Those old universe arguments continued to haunt me, even in my YEComfort Zone. During one of my overseas deployments, I engaged in some friendly email conversation with an irenic atheist, who desired to prove to me the strength of evolutionary theory, both biological and cosmological. Many of his arguments for an old universe were compelling, despite my best attempts to hide behind the Institute for Creation Research
It was about this same time that my father sent me several books written by progressive creationist Hugh Ross, one of which was Creation and Time. Although Ross’ approach to Genesis 1 was intriguing, I felt uncomfortable with his concordism, which seemed forced in many places, e.g., the “creation” of the sun and moon on Day 4 as actually a “revealing” of these two astronomical bodies as the earth’s thick cloud cover began to disperse. The real nail in the coffin, however, was Van Bebber and Taylor’s Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, which made very clear to me that progressive creationism’s requirement for animal death prior to the Fall of Adam directly contradicted Scripture (cf. Romans 5:12).
About the same time, ICR began promoting Dr. Russell Humphreys’ white hole cosmology, which attempted to reconcile an apparently old universe with a young earth using the theory of gravitational time dilation. The opportunity to accept scientific findings pointing to a universe billions of years old was freeing, especially considering it allowed me to maintain a literal reading of Genesis. However, Humphreys sometimes revealed a tendency toward forced concordism, with which I was not terribly comfortable. Still, it appeared to be the best of both worlds for many years ..
Continued from “In the Beginning . . .”
“You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is: Never get involved in a land war in Asia! And only slightly less well known is this: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! HA HA HA HA HA—”
In arguing with my Catholic-evolutionist-engineer major roommate, I was Vizzini.
“Never go in against a Young-Earth Creationist when biblical literalism is on the line! HA HA HA HA HA—”
I’ve never asked him, but I think that my roommate had very little exposure to YEC apologetics. More often than not, he acted quizzical every time I waxed apologetic on a “literal” interpretation of Genesis. His much more scientific mind would bring up some interesting counter-arguments:
ME: The Second Law of Thermodynamics!
ROOMMATE: You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.
And how about this one:
ME: I mean, what are the three terrors of an Old Universe? One, the Big Bang—no problem. There’s a popping sound preceding it; we can avoid that. Two, the Geologic Column, which I was clever enough to discover what it doesn’t really look like, so in the future we can avoid that too.
ROOMMATE: Mike, what about the S.B.S.T.L.Y.D.T.G.S’s?
ME: Stars Beyond Six Thousand Light Years’ Distant That Go Supernova? I don’t think they exist.
Seriously, I fell somewhere in between the first two of Gordon J. Glover’s three options for understanding passages of Scripture that reflect ancient Near Eastern cosmogony (more on ANE cosmogony later):
(1) take these verses as literal scientific truth and vigorously defend this model of the universe against all rival theories based on extra-Biblical knowledge; or (2) take these verses as non-literal and reinterpret them in conformity with modern astronomy . . . (Glover, p. 87)
I was probably much closer to #1. Thank God my roommate wasn’t as “biblically literate” as I was, or else I could have been pushed into geocentrism! Of course neither of us was familiar with the third option:
(3) understand these verses as giving us a literal, but non-scientific, view of the universe based on the popular cosmology of the age that committed them to writing. (Glover, p. 87)
Confronted with some quite valid arguments against a YEC interpretation of Genesis, I felt more inclined to defend my interpretation of Scripture rather than admit to something in direct contradiction to it. If it took me out of the mainstream, so be it. Into my YEComfort zone I went. Thus, for the remainder of my college days and into my post-college Navy career, I maintained a solid YEC position.
CYPHER: You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? [Takes a bite of steak] Ignorance is bliss.
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 . . .