Those who follow the creation vs. evolution debate know that Ken Ham, founder and director of Answers in Genesis, and John Lennox, Oxford professor and Christian lecturer, take markedly different views of the creation days recorded in Genesis 1. What they have in common, though, is their view of Christian apologetics, their approach to defending the faith.
Both men seem concerned that science, particularly evolutionary theory, has caused people to think of the Bible as irrelevant, a collection of myths. They also seem to be concerned that the faith of Christians may be shaken by the claims of evolutionary scientists. Yet the ways in which they counter these fears are diametrically opposed.
Ken Ham and his staff of eminently qualified scientists seek to demonstrate that the creation days were normal 24-hour days and that the earth is very young, about 6,000 years old. John Lennox, in his book Seven Days that Divide the World, expresses the concern that Christians might paint themselves into a corner by adopting a too literal interpretation of the creation days that might prove to be scientifically untenable and thereby undermine the faith.
What Ken Ham and John Lennox have in common is their approach to the defense of the faith: Evidential Apologetics. Their view is that if enough evidence is amassed in favor of the truth of the Bible, more people will take the Bible seriously and become Christians. Furthermore, Christians will have more confidence to trust and share the teachings of Scripture. Ham and his associates focus on the scientific side, asserting that the observable evidence is not in conflict with the young-earth view; Lennox approaches the matter from the interpretation of Scripture, proposing that the creation account can be interpreted in various ways that harmonize with scientific data regarding the origin of the universe.
Both are practicing Evidential Apologetics, though popular, is misguided.
The more scriptural approach to defending the faith and presenting the gospel is known as Presuppositional Apologetics. The major proponent of this view was Cornelius Van Til, Dutch Reformed theologian and philosopher. Presuppositional Apologetics affirms what Romans 1:18-23 clearly teaches:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
The truth is, God has revealed himself to mankind in creation and conscience, and so “they are without excuse.” The unbeliever knows the truth, but he “suppresses” it in favor of his sins. To try and convince an unbeliever that it’s okay to believe the Bible because it is not, after all, at odds with science is a useless endeavor! He doesn’t want to believe. The Christian’s job is to proclaim the truth, and let God’s Spirit “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8), and open hearts to the gospel (Acts 16:1).
Please understand, I think the educational work these men do in presenting alternative views, particularly on college campuses, is useful in challenging the prevailing evolutionary view. Education should be about the pursuit of truth (though it seldom is on secular campuses!). But we shouldn't suppose that any evidence we might produce is going to change sinful hearts.
Our message, then, is the spiritual truth of the Bible: God’s plan of redemption of fallen mankind. That’s the message of the whole Bible, and the major points are (1) God, (2) Man, (3) Sin, and (4) Salvation.
The question whether the six days of God’s creation were literal days as we know them or fiats of creative activity or long periods of time must never eclipse the central message we need to proclaim: We have sinned against a holy, omniscient, omnipotent God who will hold us accountable, and that same God has provided salvation for all who believe through the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.