Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could be here! In today’s program, Tom is joined by his guest Jay Seegert as they examine the question: Are You a Creationolutionist? And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week, we’re going to talk about creation and evolution and what’s going on in Christianity in particular – what most Christians think and believe about the issues. Here to discuss the subject with me is Jay Seegert. He’s the co-founder of the Creation Education Center, which has had a little title change. His ministry is now called the Starting Point Project, and we’ll find out why the new title in a moment. Jay’s degrees are in physics and engineering, yet, as you will hear, his heart and mind are first and foremost in the Bible.
Jay, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Jay: It’s always great to be on the program. I appreciate the opportunity.
Tom: Jay, we’re looking forward to you coming out to Bend. And I’m saying that because Jay’s going to be one of our speakers at this year’s TBC Conference here in Bend. And the date for that is the last Friday and Saturday in August, so you’ll have the opportunity to meet him in person if you plan on attending, which I hope is the case.
Jay, let’s start with the change in the name of your ministry from Creation Education Center to The Starting Point Project. What’s behind that change?
Jay: It’s pretty significant from…we founded the ministry, The Creation Education Center, about eleven years ago, and it was going extremely well, but one thing we noticed was we quickly would get pigeon-holed, and if you are the Creation Education Center, it’s pretty obvious what you’re talking about – creation, which can be good and bad. “Good” for many obvious reasons, but “bad” in the sense that there are a number of pastors or other church leaders that when they hear that, they think, “Oh, I know what that’s all about. That’s too controversial of an issue. It’s too divisive. I’ve heard some speakers; they’re kind of condescending and judgmental. And ultimately, it really doesn’t matter anyway. We’re just here to worship Jesus, and we don’t want to get involved in that whole argument and process. It’s just not important.”
So, often, someone would hear me speak somewhere; they’d get all excited about it [and] they’d grab my card, go to their own pastor, and say, “Pastor, you’ve got to have this guy speak at your church.” And he’d see the card, “Creation Education Center,” and he’d instantly have the stereotypes come up in his mind, and he’d think, okay, we’re not doing that.
So we wanted to come up with a name that wouldn’t allow people to pigeonhole us, but at the same time we wanted it to describe and encompass our broader range, because we don’t just talk about creation. I think creation is very important, but even more important than that is the authority of Scripture in general.
So, here’s the thought. Everybody starts somewhere with their belief system. You’ve got to start somewhere. For a Christian, we start with the idea that God exists and the Bible is His Word. And then we use that foundation to define everything else – our ideas of what science and logic are; history, ethics, morality, philosophy – all those things are defined by your starting point, and then you can just naturally ask someone else: “Hey, what’s your starting point? What have you chosen? What made you choose that? And why are you confident that that’s going to help you accurately define everything else out there?”
And so, it’s really non-combative. We get into some great conversations and in the mix, you can talk about creation and evolution. You can also talk about same-sex marriage, or transgenderism, or abortion, or any issue at all based on what the starting points are. So, we chose the name The Starting Point Project because it really does encompass that and all. And when people see the card or they hear the name, their first reaction is, “Oh, what’s that all about?” And then it lets us define it rather than all the stereotypes going up. So, we changed our name last October. It’s been going extremely well. I think it’s really going to be a great tool moving forward.
Tom: Jay, have you had to…we have some DVDs of you under the Creation Education thing. Have you had to change titles or anything like that? Or are you just going to keep on rolling?
Jay: We’re going to have to redo our DVDs. The content is great; it’s just that on the cover it says that, and even when you’re watching me speak on my monitor, it’ll say Creation Education Center, but it gives us an opportunity to refresh things. We’re going to be doing some new DVDs as well. So we’re still in transition. All of our resources still say Creation Education Center with the exception of the book. That’s been updated, but everything else we’ll be updating this year.
Tom: You know, a sad note that you brought up is in - maybe even the name change will affect that – but pastors, I have a heart for them, and they don’t want anybody rocking the boat. It’s difficult enough shepherding the sheep – you know, where all the sheep are, and where they’re going, so things that do lend themselves to controversy, like creation vs. evolution, like apologetics, and so on, you’re going to have sheep with different opinions, and then you’ve got to deal with that. But that’s what we have to do!
I applaud what you’re doing, and however we can best introduce what the Lord has called us to do…and I love the idea. Somebody might say, “Well, what’s that about?” And then you can explain it.
Tom: And then there’s a reaction that we love to hear. It’s like being on an airplane when you’re sitting next to somebody who says, “Well, what do you do?” And, bingo! I love that! Sometimes I get the guy with the earphones or the guy that’s falling asleep on my shoulder. But some people do ask, “What do you do?” and that’s a wonderful opportunity to explain it.
And thinking about what you do, okay, you’ve been teaching the body of Christ regarding what the Bible declares about creation for more than three decades, and according to my calculations, that would place you back starting in middle school, although you have told me that you’re actually in your early fifties – that ancient time – at my age, I can’t even think back to what that was like in my own life.
But, Jay, in your view, where is the church today in all of this? Are believers in general getting it? Or is evolution winning the day in Christendom?
Jay: Well, there certainly are good stories here and there. There are a lot of churches that take a pretty strong stand, and many people in the congregations seem to be pretty solid in their faith. However, I’ve found as I travel around the country and out of the country there’s way too high of a percentage of Christians that are relatively biblically illiterate. They know some basics, primarily from what they’ve been told by someone else that the Bible teaches about something, rather than their own opinion based on their own personal time in Scripture.
And this whole idea of creation/evolution, in a nutshell, what happens is the majority of these Christians are growing up in the public school system, and so they’re hearing about evolution and the Big Bang in grade school – it starts out in kindergarten with dinosaurs and all that, “millions of years ago.” So they learn it in grade school, junior, high school, and all along they’re hearing that. Then they go to church on Sunday and learn about Jesus. And then they go back to school to learn about history and archaeology and science and evolution. And then they go back to church and learn about Jesus. And often, they really don’t think about the two – kind of put it out of their mind – but at some point, they realize, “I’m not sure these two things go together really well.” But you can’t really question evolution because, hey, I mean, “That’s science. That’s what we’re learning in school, and everyone believes that. So there’s got to be some way to put it together. I’m not sure – and it probably doesn’t matter.”As they wrestle with it more, they realize, “I need to have a response, because people are asking me about it.” So they’ll often come up with a hybrid that seems to make sense in their minds: “So, on one hand, the school system and the scientists are all saying evolution is an absolute fact, and you can’t question it because it’s science, and science [in their mind] is black and white. But yet the Bible says that God’s the Creator. So probably what happened is that evolution is true, but God had His hand in it somehow. So now, no matter what the scientists come up with, we can just say, ‘Well, yeah. That’s how God did it.’ ‘That’s how God did it.’ ‘That’s how God did it.” So we just have this rubber stamp, no matter they say, we’ll just say, “Well, I guess that’s what God did. It doesn’t really matter. He's all-powerful; He can do whatever He wants, and then move on.
There’s a whole slough of issues with that, but when you just stay on the surface, it sounds like a good response. And anyone else who comes along and says, “Well, wait a minute! That doesn’t really work. You need to take a look at this a little deeper,” those people will get labeled as the troublemakers. You know, “We were doing just fine before you came along. But now you’re rocking the boat and you’re making me uncomfortable because you’re saying this position doesn’t work.” But we were kind of happy in ignorance before that, but now we’re being challenged, and we don’t like that because that causes some effort on our end, and we often can be very lazy; we’re busy, so we don’t have time to look into it. And there’s so many people out there who believe that God used evolution; it’s comfortable because you’re in a very large crowd.
Tom: Right. Jay, as I’ve been watching some of your DVDs (which are terrific, by the way. I really recommend them, folks!) you make it…the way you present it is so understandable and so clear, and actually very simple! It’s not as complex as many people think. At least, your presentation – and I’m going with what you say. It just makes sense. But then, as you pointed out, those who claim to be Christians, whether professing Christians or really biblical Christians, the evidence for design, the evidence is so in favor – from true science – for the biblical position, it’s hard for me to believe, even with what you said, that a biblical Christian wouldn’t be able to object to it reasonably.
Jay: Well, they shouldn’t. However, a passage came to mind a number of years ago that I think is really pertinent here: John:12:43, Jesus – so, basically, they’d been talking about who He is, and it says, “Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on him, but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him lest they be put out of the synagogue. So they were kind of like, “I guess this makes sense…I guess we believe this, but…I’m not going to say anything, because if the Pharisees found out, they’d kick me out the synagogue, and I don’t want to lose my position here.”
And many Christians are in a similar situation, where, you know, they can see it all around them. There’s evidence of design, the Bible says that God’s the Creator – so they want to believe that, but they’re more worried about mankind’s approval rather than God’s approval, and Galatians:1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?” You know, am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. And, again, we’re so worried about what everyone else is going to think of us, and so you don’t want to be the person who gets laughed at, like, “What? You don’t believe in evolution? Oh, come on! Everybody believes in evolution! We can see change all around us! No one denies that!”
And what they do in that example is something called equivocation. You set two things to be equal that really aren’t. They say evolution is an absolute fact because we see change all around us. Well, we do see change all around us, but evolution isn’t just change – it’s a very specific type of change in a certain direction. We don’t see any of that. But just throwing that out there is intimidating, so you don’t want to be the one person who denies evolution. And then they’d say, “Oh, yeah. You’re right about the Bible being correct, and all of the scientists are wrong! Yeah, okay. How is that, that you figured that out and all these other scientists are wrong?”
So it’s uncomfortable to take a stand. It’s a lot easier to say, “Well, you know, evolution’s fine. It is science. They have proven it. They’ve got all this evidence. God’s all-powerful. It really doesn’t matter.”
So ultimately what’s happening is – I did mention a little bit of the laziness: we don’t want to look into it ourselves and we, maybe, are intimidated, and we think, “Well, how are we going to be able to figure it out if all the other scientists are debating it all?” So we don’t really want to do the homework, and we don’t want to be ostracized from those around us. We want to be able to say, “Sure, I believe in science. Sure I believe in evolution because evolution is science.” Again, equivocation: “Those two are equal,” which they’re not!
So it’s this kind of peer pressure, rather than saying, “God, I want to be true to Your Word. I’m going to read it; You convict me with Your Holy Spirit of what the truth is and I’ll stick with that, even if the world around me says that’s not right. First Corinthians 3:19 says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” And so the most brilliant scientists we have – and some of them are really smart – they know nothing compared to God. And the Bible also says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And many of these scientists don’t fear God. A lot of them don’t even believe in God. So we shouldn’t be so caught up in wanting their approval.
Tom: You know, Jay, there’s (as you’re aware) a seductive process. Last night, my wife, Peg, and I were watching a documentary on the national parks – an incredible documentary, beautiful pictures. And they keep talking about the environment and how awesome it is and how overwhelming it is – even to the point of, like Carl Sagan, you worship the creation. What was interesting about this is my wife – she’s a real hiker, backpacker, and she did the John Muir Trail, which starts in Yosemite Valley and ends up at Mount Whitney, which is 14,500 feet. I followed this from our living room couch, by the way, on a satellite phone (I shouldn’t be admitting this!). Nevertheless, we’re watching this program. It’s absolutely gorgeous, narration, the interviews, and so on. And, Jay, they’re just antithetical to God creating all of this. But you’re caught up in it. Not only the beauty of God’s creation, which is under the curse, by the way. Not nearly what it was at the beginning. But still, you’re caught up in this and you start buying into many of the things that they’re saying.
You say, “Hey, wait a minute! How does that compare with Scripture?” That’s my point, that we too often maybe take some of these ideas in by osmosis, you know? We’re not thinking critically about it. And I know that that’s a point you like to make. You know, what are we thinking here? Are we thinking biblically? Right?
Jay: Right. That’s huge. The secular world packages this thing very well. There are people that are very gifted with documentaries, with artistic abilities, and they’ve got millions and millions and millions of dollars at their disposal either through government grants or their universities or whatever. So they do a great job of presenting things, and they are beautiful productions. And then, for the most part, on the other hand, when Christians try to do something, they’re trying to call up friends that they know: “Hey, could you give me a hundred bucks? We need to raise $200,000 and make this documentary to compete with National Geographic, who’s spending $10 million on theirs.” And so, it’s challenging, because we don’t have the same resources but ultimately, we’ve got truth on our side, and that’s what we need to focus on. That’s why it’s so important for Christians to know God’s Word – what is this truth, because too often I’ve also seen Christians try to defend something that’s not even what the Bible says. And that’s even worse, because when someone disproves it and says, “You’re wrong,” then you’ve spent all that effort to support something that isn’t even in the Bible to begin with!
Tom: Jay, that’s what I love about your approach. You certainly have science degrees. You know what you’re talking about. But your foundation is the Scripture. Let’s underscore that a little bit. Why is that important to you, in terms of what you’re doing?
Jay: Sure. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t bother trying to say anything, because I’m so confident that the Bible is God’s Word, and we’ll get into that a little bit later, especially at the conference. But if the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that means that everything it says is true, whether we understand it or not, whether we like it or not. And it really needs to be our starting point. This is what God has chosen to tell us about Himself.
Religion is all about man’s idea of God. Who do we think God is? Why did He create us? What did He want from us? What happens when we die? What do we need to do to please Him?
That’s what religion is all about, whereas Christianity is basically God’s idea of God. And so it’s very important for us to be in tune with that, and there’s power in God’s Word to equip us with everything that we need, and God’s Word will never return void. And the way I see that, and I think it’s very powerful, is that when we share our clever ideas about the complexity of nature and the DNA and carbon-14 dating (and all these things are really interesting), God doesn’t guarantee that that’s going to change anyone’s mind or have an impact. Now, God can graciously use it. There’s no guarantee or absolute power there. But when we actually share Scripture, God says, Isaiah:55:11, “It will not return void.” And the way I see that is when you share the Word of God directly, it will either be used to convict and convert the person, which is what God ultimately wants, or it will be used to condemn them that they heard the Word and they rejected it, and it’s not us to force the outcome. We’re just the middle man. We’re just sharing what’s in God’s Word, but we need to know it first. We need to commit to it. And we need to use that to judge all these other ideas we’re hearing, whether they’re true or not.
Tom: Jay, certainly all I can say is Amen to your perspective on the Scriptures, but on the other hand, I’m really thankful for the way you teach, because I’m not a science guy, okay? And as my father would say, “Oh, Tom majored in the path of least resistance in college.” But I need to understand some of these things in order to respond to people. So that’s why I appreciate your approach.
Now, one of the things that you present – and I’m asking you if this is your biggest task regarding people like me – is it helping me to discern between historic science vs. what you call observational or operational science? That seems to be a major key here. Could you explain that for our listeners?
Jay: Sure. It’s very critical and it’s also very simple, but it’s one of the most important things and briefest things that clears a lot of the fog away and makes this a lot less intimidating for Christians who don’t want to get into it because it’s an intimidating science thing. And that is the difference between historical science and observational or operational science. Operational science (or observational science) has to do with things that we typically do in a laboratory. We make cures for diseases and we make fast computers and space shuttles. It’s great stuff. Creationists and evolutionists are not really debating operational science. We know how it works, but too often they’ll say, “Well, you Christians – you guys reject science. You just believe the Bible.” That’s not true at all. In fact, almost every major area of science we have today was founded by Bible-believing Christians. Christianity is what gave birth to areas of science.
So that’s not what the issue is. But if you believe in Creation, it doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in cellphone technology. But historical science is something very different. That deals with events that happened in the unobserved past where you weren’t around to see it. We can’t reproduce it in a laboratory. We can’t test it directly. Such as something like a Big Bang. They say 13.8 billion years ago – again, no one was around to see it, you can’t reproduce it in a laboratory, can’t test it directly. But the same thing would be true of the Six-Day Creation account. We weren’t there to see that. We certainly can’t reproduce that in a laboratory. And we can’t test it directly. So both of those concepts – Big Bang and Evolution or Six-Day Creation – fall into the category of what we call Historical Science. And there’s actually nothing wrong with historical science; it’s just very different because it involves a lot of guesses and assumptions as to what happened a long time ago when we weren’t there to see it. And a Christian has a leg up because we have an eyewitness account in God’s Word of what happened, and that’s our starting point. And then when we want to get some other details that aren’t mentioned in Scripture, we can at least use that to formulate our guesses and assumptions, whereas an atheist would say, “I know there’s no God, so whatever happened a long time ago, it had to be natural – just nature doing things and not God, because he doesn’t exist.” So they would use that starting point to formulate their guesses and assumptions.
And one quick analogy that sometimes is helpful: If we think about a refrigerator, a refrigerator primarily works by Boyle’s Gas Laws that when you compress a gas it gives off heat and expands and absorbs heat. So, if you compress gas up the side of your refrigerator, heat goes off. That’s why it’s usually a bit warm behind your refrigerator. Now you bring those compressed gases into the refrigerator and you quickly expand them, and it absorbs heat, so it’s taking the heat out of the food in the refrigerator. Now you take the gases back out again and recompress them, it gives off that heat. You bring it back in again, it absorbs heat and it cycles through and through.
Boyle’s Gas Laws do a great job of explaining the operation of a refrigerator, but they are completely inept for describing the origin of a refrigerator. How did we get refrigerators to begin with? You can’t just compress gases to produce a refrigerator with the shelves and electricity and the cords and all those things. So the current laws of science we have do a great job of explaining how this universe and life are operating, but they can’t explain its origin.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Jay, we’ve just got a few minutes left, but as you mentioned earlier, Christians are intimidated. And that’s not lost on the evolutionists. They love to intimidate! However, what do you recommend for Christians? Should we automatically take a defensive position? Or can we go on the offense with something like that?
Jay: Well, we should definitely be on the offense. One of the things I recommend most to people, especially for those Christians who don’t have science backgrounds – they’re not expected to understand these things in any significant depth, but probably the most powerful thing they can do is very simple, and that is twofold. Number one, listen to what the skeptic is saying. Show some reverence. Show some respect. Show some care – that you actually care about who they are and what they believe. Listen! So you show that and you’re better positioned now to: Number two: ask questions. So rather than getting defensive right away and getting uptight and looking like your case is weak because you are overly defensive and maybe too emotional, just listen to what they’re saying, and then, based on that, ask follow-up questions, such as…if they say, “Well, evolution’s a fact” and “The Bible’s just myths,” just ask questions. You don’t have to prove your beliefs right away, but ask questions. They just said evolution is a fact. So you could ask them a question: “Oh, how do you know evolution’s a fact?”
“Well, all the scientists believe it!”
“Okay, how…[then ask them another question]…How do you know all the scientists believe it?”
“Well, um, all the real scientists believe it.”
“Okay, how do you define a ‘real’ scientist?”
“Well, anyone who believes in evolution. They’re a real scientist.”
So there’s some circular reasoning going on there. And then you could ask them, “You just said the Bible is a myth. Why do you believe that?” (Again, you’re just asking questions).
And they say, “Well, it’s filled with errors and contradictions.”
“Okay, could you give me some examples?”
“Oh, there are tons and tons of them!”
“Okay, then it should be pretty easy for you to give me an example or two.”
“Well, I…um…I can’t think of any right now.”
“Okay, could you tell me what the Bible’s all about from beginning to end? You know, it starts with this, this happens, that goes on, and then it ends with this. Not all the details, just a 30-second overview.”
“Well, you know, it’s been awhile since I looked at it.”
“Okay. Can you tell me, then, if you can’t think of any actual errors or contradictions, you don’t know what it’s all about, why is it that you have such a strong opinion against it? Are you sure you’re not just repeating things you’ve heard from others vs. your own well-thought-out research?”
So that whole time, all you did was ask follow-up questions because they’re making what we call “truth claims.” And all you’re doing is trying to find out where did they come up with that idea and why are they confident in it. So it doesn’t even require you to have all these answers right away and be a great debater. It just requires that you listen and ask questions.
Tom: Jay, I really appreciate that. For our listeners, I’m going to encourage you to…this is the end of our first session, and so, next week, the Lord willing, we’re going to pick up from that, and I’m going to give you my questions for evolutionists and so on. And you take me to task for it, okay, Jay? Or maybe even a praise report, I don’t know.
But my guest is Jay Seegert, and we’re looking forward to next week when we’re going to continue on with this. Jay’s ministry is called The Starting Point Project. And, Jay, it’s been terrific! And I look forward to talking about this again next week.
Jay: Yeah, I’m looking forward to the opportunity.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638; or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for tuning in and we hope you can be here again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.