Written by Jason Petersen
Creation Basics and Beyond is a book that was released by the Institute for Creation Research. This organization has scientists in it that believe that the Earth is young. By young, I mean 6,000 to 10,000 years old. Of course, this is a quite a different view than the view that is held by a majority of scientists. Most scientists believe that the Earth is about 4.6 billion years old. However, we should be careful not to assume that because a majority of scientists believe something means that something is true. Such a belief would be a logical fallacy that is known as the bandwagon fallacy. This fallacy is known in Latin as argumentum ad populum. In ancient Greece, it was once thought by the majority of scientists that the liver circulated blood. Just because a majority of scientists and doctors in ancient Greece believed that the liver circulated blood didn’t change the fact that the heart is what circulated blood.
Bearing what has been said in mind, we should also recognize that even in present times, we should take majority opinions with a grain of salt. We should look at the evidence for the age of the Earth with discerning minds rather than bowing before the authority of fallible scientists. Indeed, a majority of scientists believe that the Earth is billions of years old. Let us not make the mistake of accepting a falsehood just because a majority of scientists believe in it. We ought to be more concerned with the truth than popular opinion, otherwise our minds will be nothing more than slaves to popular opinion. I am afraid that this trap is precisely what many people, particularly secularists, have fallen into.
I admit, I am often skeptical of books that I read by young-earth creationists. By the same token, I am also skeptical of what I read by secular scientists. One might ask, “Why?” It’s because I am well aware of the nature of science. Science is the study of the cause-effect realities of the natural world. Science was never meant to be some ultimate authority nor was it to be absolute truth. We ought to keep in mind that all science, whether it be done by young-earth creationists or secular scientists, is subject to change. We must remember that a lot of books on scientific topics that were written ten years ago are now out of date. This is true regardless of whether the book was written by young-earth creationists or secular scientists. Models change on both sides of the debate concerning the age of the Earth.
As Christians, it is important that we recognize that our worldview must be built upon God’s authority. God’s authority will never be subject to any other authority. This is because there is none greater than God. This is evident when we look at Hebrews 6:13 which says, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,”. We can also look to John 10:29 which says, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
Creation Basics and Beyond is a book that is authored by a small group of scientists from the Institute of Creation Research, and it goes against the realm of popular opinion when it comes to the age of the earth. All of the authors are well credentialed, and all of them write within their areas of expertise. For instance, Henry Morris III is one of the authors, and he has a Doctorate of Ministry. He mainly writes about theology proper.(Theology proper concerns the nature and attributes of God.)
The book starts out on the right foot. The first large section covers the battle between differing worldviews. The first section is framed under the question “Does God determine truth or does man determine truth?” The first thing that is covered under this section is theology proper. The nature of God, as well as his attributes are explained in a concise and easy-to-understand manner. Relevant references of scripture are also provided. The authors then move on to show the relationship between God’s Nature and the book of Genesis. From the onset, it is obvious that the authors accept God and scripture as their ultimate authority. For the many Christians who hold to the infallibility and inerrancy of scripture, this will be quite refreshing. The first section then moves on to why Genesis matters, and why Genesis should be interpreted literally. It also criticizes interpretations of Genesis that are held by Christians that hold an old-earth view. An entire subsection is dedicated to the day-age theory. It is likely that if you have read books that criticize the old-earth interpretation, then you will be reading a lot of the same arguments that are often raised in other books that criticize the old-earth view. However, the topic is well-addressed and the book does give a fair representation of an old-earth interpretation of scripture.
After issues the issues of theology proper, biblical authority, and issues with an old-earth interpretation of Genesis are covered, the book begins to cover some of the shortcomings of the evidences offered by evolutionist. It also begins to argue that evolution is logically impossible. If you have read other books that criticize this topic, or regularly read articles online from Answers in Genesis and the Institute of Creation Research, many of the objections raised will be familiar to you. Subjects such as a lack of evidence from fossils and the statistical impossibility of evolution are covered. However, there are some chapters that may be novel to avid readers of young-earth creationist material. One of the authors in the book, James J.S. Johnson, adds some interesting material that compliments the other chapters quite well. He focuses on comparing the investigate of the past by scientists to forensics. He likely takes this approach due to his background in the study of law. His approach is similar to an attorney in the courtroom. He aims to raise reasonable doubt about some of the propositions in evolutionary biology. One such topic that he often takes aim at is universal common descent.
The second section of the book focuses on Biology. The main thesis in this section is “Created kinds or common ancestry?” This section begins with the often repeated concept known as irreducible complexity. If a structure is so complex that all of its parts must initially be present in a suitably functioning manner, it is said to be irreducibly complex.(1) This argument is applied to the anatomy of humans, and the chapter demonstrates the unity of the human body. It highlights parts and systems of the human body that would not work without another.
The section then moves on to something that some may find to be rather refreshing. There are many critics of young-earth creation. There are a lot of people that I call “evolutionary apologists.” These evolutionists spend a significant amount of time debating creationists on the internet. Objections to creation and approaches to defending evolution can vary between each evolutionary apologist. However, one argument that is often used by evolutionists is the alleged evidence of a fusion of two chromosomes is now known as chromosome 2. There is an entire subsection dedicated to addressing this argument. The subsection thoroughly covers this objection and brings up later research, which I was completely unaware of, that shows that this alleged fusion is less probable than it was once thought to be. In fact, many evolutionary apologists may be unaware of a paper that came out in 2002 that made some startling admissions about the alleged fusion that took place.(2) There is also a section that responds to common objections against design that are used by evolutionary apologists on the internet. It is refreshing to see creationist scientists taking time to address these popular-level objections. This section also covers some of the evidence for creation in biology, and the section also answers some common questions such as “Where did Cain get his Wife?”
The third section covers Geology. The question that it seeks to answer is “Was there a global flood or did the Earths terrain shape over billions of years?” This book favors the catastrophic plate tectonics model, and does not give mention to the competing hydroplate model. The catastrophic plate tectonics model begins with a pre-Flood supercontinent surrounded by cold ocean-floor rocks that were denser than the warm mantle rock beneath. To initiate motion in the model, some sudden trigger “cracks” the ocean floors adjacent to the supercontinental crustal block, so that zones of cold ocean-floor rock start penetrating vertically into the upper mantle along the edge of most of the supercontinent.(2) The catastrophic plate tectonic model involves our planet’s terrain being rapidly shaped during Noah’s Flood. There are various other topics that are covered in this section as well, but most of these topics are centered around Noah’s Flood. There is a subsection that explains that Noah’s Flood is the key to creationist geology. It also covers topics such as radiometric dating, and the ice age. The section concludes by focusing on the young-earth interpretation of the fossil record.
The fourth section discusses dinosaurs and how they fit into a young-earth interpretation of scripture. This section has a subsection that is dedicated to explaining the implications of finding tissue in dinosaur bones. The subsection goes into detail about how the dinosaur tissue had to be originally from the dinosaur and is therefore not a product of contamination. Other topics covered are whether or not dinosaurs had feathers, and how the way fossils are dated utilizes circular reasoning. The section concludes with dinosaur legends that have been passed down, and it also covers evidence that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. This section is significantly shorter than all of the other sections of the book.
The fifth section covers Astronomy. It levies criticisms against The Big Bang and lists some of the problems with The Big Bang model. It also covers some possible solutions to the problem concerning distant starlight. The question that is addressed is “If the universe is 6,000 years old, how can there be light that is visible from earth from stars that are more than 6,000 light years away?” Jason Lisle, the author of this chapter, gives a possible solution but then also explains that The Big Bang has a similar problem. This section also covers whether or not the laws of physics could create the universe. The last two sections cover UFOs and whether or not other universes exist.
Rest assured, this book is a recent work. There are creationist materials that are still being sold in stores that have some outdated information. Creation Basics and Beyond draws from recent research both by creationists and by evolutionists. This means that the information provided in this book is up to date. All of the references and footnotes are provided at the end of each chapter in case you want to further investigate the authors’ claims.
I was impressed with this book in a variety of ways. First, I liked the approach of the book. It started off covering theological topics such as the nature of God and why Genesis is relevant to the rest of The Bible. Even though I’m not as dogmatic about young-earth creationism as the Institute for Creation Research is, I thought they did a thorough job of their position on the importance of a literal interpretation of Genesis. Second, I was thoroughly impressed with the information provided in this book. The information on this book is up to date, and the information is dervived from recent research both by creationists and evolutionists. The book provides numerous references for the claims that are made. The references make it easier to get further context and information on the claims that are made. Third, it is refreshing to see Creationist scientists respond to the arguments that online evolutionary apologists have been using for the past decade. Often times, there are so many varations of rebuttals to creationist claims(due to a myriad of misunderstandings by online apologists for evolution) that creationist scientists do not have the time to respond to all of them. However, the responses given will cover many of the objections that are often brought up.
In conclusion, I’d recommend anyone who is interested in the Creation vs Evolution controversy to check out this book. If you already have a library of Creation material, you may want to consider adding this one to your shelves. This book will certainly be a boon to any Creationist that is looking to be updated on the Creation vs Evolution Controversy.
1. Answers in Genesis, The Amazing Cell-Evidence for Creation and Against Evolution! January 10, 2000, <http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/design-features> (12 December 2013)
2. Jeffery Tompkins, Creation Basics and Beyond (Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 2013) p. 180
3. Answers in Genesis, Can Catastrophic Plate Tectonics Explain Flood Geology? November 8, 2007,<http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/catastrophic-plate-tectonics#fnList_1_13> (12 December 2013)