DeVos and School Choice- The Good, the Bad, the Reality

So I’m hearing a whole lot of back and forth about our new Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, and whether or not she’s the savior of our education system or the nail in its coffin. As it turns out, the issue is a lot more complicated than partisan politics. Republicans tend to frame the argument in terms of a free market scenario in which competition breeds better choices. Devos said as much in an interview back in 2001. In the interview she and her husband are asked directly if they want to “destroy our public schools.” She responded, “No, we are for good education, and for having every child have an opportunity for good education…We both believe that competition and choices make everyone better and that ultimately if the system that prevails in the United States prevails today had more competition- there were more choices for people to make freely- that all of the schools would become better as a result.” The thing is, our education system isn’t exactly a free market scenario because- government funding. Democrats see government funded “school choice” as the death knell for public schools because public schools already struggle to perform with the funding that they have. What would they do if funds were to be diverted to private and charter schools? Good question. From the perspective of a parent, everyone wants to have the ability to provide their child with the best education possible and the fact of the matter is some public schools do NOT fit that bill. Where does the complication come in? Government funding. Essentially, this is an issue of privately funded school choice vs government funded school choice and the realities of each.

Let’s look at DeVos and school choice from the liberal perspective. The first thing that really stood out in my research is that the left absolutely HATE Betsy DeVos and the thought of her as Education Secretary. They do have one valid concern which is DeVos’ lack of experience. She has never overseen a public office and now she is over The Dept. of Education with nearly 5,000 employees. She has never worked at a school district, so her experience with education is limited to her perspective as a student and a parent. That being said, DeVos has never attended public school and her children haven’t either. Is this a big deal? According to education analyst Jay P. Greene from the University of Arkansas and Lisa Shell from the Reason Foundation, the Education Secretary really doesn’t have much to do regarding federal funds as they are already pre-committed through funding formulas that aren’t easy to tamper with. What DeVos CAN do is set a broad agenda and a tone, which is really what the left are up in arms about.

Agenda and tone- herein lies the rub. Betsy DeVos is a very outspoken Christian and as such is a proponent of making government funded religiously based school choices available to everyone. This is truly where the left shifts into complete freak out mode. You don’t need to spend much time listening to their point of view to realize that. Here’s a little sampling of their rhetoric:

      1. Gizmoto contributor Rae Paoletta says, “DeVos has repeatedly supported Republicans who have waged war against climate change and evidence-based education. Her family supports the notoriously anti-science evangelical group Focus on the Family, and other fundamentalist Christian organizations. Unsurprisingly, DeVos also supports vouchers that can carry taxpayer dollars to religious schools, which could be teaching creationism. In effect, taxpayers could be sending their children to school where evolution is regarded as—to quote Trump—’fake news’.”

      2. Quoted in the same article is Allie Sherman, a biology teacher from California, “DeVos may try to push some backwards anti-science curriculum, and that’s going to be tough for science teachers in places that already struggle with anti-science culture,” Sherman said. “But I think those of us who really understand and care about science are going to laugh at any attempt to tell us what to do in our classrooms.”

      3. In this Newsweek article entitled “Betsy DeVos is coming for Your Public Schools, two section headings read, “Christs Agent of Renewal” and “Advancing God’s Kingdom”. Dramatic much? The author goes on to use Devos’ quotes out of context to make a faux point.

      4. This article in Politico states, “The Devos family has a long history of supporting anti-gay causes — including donating hundreds of thousands to “Focus on the Family”, a conservative Christian organization that supports so-called conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation.

        -This example strikes me as a little Buzzfeed vs Chip and Joanna Gaines if you know what I mean.

I emphasize this point to bring to light a blatant irony. The left wants to determine what is taught at the institutions their tax dollars support. Hmm, what a novel idea! You might think the left would welcome school choice! An excellent opportunity for them to have control over what their children are exposed to. But no, they are opposed on the grounds that their tax dollars would support any institution with a curriculum they disagree with. Which, by the way, Christians have been doing for decades…

Let’s draw another mind boggling comparison. The left just supported a massive Women’s March in which women demanded that the government give them full autonomy over their bodies while also demanding federal funding for these autonomous decisions.

What is DeVos championing? The right to governmentally funded school choice with respect to the institution you send your child to be educated and that institution’s right to be privately run. Good grief, if DeVos was a Democrat they would have asked her speak in the time slot between Madonna and Ashley Judd at their march. Hello hypocrisy!! If you’re conservative this may leave you feeling a little uneasy- and it should. That’s your inner logic trying to get your attention.

So what does all this mean? Is school choice bad?? The answer is no. Let’s take a look at charter schools because the left tries to give them a bad name even though they are pretty much an innocent bystander in this whole debacle. This is the header from an actual anti charter school website:

Oh. The. Drama.

Ok, back to reality. Let’s look at how charter schools are similar to public schools:

      1. They take the same state mandated standardized tests

      2. They don’t charge tuition.

      3. Can’t discriminate by race, sex, or disability in their enrollment.

      4. Accountable to the city, state, county, or district that granted their charter.

Here’s how they are different:

      1. Varying leadership, or staff organization structure.

      2. They can be run and operated by a nonprofit Charter Management Organization.

      3. They can be run by private, for profit entities that also provide the school’s curriculum.

      4. They can have an educational philosophy which determines the curriculum and teacher training.

      5. They can hire teachers who are not part of a union and who aren’t credentialed. The latter is something you should DEFINITELY check into with the specific charter school you may be considering. California law requires all charter school teachers to be credentialed.

      6. Typically charter schools allow their teaching staff more leeway regarding their curriculum and teaching style.

How do charter schools stack up against public schools? Well, just like public schools, there are good ones and bad ones. According to this article at greatschools.org , “A 2012 study by the California Charter Schools Association found that charter schools tend to fall on two ends of the spectrum- high performing or low performing- rather than somewhere in the middle. The study shows positive effects are strongest at charter schools serving low-income students than there are high-performing traditional public schools serving low-income students.”

Now we come to the reality of where DeVos gets it WRONG. As a parent, I’m all for being able to choose the school I want to send my child to without having to shell out mega bucks I can’t afford to get them there. As a realist, I know there is always a give and take- you can’t have your cake and eat it to. This is exactly what DeVos is trying to do, and as much as I would love for it to be possible- it just isn’t. As Daren Jonescu puts it in his blog post on the subject, “What kind of ‘private options’ come at public expense? The short and obvious answer: the kind that meet with government approval.” What is the huge problem with our public education system now? The fact that the government has way too much control over it. DeVos’ answer to making private and charter schools affordable for the masses is a voucher system. This excerpt from a Brietbart article sums it up, “School vouchers are the transfer of taxpayer funds from a public school to a private or charter school. Grassroots constitutionalists know that school vouchers as a means to bring about “school choice” are associated with the greatest amount of regulation for the schools that agree to accept them. In some states with voucher systems, the schools that accept these vouchers, have been forced to use the same Common Core standards and have their students take the same Common Core-aligned tests as their counterparts in the public schools. This is done in the name of ‘accountability’ for use of public money. This situation, however, begs the question, “Why bother, then, to move a child from a public school to a private school?” Schools that want to be included on a state’s alternate school option list will have to conform to learning parameters dictated by the current government administration. This is what government intervention in our school system currently looks like:

And this:

‘Sorry, kid…that’s it.’

And this:

Is this what we want to turn our private and charter schools into?

Two things cause me to suspect that DeVos is in fact a part of the establishment “swamp” when it comes to education. The first is her backing of Common Core. Don’t be fooled by her recent claims that she isn’t a common core supporter. According to Michelle Malkin in this article for the Daily Caller DeVos is, “…a woman every last grassroots activist in Michigan knows was not just mouthing words of support for Common Core, but funding the main state non-profit organization that was pushing it on them.” American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins had this to say about DeVos’ denouncing of Common Core, “ Though, upon her nomination, DeVos quickly dismissed any notion that she has been supportive of Common Core, her statement that she calls for ‘high standards’ and ‘accountability’ are ‘sleight of hand’ words that describe the unpopular nationalized standards.” Indeed, DeVos supports what is effectively the “rebranded” version of Common Core. The second sign is the fact that DeVos’ has expressed the desire to implement the massive Every Student Succeeds Act (the just as boondoggledy successor of the boondoggle No Child Left Behind) Jane Robbins had this to say, “[ESSA] enshrines the progressive-education agenda of national standards, workforce development, competency-based education (the modern term for discredited outcome-based education), digital training, government preschool, and non-academic ‘social emotional learning.’” These are the chief factors that lead me to believe DeVos is what I would consider to be an establishment Republican when it comes to her push for government funded school choice.

What does that mean? When it comes to DeVos herself, she may truly want to make school choice (and religious school choice) a reality for those who currently cannot afford it- which is commendable. However, she is attempting to accomplish this by effectively maintaining or increasing the role of government in our already ailing education system. That may work out well for us now, while we have a pro-Christian Education Secretary and President of the US, but what about when we don’t? By taking private and charter school education under the wing of the federal government, DeVos opens the door for even these school options to be wrested from our control. Democrats and Establishment Republicans are two doors to the same room. Both want a larger government, they just disagree about how to run it.

So, sometimes being a realist really stinks. I mean, I can’t jump on the government funded school choice bandwagon, which at this point excludes me from being able to take advantage of a private or charter option that I would love to be able to provide for my kids. The optimist in me, however, sees this as an opportunity. An opportunity to fight for my children to receive the kind of education I want them to have- in public school. And if I’m fighting for my kids, then the underprivileged kids in my zip code benefit as well. I can do that by being an activist in the fight against governmental overreach in the public education system and lobbying to reform how our schools are run. Dale Rogers, a teacher in Michigan with 32 years experience who achieved National Board Certification for Career and Technical Education in 2007, wrote an article detailing how we need to revolutionize our education system that I think a lot of us can get behind. Here are some of the high points in his article entitled “Run Schools Like Businesses? Sure. Here’s How.”:

      1. Utilize the intern model used by the medical profession by having quality internships for new teachers.

      2. Redesigning a school calendar that recognizes the quality benefits of time for teachers to plan and evaluate student work.

      3. Develop techniques for education that aren’t built on a foundation of standardized curriculum developed by 10 elite men in the 1890’s.

      4. Not placing blame on the workforce (teachers) who are only responsible for 15% of the problems where the system designed by management (politicians) is responsible for 85% of the unintended consequences.

Rogers goes on to stress three important points that education reform currently overlooks:

      1. Quality goes down when ranking people.

      2. Cramming facts into students’ heads is not learning.

      3. People talk about getting rid of deadwood (bad teachers), but there are only two explanations of why the dead wood exists: A. You hired dead wood in the first place, or, B. you hired live wood, and then you killed it.

I’m definitely no education expert, but if our aim is reform, this seems like an excellent place to start.

What in the World Happened Between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?

What in the world happened between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2? Well, that’s the million dollar question. Arguments about this very question create a rift among some Christians in many cases, sadly too severe to bridge. Let’s talk about the three schools of thought: Gap Theory, Day Age Theory, and Young Earth Creationism. Now of course, among these three are several variations of beliefs; since I’m not trying to write a book here, we’ll be general. Disclaimer before we begin: I do have a very strong view on this particular topic which will be totally obvious, but for me this causes no rift between myself and those who hold to different opinions- I’m more of a “agree to disagree and move on” kind of girl.

First we’ll talk about Gap Theory. To be fair, I will use the same source for my definition of each theory- wikipedia. Wikipedia defines Gap Theory as the form of old earth creationism that posits the the six- yom (yom is the Hebrew word for day) creation period, as described in the book of Genesis, involved six literal 24 hour days (light being “day” and dark “night” as God specified), but that there was a gap of time between two distinct creations in the first and second verses of Genesis, which the theory states explains many scientific observations, including the age of the earth. This view holds that God created a fully functional earth with all animals, including the dinosaurs and other creatures we know only from the fossil record. Then, “something” happened to destroy the earth completely (some say the fall of Satan to earth) so that the planet became without form and void. At this point, God started all over again, recreating the earth in its paradise form as further described in Genesis.

The first question that comes to my mind is: why would we need to re- interpret these verses to mean anything other than what they literally seem to mean in the first place? Well, Gap Theory became popular near the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th century because of the then, newly established science of geology which had declared that, based on their findings, the only interpretation of the evidence pointed to an old earth- a very old earth. This meant that the earth was far older than the common interpretations of Genesis and the Bible-based flood theology allowed. So, some theologians of that time, in an effort to reconcile the Bible to the authority of science, introduced Gap Theory as a compromise so that the two could not contradict each other. Take this very telling quote from the Scofield Study Bible regarding why the gap theory is necessary, “Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with Genesis cosmogony remains.” The theory was popularized in 1814 by Thomas Chalmers, who was a very well respected professor of theology in Scotland. The theory really picked up steam when this “second creative act” (recreation of a previously existing destroyed earth) was discussed prominently in the reference notes for Genesis in the influential 1917 Scofield Reference Bible. In 1954, the evangelical theologian Bernard Ramm wrote in his book The Christian View of Science and Scripture, “The gap theory has become the standard interpretation throughout hyper-othodoxy, appearing in an endless stream of books, booklets, Bible studies, and periodical articles. In fact, it has become so sacrosanct with some that to question it is equivalent to tampering with Sacred Scripture or to manifest modernistic leanings.”

So we have the “why” of the compromise, now let’s discuss the “how”? How in the world did these theologians build a Biblical case for the Gap Theory? The arguments for Gap Theory revolve around compromises regarding the translation of Hebrew words such as: bara (to create vs creating), asah (making vs made over), hayetha (was vs became), and tohu wabohu (empty and formless vs something once in a state of repair, but now ruined). For an in depth explanation of these arguments along with rebuttals you can visit: http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=575 To sum it up succinctly, I’ll submit this information: In 1948, M. Henkel, a graduate student at the Winona Lake School of Theology, wrote a master’s thesis on “Fundamental Christianity and Evolution.” During the course of his research, he polled 20 leading Hebrew scholars in the United States, and asked each of them if there were any exegetical (a fancy word that means interpretation of religious text) evidence that would allow for a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. They unanimously replied- No! (Henkel, 1950, p. 49, n. 30) Of course, there is still the glaring issue which is that the Gap Theory creates a gigantic theological problem regarding Romans 5:12 where it is made clear that death entered the world through sin and sin through Adam. Gap theory requires an entire primitive creation where death was rampant before the introduction of sin through Adam. Any effort to remedy this problem can only be addressed with non-Biblically supported speculation (from what I’ve seen).

On to the second argument- Day Age Theory. According to wikipedia, this theory holds that the six days referred to in the Genesis account of creation are not ordinary 24 hour days, but are much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years). In this way the Genesis account is reconciled with the scientifically accepted age of the earth. The arguments for this theory revolve around the meaning of the Hebrew word “yom”. Proponents of this theory point out that “yom” can have a number of meanings: 24 hour period, long age, etc. They often cite Psalm 90:4 and II Peter 3:8. To apply these verses as evidence would be out of context however, as both verses are clearly using simile to show that God is not constrained by the same time parameters as humans are. Back to “yom”, here is the breakdown:

      1. “yom” occurs 2,282 times outside of Genesis 1. It occurs 359 times with a number outside Genesis 1. In all 359 cases, the context clearly shows that a 24 hour day is being referenced.

      2. “yom” occurs 19 times outside of Genesis 1, together with the word “morning” or “evening”. In all 19 cases, a 24 hour day is clearly intended. The words “morning” and “evening” occur together, without “day” 38 times outside of Genesis 1. Each of these occurrences refers to a 24 hour day.

      3. “yom” occurs with the word “night” 53 times outside of Genesis 1. Each of these occurrences refers to a 24 hour day.

I love this quote from an article in Creation Day regarding this issue: “Given this immense contextual evidence, one is tempted to ask somewhat flippantly, ‘What could God have done to emphasize that the days of Genesis 1 are literal 24 hour days?’ Might I suggest that He could have used the Hebrew “yom” together with numbers, morning, evening or night? And that is exactly what He did!”

Here we are at the third, and my (obviously at this point) preferred argument- Young Earth Creationism. Wikipedia defines this theory as the view that the Universe, Earth and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of God less than 10,000 years ago. Its primary adherents are those Christians who subscribe to a literal interpretation of the creation narrative in the Genesis and believe that God created the Earth in six 24 hour literal days. Now that sounds fair enough, right? Pretty unbiased definition in line with the definitions of the other theories, right? IF wikipedia stopped there, but it doesn’t. Wikipedia continues with this jewel: “Since the mid-20th century, young earth creationists- starting with Henry Morris (1918-2006)- have devised and promoted a pseudoscientific explanation called “creation science” as a basis for a religious belief in a supernatural, geologically recent creation. Evidence from numerous scientific disciplines contradicts YEC, showing the age of the universe as 13.8 billion years, the formation of the earth as at least 4.5 billion years ago, and the first appearance of life on Earth as occurring at least 3.5 billion years ago…Young Earth creationism directly contradicts the scientific consensus of the scientific community…As such, young Earth creationism is dismissed by the academic and scientific communities.” Wow! Somebody REALLY does not like creation science! The bias is so extreme and so transparent as to be comical. Why does Young Earth creation science garner such hatred you might ask. Therein lies the transparency of the bias- TIME. It all comes down to time. The other Christian theories compromise by giving the scientific community what it wants and NEEDS in order for their theories (most importantly the theory of evolution) to prove true- time- billions of years of it. Without billions of years, the evolution narrative explodes in a gigantic “Big Bang”, so to speak. This is why the scientific community is willing to overlook obvious major issues with their dating systems and a plethora of other issues- because these flawed systems( proven to be flawed, not speculated to be flawed) provide them with the time necessary for their darling theory of evolution to work. This is why the bias of atheistic, secular science cannot be ignored. This is why they ignore evidence of a young earth and black ball the scientists brave enough to be whistleblowers. After all, without evolution- they might be forced to take a serious look at the Bible.

Here I would like to insert a poll conducted by Harris Interactive in 2009 that demonstrates just how confused we are as Christians when it comes to the Bible and the “infallible” science we’re taught in school. This poll found that 39% of Americans agreed with the statement that “God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals and the first two people within the past 10,000 years”, yet only 18% of the Americans polled agreed with the statement “The earth is less than 10,000 years old.” Wait, what?? It’s literally almost like we completely separate our Biblical beliefs from our scientific beliefs into two separate, non related boxes. This is not logical. Atheists/agnostics see that this is not logical. Ergo, atheists and agnostics think we’re crazy.

So, are Young Earth creationists loonies with no evidence? Far from it. There is literally SO. MUCH. EVIDENCE. I’m going to list just a few points, but at the bottom of the page I’ll post links to tons of evidence that you can study in depth if you’re interested. I won’t even broach the topic of the flawed dating systems that form the foundation for the billions of years interpretation because that will be a whole blog post to itself, so we’ll just stick with some other compelling arguments.

      1. Population statistics: One of the strongest arguments for a young Earth comes from the field of population kinetics. If evolutionary figures were entered into this formula, with man having lived on the Earth only 1 million years (some evolutionists suggest that man, in one form or another, has been on Earth 2-3 million years), there would be an Earth population of 1 x 105000. That number would be a 1 followed by 5,000 zeros. Using creationist figures, however, the current world population would be approximately 4.34 billion people. Which theory seems to be on target?

      2. Decay of the Earth’s Magnetic Field: It is now known that the Earth’s magnetic field is decaying faster than any other worldwide geophysical phenomenon. Knowledgeable scientists do not debate the fact of the rapid decrease in the Earth’s magnetic field. A comprehensive government report estimated, in fact, that the magnetic field would be gone by the year A.D. 3991. (I guess they’re going to address this as soon as we get climate change under control) Using complex mathematical equations to try to calculate backwards (employing a known value for the half-life decay rate of the field) presents a very serious problem in the time needed by evolutionists. The problem is that going backward for more than just a few thousand years produces an impossibly large value in the magnetic field, and of the electrically generated heat stored in the Earth’s core. In fact, Thomas G. Barnes, late professor emeritus of physics at the University of Texas at El Paso, calculated the upper limit of this time span to be 10,000 years. Going back any further than this, Barnes concluded, would cause the field to be at such huge values that the Earth could not sustain itself and would rupture and crack.

      3. Polystrate Fossils: To the “man on the street,” one of the most impressive arguments for an ancient Earth is the testimony of sedimentary-rock layers (many of which are thousands of feet thick) strewn around the planet. Scientists (and park rangers) subject us to examples like the Grand Canyon and present their spiel so effectively that—as we observe layer after layer of sedimentary rocks piled one on top of another—the only explanation seems to be that vast amounts of geologic time must have been involved. Each division of the rocks, we are told, represents a time long ago and an ancient world that long since has ceased to exist. Embedded in sedimentary rocks all over the globe are what are known as “polystrate” fossils. Polystrate means “many layers,” and refers to fossils that cut through at least two sedimentary-rock layers. Probably the most widely recognized of the polystrate fossils are tree trunks that extend vertically through two, three, or more sections of rock that supposedly were laid down in epochs covering millions of years. Thus, the entire length of these tree trunks must have been preserved quite quickly, which suggests, then, that the sedimentary layers surrounding them must have been deposited rapidly—possibly (and even likely) during a single catastrophe. As Paul Ackerman has suggested: “They constitute a sort of frozen time clock from the past, indicating that terrible things occurred—not over millions of years but very quickly” (1986, p. 84; see also Morris, 1994, pp. 100-102; Wilson, 1997, 1:37-38). Furthermore, tree trunks are not the only representatives of polystrate fossils. N.A. Rupke was the scientist who first coined the term “polystrate fossils.” After citing numerous examples of such fossils (1973, pp. 152-157), he wrote: “Nowadays, most geologists uphold a uniform process of sedimentation during the earth’s history; but their views are contradicted by plain facts” (p. 157, emp. added).

What it all comes down to in my opinion, is an argument between secular society and Bible believers in which the secular science community has duped Christians into believing that science is infallible (though interestingly and demonstrably ever changing). Christians, in an effort to not appear stupid to secular society, have created elaborate theories for the purpose of compromise by performing olympic level gymnastics in Bible interpretation. I’ll leave you with this quote by Marshall and Sandra Hall in their book, The Truth: God or Evolution?, “It is not easy to overthrow a belief, however absurd and harmful it may be, which your civilization has promulgated as the scientific truth for the better part of a century…Time, as poets and insurance salesmen remind us, is the enemy of life. But time has its friends, too. Without great, incomprehensible, immeasurable stretches of time to fall back on, the evolutionists would be sitting ducks for the barbed queries of even high school students. Time is the evolutionists’ refuge from the slings and arrows of logic, scientific evidence, common sense, and the multiplication table…. The proven uncertainties about scientific dating are a well-kept secret. The average person reading his newspaper or magazine gets the clear impression that dating is a science as exact as the addition of fractions…. Since no one can envision ten thousand years—much less a half-million or a million years—“scientists” can hide behind the two thousand millions of years that they say evolution took, and they can hide there in relative safety. They think.” (1974, pp. 74,69,71,75, emp. in orig.)

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_creationism

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c003.html

http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=575

http://www.icr.org/article/meaning-day-genesis/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-age_creationism

http://creationtoday.org/the-hebrew-yom-taking-one-day-at-a-time/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism

https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=308

Following are a list of links to check out if you are interested in further study:

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/genesis/index.html

https://answersingenesis.org/

http://apologeticspress.org/

Young Earth vs. Old Earth: Does it even matter?

Creation science v/s secular science. There was a battle, but we’re all too young to remember it. Does the age of the earth even matter? To some people it really doesn’t. For a long time I was one of those people. I mean, nobody’s eternal salvation hangs on whether or not they believe the earth is billions of years old or somewhere in the neighborhood of 6000ish. Personally, I’ve always loved science. It was my favorite subject in school and I believed everything that was presented to me as the ONLY correct interpretation of evidence and beyond reproach. Did that erode my faith in the Bible? Um…no- because I always believed that God created everything. He could have done so through the Big Bang and evolution as far as I was concerned. Viola’- no contradiction. If this describes how you feel about the issue, I totally get it. My goal here is not to necessarily change your mind, but to expand your understanding of the issues so that when you hear someone say they believe in a young earth your first response isn’t a massive eye roll followed by an immediate nosedive in your estimation of said person’s intelligence. As I have come to understand, the evidence for a young earth is extremely compelling- not just from a Biblical standpoint, but from a scientific standpoint as well.

So what caused my views to make an about face? Well, it wasn’t MY inquiring scientific mind. I didn’t change my mind until I was pushed into research by someone much more intelligent and much more “sciency” than I will ever be- my oldest son Kane. It all started with dinosaurs. From the time Kane was 18 months old he could identify, and clearly and correctly pronounce an astonishing number of dinosaurs. We’re not talking T-rex and Triceratops here…more like: Parasauralophus, Ornitholestes, Lambeosaurus, Giganotosaurus…As he got older, he could tell you anything you wanted to know about any dinosaur- what it ate, its size, what period it lived in (Cretaceous, Jurassic, etc.), even its scientific name. By the time he was in the first grade Kane was sure that he was going to be a Paleontologist and was asking me to research what colleges he could attend to follow that career path. Seriously. Here is an example of a “free time doodle” he made in the 3rd grade when he finished a test and was allowed to draw on the back. 

Don’t know what “arthroplura” is? Neither did I. When I asked, he responded with a sigh that it was “an extinct genus of millipede that lived in the Carboniferous period, but I think I misspelled it- I think it should have an “e” in there.” I looked it up. He was right. Right about everything- even the “e”. It should be spelled arthropleura.

By now you’re thinking, “I get it- your kid is really smart. What does this have to do with the Bible, science, and young earth?” Questions. Constant questions. That is what it has to do with the Bible, science, and young earth. Questions that I could not answer without creating new questions in his little mind. Questions about Genesis, the creation story, Adam and Eve, sin, Noah’s Ark and how these events correspond to the geologic time scale, origin of species, fossils, on and on andonandonandonandon… Let me tell you, my worn out response of “God could have done it that way if He wanted” was NOT cutting it! In his amazing little mind, he wanted (needed) to believe in both the Bible and science. Science is verifiable fact, right? The Bible is the inspired Word of our all sovereign Creator, God, right? They SHOULD corroborate each other! That didn’t seem to be happening. Even though he never said it out loud, I could see it all over his little face- he could see the “proof” science displayed, so Genesis must not be historically accurate. Well, what logically follows that assumption? If Genesis isn’t historically accurate, how can anyone claim that the rest of the Bible is? Here is the ultimate question that should give you pause and prompt you to look into the validity of the evidence for a young earth:

If sin entered the earth through Adam, and death through sin (Romans 5:12), where in the world does this scientifically documented prehistoric era in which death runs rampant fit in?

The point I am making is that you (like the old me) may not need to connect these particular dots, but for so many others out there this is literally the difference between believing and not believing. Needless to say I embarked on my mission of leaving no stone unturned to provide Kane’s answers. That’s when I stumbled upon the Answers in Genesis site and books by Ken Ham. Ken Ham and his team of scientists do a fabulous job of presenting the shockingly compelling case for a young earth. The evidence is compelling on its own merit and shocking because we are literally never made aware that such evidence exists! I feel like I should clarify before I go on, that all creation scientists do not agree on all issues across the board (of course!) For example, Ham uses a chronological Biblical timeline introduced by Archbishop James Ussher circa the year 1650. While it was cutting edge in its day, we are now privy to information that allows us to make some much needed changes in this chronology that result in a much more logical alignment with secular history. But, that’s a whole separate blog post- stay tuned.

Getting down to the brass tacks of this young earth vs old earth argument we come to a central truth: we must consider and weigh our sources. Secular scientists would have us discount some interpretations derived by scientists who believe in God on the basis of an inherent “Bible bias”. These same scientists would claim to operate under no bias, when in fact the opposite is true. Atheism creates at minimum the same amount of bias in interpretation on the opposite swing of the pendulum. These scientists can and have thrown out sound theory simply because it would corroborate the Bible. Zero bias doesn’t care what the religious implications of a sound theory may be, and this is NOT what secular scientists practice. A fabulous argument can be made that atheism in itself IS its own religion.

So where has that left us? The fact of the matter is that scientists who are atheist or agnostic outnumber scientists who do believe in God. Another fact is that our society sees science with a Biblical bias to be unacceptable, while secular or atheistic scientific findings are revered- even when they are logically deficient in their explanations. For example, secular science makes no disclosure of the horrific inadequacies of the relied upon dating systems that are foundational to the old earth narrative. (Another future post)These factors have had catastrophic effects on our education system. Prior to the Scopes Trial in 1925, students were given both sides of the scientific argument. (The Scopes Trial, that centered primarily around evolution, is an incredible story-by the way-and a whole separate forthcoming post) Post Scopes decision education looks entirely different. Secular science was declared the winner (by means of now debunked evidence and people not qualified to make the declaration) and creation science was relegated to quackery status. The brilliant scientists in the field of creation science and the scientists in all fields who are led by their belief in God and who ascribe to the Biblical account of creation are definitely not quacks. Check out the credentials of this list of current scientists who cast their lot in for a young earth: http://creation.com/creation-scientists. If you are a young earth creationist, rest assured you are in good company. SO, back to my original question- young earth vs old earth, does it even matter? That can be answered in a couple of ways. As it relates to your individual eternal salvation- no. But if you are are a scientifically oriented individual or have an opportunity to discuss creation science with a scientifically minded atheist or agnostic- it may be the difference between belief and unbelief.

In closing, I would like to encourage anyone who has an interest to investigate the amazing findings of creation scientists and the more than possibility,but probability, of a young earth. Prior to delving into this arena for the sake of my son, I had absolutely no idea of the excitement and awe that the findings of these brilliant scientists would incite. As so often happens with our children, I have found that Kane has taught me a more important lesson than I taught him. Kane has been the instigator for my discovery of an entirely new level of faith in , appreciation for, and sheer amazement of the God we serve.