Here on Veracity, we have highlighted the work of Terry Mortenson, a speaker for the popular Young Earth Creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis. He spoke in Williamsburg several years ago on topics related to creation.
A lot of people, particularly atheists, ridicule Young Earth Creationists as being idiotic and stupid. I find this to be most uncharitable. Though I was not able to meet Terry Mortenson personally during his time in Williamsburg, I nevertheless found him to be quite charming, likable, and very articulate.
Terry Mortenson believes that modern science, even as practiced by Old Earth and Evolutionary Creationists, is built on inherently anti-biblical assumptions. Therefore, Christians should reject the concept of “millions of years” because it threatens to undermine the Bible. Science, as generally practiced today, can not be relied upon to give us true, genuine knowledge of the world that reflects God’s glory. In other words, God’s creation is NOT the 67th book of the Bible.
I would assume that Dr. Mortensen would take issue with how I understand the teaching of Psalm 19. My questions for Terry Mortenesen are not based on science, per se. That is a very involved discussion that would require me cracking open those dusty textbooks from my days in college. My concern is about the Bible. How would he read passages like Romans 1:18-23 (ESV)?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Here, the Apostle Paul, is talking about pagans who have no access to God’s Law as set forth in Holy Scripture (he addresses the Jews who have God’s Law in Romans 2). Paul’s main message is that the pagans have looked at the evidence for God in creation and then rejected God, worshipping creatures instead of the Creator. A lot of atheists and other skeptics probably fit in this category rather well today. But as I have highlighted above, Paul seems convinced that what can be known of God as Creator can be seen in the things that have been made. Not only that, but this knowledge from the created order has been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world. Paul makes no mention of the pagans having a Bible to give them knowledge of God as Creator. Rather, it would appear that Paul assumes that general knowledge of God can be truly known by people because He has made it plain to them. If I take this literally, it would imply that there is a Christian basis for doing science simply by observing nature, expecting that as a different source of information, it essentially will not and cannot conflict with what we read in Sacred Scripture.
How does this square with Terry Mortenson’s view that you must first look to the first few chapters of Genesis to establish the basis for building science? Dr. Mortensen is quite correct that it is easy for scientists to misinterpret the scientific data that God leaves us in Creation. Good point!
However, those who hold to more of an “Old Earth” perspective contend that it is possible for people to misinterpret the Bible, as well, thereby creating an apparent conflict between modern science and Christian faith that need not exist. According to this perspective that accepts the general narrative of modern science, misinterpreting the Bible can actually create an unnecessary barrier to having faith in God.
Every “Old Earth” scientist I know who loves Jesus is persuaded that “millions of years” is correct, not because they are uncritically consuming “anti-biblical” assumptions. They accept “millions of years” because, in their observations, the evidence God has placed there demands it. If convincing evidence could be demonstrated to overthrow “millions of years,” they would accept a “young earth” in a heartbeat.
So, is Dr. Mortenson correct? Tell me what you think in the comments section below after you view this short video.