Randal Rauser on The Evolution of a Young Earth Creationist

David MacMillan, a former young earth creationist, who is featured in the independent documentary “We Believe In Dinosaurs.” | (Courtesy of Randal Rauser)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of BCNN1.

In this article, I share a dialogue with David MacMillan, a former young earth creationist who has since come to a very different opinion. MacMillan currently lives in Washington DC with his wife and their children, where he works as a paralegal while studying for his J.D. at Columbus School of Law. He is featured in the independent documentary “We Believe In Dinosaurs” and you can read more about his journey here. “We Believe In Dinosaurs” is an award-winning documentary that follows the creation of Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter from inception to completion, along with its impacts on those involved and the surrounding community. It has been screened in several film festivals since its premiere at the San Francisco Film Festival this April and has just been released on streaming platforms ahead of its broadcast on PBS Independent Lens next February.

Although the filmmakers accept mainstream science, young-earth creationism is portrayed primarily through the mouths of creationists themselves, making the film less a collection of scientific rebuttals and more a glimpse into the inner workings of this unique brand of “alternative” science.

MacMillan is joined in the film by Doug Henderson, the lead designer for the Ark Encounter and a committed young-earth creationist, and Dan Phelps, a geologist and longtime critic of Ken Ham’s organization and teachings.

Randal: David, thanks for the invitation to watch “We Believe in Dinosaurs.” For those who haven’t seen it, it is a fascinating documentary that chronicles the cultural impact of young earth creationism, and specifically Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis (AiG) and their Ark Encounter theme park. Wrapped up into the story are questionable relationships between religion and government, urban decay and the fleeting hope of economic renewal, and the cultural war between secularists and fundamentalist Christians.

In the midst of it all, we also meet you, a Christian who was once deeply committed to AiG: indeed, we learn in the film that you are a lifetime charter member of their Creation Museum.  But you’ve since had a change of heart: there’s a poignant moment where you locate your name on the museum’s wall for charter members and reflect that you are no longer that person.

I’d like to hear more about that story. To begin, could you share something about your background, specifically how you were first introduced to AiG and young earth creationism more generally?

David: Like one of the other characters in the film says, I was more or less “always” a creationist. It was something I grew up with, something we all assumed to be true. My family home schooled, so all of my curriculum came from creationist groups like Answers In Genesis and Apologia. My dad, who holds an M.S. in chemistry, took me to creation science conferences whenever they were close enough to attend.

As I got older, however, the interest in creationism went from being part of my family’s identity to being my own identity. I was far more interested and far more plugged-in to the creation science movement than anyone else in my family or in my immediate peer group. I really liked being the “resident expert” on all things having to do with the age of the earth, evolution, and biblical authority.

Randal: I know that of which you speak. When I was in high school thirty years ago, I lent my high school science teacher my copy of the book It’s a Young World After All. Young earth creationism was very much a part of my Christianity growing up. Indeed, I was taught it was key to everything else: Genesis was the foundation on which the house of Christianity was built, and if you doubted the history of Genesis 1-3, well, that was a slippery slope to doubting everything else, the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus, the second coming, heaven and hell, everything.

David: Oh, absolutely. The argument is very powerful. Broadly speaking, the concern is that if you cannot take Genesis “at face value” then you will end up questioning, deconstructing, and ultimately discarding the rest of the Bible. There are also specific, prooftext arguments. If you accept millions of years and death before Adam, for example, then you lose the verse in Romans about death being the result of sin, and your whole soteriology goes to hell.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Randal Rauser