by Jonathan O’BrienCreation Ministries International

Geologist’s confidence in Genesis is rock solid

Scientist and musician tells how a simple graphic and some hard research changed his thinking on origins forever.

Jonathan O'Brien
Jonathan O'Brien outside the Creation Ministries offices where he works part-time.

When I was small I went to a Presbyterian school where the Lord's Prayer was recited each day before class, and from about the age of six I believed in God. Around the age of eight I found an old Bible, having never seen one before. As I read the first words of Genesis I felt I was somehow reading God's own description of the creation. There was a simple power, eloquence and authority.

In the years that followed I became aware of the idea of Darwinian evolution through books and occasionally television.

When I was 10 my family went on a tour of a large cave system and the guides told us that the stalactites and stalagmites were a million years old or more.

I started to think that the Bible was largely based on mythical stories. As I grew up I became an agnostic, and by 16 was practically an atheist, and accepted Darwinian evolution as fact.

Out in the bush

When I left school I worked on and off as a geological field assistant and jackaroo.1 Working in the remote Queensland and Northern Territory bush seemed to draw me closer to God. We often camped under the stars, without tents or even a tent-fly when the weather was dry. Sometimes I'd wake in the middle of the night, and see the stars shining brightly with a quiet beauty that naturally made me think of God and eternity.

Beginning to practice music more at this time also made me more receptive to God, I believe. I was happier, because it was something I'd wanted to do for a long time. There were many nights in the bush where I practiced by the light of a kerosene lamp.

For some reason I started to think not only of God again, but also of evolution, completely out of the blue. Did evolution really happen like the school textbooks had said it did? I read the Gospels, and also a book by Francis Schaeffer on the book of Genesis2, and other Christian apologetics books.

I began to wonder if Darwinian evolution and the millions and billions of years might NOT be true. Eventually I believed in Jesus and gave my life to follow Him, becoming a Christian when I was 21.

University

In my late twenties, after completing a music degree, I decided to do a second degree and become a geologist like my father and uncle. In order to study geology, I decided that a change in my thinking was necessary—I would learn to accept Darwinian evolution and 'geologic time', the billions of years of 'prehistory'.

In those days I had never heard of a geologist who questioned the concept of billions of years, or Darwin's theory. I would try to combine secular theory with belief in the Bible.

very good

At university I saw a poster advertising a talk on creation by Dr Don Batten, a Christian plant physiologist. I rejected many of the things he said, as at that time I believed in orthodox long-age geology. However, the talk was almost over when he put a drawing of Adam and Eve on the screen, depicted in the Garden of Eden, and in the ground under their feet were the bones of many long-dead creatures, which represents the situation if the Bible is interpreted to accommodate millions of years of geology. Yet this was meant to be God's "very good" creation.

Even so, theistic evolution seemed the only option for a Christian geologist. I started losing faith in the Bible again. I felt that if evolution were true, God should have told us. It is a story easily told, and readily believable by both the simple and the sophisticated. Many ancient people believed in some type of evolution.

Christian theology—especially the doctrine of fall and redemption, and the whole purpose of Christ—became a mess once I accepted Darwinian evolution. I still believed in the divinity of Jesus, and the Resurrection, but my doubts were growing.

Testing things

As the geology degree progressed I was motivated to look more deeply into secular geological assertions of earth's alleged long history. I started to question things that tended to be taken for granted by geology students—the 'just so' stories of secular geologists. I went to the geology section in the university library and the State Library of Queensland and did a lot of extra-curricular reading.

I also studied-up on the 'founding fathers' of geology such as Charles Lyell. Modern geology has been built at least partially on an anti-biblical foundation that was representative of a strong philosophical movement amongst western intellectuals at the time.

Eventually I rejected the view of secular geology that there is no evidence for a global Flood.

Evidence for the truth of God's existence, and His creation, is all around, and the Bible says we have no excuse not to believe. Acknowledging the reality of the biblical Flood is important too, and Peter in the New Testament foretold the rise of Lyell's uniformitarianism, the philosophy of secular geology which so influenced Charles Darwin, saying the scoffers will believe that "all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation", linking this with denial of the global Flood.3

Just before the geology degree was completed I found some books outlining problems with the theory of evolution, by Michael Denton and Jonathan Sarfati. I was very encouraged by what I read, and soon after discovered Creation magazine. My Christian faith rebounded.

Keeping what is good

It has been the experience of many Christians that rejecting anything in the Bible on the scientific advice of those who are philosophically committed to disbelief can lead towards a similar state of general disbelief. Anyone keen to discern the "true truth", as Schaeffer put it, should rigorously check the assertions, evidences, assumptions, preconceptions and underlying philosophical commitments of those who have a big influence on something as eternally important as faith in God. A person who refuses to see will simply not see.

These days, I'm playing music again. Having entered university believing in secular geology, and having come out the other side as a young Earth believer, I now write for Creation Ministries International on a part-time basis.

References and notes

  1. A jackaroo is a term in Australia and New Zealand for a young man living and working on a sheep or cattle station to gain practical experience in managing the property.
  2. Schaeffer, Francis A - *Genesis in Space and Time (1972)
  3. 2 Peter 3:4 (KJV).

This story first appeared on Creation.com. It is used with kind permission.

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