Theology of Creation,
Scientific Evidence,
and Education


Education about Age of the Earth

Here is a summary of young-earth education and old-earth education by Christians:

The General Context:  Almost all scientists think there is overwhelming scientific evidence, from a wide range of fields, proving (beyond any reasonable doubt) that the earth and universe are very old.  This view is taught in all public schools (K-12 through college) and some Christian schools (K-12 through college) and the old-earth scientific consensus is assumed in popular media: in television, radio, movies, books, websites, newspapers, and in other ways.

• CHRISTIAN YOUNG-EARTH EDUCATION:  This general "old-earth education" is challenged by Christians who think Genesis 1 teaches us that the earth is young, with everything being created in six days, 6000 years ago.  They have launched an aggressive educational campaign, mainly since 1961, to promote their view.

• CHRISTIAN OLD-EARTH EDUCATION:  The success of young-earth promotion has motivated educational responses by others in the Christian community, especially scientists who understand the strong evidence for an old earth, and who think the young-earth claim — that "if the Bible is true, the earth is young" (which means "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true") — is not justified, and is not wise.

This page describes educational actions by Christians who propose young-earth and old-earth views, and from ASA.

        Christian Young-Earth Education

        We'll focus on two major organizations promoting young-earth creationism:  Institute for Creation Research (ICR) founded by Henry Morris, and Answers in Genesis (AiG) led by Ken Ham.
        Within the Christian community, a major appeal of a young-earth view is simplicity.  The leaders of ICR and AiG acknowledge only two basic models, creation (based on believing the Bible) and evolution (dedicated to opposing the Bible);  creation is only young-earth creation, and evolution includes all old-earth views.  The heroes and villains are clearly defined, and they demand a simple choice:  Do you want to be with God, or against Him?
        For example, Henry Morris — who revived young-earth flood geology with his 1961 book, The Genesis Flood — vigorously opposes all old-earth views.  In The Compromise Road (1988) he said, "The basic conflict of the ages is between the two world views of evolutionism versus creationism.  In its most explicit form, this conflict comes down to Biblical revelatory creationism versus evolutionary humanism. ...  The road of compromise [when a Christian proposes any old-earth view of creation], however attractive it seems, is a one-way street, ending in a precipice and then the awful void of ‘rational religion,’ or atheism."
        This strong belief has motivated a strong program of educational (and political) activities.
        In 1981, the Institute for Creation Research describes their wide-ranging activities in The Battle for Creation.  Later, in 1995, ICR, for Such a Time as This is an 11-part series about the 25-year history and continuing mission of ICR, written by Henry Morris and his son, John Morris, who is now leading ICR.
        At the beginning of 2004, Ken Ham — speaking for Answers in Genesis and disturbed by "the continuing loss of Christian morality and the Christian worldview in this culture" and believing that "a major contributing factor to this terrible slide lies with churches and church leaders who have been misled into major compromise" — announces that "we [in AiG] are inaugurating ‘Operation: Refuting Compromise’ as a major thrust for 2004 to combat this sad situation. ... We must move ahead as soldiers in a battle,... to defend the Christian faith and uphold the Word of God! ...  Join us as we confront the culture — and a compromising church — with the truths of God's Word beginning in Genesis."  (5 k)

        Education in young-earth belief begins early.  Stacia McKeever and Mike Riddle, writing for AiG, describe strategies for Teaching Young Children the Creation-Gospel Message and Reaching the Next Generation with the goal of "reaching as many young people as possible with biblical truths."
        In 2002, Passing the Torch of Creation was an event in Southern California, with young-earth creationists from the older generation — Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapels), Tim LaHaye (co-author of the "Left Behind" series), Duane Gish (expert debater for ICR), and Henry Morris (founder of ICR) — "sharing their lifetime experiences and passing on spiritual and tactical wisdom for the twenty-first century" with the goal of "preparing and exhorting future generations to proclaim the truth of creation and stand firm on God's Holy Word."

        Young-earth "creation science" is taught in some private Christian schools for K-12, and it's dominant (almost a monopoly) in homeschool education:
        In homeschooling, young-earth creationists got in early and became firmly entrenched, so all of the commonly used science books are young earth.  Young-earth creationists are often invited to be featured speakers at major conferences, but prominent old-earth creationists (Hugh Ross, Robert Newman,...) are not.  For example, Ken Ham is featured (in four workshops and a keynote lecture) in 2008 at the largest homeschool conference in Southern California.
        A rare dissenter, John Holzmann (from Sonlight Curriculum, a home school supplier), asks Young- and Old-Earth Creationists: Can We Even Talk Together? (60 k + 5k), which brought an attack-response by Jonathan Sarfati (originally for Answers in Genesis, now for Creation Ministries International):  introduction (4 k) & leading homeschool supplier misleads about biblical creationist exegesis (103 k, with 49 k copied from Holzmann + 54 k of responses)

        There is also effective "young-earth creation outreach" in other ways, with:
        EVENTS (in CHURCHES and elsewhere) — Many speakers and conferences are offered by Answers in Genesis (20 are listed for July 2008 when I'm writing this) and the Institute for Creation Research.  Positive responses to events are reported by Ken Ham (1991) and Henry Morris (1994 & 1995).
        RADIO BROADCASTS — AiG's Answers... with Ken Ham has a daily 90-second broadcast on more than 1000 stations worldwide, plus 60-second mini-dramas about non-creationist topics;  ICR's Back to Genesis (in English and Spanish) is on 600 radio stations. [ICR article is from 2005]
        MUSEUMS — ICR has a Museum of Creation and Earth History with free admission.  AiG's new Creation Museum is high-tech and spectacular;  it opened in May 2007 and drew 400,000 visitors in its first year (with $22 admission for adults), more than the 250,000 predicted by AiG.  They say, "The Creation Museum presents a ‘walk through history.’ *  Designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director, this state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life.  A fully engaging, sensory experience for guests.  Murals and realistic scenery, computer-generated visual effects, over fifty exotic animals, life-sized people and dinosaur animatronics, and a special-effects theater complete with misty sea breezes and rumbling seats."   {* editor's note:  Of course, it's a young-earth version of history, based on a young-earth science that most scientists think is science fiction. }
        BOOKS — Some mainstream Christian publishers are happy to publish young-earth books, due to the large sales they typically generate.  The major young-earth organizations also publish their own books, and sales of textbooks & tradebooks to home schoolers is a big business.

        MISSIONS — The Institute for Creation Research describes its young-earth outreach around the world, in articles from 1999 & 2006 and Henry Morris (1991) explains The Importance of Creation in Foreign Missions. {note: the original title of this article, in 1986, had "Creationism" instead of "Creation"}   You can see the wide reach of International Creation Ministries (click "Set Country" in the upper-right corner of their homepage and click a red button on their global Events Calendar) and Answers in Genesis (look at the many options for "Country" in their event-search).
        AiG describes Creation Evangelism for missionaries in The Great Commission (1 k) and Building a Foundation on Creation (2 k) and Using Gospel Literature (6 k)   {editor's note: These pages correctly emphasize the importance of explaining that Jesus is Creator of the world, and all Christians agree, but we shouldn't agree with the claim that the 6 days in Genesis requires that we teach young-earth creation in six 24-hour days, rather than creation in six long yom-ages, or with the six days forming an age-neutral framework for history, as discussed in CREATIONIST INTERPRETATIONS OF GENESIS ONE.}

note:  links with CAPITAL LETTERS take you to another links-page (like this page)

        Christian Old-Earth Education

        What is true?  A major motivation for Christian old-earth education is a concern for truth, coupled with a belief that it's not wise to link the Gospel of Jesus with A Young Earth (as discussed in AGE OF THE EARTH — THEOLOGY) in a package deal where either "both are true" or "both are false."  If a person thinks these are the only options, a common choice is "both are false" because almost all scientists have concluded — due to multiple independent confirmations from a wide range of fields, with strong support from evidence and logic in each field — that the earth and universe are extremely old.  If the earth is not old, a large part of modern science (in many different fields) is wrong.   (see AGE OF THE EARTH — SCIENCE)
        What is truth?  young-earth education will be mis-education IF (as seems probable) they are teaching a view that is not the truth because it does not correspond with reality, because it does not match what actually happened in the history of nature.  And there is abundant scientific evidence that the earth actually is old.

        What about the package deal of "The Gospel plus Young Earth"?  Henry Morris (in 1988, Is creationism important in education?) boldly declares that "If God's Word cannot be trusted and understood in Genesis, then why should we bother with it anywhere else?  All of Scripture stands or falls upon the reliability of its foundational chapters."
        Wow.  Henry, along with many current young-earth creationists, thinks that "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true."  This can have tragic spiritual consequences, when a Christian who thinks "believing the Bible requires belief in a young earth" examines the scientific evidence and concludes "the earth is old" and then "if the Bible is wrong about the earth's age, maybe it's also wrong about the rest."  When this happens, faith can be weakened or abandoned, as we see in Personal Experiences of Former Young-Earth Creationists.  (17 k)
        For another perspective on personal experiences, In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to [still] Believe in Creation contains personal stories — plus arguments (theological, philosophical, scientific) — from intelligent, well educated young-earth scientists.  In a candid admission that is probably more common than most young-earth scientists are willing to acknowledge in public, Kurt Wise says "if all the evidence in the universe turned against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.  Here I must stand."  He is a brilliant scientist who says that in high school he was bothered by differences between the order of creation as described in Genesis 1 and in conventional old-earth science;  this question is discussed, along with a proposal that the 6 days are a non-chronological framework for history, in CREATIONIST INTERPRETATIONS OF GENESIS 1.

        A belief that "young-earth belief is necessary" motivates many Christians to adopt a highly skeptical "postmodern" view of historical science (including astronomy, geology, and radiometric dating) so they can challenge its reliability in an effort to discredit a set of witnesses that is testifying against their young-earth view.  This can lead to feelings (among themselves and in non-Christians) of CONFLICT BETWEEN SCIENCE AND CHRISTIANITY along with an exaggerated emphasis on the when-and-how details of creation, relative to everything else in a Christian worldview and in Christian living.   {a clarification: Although young-earth creationists tend to define theological orthodoxy in terms of the when-and-how of creation, and they think young-earth doctrines are an essential foundation for correct Christian doctrines, they don't think young-earth beliefs are necessary for personal salvation.}

        Despite these motivations for promoting old-earth education, it isn't well organized or effectively distributed (compared with young-earth education) within the Christian community.  But we do see some educational actions:

        OLD-EARTH CREATION WEBSITES with a large amount of high-quality content include Reasons to Believe (Hugh Ross plus Fazale Rana & others), God and Science (mainly Rich Deem), and Answers in Creation (Greg Neyman);  ASA's website is discussed below.
        Greg Neyman has a good attitude toward young-earth creationists, and is optimistic about improved relationships between Christians who differ mainly in their conclusions about age of the earth, in his pages from 2003 and 2005.  By contrast, you'll be amazed at the nasty things that prominent young-earth creationists might be saying about God (if the earth really is old) and certainly are saying about their fellow Christians, when you look at quotations throughout a links-page about AGE-THEOLOGY.

        In addition to websites, old-earth education also occurs locally (with teaching by Christians in churches, private schools,...) and in the overall context of society as in public schools and "informal education" that doesn't reject the old-earth consensus of scientists.
        But the only old-earth organization comparable to Answers in Genesis and Institute for Creation Research (advocating a young earth) is ...

        Reasons to Believe — founded and led by Hugh Ross, RTB has events (speakers and radio interviews) in Southern California (by Hugh Ross, Fazale Rana, and others) and occasionaly in other areas;  top-of-page links show events in previous years.
        In addition to "interview events" on broadcast radio, RTB-Radio has a weekly 2-hour webcast.  But they don't seem to have regular shows on radio stations, like the 1600 stations with daily broadcasts by AiG and ICR.
        They are not invited to be speakers at homeschool conferences, but sometimes are allowed to participate, along with a sister organization (Old Earth Creation Homeschool) which gives a report from Oklahoma and has an online homeschool support group.  Their books are not "pushed" by homeschool organizations (which typically adopt an exclusive young-earth position) although open-minded homeschooling parents can decide to buy books from RTB, by Ross and other authors.
        Hugh Ross has a strong evagelistic ministry, with an emphasis on CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS that uses science and is based on the Bible.  He speaks at universities and is generally well respected by fellow scholars, and by most people in the Christian community.
        But due to his influence among Christians, Ross is perceived as a threat to young-earth creationism, and he is a focal point for strong criticism.  Ross describes the situation in Chapter 1 of his book, A Matter of Days, which begins, "Sticks and stones may break bones, but words do more damage than people can imagine."  Responding to this short chapter (16 k), Jonathan Sarfati wrote a long critique (59 k, including quotes of Ross).
        And when Ken Ham explains what's wrong with progressive creation it's about the "Rossism" of Hugh Ross.  You can read the introduction of a book by Jonathan Sarfati that includes Ross in the title, Refuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of "Progressive Creationism" (Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross.  The pioneer of modern young-earth creationism, Henry Morris, set the tone in 1961 by saying that progressive creation "is less acceptable than theistic evolution [because it] charges God with ignorance and incompetence. ... A god who would have to create man by any such cut-and-try discontinuous, injurious method as this can hardly be the omniscient, omnipotent, loving God of the Bible." (this quote is from 1973 but he says the same thing in 1961 in The Genesis Flood and throughout the rest of his life)

        As an example of the current intensity of negative feelings against Hugh Ross, we can look at reviews of his book, Creation and Time:
• The young-earth community has produced many negative reviews of this book, including a series by authors (Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor) who mimicked his title in their own book, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creation Book by Hugh Ross:  Chapter 1 (A Key Tactic of Progressive Creationism) argues against a claim, made by Ross and other old-earth creationists, that the earth's age is not an essential doctrine; the Table of Contents links to four chapters: 1, 2, 3, and conclusion. (Ch 1 is 19 k)
• A counter-review (of the book by Van Bebber & Taylor) is from Mark Clark, who is writing for Reasons to Believe.
• Selected chapters FROM the book, which used to be on the web, are no longer available for free (you must purchase the book) although Amazon has a brief excerpt with the cover, contents, and first 4 pages.  And here is a brief summary of the chapters (3 k).
• also: another book by Hugh Ross (a deceiver of evangelicals?) is reviewed by Jonathan Sarfati in his Exposé of The Genesis Question: serious biblical and scientific errors deceive evangelicals  (38 k)

        ASA's Education about Age
        Age-Education in ASA — As individuals, members of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) are free to educate in any way we want, and most of us think the earth is old.
        Age-Education by ASA — As an organization, ASA does not take official positions about controversial creation questions — we want to provide an open forum for Christians to discuss issues related to science and Christian faith — but...
        Creation-Views & Actions of ASA affirms our most important creation view ("the God who loves us is also the God who created us and all things") and explains ASA's foundational commitments to our statement of Christian faith and to integrity in science.  And it describes "actions of ASA, motivated by the commitment to intellectual integrity (in both science and theology) that has guided ASA from its early days [in the 1940s] until the present":  ASA's age-education began internally with a 1948 symposium that presented scientific evidence for an old earth;  since 1949, and especially in recent decades, our journal has published mainly old-earth articles;  the current consensus among ASA members and leaders is illustrated by a recent project,
• From 2000 to 2005, the ASA Lay Education Project worked to develop a book that would explain our scientific knowledge about age of the earth & universe, with scientific integrity but at a level so the science could be understood by intelligent nonscientists.  Two main objectives were "to show that scientific evidence supports an old Earth and Universe, and diminish the misuse of science to support a young Earth;  to show that scripture does not require a young-earth interpretation. (from ASA's 2004 Annual Report)"   This book project was abandoned in 2005, for reasons that were not related to these two objectives.

        In this website for Whole-Person Education you can see our "multiple views" approach to education (with goals of promoting Accurate Understanding and Respectful Attitudes) by clicking links that are CAPITALIZED in the section above or by visiting areas that are most relevant for questions about age — Age of the Earth (theology) and Age of the Earth (science) plus Using the Two Books of God and Christian Education — in the Sitemap for Creation Questions.  In addition, Jack Haas (another website editor) has made Topics Pages for Bible & Science and other topics.

        Here are some resources for "education about age" from Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (PSCF, the journal of ASA) since 1990, and — where noted — elsewhere:

        • What Do You Do? by Darryl Maddox, who describes a gracious attitude and productive responses for a variety of situations involving a presentation of questionable science that is being made to Christians  (11 k)

        • The Transformation of a Young-Earth Creationist by Glenn Morton  (9 k)
        • The Testimony of a Formerly Young Earth Missionary by Joshua Zorn  (23 k), this is not from PSCF but is hosted on the ASA Website, and so is a page written by Craig Rusbult (editor) for Christians who are in "what can I do?" situations like those of Morton and Zorn, Bible-Based Theology for young-earth Christians

        From the Affiliation of Christian Geologists which is an affiliate of ASA:
        • Joe Christian Needs to Hear From Us by Roger Wiens, who suggests better education at the "grass roots" level   (7 k),
        • Geologists in the Pulpit: Raising the Scientific Literacy of your Church by Stephen Moshier, who wants scientists to "encourage our congregations to consider these problems [caused by claims that science shows the earth is young] and re-evaluate the motives and ‘success’ of creation science.  (10 k),
        • The Christian Public and Geology by Davis Young, about geology education in the Christian community  (7 k),
        • Biblical Exegesis and Science by John Suppe, with ideas from cross-cultural communication  (5 k),
        • and other essays.

        • Fanciful Bible-Science Stories' Harm: A Call to Action — Dan Wonderly is concerned because "the conservative evangelical community is being taught that the proper Christian stance is to reject practically all research data which are derived from the work of earth scientists, paleontologists, astronomers, and physicists," and he suggests that a gracious "dissemination of scientific information to the conservative evangelical ministers, youth leaders, and teachers of our nation can have a strong impact if we seek God's help in the effort."  (10 k)

        • In 1992, two articles by David Siemens led to these suggestions for age-education:
        • Gordon Brown agrees with Siemens, but suggests Starting With More Basic Misconceptions.  (2 k)
        • Fred Phelps also agrees, and he describes the need, in the mission field, for useful educational materials about young-earth science;  he thinks ASA should produce a pro-Christian pamphlet that is for scientific integrity in age-science and age-education.  (1 k)

        • A Missionary Evaluation of the Creation-Science Controversy — For "education about creation" in the scientific community, Al Hammond recommends an approach that "has been bringing fruitful response on distant mission fields... [and] must also be expressed to the men and women of our worldwide science communities."  He thinks we should use the principles of intercultural missiologists who try to "bring the culturally transcendent gospel message into the cultural context of the target community" when we're trying to evangelize the community of scientists (in America or elsewhere), analogous to what we do in reaching non-western cultures that are the usual focus of intercultural missions work.  (10 k) PSCF   {editor's note: A similar approach can be useful in communicating with Christians who have been taught that "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true."}

(probably these will be cut soon)

Rob Moll (to explain why some people think Young Earth Creationism Makes Life Difficult for Everyone) reports on an article by Hanna Rosin, Rock of Ages, Ages of Rock by Hanna Rosin  {note: the article is less hostile than its title implies}

In this page you'll find links to resource-pages expressing a wide range of views, which don't necessarily represent the views of the American Scientific Affiliation.  Therefore, linking to a page does not imply an endorsement by ASA.  We encourage you to use your own critical thinking to evaluate everything you read. 

This website for Whole-Person Education has TWO KINDS OF LINKS:
an ITALICIZED LINK keeps you inside a page, moving you to another part of it, and
 a NON-ITALICIZED LINK opens another page.  Both keep everything inside this window, 
so your browser's BACK-button will always take you back to where you were.

This page, written by Craig Rusbult (editor of the website for Whole-Person Education), is
and was revised May 29, 2009


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