Young and Young Earth

November 16, 2010

If you’re a thinking, young evangelical, it is just assumed that you’re not a young-earth creationist. Young earthers believe that the account in Genesis is not allegory, nor do they believe that each day represents a time period. They believe six days mean six days.

But, I’m thirty-two, grew up in the church, and guess what? I’m still a young-earth creationist. And I felt compelled to write this post, because young-earthers are getting beat up and bloodied in the evangelical world. So I thought I’d clear up a few myths that more progressive evangelicals have of young earth creationists.

1) It’s a battle between religion and science.

I’m not a scientist or a biologist or a really smart guy with seventeen degrees after my name. But I do know this. It’s patently unfair to pit young earthers as against science as if we cling to our flat-earth theories and Pollyanish theories.

Yes, I do believe Genesis is God’s Word and therefore is accurate and that is good enough for me. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t science that backs up a young earth. It is just assumed that modern scientists who subscribe to the theory of evolution are bullet-proof and right. It’s assumed that you have to either take their iron-clad case or believe the Bible, but that you can’t be both biblical and scientific. But that’s not true. Organizations like the Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, and a smattering of other orgs have top-notch scientists and professors on their staff.

I’m a little weary of the depiction of young earth creationists as uneducated, unlearned, backwoods Sunday School teachers. There is a lot of good scientific evidence that supports the Biblical account. And honestly, is there really good solid, objectively reasoned evidence that supports evolutionary theory? Honestly?

Dr. Al Mohler recently spoke out about young earth and was chastised by quite a few bloggers. I read comments on his piece and it basically mocked him for being unthinking and unlearned. Really? Dr. Mohler is one of the most brilliant intellectuals in our world today. Even those who disagree with him affirm that.

2) All the jerks are on the young earth side, all the nice, gospel-loving, Kingdom-building, evangelists are on the progressive side.

Almost every single critique of the young earth position comes with a stereotype. It’s the idea that all young earth creationists are fighting, ignorant, unscientific, fundamentalist jerks who don’t care about the lost and the culture. This is so untrue. Are there some of those in the young earth world? Sure. But there are jerks in every camp, including those who pride themselves on being more “enlightened.”

The truth is this. Most young earth creationists believe in a young earth because a) the Bible says it and they affirm the absolute authority of God’s Word and b) they see scientific data to support it.

Yes, there are some who are so focused on this issue they like to argue or continually prattle on about the layers in the Grand Canyon. They annoy me too, but, this isn’t the majority. Most young earth creationists I know are passionate about reaching the lost, compassionate about the needs of the poor and needy, and love people.

And I have met and read my share of those who dismiss young earth views, not the majority, but a few loud ones who are dismissive and mocking toward those who disagree. So the jerk quotient cuts both ways.

3) Believing in a young earth hurts our credibility and witness to the world and if we’d only embrace evolutionary theory, a huge flood of unbelievers would storm into the church.

It seems the evangelical world is increasingly embarrassed by those who believe in a young earth. We are viewed as an impediment to the gospel, an impediment to being salt and light in the culture. But honestly, I’ve never shared Christ with anyone who said, “Do you believe God created the world in six days?” (they likely assumed I did) and said “oh gosh, I could never be one of those.”

I’m not embarrassed to believe Genesis is true and the six day creation account is real. I’m not embarrassed at all. I believe God’s Word. Now, I don’t argue this issue, but I try not to be argumentative when I share Christ anyways, because that’s not the spirit with which we should be known. We should be known by our love. But my point is that a Christian can affirm the validity of Genesis and be loving.

What’ s more, I don’t read anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus says, “Preach the gospel, love others, and believe in evolution and folks will come to faith.” Creation/evolution is not the big stumblingblock to salvation for unbelievers. Unbelief is. Satan is at work blinding minds. We don’t have to bend and contort our theological positions to make them more palatable to the masses.

Plus, the cross of Christ is the real offense. Not creation. The cross is what divides.

4) We’re going to lose the young people.

Every year there is a new cry. We have to jettison something we believe or the next generation will reject Christianity. There is always a fresh batch of research to supposedly support it. But I think young people are looking for truth. What is true? What is real? What is authentic?

I don’t think evolutionary theory is the key to reaching the next generation of youth. I think, simply, we present God’s Word in a relevant, honest way and those who seek will come. We don’t have to hide our support of Genesis. We don’t have to flinch. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, a young earth, Genesis-faithful view shows a bigness to God. It reveals His creative majesty and power. And I dare say it is the beginning of a thread that runs through Scripture.

Closing:

Now, I understand that not every believer believes in a six-day creation. I get that. I think we can agree to disagree and still work together in the body of Christ. I don’t think we should fight over this at the expense of gospel preaching. But I don’t think Christians have to give this up to be “relevant.” And while some apologists have been caustic, angry, and unChristian in their approach, I also think the harassment of six-day creationists is really wrong-headed.

And the truth is that the most important issue facing those who don’t know Jesus is not how they got here, but where they are going. Let’s agree that Gospel proclamation is of most importance.