By Al Franklin
We believe in young earth creation because we believe in the authority of Scripture. Since the Bible is the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13), we are obligated to interpret it literally. The result is belief in young earth creationism.
Several years ago, I was introduced to Bob Bakker. Bob believes that dinosaurs were warm-blooded creatures that evolved into birds. When I was introduced to him as a pastor, he immediately began lecturing me that Genesis 1 should be interpreted according to Augustine’s nonliteral method. I interrupted him to explain that I did not agree with Augustine, because anytime an allegorical or nonliteral method of interpretation is used on Scripture, it changes God’s Word into man’s word. Then the Bible can be made to teach anything, everything, or nothing. Our conversation began and ended with hermeneutics.
The evidence found in creation is the same for everyone. The reason for such different (even opposite) conclusions is the result of presuppositions, which are in turn the result of belief systems. Science by definition is a process of observation and verification or falsification by repeated experimentation. The study of origins lies outside the realm of observation, so our conclusions are driven by our presuppositions.
I explain my presuppositions as follows: the supremacy of theology, the theology of geology (Rom. 1), and the geology of theology (2 Pet. 3).
The Supremacy of Theology
Soon after Darwin published his famous book On The Origin of Species in 1859, Dean John Burgon preached a sermon at Oxford on natural science and theological science. He said, “Scriptural Theology is the queen of all sciences because it systematically sets forth the person of God, and His creative, governmental, and redemptive plans and acts. As such it is foundational to all true ologies.”
Concerning origins Burgon said, “God is now speaking. . . . If God has spoken in language intelligible to man concerning these things . . . then His revelation must be foundational to any science related to them. Aye, but the rub is with that ‘if.’ Before natural man it rises as an impassible barrier. Faith alone scales that barrier and sets free the tongue to proclaim with confidence, ‘God hath spoken!’”
In 1943, Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote, “In each age, the science of its time has imposed its ever-shifting notions as to origin upon theology, and it has been the burden of theology in each age to rid itself of the ghosts of defunct philosophical and scientific opinions of a preceding age. . . . It is the conceit of man which contends that the divine account of the origin of things is true only so far as it conforms to the science of his own day.”
In my brief lifetime I have been taught many evolutionary “truths” that have already been discarded (e.g., vestigial organs, Piltdown man, evolution of the horse story). Chafer concluded his comments, “Often, indeed, must one turn to the Scripture which declares, ‘let God be true, but every man a liar’ (Romans 3:4). . . . The Bible discloses that which God would have man know. ‘Through faith we understand’ (Acts 11:3).” I agree with those foundational statements by Burgon and Chafer.
The Theology of Geology, Romans 1
Since we believe in the authority of Scripture and the supremacy of theology, we turn to Romans 1 to be instructed by God on the bent of fallen man’s mind. I select just the following to prove the bias of our presuppositions. God states, “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19–20).
God says that design demands a Designer, and the nature of the design speaks to the nature of the Designer. The evidence of the Creator is everywhere and in everything, from the microscopic to the telescopic. All human “ologies” merely scratch the surface of God’s self-evident omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Now watch what fallen man does!
In comprehension, natural man suppresses the truth (1:18).
Paul’s teaching on suppression finds shocking confirmation in the words of Darwinian geneticist Richard Lewontin, who wrote in the New York Review,
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
In observation, natural man distorts the truth (1:19–20).
Once again, note the words of Darwinists themselves. Biochemist Ernest Kahane wrote in Weltbild der Evolution, “It’s absurd and complete nonsense to believe that a living cell creates itself; but I believe it, as I can’t imagine it happening any other way.” And biochemist George Wald wrote in Scientific American, “One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are—as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.”
In conclusion, natural man rejects the truth (1:21–23).
Suppression and distortion lead invariably to rejection. Reflecting on Carl Sagan’s death, his widow, Ann Druyan, penned the following tragic words: “Contrary to the fantasies of the fundamentalists, there was no deathbed conversion, no last-minute refuge taken in a comforting vision of a heaven or an afterlife. . . . Carl was unflinching. As we looked deeply into each other’s eyes, it was with a shared conviction that our wondrous life together was ending forever.”
Similarly, the deadness of Darwin’s soul is palpable in his June 1868 letter to J. D. Hooker: “I’m glad you were at [Handel’s] Messiah, it is the one thing that I should like to hear again, but I daresay I should find my soul too dried up to appreciate it as in old days; and then I should feel very flat, for it is a horrid bore to feel as I constantly do, that I am a withered leaf for every subject except Science.”
One’s presuppositional beliefs will inevitably influence his interpretation of scientific “facts.” I find it unbelievable that so many believers believe the unbelief of unbelievers as the basis for their belief instead of believing the Bible, which they claim to believe.
The Geology of Theology, 2 Peter 3:1–10
Second Peter 3 discusses the future second coming of Jesus Christ to this earth. Mockers will scoff at such an interruption of natural law! “The present is the key to the past,” they insist. “Present processes working at present rates is all we see!” But Peter explains that God has intervened in the past, in Creation (v. 5) and in catastrophe (v. 6), and will intervene again in Christ’s return (vv. 1–4). To deny God’s intervention in Creation and the Flood requires a deliberate shutting of the eyes, a culpable Ignorance. Romans 1:20 and 2 Peter 3:5 teach that a rejection of the evidence of the Creator in Creation and the Flood is inexcusable.
Far from overturning the Biblical teaching on origins, the scientific data, when interpreted rightly, show that young earth creationism is reasonable.
Young earth creationism is reasonable according to biology.
There is no universally accepted definition of life, but we do know that life comes only from preexisting life and that like produces like. Furthermore, there is no simple form of life. Complex life is as simple as it gets. The DNA information storage system uses a four-letter–base alphabet that controls the building, maintaining, reproducing, and differentiating of the cell. This is absolutely astounding. As A. E. Wilder-Smith argues, matter plus energy plus time equals nothing at all, unless there is preexisting information present with its symbols, sequence, syntax, and semantics. This, in turn, requires intelligence and volition. The complexity of the DNA molecule cannot be reconciled with the Darwinian explanation of unguided, chance developments.
Young earth creationism is reasonable according to geology.
I have spent much time on one of my hobbies: finding, preparing, and displaying fossils. In the course of these pursuits, I have learned that there is a layer of sedimentary strata about one mile thick on the continents where most fossils are found. Examining that layer yields the following observations.
The deposition of fossiliferous strata
These strata were deposited by moving ocean water with a recognized current. These strata are regional and global. The same fossils I find in Shasta County, California, are also found in Japan, Madagascar, and other countries. This is consistent with the Bible’s depiction in Genesis 6—9 of a global flood.
The progression of fossiliferous strata
Evolutionists have divided the fossiliferous strata into three eras: Paleozoic (570–245 million years), Mesozoic (245–65 million years), and Cenozoic (65 million–present). Creationists recognize a general order to this progression, but we deny the multimillion-year timeframe. We recognize it as a progression of catastrophe, not a progression of uniformity. The fossiliferous strata is a progression of destruction, not a progression of construction. It is, as Andrew Snelling says, a “progression of destruction of ecosystems and all the creatures in them.”
The fossilization of fossiliferous strata
Fossils are common around the world, but fossilization is not common. There are trillions of fossils worldwide, but we do not observe fossils being formed presently in the sediments being laid down on earth today. If fossils are not being formed presently in the sediments being laid down on earth today, then the evolutionary explanation of deposition is incorrect. Deposition of fossiliferous strata is consistent with the catastrophe of Biblical geology, but it is contradictory to the uniformitarian worldview of evolutionary geology.
Now I apply all this to young earth creationism and the Genesis flood. Fossils began in abundance in what is called the Cambrian explosion. Geologist Andrew Snelling (a creationist) explains:
The fossil record begins in the Cambrian strata with the sudden appearance in the fossil record of all the different invertebrate phyla with their different body plans with no apparent evidence in the pre-Cambrian sedimentary strata of any ancestors to these animals. . . . The order in the fossil record does not represent the sequence of the evolutionary development of life.
It is also interesting to note that “the vast majority of fossils are those of shallow-water marine invertebrates.” Shelled creatures are by far the most common fossils worldwide. This, too, is consistent with the Genesis flood account. It is quite difficult, however, to reconcile the lack of continuous progression and the overrepresentation of marine invertebrates in the fossil record with the Darwinian account of life’s origin and development. At times, evolutionists have admitted as much:
- “Granted an evolutionary origin of the main groups of animals, and not an act of special creation, the absence of any record whatsoever of a single member of any of the phyla in the Precambrian rocks remains as inexplicable on orthodox grounds as it was to Darwin” (T. N. George, geologist).
- “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology” (Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist and biologist).
- “No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seems to happen. . . . Evolution cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution” (Niles Eldredge, paleontologist and biologist).
Not only does the fossil record fail to show the gradual progression Darwinism expects, it’s also highly questionable whether the fossils are anywhere near as old as mainstream scientists believe them to be. Andrew Snelling sent six samples of my fossils to the University of Toronto for analysis. Two fragments of fossil ammonite shells and four pieces of fossil wood were radiocarbon (14C) tested in the ISOTRACE facility. “Easily measurable radiocarbon (14C) equivalent to apparent 14C ages between 36,400 ± 350 and 48,710 ± 930 years for the ammonites and between 32,780 ± 230 and 42,390 ± 510 years for the wood” were found. Yet these samples came from lower cretaceous mudstone conventionally dated at 112–120 million years old!
Bible believers understand the fossils do not show how things lived over long periods of time, but rather how things died and were buried very quickly in the Flood. Sudden appearance in the fossil record is caused by sudden, catastrophic death! Evolutionists have taken this record of sudden, catastrophic death and twisted it into a long, slow record of life. The evidence of rapid burial and preservation is misconstrued to show slow change and progression. Out of the debris of the Flood, they attempt to construct a tree of life.
I think it is far better and more reasonable to trust God’s authority and submit my reasoning to Divine revelation. I will never stand before Darwin or any man for judgment, but before the Creator, Christ. If God has spoken, we must listen.
When we finish with our evidence, arguments, and debates, let’s step outside and be reminded of the creation. Before the brilliance and power of God, we are reduced to nothing. With David we cry, “What is man that You [even think] of him?” (Ps. 8:4). The wonder and marvel of creation is mind boggling. It is like a huge choir silently singing of God’s glory (Ps. 19:1–3).
Then we are reminded of the catastrophe. The brilliance and power of God in His judgment of sin is arresting. The fossils are silently screaming about God’s holiness and are warning us that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
Then we are reminded of the cross. God’s brilliance and power were displayed most clearly when Christ, the Creator Himself, stepped into His creation and accepted the judgment for sin on our behalf. The Son of God became the Son of Man to enable the sons of man to become the sons of God!
And finally, we are reminded of the Second Coming. The brilliance and power of God will be displayed yet again at the Rapture and then at Christ’s return to earth. First the shout (1 Thess. 4:16) and then the sound of voices like many waters and peals of thunder (Rev. 19:6)!
Why shouldn’t Regular Baptists believe in young earth creationism? We haven’t seen anything yet!
Al Franklin (MDiv, San Francisco Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary) was a pastor and amateur fossil collector. He pastored Grace Baptist Church of Redding, Calif., from 1975 to 2015. He went home to be with his Creator while this issue of the Baptist Bulletin was being prepared for publication.