We here examine some additional comments by Phil Vischer and co-hosts Skye Jethani, Christian Taylor, and Jason Rugg in their podcast in which they attempt to defend deep time and also attempt to frame the literal/historical interpretation of Genesis as a recent aberration. 

Phil: Then in the meantime our friend Drew Dyck…   He tweeted at me.  He said, “Phil, I think you’re gonna be banned from the Creation Museum.”[1]

Lisle: Although this comment was apparently meant in jest, Phil would be very welcome at the Creation Museum.  The purpose of the Creation Museum is to help people understand the history recorded in Genesis, and to see how scientific evidence powerfully confirms that history.  I would encourage Phil to visit the museum along with the Ark Encounter. 

Phil: And you know, it’s me and Drew on twitter, so you have to say something back that’s even funnier, or he wins.  So I said, “It’s okay.  I’ll sneak in the backdoor where the dinosaurs go outside to poop.”  ‘cause they’ve got animatronic dinosaurs.  And I thought that was funny to think that the animatronic dinosaurs have to go outside to poop.  …  So Ken Ham gets a hold of that, which, he wasn’t on that.  So, then he writes a long…[2]

Lisle: We all understand that this was an attempt at humor, but it came off as openly mocking.  In response, Ken Ham graciously offered to give Phil a personal tour of the Creation Museum.

Phil: Julie and I are having to monitor our Facebook ads for Mr. Phil TV because Ken Ham fans are showing up on them to tell people not to buy any of my stuff for kids.[3]

Lisle: Since Phil is teaching that which is contrary to the Bible, people need to be aware of this.  How much of his unbiblical theology is present in his children’s resources?  I do not know.  But it is perfectly appropriate to warn parents of resources that could potentially lead children away from faith in God’s Word. 

We know from scientific surveys that one of the main reasons that two out of three youth who are raised in the church end up leaving the church when they are in their 20s is because they see this kind of hypocrisy.  (This is well documented in the research study that is summarized in the book Already Gone).  Namely, they see Christians claim to believe the Bible, but those same Christians don’t accept the history recorded in Genesis, which is necessary to properly understand the Gospel.  Theology matters.  So if Phil doesn’t want people to complain about his unbiblical claims, then he should stop making unbiblical claims.

Christian: “You are just going to have to decide to live in this conundrum of, you know, telling truth to kids and telling truth to adults.  You know, if you’re going to do both, you’re going to be like in the middle of the firing line.”[4]

Lisle: The problem is that Phil is not telling the truth.  And when people make public claims that are false, they have no right to complain when others expose their public claims as false.  Phil’s claim that “young earth creationism” is recent is demonstrably false. More importantly, his belief in deep time is directly contrary to what the Bible states.  And this is not some tertiary issue.  It strikes at the heart of biblical authority and perspicuity.  Genesis is very clear in its statements about creation, as is the rest of Scripture in its affirmation of the biblical timescale (e.g. Exodus 20:11; Mark 10:6; Romans 1:20).  If the Bible is wrong, or doesn’t mean what it says in these very clear statements, how can we trust it on more complicated matters?  If the Bible cannot be trusted in matters of science and history, why would anyone have confidence in its spiritual claims?  Jesus said, “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)

Second, deep time is directly contrary to the biblical doctrine that death is the penalty and result of man’s sin (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:21; Romans 5:12, 8:20-22; Genesis 3:19,21)?  If fossils were really hundreds of millions of years old, then death existed long before man sinned.  In that case, death is not the enemy that entered the world as the penalty for man’s sin (1 Corinthians 1:21, 26).  And if that is so, then what did Christ’s death on the cross accomplish?

By the way, Christians will indeed be criticized if they stand on truth.  Look at the criticism Ken Ham faces because he actually believes Exodus 20:11.  On the other hand, Phil is being criticized because he does not believe Exodus 20:11.  Since we will be criticized no matter what, why not stand up for what the Bible teaches? 

Phil: So, I researched things more, and I find out: did I get it wrong?  Did I get it right? Where was I wrong?[5] 

Lisle: It would have been better if Phil had researched these issues before making his claims, so that his claims would have been accurate in the first place.  Nonetheless, when mistakes are made, it is commendable to offer corrections after the fact.  But we don’t really see that with Phil’s latest podcast.

In summary, what Phil got right previously was that young earth creation was not popular among scholars in the early 1900s.  What Phil got wrong was pretty much everything else.  Phil claimed that young earth creationism began in the Seventh Day Adventist Church; it didn’t.  Literal six-day creation was the mainstream position of the church until the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Phil seemed to think that The Fundamentals suggested that young earth creationism had not yet developed at that time; but in reality, there are several references to six-day creation and 6000 years in The Fundamentals.[6]  One author (Orr), who argued against a literal Genesis, nevertheless acknowledged the 6000-year timescale as the older position.  So it wasn’t that YEC hadn’t been thought of yet; rather it had been largely abandoned in favor of the far more recently invented secular timescale.

Phil also claimed, without any supporting evidence, that Ken Ham denies mainstream science; but Ken Ham embraces mainstream science.  Phil was perhaps thinking that secular beliefs such as big bang, deep time, and maybe neo-Darwinian evolution are science.  But none of these things can be demonstrated by the scientific method.  They are not part of operational science.

Phil: I want to know what I said, you know, that was wrong or right, and I want to have my facts straight.[7]

Lisle: Those words are commendable, but Phil continued to make many of the same errors in his podcast as he had made previously.   

Phil: So, I did, over the weekend, a ton of reading to see was what I said factually accurate…[8]

Lisle: I appreciate the start, but it will take more than a weekend to correct all Phil’s misconceptions on the topic.  The true history of biblical creation is that it was the mainstream position of the Church; challenges against it started mainly in the 1700s and early 1800s with deep time interpretations in geology and then Darwinian evolution in the mid to late 1800s.  If Phil genuinely wants to learn about these issues, then he will need to read some of the works written by creation scientists and historians to get up to speed.  For the history of the notion of “millions of years” I recommend Dr. Mortenson’s book, The Great Turning Point, along with His online presentation of the topic.  To get up to speed on the basics of creation and the science that confirms it, I recommend the New Answers Book that I coauthored with 14 other experts on creation.  And of course, for more details on how science confirms Genesis, I would suggest that Phil check out the many articles on our website at biblicalscienceinstitute.com.  There’s never, ever, ever, ever, ever been a website like it!

Phil: …that the movement of creationism that Ken Ham represents is a relatively young movement and doesn’t go way, way back in church history.[9]

Lisle:  Again, this is demonstrably false.  We know from the early writings of the church fathers that they overwhelmingly held to a literal/historical Genesis, in which God created in six, 24-hour days, and rested one day.  They held to a literal, supernatural creation of Adam from the dust of the ground, and Eve from his rib, and that these first humans were the progenitors of all other people.  They believed in the global flood of Genesis 6-8 and agreed that the earth was a few thousand years old.  In other words, they believed what modern biblical creationists believe about Genesis.  These facts are well documented in Genesis, Creation and Early Man by Fr Seraphim Rose.[10]

A few examples should suffice to demonstrate this.  In A.D. 370 Basil wrote about the literal, 24-hour days of creation, making the same kinds of points we would use today, such as the definition of one day in Genesis 1:5 as consisting of one evening and one morning.  Basil writes, “Evening is then the boundary common to day and night; and in the same way morning constitutes the approach of night to day…. If it therefore says ‘one day,’ it is from a wish to determine the measure of day and night, and to combine the time that they contain.  Now twenty-four hours fill up the space of one day – we mean of a day and of a night….  It is as though it said: twenty-four hours measure the space of a day….   Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun, evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never exceeds the space of one day.”[11]

Justin Martyr (A.D. ~100-165) also defended the literal six-day creation.  And this is in the second century!  He states, “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.”  Theophilus of Antioch also defended the literal six-day creation, again in the second century A.D.[12]  Irenaeus (A.D. ~130-202) also explicitly affirmed a literal, historical, six-day creation.  Of Genesis he states, “…and in six days created things were completed.”[13],[14]

So, in the earliest writings of the Church, we see a clear teaching about the literal history of Genesis, including its six-day timescale.  Phil may disagree with them.  But to claim that the Church held to some other position is simply historical revisionism.

Nor will it do to say, “Well, YEC goes way, way back, but YEC as a movement is recent.”  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines movement as: “tendency, trend.”  There is no doubt that the tendency and trend of the early church was to defend a literal, historical Genesis.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers a second definition of movement as: “a series of organized activities working toward an objective; also : an organized effort to promote or attain an end.  //  the civil rights movement //  a movement to increase the minimum wage.”  There is no doubt that the early church made an organized effort to promote a literal historical Genesis in which God created in six days a few thousand years ago, along with many other correct doctrines. 

So to claim that the movement is recent cannot be defended.  There may be increased motivation to defend biblical creation that is quite recent.  But this is because the attacks on the literal history of Genesis in the form of deep-time and evolution are quite recent.[15]  Obviously, there wasn’t as much need to defend Genesis throughout most of Church history when nearly everyone believed it.  But the position that modern creationists take on Genesis is consistent with the consensus position that the church took throughout the majority of its existence.  It is not recent.

Phil: And the answer is: yes and no.[16]

Lisle: Actually, the answer really is just: no.  Phil was wrong to teach that Ken Ham’s interpretation of Genesis is (1) recent and (2) a result of a vision springing from the Seventh Day Adventist movement.  In reality, the interpretation of Genesis advocated by Ken Ham (and by me) is the same as that of the consensus position of the Church throughout history (until the last two and a half centuries).  We employ the same grammatical historical hermeneutic as the early Church, and hence understand Genesis as literal history.  Of course, this is the same way Genesis was interpreted by Christ and the Apostles.

Phil:  If you just talk about people believing the earth was young, that goes way, way, way back…[17]

Lisle:  Not just that the earth is young, but that Genesis is to be understood as literal history in which God supernaturally created heaven and earth in six, literal (24-hour) days.  And there was a literal, global flood in which Noah and his family were saved along with at least two of every air-breathing land animal.  In other words, the “creationism that Ken Ham represents” is not recent, but does indeed go “way, way, way back.”

Phil: … because there wasn’t really a compelling reason to not believe that [the earth is “young”].[18]

Lisle: There still isn’t.  When the Church as a whole began to allow non-literal or non-historical views of Genesis, it certainly wasn’t for exegetical reasons.  Nor was it because of science.  Even today, there is no scientific basis for believing in deep time (or neo-Darwinian evolution).  Rather, it was because many Christians began to adopt the anti-biblical philosophies of secularists, including uniformitarianism and methodological naturalism.  This is where deep time comes from.  It doesn’t come from an application of the scientific method, and it certainly doesn’t come from Scripture.  It comes from secular philosophy. The Bible warns us not to be taken captive by the philosophy of the world (Colossians 2:8).

Phil: … and people, you know, especially in the Christian West, people read the Bible and said, “Oh!  So God created things in six days and then here’s the genealogy from Adam to Jesus, and there you go botta’ boom botta’ bing.”[19] 

Lisle: “Those silly Christians in the West who just believe whatever the Bible says!  They probably even believe in the resurrection of Jesus!”  Phil seems to want to present biblical creation as a simple-minded position.  In reality, Church history is full of brilliant scholars, many of whom could read the Scriptures in the original languages.  And they had logical, exegetic reasons for interpreting Genesis as history.  These include (1) the fact that Genesis is written in the normal Hebrew historical narrative form (frequent sequences of waw-consecutive, etc.) in stark contrast to the poetic sections of Scripture, (2) the fact that all other books of the Bible that refer to Genesis treat it as real history, (3) that all Christian doctrines directly or indirectly depend on the history of Genesis, including the Gospel (death being the penalty for sin), (4) that all New Testament authors treated Genesis as literal history (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:45; Hebrews 11:4-22; Luke 3:23-38; Matthew 1:1-17; Jude 7, 14; 2 Peter 3:5-6), and of course that Jesus Himself believed in the literal history of Genesis (e.g. Matthew 19:1-8, 11:23, 24:37-39, 8:11, 12:26).  Rigorous exegesis confirms that Genesis is meant to be understood as written, and therefore the earth is thousands of years old, not billions. 

Phil: And that’s what led guys like Bishop Ussher in the 17th century to say, “creation happened” (and he actually had a specific day) “on this day, this month, in this year” and it was 4004 B.C. or something like that.[20]  

Lisle: Although Phil presents Ussher’s work as simplistic, in reality, Ussher was a brilliant Bible scholar.  And Ussher’s research on chronology which led to his best estimate of the date of creation was extraordinarily rigorous.  Only the earliest part of biblical chronology can be discovered by simply adding up the ages of a patriarch at the time of birth of the next patriarch (Adam through Abraham, for example).  Later genealogies generally do not record this information, and therefore other time indicators must be used. 

Ussher had good biblical reasons to place creation at around 4004 B.C., and we still use his research when studying ancient chronology.  Ussher knew that his estimate was just that – an estimate.  There are challenges in aligning some of the details of secular historical records to the inerrant chronology of Scripture.  For example, was Jesus born in 4 B.C. or 5 B.C.?  And when we time things by certain decrees, there is some difficulty in discerning which decree is meant.  For this reason, different scholars come to slightly different estimated dates, depending on which assumptions they use.  But all arrive at around 6000 years or so.[21] 

So, if the Scriptures really are inerrant, if they correctly record matters of history, and if Christ indeed walked on earth about 2000 years ago, then the universe is around 6000 years old.  Sound exegesis can come to no other conclusion. 

Phil: And I had said in my tweet thread, you know, yes, there have been people promoting a young earth going way, way, way back.[22]

Lisle: It’s not just a few people here and there.  Young earth creation was the consensus position of the Church throughout most of its history.  Part of the problem is that Phil doesn’t seem to know what young earth creation means, and consequently he contradicts himself (it goes “way, way, way back,” and “it’s a surprisingly young movement”).  The term is not confusing; young earth creation (YEC) is the position that God created the world supernaturally in six days, as described in Genesis, about 4000 years before Christ’s earthly ministry.  That is not a recent belief or movement.  It was the historic position of the church, and we have documented this over, and over.  Phil seems to be implying that the interpretation of Genesis held by Ken Ham is different from the consensus interpretation of the church (the former he thinks is YEC and the latter being just a belief in a young earth).  But that is not so.  The grammatical historical interpretation of Genesis held by the majority of church fathers is the same YEC held by most modern biblical creationists. 

Phil seems to think that YEC is a science or “alternate science” (whatever that means).  But it isn’t.  Science certainly confirms YEC.  But the position is a claim about history made on the basis of Scripture.  God supernaturally created the universe, the original animals, and Adam and Eve in the space of six days, roughly 4000 years before Christ’s earthly ministry.  That is YEC.  And that is the same position that was held by the majority of Christians throughout church history until the last two and a half centuries. 

Phil: But the specific form of alternate science promoted by Ken Ham is a relatively young movement.[23]

Lisle: I’m disappointed to hear Phil repeat this falsehood.  Again, creationists like Ken Ham and myself believe in science – not “alternate science.”  We use the scientific method to understand the present testable and repeatable operation of the universe.  We use the same methods in science as secularists.  When I study stellar composition, I use spectroscopy, not “alternate spectroscopy.”  I use chemistry, not “alternate chemistry.”  I use mathematics, not “alternate mathematics.”  I use quantum physics, not “alternate quantum physics.”  I even wrote a book on the physics discovered by Einstein, not “alternate physics to Einstein.”  So, for Phil to continue to repeat this claim is simply dishonest.

As I explained previously, creationists and evolutionists have different beliefs about the past, different worldviews, and hence draw different conclusions about how things came to be.  But such ideas about the past are not directly testable by the scientific method.  In terms of genuine operational science, the kind of science that puts men on the moon and makes computers work, creationists and secularists perform this science in basically the same way.  By the way, science is predicated on biblical creation.  So, when secularists believe in the scientific method, but reject the history of Genesis, they are being irrational. 

I again challenge Phil to produce any fact that has been established by the scientific method, that Ken Ham denies.  I fully recognize the secularists like to call their beliefs in deep time and neo-Darwinian evolution “science,” but neither of these has been demonstrated by the scientific method.  I further challenge Phil to examine my doctoral dissertation on Probing the Dynamics of Solar Supergranulation and its Interaction with Magnetism (JILA thesis #316), and point out any place where I have used “alternate science.”

Phil: In fact, Ken Ham said, “No!  It [the supposed “alternate science” of YEC] goes back forever!”[24] 

Lisle: That is just not true; Ken Ham did not say that or anything along those lines.  Remember, young earth creation is just that; it is the position that God created the earth thousands (not billions) of years ago as described in Genesis.  That is what has always been the mainstream position of the Church until very recently, and it was certainly the position of Old Testament believers as well.  Hence, YEC is an historical claim, not a scientific claim, nor an “alternate science” claim.  While science confirms this claim, the claim itself is a claim about history, not science. 

Second, Ken Ham did not claim that the science (the body of knowledge acquired by the scientific method) which confirms creation goes way back in history.  Obviously, the vast majority of what we now know about science is relatively recent.  We can now measure the rate of decay of earth’s magnetic field energy, and find that this is consistent with a 6000-year-old earth, but wildly inconsistent with billions of years.  We can now detect c-14 in fossils in the deepest rock layers, and can compute the half-life of c-14 as 5730 years, confirming that fossils are much younger than millions of years.  These facts were unknown until recently.  But the historic position that they confirm (YEC) is very early in history.

Phil: What I was talking about is a field of study called flood geology.[25]

Lisle: Then that is what he should have stated.  Phil might have avoided a lot of confusion if he had simply said, “Did you know flood geology is historically recent?”  That would be true.  Of course, then I would have to point out, “Did you know that nearly all geology is historically recent?”  Both flood geology and secular geology are largely confined to the last few centuries.  Flood geology really came first, and secular geologists then began interpreting the rock layers and fossils under the philosophies of uniformitarianism and naturalism.  Of the two, flood geology (interpreting rock layers and fossils in light of the Genesis flood) is actually the older position.  So, if Phil’s intention is to denigrate flood geology as this “Johnny-come-lately” position, then he really should castigate secular geology as even more recent!

But flood geology is not the same thing as young earth creation.  The latter is simply the historical position of the Church: that God created the universe supernaturally in six days and that this occurred thousands of years ago.  Flood geology is the study of rock layers of the earth in light of the historical account of the global flood as recorded in Genesis 6-8.  Conversely, secular geology is the study of rock layers under the assumptions of uniformitarianism and naturalism.  Both approaches to geology are historically recent.

We will look at geology and the history surrounding it in the next section

[1] Podcast 6:44

[2] Podcast 6:55

[3] Podcast 9:14

[4] Podcast 9:33

[5] Podcast 9:50

[6] https://biblicalscienceinstitute.com/origins/full-of-beans/

[7] Podcast 9:54

[8] Podcast 10:00

[9] Podcast 10:09

[10] Note that the book is written from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, which has some problematic theology.  However, the historical research is sound.

[11] Basil, Homily II on the Hexaemeron.

[12] Theophilus of Antioch, Book II, chapter 12.

[13] Irenaeus, Against Heresies (Book V, chapter 28, section 3).

[14] Irenaeus also believed that the six literal days of creation prophetically pointed forward to six, consecutive, one-thousand-year periods of mankind, and that God would bring human history to a close at the end of the sixth millennium.  This confuses some people who mistakenly claim that Irenaeus did not hold to literal days of creation.  In fact, he did.  He believed that God created in six literal days, and that each of these days foreshadowed a future millennium of mankind on earth.  

[15] There were a very few attempts to reconcile the biblical text with an old earth belief even in the early Church.  This is due to the influence of the ancient Greeks, who believed in an old earth.  But such positions were never taken seriously by the majority of Church scholars until the last two and a half centuries. 

[16] Podcast 10:26

[17] Podcast 10:29

[18] Podcast 10:35

[19] Podcast 10:39

[20] Podcast 10:49

[21] The Septuagint has slightly different numbers for some of the chronologies recorded in Genesis, generally adding an extra century between the birth of a patriarch and his child.  This adds an extra ~1500 years to history in comparison with the Masoretic text.  So that would make the earth around 7500 years old, and some creationists hold to this position.  However, there are good reasons to think that the Masoretic text has the more accurate chronology, and we may have an article on this in the future.  In any case, whether 6000 years old or 7500 years old, the earth is not millions or billions of years old.

[22] Podcast 11:15

[23] Podcast 11:21

[24] Podcast 11:31

[25] Podcast 11:46