Science Cannot Tell Us How Old the Earth Is

One of the perennial debates between creationists and those who deny a creator is how old the earth is. This is a debate among Christians as well with some being in the YEC (Young Earth Creationist) corner and others in the OEC (Old Earth Creationist) corner.

I’m not going to delve into the pros and cons of those two belief systems in this post. I want to talk about something more fundamental. If we’re going to make a claim for the age of the earth, no matter which way we lean, on what should we stake that claim? In other words, what discipline or authority can we look to in order to find the answer to our question? More specifically, can we look to that oft cited source,  science, for the answer?

The answer is no, we can’t. In fact, science cannot even determine how old I am. A doctor can make an educated guess based on his or her observations of me (something we can do with the earth as well) then comparing me to other people whose ages they know (something we cannot do with the earth). But those could be misleading for a variety of reasons. Perhaps I’ve suffered with a debilitating disease for many years and have aged more rapidly than normal. Perhaps my hair went gray prematurely. Or, on the other end, perhaps I’ve  had a relatively easy life or are wealthy enough to mask my age with plastic surgery. Or maybe I look young or old for my age due simply to my genes. Bottom line, there is no scientific test you can perform to tell how old I am.

But they can look at my birth certificate, right? Yes, they can. But that’s not science. The reason my birth certificate is reliable is because someone who was there, probably the doctor, signed off that I was born on Tuesday, October 3, 1961. They could also, of course, ask my mother who happened to be there at the time. In other words, the only way to know for sure how hold I am is to ask someone in a position to know, someone who was there when I was born. That’s not science, that’s history.

If science cannot determine the age of an individual, how much less is it capable of doing so for the entire planet? Again, there are observations and educated guesses a scientist can make but, much as with individuals, things that have happened to the planet in the past will impact the usefulness of those observations. If, for example, I’m not taking into account that a world-wide catastrophic flood took place at some point in the past, my conclusions, based on observations in the present, will not be accurate (if such a flood did take place).

In the end, we must determine the age of the earth the same way we determine the age of individuals, by finding a reliable source that can tell us the answer. So, at least with the in-house discussion among Christians, it comes down to what the scriptures say. We must determine what we believe about the age of the earth not on what extra-biblical sources tell us but on what we’re told by the One who was there.

Let’s Tone Down the Rhetoric

David, listen, Nathan here, you got a minute? Good, there’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about.

Let's Tone Down the Rhetoric
“Thou Art the Man” by Peter Fredrick Rothermel

Suppose, and I’m speaking purely hypothetically here, suppose there was a poor man who had only one lamb. He loved it and treated it like his own child. It slept with him and ate with his family.

Follow me so far? OK, good. Continue reading “Let’s Tone Down the Rhetoric”

The Vestigial Nature of Moments of Silence

When tragedy strikes, nothing is more ubiquitous than calling for a “moment of silence.” In times past, we understood our powerlessness in the face of tragedy and so turned to One who was not powerless to make sense of it. In other words, we prayed. Now, however, prayer is out of the question. Prayer implies we are not in control. Prayer implies we are not the highest authority. Prayer implies, well, that God exists and we can’t have that.

So, instead, we have come up with this vestigial act that looks like prayer but is not. Something we can all participate in that seems spiritual without really being so and, most importantly, that won’t offend anyone.

I don’t do moments of silence. Having a moment of silence in response to tragedy is like choosing a Matchbox car to get you to work. It may look like the real, functioning counterpart but in reality it is powerless to help you.

We should either admit God is there and we need him or admit that he’s not and that tragic events have no rhyme, reason or purpose. They are in fact not really tragic because nothing is good, bad or indifferent if there is no God – everything just is. And if that is so, why should we stop our lives for even a moment to be quiet simply because stuff happened?

 

The Real “Naked Truth”

Truth has fallen on hard times in recent decades. If there is one thing people in our culture want more than anything else it is to live in any way they choose – yet experience no adverse consequences for doing so. However, while we can choose to live in a way that ignores truth, we cannot choose to be free from the consequences of doing so.

I was reminded of this disconnect with regard to sex when I read a poignant article called “My ‘Naked’ Truth.” It is the account of a 59 year old woman who was rejected as a sex partner by the 55 year old man she met on the internet, and had known only a short while, because he thought her body was not attractive enough.

The woman rightly pegged the guy as a shallow jerk but what’s missing is a recognition of her own beliefs that contributed to the disappointing outcome. Sex, as does all of  God’s creation, has a purpose. Sexual intercourse is designed to be the ultimate expression of intimacy between a man and a woman and as such is reserved for the commitment of marriage. It is more than just a physical act, it is an act of both physical and spiritual oneness.  Phil Ryken describes it this way:

Sexual intercourse is the covenant cement that is designed to unite one man and one woman for life. But when sex is shared with the wrong person, at the wrong time, or for the wrong purpose, the wrong things get attached. After the bodies uncouple, souls are torn apart, and the best and deepest intimacy is squandered.

This woman was expecting to find the same oneness, acceptance, and intimacy in sex with a virtual stranger as can be found in sex with a life-long committed partner. It simply does not work that way. It is no accident that the biblical euphemism for sexual intercourse is “to know” the person. Sex, however, is the culmination of knowing someone, not the method of knowing someone.

This woman’s expectation that her short-term uncommitted boyfriend treasure her and be intimate with her in every sense of that word – in short, act like her husband – was just as misplaced and shallow as his expectation that his sex partners all be young and nubile.

God’s design for marriage, sex, everything is perfect. When pursued within the boundaries set by our Creator, sex is a wonderful thing. However, when we use it however we want, God’s design be damned, we should not expect to reap the benefits associated with its proper use. Truth can be ignored but the consequences of doing so cannot.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. – Galatians 6:7

 

 

Lazarus Come Out! (But keep it to yourself, you don’t have the only “story,” you know.)

Perhaps you’ve heard of Rosaria Champagne-Butterfield. She is, by her own admission, a former radical lesbian feminist professor lazaruswho became a follower of Christ through the love of a Presbyterian pastor and his wife and the grace of God. Her testimony is detailed in her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.

Perhaps too, you’ve heard about her recent visit to Wheaton University. She was invited to Wheaton to share her testimony of God’s amazing grace. Yet, at this Christian university, not all were happy about that. A group of about 100 students demonstrated outside the chapel before she spoke. Their concern? That someone might hear Butterfield’s story and assume the way she has responded to her sexual sin is the way everyone must respond.

One of the demonstrators said:

We feared that if no conversation was added to the single message of the speaker that students who are not very well informed were going to walk into chapel, hear the message, and have misconceptions confirmed or that students who are LGBT would be told that this story is the absolute way that things happen.

Another held up a sign that said:

I’m gay and a beloved child of God

Then there’s this post-modern gem:

Rosaria’s story is valid, mine is too

Cue “We Are the World” and grab your neighbor’s hand.

I hate to burst the bubble of these young people but Butterfield’s story is absolutely the way things happen when someone repents of their sin and comes to Christ. Now, I don’t mean everyone will get married to a pastor, have children and become a Christian author. But, every person who’s truly been converted will turn their back on their old way of life, hate their sin, cease to be identified by it and begin walking in the direction of Christ – whatever that looks like for them. But one thing is certain, what it doesn’t look like is standing outside university chapels with signs identifying yourself as someone who embraces both their sin and Christ. If that is your “story” then it can be valid only if Rosaria’s (and countless others) is not and vice versa.

When I started to write this, my thought was these students simply don’t understand the gospel. And for some of them that may be true. For those in that category, I pray their eyes will be opened to the truth that no matter their sin, Christ stands ready to forgive and transform them if they will repent and trust Him.

But, I think it goes deeper than that for others. Rosaria Champagne-Butterfield is a tribute to the depth of God’s grace and mercy. She has been dramatically transformed by the Spirit of God. She has by the power of the Holy Spirit turned her back on a life-dominating sin and moved from being a hell-bound sinner to a heaven-bound saint. Those who would demonstrate against such a thing don’t just misunderstand the gospel, they hate the gospel. These are the kind of people who, standing outside Lazarus’ tomb and seeing his rotting flesh restored and his dead body returned to life, worried about the impact it would have on their personal agenda rather than rejoicing at the mighty work of God in their midst.

These students should be ashamed.  The solution is not, as they suggest, a “conversation” – the refuge of all postmodern haters of truth – but repentance. They should fall on their face before the Lord Whose workmanship they have denigrated and seek His forgiveness for treating a display of His grace as an occasion to further their personal agendas.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23