Genesis and Choosing a College
Terry Mortenson, PhD
Answers in Genesis
How do you help your child choose a college where he won’t lose his faith? A shocking question? Not in my experience. A good friend told my wife and me a few years ago, after their son graduated from one of the premier evangelical colleges in America, “We are sure thankful that Jonathan graduated with his faith still intact, which can’t be said for all his fellow graduates there.”How sad.
One of the primary reasons for this undermining or even destruction of faith in Christian colleges is the widespread compromise with evolution and millions of years, which undermines the authority of Scripture. From the experience and reading of AiG staff and from correspondence with students and parents, probably the majority of Christian colleges have compromised more or less with these evolutionary ideas. Contrary to their advertising, therefore, these schools are not educating their students with a thoroughly Biblical worldview.
So what should Christian parents do to help their high school seniors obtain a college education that equips them for their future vocation and strengthens their understanding of and commitment to Christ and Scripture?
Education at a secular university?
Christian parents should know that the secular university classroom is a very hostile place today for a Bible-believing Christian. Relativistic postmodernism reigns supreme and the theory of evolution over millions of years is taught as unquestionable fact. This does not mean that a secular university may not be the right place for a Christian student. But any Christian planning on attending such a university, without crumbling under the intellectual intimidation and plethora of false ideas, needs a strong knowledge of and commitment to the Scriptures as well as a solid foundation in apologetics.
I would highly recommend three books before high school graduation: A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell; The Answers Book edited by Don Batten; and Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati. A Christian student also needs to be involved in a strong Christian group on campus and a good Bible teaching church near campus. If such an environment exists, and the student has spiritual maturity and mental toughness, then the secular university could be a very stimulating place to grow spiritually. It was for me as I was involved in a Christian group at the University of Minnesota back in the early 1970s. But beware. Many of the Christian groups on campus today are compromised with evolutionary ideas.
But what about selecting a Christian college?
There are some solid Christian colleges in America that are truly teaching students from a fully Biblical worldview, such as The Master’s College in California, Pensacola Christian College and Clearwater Christian College in Florida, Liberty University in Virginia, Cedarville University in Ohio, etc. But such schools appear to be in the minority.
Recently, a friend told me of his experience of taking his son to five schools in the upper Midwest to consider as a place to study pre-medicine. Obviously, they were not surprised to see that evolution featured prominently in the curriculum at the state university they visited. One of the out-of-state Christian colleges took a strong young-earth creationist position. But the other three Christian colleges were evolutionary in their orientation. One was unapologetic about teaching evolution as fact. The other two were a little more discreet. At one of them (one of the most famous evangelical colleges) my friend had to ask the head of the science department six questions (each one getting a little more precise) before he got a straight answer. There seemed to be a deliberate unwillingness to let the parent know exactly what the school taught.
So when students and parents go (or perhaps before they go) to visit a prospective Christian college, they should ask the administration and science department some specific questions. (It would be good to ask both of them—you might be surprised to get two different answers, which will tell you how much the administration knows what is being taught by its professors in the classroom.) Be sure to word the questions in such a way that you do not reveal to them what your views are. You want to get their views, not to tell them your views.
So ask them questions like these. “How does this school treat the issue of creation and evolution?”You want to know if they deal with the subject or avoid it, and what the authority of Scripture is in the debate. “What is this school’s position on the age of the earth?”You want to know if they take a position as a school or if the professors are allowed to present “all the views”and not promote any or promote an old-earth view involving millions of years (gap theory, day-age theory, local flood view, framework hypothesis, etc.). If you are not satisfied with the answer, be more specific. “Do your professors accept the idea of millions of years as taught by the scientific establishment, or do they hold to a young-earth creationist position? Do you believe and teach that Noah’s Flood was a global catastrophe?”
When all factors are considered, you may decide that the only real option for your child is a Christian school that is compromised on Genesis (and most likely on other issues, too). In that case, your child needs to read the books recommended above and, I would suggest, the ones below, too. Work them into your curriculum and summer reading projects.
If you are reading this and work in the administration of a Christian college that is compromised, can I encourage you to read and to encourage others at the college to read some of the recent arguments in defense of the young-earth creationist view, which is the historic, orthodox belief of the church? Two excellent books on a more scholarly (yet still understandable) level are Jonathan Sarfati’s Refuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of “Progressive Creationism”(Billions of Years), as Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross and my book The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology—Before Darwin.
There are also some short, insightful articles at Answers in Genesis. Particularly helpful are “Two Histories of Death,” “A Young Earth—It’s Not the Issue,” “Two World-views in Conflict,” “The God of an Old Earth,” and “From the Beginning of … the Institution of Marriage?”
Trying to fit evolution and/or millions of years into the Bible is neither biblically possible nor scientifically necessary, as the above books and articles demonstrate. True science does confirm the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11. Sadly, it seems that the great majority of professors at evangelical colleges and seminaries have not read the leading young-earth creationist literature.
If we don’t believe the literal history of the early chapters of Genesis and we don’t have answers for the challenges of evolution to that history, then we are going to have only a partially Christian worldview and a weakened faith, which may eventually erode into unbelief. Genesis 1-11 is foundational, and we need more Christian colleges and seminaries and students and parents who see it that way.
Choose your college wisely, believe Genesis, test all things by Scripture, and honor God with your mind!