Is teaching and proclaiming God’s creation of the universe and all life relevant for today? Is the biblical proclamation – “In the beginning, God created … ” a message that 21st century people need to hear; or should we have the same focus as the apostle Paul who said, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified“? (1 Cor 2.2)
Some Christians see an insistence on adhering to the traditional creation account – that God created in six – 24 hour days about 6,000 years ago – as unnecessarily divisive. But adherence to any Biblical account can be divisive. Some Christians don’t believe, for example, that the New Testament witness of the day to worship is on Sunday (Acts 20.7) and insist on keeping the Old Testament practice of meeting on the Sabbath (Saturday). That has been an issue divisive enough to form separate denominations over. So the question of divisiveness is beside the point. It does not address the question of relevance. Also, since the divisiveness issue is an in house question (the house of God I mean) that has already been well addressed I won’t spend time on it here.
Others say that for those who are lost, the account of creation is not a concern. They may have many concerns, but how the universe began is typically not one of them. I had that conversation with a pastor, who said of the many people he speaks to, creation is not an issue. And though not stated, the implication was that creationists spend too much time discussing things that are not of interest. Things such as evolution, the big bang, dinosaurs, the flood, the age of the earth, etc., etc. Perhaps he has a point. Perhaps at the point he speaks with people there is no interest in creation. But does that mean the issue is not there, lurking beneath the surface?
According to evangelist Ray Comfort 80-90% of people who make a profession of faith fall away from the faith. According to Ken Ham (whose ministry is putting the final touches on a full sized Noah’s ark for evangelistic purposes), of the youth who make a profession and become active in the faith before college, 60% have left the faith by the time they finish college, and only 20% who were churched as a teen are still active in the church at age 29. So what’s going on? Why do so many people – adults and youth alike – fall away from the faith after having made a profession of faith?
Ray Comfort points to the problem of modern evangelistic methods – typified in the four spiritual laws tract – the first law being “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” That is certainly true, but the problem he says, is that the modern evangelistic thrust ill-advisedly focuses on all the good things that you’ll experience and feel once you become a Christian, instead of, as Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16.33) and “‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15.20) The fix he says, is for the modern method of evangelism to use Jesus’ method – the “way of the master” as he calls it, as did preachers of old such as Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, George Whitfield and preach the law (as in the law of Moses) first to show them their sin and soften their hearts, and only then preach the saving message of grace.
That may help the retention rate, but that still does not address the issue. After all, having made a profession of faith, they are still living in a culture which denies God’s word, denies a 6 day creation, etc. So even if you use the proper evangelistic method, the underlying problem is still there. What’s the underlying problem? It’s the lie of the serpent that has deceived many – including some Christians along with most of the world: Hath God really said? (Gen 3.1) The underlying problem is an assault on the truth and relevance of God’s word, particularly around matters of creation and the beginnings of all things. The beginning of a thing is key because it is the origin of that concept or matter which defines it. Why is marriage between a single man and single woman? Because that’s how it was first created by God, and lest we forget, written and recorded for all eternity in his word. (Gen 2.21-25)
But how are young Christians (really any Christian) to stand under the assault of a culture who believes the lie, and denies everything God has said? We see the results of those succumbing to the lie all around us. The introduction of doubt or outright, blatant disbelief about the truth of God’s word has provided a fertile field for the lies of evolution, billions of years history, and as we see now, confusion about marriage and genders among other things. This has not affected just the unbelieving world. Since many are not grounded in Biblical truth, we now have even Christians (particularly young ones who don’t even know their Bible much – less believe it) standing for things like gay rights and abortion; and confused over whether animals or people are of greater value. Clearly, once a person starts down the road of doing “what seems right in their own eyes,” (Judg 17.6) it’s easy to be deceived into believing the lie and the many godless philosophies that go with it.
At the Root of the Rebellion
Fueling the underlying problem is the growing trend particularly among the secular, but also among Christians to disregard reality and substitute what you want it to be. This, in essence, is the philosophy of relativism, where there are no absolutes, everything is judged relative to what you believe and want it to be. And what you believe can be influenced by many things – including culture and personal preference. So in a relativistic world, your beliefs could be a hodgepodge of cultural beliefs, your personal preferences, and perhaps maybe even a few ideas you picked up in church.
Many people today, having summarily rejected God’s word along with His values, have taken their hodgepodge of beliefs and are skipping merrily down the road of relativism, and taking the absurdities it produces to new heights and new extremes without a second thought. We see such absurdities in all areas of life, though it’s most clearly and regularly seen in the moral realm. Take for example gender identity. People are claiming with a straight face that genders are not fixed, with the more extreme claiming there are no genders at all. Such are the type who want to destroy gender norms, claiming we’re free to choose whatever gender related behaviors we want. It’s also consistently seen on the LGBT front: from those who claim that marriage cannot be restricted to a man and a woman and rejoice in the recent misguided supreme court ruling allowing “gay marriage.” Such rejection of reality is not restricted to the moral confusion we see today.
We see the same types of arguments denying reality in the scientific realm. For example, scientists who claim what we believe to be reality, is not really reality, it’s a computer simulation. As such we’re really just programs running in a computer. What’s the problem with that? Look at the conclusions they draw if that’s true: there’s no luck, no chance and here’s the big one: no free will. What passes as the randomness needed for true free will is really “pseudo-free will.” Upon a little reflection you realize what he’s saying is, we’re free to do whatever we want, because 1) it’s not us doing it anyway, it’s the program running us, and thus we’re not responsible for anything we do, because we are only doing what we’re programmed to doh. And 2) it doesn’t matter, because this isn’t reality anyway – it’s just a computer program running somewhere. (Shades of Gnosticism.)
What do the denial of morality and denial of reality have in common? Answer: a denial of absolutes. And what is a denial of absolutes symptomatic of? Relativistic thinking. As Ken Ham put it:
If you do not have an absolute.
If there is no one who knows everything.
If you don’t have such a one, you can’t be sure about anything.
A rejection of absolutes is a tacit rejection of the creator. But why this rejection of absolutes, and by extension, God? That is summed up very nicely by author and RZIM apologist Andy Bannister:
The pattern is clear: A person rejects absolutes – absolute truth, absolute reality, etc. By doing so they’re free to make up their own reality – even if it isn’t true (which it won’t be since they’ve rejected the truth). And they feel smug in the knowledge that no one can tell them they’re wrong – or so they think. In reality what they’re really rejecting is the one who is the ground of all truth and all reality: the creator. What they’re really doing is trying to insulate themselves from the fact that it is only through God – the absolute truth and the absolute reality – that we can know what is true and real.
Now as the absolute truth and reality, what is the first thing God chose to reveal about himself for those who seek him? That would be, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The first thing God wants us to know about him is He created. Not just a few things, everything. Consider the futility of the creature trying to place himself in the place of God ( a sin the Bible calls idolatry). The creature cannot create anything from absolute nothing. Thus the creature will never be creator as God is creator. And to those who believe we’re living in a virtual world – even if that were true – a virtual creature could not create anything in the real world that provides the “hardware” the virtual world exists in. So even if we were virtual creatures as some scientists believe, the best such a virtual creature could do is to make believe they are the real God in a virtual world. A poor substitution, and still sin (idolatry) – because even in a virtual world – you’re pretending to be what you’re not: God. So interestingly enough, though we live in the real world, if we were to sin in a virtual world (like the Matrix) it would still be sin. Which is why the Bible states we can sin in the our mind – which can act as a virtual world. (See for example, Prov 24.9, Is 47.10, Matt 5.28)
But most will not argue with you the folly of idolatry. No one wants to admit to being an idolater – especially since most think an “idol” refers only to a material object. Thus most won’t recognize that the foolish relativism of today leads to what the Bible calls idolatry. So the real question before us is how is creation relevant to the task of bringing about the recognition of misplaced values and a denial of God’s truth? Put another way, how can we make the truth of God the creator relevant to those who do not recognize God, nor realize they have used faulty reasoning based on relativism to make their own god? Perhaps it’s not as difficult as you might think. First we need to prick their interest in the matter by pointing to the question behind Andy Bannister’s statement:
Who gets to make the decision of what’s right and wrong, what’s true and false?
The correct answer is of course the creator, God. But if the person you’re speaking with is espousing the ungodly moral beliefs of today, if God even comes to mind they will not acknowledge it. How then are they likely to respond to such a question? Based on their worldview, I think I know how people would answer (as I suppose you do too), but to confirm, I asked a few people. In my admittedly imprecise, brief survey, in answer to questions on who should decide what’s real and what’s moral, of those who identified as not believing in God, 100% said that people should decide what’s moral, with 80% saying “I” should decide what’s moral, the rest saying I and others. On a separate question on reality, among those not believing in God, again 100% said “people decide what reality is”, with 60% of that 100% saying “I” alone decide what reality is. The other 40% split who decides reality between the majority and myself; and scientists and myself (or “I”). So they said what you would expect – the only thing consistent with their world view which is people should determine those truths. No surprise there. This group has no concept of God, so no thoughts of God as creator, or revealer of truth, or final judge. Thus they have no idea (or as the bible puts it are in denial Rom 1.18-19) that they are headed for an eternity apart for God – because as Hosea says, “my people are destroyed for lack of Knowledge.” (Hos 4.6)
That’s not surprising. What is surprising is the number of people who view themselves as believers in God, yet think that they themselves or other people should be the ones who decides what’s moral. In my informal study, half the people who said they believed in God also said people should decide what’s moral – with 2/3 of that half saying they themselves should decide, while the other 1/3 said the majority should decide. Clearly they have imbibed deeply of the relativistic Kool Aid. Believers in God did better in regards to acknowledging who declared what reality is – the majority said God did; while only a small minority (17%) said “I” say what’s real.
So my informal survey lends credence to my statements about relativism – many including Christians and believers in God – have rejected the absolute truths of the Creator in order to embrace the relativism that allows them to setup their own view of the world; or put in other words have created an idol in their own image that allows them to follow the standards of the world.
Jesus said, the reason he came was to testify to the truth (John 18.37). Clearly one of the of the truths needed today is that there was and is a creator of the world. It was not the big bang. And the universe is not a simulation running in a computer. Science is based on the premise that the universe is understandable and knowable. That is evident in the pioneers of science – people like Copernicus, Kepler and Newton who believed the universe is understandable because it is a product of the rational mind of God who created it that way. And as the universe reflects God’s orderly mind, we, the creatures created in his image are to reflect his perfect morality. We, the creatures can either affirm the order clearly evident in God’s creation – or deny it and try to make up our own.
Addressing the Problem
So we’ve seen the problem. And we’ve seen what’s needed: God’s truth – all of it. Let’s return to my original question: Is the message of creation relevant, or do we need to merely preach the truth of Christ and him crucified? I think Ken Ham sums it up well in his book, Already Gone:
We’ve really been teaching only half of the truth – and the other half we gave up. We preach the gospel of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. We preach “trusting Jesus” and we preach about morality – but all the while, the attack on Genesis is raging, causing doubt, fueling unbelief, and undermining every single thing that we say.” (emphasis his)
If we’re preaching and teaching merely trusting Jesus without giving people a foundation for people to stand when the attacks come, we will continue to see the 80-90% of people professing faith fall away, having never had the Word pierce into the hard soil (Mark 4.15) of their relatisvistically closed minds and hearts. How do we begin to address this problem of a rejection of absolutes and the creator? We must be about the same business Jesus was. Jesus came to “testify to the truth.” So we must be prepared to both testify to the truth and defend it. But the proverbs warn us:
A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Prov 18:2 )
Thus we must find a way to get past all the opinions they like to air (which are various rephrasings of Satan’s lie – Hath God really said…) and help them to listen to the truth. Are we prepared to answer the questions that will inevitably arise? We’ll look at those in Part 2 of this article.
1. See Bodie Hodge, Are Biblical Creationists Divisive?, AIG, 3/25/2010 https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/young-earth/are-biblical-creationists-divisive/
or Jonathan Sarfati Just Preach the Gospel, CMI, July, 2013, http://creation.com/just-preach-gospel
2. Ray Comfort, Hell’s Best Kept Secret, http://www.wayofthemaster.com/hbks.shtml
3. Ken Ham & Britt Beemer Already Gone, Green Forest AR:Master Books, 2009, p23
4. Ken Ham, Already Gone, p25
5. On “Gender Fluid” see: Michael Brown, Why We Cannot Ignore the War Against Gender, The Stream, 3/25/2016, https://stream.org/cannot-ignore-war-gender/
6 On “Deconstruct Gender” and “Eradicate” it see Michael Brown, Boys Will Be Girls Will Be Boys, The Stream, 6/5/2016, https://stream.org/boys-will-girls-will-boys/
7. For a sampling of the rejoicing to the supreme court ruling legalizing “gay” marriage (and some counter replies) see here: http://rationalfaith.com/tweetlonger/hashtag-lovewins.htm
8. For example: Nick Balstrum.Prof of Philosophy, University. of Oxford claims we’re living in the computers of our descendants Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, episode, “Are We Living in the Matrix”, Documentary, 2015
9. According to Jurgen Schmidhuber, Director of the Swiss Artificial Intelligence Lab in Lugano, Switzerland:
“So if this universe can be computed by a short program, then by definition it cannot be random. It must be pseudorandom, just like pi, because truly random data is not compressible.”
Host Morgan Freeman comments:
“If Jurgen is right, then there’s no luck, no chance, no free will.”
Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, episode, “Are We Living in the Matrix”, Documentary, 2015
10. The Gnostic heresy holds to many corruptions of the truth, one of the main ones – there is a duality about nature – good and evil that reflects the true reality of the one true God who is separate from all and everything who is the “fullness”, and “lesser” gods in the evil world in which we live which is called the “emptiness.” Notice the commandeering and re-appropriation of the word “fullness” ( πλήρωμά ) which the apostle Paul uses to describe Christ in Col 2.9: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”
The duality expressed by those who believe we’re living in a virtual world is reminiscent of the duality expressed by Gnostics.
For more on the Gnostic heresy, see The Gnostic World View – A Brief Summary of Gnosticism http://gnosis.org/gnintro.htm
11. Ken Ham, The Relevance of Creation, Seminar message c. 1991
12. Ken Ham, Already Gone, p90
Image: Creation of Adam (portion)
By Michelangelo – [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Latest posts by Duane Caldwell (see all)
- Doubt the Bible? You Might be a Conspiracy Theorist - May 17, 2017
- UnMasking Mistakes in Memes of Evolution – Part 3: Codes and Complexity - May 1, 2017
- The Moral Argument – Revealer of Hypocrites - April 6, 2017