A recent article in GSA Today, titled “The Evolution of Creationism“, is just one more of a multitude of biased and deceptive articles mocking and misinterpreting what God’s word and His works say about Earth history. Claiming to be the lead “Science Article” for the November 2012 issue, this should be your first clue that author David R. Montgomery and GSA’s editors are unwisely mingling scientific things with historic things. You see, researching Earth history, including Noah’s Flood, is not a scientific endeavor, but a historic one. The study of the unobservable past is called “history”, not “science”.
Natural history research is not the same thing as scientific research
Anyone, creationist or otherwise, who attempts to interpret unobserved past events is doing history research. Montgomery’s article is no “Science Article”, as the GSA Today publication proclaims, it is a history article, and a dogmatic one at that. It is pointless to write a “science article” against creationism, which is an interpretation of the past, and then bash creationism as “unscientific”. Creationists, but even moreso university professors like Dr. Montgomery, need to better discern between natural history endeavors and scientific ones.
The abstract to Dr. Montgomery’s article claims 21st Century creationists have “abandoned faith in reason and cast off a long-standing theological tradition that rocks don’t lie.” Words cannot describe the amazing untruth of this statement. The truth however, is that the author includes a paltry list of references, and the most recent one by a creationist author is from 1961! So Dr. Montgomery is either deliberately ignoring, or is honestly ignorant of, the revolution of creationism since Whitcomb and Morris’ 1961 book, The Genesis Flood.
God’s word calls Christians to “reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), so our goal is to consider both faith and reason. What many Christians have not “abandoned faith in” is Scripture as both a true and reasonable historical account, and this is evident in Christian churches, private schools, and home schools across America and around the world. Neither have we abandoned faith in man’s ability to unlock mysteries of past events. And we haven’t abandoned faith in even the most dogmatic suppressors of Truth, that they might repent and be baptized, for the promise of salvation is for as many as the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:38-39).
Everybody has an interpretive framework about the past
Earth history is always interpreted within a framework. In Dr. Montgomery’s article, he claims that it is only creationists who “evaluate facts by how well they fit their theories”. This statement does nothing to improve discernment between scientific and historic endeavors, and adds confusion regarding the word “theory”. Plate tectonics, for example, is a theory that can be tested. Is there evidence that crustal plates exist and that they are moving at observable rates? Yes. Is it reasonable to assume the present rates are about the same as rates in the past? Yes. But is it also reasonable to assume that present rates are not anywhere near the same as they were in the past? Yes! Could we also reasonably assume that something entirely different, like vertical tectonics, occurred in the past, and that the current plate movements are just a “settling in” of past movements? Yes, we can do that, too! So now we have one scientific theory, plate tectonics, but multiple interpretations regarding how it may or may not have worked in the past.
Dr. Montgomery’s article mentioned plate tectonics, but he only described one use of it (present is key to past) for interpreting the past. Why didn’t he discuss the other two, the creationist models of Catastrophic Plate Tectonics and Vertical Tectonics? Well, because these don’t fit his interpretive framework, so he ignores them and in so doing suppresses the truth about them.
The truth is, all natural historians evaluate facts by how well they fit their interpretive framework. A young-earth creationist sees a new paper on radiometric age dates proclaiming millions of years, and assumes some sort of error has been made. Likewise, someone who believes the earth is older will reject a radiometric age if it doesn’t fit well in their framework.
Creationist research journals are more open-minded
In the 21st Century, there are many creationist organizations, as well as peer-reviewed research publications, including the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Answers Research Journal, Acts and Facts, and Journal of Creation. A quick look at the references of just about any research paper in these journals will reveal a diverse mix of both creationist and non-creationist writings.
If Dr. Montgomery had bothered to practice the diversity that the GSA claims to preach, he would have known immediately the modern revolution of creationism also believes “the rocks don’t lie”. The truth is that nobody, creationist or otherwise, believes the rocks are lying. That’s absurd. Every rock has a story, but knowing with 100% certainty what the true story is is impossible. So we end up with different interpretations, because there are different frameworks with which we interpret the past.
Another false claim made by Dr. Montgomery’s article is his belief that creationists see “geology as a threat to their faith.” Of course, geology should not be a threat to anyone’s faith. The only threat is dogmatic scientists and educators like Dr. Montgomery, who ignore the evidence presented by creationists, and then act like creationists have “abandoned reason”. This is bad medicine for impressionable young Christians who go off to universities where men and women like Dr. Montgomery teach, trusting their professors’ words over God’s word and abandoning faith in Christ as savior. And that should be a warning to Christian parents to pick your children’s college carefully, and train them to be prepared to always give an answer for the hope that is in them (I Peter 3:15).
The gospel offends and threatens
Dr. Montgomery and other like-minded individuals see creationism, and more importantly, Christianity, as a threat to their own beliefs, so they suppress and ignore the truth (Romans 1:18). For them, it is not about having an open mind regarding interpreting past events. It is more about power, and having the power to control information and then deliver it to a large amount of people who trust their authority. Unfortunately, in Dr. Montgomery’s article at least, it seems GSA is abusing their power by controlling information, while stifling diversity of thought and religion.
Interestingly, dogmatic control of information reared its ugly head in the 1900’s when J. Harlan Bretz, a man who never claimed to be a creationist, published research on the Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington. He believed the scablands formed by catastrophic, post-glacial floods, yet it took 40 years for his ideas to gain wide acceptance. Why did it take so long? Well, mainly because geologists at the time feared that a catastrophic interpretation just might provide evidence for another catastrophic event, Noah’s Flood.
Today, most geologists are slightly more accepting of catastrophism than their 20th century counterparts, so the differences between creationists and others regarding Earth’s features really boils down to this: Are today’s crustal features a result of mostly high-energy, short-term events, or mostly low-energy, long-term events? There is evidence for both, but the former interpretation fits better within a biblical framework of earth history.
Creationism is not going away
There is evidence the earth is old, and evidence the earth is young. Always has been, always will be. The differences arise not because “science has proven” one over the other, but because of the nature of the problem at hand, which is that we simply cannot replicate unobservable past events. The young earth/old earth, creation/evolution controversy is not going away because ultimately, this is not a scientific debate, but a debate about how to interpret both Scripture and nature’s historic accounts. Because man is imperfect, our historic interpretations are imperfect. But this Christian, scientist, and natural historian believes that both Creation and Providence proclaim the earth is thousands, not billions of years old, and that it was created, from nothing, in 6 days.
Let’s pray that those who treat history like history will increase, and those who promote dogmatic and bigoted responses to these different interpretations will decrease, being transformed by the renewing of their minds in Christ (Romans 12:2).