In the Beginning …

Like many young children, some of my earliest memories were of dinosaurs. Growing up in the early ’70s, the television series “Land of the Lost” and “The Flintstones” captured my imagination. My fifth birthday party featured a dinosaur cake and pin-the-tail-on-the-brontosaurus. The local library, located mere minutes from my front door, provided me with hours of learning opportunities. I devoured anything and everything that was written about those long-extinct creatures. It didn’t even matter if the material was geared toward children or adults. (I actually preferred the adult books—as long as they had neat pictures in them—because they provided me with so much more information.) The only thing I enjoyed more than correcting my Kindergarten teacher’s pronunciation of dinosaur names was reveling in the mysteries surrounding those “terrible lizards”: Were they cold-blooded or warm-blooded? Did they use their tails for balance or did they drag them on the ground behind them? Was Archaeopteryx really the missing link between birds and dinosaurs?

Oddly enough, one of those controversies didn’t faze me, despite my Evangelical upbringing. I was still too young to recognize the contradiction between what I was reading and what my Sunday school class was teaching me. It wasn’t until several years later that I began to ask my parents how to resolve what I understood to be a relatively recent creation of the heavens and earth with what those evolutionists were asking me to accept. Enter Henry Morris . . .

For Christmas, my father gifted me with Morris’ The Genesis Record. Although I was only 9 years old at the time, I devoured Morris’ young-earth creationist tome. Soon afterward, I obtained a free, trial subscription to the Creation Research Society Quarterly journal. Before long, I was a die-hard apologist for young-earth creationism (YEC). Not surprisingly, my classwork soon reflected my new-found paradigm. Although my research paper on dinosaurs provided the reader with the “fact” that dinosaurs were subjected to mass extinction 65 million years ago, I did not pass up the opportunity to footnote that statement with the following: “Of course, we know this not to be true. According to Genesis, God created the world (including dinosaurs!) approximately 6,000 years ago.” I even put a Michigan State University paleontologist on the spot during an interview, hoping to gain an admission that evolutionists were guilty of circular reasoning in their attempt to date rock layers by the fossils they contained, and date fossils by the rock layers in which they were found.

As a teenager, my family visited Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument; it was no surprise that I attempted to argue with the paleontologists conducting our tour. We also stopped by Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, Texas, to view the alleged human footprints crossing dinosaur tracks in the limestone beds of the Paluxy River. (The woman tending the gift shop had no knowledge of these recent creation proofs, so we never got to see them first-hand.)

By the time I attended college, I had discovered the Institute for Creation Research‘s free, monthly YEC tract Acts & Facts. Morris’ The Biblical Basis for Modern Science and Scientific Creationism were added to my library. They would serve as perfect tools to convert my Catholic evolutionist roommate. I quickly discovered that converting an engineering major wasn’t so easy . . .

24 Comments

Filed under protology, young-earth creationism

24 Responses to In the Beginning …

  1. You and I obviously think a lot alike. I was the same way for the first part of my life. I was even, for a few years, under the hypnosis of the evil “Dr.” Dino, Kent Hovind.

    Looking forward to where you’re going here. Glad to see you seeking to become a little less “reticent” about your TEism. 😉

  2. Thanks for stopping by! I feel a little less alone now …

    A “little less ‘reticent'” is an understatement. This journey is not only exciting to me, but it’s been incredibly freeing! Through this blog, I merely wish to help conservative, Evangelical Christians free themselves of the false dichotomy between theology and science, the shackles of which chaffed me for decades.

  3. You have just been bookmarked. Looking forward to hearing more.

  4. Wow,

    Another neat place to have discussion. Thanks Mike!

    BTW, I sensed a bit of discomfort and/or frustration in some of your editorial comments on the manuscript earlier in the year. I told Jeff that meant we were doing a good job, but we certainly didn’t envision you going this direction in your own personal evolution!

    Might I recommend another helpful site on the topic? Check out http://www.uncommondescent.com. They offer a different take on TE, but hey, more fuel for the fire, right?

    Blessings,

    Tim Martin
    http://www.truthinliving.org

  5. Say, Mike, what do you think of the current series by Ed Stevens in Fulfilled! Magazine?

  6. Tim,

    Can you elaborate on this “discomfort and/or frustration” in terms of the origins debate? It’s been almost 9 months since I took a whack at the manuscript! 😉

    I’ll check out Dembski’s blog this week and throw an opinion or two your way.

  7. Steve,

    Are you speaking of Ed’s “Creation to Consummation” series, which clearly addresses things from a YEC perspective?

    I had the unique opportunity to speak with him while I worked the IPA booth at the Evangelical Theological Society conference in San Diego last month. At first, sparks flew in regard to YEC/OEC/TE, but there was certainly some “listening” going on as I explained Walton’s interpretation of Genesis 1 through the lens of audience relevance.

    For any readers who don’t know who Ed Stevens is, the first in his multi-part series can be found here: http://www.fulfilledmagazine.com/Volume%202%20Issue%202/Ed%20Stevens.htm

  8. Mike,

    It just seemed like some of your feedback came from someone flustered about the whole issue, because some points (from your default YEC perspective) didn’t hold a lot of water.

    Do you think you would offer the exact same criticisms of our points today as you did back then considering this (more) recent shift? I doubt you would on the local flood arguments, because a lot of your criticism appeared to come from the YEC point of view.

    We did change a good bit to communicate our material better regarding creation and the connection between Gen 1 and biblical prophecy (i.e., heavens and earth) in the NT.

    Later,

    Tim

  9. “(The woman tending the gift shop had no knowledge of these recent creation proofs, so we never got to see them first-hand.)”

    ROFL!!! That is classic!

  10. Good stuff, Mike! Welcome to the blogosphere, and it’s great to welcome another evolutionary creationist to the fold. Just a few more and we’ll be able to staff a whole ark. 🙂 Best wishes, and I’ll visit often.

  11. Thanks for the words of support, Stephen. I’ll try to return the favor as often as I can. =)

  12. Ahh … the Paluxy River footprints. This brings back memories of the day I rejected creation science.

    As a creationist on my last legs, I was exhausted from trying to thing about everything at the same time. For sanity’s sake, and to keep myself honest, I made a written list on what I considered to be the four most compelling scientific arguments for creation/against evolution. The first three crumbled, even to my creationist eyes. The Paluxy River footprints were number four.

    The most furious I ever remember myself being was when I discovered that ICR had rejected this evidence when I was two years old. Why was I even told about these footprints in the first place? Because I trusted the creation science movement to educate me on science.

    I accepted evolution shortly after, and have been further studying the evidence and implications to Christianity as a hobby ever since.

  13. Jeffrey,

    I made a written list on what I considered to be the four most compelling scientific arguments for creation/against evolution. The first three crumbled …

    I’d be curious to know what those first three are …

    And how long have you been on your “journey”?

  14. The other three were the living mollusk carbon-dated at 12,000 years, the lack of moon dust, and the fact that some of the planets spin in the “wrong” direction.

    I was a YEC until February 2006. I tentatively accepted evolution in March, and was thoroughly convinced by August. None of my creationist friends found out until 2007.

    I probably came to accept evolution in the most dangerous way possible. I was trying to train myself to be an apologist, and it the process of reading atheists’ rebuttals, I discovered that they were right. First, I found the evidence discrediting creation scientists. Second, I found the evidence discrediting YEC itself. Third, I found the evidence for evolution. Fourth, I found the arguments discrediting the hermeneutics of YEC. But I found this from Hugh Ross, and by this time I could not scientifically accept his OEC hermeneutics, leaving me with no alternatives.

    For nearly a year, I accepted biblical inerrency only because I was willing to suspending judgment and only follow my conclusions very slowly. I was perfectly willing to go down a slippery slope if that’s where the evidence led.

    Just this last summer, I understood the genre of Genesis enough to reconcile it with evolution, and return to biblical inerrency as doctrine rather than hope.

  15. Jeffery,

    You wrote: Just this last summer, I understood the genre of Genesis enough to reconcile it with evolution, and return to biblical inerrency as doctrine rather than hope.

    Thank you for that summary of your own journey!

    I, too, am going through a journey in regard to the nature of Scripture. I now hold to a modified version of inerrancy (some call it “soft inerrancy”) in which the Bible remains an inspired and infallible piece of literature, but allows for the possibility of inconsequential factual error. Every time I come across a “difficulty,” I have to remind myself that the Bible’s original audience did not require (or expect) the same level of historical/scientific accuracy as we moderns do.

  16. Oh wow, this is so funny! Jeffrey, the EXACT same thing happened to me. Jan 2008, I determined to prove the worldwide flood/Noah’s ark to my bro (got books through Amazon) and creationism to his girlfriend and ended up believing in evolution and limited Flood. Still a Christian though! 🙂 (But they’re not, sadly)

  17. Anonymous

    Mike Beidler said…
    “Soon afterward, I obtained a free, trial subscription to the Creation Science Research Quarterly journal. Before long, I was a die-hard apologist for young-earth creationism (YEC).”
    Obviously Mike you WERE NOT TOO CAREFUL a YEC, as you cannot even give the correct Journal title. It is the CREATION RESEARCH SOCIETY QUARTERLY. Maybe you should go back to the beginning and start again.

  18. Anonymous,

    I have made the title correction as a result of your comment, but I am going to leave your comment untouched. Your purpose in bringing attention to my error is obviously malicious and I certainly don’t appreciate the un-Christian tone of your “correction.”

    If you perform a simple Google search, you will find that it is an extremely common error, even among academics. And if my typo is the only means by which you claim an alleged lack of knowledge or study on my part, you are sorely mistaken.

    While you’re at it, why not reveal yourself? Why choose to post anonymously?

  19. Anonymous,

    One other thing. Don’t forget that when you point your finger at me, you’re pointing four fingers back at yourself.

    Even contributors to Answers in Genesis have made the error I did. See footnote 11 for a prime example.

    And you might as well start chastising some of your fellow YEC proponents who have made the same error.

    And, oh my! Even the Creation Research Society screwed up the title of their own journal in an article appearing in Volume 41 (September 2004)! It appears that the fabric of time and space is beginning to rip in your direction.

  20. I hate labels so I don’t know which one I fit under but on my own I have compiled my beliefs and report tthem here:

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

    Science tells us that the big bang is where the universe begins; aligning itself with Scripture, not because science has any fondness of religion but because that is where data lead. One millionth of a second after the big bang the universe cooled to ten trillion degrees. Look at that number, 10,000,000,000,000°.“Let there be “LIGHT”. At the actual instant of creation mathematics and physics dissolve, postulating infinite heat, incalculable light, limitless mass and non-existent space- a creation of impossible paradoxes. They generally don’t see it, because their scientific discipline demands they shouldn’t, but I see the irrefutable finger of God (Romans 1:19-20). The powerful tools of physics and mathematics fall prostrate before the Face of the ONE. But they are powerful and eloquent commentary to the majesty and gravity of our God.

    After the instant of creative cataclysm, the universe diverged then coalesced forming elements later condensing and heating to form stars. In their furnaces the Workman forged the heavy elements which were spewed forth from the dying stars to coalesce again to form the planets. Age upon unnumbered age piled one upon the other and the Spirit of God moved over it all; winnowing, sifting, weighing, measuring until finally on a little planet the star was just hot enough and just far enough away, and there was just enough water and carbon and oxygen and then he focused down to one point and made the miracle spark of life appear.

    Then the pattern repeated, for he is faithful and constant and His ways can be discerned. Fecund, wild, life broke loose to fill the earth. Again God began paring, judging, forming, molding until the one cell grew into many which begat invertebrates which begat vertebrates which begat mammals which begat primates. Eons upon leaden eons unfolded while God worked with inscrutable patience to sharpen his creation. Once again he worked; shaping, kneading, sculpting until one primate had the brain and the body needed for his ultimate purpose of creation; to carry his very own image and likeness. And the Lord breathed into his nostrils and the creature became the Man. Now maybe the race had evolved here or maybe another special miracle of God took place; a deep sleep was put on the Man and God made Woman from his body.

    Time past and the people multiplied and filled the earth. The hand of God again trained and honed the peoples until one insignificant clan was ready and the hand of God rested upon them and they become the chosen people of Israel. And they grew and multiplied while he once again refined and distilled until he sharpened the point coming to rest on one Hebrew girl and he entered the world himself as a human baby. And it began again, Jesus giving us power to become his Body and again we multiply.
    ________________________________

    We can see the pattern of God’s activity and why the evolutionary view of creation is not out of character with our Father’s handiwork. Think of what awe and comfort we can gain from this acceptance of creation. Awe in the unimaginable energy expended and the incredible vastness of creation; comfort in the knowledge of God’s inconceivable patience to faithfully work through ages unnumbered to achieve his perfect plan. This view doesn’t detract from God’s glory but only praises it more!

    Much of the disagreement about inerrancy centers on Biblical observations of creation. Are we reading science and history or myth and poetry? We have definitions to consider in this controversy. Myth and poetry mean fairytales or worse, lies, to some people. I believe this is fatally narrow for myths were how God spoke to us originally, stories of wonders and mysteries (Hebrews 1:1). The Western, analytical view of reality is really rather recent and is certainly not how the human writers of Scripture understood reality. When we force the Bible to conform to our presuppositions, we risk turning it into an idol and surely lose some of its witness because we dismiss any thing man has learned over the ages about God’s creation which doesn’t bend to this interpretation of Scripture.

    Some people reject evolutionary theory because they say it makes Genesis 1 untrue and all Bible words are literally true. Then what of Isaiah 55:12;

    the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

    Did he really, mountains that sing and trees that clap their hands? Can’t we recognize poetry when we read it? It is still true. The point is that nature exults in the Lord and lives for the joy of His people. Or what of Genesis 1:6, and others, where the heavens are called the firmament. Because early people thought the sky a blanket over the world (and God hadn’t revealed to them the nature of space) does that mean what He did reveal is untrustworthy?

    In Psalm 19:1-6, we can see the ancient worldview with the sun racing across the sky like a strong man running a course. This shows both a view of reality and beautiful poetry. The poetry is the important thing, nature extolling the glory of God.
    In many verses, the word “day” is used in an elastic manner. It doesn’t always mean 24 hours; such as Jeremiah 18:33, “day of [His] anger” (is that a Tuesday or a Saturday?) or where it speaks quite plainly that God’s view of time doesn’t align perfectly with ours: Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8.
    Lastly, some people reject this out of fear that if one thing in the Bible is ‘untrue’ it is all suspect; the spiritual domino theory. God didn’t give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control. And is God, who has done all these wondrous things, so helpless he can’t protect His own Word and Truth even in the hands of wicked humans! To those people I say, “Your god is too small”. Mine can handle this and anything else that is true. In a way also, this is a test of faith. Could God have not given his revelation today with all the additional commentary that science provides? Then why didn’t he and why give it to a people who had such a truncated view of physical reality? Maybe it was to provide us of this day the opportunity to reach in faith to a much larger God.

    If a fundamentalist view of Scripture is correct, and the universe is only about 6,000 years old, what is the consequence? Then not just evolutionary biology is false, but so are archeology, paleontology, physics and mathematics to name a few. But would God play false with us in this way? They all posit an ancient universe and if physics is not to be trusted, if it is not created by God and rests upon His unchanging character, then I probably should not go fly in an airliner because I will be staking my life on the verity of these physical laws. For my Southern Baptists Inerrantist brothers I would remind you of where our denomination came from. We came about from the American Baptists in 1845 over our interpretation of the Bible about slavery. We were wrong then and we’re wrong now!

    We can’t have it both ways; either science is compatible with Scripture (properly understood for its’ true purpose and nature) or we must hold to a view of Scripture as literal, scientific fact, which leads us to see all our understanding of the universe as meaningless. God doesn’t need us to bend truth, any truth, in His defense. All truth is His.

    Now the beauty of the science God has allowed us is this: if tomorrow some scientist proves the universe is 6,000 years old, he will publish his findings. Others will attack it but if it stands up, then that will be the new science. If so, then the creation view is literal and nothing has changed; “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.
    ________________________________
    The nature of the Bible is exactly like the nature of Christ; at once both fully human and fully divine. The men who wrote it did so as men write under the inspiration of their ‘muse’. In this case the muse was God.
    ————–
    The Scriptures point only to the veracity and trustworthiness of God’s Word, not to its scientific accuracy. This is the point of contention with Inerrantists, the seeming conflict between Scripture and science. Scripture, properly interpreted, shows no such conflict exists. In fact, two verses state the reasons Scripture is given: Romans 15:4 says its’ purpose is instruction and encouragement to maintain our hope and perseverance. In 2 Timothy 3:15-17, the Scriptures are for teaching truth and refuting error and reforming our manners and discipline to equip us for good works. They were never given to be a blueprint for God’s work in nature since the Hebrew world in which revelation was given was pre-scientific and the current controversies would have had no meaning. God gave them truth cradled in a world view they could understand. This doesn’t negate the discoveries which man has made (by the grace of God) nor does it do violence to the eternal, spiritual truth the Bible contains and preserves.

  21. ognywogny,

    Thanks for your comments. Your description of God’s creative activity was poetic and very inspirational.

    You very well might fall into the theistic evolution camp; however, your poetic description of God’s tinkering with His creation could be viewed as an acceptance of Intelligent Design. Was/is God’s “tinkering” scientifically provable, or is it indistinguishable from natural processes?

    Anyway, thanks for your comments. Have a look around the blog. Would enjoy additional insights from you!

  22. The 2nd law of thermodynamics (aka entropy) says in essence everything is moving from a state of order to a state of disorder. In other words things are breaking down. This law of science is seen in everything from the human body to the automobile in which you drive. Want to deny entropy, never change the oil, fluids, check the air pressure in your tires, fill your car with gas etc, and entropy is going to take place. Now keep in mind this is a law of science. There are very few laws of science because a law of science has to be absolutely the case and be tried many many times before it can be declared a law.
    So think about this for a second if everything is moving from a state of order to disorder as this law of science shows, then that would mean that there was one time when everything was in pristine condition. This would mean that everything at one time was at its best and is now wearing down and eventually will one day wear out. Yet this is exactly the opposite of what evolutionist teach!!! They teach the primitive earth was a flat, ugly, mess. Keep in mind the 2nd law of thermodynamics is just that a law. Why do I emphasize this? Listen to what one evolutionary website proclaims and in doing so denies a law of science.
    “The infant earth that is pictured by scientist today basks in a sun that shines with 70% of its present power (now they say the power of the sun is getting stronger but a law of science denies this!!). A world with no free oxygen in the atmosphere (how can there be no oxygen when they say the ocean existed H2O oxygen is present in water!!!) and no sounds other than wind, the hissing lava against water (H2O!!), and meteorites hitting the earth. (By the way all of this is speculative, there is no evidence that supports this story of the early earth). No plants, no animals, no bacteria, or viruses existed on the earth. From that point on, scientific opinion vastly diversifies. (So most if not all scientist agree up to this point, thus denying the law of entropy!!!). It continues, ” in a steamy world after accretion, earth may have been ( again speculating) a ball of fiery magma. Volcanoes, geysers, and hydrothermal vents would have leached out vital compounds where reactions could ensue (and they call the Bible fantasy??!!)”.
    Anyway you get the point that they say oh the earth was a mess and we are getting better. The 2nd law of thermodynamics a law of science denies this. It says everything was great and is getting worse. Yet what does the Bible say ” and God saw everything that He had made and behold it was very good” Genesis 1:31. The Bible says that in the beginning everything was very good and after the fall of man is getting worse. Not coincidence that this agrees amazingly with a law of science.

  23. The 2nd law of thermodynamics (aka entropy) says in essence everything is moving from a state of order to a state of disorder. … So think about this for a second if everything is moving from a state of order to disorder as this law of science shows, then that would mean that there was one time when everything was in pristine condition.

    Thanks for stopping by, Chris.

    All due respect, I once held the same fundamental misunderstanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. May I humbly suggest you delve deeper into what the law really posits rather than imposing your own (mis)understanding upon it. Check out this Wikipedia page on self-organization.

    In addition, your comments placed amidst the scientist’s quotation you provided betray a severe misunderstanding of science and misinterpretation of the data. For example, atmospheric oxygen does not equate to oxygen trapped in water. Mars’ atmosphere has been determined to consist of 95% carbon dioxide and only minute traces of water vapor, yet Mars has considerably large polar ice caps … which consist largely of water ice!

    Regarding scientific speculation about early earth, there is indeed a TON of scientific evidence that would lead scientists to speculate the way they do. You need only look for it and consider it seriously rather than sweep it under the rug in order to sustain your particular interpretation of Genesis 1. Young-earth creationism is based solely on what Scripture says (or what it appears to say from our modern vantage point) and not on what our scientific observations tell us. Young-earth creationists who claim that the scientific facts support a young earth are, in my opinion, blinded by their interpretation of Genesis 1 from examining the data honestly and objectively. I should know. I was guilty of this no more than a year ago.

    The Bible says that in the beginning everything was very good and after the fall of man is getting worse.

    I’m curious. Can you provide me with a Scripture reference from Genesis that states in no uncertain terms that Adam’s sin would throw the entire cosmos into chaos?

    Anyway, I’d like to recommend The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth by Davis A. Young & Ralph F. Stearley. You may very well find yourself reconsidering your position.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!!

  24. Anonymous

    "Anonymous" is non other than Mellotron. It fits his posting style to a "T".

    Orrie Bearshield

    Pine Ridge, South Dakota

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