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As I have traveled across the USA and other parts of the world, I have been asked many times as to my response to the teachings of Dr Hugh Ross—probably the world’s leading Progressive Creationist.
In summary, Dr Ross accepts Astronomical Evolution (Big Bang and billions of years) and Geological Evolution (evolutionary geological time scale encompassing billions of years). He does not accept Biological Evolution per se, but teaches that God created millions of creatures (species) in “batches” over billions of years (but using the basic evolutionary time scale and order of events), with death, struggle, extinction and disease occurring all along the way. He does not accept the clear Biblical teaching of a global Flood, but instead teaches it was “universal” with respect to mankind (which Ross sometimes calls “worldwide”), which was living only in a limited geographical area in the Middle East. He also advocates soulless hominids (who exhibited human characteristics of painting, burying dead, etc.) before Adam and Eve.
When Dr Ross was first thrust to considerable prominence as a result of his books being published by NavPress and particularly his appearances on Focus on the Family, many Christian leaders embraced or endorsed his teachings.
At first, Dr Ross appeared to be an answer to many an academic who wanted to maintain belief in billions of years, but did not want to be classed as an “evolutionist.” (Because of the phenomenal influence of the mainstream creation movement (e.g., AiG, ICR), many in the church were aware of the inconsistency of positions such as Theistic Evolution —“God used evolution”).
The teachings of Dr Ross seemingly allowed Christians to use the term “creationist,” but still give them supposed academic respectability in the eyes of the world.The teachings of Dr Ross seemingly allowed Christians to use the term “creationist,” but still give them supposed academic respectability in the eyes of the world, by rejecting six literal days of creation and maintaining acceptance of billions of years.
However, AiG speakers and writers have spent considerable time alerting Christians to the fact that in reality, Ross’s position still has the same basic compromise of evolutionary theory with Scripture as does Theistic Evolution, and ultimately undermines the authority of the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Through such efforts, I have noticed in recent times that many who previously embraced Ross’s teachings are now realizing how bankrupt they are—how much they undermine God’s Holy Word—and how such teaching can lead people away from the Gospel.
AiG staff researcher and writer, Dr Terry Mortenson, worked with Campus Crusade for twenty-six years. During that time, Dr Mortenson challenged (with gentleness but boldness), without success, the leaders of this commendable evangelistic organization to withdraw a major article by Dr Ross posted on one of CCC’s Web sites.
Because of AiG’s concern for those who have been publicly led astray by teaching that compromises God’s Word, Dr Mortenson has written a detailed critique of this article.
Dr Mortenson’s article will not only help the readers to understand more about the compromise teachings of Hugh Ross, but will assist them to learn to be “Bereans” and thus to search the Scriptures to see if these teachings are true. It will also help readers to see the importance of philosophical assumptions in science.
This special feature article will equip and challenge—but most of all, what Dr Mortenson has written shows clearly AiG’s position, that we must submit man’s fallible ideas to the authority of God’s infallible Word.
The article is below. E-mail any of your friends and acquaintances (pastors and other Christian leaders) to challenge them to read this article, which deals with an issue of compromise that has contributed greatly to weakening the church in this increasingly anti-God culture.
Dr Hugh Ross’s article below has been on the Christian Leadership Ministry’s (CLM is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ) Web site (http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9403/date.html) for years. It is reproduced here indented with responding comments by Dr Terry Mortenson.
Dr Mortenson was on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) for 26 years before joining Answers in Genesis in 2001 as a speaker, writer and researcher. While with CCC he had opportunity to speak on the subject of creation and evolution to Christians and non-Christians of varying levels of academic training in America, England, most countries of Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia. His Ph.D. is in history of geology (for a thesis on the origin of old-Earth geology in the early 19th century) from Coventry University in England. He also has an M. Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Tim Patterson (CCC staff member in Russia) and Dr Carl Wieland (AiG-Australia) offered very helpful criticisms in earlier drafts of this response. Dr Mortenson alone takes full responsibility for the final version.
The Real Issue
The Creation Date Controversy
Meet the Authors: Dr. Hugh Ross & Kathy Ross
Dr. Hugh Ross earned his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Toronto and researched galaxies and quasars at the California Institute of Technology. He is president of Reasons To Believe, an organization founded to develop new tools for demonstrating the factual basis for belief in God and the Bible. Ross speaks regularly throughout the U.S. and around the world; has written three books; published numerous articles in professional and popular publications; and appears frequently on radio and television programs. He and his wife, Kathy, live in Southern California and have two sons. Kathy edits the Reasons To Believe newsletter Facts and Faith.
A strange phenomenon you may have observed in recent years is the willingness, even eagerness, of our academic colleagues to affirm recent creation (creation of the universe, earth, and life in the last few thousand years) as the Biblical teaching on origins.
Ross gives the misleading and erroneous impression that he is an academic (by the use of the word “our’). “Academic” is a term generally used to refer to people who teach and research in an institution of higher learning, and this article appears in the Leadership U Web site, which is aimed at such an audience. But the term does not describe Ross. He is also misleading in the impression that a noteworthy percentage of academics are now young-Earth creationists. They are still very much in the minority on the college campus.
On this issue they seem to concur wholeheartedly with a sizable and vocal segment of the evangelical community, but there’s no cause for rejoicing here. The reasons for this concurrence are diametrically opposite.
We would expect that in the next paragraph Ross is going to explain these “diametrically opposite” reasons why both some academics and a sizable segment of the evangelical community are embracing young-Earth creationism. But in the next paragraph he instead talks about academic critics of young-Earth creationism. He never does tell us what the diametrically opposite reasons are. But it is wrong to think that the two groups of people have different reasons for holding to young-Earth creationism. They have the same reasons: the Bible clearly teaches it and the scientific evidence confirms it.
Some academics find in young-earth creationism a ready excuse to disregard “archaic notions” about the authenticity and authority of the Bible as a revealer of truth concerning God and man. If scientific absurdity shows up on the very first page, there’s no need to give serious attention to whatever other “myths” may follow. Any attempt to demonstrate that the Bible teaches a different view, an old-earth view that is scientifically credible and aligns perfectly with even the latest data, is immediately and often vehemently dismissed as propagandistic.
No, it’s not. Old-Earth creationism is dismissed by the evolutionists because they know full well that the Bible teaches young-Earth creationism. They don’t trust the old-Earth creationists” handling of the Bible, so why should they respect their (old-Earthers’) science?
Other academics support the six-day story for its poetic beauty.
Such academics are primarily theological liberals, although a few professing evangelical scholars are taking this approach to Genesis 1 also. Most evangelicals, however, insist that Genesis 1 is historical narrative.
They insist that scientific fact and religious faith have nothing to do with each other, that they can and must exist separately, the one as a matter of mind, the other as a matter of heart or intuition, and never the twain should be asked to meet. These folks, too, react strongly against any attempt to reconcile the accepted scientific record with the words of Scripture.
For years a Biblically and scientifically plausible old-earth interpretation of creation events has met with no less vitriolic opposition in evangelical circles, though that response is beginning to change.
False, again. During the past 170 years or so most evangelicals, especially evangelical scholars, have been compromised by favoring one of the old-Earth interpretations, such as “day-age,” “gap” or “framework” theory, none of which is really Biblically or scientifically plausible, although with superficial examination they appear to be. Only in the latter half of the 20th century has young-Earth creationism been revived and grown after being virtually extinct since about 1850. The growth has been primarily among lay people (including many well-trained scientists) and some pastors, but it still appears to be a minority view among Christians (except maybe in fundamentalist circles, where there are also many old-Earth creationists).
Some pastors and parishioners have come to recognize the “when” of creation as a peripheral issue in their relationship to Christ.
If it is so peripheral, why do old-Earth creationists, such as Dr Ross, spend so much time advocating belief in millions of years and attacking young-Earth creationists? Ross is being quite inconsistent here. In one quick stroke of the pen, he leads his reader to disregard the “when” of creation by stating that it has no bearing upon one’s relationship with Christ. So, is one to superficially conclude that the “when” of creation is not important? The fact is that there is much chronological information in Genesis 1, as well as in chapters 5 and 11. The “when” of creation is just as much revealed information, as “who”, “what”, “how” and “why,” though we are hard pressed to find much in Genesis 1 to answer the “why” question. And as we shall see, this “when” of creation is quite foundational to one’s relationship to Christ.
They can reexamine the arguments used to support the young-earth position and acknowledge a strong case for an old-earth interpretation. But there are still many others who uphold the young-earth position as the front-line defense against modern (and postmodern) assaults on the Christian faith.
Reasons for this emotion-charged entrenchment are discussed in Creation and Time, a book written by Hugh; we will attempt to summarize them here. The source of resistance in all groups of young-earth proponents, however, seems the same: fear.
Note: this is an attack on young-Earthers” character rather than their arguments. By saying this is true of all groups of young-Earthers, he is also leading his readers to think that young-Earthers are not resisting old-Earth thinking for any exegetical or scientific reasons. The implication is that young-Earthers are fearful simpletons.
In the anti-Christian academics we see the fear of having to take the Gospel into careful consideration. That’s just too risky for those terrified by the prospect of peer ridicule and rejection, terrified to face the losses that might accompany a change to Christian values and morals through a relationship with Christ.
The Bible gives us the real reason that these academics will not carefully consider the Gospel. It is not fear, but rebellion against their Creator. They love the darkness of their unrighteousness rather than the light of the God’s holy truth (John 3:19-20, Romans 1:18-23).
The fact v. faith separatists harbor some of the same fears, but especially the fear of “literal” interpretation and application of Biblical truths. Abuses of “literalness” may trample grace and truth under foot,
Notice this sweeping attack on young-Earthers—that they “trample grace and truth.”
but so does the utter lack of it. And yet subjectivity feels much more comfortable - and it’s certainly more accommodating to modern cultures.
In the Christians who remain adamantly committed to the young-earth view exists a deep-seated fear that someday, somewhere, somehow scientists will discover some fact that clearly and irrefutably contradicts a scriptural statement.
False. Young-Earth creationists (at least well-informed ones) have no such fear, because we know that (1) the Bible is the inerrant Word of God; (2) it clearly teaches young-Earth creationism, as careful exegesis and church history confirm; (3) the scientific “facts” that evolutionists claim as proof of evolution or millions of years are really interpretations of selected observations, and those interpretations have been made with anti-Biblical philosophical assumptions; and (4) history is littered with so-called “scientific facts” that supposedly proved the Bible wrong, but which years or decades later were shown to be not facts but erroneously interpreted observations (because of the anti-Biblical assumptions used).
And then where will we be? If we trust science, we’ll lose our faith in that moment. But if Biblical truth stands above all else, above the so-called facts discovered through the work and thoughts of fallen men, our faith will remain intact. (That’s how the reasoning goes.) Science, then, is entirely suspect and may be judged as hopelessly flawed.
It is not “science” that young-Earthers think is entirely suspect and hopelessly flawed. Rather, evolutionary scientific theories, including old-Earth geological theory and “big bang” old-universe astronomical theory (both of which Ross accepts as fact) are hopelessly flawed because of the atheistic, anti-Biblical assumptions involved. YEC are not opposed to science. Most of the leaders of the YEC organizations around the world, in fact, have PhDs in science. Nor are YEC opposed to scientific facts. We all have the same facts—the same living creatures, the same DNA molecules, the same fossils, the same rock layers, the same Grand Canyon, the same moon, the same planets, the same starlight from distant stars and galaxies, etc. What are highly suspect are the evolutionary interpretations, which are misleadingly labeled as “facts” or “science.”
Sadly, with the slamming down of that gavel, the Christian community walks away from some of the most powerful faith-building tools available since the founding of the church. All the great cosmological discoveries of the twentieth century fly in the face of materialist notions about the infinite, random universe.
The cosmological “discoveries” are a mixture of a few facts and an enormous amount of philosophical assumptions and atheistic interpretations. The actual evidence (whether seen with the naked eye or through the telescope) clearly shows that the universe is designed, not the product of an explosion and millions of years of time plus chance plus the laws of nature operating on primitive matter. The “big bang” theory may point to the existence of a vaguely defined all-powerful “god” (though many evolutionists would deny this). But if the theory is true, then it also shows that the Bible is in serious error, for the theory flatly contradicts the Genesis account of creation (which says, for starters, that the Earth was created before the sun, moon and stars, contrary to the “big bang” theory). Christians” faith is not built by wedding atheistic theories of history with the Bible.
On the contrary, they support the fact of a finite beginning caused by and guided by a divine, personal, caring designer, who exists before and beyond the universe.
On the contrary, such evolutionary interpretations of observations show God to be an uncaring, incompetent engineer who destroyed most of the creatures He made over the course of billions of years before He got it right at the time of making man.
We yearn to see those tools put to use (see, for example, our books The Fingerprint of God and The Creator and the Cosmos), for we have found them effective, dramatically so.
Yes, very effective at disseminating “knowledge falsely so-called” (1 Tim. 6:21) and erroneous interpretations of the Bible. The result is that Christians are led into error and any non-Christians who are led to Christ by Dr Ross are simultaneously led into error regarding the foundation of the Gospel that they have just believed.
But how can we open the door to dialogue? How can we appeal this unwarranted judgment? Willingness to understand and address specific fears is an important step, often a first step, in the long but worthwhile process. With the first two groups described above, compassion, trust, and sharing of personal histories will be essential to exposing and breaking through emotional and spiritual barriers.
It is hard to know just which two groups Ross is referring to, for he speaks of both Christian and non-Christian fears. Since neither this article nor any of Ross’s other writings show compassion and trust toward young-Earth creationists, I assume he is referring to anti-Christian skeptics and religious people who are afraid of the literal truth of Scripture. Of course, with these people we do need to express compassion and understanding and share our own spiritual journeys. But we also need to lovingly, humbly but boldly confront them with the Word of God.
Experiences will vary from individual to individual, but the antiChristian’s fears are usually rooted in painful encounters with Christian (sometimes in name only) people. Defensive or pat responses
Such responses are not what most young-Earth creationists give.
to these wounding encounters will only heighten the barriers; so we must proceed with utmost care, consideration and prayer, not to mention humility.
These qualities are important in discussions with the third group, as well. In the case of these individuals, we can anticipate some of the most troubling barriers they face by reflecting on what they’ve probably been taught about the “dangers” of old-earth creationist views, and we can start by addressing those specific issues.
Again, Ross treats young-Earth creationists as shallow thinking, fearful, faith-only Christians. But most of the leading young-Earth creationists are Ph.D. scientists (or other types of scholars) who have done deep thinking and study of both Scripture and science as well as of the many old-Earth compromise reinterpretations of Genesis. Most of the young-Earth scientists and other scholars also obtained their academic training under evolutionists, hardly an intellectually easy accomplishment. And many lay and pastoral young-Earthers are very well informed on the scientific, Biblical and philosophical issues.
The five fears we encounter most often are these:
Old-Earth Creationism = Evolutionism
Relief of such a fear can come through demonstrating that a several-billion-year-old universe and a few-billion-year-old earth are hopelessly too young to accommodate the strictly natural process assembly of even the simplest possible life forms. The difference between 104 years and 1010 years appears trivial compared to the approximately 10100,000,000,000 years non-theistic interpretations of life require. And that’s not just the conclusion of Bible-believing Christians. It’s the central point of several widely known, academically respected books by nonChristian researchers in a variety of relevant fields (e.g., Robert Shapiro’s Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, and Hubert Yockey’s Information Theory and Molecular Biology).
Beyond the origin of life, a comparison of speciation vs. extinction rates before and after the first human beings may help expose the limits of natural processes to explain the observed changes in life on Earth. The speciation rate before humans slightly (but significantly over the millenia [sic]) exceeded the extinction rate. Since humans came on the scene, however, the extinction rate has remained fairly constant (about one species per year discounting the effects of human abuse), but the speciation rate has dropped to virtually zero. What could account for this dramatic change? The best explanation, given the provable limitations on natural selection and mutations, is a divine Speciator intervened through all the years recorded in the fossils and then ceased to intervene once He created the first humans. (Does that story sound familiar?)
Dr Ross is grossly ignorant about speciation, which is no big surprise since he is not trained in biology. But he could read up on the subject before making such uninformed statements and so misleading his audience. Contrary to both science and the Bible, Ross imagines that God has been continually, every so often over millions of years, creating new species. Furthermore, old-Earth creationism is at least 66% evolutionism, because it accepts cosmological evolution of the universe and geological evolution of the Earth by accepting the billions of years of history that the evolutionists imagine. Ross is actually closer to 80-90% evolutionist in his thinking because he accepts the evolutionary history of the order in which different kinds of creatures appeared and the appearance of hominids and what he thinks are pre-Adamites (e.g. Neanderthals) before true man (Adam) was made (which he thinks was a supernatural event). Does Ross’s story sound familiar? It certainly does! It has been popular in the church for almost 200 years, since the early 19th century when the church foolishly started to compromise with evolutionary geology. But such progressive creationism reflects neither good science nor careful Bible reading.
Old-Earth Creationism = A Denial of Literal Adam and Eve
While it is true that some old-earth creationists deny the historicity of a literal Adam and Eve or identify Adam and Eve with an ancient australopithicene [sic] couple, many (if not most) old-earthers accept the factuality of a recently and specially created Adam and Eve.
I know of no young-Earthers who accuse all old-Earthers of denying a literal Adam and Eve. What we say is that old-Earthers are inconsistent in their belief in an old Earth and a literal Adam and literal Fall. Their hermeneutic for interpreting Genesis 1 to fit an old Earth cannot be consistently applied to arrive at a literal Adam and a literal Fall. All of Genesis 1–11 is straightforward, literal history.
While the scientific record establishes the existence of bipedal primates as far back as three million years,
No, it doesn’t. Ross just blindly accepts what the evolutionists say on this score, which again reveals to what extent Ross’s thinking is evolutionized. See Marvin Lubenow’s excellent book, Bones of Contention, for a discussion not only of the evidence of hominid evolution (or rather lack thereof) but also a brilliant exposé of the dating methods.
it does not establish that these bipedal creatures were humans (that is, spiritual beings) and it suggests that they did become extinct.
The fossil record cannot, by its very nature, conclusively reveal if a creature had a soul or not, since souls are not fossilized. But there is clear evidence that creatures, which Ross (following the evolutionists) places before Adam, had art and clever technology and buried their dead in a way that many of Adam’s descendants have, so we have strong reason to believe that they were fully human (and lived after Adam, since Scripture teaches that all people, regardless of “race” or physical appearance, are descendants of him and Eve (Acts 17:26; Romans 5:12; Genesis 3:20)).
Genesis states that God created only one species with body, soul, and spirit. Anthropological evidence for spiritual expression dates back only 8,000–24,000 years. (Primates’ and other mammals’ burial practices serve only as evidence for soul.) The anthropological dates are consistent with the best Biblical dates for Adam and Eve, specifically 6,000–60,000 years ago.
The Biblical genealogies cannot be stretched to 60,000 years (a date which again shows how much Ross has bought into the evolutionary dating methods) without destroying their value and chronological purpose. Who in their right mind would trust a genealogy with gaps that large? And if it be replied that Jesus is called the Son of David (which is a gap of 1,000 years) let it be remembered that Luke and 1 Chronicles give us the details of all the missing names so that we can trust that Jesus really was the Son of David. We have no such additional information elsewhere in Scripture to fill in all the missing names that would be required, if the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies actually covered 60,000 or even more than 10,000 years. The arguments in favor of gaps in these genealogies are weak. These chapters clearly cover a period of a little more than 2,000 years, from the creation of Adam to the death of Terah. Those who would slip in a thousand years or more to Biblical chronology must find a way to do so in the succeeding records of the O.T., which is impossible. Also, there is a serious logical inconsistency here. Ross demonstrates repeatedly in his writings that he trusts the evolutionary secular dating methods, which are known to give dates of well over 6,000 years for the first occupation of the Americas or Australia by their aboriginal inhabitants (40,000 years in the case of Australia). By allowing for a bottom limit of 6,000 years as his date for Adam, Ross must logically be allowing for the possibility at least that these aboriginal peoples are not the descendants of Adam and thus not fully human etc., which is of course unacceptable—presumably to Ross as well.
Old-Earth Creationism = Distortion of Doctrine of Salvation
What is vital to the Christian doctrine is to know who created and perhaps something about how He created, but not when He created.
This is a bold assertion without Biblical warrant. Where do the Scriptures state that the when of creation is not vital? The how of creation has great bearing on the when. If God created supernaturally and in the order He says He created in Genesis 1, then the days must have been literal 24-hour periods.
This ranking is reflected in the structure of Genesis One. The text clearly identifies the who and some of the how of creation, but it says little about the when, other than to indicate what came after what.
This is patently false, as any reader in any country regardless of his academic training would conclude. The timing of the creation events is just as clearly stated in Genesis 1 (vv. 5, 8, 13, 19, 23 and 31) as is the order (both of which contradict the evolutionary order of events, which is why in Ross’s harmonizing of Genesis 1 with the “big bang” he has to change the order of events and make overlapping days as well as to make the days symbolic of long ages). That God created in six normal days is the obvious meaning of the text. And in-depth exegesis in Hebrew confirms the obvious meaning, as do all the other relevant Scriptures, such as Exodus 20:11. For a technical defense of the literal days see http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v5/n1/semantic. For a popular-level discussion read http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v18/n1/six-days.
Some young-earth creationists express concern that if God took billions of years to create, He must be less than all-powerful.
No, we say that He must be quite incompetent and cruel to make things in the way that evolutionists imagine the universe and Earth to have evolved and in the way that they imagine that most of the living creatures that ever existed died cruel deaths and that extinction before man came on the scene. It is not the power of God that is called into question by old-Earth views, but rather His wisdom and goodness are denigrated. And His truthfulness is attacked, since if He really created over the course of billions of years then He has misled most believers for 4,000 years into believing that He did it in six days.
But the logic of this supposition does not hold. If a four-minute miler chooses to walk along a garden path, his speed (or lack of it) in no way reflects limitations on his capability.
This example is absurd and irrelevant. In the first place, if the four-minute miler told us clearly that he traveled down the mile-long path in four minutes, then we know he ran. But if he told us that it took an hour, then we know the travel process was something other than running at race speed. Furthermore, the issue is not that God is somehow opposed to big quantities of time. The problem is what the old-Earthers say happened in those billions of years. The wise, good, gracious God of Scripture could not have created and destroyed things, in the order and way that they imagine, before man sinned. Death and violence and extinction, along with earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, asteroid impacts, etc., were not part of God’s “very good‘ Creation Week but came into the creation after man sinned and God cursed the whole creation (Gen. 3:17–19; Gen. 5:29; Rom. 8:18–23). If God never told us about how and how long He created, then we could be free to speculate. But God clearly told us in Genesis that He did it in six literal days. And the rest of Scripture is consistent with that, e.g., Jesus” saying that people were present from the beginning of the creation (Mark 10:6). So it is not a matter of what God is capable of doing, but of what God said that He actually did.
Old-Earth Creationism = Denial of Biblical Inerrancy
Rather than denying Biblical inerrancy, most old-earth creationists appeal for uncompromising consistency in interpretation of Scripture. Paying due respect to the entire canon requires consideration of all relevant texts when interpreting a particular verse or passage. In the case of creation’s time frame, integrative analysis
By “integrative analysis” does he mean using evolutionary geology and astronomy to interpret the Bible? The only valid integrative analysis is to compare Scripture with Scripture (the historically orthodox approach to interpreting the Bible), which when done confirms the truth of the young-Earth view.
strongly supports, and in no way contradicts, an old-earth interpretation of Genesis One.
There is no verse or passage in the whole Bible that even suggests (let alone explicitly teaches) that God took longer than six days to create the heavens and Earth and all their hosts. See below the refutation of Ross’s so-called Biblical evidence.
At the second summit of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, the issue of the age of the universe and earth appeared on the agenda. Three papers were presented, and long deliberations followed. The conclusion of all the theologians and Old Testament scholars present was that inerrancy requires belief in creation but not in 24-hour creation days.
First, while it is true that all the theologians and OT scholars meeting at the ICBI agreed to a printed statement that implied that inerrancy does not require belief in 24-hour days of creation, it is not true that all such ICBI scholars reject the literal day interpretation. Though certainly the young-Earthers were a small minority, the fact that there were long deliberations after the three papers (one of which was written by a young-Earther, Dr Henry Morris) shows that young-Earthers were there raising their voices against the old-Earth majority. Second, many old-Earthers passionately (and no doubt sincerely) profess belief in the inerrancy of Scripture (and young-Earthers acknowledge this sincere belief). But their old-Earth reinterpretations of Genesis nevertheless undermine the inerrant authority of Scripture (despite their sincere intentions otherwise) because the reinterpretations cannot stand up to careful exegetical scrutiny, as young-Earthers have been showing for decades. And the watching, unbelieving world says, “If you Christians don’t believe what the Bible so obviously teaches about Creation, the Flood and the age of the Earth (and so you come up with all these compromise reinterpretations), why should we believe anything else that you Christians say the Bible obviously teaches, such as the Gospel?” The compromise reinterpretations of Genesis over the past 200 years have not caused more, but far less, people to be open to and believe the Gospel and the Scriptures.
Old-Earth Creationism = Elevation of Science above the Bible
Creation and Time (Navpress, 1994), Dr. Hugh Ross’s most recent book, addresses the creation date controversy from historical, scientific, theological and evangelical perspectives.
Read Van Bebber’s and Taylor’s devastating critique of this book, by the same title, which is available from the AiG Web site (right), to see some of the many problems with Ross’s book.
R.C. Sproul, president of Ligonier Ministries, writes, “With gentleness, compassion, and scintillating logic, Creation and Time shines the light of revelation on the too-dark dispute between those who would banish God and those who would banish reason from their thinking.”
Dr Sproul wrote to Ross sometime prior to January 1998 asking him to remove his endorsement (I have on file an open letter from Sproul to the public about his letter to Ross). Yet here we are in 2002 and Ross’s misleading article still capitalizes on Sproul’s endorsement. By the way, I also have documentation which indicates that Sproul endorsed Ross’s book without having read it. He only read a synopsis of it and then endorsed it on recommendation of his personal friend, who was the publisher of Ross’s book. In personal conversation in June 2001, Dr Bright (of CCC) told me personally that he too endorsed the book without having read it, simply because his friend (Ross’s pastor at the time) asked him to do so. I wonder how many other godly theologians and mission leaders have endorsed Ross’s book(s) without reading (or reading carefully) what Ross actually wrote.
The problem lies in confusing “science” with the facts of nature.
No, the problem is with old-Earthers such as Ross who confuse facts with evolutionary interpretations of facts.
Science is man’s attempt to discover and interpret the facts of nature. Errors and contradictions are possible in science, as well as in theology, since human reasoning and interpreting is involved. But no possibility for error or contradiction exists in either the facts of nature or the words of the Bible. Both are perfect, for both came from God, the source of all truth, in whose character is no deceit or capriciousness.
False, the creation is not perfect, but cursed, whereas the Word of God is perfect and inerrant and not cursed. Here is a fundamental and enormous error in Ross’s thinking and teaching. He has a defective view of creation and of Scripture. Furthermore, Scripture is made up of propositional truth statements, many of which tell us about who God is and what God has done, whereas creation is circumstantial evidence of past acts of God. In any court of law or in historical reconstruction, truthful eyewitness verbal testimony (which is what Scripture is) always has precedence over circumstantial evidence because the latter can be so easily misinterpreted.
That which is perfect cannot be inferior or superior to anything else that is perfect.
In the light of the above comment, we can say that creation is inferior to the Word of God with regard to revealing the truth that God wants us to know. This is what theologians have told the church for 2,000 years. “General revelation” (what we can know about God and His acts in creation) is superseded by “special revelation” (Scripture and Jesus). By general revelation we cannot know the truth as clearly as we can by special revelation. But also, general revelation is not equivalent to evolutionary interpretations of physical reality. General revelation consists of correctly interpreted observations of nature. Special revelation, however, is the actual Biblical text, not our interpretations of the text.
Truth will always be harmonious and consistent with truth. No book of the Bible is more true or less true than any other book. Nor is any book more true or less true than the facts of the natural realm, which also emanated from God.
Again, Ross displays a categorical confusion. Scripture is made up of propositional truth statements, but the natural realm has no such statements. Neither rocks, nor fossils, nor dogs, nor waves of starlight are true or false; they just exist. Human interpretations of these natural things are verbally conveyed to other human beings in propositional statements, which can be either true or false. But these interpretations are not the natural things themselves. Scripture and nature are in very different categories when it comes to the question of truth or falsehood.
When apparent contradiction arises, it’s time for further study into both Scripture and nature.
Correct, and Ross is failing to do both. His exegesis is superficial and manipulative, and he unquestioningly accepts most of the evolutionary interpretations of the cosmos, the geological formations of the Earth, and living things.
Given that most young-earth creationists have been taught to discount science,
This is false, again misrepresenting creationists, as Ross so often does. We discount evolutionary interpretations of the data, which are based on anti-Biblical presuppositions.
a beginning dialogue about the plausibility of the old-earth view will go further if it focuses on Biblical rather than scientific evidence in support of long creation periods and an ancient earth. Creation and Time lists (and more fully develops) the following Biblical arguments for interpreting the Genesis One creation days as long epochs rather than as a span of 144 hours:
Most, if not all, these points are refuted in more detail in Van Bebber’s and Taylor’s book mentioned above.
1. God’s perspective on time is far different from humans’ (Psalm 90:4).
True, but this is irrelevant to the question of how long the days were in Genesis 1. Furthermore, the verse in context is indicating that God is eternal and that what man thinks is a long time is like a day or even a few hours of guard duty in the middle of the night. It is not a verse that defines the length of yom (day) in Genesis 1. This verse has been ripped out of its context by many sincere, godly old-Earthers for almost 200 years. But it is still invalid and Scripture-twisting.
2. The Hebrew words Yom, ‘ereb, and boqer (day, evening, morning) have flexible usage and do not refer solely to the whole or parts of 24-hour days. Neither do numbered days refer strictly to 24-hour periods.
Yom does very rarely have a non-literal meaning, as young-Earthers have always acknowledged. But, when used in context with evening and morning (both of which always have a literal meaning in Scripture) and with a number, Yom always means a literal day, as a study of all of the relevant verses shows.
3. Chronologies are meant to be time-discernible. In other words, verification for the spelled-out sequence of events will be discoverable and clear. (If all God’s acts of creation were squeezed into that 144-hour period, there’s no way future investigation could attest to what happened before or after what.)
False. We cannot by scientific investigation prove the order of events of past, unrepeatable, supernatural events. The only way we can know accurately the order and time of God’s creation activities is by His revelation in Genesis. But the incredible design of the universe, Earth and living creatures, as well as the ecological interconnectedness of creatures to each other and to the needed sunlight for life—all attest to the literal truth of Genesis 1 and to the lie of millions of years of evolution or progressive creation.
4. The “evening and morning” sentences contain unusual syntax.
False. There is nothing in Genesis 1 that contradicts or calls into question the literal meaning of these words, just as they are used in the rest of the Old Testament. Be warned—Ross does not know Hebrew and Van Bebber and Taylor show that he is not reliable in his use of Hebrew reference books.
5. The seventh day continues through Old and New Testament times and on into the future.
If true, then it refutes Ross’s position because if we are still in the seventh day, then it means that God is not now creating (but rather resting from His creation work). But if He is not now creating, then none of the physical processes that scientists study are the processes that God used to create the world. So God could not possibly have used a “big bang” and millions of years of slow gradual geological change to produce the world, as Ross believes. But further, the Bible does not teach that the seventh day is continuing. Rather, it teaches that God continues to rest from His creation work (though He continues His work of providentially sustaining and ruling over His creation and of redeeming). Exodus 20:11 makes it clear that the seventh day is the same kind of time-period as the first six days. And Adam was created on the sixth day and then lived 930 years of “days” (Gen. 5:3-4). So the seventh day ended (the second day of Adam’s existence) and it was a literal day.
6. The events between Adam’s creation and Eve’s seem to require far more than 24 hours.
False. What “seems” to Ross or anyone else to require much time is irrelevant. What actually happened and what Genesis 2 actually says about the time involved are the issues. The Biblical text gives no explicit information about the length of time each of the events took. But what it does say fits perfectly with the literal day view, but is inconsistent with the old-Earth view. The things God did were supernatural and so took almost no time at all (about the same amount of time that Jesus took to do each of His miracles—which were essentially instantaneous). As for Adam, the text gives no indication that Adam cared for the Garden for a long time before he was told to name creatures. And in 10 hours he could have easily named over 3,000 kinds of animals. The text doesn’t tell us how many he named, but it is explicit that it was only some land creatures (beasts “of the field,” not “of the earth,” and birds—but no sea creatures or creeping things). We can be quite certain that it was less than the number of “species” of these creatures, since the created “kinds” were surely larger genetic groups than “species.” Adam’s nap could have lasted only minutes, long enough for God to make Eve supernaturally. All these events could have easily happened during even the light portion of the sixth 24-hour day.
7. In Genesis 2:4 the word for “day,” Yom, refers to the entire creation week, demonstrating its flexible usage.
This argument must be rejected because in this verse we find Yom used with the preposition “in” (beyom in Hebrew, which in many translations is appropriately rendered as “when,” rather than as “in the day that’). So in Genesis 2:4 beyom refers to the whole Creation Week. On the other hand, in Genesis 1 we find Yom used with a number and with evening and morning, referring to literal days. These are two very different uses of Yom See a similar literal and non-literal use of Yom in Numbers 7:10-84, where beyom appears in v. 10 and v. 84 referring to the whole 12 days of sacrifice and then at v. 12, 18, 24, 30, etc., Yom is used with a number referring to each literal day of sacrifice. No young-Earther says that Yom always means a literal day. But the context always makes it clear when it is literal and the few times when it is figurative of a longer (generally) indefinite period of time. Genesis 1 uses literal Yom; Genesis 2:4 uses the non-literal beyom.
8. The Bible writers used mountains and the foundations of the earth as metaphors for God’s eternality.
This also is irrelevant because “mountains” and “foundations” of the Earth are also used literally in the Bible. Context determines everything.
9. The mountains, hills, and heavens are described as “ancient,” “age-old,” and “of long ago” in numerous Biblical passages.
These are relative terms, which can just as validly describe their creation about 6,000 years ago (or their formation in association with the Flood about 4,000 years ago) as 6 billion years ago. So the point fails to support the notion of long epochs, as Ross supposes.
10. God is truthful and desires to reveal truth, both in the creation and in the written Word. He does not trick or deceive.
True. But the creation (unlike the Word) is cursed. And the old-Earth theories in astronomy and geology were developed initially by atheists and deists (sinners in rebellion against God) whose foolish minds and hearts were darkened (ROM 1:21-22; Eph. 4:17-18) so that they could not interpret the cursed creation correctly. But this is quite contrary to the godly, saved Bible scholars who almost unanimously for 18 centuries interpreted the inerrant, never-cursed Word to mean what young-Earthers say it means: recent six-day Creation and global Flood. The point fails to support Ross’s old-Earth view.
11. The Bible affirms that the creation reveals God’s existence, His handiwork, His power, and His divine nature.
True, but this supports the young-Earth view more than any old-Earth view (because the idea of millions of years of death before the Fall contradicts God’s goodness, justice and wisdom). So this point likewise does not support any old-Earth view.
12. The Bible affirms that the Word of God includes not only the words of the Bible but also His words written on the heavens and the earth.
Again, we see Ross’s confusion of the works and words of God. The Bible indeed says that creation bears witness to God’s glory and nature (Romans 1:18-20, Job 12:7-9, Psalm 19:1-6, etc.). But nowhere does Scripture call this creation witness “the Word of God.” The latter phrase is only used with reference to written Scripture (or to prophetic words that were spoken and only referred to in the Bible).
13. Several Bible writers attest to the vastness of the universe, which in turn reflects age.
Size has nothing to do with age. A one-second old baby blue whale is much bigger than a one-second old human being, but they are the same age. The sun, moon and stars where created the same day and four days after the Earth, even though the sun is much bigger than the moon and many stars are bigger than the sun. Only atheistic, “big bang” assumptions lead to the linking of the vast size of the universe with a vast age. Nothing in Scripture or the nature of God requires that God had to take a long time to make a vast universe. And see below for comment on the starlight-time issue.
14. The work week for man (168 hours) and the work week for the land (7 years) both may be viewed as analogues to God’s creation week.
No, the Creation Week and the human work week are not merely analogous, but actually of equal length, as Exodus 20:8–11 clearly teaches. God did not command the Jews to work six (literal) days and rest one because God created in six long ages and rested on one (continuing—according to Ross) long age. No, God created in six literal days. Any non-literal interpretation neutralizes the 4th Commandment, which faithful Jews themselves interpreted literally until, like everyone else, they accepted evolutionary teachings about the age and history of the creation. With regard to the Sabbath rest for the land, the Scriptures clearly teach that this was a Sabbath year (and a literal year at that: Lev. 25:2–4, (8)). Furthermore, God never explicitly connects the Sabbath-year rest for the land to His Sabbath rest at the end of Creation Week. That true analogy is inferred from Scripture, but it is an analogy, whereas man’s work week is a literal equivalence (in duration) of God’s Creation Week.
15. The Bible does not deny the physical death of plants and animals before Adam’s fall. “Death through sin” refers to spiritual death.
It is true that Romans 5:12 (where this phrase appears) does not directly speak of animal death. But, contrary to Ross’s teachings elsewhere, it does speak of physical death, not just spiritual death, for in the context it is speaking of Christ’s physical death on the Cross, as well as the physical death of all Adam’s descendants (see also 1 Cor. 15:20–22). Nevertheless, God said the original creation was “very good” (a Hebrew way of saying it was perfect) and Genesis 3:14–19, Genesis 5:29, Genesis 8:21 and Romans 8:18–23 together clearly teach (as most Bible scholars in church history have affirmed) that a curse was placed on the whole creation because of man’s sin. Animals could live on plant food alone, and most do presently, often without killing any plants (but only eating some fruit and some leaves before moving on to the next plant). But regardless, according to the Bible, plants are not “living creatures” (Heb. “nephesh chayyah,”), as animals and people are (Gen. 1:20–21, 2:7). So, even the total consumption of a plant, despite its “death” in a strict biological sense, does not involve death in the Biblical meaning of the term. Genesis 1:29-20 clearly indicates that man and the animals were originally vegetarian. The future state after the return of Christ indicates that animals that are presently dangerous carnivores will be harmless herbivores (Is. 11:6–9) and there will be no pain or death or disease (Rev. 21:3–5 and 22:3) because the whole creation will be restored (Acts 3:21) and redeemed (ROM 8:18–23, Col. 1:16–20). The old-Earth teaching on animal death, violence and extinction before Adam sinned destroys the Bible’s teaching on the cosmic impact of the Fall and of Christ’s redemptive work consistently presented from Genesis to Revelation. This theological truth is a major reason that the age of the Earth matters. And sadly it is a truth that most old-Earth creationists ignore.
16. Plant and animal death, and thus bloodshed, before Adam’s sin does not alter the doctrine of atonement.
It surely does, as indicated above. Ross’s thinking here is seriously in error. In his view, Jesus becomes only a redeemer of man’s spiritual problem.
17. The creation has been subject to decay since its inception, and that decay process is a strategic part of physical life and God’s creative plan.
There is absolutely no Biblical basis for this statement. It comes rather from finite, sinful human reasoning from the present state of the cursed creation and applying that to the non-cursed initial perfect creation.
18. An eighth day is coming. God’s rest (cessation) from creating will someday end, and He will create again.
Again, this has no basis in the Bible. It never speaks of an “eighth day” when God will resume creating.
19. God is no less than Almighty for taking more than 144 hours to create.
It takes far more power to create instantly, supernaturally and perfectly than to bumble along with mistakes, exploding stars, animal extinctions from asteroid impacts, etc., as imagined by old-Earthers (or as implied by their views, whether they realize the implication or not). But regardless, the supposed billions of years of death and bloodshed is an assault on God’s character of goodness, justice, grace, etc. God has more than one attribute (almightiness) and He behaves consistently with all His attributes. Note that death and bloodshed in the old-Earth view are not, as in the Biblical account, a righteous judgment on sin and an aberration that will be removed due to Christ’s redemptive work. Rather (in the old-Earth view), death and bloodshed, along with diseases such as cancer (which are evident in the fossil record, which Ross insists was formed eons before man appeared), become part of the way God chose to make the world.
20. Every people group will be represented in the host of the redeemed, including some physical scientists.
This is irrelevant to the issue at hand since there are redeemed young-Earth creationist scientists all over the world and there will be plenty of people who get to Heaven in spite of the fact that some or even many points of their theology are wrong. And there were plenty of redeemed scientists before the idea of billions of years became popular.
When presented with these Biblical arguments and evidence, some young-earth creationists respond by suggesting that only someone with a modern, science-trained perspective would ever see them as such.
Young-Earthers do say (and history confirms the statement) that only those under the influence of modern old-Earth evolutionary thinking would come up with an old-Earth interpretation of Genesis. But the real reason that Ross’s arguments and “evidence” for an old Earth are rejected is that Ross has mutilated the Scriptures, twisted history and violated logic in defense of many of these claims. The rest of his points are irrelevant for one reason or another, such as the last point (since there are young-Earth creation scientists in just about every country on Earth today and young-Earthers do not say that no old-Earth scientist will be saved).
If that’s the case, however, we would expect the early church fathers to be unanimous in affirming the young-earth, 24-hour-day interpretation.
They are virtually unanimous, and the very few who weren’t young-Earthers had other seriously unorthodox teachings. See Van Bebber’s and Taylor’s book (mentioned above), as well as chapters 3–5 of David Hall’s Holding Fast to Creation (Oak Ridge, TN: The Covenant Foundation, 2001) and Fr. Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation and Early Man (Platina, CA: Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2000). Rose (1934–82) was an Eastern Orthodox monk and therefore an expert on the writings of the Church Fathers.
And that is not what we find. In fact, few of the early church fathers took a dogmatic view on either the time or timespan of creation events. Most saw these as a wonderful mystery yet to be unfolded.
False. Rose’s book above (which quotes liberally from the writings of the Church Fathers) exposes Ross’s lack of careful perusal and misunderstanding of the Church Fathers on this point.
Young-earth creationism really arose after the King James translation of the Bible and a sequence of clashes between the theological and scientific communities that followed.
This is misleading, at best, and reveals considerable historical ignorance on Ross’s part. As the above works show, the church was almost unanimously young-Earth creationist for the first 18 centuries. For example, in his commentary on Genesis (written almost 80 years before the King James Bible), Luther is emphatically young-Earth. The first prolonged and multi-author defense of Genesis came in the early 19th century as the “Scriptural geologists” opposed the old-Earth geological theories as they were being developed at that time. See http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/gtp/historical-context, especially the section on “Commentaries in the early 19th century.”
If and when a person becomes willing to examine the scientific evidence for an old universe and earth, the fun can really begin.
Truth is the issue, not fun. Most of the leading young-Earthers were once old-Earth compromisers themselves and got their science degrees under evolutionists. They have studied the evidence for an old Earth and found it to be wanting both Biblically and scientifically—because it is nothing but philosophical naturalism masquerading as scientific fact.
A long and exciting list awaits. (Creation and Time presents a sizable chunk of that list.)
But what we recommend is to begin with a simple, irrefutable piece of evidence, such as the vast size of the universe, which, as mentioned above, reliably indicates age. The most distant objects in the universe are about a hundred billion trillion miles away. With light traveling at 186,000 miles per second, light takes about 15 billion years to reach Earth from these distant objects. And since we do see them, and since our distance measurements have been tested and affirmed, and since we can prove the constancy of the velocity of light and that the light actually emanated from the distant objects and not from some intervening point, those objects must really be that old.
Notice the assumption of the constant present speed of light throughout history and during Creation Week. This assumption is not a scientifically proven fact and there are even secular world-renowned physicists questioning (because of observation and experimentation) this almost universal assumption.
Beyond simply rejecting such scientific evidence for a vast and ancient universe and an old earth,
No, again, it is evolutionary interpretations of the evidence, not the scientific evidence themselves, which are being rejected.
young-earth creationists have gone on to assemble approximately eighty “scientific” evidence for a creation date of roughly 10,000 years. If you have tried these on your science-trained colleagues, you have no doubt discovered (perhaps with painful embarrassment) that all these “evidence” are based on misunderstanding and error.
False. Ross misleads his readers again and reveals his own scientific misunderstanding and error (see more evidence of this in http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v13/n2/hugh-ross). Henry Morris’s Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Baker, 1984, pp. 477–79) lists 68 dating methods for the age of the Earth, and only a small minority of the methods indicates that the Earth is 10,000 years old. Most dates are much greater than that. But what the dates show is that, even when using evolutionary uniformitarian assumptions in these dating methods, the Earth cannot possibly be as old as the evolutionists insist. With Biblical assumptions plugged into these dating methods, we could get dates that very much fit the Biblical chronology of about 6,000 years. Of course, such a date is rejected by most academic scientists. But truth is not determined by popular vote, and the majority of scientists have been wrong at many points in the history of science. Furthermore, those same academic scientists who embrace evolution and reject young-Earth creationism would also reject Ross’s view of God’s progressive supernatural creation of new species over millions of years, so by Ross’s logic he ought to abandon his view as well. Once again, we see how much Ross bows the knee to the scientific establishment (except when they reject his views).
What Can You Do?
Please be encouraged yourself and encourage others, as 1 Thessalonians 5:21a says, to “test” what is taught both on campus and in church.
Absolutely! And if people would carefully test Ross’s teachings (about cosmological evolution, the age of the Earth and what he says that the Bible says) against what Scripture actually says, they would see his errors. Reading Genesis 1–11 slowly and carefully, just in English (or any other language of my contemporary readers), would do wonders for the church!
As a professor, you are accustomed to having students and others test their ideas on you, and if it is known that you are a Christian, those ideas probably include views on origins and time scales. If every Christian professor were equipped and willing to discuss such issues, the damage caused on many campuses by the misconstrued “Christian” view of creation could begin to undergo repair.
It is true that “Christian” views on origins need to undergo repair. But those erroneous views are the old-Earth views, which though widely held in the church today are less than 200 years old. Christians need to return to the historic Christian, and exegetically sound, young-Earth view.
Sadly, it is in our churches that the fires of the creation controversy are fanned most vigorously.
Yes, by Ross and other old-Earthers.
Controlling the flames will require college and university professors to take a more vocal role than they may be accustomed to or comfortable with. Most Christian professors we know, especially science professors, prefer to avoid science-and-faith issues in their fellowship groups,
Because these professors are themselves largely uninformed Biblically or scientifically on the origins issue.
partly to keep from stirring up hornets’ nests, partly to keep from sounding know-it-all, and partly to be true to their quiet, cautious personalities. But the stakes are too high and the number of scholars in evangelical churches too low for even a few to remain on the sidelines. Look for opportunities to form teams in communicating with pastors and lay people.
Creation and Time closes with the call for a Council similar to the Jerusalem Council of the first century (Acts 15) to resolve the creation-date controversy. Imagine what could be accomplished if prominent Christian leaders, including seminary professors, research scientists, pastors, missionaries, and leaders of parachurch and missions organizations, gathered for deliberation on the controversy with the goal of producing a document similar to that published by the Jerusalem Council.
That Acts 15 “document” was only a few lines long, hardly sufficient words for this issue. But at least the Jerusalem council was committed to the supreme authority of the Old Testament scriptures. The problem is that for the last 200 years most of the Christian leaders and scholars have compromised with old-Earth geology and astronomy, because they (like the rest of us) have been brainwashed through their secular education, the media and previous compromising Christian leaders (since the first ones in the early 19th century) and because they have made evolutionary scientific theory about the history and age of the creation to be their final authority by which they “reinterpret” the Word of God.
Just as the Council of Acts 15 made a clear distinction between the essentials and nonessentials of the Christian faith, so, too, this council could distinguish between the essential belief in creation, more specifically in Jesus Christ as the personal, transcendent Creator, and the nonessential belief in a particular view of when creation took place and over what time span. The issue of when God created must never again be used as a yardstick to measure a person’s sincerity of faith or spiritual maturity.
Just as requiring Gentiles to be circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses was subversive to the Gospel, so are the old-Earth reinterpretations of Genesis. Genesis is foundational to the rest of the Bible’s teachings, including the Gospel. What we believe about Genesis is not an issue like eating meat sacrificed to idols. Young-Earth creationists are not saying that the issue of the age of the Earth is a measuring stick of someone’s sincerity of faith or spiritual maturity. We have always said that many of the old-Earth Christians, including Christian scholars and leaders, over the past 200 years have been very sincere and godly. But godly sincerity and spiritual maturity are not a guarantee that someone is right, for there are sincere, godly, mature people on both sides of the present age-of-the-Earth debate. So regardless of which view we favor, we are inescapably concluding that some godly, mature believers are (or were) wrong. But if we take the old-Earth view, then we are saying that most of the godly mature believers in church history have been wrong, because they indeed believed in and taught recent creation and a global Flood.
To end needless division is a worthwhile goal in itself,
And that goal can only be accomplished as the church unites around the Word of God, rather than around whatever the contemporary scientific consensus is.
But we are convinced that a far greater benefit would accrue from the work of the proposed Council. Evangelical scientists and scholars, set free to minister in Christian fellowships, could equip tens of thousands of Christians for more effective, fact-based outreach to an increasingly secularized world.
Far better it would be if Christians were equipped with Genesis-based, rather than evolution/old-Earth-based, outreach, since the facts are the same for everyone.
By introducing secularists to Christ and welcoming them in our congregations,
Something young-Earthers are regularly doing.
we could be paving the way for one of the greatest ingatherings the church has ever seen. God is giving us an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill His assignment, to graduate into His presence, and to witness the beginning of His next creation sequence when He will replace this universe with a new heaven and earth.
And He will make the new heavens and new Earth miraculously in a moment. Furthermore, we can only fulfill that assignment if we humbly believe and tremble at His clear, authoritative Word. As Isaiah 66:2 says, “ “For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” ’
Dr Ross’s article, originally published in 1994, has been on the Campus Crusade for Christ Leaders U Web site (http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9403/date.html) for years (maybe since its publication). The article, along with the link to Ross’s “Reasons to Believe” Web site, should be removed (as several CCC staff I know have requested over the past few years) because it is FULL of errors of fact, errors of reasoning, misrepresentations of young-Earth creationists, etc. It is not scholarly, Biblical, scientifically accurate or very Christian in its attack on other believers.
Ross speaks of the fears of young-Earth creationists. But he misidentifies the fears and misses the mark on most of what he says about them. We young-Earth creationists do have fears, but they are Biblical fears. We are afraid of displeasing our Lord and dishonoring His name (1 Pet. 1:17; 2 Cor. 7:1). We fear God’s discipline for not accurately handling the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15). We fear the spiritual devastation that is coming and will continue to come to individuals and churches and schools, which depart from the clear teaching of Scripture and compromise with the false teaching of evolution and millions of years based on worldly philosophy (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 6:20–21; Col. 2:8; Acts 20:28–32). Those are Biblical fears, and woe to that Christian who does not have them.
Actually, it is Dr Ross who appears to be fearful in an un-Biblical sense. Could it be that he is fearful of questioning the evolutionary dogma in geology and astronomy? His personal testimony (which I have on cassette tape as well as in his writings) reveals that he accepted the “big bang” theory and millions of years about a decade before he professed faith in Jesus Christ at about age 17. Then he immediately started advocating the “day-age” theory (erroneously thinking it was a new interpretation of Genesis that no one had previously thought of) to try to harmonize Genesis with the “big bang” and millions of years. He apparently has never questioned what his impressionable young mind absorbed from evolutionary astronomers, even though since he started speaking and publishing, his theology, exegesis and scientific views have been challenged both publicly and privately by young-Earthers and even a few fellow old-Earthers, as I know from conversation, correspondence and published writings.
Could he also be afraid to be labeled by the evolutionary scientific establishment with the names and ridicule that are thrown at young-Earth creationists? Is it possible that he prefers the praise of men, rather than the commendation of God, and that this is because he is afraid to trust the Word of God over the words of rebellious, finite and fallible scientists? I don’t know. But something other than the facts of Scripture and nature is the driving force behind his old-Earth thinking.
Given the serious problems with Hugh Ross’s teaching on creation and evolution and the age of the Earth, his growing influence within Campus Crusade for Christ should be of great concern to its staff and its leadership. I was led to Christ by a CCC staff member and much of my growth to maturity is the result of CCC. So it deeply grieves my heart to see the increasing acceptance and promotion of old-Earth thinking within the organization. The same can be said about Ross’s wide influence within the whole evangelical community. The church is being led astray into many errors that undermine the Scriptures and the Gospel.
The age of the Earth does matter, and the Bible is clear about it! The age of the Earth is not important because God for some reason hates big numbers (He doesn’t). Rather, it is immensely important because believing in millions of years (1) contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture, (2) assaults the character of God, (3) severely damages and distorts the Bible’s teaching on death, and (4) undermines the Gospel (by undermining the clear teaching of Genesis, which gives the whole basis of our need for a redeemer). Furthermore, since the idea of millions of years is based on philosophical naturalism, acceptance of this idea by Christians over the past 200 years has been polluting the church with atheistic thinking, in spite of the sincerest intentions of godly compromisers to the contrary. So ultimately the issue of the age of the Earth is about the authority of the Word of God versus the authority of the words of sinful men.