Some Personal Experiences
of Former Young-Earth Creationists

 illustrating the dangers (to people for whom Christ died) 

of linking young-earth doctrines with the Gospel of Jesus.

      a problem:  If a person who thinks "believing the Bible requires belief in a young earth" examines the scientific evidence and concludes "the earth is old," another conclusion may be that "if the Bible is wrong about the earth's age, maybe it's also wrong about the rest," and faith is weakened or abandoned.
      This page describes the personal experiences of a few of the many people who have struggled with this dilemma.

      Ed, a former young-earth creationist and current Christian, explains how to avoid a spiritual tragedy:
      If R [a friend who discarded his faith when faced with the if-if-then dilemma] had been offered an alternative [believing the Bible without believing in a young earth] from the beginning, he would never have experienced the turmoil he went through.  When R could no longer deny that the universe was billions of years old, the only option left for him [because he continued to believe, as he had been taught, that believing the Bible requires believing a young earth] was to deny the Bible.  {more}

      Hill Roberts, head of the "Lord, I Believe" outreach ministry, says:
      Some of my well-meaning brethren wish we would just drop all aspects of time discussions from our presentations.  That would certainly be the easy way.  Todd [a former young-earth believer who, like "R", decided to stop believing in the Bible and Jesus when he was confronted with the if-if-then dilemma] is why we cannot go that way.  {more}

      Joshua Zorn, a missionary involved in church planting, describes his experience as a former believer in the young-earth teaching that "creates a nearly insurmountable barrier between the educated world and the church," and that has a virtual monopoly in overseas missions.  He explains why, as an evangelist, he is worried because "we are sowing the seeds of a major crisis which will make the job of world evangelism even harder than it is already."  Therefore, "from the mission field, to pastors and leaders of the sending churches," he makes "An Urgent Appeal for Humility in Addressing the Question of the Age of the Earth."
      Ed asks, "How many others [like R] have been disheartened in a like manner?"  Another way that "we are sowing the seeds of a major crisis" is the virtual monopoly of young-earth teaching in home schools, which may result in a multitude of dilemmas (like those already faced by Ed, R, Todd, and many others) in the near future.

You can read a more complete summary of each person's experience — Ed  Paul Smith  Joshua Zorn  Glenn Morton  Hill Roberts — by clicking the source-link following each excerpt:

      Ed, a former young-earth creationist, outlines a problem and a solution:
      Creation science had become a passion for me almost from the day that I was introduced to it. ... [but eventually, after learning more about science] I talked to my pastor (a young-earther) about my new discoveries [regarding the errors in young-earth science].  He warned me as so many other "creationists" have, that to continue on this path was dangerous and would only lead to me falling away from the faith.  At times, that notion seemed true!  He asked me, "do you want to end up like "R" (a college student) who now denies the faith after he tried to pursue scientific understanding?"  That question hit me hard and weighed heavy on my heart; however, I would soon discover that that line of reasoning was also imaginary.  Since then, I have corresponded with several Christians who have traveled the same path as I have.  One thing that is always agreed upon is the damage young-earth creationism can do to souls; how many believers they have seen fall away.  We have been taught that the Bible demands a young earth interpretation and when the facts of nature become inescapable — our faith becomes shattered!  My pastor was wrong, and the opposite was the case.  If "R" had been offered an alternative from the beginning, he would never have experienced the turmoil he went through.  When "R" could no longer deny that the universe was billions of years old, the only option left for him was to deny the Bible.  How many others have been disheartened in a like manner?   source

      Paul Smith opens his Open Letter to a Young Earth Creationist,
      Basically, here's the deal:  I myself am a former young-earth creationist.  While I'm intellectually attracted to certain features of various old-earth systems, it would be inaccurate to say that I've adopted any one of them as my own.  It's probably best, then, to call me a libertarian on matters of dating the creation; i.e. my position is that the Christian is free to believe what he feels in good conscience — and as led by the Spirit — can create the best harmony between his understanding of Scripture and his understanding of natural history.  In some sense, I wish that all Christians would admit the limits of our knowledge on the proper interpretation of both the scientific evidence and the statements of Scripture on this matter;  I have far more faith in the unity of truth and the authority of Scripture than I have in my interpretation of either being correct!  So understand that I know that I could be dead wrong on this, and that right now I am simply following where I think the preponderance of both the Scriptural and scientific evidence lead.  I reserve the right to change my mind should I find the weight of the evidence tipping the other way at some time in the future.
      Later in the letter, Paul says,
      I would only appeal that we be very cautious about claiming that some theory does violence to scripture if we are not certain about the accuracy of the interpretive inferences we are bringing to the passage in question.
      And he concludes,
      At the end of the day, I am far more concerned with seeing the Kingdom increase than I am with seeing my curiosity satisfied on origins matters.  I believe that Scripture is God's creation, and I pray for His guidance and wisdom as I seek to come to true conclusions about the evidence I encounter inside of it — regardless of the opinions of men.  Similarly, I believe that the world around us is God's creation, and I pray for His guidance and wisdom as I seek to arrive at true conclusions about the evidence I encounter inside of it — again, regardless of the opinions of men (scientist or otherwise), many of which I happen to think are false.  I hope that at least we can agree that this is the way God would have us approach His Word and His world, despite our disagreements about what conclusions the evidence in each would lead us to.   source

      Joshua Zorn, an evangelical missionary, makes an urgent appeal to "well-meaning Christians who share with me both a high regard for Scripture and evangelism," beginning with his personal experience:
      I became a Christian in 1973 at the age of thirteen when my Sunday school teacher took four lessons to explain the plan of salvation to us. ... This was the first time I had heard that the blood of Christ shed at the cross could wash away my sins.  I immediately accepted this good news that salvation was by grace through faith and not by works.  I began a new life in Christ which has now led me to work as a church planter in the former Soviet Union. ...
      A few years after my conversion,... I became an enthusiastic devotee of young earth creation science (YECS) as promoted by the Institute for Creation Research. ...  By the time I entered graduate school, I had discovered Christian geologist Davis Young's book, Christianity and the Age of the Earth. ... As I read this book, I saw that the scientific arguments for a young earth were completely untenable.  I found that all the other Christian graduate students had problems with YECS geological arguments.  And so, although it was painful, I asked myself if I wanted to continue to believe in something that is quite plainly wrong.  I decided I did not, and so rejected the young earth position.
      But rejection of the young earth was not only a matter of science.  It affected my faith and the core of my life. ... I went through a period of deep soul seeking, clinging to the Lord. ....  Twelve years have gone by since I abandoned the young earth viewpoint.  As I continued to study (toward a Ph.D. in mathematics with applications in population genetics), I unfortunately saw argument after argument of YECS crumble in the face of evidence, both new and old.  The list is in the hundreds and goes far beyond the issue of the age of the earth.
      I don't expect pastors or church leaders to be impressed by all the scientific evidence unless there are also good hermeneutical reasons for abandoning the YECS position and a literal reading of the opening chapters of Genesis.  As my prejudice wore off over the years, I began to discover a whole new world of evangelical interpretations as well as persuasive arguments against some aspects of the literalist reading of Genesis 1-3. ...
      Do not fall into the trap of thinking the age of the earth is just a matter of "trusting God's Word" versus "trusting science."  Christians need to, and every day do, trust both.  The common error of rejecting many well-established results of science in favor of a certain biblical interpretation is not a valid Christian position.  In the end, the truth will be a harmony which rejects neither the teachings of Scripture nor the well-established results of science.  The results of science (properly interpreted) should never challenge the authority of Scripture, but they may cause us to reexamine our interpretation of Scripture.  This is what I am pleading with young earthers to do.
      The Christian position must be that all truth is God's truth and that we have both general revelation (nature) and special revelation (the Bible) as sources of truth. ... Ultimately, our confidence in Scripture should not rest on having a complete harmony between science and the Bible because we simply do not know enough to complete the harmony. ...
      [Young-earth teaching] creates a nearly insurmountable barrier between the educated world and the church.  Certainly God in his sovereignty has allowed some to be persuaded to believe in Christ through the arguments of YECS.  But how many more have not accepted the Gospel because of the unnecessary demand that converts believe that the world is no more than 10,000 years old?  And how many have unnecessarily gone through a crisis of faith similar to that which I described above?  How many have chosen to give up their faith altogether rather than to accept scientific nonsense or a major reinterpretation of Scripture?  How much have we dishonored our Lord by slandering scientists and their reputation?  How much have we sinned against Christian brothers holding another opinion by naming them "dangerous" and "compromisers"?  How much responsibility do we bear for having taught others (James 3:1) things that probably are not even true?  Each must search his own heart. ...
      As I write this paper, I see YECS literature becoming more and more widely distributed in the growing churches in my corner of the former Soviet Union.  We are sowing the seeds of a major crisis which will make the job of world evangelism even harder than it is already.  Lord, give us wisdom!   source

Glenn Morton describes his experiences as an earnest seeker of truth:
      I became a Christian in my sophomore year of college.  The people who had led me to the Lord immediately began my discipleship.  They taught me to evangelize and they taught me what they felt a Christian should believe.  But most importantly they were a loving family of believers which was a welcome oasis for someone like me whose home life had been less than familial.  Thus, when I was told that Christians must believe in a young-earth and a global flood, I went along willingly.  I believed.
      Being a physics major in college I had not taken any geology courses.  I knew there were physics problems, but I thought I could solve them.  When I graduated from college, physicists were unemployable since NASA had just laid off many... [but] I found work as a geophysicist working for a seismic company.  Within a year, I was processing seismic data for a major oil company.  This was where I first became exposed to the problems [documented in his website] geology presented to the idea of a global flood. ...
      Over the next several years, I struggled to understand how the geologic data I worked with everyday could be fit into a biblical perspective.  I published more than twenty items in the Creation Research Society Quarterly toward that goal.  I would listen to the discussions that the Institution of Creation Research (ICR) had with people like Harold Slusher, Duane Gish, Steve Austin, and Tom Barnes, and with some of their graduates whom I had hired.  Nothing worked to explain what I saw. ... The data I was seeing at work was not agreeing with what I had been taught as a Christian.  Doubts about what I was writing and teaching began to grow.  No one could give me a model which allowed me to unite into one cloth what I believed on Sunday and what I was forced to believe by the data Monday through Friday.
      Unfortunately, my fellow young earth creationists were not willing to listen to the problems. ... But then I too was often unwilling to face the data or to read books... which argued against young-earth creationism.  I would have eagerly isolated myself from geologic data, but my job would not allow it.  I preferred darkness of self-deception to the light of truth.  Yet, day after day, my job forced me to confront that awful data.  And to make matters worse, I was viewed by my fellow young-earth creationists as less than pure for trying to discuss or solve the problems. ...
      It appeared that the more questions I raised, the more they questioned my Christianity.  When telling one friend of my difficulties with young-earth creationism and geology, he told me that I had obviously been brainwashed by my geology professors.  When I told him that I had never taken a geology course, he then said I must be saying this in order to hold my job.  Never would he consider that I might really believe the data.  This attitude that the messenger of bad news must be doubted amazed me.  And it convinced me that too many of my fellow Christians were not interested in truth but only that I should conform to their theological position. ...
      By 1986, the growing doubts about the ability of the widely accepted creationist viewpoints to explain the geologic data led to a nearly ten year withdrawal from publication. ... I was still a young-earth creationist but I did not know how to solve the problems. ... Eventually, by 1994 I was through with young-earth creationism.  Nothing that young-earth creationists had taught me about geology had turned out to be true.  I took a poll of all eight of the graduates from ICR's school who had gone into the oil industry and were working for various companies.  I asked them one question, "From your oil industry experience, did any fact that you were taught at ICR, which challenged current geological thinking, turn out in the long run to be true?"  That is a very simple question.  One man, who worked for a major oil company, grew very silent on the phone, sighed, and softly said, "No!"  A very close friend that I had hired, after hearing the question, exclaimed, "Wait a minute. There has to be one!"  But he could not name one.  No one else could either.
      Being through with creationism, I was almost through with Christianity.  I was thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that if the earth were not young and the flood not global, then the Bible was false.  I was on the very verge of becoming an atheist.  During that time, I re-read a book [by Alan Hayward, and]... his view had the power to unite the data with the Scripture.  That is what I have done with my views.  Without that I would now be an atheist. ... His book was very important in keeping me in the faith. ...
      It was my lack of knowledge that allowed me to go along willingly and become a young-earth creationist.  It was isolation from contradictory data, a fear of contradictory data and a strong belief in the young-earth interpretation that kept me there for a long time.  The biggest lesson I have learned in this journey is to read the works of those with whom you disagree.  God is not afraid of the data.   source

And from Hill Roberts, head of the "Lord, I Believe" ministry,
      Some of my well-meaning brethren wish we would just drop all aspects of time discussions from our presentations.  That would certainly be the easy way.  Todd [who discovered the many errors and distortions in young-earth science, and then rejected the Bible and Jesus] is why we cannot go that way.  If all brethren would keep all views concerning the age of creation between them and God, we wouldn't have to address the topic.  But that is not likely to happen any time soon.  We teach what we believe is the truth of the matter: that the Bible does not require one to believe the creation is ancient or recent (the Bible's silence on the matter permits one to believe whatever age wished).  We teach that Genesis is a true and simple account of the awesome primary miracle.  The creation is the result of the power of God's word, purpose and love for man.   source

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Each excerpt in this page is followed by a link to
the "source" that tells a more complete story.

A Linking of The Gospel with A Young Earth

that inspired the editor's "open letter" with
Bible-based theology for young-earth Christians

This page, with quotations selected and assembled by Craig Rusbult, is

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