“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6)
I’m an Australian. Growing up “down under” offered some unique experiences, including the time I once talked to an old Australian aboriginal elder.
This aborigine recalled roaming the deserts with his family many years ago when they were in their tribal state. This old man had since become a Christian. He remembered that as a little boy — bound in this spiritist, anti-God culture — he asked his father one day: “What is God like, Father?” He said his father turned to him, and after a long pause said: “I don’t know, Son. We’ve forgotten.”
His father had forgotten because his father before him had forgotten. Their ancestors had known, but somewhere in their ancestry, a father had not passed on the truth about the God of creation to the next generation.
In Psalm 78:2-6 we read:
I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: which we have heard and known and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He hath done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them . . .
Many other passages in the Bible likewise command fathers to teach their children so that the correct information is passed on to, and implemented by, the next generation (e.g., Isaiah 38:19; Ephesians 6:4).
Now, what does this have to do with Christian schools?
Sadly, as I have pondered my conversation with this Australian aboriginal, I realize that this same problem is being reflected not only within Christian families here in America, but also in Christian education. Now that I live in the U.S. and have had the opportunity to speak in hundreds of churches and dozens of schools in America and around the world, I have noticed that the coming generations do not have enough knowledge to defend the basics of their faith, much less to a skeptical generation.
Our AiG ministry commissioned a poll recently that attempted to provide an answer to the current crisis of why so many young people who had grown up attending a Bible-believing church had stopped going to church once they left home. (I heard a leading Christian spokesman state that up to 70 percent of young people in Christian families who attend public schools will abandon the church.) The poll revealed that a significant number (nearly 80 percent) of young adults who were former church-goers had already decided to leave the church one day when they were in middle school or high school, and that it was not a decision they made when in college. The poll revealed that one major reason young people are leaving the church was that the church (including Christian schools) and parents were not equipping them with a strong foundation upon which Christianity is built, including how to defend the Christian faith from the skeptical questions of our age.
In America and other parts of the Western world today, the father and mother increasingly assume, “Oh, the kids are going to church and Sunday school, and we have them in a Christian school setting, and they’ll be fine.” Parents, we should be making sure that our young people are getting their Bible teaching and Christian worldview training from home—from studying the Word of God as a family, and then also using Christian schooling (plus church teaching, of course).
To conclude, let me give you a little test. In fact, I believe it would be a real eye-opener if Christian school administrators and parents were willing to print out this test and hand it to each teacher at their school. It might be shocking. Our experience at AiG has shown that the majority of Christian teachers and parents could not answer most of these questions:
1. What is the best evidence you would use to defend your belief that there is a God, and who created the world?
2. Where did Cain find his wife?
3. How do you explain the origin of all the different races of people in the world?
4. When did the dinosaurs live?
5. For what do scientists use Carbon-14?
6. Is there any evidence for Noah’s Flood? Where is it?
7. Is creation a side issue or a foundational doctrine?
Unfortunately, many Christians today, when asked these same questions by their young people, give an answer similar to that of the father of the aboriginal elder quoted above: “I don’t know—we’ve forgotten.”
All biblical doctrines, directly or indirectly, have their foundation in the book of Genesis. If you cannot defend the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis, then you cannot defend Christianity’s foundation—the very basis and historicity of the faith. Without a foundation, how can the structure remain?
Here are very brief answers to the questions we posed, which every Christian parent and school teacher should know as they eventually send their young people into the world:
1) Evidence for a Creator God? The design and order of the universe, in particular living systems, demands an intelligent Designer. To deny the obvious signature of God in His creation is to be “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Life is built on an information/ code system (DNA)—which can only arise from an intelligence.
2) Where did Cain get his wife? Adam and Eve had “sons and daughters” (Genesis 5). Such unions were a problem by the time of Moses, but were not a genetic problem so soon after creation.
3) Where did the “races” come from? All humans are descended from Noah’s family. Isolation of language groups following the dispersion at the Tower of Babel caused certain characteristics to be expressed which best fit the local environment.
4) What about the dinosaurs? The Bible reveals that land animals were created on day six of the creation week, along with people. There is much evidence that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time.
5) Carbon-14? This dating method has nothing to do with dating things to be millions of years. All dating methods including carbon-14 are based on fallible assumptions. Also, Carbon-14 dating is only good on previously living organisms, not on rocks, a common misconception.
6) Is there evidence for Noah’s Flood? The global, mountain-covering flood described in the Bible laid down most of the world’s fossil-bearing (things that died in the Flood judgment) sedimentary (water-deposited) rock. To deny the Flood is to be “willingly ignorant” (II Peter 3:6).
7) Isn’t the creation/evolution controversy a side issue? Most of our Christian doctrine is based on Genesis, especially the definition of, and punishment for, sin, and man’s desperate need for a Savior to die in substitutionary payment for that sin. Not to accept Genesis as written is to undermine the authority of Scripture.
Full answers to these questions, and many more, can be found by going to our website www.AnswersInGenesis.org (which has about 6,000 articles) or by visiting our new high-tech Creation Museum near Cincinnati.
by Ken Ham
President, Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum