My own experience is that this is nothing to do with valid arguments, far less with the evidence. Creationists are interested in neither. For them a valid argument is one that supports their position, however supremely silly it is, and however cavalier with the evidence.
I learnt this lesson years ago as an undergraduate, when listening to two fellow students arguing their respective cases. As the argument went on, I became more and more stupefied by the case the creationist was putting forward. Finally, unable to resist it any longer, I intervened with a deeply ironic reductio ad absurdum. (At least that’s what I thought.) I suggested earnestly that what scientists didn’t realise was that as God created the world, the devil followed behind planting fossils in the rocks to confuse and tempt humankind.
Unfortunately, while my scientifically-minded friend laughed, the creationist nodded earnestly and said that was exactly the sort of thing that could have happened.
His experience reminded me of an incident that happened in the Fall of 1988. In 1988, the same year I came to Northern Baptist Seminary, the newly-elected president of Missouri Baptist College gave a news conference in which he introduced himself to the community in St. Louis, Missouri.
During the news conference, a reporter asked the newly-elected president: “Do you believe that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago?” In response to the reporter’s question, the president said that he did not believe that dinosaurs were millions of years old. He also said that God had put those bones on the ground to test the faith of believers. People who believed that those bones were millions of years old did not believe in God.
The question that many people ask today is whether one can believe that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago and still believe in God? Many people still believe that dinosaurs were created six thousand years ago.
The people who sponsor Answersingenesis.org believe in a young earth, that dinosaurs were created six thousand years ago, and that they perished in the flood. For instance, in one article, they write the following:
We often hear that dinosaurs died out millions of years ago. But that’s not true. God’s Word, the Bible, tells us something totally different.
It’s NOT a big mystery. Dinosaurs were created about 6,000 years ago on Day 6 with the other land animals AND with people. Yes, dinosaurs and humans lived together (Genesis 1:20–25, 31).
When asked to explain the fossils, they answer:
The dinosaur fossils we find today formed during Noah’s Flood, or its after effects.
When asked whether dinosaurs are mentioned in the Bible, they answer:
Yes! The word “dragon” is used in the Bible, and it may describe dinosaurs. Look up Isaiah 27:1 & Malachi 1:3 (KJV).
When asked whether there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark, they answer:
Yes! Dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark. God sent at least two of each air-breathing, land-dwelling animal (Genesis 7:2).
The people who sponsor Answersingenesis.org are good people and they mean well. However, I believe people can accept the fact that there are galaxies that are billions of light-years away from us, that the dinosaurs lived and died millions of years ago and still be a Christian and believe in God. I also believe that people can believe in evolution and still be committed Christians.
Some people may read the book Science, Evolution and Creationism and not believe one word of what is written there. Other people may read the book and realize that science is not a threat to faith. And this possibility, that people may learn that science is not a threat to faith, is the reason I wrote my post.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary