Dear Dr. Mortenson,
As an ID promoter, I read your critique of Dr. Dembski with great interest. I, like you and Paul Nielson, understand the importance of the doctrine of original sin, and believe that event happened less than 10,000 years ago.
I see ID as a very important pre-evangelism tool. Have you ever worked as a campus minister on a secular campus? Those resistant to the Gospel don’t accept Scripture as apologetics, at least not at first. They are not ready for “meat.” Conversions take time. In such cases, you need to meet people where they are. I like the ID presentations because they are so persuasive. I focus on the origin of life question to wake people to the existence of God, and I proclaim the resurrection of Christ to bring them to Him. But this takes time. You start with milk. Let’s be wise.
Many of the young-earth creationist materials show how the literal Biblical interpretation is plausible, not that it is a sure thing. To bring intellectuals to Christ takes good apologetics, love, prayer, and patience (or of course, an encounter with God!) To bring them to YOUNG-EARTH CREATION is much more difficult.
I recently purchased “Thousands … not Billions” hoping to be more convinced of young-earth creation. Yet it had the opposite effect, and I want to believe young-earth creation for theological reasons. Radiometric dating is a better method for dating than I thought. In the book I learned about isochrons, which seem to answer the question of the initial parent-daughter ratios. Also, the conclusions of the book seemed really “far out,” how the authors were grappling with the heat problem of the young-earth creation view. I could never share that book with a skeptic and hope to convince them of young-earth creation.
Tell me please, what are the most compelling scientific evidences of a young earth? Please provide quality, not quantity. I really want to have the best tools in my toolbox.
With Joy in Jesus,
I’m glad you found my critique of William Dembski’s article thought provoking. Thanks for your comments and questions. I’ll do my best to answer them from a young-earth creationist perspective.
Regarding the impact of intelligent design arguments on intellectuals, this strategy of using design arguments which are divorced from Scripture was tried once before, in the early 19th century, and it failed to convert people or to overcome the growing skepticism in the once-Christian cultures of Britain and America. In fact, many of those who were arguing for design in this way were also leading the church to reject Genesis 1–11 and accept the geological theory of millions of years—50 years before Darwin published his famous book on evolution. See this two-part lecture based on my Ph.D. research: The Origin of Old-Earth Geology and Christian Compromise, I & II.
So in our evangelism we need to present design arguments and the Scriptures at the same time. Don’t let Satan lead you into thinking that in your evangelism to skeptics who reject the Bible as God’s Word you cannot use the Scriptures at the same time as you use apologetics. Use Scripture and apologetics and never forget that whether people believe it or not, the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God and is sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) and that faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
Hi! My name is Sarah Hobbs and Im a 15 year old student in California. My mom, a born again Christian, came across your website a couple months ago and decided to show me. I had been agnostic for as long as I can remember--I had a lot of questions and no answers. How can there really be a God? How could God have flooded the entire earth and how could a man, his family, and hundreds of animals survive on an ark?? And what about evolution? None of it really made sense to me, and I just wasnt sure about any of it. After I read through articles on your website, I became inspired. I ordered the AiG Intro Pack and read all the books, and I started reading the Bible. Your books have opened my eyes to the meaning of life and I cannot thank you enough.
I feel like Ive learned so much about the world around me and everything seems so much more clear. I am now proud to say that I am a Christian and that I believe in God. I have even shared these books with agnostic friends, and spread the word to atheists I know, and guess what? The atheists are now agnostic and the agnostics are now believers!
I agree with you that “To bring intellectuals to Christ takes good apologetics, love, prayer and patience (or of course, an encounter with God!).” But after 26 years on Campus Crusade for Christ staff, working mostly with university students or recent graduates in 17 countries (including communist Eastern Europe), and then five years with AiG (during which time I have lectured and debated many times on evolution in university contexts), I am more convinced than ever that we can and indeed must bring the Word of God, humbly, gently, but confidently, to lost university professors and students. We also need to expose and refute their faulty philosophical presuppositions (which most intellectual skeptics don’t even realize they have).
You say, “To bring them to young-earth creation is much more difficult.” Perhaps, sometimes. But we should attempt to bring them to Christ first. Still, if the idea of millions of years is a stumbling block to their acceptance of the truth of Scripture and therefore their trust in Christ, then young-earth creationist literature and DVDs have been shown to be extremely powerful. We have many, many testimonies from around the world to show that young-earth creation evangelism works very effectively. Note, too, that most of the leading creation scientists today were once old-earthers and some were even evolutionists.
Regarding dating methods, may I encourage you to reread Thousands … not Billions. You appear to have mistakenly taken as conclusions the “Challenges for the Future” section, which details six unanswered questions requiring further scientific research. This section reflects the scientific honesty and modesty of the RATE researchers. The previous section of that concluding chapter (entitled “RATE findings”), however, summarizes the solid conclusions of their research, including that the isochron dates are totally untrustworthy (contrary to your faith in them). If you are still not convinced after watching the DVD, then perhaps you need to go to the technical presentation of their work. This is too important of a topic to ignore or not carefully examine the results of this 8-year research project by a team of highly qualified creation scientists with PhDs in the relevant fields of science.
If you want theological reasons for believing in a young-earth, there are many:
Strong exegetical arguments for literal days in Genesis 1 (see the “Days of Creation” section of Get Answers: Genesis), which are only ever rejected because “science has proven that the earth and universe are billions of years old.” I could give you many, many quotes by Bible scholars and other Christian leaders who hold to an old-earth view, showing that it is not exegesis of Scripture, but naturalistic ideas that are driving their interpretations. The late Dr. Gleason Archer’s statement is typical:
“From a superficial reading of Genesis 1, the impression would seem to be that the entire creative process took place in six twenty-four-hour days. If this was the true intent of the Hebrew author … this seems to run counter to modern scientific research, which indicates that the planet Earth was created several billion years ago.”1
One might add that it is not just a superficial reading of Genesis 1 that gives this impression. As Dr. James Montgomery Boice, the late pastor and speaker on “The Bible Study Hour” admitted in his helpful commentary on Genesis, it is careful exegesis that leads to the same conclusion, though he too ignored this biblical witness and sided instead with “science” (mistaking “data” for interpretations of the data). He wrote,
“We have to admit here that the exegetical basis of the creationists is strong … In spite of the careful biblical and scientific research that has accumulated in support of the creationists' view, there are problems that make the theory wrong to most (including many evangelical) scientists … Data from various disciplines point to a very old earth and an even older universe.”2
The Bible gives us time-specified genealogies from Adam to Noah and Noah to Abraham and plenty of chronological information to date Abraham pretty accurately. There are strong arguments against there being any gaps in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies (i.e., those are all literal father-son relationships), but even if there are some missing names (there can’t be too many or the genealogies become ludicrous), the earth is only thousands of years old.
The local or tranquil flood views of Genesis 6–9 cannot stand up to careful exegetical scrutiny. The first half of The Genesis Flood (1961) clearly demonstrates that and old-earth critics have never even attempted to refute the arguments in that epic book. See also Jonathan Sarfati’s rebuttals to Hugh Ross’s arguments for a local flood in chapter 8 of Refuting Compromise. This book is probably the best single-volume defense of young-earth creationism today and a thorough refutation of Dr. Ross’s old-earth progressive creation views. It’s even an effective tool for witnessing (though it was written for a Christian audience). I recently heard of an atheist who was led to Christ by reading that book.
Accepting millions of years of the geological ages (as the evolutionists interpret the fossil record) destroys the Bible’s teaching on death, which clearly indicates that there was no animal death or human death before the Fall. In addition, there could not have been thorns and thistles and cancer (e.g., in dinosaur bones) in God’s “very good” creation, so the rock layers that contain these things can’t be millions of years old but must have been deposited after Adam sinned (during the Flood). Tony, you say that you “understand the importance of the doctrine of original sin, and believe that event happened less than 10,000 years ago.” If that is so, then you should be a young-earth creationist. In Refuting Compromise, mentioned above, Dr. Sarfati has an excellent chapter dealing with the various objections raised by old-earth creationists to this vital doctrine. See also Two Histories of Death.
Closely related to this is the character of God. The God revealed in the Bible could not possibly have created over millions of years involving death and disease and five mass-extinction events (when 70–90% of the creatures at the time were destroyed), as the evolutionists and old-earth creationists believe. Why not? Because the God of Scripture reveals that in the post-Fall world He cares for His creation (even though it is under His curse: Romans 8:19–23). He also commands the Israelites to care for their animals with compassion (e.g., they are to receive a Sabbath rest—Exodus 20:10) and Proverbs 12:10 says “
A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.” Righteous sinners would be more righteous than God Almighty, if God really created and destroyed billions of animals for no moral reason over millions of years before Adam the way old-earth creationists imagine. The God of the Bible is not the god of an old earth (see also The “god” of an Old Earth).
Destroying the Bible’s teaching on death and undermining the character of God results in undermining the doctrine of redemption. Christ’s work will ultimately restore all things (Acts 3:21) and redeem all things (Colossians 1:15–20) and liberate all things (Romans 8:19–23) by bringing an end to the curse (Revelation 21:3–5 and 22:3). As His righteousness finally fills the new earth, carnivores and animals dangerous to man will be changed to harmless vegetarians (Isaiah 11:6–9). Those of us going to heaven do not have to look forward to millions of years (really an eternity) of death, disease, catastrophes, etc. So belief in millions of years is a subtle attack on the gospel.
Jesus and the New Testament writers clearly show that they all took Genesis 1–11 as literal history. In particular, Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:6 shows that he believed that Adam and Eve were created right at the beginning of creation, not billions of years after the beginning (see But from the Beginning of . . . the Institution of Marriage?).
Since the Bible clearly teaches young-earth creationism, you should need no more evidence. God’s Word says it and that settles it for me. I love science, and because of biblical teaching (e.g., Psalm 19:1, Job 12:7–10, Romans 1:18–20), I know that when the creation is carefully observed and properly interpreted it will be seen to confirm what God’s Word has revealed. And that is indeed the case.
Scientific arguments for a young earth are numerous.
The old-earth idea was developed historically, not from letting the physical facts speak for themselves but by imposing anti-biblical philosophical assumptions onto the geological observations. See this article and this DVD.
The radiometric dating methods are based on those same naturalistic, uniformitarian, anti-biblical assumptions and there is plenty of published evidence that they do not give valid dates. Besides the RATE research mentioned earlier, consider the well-researched arguments in The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods. You cannot expect this icon of evolution to be overthrown in a few short paragraphs.
John Morris’s book (The Young Earth) gives a good layman’s summary (with documentation and plenty of pictures to illustrate) of the some of the strongest evidences for a young-earth and global Flood. For more in-depth arguments see John Woodmorappe’s book (Studies in Flood Geology). Excellent DVDs illustrating some of these points are on Mt. St. Helens (Mount St. Helens: Explosive Evidence for Catastrophe) and Grand Canyon (The Grand Canyon: Monument to the Flood). Creationist scientists (or any scientists, for that matter) don’t have answers to everything and so are continuing to do research (and the number of qualified creationist geologists is increasing), but following is some of the evidence brought out in these resources:
The almost complete absence of evidence of erosion or soil layers or the activity of living things (plant roots, burrow marks, etc.) at the upper surface of the various strata (showing that the stratum did not lay there for thousands or millions of years before the next layer was deposited).
Polystrate fossils (usually trees) that cut through more than one layer of rock (even different kinds of rock supposedly deposited over thousands if not millions of years). The trees would have rotted and left no fossil evidence if the deposition rate was that slow.
Soft-sediment deformation—that thousands of feet of sedimentary rocks (of various layers) are bent (like a stack of thin pancakes over the edge of a plate), as we see at the mile-deep Kaibab Upwarp in the Grand Canyon. Clearly the whole, mile-deep deposit of various kinds of sediment was still relatively soft and probably wet (not like it is today) when the earthquake occurred that uplifted one part of the series of strata.
Many fossils that show (require) very rapid burial and fossilization. For example, soft parts (jellyfish, animal feces, scales and fins of fish) or whole, large, fully-articulated skeletons (e.g., whales or large dinosaurs such as T-Rex) are preserved. Or we find many creatures’ bodies contorted. All this evidence shows that these creatures were buried rapidly (in many cases even buried alive) and fossilized before scavengers, micro-decay organisms and erosional processes could erase the evidence. These are found all over the world and all through the various strata.
The rock record screaming “Noah’s Flood” and “young earth.” The secular geologists can’t hear or see the message because of their academic indoctrination in anti-biblical, naturalistic, uniformitarian assumptions. The reason that most Christian geologists can’t see it is the same, plus the fact that they have believed the scientific establishment more than the Bible that they claim to believe is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. There are also thoroughly researched scientific refutations of skeptical objections to Noah’s Ark and the Flood here, which strengthen one’s faith in the biblical account of the Flood.
Creationists still have many challenges regarding the scientific evidence for a young universe, but distant starlight is no more of a problem for young-earth creationists than it is for big bang proponents, as this DVD by Dr. Jason Lisle (Ph.D. in astrophysics) shows: Distant Starlight.
Both God’s Word and His creation are saying the same thing. And over the past 50 years, true science has been increasingly confirming Scripture. With more research by both evolutionists and creationists in the years ahead, we can fully expect that many questions that young-earth creationists cannot presently answer will later be answered and will be shown to confirm that God created the whole universe a few thousand years ago, then cursed His whole creation a few days later because of Adam’s sin and then destroyed it with a global, catastrophic, year-long flood at the time of Noah, just as the Bible clearly teaches.
I hope that you will consider these resources and study Genesis 1–11 more carefully, and then submit to the authority of God’s Word in all things.
Dr. Terry Mortenson, AiG–USA