Dr. Jason Lisle cracked my young earth foundation

Young earth alternatives to the big bang

I started writing my sci-fi novel in 2009 believing that the earth is young. I never doubted the dimensions in the description of the universe I got from Alex Filippenko in his Introduction to Astronomy, but Jason Lisle’s DVD–Distant Starlight: Not a Problem for a Young Universe–had given me the impression that most astrophysicists just ignore any evidence that doesn’t fit a big bang scenario.  Three years ago when I listened to Dr. Lisle talking about Gravitational Time Dilation (GTD), Speed of Light Decay (CDK), and Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC), I  believed that he offered legitimate alternatives to Big Bang Cosmology.

Although I know much more about outer space now than I did the first time I heard Dr. Lisle, I’m still not prepared to critique the science of an astrophysicist.  (You can find that here, here, and here if you are interested.)  And besides, Dr. Lisle’s science is not what cracked the foundation of my young earth view.

After weeks of using the resources of Reasons To Believe, I again watched Distant Starlight: Not a Problem for a Young Universe.  I immediately realized that Dr. Lisle does not  present Old Earth Creationism honestly because he never examines the scripture that supports it.  After listening to podcasts and reading books and articles from RTB, this omission seemed glaring to me because, in contrast, all Reason To Believe scholars take every opportunity to openly engage the arguments, discuss the evidence, and examine the biblical interpretation of YEC.  As a result, I have actually learned more about the history and development of Young Earth Creationism through RTB than through YEC resources.

In Distant Starlight, Dr.Lisle builds a case against evolution and a godless big bang theory, but he dismisses out of hand any alternative biblical interpretation.  He talks extensively about the science (that many of us will never understand completely), but he takes no time to evaluate the case for an old earth made directly from the word of God (that every believer can understand with the light of God’s Spirit).

Dr. Lisle states “The big bang cannot be harmonized with the Bible.  It doesn’t work.  They are mutually incompatible.  You can’t make them mix.”  Thanks to Reasons To Believe, I know that statement is simply false.  I don’t understand all the scientific data, but I have no problem understanding RTB’s literal interpretation of the creation account that can harmonize the big bang with the Bible.  I see how it does work. I see how the two are completely compatible.  I see how the big bang and the Bible can be made to mix quite easily.

Does that prove that the big bang is true?  No, it doesn’t.  But God calls us to test all things and hold fast to the good (1Thessalonians 5:21), and He promises to generously give us wisdom whenever we ask (James 1:5,6).   Like the Bereans, those of us who love the Lord and want to obey all He says are obligated to search His word and allow the Spirit to lead us in all truth rather than to blindly accept the teaching of men.

It was not science that first caused me to doubt the Young Earth position.  It was the failure of Young Earth leaders like Jason Lisle and Ken Ham to honestly discuss the scriptural case for an Old Earth.  I still wonder why people who love the Lord, honor His word, and trust His Spirit refuse to encourage all creationists to search the scriptures together regardless of what they believe about the age of the earth.

Because I know the Lord blesses us whenever we seek Him in His word, that’s what I’m inviting you to do with me in Grammas’ Guide to the Universe.

Discovering Reasons To Believe

How the latest scientific discoveries reveal God

I’m not sure exactly when I first heard Hugh Ross explain his old earth view in a radio interview, but I vividly remember his humble attitude, his gentle appeal for unity in the body of Christ, and his powerful testimony of meeting God as he studied the heavens. After I listened to him describe the glorious dimensions of the universe,  I couldn’t think that God had allowed light to paint a deceptive portrait of the age of stars and galaxies for us.  I just couldn’t believe that God would make a very young universe appear to be very old.  So I invented a very faulty origins position that made me comfortable with the speed of light.

From the time I heard Dr. Ross’s testimony until I studied creation in 2009, I lived in a doctrinal limbo, content to believe that even if the universe might be very old, the earth could still be just a few thousand years old.  Somewhere during that period, I actually bought the book Dr. Ross talked about in the interview.  But the issue wasn’t pressing, and the second edition of The Creator and the Cosmos sat on my bookshelf unread for over fifteen years.

It wasn’t until March of 2011 when I started listening addictively to I Didn’t Know That and Straight Thinking that I realized how I had completely misjudged RTB’s position on evolution, which I had assumed was a necessary component of Old Earth Creationism. Since it was immediately evident that RTB holds a high view of scripture and rejects evolution, I listened intently to everything the scholars had to say in the podcasts.  I was far from ready to abandon the young earth view I had held for so long, but I added two more books by Hugh Ross to my collection.  This time I read both within a week.

The Genesis Question is a careful integration of biblical study with scientific discovery.  A Matter of Days provides an extensive examination of the age of the earth controversy.  I recommend both books to anyone interested in an exhaustive study of creation.  The Genesis Question has an appendix that lists 53 scientific discoveries that support a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11.  A Matter of Days has an appendix that lists every creation passage in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  (Two lists of creation scriptures can be found here and here on the RTB website, so you can easily pursue a creation study without buying either book. You will also find hundreds of publications and podcasts that explain scientific discoveries that support the Bible).

After reading those two books I acknowledged that the old earth position held by Reasons To Believe was thoroughly biblical, but I did not forsake my long-held belief.  Instead, I reviewed materials from Vision Forum and Answers in Genesis, hoping to find a convincing rebuttal of the RTB position. It’s rather ironic that the first serious crack in my young earth foundation came as I listened to Dr. Jason Lisle explain why distant starlight is not a problem for YEC. But that’s the next leg of my journey out of the Young Earth Creationism camp and the subject of my next post.