trustworthy.
Summing up his acceptance of an old-earth position, the CRI president wrote the following:
Finally, science points to realities such as background radiation, radioactive decay, entropy, star ages, and white dwarf stars as proof positive that the universe is billions of years old. For example, a star becomes a white dwarf (essentially a dead star) only after billions of years of nuclear fusion and subsequent cooling. These multiple independent empirical means all converge on a limited range of dates for the origin of the universe between ten and twenty billion years ago.
Sadly, he doesn’t seem to understand that measuring red-shifts is repeatable observational science, but interpreting them to require billions of years of expansion is an interpretation based on an unobservable, unverifiable assumption—the assumption that the one-way speed of light is measurable and always constant through time and space. All such observations are only made in the present.
We do not observe billions of years of nuclear fusion or star “ages.” Scientists simply observe stars today and measure their properties. None of these observations proves billions of years of cosmic history or any of these claimed things at all. Many fallible assumptions underlie these dating methods. Numerous discussions on this website (including technical articles in our free on-line Answers Research Journal) discuss these.
Furthermore, as astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle has pointed out, big bang cosmology has its own distant starlight problem. After all, big bang cosmology, like biologic evolution, is at its core a postulated random process incapable of accidentally producing the finely tuned universe we observe today.
In an excerpt from his upcoming book, the CRI president tried to explain how millions of years of death preceded sin the following way:
Surely God could cause effects of the fall to temporally precede their cause! As intelligent design theorist Dr. William Dembski has well said: “Just as the death and resurrection of Christ is responsible for the salvation of repentant people throughout all time, so the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden is responsible for every natural evil throughout all time (future, present, past, and distant past [meaning billions of years] preceding the fall).”
This argument twists Scripture. Such unbiblical theology still places the fossil record of death, disease, thorns, and carnivory millions of years before Adam’s Fall, cursing the world for sin that had not yet happened. These writers argue for what God “could” do, but while God can do anything that does not violate His own nature, biblical apologetics should never violate what God clearly said He did do.
Indeed, God told Adam, as recorded in Genesis 3:17–18, “
Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you.” God’s words indicate that thorns were the result of this curse at that point in real space-time history. How then could there have been thorns (Psilophyton crenulatum) fossilized in Canadian rocks supposedly 390–415 million years before God cursed the ground when speaking directly to Adam and Eve?
Disputing what God plainly says on the ground of what God could do is essentially calling God a liar.The opening chapters of Genesis provide a sequential history of the earth’s early days and clear statements saying God cursed His “very good” creation after and because Adam sinned. The “thorns” in Genesis 3:18 and the physical death predicted in Genesis 3:19 are directly “because” of Adam’s sin, according to Genesis 3:17. Many Scriptures speak of Christ’s sacrifice foreordained from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 9:26, 1 Peter 1:20, and Revelation 13:8, for example) and the faith of Old Testament saints (such as Romans 4:3), but none speak of a retroactive Curse. On the contrary, Scripture (such as Romans 5:12ff) is clear that death entered the world as a direct result of Adam’s sin. Disputing what God plainly says on the ground of what God could do is essentially calling God a liar.
Immediately after pronouncing the Curse, God prefigured the coming substitutionary death of His Son. He shed the blood of innocent animals to provide clothing of skins for Adam and Eve. This horrible animal death was a picture of how horrible sin is in causing death from then on. As God provided clothing through bloodshed to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:21), so He would “
in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4) offer “
one sacrifice for sins forever” (Hebrews 10:12), shedding Christ’s “
precious blood” (1 Peter 1:19) that He “
might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). Thus, even the Curse and the introduction of bloodshed and death are directly tied to God’s message of redemption through Jesus Christ, “
the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
This debate over the age of the earth boils down to who the authority is—God or man. Does God's Word have ultimate authority, or does the word of finite, fallible man have authority over the Word of the infinite, infallible, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God? After all, Jesus the Creator instantly created wine from water, instantly calmed a raging storm, and instantly raised Lazarus from the dead, as recorded in the eyewitness testimonies in the Gospels. So what’s the difficulty in accepting that God spoke, instantly creating light, plants, and creatures—as recorded in God’s Genesis 1 eyewitness testimony? What is the problem with believing that, when God later wrote about the six literal days of Creation on a stone tablet as recorded in Exodus 20:11, He knew the meaning of the word for day and accurately remembered what He had done?
In general, this CRJ origins edition acknowledges the essential link between the sin of the “first Adam” and the redemptive mission of Christ as the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). But by explaining away the rest of the Creation account, ignoring how the global cataclysmic Genesis Flood wipes away 500+ million supposed years in just one year, and discounting biblical testimony about the true age of the earth (about 6,000 years), this apologetics magazine presents an inconsistent conglomeration of compromises.