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The case for youth

Books | Authors make biblical and scientific arguments for a young earth

Issue: "Rocks in their heads?," Sept. 11, 2010

As our cover story suggests, Christian colleges should invite young-earth creationists to participate in debates and discussions. Some of their books are also worth reviewing and pondering. Coming to Grips with Genesis, edited by Terry Mortenson and Thane Ury (Master Books, 2008), makes a strong case for reading chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis as they usually were read before evangelicals began worrying about respectability among secularists. Scholarly essays examine the genre of early Genesis, critique framework interpretations and concepts of "deep time," examine views of the earth's age that Jesus and the apostles held, and look at the Flood and its geological implications.

Master Books has also published young-earth defenses at a popular level, such as Tom Vail's Grand Canyon: A Different View (2003). Vail's book has a story behind its story: Vail in 1982 quit his job managing a corporate data center for a Fortune 500 company and "turned in my 3-piece suit for a pair of flip flops." For the next 15 years he worked as a Grand Canyon river guide and taught the conventional story about the canyon's formation, but when he became a follower of Christ he started seeing the rocks through new eyes. Conventional scientists in 2003 tried to ban Grand Canyon from Grand Canyon bookstores. It remains for sale in them.

Also useful from Master Books are John Morris' The Young Earth (revised edition, 2007) and Jason Lisle's Taking Back Astronomy (2009). Robert Bowie Johnson Jr. critiques the National Academy of Science's anti-creation bias in Sowing Atheism (Solving Light Books, 2008) and has a provocative video, The Serpent's Side of Eden.

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Answers in Genesis has some subject-by-subject slim volumes with titles like Astronomy, Dinosaurs, Fossils, and Millions of Years. Three volumes of The New Answers Book edited by Ken Ham (Master Books, 2006-2009) offer young-earth replies (with cartoons sprinkled in) to scientific challenges such as radiometric dating and also answers schoolboy questions such as "How Could Noah Fit the Animals on the Ark and Care for Them?" Answers in Genesis also puts out a vast array of DVDs on geology as well as on "Distant Starlight," "Noah's Flood, and other creation-related subjects.

The other side

Daniel Harrell advocates deistic evolution in Nature's Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith (Abingdon, 2008). Christians for two millennia have contended that God's willingness to intervene in His creation is a sign of both His sovereignty and His love. Harrell audaciously argues the opposite: "Is shoddy work a sign of love? What kind of loving and intelligent designer would program his work to need constant repair?" Harrell turns everything upside down: "To acknowledge the Lord as the Maker of heaven and earth but then insist that he tweak what he's made to keep it on track, suggests that God as maker isn't as adept as we'd presume him to be." Supernatural action = ineptitude. Clever.

The Intelligent Design position-emphasize that the Designer had to be magnificent, don't argue about the number of days or years it took-is the new middle-of-the-road. IDers led by the Discovery Institute wanted an easy-to-understand guide to the Intelligent Design position and got one in William Dembski and Jonathan Witt's Intelligent Design Uncensored. They point out that increases in scientific knowledge over the 150 years since Darwin's On the Origin of Species make Darwinist materialism an even more inadequate theory than it was when first formulated, with "even one-celled organisms emerging as microminiaturized factories of unparalleled sophistication."

The Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Creation, by Mark Whorton and Hill Roberts (Holman, 2008) is a useful introduction to the contending positions. Although readers can probably infer from their analyses that they are old-earth creationists, they show respect for young-earth positions. In a concluding section they turn their intellectual guns on Darwinian materialism and argue that "Christians should not focus on what divides us but on what unites us."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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