Christian Living

The Consequences of Putting Second Things First

Author Tim Barnett Published on 11/15/2017

The Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) is catching some flak for inviting Ken Ham to keynote their annual convention. Ken Ham is the president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, which is a leading young-earth creationist ministry. Answers in Genesis also runs the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter in Kentucky.

My point in writing is not to weigh in on the validity of young-earth creationism. As far as I’m concerned, the Alberta homeschooling group should have the right to invite whomever they want. If homeschooling parents don’t like the speaker, they won’t attend.

What concerns me is something I read in the article reporting on the event. Specifically, the article says, “Calgarian Paul Ens says he walked away from his Christian faith after reading Ham’s creationist literature.” Moreover, he’s since started a YouTube channel dedicated to responding to young-earth creationists. On his channel, Paul says, “Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis made me an atheist.”

When I read this, I had to pause. I almost couldn’t believe it. This person actually walked away from his faith because of a rejection of young-earth creationism. This should sound odd to every Christian—young and old creationist alike.

First Things First

We need to keep first things first. There are essentials and there are non-essentials. For example, the physical resurrection of Jesus is essential to Christianity. There is no Christianity without the resurrection of Christ. The apostle Paul explicitly states, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Therefore, at the foundation of Christianity lies the physical resurrection of Jesus.

On the other hand, the age of the earth is non-essential to Christianity. This means that even if someone could demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the earth is billions of years old, it wouldn’t undermine Christianity. In fact, there are millions of Christians with a high view of Scripture who do not interpret Genesis 1 as creation occurring in six consecutive 24-hour days about 6000 years ago.

Again, I’m not wading into this debate either way. My point is this: denying a young earth does not entail denying the Christian faith.

Sadly, this gentleman got things in the wrong order. And it had serious consequences. He put second things first by placing young-earth creationism at the foundation of Christianity. As a result, when his interpretation of Genesis was allegedly refuted, he took this as a refutation of Christianity as a whole.

Genesis 1 can be faithfully interpreted in different ways. True, young-earth creationism is one way. But so is old-earth creationism. And if it turns out that we have good reasons to believe in an old earth, then that would do nothing to undermine the truth of Christianity. Christianity doesn’t stand or fall on a particular view of the age of the earth.

Contrary to this gentleman’s belief, evidence of dinosaurs existing 65-million-years ago doesn’t refute Christianity. In fact, such a belief is evidence that he doesn’t understand Christianity.

As Christians, we must remember that all beliefs are not equal. They do not carry equal weight. My belief in the existence of God is much weightier than my belief about end times. Whereas refuting the former disproves Christianity, refuting the latter only disproves my interpretation of end-times prophecy.

So what should this gentleman have done? If he doesn’t think young-earth creationism is true, then the rational response would be to look for a better interpretation that makes sense of God’s Word and God’s world. The irrational response would be to conclude that God does not exist. Yet, that’s exactly what he did.