Let me point out at the beginning of this that I am not a fan of Ken Ham. Being honest . . . he drives me nuts. I just want you to know that upfront.
From the back of the book . . .
If you look around in your church today, two-thirds of the young people who are sitting among us have already left in their hearts; soon they will be gone for good.The fact that the church is losing a ton of its youth is pretty well known. Numbers vary from report to report, but they are high. In this book Ken and Britt reveal (from the back again) . . .
The views of 1,000 twenty-somethings, solidly raised in the church but no longer attending - and their reasons why.One interesting thing is the thousand aren't random across a spectrum of twenty-somethings including atheists and/or agnostics and/or people raised in liberal churches. These thousand came from conservative churches.
I appreciate Ken Ham's concern for the youth. Youth are who I have a burden for myself so I appreciate that focus of this book. Another good point that Ken stresses is the need for apologetics. On page 93, Ken quotes two passages that I think are the solution to the problem. He quotes 1 Peter 3:15 as he stresses the need for apologetics and he also quotes 2 Timothy 4:2-4. Paul tells Timothy in that passage to preach the word. Ken stresses hard that there is a lack of teaching the Bible. Ken writes on page 123, ". . . I firmly believe that one of the reasons people aren't living by the word is that they aren't being taught the word." I agree with him about this problem. Many churches teach from the Bible, but they don't teach the Bible. What do I mean? They preach topical series and use individual verses as launching pads instead of teaching through the text verse-by-verse in context, teaching through entire books so that Christians understand what a book teaches and how that book applies to their lives. I risk really sidetracking on a soapbox of mine, so let's stop there.
So Ken has some great emphases in this book. He points out a serious problem. He points out good solutions. He makes one serious flaw in my viewpoint. He absolutely mistakes the cause of so many youth departing. Ken blames it on the church teaching "millions of years." This is Ken's soapbox. It's a terrible one. Why? Because it's not one of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and many of the greatest defenders of the faith believe in millions of years (billions to be more accurate).
Ken writes on pp 73-74 . . .
The problem we are studying, of course, is that 60 percent of the students who grow up in the Church have lost that connection . . . What happened? How did we get here? I believe it all started when the Church gave us "millions of reasons" to doubt the Bible. The book of Genesis gives us a clear account of the creation of the universe, of the world, and of everything that lives, including humanity. A simple literal interpretation of these passages makes it clear that this creation took place in six days, with God resting on the seventh, just a few thousand years ago.I listen to all of Ken's podcasts. He blames nearly everything that's wrong in this world on this very point.
Ken hired Britt Beemer and his company to do a statistical study to get the information for this book. Unfortunately, it appears Ken didn't pay attention to the information. We're these kids taught "millions of years" in their youth at church? Largely not.
Ken tells us about these 1,000 people on page 45 . . .
Of those who attended Sunday school, over 9 in 10 said that their Sunday school classes taught them that the Bible was true and accurate.
Only 1 in 10 said their pastor/Sunday school teacher taught that Christians could believe in Darwinian evolution.
One in 4 said their pastors and Sunday school teachers taught that Christians could believe in an earth that is millions or billions of years old.
Over 4 in 5 said their pastor or Sunday school teacher taught that God created the earth in six 24-hour days.
Only 1 in 16 said their pastors or Sunday school teachers taught that the Book of Genesis was a myth or legend and not real history.All 1,000 of these people are not "attending church" today. But when you look at those stats, it appears most of them were not taught "millions of years." So how can the church teaching millions of years be the cause of their departure? It can't because most of them weren't taught it in church!
I think the cause of their departure may not be "millions of years" but "thousands of years." Now that doesn't speak for everyone because the stats do show some were taught an old earth/universe view. However, it does speak for most of them as we look at those stats. More than 4 of 5 were taught literal six 24-hour days. The heaviest stat in Ken's favor is that 1 of 4 pastors taught Christians could believe in millions/billions of years. But even that only has 250 of 1,000 being taught old earth/universe.
As Christians, we should be well-informed in as many ways as possible. My personal opinion is that the view of a young-earth/universe has been brutally assaulted by a gang of facts. However, while that has happened, the evidence for Darwinian and/or neo-Darwinian evolution has been also brutally assaulted. Old-earth/universe does not automatically make macro-evolution true (macro-evolution is the idea that one species becomes another). I think this is where Ken makes mistakes. Ken regular makes category mistakes by automatically throwing macro-evolution in with an old earth/universe. This can, and often does, result in "straw man" representations of old-earth Christians.
So how do I propose that kids taught young-earth creationism are in danger of falling away? First of all, if students aren't taught firmly that this is an area of debate in Christianity, but rather are taught with hardcore dogmatism that the earth is young, and if the scientific evidence becomes too convincing for them against the young-earth view, then they may have the misunderstanding that they have no other Christian camp to go to. Thus, they may jettison the whole Christian worldview. Secondly, teach a proper understanding that the Bible is sixty-six books, not one book. If a young adult sees the Bible as one book and struggles for a period in understanding one book, they can't throw out the other sixty-five automatically. Remember, we couldn't always purchase a leather-bound codex with all sixty-six books in it. They were all individual documents created at individual times. Thirdly, teach proper apologetics and good linear thinking in how we come to conclusions. I can't find the page, but Ken states somewhere in the book (and often in podcasts and public speaking events) that we believe in the resurrection because the Bible is the word of God and the Bible claims Jesus was resurrected. He'll do it in a question and answer type format. He'll ask, "Why do we believe in the resurrection? Because the Bible says so." I do not think that is the proper way to teach resurrection and creation apologetics. Oh, I absolutely believe the Bible is the word of God, but we don't have to posit that to prove the resurrection. The only place we must get to is proving that the gospel accounts and/or Paul's epistles are historically reliable. If Matthew states that Jesus said X, then Jesus said X. If Mark says Jesus did Y, the Jesus did Y. Proving the divine authorship and inerrancy of these books is further down the line in our argumentation in good apologetics.
By teaching teens in a way that they take the whole Bible as one book and getting them into a mindset that we believe X because the Bible says X, once they begin to have a doubt about one point they begin to doubt the entire Bible. Once they don't believe one doctrine, they toss the whole worldview.
By teaching teens:
- the difference between essential Christianity and non-essential Christianity (and we can't give this lip service . . . we can't say something is not an essential and treat it as essential after that, and this is what Ken does)
- about ways in which Christians disagree and why different Christians hold those views and respecting Christians who hold a differing viewpoint than we do
- how the Bible came to be book-by-book, how it was inspired and written down and then how it was transmitted through the centuries to today