CLEVELAND — If you were to go to Truett-McConnell’s website you would see on the home page “From the Very First Verse: Our mission is to equip students to fulfill the Great Commission by fostering a Christian worldview through a biblically-centered education.”
You do not have to linger long on the campus of TMC in Cleveland to find out that the administration and faculty are dead serious about honoring their mission statement. Their Christian worldview is obvious in every classroom and their biblically-centered education is deeply embedding in the framework of every subject. And it begins with “the very first verse” – Genesis 1:1.
I had the privilege of being present for the chapel service when Dr. Kurt Wise illustrated his belief in a young earth creation with a message on volcanoes. President Emir Caner has already told me that the entire science division at the college was committed to a young earth view of creation.
Later I was introduced to Dr. Robert Bowen, chair of the Division of Science and Mathematics and assistant professor of Biology. I was immediately impressed with his demeanor and graciousness and asked him if I could email him some questions about his young earth view of creation. His answers to my questions were so powerful and profound I decided to publish his responses in a personal interview. The way he answered these questions should endear your hearts to Dr. Bowen and to Truett-McConnell.
Index: Why do believe that the “young earth” view of creation is important?
Bowen: First and foremost, a young earth view of origins is important because it is the only view that fits God’s words spoken in Genesis 1-2, in the Psalms, and throughout the Bible collectively. Standing firm on the semantic and grammatical requirements of the Hebrew language of the old testament and avoiding “stretching” the text to fit any preconceived ideas or scientific theories must lead one to conclude that, in fact, the Hebrew word for day (Yom) is a 24-hour time period and the genealogical record indicates 6,000 years – up to 10,000 years if we account for skipped, non-recorded generations.
Index: But, does your view of creation have anything to do with salvation or our hope in Christ?
Bowen: The historical record of origins is essential to our hope in Jesus Christ. All other theories on origins cannot escape death predating or coming before Adam and Eve’s original sin. When death comes before sin, death cannot be the punishment for sin. The person who believes this will have to reject that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) as an outright lie. Christ would have died needlessly on the cross and without any sort of power to overcome sin through his own death, burial, and resurrection. If death existed before sin, God becomes an author of lies and we must reject His words as devoid of historicity, authenticity, and authority.
Index: What would the scientific community say about your young earth view of creation? Is there any scientific research to support your position?
Bowen: The young earth view of creation is important because rigid scientific analysis, experimentation, and interpretation support this perspective. From a scientific perspective we will never be able to fully uncover the truth of our origins regardless of which worldview we choose to promote. Naturalistic theories and hypotheses of origins (evolution, big bang, etc.) have massive explanatory power. Many of the ideas now being formulated by naturalistic scientists are very intriguing and must be considered by the entire scientific community.
On the other side of the origins coin there are equally compelling theories, hypotheses, and scientific ideas. Despite opposition – oppression within large sectors of the scientific community (especially in the area of scientific publishing), a much smaller number of competent scientists participating in creation science, and our failing public mathematics and science educational system that no longer challenges students to think analytically and critically – many sound and scientifically rigorous young earth theories have been developed and provide very feasible and highly explanatory alternatives to the naturalistic perspective. Many of these ideas, starting from God’s word, are powerful and compelling and are also very worthy of evaluation and critique by the scientific community.
Index: Your formal educational background with multiple degrees from state universities would not likely foster a belief in “young earth” creationism, so how did you develop such a sound view of creation?
Bowen: You are correct that my education through many great secular institutions was primarily devoid of the YEC perspective which in and of itself was a tremendous advantage because it also meant that much of my education was devoid of any sort of origins content as I pursued each of my academic degrees. Let me explain.
I was fortunate enough during my academic training to be in fields of study where the debate of creation versus evolution was limited. Despite the popular belief that evolution is shoved down your throats at public institutions, I am living proof that this is likely very area- and discipline-specific. As an undergraduate, out of 120+ credits, I had two classes (eight credits) in which evolution and origins were a major theme within the course: Historical Geology (four credits) and Vertebrate Zoology (four credits). I was also not really that studious of an undergraduate student and probably missed most on the significance of these debates when they came up.
Really, the only place I was hearing about evolution and how I was being force-fed the “lies of evolution” was from the overzealous pulpit of an under-read, charismatic preacher during that same time in my life. In the end, I was too academically immature as an undergrad to really fully understand the significance of theories on origins. As a graduate student, I was grabbed by the curiosity bug and held on to wonder. I started to work harder and began to develop some of the attributes they claim to teach you as an undergraduate. I started thinking critically; I started thinking with wonder and amazement, and I started thinking constantly.
Even still, through my advanced training as a physiologist — a field of biology that is also basically devoid of “macroevolution” — I was trained academically to deal with modern questions only looking forward and never looking historically.
For example, I fully understand the chemistry that makes my heart function as I sit here typing out these responses to your questions, and that understanding is all entirely absent from the need to understand how the heart evolved into its modern anatomy and physiology or how it was created in its modern form. As a PhD student, I had one class that dealt with origins over about three lectures. I was obviously familiar with a variety of theories but was limited in my knowledge, mostly because origins are not that important to most of modern physiological science.
My decision to believe that God created all things started when I turned my budding curiosity toward gaining a better understanding of origins. Over the last 10 years, I have started reading books by Richard Dawkins, John Lennox, John Sarfati, and many others. I have also taken to the YouTube classroom and have listened to lectures by many brilliant men and women exploring evolution and creation science.
Most, importantly, I began to study my Bible systematically. I do not consider myself a Young Earth Creation scientist the way perhaps my colleague Dr. Kurt Wise does, but rather a biomedical scientist with an appreciation for the debate, science, and importance of a sound understanding of evolution and creationism. If all Christian scientists were called to be YEC scientists, we would lack the Christian voice and influence in huge swaths of science, modern medicine, and scientific policy.
Index: How does the science department at Truett help students understand the importance of having a clear, conservative understanding of “The Very First Verse to the Very Last Tribe?’ or “young earth” creationism?
Bowen: Within the Division of Science and Mathematics at Truett-McConnell we host three academic degrees: (1) BS in Biology – General Biology Concentration, (2) BS in Biology – Pre-Health Sciences Concentration, and (3) BS in Exercise Science. All of our degree programs are designed to prepare our students to use their chosen vocation as the platform to share Jesus Christ with their future co-workers, patient, clients, etc.
For us “The Very First Versus to the Very Last Tribe” is the understanding that Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 there is absolute, undeniable, irrefutable truth. In other words, Christ is first, God’s Word is first, and the Great Commission is first. We believe that in order for God to manifest Himself in all believers’ lives fully and abundantly, the student must not be taught to learn but must be taught to think.
It would be entirely ridiculous to believe that we can learn and memorize even a small percentage of all of the knowledge that has been recorded throughout history. It is less ridiculous, in fact feasible, to believe that a student can gain a set of skills — critical thinking, analytical assessment, deductive reasoning — that when juxtaposed to a Christian worldview will allow them to interact with the massive amount of available information to successfully diagnose, understand, and solve everyday problems.
We aim to train our students, regardless of discipline, to procure that type of a skill set. We frame this developmental process against a very open backdrop as we infuse opportunities to think and consider both the biblical and naturalistic interpretations of the known data in several areas of science (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) and mathematics. By and large our students walk away from their degree program with this skill set and are becoming successful medical workers, scientists, and practitioners with the clear, conservative understanding of a biblical worldview that allows God to be manifest within His people.