Sunday, August 26, 2018

Affirming the Truth

What is a "Creationist" and why is there a common perception among many people that creationists blatantly ignore the obvious facts about the universe? How does this perception impact the most important Christian message about the person of Jesus including his death and resurrection which brings reconciliation between God and people?

To most people I talk with, a creationists is someone who believes that God created the universe about 6000 years ago and that the Bible teaches that fact. The perception is that the creationist chooses to ignore the overwhelming evidence about the age and history of the universe, while clinging to an ancient and unreliable book. The obvious conclusion is that if the Bible is completely wrong in its statements that deal with the scientific facts about the origin of the universe, then it is also completely wrong and unreliable when it talks about who Jesus was, his purpose on earth, and his resurrection. Not only have I talked with non-Christians who reject Christianity because the "unreliable" Bible can't be trusted, but I have also talked with Christians who are struggling with whether or not they can trust their Bible and trust God, and with "ex-Christians" who say that they left their faith because of the supposed unreliability of the Bible, pointing particularly to the story of creation which obviously does not align with the overwhelming evidence from nature.

Unfortunately, this situation will only get worse unless something changes. It will only get worse because there are people who fit the stereotype portrayed by the opening picture; people who continue to ignore or distort the clear evidence presented by God in nature about the origin and history of the universe. Despite the rhetoric from some proponents of a universe that is only thousands of years old (referred to as "young earth creationism"), there is absolutely NO credible evidence from nature that points to a universe less than about 13.8 billion years old and there are multiple independent observations and facts of nature that all give the same age of the universe. Whether you measure the age of the universe and the earth by observing the expansion of the universe, the cosmic microwave background radiation, radioactive decay and dating, galactic and stellar formation, simply counting ice cores or tree rings, or many of the other avenues of investigation, all of the evidence gives the same conclusion. Additionally, the supposed evidence for a young universe either distorts the actual facts, ignores known facts, or simply presents false facts.

For instance, most people who claim the earth is young distrust radiometric dating with its conclusions that the universe is billions of years old, despite its proven record of accuracy. Often the RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth) project is referenced as a scientific study that showed a number of flaws in radiometric dating.The RATE project was an effort by three organizations that hold to a young universe to investigate the validity of radiometric dating, but unlike most scientific studies this study was not trying to determine the best conclusion based on the evidence, but already had a predetermined conclusion, that radiometric dating was flawed. I find that most of the Christians who cite such "research" in an attempt to support a young earth have not investigated the response and rebuttals to these claims. Do you want to know if the conclusions of the RATE study have any validity and cast any doubt on the accuracy of radiometric dating? It is not hard to find the truth.  Just do an internet search and compare the claims of the RATE study to the straightforward rebuttals of the claims.2 It seems obvious to me that any unbiased observer who studied both sides of the disagreement would conclude that RATE study has no scientific validity.

In my research as an experimental particle physicist I must constantly weigh the evidence for and against competing hypotheses and determine which seems more viable. In the arena dealing with the scientific evidence for the age of the universe there is not any reason to conclude that the universe is young. In some sense anything is possible. It is possible that God created us all 10 minutes ago with memories and that everything we see just appears to have a history. It is possible that we live in a matrix-like universe and none of reality is real. But if we can trust that God has given us an accurate history of nature that we can observe, then a belief that the universe is only thousands of years old is completely indefensible.

There are people who claim to believe the Bible and, based on poor interpretations of biblical passages, actually believe the earth is flat or that the sun orbits the earth. To hold such beliefs, those people need to completely reinterpret, distort, and falsify all the actual observations and evidence from nature, as well as misinterpret the Bible. To hold a belief in a universe that is only thousands of years old, a person must make the same mistakes.

I have good Christian friends who believe the universe is young, almost all of whom come to that conclusion for theological reasons, not scientific reasons. I love and respect those people. I believe that one day we will share a dwelling together in heaven. But holding such a belief based on supposed scientific principles strains the credibility of the Christian world-view. Listen carefully to the words of Augustine on this very subject.

"Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these subjects; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion [1 Timothy 1.7]."3

The words of Augustine written about 1600 years ago could not be more applicable today. There are Christians today who are "talking nonsense on these subjects" and are "maintaining his foolish opinions about our books." I can not fault a non-believer who will not even consider the Christian message as viable if the messages that person hears from Christians are nonsense to anyone who has actually studied or observed the natural evidence for the age and history of the universe. It is time that the Christian community unanimously accepted the obvious conclusions from observing the natural world; that God created the universe about 13.8 billion years ago. It is time that Christians affirmed the truth about the timeline of God's creative acts. It is time that the word "Creationists" should have the universal meaning of someone who affirms that God is the creator, that God's method of creation includes an origin of the universe about 13.8 billion years ago, and that the Bible is true when it describes the origin of the universe in Genesis and in other passages. This is what I believe. Affirming the truth about God's creative acts will go a long ways in enhancing our ability to share the truth about God's redemptive acts.

In my next post, I will begin to discuss some of the biblical issues which tend to cause some Christians to hold to a young earth and describe why Christians who believe in a 13.8 billion year old earth still adhere to an inspired, inerrant, authoritative and true Bible. In the meantime this subject is discussed in more detail in my book, The Creator Revealed, A Physicist Examines the Bible and the Big Bang, and on the Michael G Strauss YouTube channel in which I am currently going through a chapter-by-chapter short synopsis of that book.

1See, for example 
2For instance, some resources that clearly refute the RATE claims can be found at, and even the Wikipedia entry on the RATE study says clearly, "In this book, the authors admit that a young-earth position cannot be reconciled with the scientific data without assuming that exotic solutions will be discovered in the future" (
3The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book 1 Chapter 19 Paragraph 39

1 comment:

  1. Inciteful article (parallels I suspect the lost tough letters from Paul to the Corinthians). I am a reformed Creationist in the sense that I accept the scientific consensus on the Big Bang writ large and most other subjects of controversy between believers and that community. However it seems the consensus concerning the origin of the first living cell/organism and its evolutionary development over billions of years up to the human brain and central nervous system is no more rational a position than the RATE project. AS A.E. Wildersmith stated time + matter + energy in any quantity must also include near infinite highly ordered Information and a transcendent integration process to achieve the world we observe and particularly the Human brain and central nervous system.

    If tomorrow science proved beyond a reasonable doubt their holdings referenced it wouldn't disturb my faith. If however the body of Jesus were found I'd likely be as doubtful as Thomas, as scattered and fearful as the apostles and as hopeless as imaginable.

    Creationism does likely effect non-believers as you propose but not so much as what I consider the heresy of demanding that thousands of men and women across the ages seeking to serve withhold human intimacy their entire adult lives. The resulting horror must surely sicken millions around the globe and turn them away from the Gospel.