I recently attended an Answers in Genesis young-earth creationist (YEC) conference. Here is what I learned:
Well that pretty much sums it all up.
What did I really think of the conference?
First off, the speaker (who shall remain nameless) was a nice guy. He was a humble fellow who I truly believe only wanted to glorify the God of all creation. You ever met someone that you took an instant liking to? Well he was one of those kinds of guys. Since many cult members are also nice people, this is not a good indicator of anything except that they are nice people. The point is I wasn't sure what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised. Why was I surprised? Mostly because my web dealings with YEC's usually end up less than amiable. My fault as much as their's.
His presentations were very well done. Very professional. Loaded with cool graphics and video clips. Full of humor. Full of Scripture. He had the attendees eating out of the palm of his hand in no time. They walked away convinced - of course they were convinced before they came. Not a slam, just a statement of truth. I really was impressed with his persuasive abilities even though he and I disagree on many points.
Definitely the funniest moments for me came in his handling of the "Lucy" fossils. The Australopithecus fossils of Lucy were discovered in 1974. Scientists determined Lucy was bipedal even though the hip fossil did not appear bipedal. In AiG's view it is more chimp like. A video clip was shown of the scientist pondering the hip. He has an epiphany and in the next scene we see the dust flying as he takes an electric saw to the hip. Then he glues the little pieces back together into an amazingly humanlike hip. It was a hoot!
The reason the scientist cut up the hip was not adequately discussed and there was some misdirection. The scientists say the hip was broken after Lucy died. In the conference it was implied that the scientists believed the fracture healed after death. What the scientists say is the fracture in the bone became fused in the fossil. Not the same thing as healed. There is no actual bone in a fossil. The bone is replaced by minerals. Despite the smoke and mirrors the impact of the video was belly laugh funny.
Some of the major points made that I do agree with:
1. The debate is not over the evidence. A fossil is a fossil whether it is in the hands of an evolutionist or a creationist.
2. The debate is over the interpretation of the evidence.
3. All of us interpret through the focusing ring of our personal bias.
4. The entire fossil evidence of evolutionist's hominid development would fit in the back of a pickup truck.
5. The fossil record shows species suddenly appearing and remaining pretty much in stasis until they disappear from the record.
6. The evidence is the science.
7. The evolutionary tree in his words is science fiction. (On this point the evolutionist might prefer speculation. It is the assumed path of evolutionary ancestry but it only takes one fossil find to turn it upside down. It is a guess, maybe a really good one, but still a guess.)
8. The popular culture is constantly bombarding us with subtle and not so subtle evolutionary messages.
9. The heavens declare the glory of God.
10. The Bible is God's inspired word. When trying to understand the creation we should filter it through the lens of the Bible.
I want to expand on item 10. AiG maintains that we must never allow the world's explanations to cause us to filter the Bible. This sounds very Christian. The trouble is this is just what the Roman church thought when they censored Galileo. It is why many believed the world to be flat. God created the universe. He told Job to look to the creation to better understand Him. We are sinful and limited. When there is a conflict between our theology and our science, one or both must be incorrect. It is too easy to always say science is wrong. Just as it is too dangerous to throw out the Word because is disagrees with our current idea. When a conflict arises we need to re-examine the science and we need to be willing to go back to the Word and see if our tradition is really what the Bible says.
Some of the major points made that I disagree with:
1. The sun, moon, and stars were created on day four. ( Understanding Genesis Chapter 1 )
2. The fossils and geologic column are the result of Noah's flood. (see point 10 above and accompanying explanation)
3. Millions of years means evolution is true. (Millions of years still does not connect the branches on the evolutionary tree - it is still a guess)
4. There was no death before Adam. *
5. An old earth means man is not a sinner and therefore gets to make his own rules and is not subject to God's authority. *
6. God would never place the Garden of Eden on top of millions of years of pain, suffering, and death. *
* These issues have been adressed on the page, The Creation Evolution Controversy Part 2, in the Objections to this interpretation section titled, Doesn't this mean death was in the world before Adam sinned?
7. 86% of evangelical youth leave the church at age 18 and never come back. The reason according to AiG is that we don't teach young-earth creationism. ( Why are young people leaving the church? )
My final point of disagreement is on a personal note and not science related. During the conference Dr. James Dobson's ministry was discredited for promoting astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross to 'star staus'. Dr. Dobson and Dr. Ross are both dedicated Christian men whose ministries have touched countless lives. For AiG to single out these individuals and try to silence them because they don't believe exactly as AiG is just plain wrong. Shame on you AiG.
As a closing thought let me say I did get something else out of the conference. I found I need to work a little harder on Ephesians 4:26 " In your anger do not sin". YEC makes me crazy because for too many years it kept me from taking the Bible seriously. I have no intention of letting that happen to anyone else. Sometimes in my frustration and anger I cross the line and become judgmental. For that I am sorry. Young-earth or old-earth we are all capable of being and often are hypocrites. We are all often legalistic about something. Why is it that we are so willing to help add bricks to the walls separating us and yet so unwilling to help tear the walls down? Its not about us. Its about Jesus. What he has asked of those who love Him is that we reach out to the world with what we know and show them His love. Stop devouring one another!
Where there is blindness we will pray for sight,
Where there is darkness we will shine His light.
Where there is sadness we will bear their grief,
To the millions crying for release,
We will be His instruments of peace.