Ross Olson's Web Site


March 12, 1997


Dear __. ______,

Thank you for your letter of November 15. It has been a hectic time for me over the last few months but I finally have found time for responding. Perhaps you would rather not to go any further, but I feel that because or your status as an elder statesman, your understanding of the stakes involved in this issue is important.

First, I think that there is a spiritual problem at the root of this conflict. I do not think it is only on one side, either. Satan wants to divide us as brothers and sisters in Christ and keep us from the real task of evangelism. Often we remain divided because of our human pride and sinful nature. We would rather die than apologize.

On the other hand, there are issues which affect our usefulness. At the extreme, the churches which affirm homosexuality, if they are Christian at all, and I think some may be, are at the minimum confused and disabled, vulnerable to becoming entwined in self destruction. Less extreme but just as deadly over the slightly longer run, those churches which rejected the concept of an inerrant Scripture found that within one or two theological generations, they had rejected the essentials of the faith. A few members may continue to follow the Lord but they are confused and confounded by their churches.

Having had the experience of being in conflict and bitter (with my fellow missionaries in Hong Kong) I know first hand how much it sapped my spiritual vitality. I also know how hard it was to start the process of reconciliation even after I realized it was essential. I had to forgive, first of all, for offenses, both real and imaginary. I had to really mean it and hold to that forgiveness even when one of the parties did not respond as I had hoped. Even though I felt in my heart that I was only a very little part of the problem, I had to apologize for at least that part (knowing in my head that my responsibility was probably quite a few percentage points over my own estimate.)

Yes, there are times when we say of a group of people or a certain situation, "Things are not changing, they are not changing, and I will just have to leave to live and work away from this group." Yet, if in my heart I find myself saying, "They do not deserve forgiveness; they do not deserve even the time of day," then I stand reproved before the Lord.

From your writings, I sense bitterness in your heart, and without going into the responsibility of those who precipitated it, I say, as one who has been there, "It does not belong." Are you willing to give it up? That is the central question in the "Peace Proposal." After the heart is right, the mind can deal with the data and agree, disagree or agree to disagree. Who am I to come barreling into your life demanding such things? I am no one but a poor fellow servant. I feel a concern for the Lord's work and the place creation has in winning people to Christ. I asked the Lord for ways to start the ball rolling towards a miracle. You may freely reject me as a person or a prophet. But if you have heard the voice of the Lord do not harden your heart just because the messenger is unsavory. On the other hand, to step out into something new that the Lord is doing can be the most exhilarating of experiences.

I read the transcript of your talks to _________ _________ Church and have a number of reactions. These are intended to provoke thought. If I am proposing peace, why am I arguing for one side? I believe that there are right and wrong answers to the various questions and I believe that some of the data has been ignored by one side or the other for emotional rather than rational reasons. Feel free to point out data I am ignoring.

In speaking of the dangers of understanding things in a supernatural sense, you mention, in a very derogatory way, UFO's and the theory that they are demonic representations. Clifford Wilson, the Australian Archeologist who debunked von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods, was asked to write a book on UFO's and expected to thoroughly expose them as either secret experiments, natural phenomena or hoaxes. He found the majority to be such, but there was a hard core that defied explanation. And, indeed, the experiences of those with the "close encounters" were identical to those of participants in spiritism and included documented supernatural knowledge or powers.

Is a scientist who is also a Christian required to take the position of the Skeptics Society and insist that only natural explanations are acceptable? We know, as believers, that we have a separate source of knowledge. That is at the root of the conflict between science and Christianity. Believers are not limited to the empirical evidence and often Biblical data directs research, as when Matthew Maury discovered the Gulf Stream, looking for "Paths of the Sea." *(See Correction) I agree that Biblical data must be properly interpreted, but do not feel, for example, that those who insisted that "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho" were wrong to hold to the literal interpretation of the Biblical story even when archeology said, "It ain't there." Of course, archeology was looking at the wrong level and the evidence was all there, in every detail.

There is indeed a swarm of spiritual deceivers all about us, from whom we are protected many times every day by our Lord Jesus Christ who has triumphed by the blood of the cross and the power that raised him from the dead. Jesus dealt with what appeared to be physical or mental illness but was actually demonization. He addressed the spirits in healing the victims, and clearly taught that there were sentient beings who would dwell within people and if they were cast out, but the space left unoccupied, they would return with reinforcements.

My view of Scripture and of Jesus does not allow me to say that the nature of epilepsy or schizophrenia were not understood at the time and perhaps Jesus was a prisoner of his humanity or at least accommodating to primitive people who could not comprehend brain physiology. Instead, my eyes are opened to an incredible interplay and relationship of the physical, the spiritual and the moral. Jesus also healed epileptics without demon possession being involved. I see that demons can simulate physical and mental illness but require a spiritual solution. (How does this go over with the medical society? Not very well.)

Paul dealt with occult power in the young woman who told fortunes but lost her ability when a demon was cast out. This threw the town in a uproar but allowed the power of God to be demonstrated. I do not see this as a parable but as a real life experience. And I have indeed had personal encounters with the powers of darkness.

As to whether UFO's are a demonic manifestation, it would seem prudent not to prejudge but to look at the evidence. However, if ones motivation is to avoid being laughed at by skeptics, then it would be prudent to steer way clear of the issue. But that course, I maintain, is a dangerous one. For, sooner or later, we have to come up against the world's wrath and derision. And if there is a track record of practical experience in failing to say the hard things on many different issues, it may become very easy to chicken out on the major ones.

In your analysis of Henry Morris and the ICR, I find misrepresentation and a little bit of "tar," the very thing you warn against earlier. Morris does not restrict science, but points out that past, non-repeatable events are not subject to controlled experiments (the heart of science -- often called the scientific method.) It is true that hypotheses can still be constructed and predictions made which are then researched in gathering further data or reanalyzing the existing data. Still, this is not as firm as experiments in the here and now.

And, in addition, evolution has been particularly resilient in shrugging off setbacks like absence of transitional fossils with the development of the hypothesis of "punctuated equilibrium." It still would produced transitions in the fossil record, by the way, just fewer of them. With all the millions, indeed billions of transitions to get all the forms of life extant and extinct, even if the changes occurred in "small isolated populations over relatively short times," there would be at least a few missing links on somebody's shelf.

If it were possible to run an experiment testing the hypothesis and after a few years have enough information to analyze, I think we would have long ago debunked the theory. (Maybe it actually has been done. Haven't fruit flies been in isolated jars, under intense pressure for enough generations to do something spectacular, like learn to eat glass or turn lids?) Yet, to an "untrained audience," especially one that does not understand how difficult it would be to make a genetic improvement to a species over any length of time, it sounds like a reasonable explanation.

I am not saying by critiquing evolution that I know you to be an evolutionist. (You seem anxious to avoid the label and tend to leave things vague. I do not know how you put together the long ages and the work of God and wonder if you have perhaps not really looked at the details of that relationship or you are afraid to tell your church what you really believe.) I just show that there is indeed a difference between the "hands on" and the "ages ago" or "light years away" type of data. Pointing this out does not make Morris dishonest of deceptive.

You pointed out that Nobel prizes have been won by 42 Jews and no Evangelicals. That deserves a long look, especially since most of the pioneers of science and technology, such as: Kepler, Francis Bacon, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Matthew Maury, Joule, Agassiz, Virchow, Mendel, Pasteur, Lord Kelvin, Lister, Maxwell and Werner von Braun were devout Christians. The fact that Christians are absent from the Nobel pantheon could also be taken as the increasingly anti-Christian bias of the academic establishment. I know that is a concept you reject, but a Biblical understanding of human nature ought to make you at least entertain the possibility.

In your analogy of evolution and embryology, you, of course, realize that the process in the fetus is guided by information which can be detected, and to a certain extent decoded and which, in experiment, follows the pattern nearly flawlessly. If you are attempting to lay a groundwork for abiogenesis and biological evolution, where is the information? Why can it not be detected? Why do atoms not want to arrange themselves in configurations of ever increasing complexity as an internal master plan would imply? Why do new ingenious adaptations not emerge with regularity in the short lived organisms under constant scientific scrutiny?

In your analysis of Henry Morris, I will challenge you to ask whether your attitude towards him has colored your perceptions of the data and reasoning. When you say Henry Morris "settled on the flood of Noah" as an explanation for the geologic record, it sounds like he pulled the story out of obscurity. It is not Morris who first calls it universal.

The Scripture says, "For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. Every living thing that moved on the earth perished--birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those him in the ark. (Genesis 7:17-23)

If the flood, rather than being worldwide and accounting for most of the fossil record, was local, only covering the "then civilized world," it seems strange that Noah spent 100 years building an Ark when he could have just moved to a cabin in the hills. And why bring the animals? Was it all just to be a symbol of salvation? If so, how good is the metaphor if it was all superfluous? And would it really take over a year for a flood of the Tigris-Euphrates to subside? How did they end up on Ararat? That was the wrong direction and the wrong elevation. And might not a few of their evil neighbors outside of the Ark have made it to safety, since the distance to high ground was not all that great?

You said time did not allow you to elaborate all the geologic arguments for great age. You state that radiometric dating confirms 4 billion years and imply that there is no other side to the story. And when I sent you data from the Grand Canyon pollen experiments originally done by Clifford Burdick and data on the missing epoch with inter-digitation, you said you had more important things to do. That may well be true, but the point I am making is that if there is a very strong case for young age, you may not even have looked at it. (Note: in February 2004, those articles were posted. See the article archive.)

It does not help to say that Burdick did not have a PhD. He was about to get it when he offended the establishment and was ostracized for life. He may even have been psychologically damaged. But his data stands. It was confirmed by a team and published in CRSQ. It is not an answer to say that you only read the mainstream journals. What if they are indeed biased in favor of the ruling paradigm? Is that so hard to believe, especially when you hear what happened to Prof. Dean Kenyon at San Francisco State, long tenured teacher and author of a text who was drummed out of teaching beginning biology because he began in his lectures to just barely mention the problems with evolution?

I find it incredible that in answer to my challenge to really truly look at the Grand Canyon data, you respond with an article from the Skeptical Inquirer, a transparently atheistic organization which considers your precious faith to be a pitiful illusion. Are these people more trustworthy than fellow believers with whom you disagree? The arguments in that article, by the way, do not deal with the items I sent you. Also, the treatment of Austin's book is not rigorous or fair. The author faults Austin for not giving a complete explanation of the flood and claims that it is not comprehensively treated anywhere (wrong). Also, he states that fossil zones are invariably in the same order throughout the world, ignoring the undeniably out of order fossils that have had to be called "over thrusts" without geological evidence. It also ignores the logical difficulty of even detecting out of place fossils when you define the epoch by the fossils in the first place.

You also said in your letter and implied in your lectures that without a complete geological education (or "scientific grounding,") it is not possible to understand how powerful is the case for ancient age. Might it not mean something else, more related to socialization than information? It is true that you indeed came out of your own education with that conviction and so did essentially everyone else in the field. So, even if you cannot or perhaps will not answer the arguments for the other side, you are unshaken. The academic culture of geology which controlled whether you lived or died in your field, tolerates no rapid departures from intellectual orthodoxy. If that is the case, a person going through it would indeed come out feeling old age was proven beyond the shadow of a doubt and would also be unwilling to look at contrary evidence since it might threaten their status not to mention years of work and strongly supported beliefs.

You backhandedly compliment Morris as "influential," "capable," and "untiring." You mention the educational outreach, the publishing successes, the media ventures, seminars, field trips, debates and establishment of a graduate school, ending your list with the statement, "I stand in awe of what Morris and company have accomplished." All this after essentially saying there is no scientific or Biblical foundation for what he promotes. Do you know what this amounts to? You are basically calling Morris a charlatan. Have you considered the possibility that God may be blessing his work?

You bemoan the distance put between Christianity and mainstream science by Morris and his kind. What if the distance is already there? Have you not had the experience of being ridiculed for your faith? Is it not absurd to speak of life after death or of the resurrection of Jesus? Have you not noticed that the world considers it foolish (and even arrogant) to assume that there are absolute standards of right and wrong answers that transcend individual taste? (Have you have never ventured to speak out to that extent? I hope not.)

Is it your contention that if we upset the unbeliever as little as possible, he will more likely come to the Lord? Certainly, some things can be stumbling blocks. If we are entrapped in a clear foolish error, such as predicting that the world will end on a certain day and it turns out to be false, we will lose credibility. Yet, most of the resistance is spiritually based and only hides behind intellectual arguments. Sometimes scholarship is wrong, as when it was claimed that there was no historical Jesus. Was it wrong for believers to buck that fad and say, "We are convinced that he really walked the earth and you will find the evidence if you keep looking?"

I have found, on the other hand, that showing the arguments against evolution (and even for a young universe) to unbelievers has pricked their interest and opened their eyes to the scientific propaganda they have been fed including the much larger spiritual deception regarding ultimate truth. It has been a powerful introduction to the gospel to show that the emperor not only has no clothes, but that his attendants knew it all along and, further, that the cover up proves there was plenty to hide.

As to the theological problems with long age, since you have not noted any, can I ask you to look at the work of some who feel they have? Enclosed is a book by Van Bebber and Taylor. Maybe, when all is said and done, you will actually be able to watch the Ken Ham films and you will consider the possibility that even a Professor Emeritus can learn new things.

Can you accept that I love you as a brother? I do not want tears in heaven for either of us having obstructed the Lord's work and caused any to stumble. If I am wrong, show me. If you are wrong, take it to the Lord.

In Christ,

Ross S.Olson MD

Send comments to me at ross{at}

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