Are young earth creationists actually leading people away from the Gospel? This is not necessarily the argument that made by Vance McAllister at the Euangelion blog, but he does bring up some very good points. In a blog well entitled “Creation v. Evolution: the danger of misplaced dogmatism,” Vance challenges readers to consider the debate from a more philosophical perspective. He writes:Â Â
I want to remove the stumbling block to the Gospel message that is being created by a dogmatic presentation of Creationism. Not the belief in a young earth and creation without evolution per se, but the â€œeither/orâ€ teaching that comes with it. I am not here to argue for an old earth or evolution, necessarily, but against the false dichotomy that so often comes along with Creationism. More and more people are being taught that an old earth/evolution and Christianity are wholly inconsistent and that if you believe one, you can not really believe the other. Such a blanket statement puts two very distinct groups in crisis and I am convinced that souls are being lost to the Kingdom as a result. This may sound a bit over-dramatic, but I have seen too many people distracted from the Gospel message by this issue.
I really don’t think it sounds over dramatic at all. In fact, for a long time I was one of these people. I can still remember the names and faces of those whom I have encountered in the past with whom this became the dividing issue. I would present the “Gospel ofÂ the Young Earth.” Sometimes I would not even get to Christ.Â Yes, I was a dogmatic young earther. Why? Because that is what all Christians are. You believe that Christ rose from the grave and your believe in a young earth. Well, if only I could redeem the time with those people.
Don’t get me wrong . . . I don’t have this issue figured out. In fact, I don’t talk about this issue much unless it is trying to help people (both young earthers and old earthers) see that it is not quite as cut-and-dry as people like to make it.
I agree with Vance. He tells of a (the?) major danger of “the Gospel of the Young Earth” with regards to young people:
First, there are Christians, especially young people, who have been raised in a dogmatic Creationist households or attend such a church, and have been taught that evolution, or even an old earth, are evil and absolutely contrary to Scripture. That if you believe Scripture, you can not also believe in these â€œliesâ€. They are taught that those who do believe both are deluded or compromising Christians, probably not even worthy of the name of Christian. They are taught these as absolute truths, rather than one interpretation among the many that sincere Christians hold. These young people are ingrained with this teaching and accept it fully. Then they come into contact with the scientific evidence and begin to suspect that evolution or an old earth scientific might actually be supported by the evidence. This creates a severe crisis of faith. They have been taught that if evolution or an old earth were true, then the atheists are right and the Bible can not be trusted and God did not create everything after all. I have seen this crisis in action. I have discussed this matter with those who either had abandoned Christianity or were about to because of this dogmatic teaching, and did my best to explain to them that the conflict was not inherent and that they could, indeed, believe in both. Most did not even know that there were Christians who accepted evolution, which shows how sheltered their lives had been.