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Many Christians have been led to believe that the debate over the age of the earth is unimportant because it is “just a side issue.” In our new book Old-Earth Creationism on Trial, Dr. Jason Lisle and I provide abundant biblical, theological, and scientific evidence to demonstrate that this thinking is erroneous. In this article, allow me to share a brief part of my testimony to show you that this issue is extremely practical.
Many churches have abandoned the Genesis account, that God created in six (real!) days. In a vital discussion focused within the church, authors Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle explore the foundational issues around the debate on the age of the earth. While much of the controversy focuses on the scientific evidences and beliefs regarding evolution, the authors reveal the debate has a much more compelling and simple core truth—scriptural authority.
In the summer of 2006, I was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocitic Leukemia (APL). My doctor told me that when I checked in, I was “on the razor blade of life.” I spent a month in the hospital and battled through four grueling rounds of chemotherapy. By God’s grace and the skill of my doctors and nurses, I am now cancer-free.
What does all of this have to do with the age of the earth? Consider the following.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. It nearly took my life. Cancer, in its various forms, has taken the lives of millions of people and is also the leading cause of animal death. Scientists have found evidence of this horrible disease in fossils in the ground that are allegedly millions of years old. If the old-earth view is correct, this would mean that cancer was around long before Adam and Eve were created. However, right after making Adam and Eve, God declared that everything He had made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This would mean that God must think cancer is “very good.”
During my time in the hospital, I often thought about what my mindset would be if I were an old-earth creationist. My God must really like the disease that was taking away my life. If the old-earth creationists were consistent, then they could not really view God as a God of love, since what logically follows from their view is that He is a God that enjoys death and suffering and apparently thinks cancer is “very good.”
Throughout my battle with leukemia, I heard many well-intentioned Christians, including pastors, say something like, “We don’t know why God allows these things to happen.” In fact, this same type of response is given by many Christian leaders whenever tragedy strikes. I know these people mean well, but their comments are not at all comforting. If anyone should know why God allows these things to happen, it should be His followers!
Sadly, many of these Christian leaders do not know why bad things happen because they have rejected the plain words of Scripture. Genesis 1:31 reveals that God made a perfect world in which there was no suffering, death, or disease. He told Adam and Eve that they would die if they disobeyed Him (Genesis 2:17). They did sin and thus brought God’s curse of death into the world. The New Testament reiterates that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). However, many Christian leaders have accepted the view that death and suffering were around long before Adam and Eve. It is no wonder, then, that they do not know why God allows these things to happen.
As a young-earth creationist, I know exactly why God allowed this to happen to me because I accept the answer He has revealed in the Bible. The reason I had leukemia and nearly died is because I am a sinner and I live in a sin-cursed world—where both good things and bad things happen to believers and unbelievers alike. Because I am a sinner, I deserve to die. It’s not that there was one particular sin that led to leukemia, but since I have violated the commands (like those in Exodus 20) of the holy God (as we all have) I deserve to reap the consequences of my actions.
It does not get more practical than this. After all, what is more practical than having a proper view of God? During my battle with leukemia, I never asked God “Why me?” because I knew why. I knew that it was because of sin—mine and all of humanity’s. This put my mind at ease, since I could still trust that God is love (1 John 4:8). And because He is love, He empathized with us to the fullest degree by becoming a man and suffering rejection and an agonizing death on the cross. He conquered death by rising from the dead. As a result, those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone do not have to fear death, because we will one day receive an incorruptible body (1 Corinthians 15:50–54), and be restored to a perfect relationship with Him for all eternity.
If Christians would only stick with the clear words of Scripture, then we could provide hope and real answers to people that are hurting. Moreover, we would be glorifying God by trusting in His words and His righteous nature (Genesis 18:25) rather than the ever-changing opinions of men.