Chapter 8

The High Stakes of Good Thinking: The Age of the Earth

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind (Luke 10:27; NIV).

Greg Hall

When the Psalmist declared, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” it was never more true than as it relates to the functioning of the human mind. Our cognitive abilities are an endowment from our Creator. Over the course of a lifetime, these abilities are squandered or developed. In fact, the greatest change and development in your life comes from your personal attention to your ability to grow in your power to think and reason. The Apostle Paul put it like this in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Here again is the importance of worldview. It will be the framework for human thinking. Worldview is all about making decisions about what ideas you will think about, embrace, and apply to your life. Christian worldview is about discovering the ideas, thoughts, values, and perspectives of Jesus Christ. It is applying these concepts to our lives in such a way that Christ can be woven into the fabric of our lives.

If we are going to bear the marks of a Christian mind, it is time to engage with the person and work of Jesus Himself in ways yet unrealized. To “have the mind of Christ” is what the Scripture promises us. But you cannot know it from a distance. You do not see it from a long way off — you must get up close. And you certainly don’t see it vicariously, through someone else’s experiences. Stop blindly reading and listening to what others say about Christ. Go to Scripture, read, meditate, pray, and find out what He says to you. Others’ experiences may bring clarity to understanding the mind of Christ, but it will never bring reality.

We might think we desire the mind of Christ, but every time we seek information, understanding, or wisdom from other sources or other teachers, we betray our so-called belief in the greatest teacher who ever lived. It is time to understand that the reason we have any inclination to have the mind of Christ or think Christianly in the first place is because Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived. His comprehension about every topic of interest in the human condition is impeccable. We should want to know what Jesus “thinks” about any topic first and foremost. The words attributed to Him in Scripture and about Him in Scripture present everything every person who ever lived needs to know to live a meaningful life in this world and in the world to come. It is time to “think Christianly.”

To “think Christianly” is to consider ourselves as His students in every moment of time, in every circumstance of our lives.

To “think Christianly” is to consider ourselves as His students in every moment of time, in every circumstance of our lives. It is in moments like this that we have the potential to be transformed. The transformation comes as a result of being connected to the One whose thoughts are right about everything. This is the environment in which God wants us to function.

Thinking Christianly means we face the reality and amazing possibilities for life when we say it is God in whom, “we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). Jesus knew this connection to the Father. He knew it would be our very sustenance to keep our lives going. He knew it would be for us too — it is the design by which the Creator established how we exist. This kind of connectedness has the very power for living. It meets every need of the human being for meaningful existence. It means God is very much at work and available for help and support in every area of life, and it is impossible to miss Him when we first connect to Him in this way. In Him we live and move and have our being. What a way to live — with the Sovereign God of the universe interactively involved in our daily experience.

To think Christianly is to imitate how God Himself thinks. Jesus undoubtedly made this the focus of attention in His earthly life. Even at the most crucial point of Jesus’ move toward the Cross, as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He labored over the plan of redemption now reaching its crisis moments. He actually prayed that “this cup would pass,” that this particular event of crucifixion could somehow be averted;1 however, He ultimately sought the mind of God on the matter. Nevertheless, He said, “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In Christ’s humbled state (Phil. 2:8), He submitted to the mind of God the Father (see also John 12:27–28) in the most significant crisis in human history since the Fall of mankind.

The philosophies and ideologies of the world have seemed to eclipse the face of God; we should not be fooled along with the world — this is still His world, His creation, His life. To seek Him as the great mind behind the design of the universe and all living things is the most intelligent work we could ever do. That we seek any number of worldly resources for wisdom and solutions to dilemmas of our lives is not only an indictment on our faith but our intellect, too.

To think Christianly is to have a relationship with Jesus that is not commonplace. You can’t be a typical church member or believer and have Christ involved in your life the way He and the Father intended. It goes way beyond the experience of the “consumer Christianity” of today. Perhaps people don’t interact with Him in the way defined by Scripture because:

  1. They don’t know Scripture — how could they, given the failure of the pulpit to teach God’s Word from the beginning without doubt or compromise with the world’s teaching, and produce life-changing doctrine.
  2. They don’t think He’s available — how could He be available given the sorry state of our prayer ability?
  3. They really don’t think it’s Jesus’ place to do anything about their lives in a personal way or He just won’t, it’s not how it works today. Or it may be that today’s believer suffers from all the above.

To think Christianly is to firmly believe there is not a question being asked in our culture, or any other culture, for which Jesus does not have the answer. Is your Jesus competent enough to do anything about the issues of your life? And does He have the interest to join with you in the struggles of your life? Does what He thinks matter to you or even cross your mind?

We should be thinking like Paul, who proclaimed in Colossians 2:3 that Jesus holds “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” But today we do not think Christianly because we do not consider Him competent in the intellectual or academic pursuits of our lives. And we do not have the mind of Christ because we neither desire it nor seek it. And we live like this to our peril.

To think Christianly is to have this steadfast preoccupation of the pursuit of the mind of Christ and His willingness and ability to be intimately involved in the thinking of His followers. It is also about the continued efforts we must make in our minds toward reformation. In our human brokenness and frailty, our minds need constant attention. There is always a need for reformation. This is why the Apostle wants us to be transformed, and knew the way to do it was by the renewal or reformation of our minds. Furthermore, when Jesus asks us to “repent,” as His message clearly was, what else can it mean but to change and reform our thinking about the issues of life? We must learn to think differently about every area of life.

This takes a massive effort of humility. There is nothing more contrary to our human condition than to be responsible enough for our thinking to change it. This change does not come easily, but it is not impossible. The change does not come easily because at the center of our sinful humanity is hubris — pride. And it is pride that keeps us attempting to be in control of all aspects of our lives, especially our thinking.

The prideful mind does not respond well to the concept that there is an intellectual force that is greater than our self. The prideful mind cannot fathom that this Jesus is a master intellect whom we must turn to for reformation or reclamation. But this is the very essence of conversion, that in our thinking we understand the need to repent and follow the One who alone is the wisdom of all creation.

And here is precisely the place where thinking Christianly is at play in our culture and where the stakes could not be higher. Here is the place where Christians need to stand most firm. Here is the place where the battle of ideas and/or worldview needs to be won; otherwise, the rest of the discussion is fruitless.

The ultimate goal of thinking Christianly is to present God as Creator and Father of everything that He has made and build our entire worldview on the foundation of His written revelation. He is the maker and owner of everything that is made. Here is where humankind is made to realize we owe our very existence to something (someone) other than ourselves. Here is where hubris is put in its place. Here is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . and that is the only foundation for clear thinking ever made available.

In our secular, naturalistic culture, people have rejected what God has clearly presented to them.

When we study Romans 1, we see the significance of God making Himself known in creation. “God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Rom. 1:20; NIV). In our secular, naturalistic culture, people have rejected what God has clearly presented to them. This is precisely why they want to fight and believe they can win the war at this battlefront — the origin of life. In the naturalistic scheme of things, it is impossible to conceive of anything transcendent or supernatural. The study of origins, of creation, is where they want to eliminate God once and for all.

But it will not happen. This is remarkably poor thinking on their part. Evidence for God as Creator abounds for the thinking person. The naturalistic way of thinking of the world is flawed and prejudiced by promotion of a vain philosophy not founded in Christ (Col. 2:8–9), and not based on good science. The truth of life is that the ultimate questions of life — where we come from and where we are going — have not changed since the beginning of time. We can, and should, seek the mind of Jesus on these matters. Jesus, our master teacher and Creator of the universe, has been the one and only to ever know every answer. And He’s revealed what we need to know in His written Word to us.

Second only to surrendering to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I believe that thinking Christianly is the most important thing you will ever do. But please understand, this does not happen by default. As Romans 12:2 says, by default we are conformed to this world. Transformation comes through commitment to moment by moment intimacy with Jesus, a very practical relationship with His living Word, and a daily walk of obedience that allows the Holy Spirit to move in our lives so that we naturally live according to the truth as He lives through us.

In the next section, Ken will discuss a very important aspect of thinking Christianly, but before you read on, please stop right here and spend some time talking with Jesus. Ask Him to move in your life. Ask Him to be the Lord of your mind. Ask Him to set aside your pride so that you can willingly and joyfully submit to His compassionate authority, and be set free by the truth of His life and the words of the Bible. My friends, this is not a place where you need God’s “help.” This is something that only He can do (1 Cor. 12:3). Ask that He would begin the supernatural transformation that only comes through the renewing of our minds according to the truth and authority of the Scriptures.

Thinking Christianly about the Age of the Earth
Ken Ham

As Greg mentioned earlier, the ultimate goal of thinking Christianly is to present God as Creator and Father of everything that He has made. Certainly, that includes each and every one of us. He is our Creator, and He is our father. He is the provider of everything that we have. He is responsible for everything we are and He is the source of strength for everything that we are going to become.

The pressure to conform to the world is everywhere we turn. It’s in the media, in books, in museums, and in zoos. And as we’ve seen, it’s not only in public schools and secular universities, but even Christian colleges have given in to the pressure to conform to the naturalistic worldview. Many are engaging in “newspeak” in order to justify their compromise so they can stand on both sides of the issue. The problem is that this double-mindedness is neither necessary nor consistent with good thought. It is certainly not “thinking Christianly.”

The professors and leaders in the education world are highly educated . . . but have they learned the skills of consistent, biblical thinking? When we look at how the presidents, vice presidents, and professors of Christian universities responded to several of the questions regarding the age of the earth in the survey, the answer is obvious.

Q14: Would you consider yourself a young-earth or old-earth Christian?

Old Earth 49.0%
Young Earth 42.3%
Neither 8.3%

Because this issue is so hotly debated, we are not surprised about this nearly even split in belief. What is revealing, however, is the inconsistency between this belief and the other things that they claim about their belief in Scripture.

Question 8

Of those who believe that the earth is young, 93.9 percent believe that the Bible is literally true; and the consistency in these two beliefs is clear. But notice that 79.1 percent of those who believe the earth is old also believe that the Bible is literally true. The word “literally true” apparently means nothing to them. Some may actually believe that the Bible literally teaches that the word “day,” as used in Genesis 1, is a long period of time that allows for millions of years. But in order to allow for this interpretation, they must twist the established rules of biblical interpretation to the extreme and reinterpret massive numbers of Scriptures throughout the rest of the Bible such as Mark 10:6 and Exodus 20:11. This certainly isn’t the intent of “thinking Christianly,” and we must ask the question, “Why would they force such an interpretation when it is not the clear and simple reading from Scripture?” It’s clear that something besides the truth of God’s Word is influencing their thinking here. Obviously, it’s the influence of the naturalistic worldview and probably the pressure from their peers who believe in an old earth who may also believe in evolution over millions of years.

Since the 1800s, we’ve had many scholars say, “We take the Bible as literally written; it says six days.” But then they add the word “but.” And this is where they begin to become conformed to this world, rather than being transformed by the renewing of their minds according to the truth of Scripture. It usually sounds like this: “Yes, the Bible says six days, but because ‘science’ has proven the earth to be billions and billions of years old, these must not be six literal days.” (Remember, “science” has done no such thing. Evidence from operational science does not confirm an old earth. But that’s not the main thing I’m trying to emphasize here.)

The point I’m making is that these people are ultimately reinterpreting Scripture through the lens of the secular, godless, naturalistic worldview. It is an authority issue. What they are really doing is taking outside ideas from the world and trying to force Scripture to fit with them. They are conforming to the world, rather than being transformed by the renewing of their minds according to the truth of God’s Word. Of course, with God’s Word as the source of truth, this doesn’t work at all, and their explanations come across as weak and inconsistent.

Some will argue that this is really just a matter of different interpretations, similar to the debates that we have about end-times scenarios and eschatology. But I say, “Wait a minute. People who argue different views on eschatology by and large argue from Scripture. People who argue against Genesis argue because of secular influences (i.e., from a different religious viewpoint: that of secular humanism).” That is a big difference. Unquestionably, figurative language is used throughout Scripture to make analogies or metaphors (for example: God is our rock and our fortress) but in these passages the figure of speech is obvious. One still interprets it literally, for to do so is to consider the genre. Understanding the symbolic or figurative language enables one to literally interpret what is intended. In Genesis 1, there is no indication for any reason that the Hebrew word for “day” doesn’t mean “day” in its ordinary (approximately 24-hour) meaning. Scripture makes this clear as the six days of creation are qualified by a number, evening and morning. This is a matter of authority, and it is a matter of truth — of correct interpretation. Even leading Hebrew lexicons do not leave open Genesis days as long ages:

Yom: “Day of twenty-four hours: Genesis 1:52
Yom: “Day as defined by evening and morning: Genesis 1:53

Seriously, those people who leave open long ages are either misinformed or they are consciously engaged in “newspeak.” Observe the inconsistencies in the answers to the following questions:

Question 15 Question 13

Again, the more specific the question, the more clear the inconsistencies become. We’re not just asking if they believe the Bible is literally true in general, we specifically asked if they believe that the Genesis 1–2 account of creation is literally true. Of the people who believe in an old earth, 77.8 percent say no! It’s possible that some of these people believe in what is known as the “gap theory” (which teaches that God did create in six literal days, but that each of these days were preceded by millions of years), but I really doubt it. Very few people in the Christian world give much credence to this idea anymore.

Question 16

Do you see the inconsistency of belief? And a failure to “think Christianly”? Let’s not even argue about who’s right or who’s wrong here. On both sides of the issue, people are talking out of both sides of their mouth. Of people who believe in an old earth, 77.8 percent say that they believe the Genesis 1–2 account of creation is literally true, yet only 52.3 percent of them believe in God creating the earth in six literal 24-hour days?

Clearly, more than 25 percent of them either don’t understand that Genesis teaches six literal days, or they just never simply thought this through! More astoundingly, 52.3 percent of people who believe in an old earth believe that God created it in six literal 24-hour days! How can someone be an old earther and say they believe in a six-day creation (unless they do adhere to the gap theory)? I don’t know. Believers in a young earth, however, also show inconsistencies: 26 percent of them do not believe that God created in six literal 24-hour days. So if somebody believes in a young earth, but does not believe in six 24-hour days, what do they believe?

Q17: Do you believe in God creating the earth but not in six 24-hour days?

  Young earth Old earth
Yes 31.1% 68.2%
No 59.5% 37.9%

Again, we see great inconsistencies in these responses. Are there some “hybrids” of belief here that we can’t categorize? Do these leaders and professors not understand the issues? Or are they talking out of both sides of their mouth? We saw earlier how Dr. William Dembski says he actually believes in six literal 24-hour days of creation, and yet he believes that the world is billions of years old. His explanation for this is outlandish — that Adam and Eve were made from human-like animals that God gave souls as well as amnesia regarding their former, pre-human existence. But we at least have to give him credit for trying and recognizing there is a problem! I’m concerned that the majority of these people are not only not thinking Christianly, but they’re just not thinking at all! Clearly, what they say they believe is not consistent with what they say they also believe. This is again illuminated when we look at their views of Scripture:

Question 18 Question 19

This is an interesting claim as well! Wouldn’t you think that the young-earth group would have a higher view of Scripture when it comes to infallibility and inspiration than the old-earth group? Basically this is about even, with those believing in an old earth having just a slightly higher view of Scripture than those who believe in a young earth (backward from what we would expect). What can we conclude? There is no correlation between their purported view of Scripture and whether or not they believe in young or old earth at all.

What we appear to have is a basic biblical illiteracy among some of the leaders and professors of Christian colleges. Not only are their responses contradictory to the clear teachings of Scripture, but they are also inconsistent with themselves. This is far, far from “thinking Christianly.” Perhaps this is because most of them have never been trained in it, and are therefore stuck in a quagmire of belief, where they claim to believe in Scripture but are really being influenced by the secular worldview. This confusion becomes clear in their responses to questions about the Flood:

Question 27

People who believe in an old earth are statistically more likely to believe that the Flood was not a real event at all, but other than that there’s not much distinction between whether or not they believe the Flood was worldwide or local. It’s intriguing to see that 58.2 percent of those who believe that the earth is old actually believe that the Flood was worldwide. At least they believe the Bible on this point — but it shows another inconsistency: if you believe in an old earth, you really shouldn’t believe in a global Flood.

The idea that the earth is millions of years old, in our modern era, first arose in the early 19th century. The supposed evidence for millions of years was considered to be the fossil record, said by secularists to have been laid down gradually over millions of years. But if there had been a worldwide Flood, this would have destroyed this record and re-deposited it, thus destroying the supposed evidence for millions of years! There are so many problems one could consider. If you’re going to believe in an old earth and believe in a global Flood, you must either do some amazing mental gymnastics to accommodate the conflicting ideas or allow for inconsistency in your thinking.

Those who believe in a young earth show similar inconsistencies. Of the people who believe in a young earth, 37.9 percent also believe that the Flood was local. That’s inconsistent as well. How do they believe that the massive sedimentary strata containing billions of fossils formed if it neither happened during a worldwide Flood nor took place over millions of years? That stance doesn’t even make sense. Their understanding of history in light of Scripture is not consistent. I have found that many academics in the Christian world do not have a big picture understanding in geology, biology, astronomy, theology, etc. — and they don’t realize the massive inconsistencies and dilemmas they are living with.

Another problem is the issue of death — physical death. The Bible makes it clear that humans and animals were vegetarian before sin (Gen. 1:29–30). Also, the original creation was “very good” (no diseases like cancer, no thorns). Man wasn’t told to eat animal flesh until after the Flood (Gen. 9:2–3).

However, in the fossil record, said to pre-date humans by millions of years, we find:

  1. Thorns said to be millions of years old (but thorns came AFTER sin — after the Curse — Gen. 3:17–19)
  2. Animals with evidence they were eating each other — bones in their stomachs/teeth marks on bones (but animals were vegetarian before man sinned)
  3. Animal bones with evidence of diseases like cancer, brain tumors, arthritis, etc. (but everything was “very good” before sin)

There is great concern here that people are not thinking Christianly, even though they say they are. If you walked up to the president or vice president or a professor on a Christian campus, and asked them if they believe that the Bible is literally true, almost all of them will give you the same answer. When you ask them specific questions related to the truth of Scripture, however, we again find out that many of them don’t believe that at all. So words really don’t matter, and many of them have concocted convoluted explanations for their compromised beliefs. They have turned to the secular scientists to tell them about history while still trying to cling to parts of the Bible.

I believe that some of it is just ignorance in the context of Scripture and a consciously thought-out biblical worldview. But I have to be honest. I meet with a lot of these leaders and professors, and many times their attitudes are laced with an arrogance and a condescending attitude that looks down on other Christians in a voice that says, “Don’t worry about it, you wouldn’t understand anyway. Of course what we teach is true. You don’t know what we mean by that, but we do — and that’s all that matters.” What we’re seeing is 1 Corinthians 8:1–3 being lived out:

We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

I am sometimes belittled and cut down by professors at “respected” Christian universities because I don’t have the academic credentials that some of these people do. They think that because they have the credentials, they have the truth. They say, “How dare Ken Ham question us, because he is not trained in biblical languages; he didn’t go to Bible college; he didn’t go to seminary; etc.” In some ways I’m glad that I don’t have those credentials, because I might have ended up like some of them: compromising the truth clearly laid forth by Scripture in the midst of a bunch of academic mumble jumble created to accommodate secular scientific ideas.

Or worse than that, they might actually believe that since they teach it, that makes it true — that they are the ones who actually determine truth. You might as well not argue with men and women like that. Not only do they think that what they teach is right, but they feel like they are right because of their position of authority and their level of education. Once again, it’s a matter of authority. Do these people submit to the authority of the Word of God? Or have they submitted themselves to the authority of fallen men, and their own personal knowledge of what they think is truth? Certainly, they have become like the Chaldeans that the minor prophet Habakkuk spoke of in Habakkuk 1:7:

They are dreaded and feared; their justice and authority originate with themselves.

Unquestionably, we have been “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God has given us a mind, and our lives can be transformed by the renewing of that mind. Will we be conformed to the world? Or will the transforming power of God’s living word become our final authority?

May God, by His infinite grace and mercy, give us the willingness to bend the knee to the authority of His Word. By the power of His Spirit may we be empowered and willing to “think Christianly” in every aspect of our lives, that we may be willing to receive His love and His forgiveness for our own arrogance and our own personal compromise, so that we can speak the truth in love through our words and through our lives in the midst of this world that so desperately, desperately needs to see Christ in us and being lived through us.

Already Compromised

Christian colleges took a test on the state of their faith and the final exam is in.

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Footnotes

  1. And rightly so, for God was about to punish the sinless Christ for the sins of the world. The anguish of this was being torn between punishing Christ who did not deserve it to save mankind, or not doing it that would result in no salvation.
  2. Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Volume 1 (Leidin; Boston, MA: Brill, 2001), p. 399.
  3. Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 9th printing (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1906), p. 398.

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