Once upon a time the earth was flat – so people thought. It was just taken as fact – pre-supposed as true and without need of question.

Then, once upon another time, the earth was the center of the universe and the sun revolved around it – another presupposition that nobody questioned.

There are still people who believe the earth is flat, but they are mostly viewed with amusement by those who are better informed. Of course,there may even be a few who believe the sun revolves around the earth, but I doubt it! Again, the evidence against these views is now compelling. Evidence, of course, which comes from science and practical observation of what is around us.

Belief in a flat earth, and geocentric universe, were presuppositions that did not leave the stage without a struggle. Christians in particular fought vigorously against their departure, because it went against their presuppositions that the Bible taught these things as fact. In reality they were interpretations.

Presuppositions are very powerful. Samuel Shenton, leader of the Flat Earth Society in the 1950's, when confronted with the first images of the earth viewed from space, had this to say:

"It's easy to see how a photograph like that could fool the untrained eye."


The “presupposition” here is the belief that the earth is flat. We can pretty safely assume the “training” is the learning of reasoned arguments in favor of their presupposition and against what the eye is observing!

The Flat Earth Society ended up saying the Lunar landing was a hoax, and the space photos a product of NASA's creative arts department. One can only wonder why they didn't find it more obvious to question the presupposition than to accept arguments like that.

Now, once upon yet another time, the earth and life on it was created just 6000 years ago – or at least many suppose to be the case. I used to be one of them.

As with the flat earth and geocentric universe, many informed people are trying to usher the young earth teaching from the arena to replace it with the view that this earth and life on it are millions of years old. Bitter is the battle as presuppositions are confronted with science and observable facts. Though sometimes both sides dig in and hang on to presuppositions.

The perceived stakes are high. In Christian circles many see the suggestion that life developed over a long time, on a very old earth, as a challenge to their basic belief in God. This is false, they are in fact two separate presuppositions or beliefs.

Put it this way:

I can presuppose that God IS.
I can then presuppose that this earth is very young or that it is very old.

Whichever choice I make in my second presupposition, it is not automatically a challenge to the first. Either way I can still believe in God. You can read more about this at my page:


So, the first thing Christians who believe in a young earth must do is separate these two points. It would take a lot of fear out of the debate. The second thing they need to do is recognize the importance of being humble enough to allow questions of their presuppositions. It is also important to realize the folly of doing what those who believe in a flat have done – train the eye so that the facts can never get in the way of the presupposition. That just leads to bigoted nonsense – not faith.

I have spent years of my life exhibiting what I call "unintended arrogance" by treating my presuppositions as fact and refusing to admit they could be faulty. Sadly, I believe there is a growing barrage of unintended arrogance being generated by extreme positions on both sides of the debate. There are many trying to "train the eye". I have spent years of my life coming from the presupposition of a 7 day creation week just 6000 years or so ago. Now, just as the observable facts confronted the flat earth, and geocentric belief, so they have confronted my belief in a 7 day creation. I had to accept that much of my belief was based on tightly held presuppositions.

Today, our knowledge of the earths crust, the fossil record, and geology are profoundly greater than they were just a few decades ago. The geologic column is documented by thousands of drill holes, seismic imaging and the like – the overwhelming evidence is that life on our earth has been around for a long time.

I have discovered evidence from the Bible and geology which proves Noah's flood was preceded by vast periods of time. I also demonstrate that the Flood was not responsible for much, if any, of the geologic column.

See: http://oldearthmygod.com/where-to/noahs-flood

I would dare to suggest that within the next generation, belief in a 7 day creation just 6000 years ago will be viewed with the same amusement as the flat earth theory is today.

Surfing the net recently, I came across a site which powerfully described the risks Christians face if we continue our attempts to “train the eye”, and refuse this mind shift. The quote is a letter written to Church leaders about a program being conducted by the Church the writer attended. TTP stands for “The Truth Project” . Sounds familiar doesn't it?

“I would hold that the “either evolution or God” is a false dichotomy. I would also hold that it is a dangerous one. In TTP, evolution and God’s creation are held out as mutually exclusive options: in this mindset, then, evidence for evolution becomes evidence against God. I have seen students struggle with this issue as they study biology. This is a mindset we would do well not to saddle young people with (or anyone, for that matter).

Contrary to what you hear through many Christian channels, there is ample evidence for evolution, human evolution included. When students encounter this evidence with the either/or mindset, it can shipwreck their faith. When outsiders who know Biology come into the church, they write us off as ignorant and dismiss the claims of Christ along with our flawed Biology. In both cases, our poor handling of science raises unnecessary barriers to faith.

I would suggest, especially for the science section of TTP, that there be a willingness to engage a discussion in the church about the full range of Christian responses to evolution, and even explore some of the reasons why Christians in the biological sciences feel that evolution is a valid scientific theory. I’m not normally one for pushing these discussions, but we’ve never had the opposing views taught through an official venue before either..”


What are Christians going to do? Is not this false dichotomy exactly where many are at? Are we telling people “believe in an old earth, and you can't believe in God”? Will we engage in a bitter battle to defend out presuppositions? Are young earth creationists gathering evidence in an effort to train the eye? Is it time to recognize that acceptance of the science and the facts around us do not have to challenge the existence of our God. (That is a separate problem). This “mind-shift” does not need to destroy faith, or belief in God, but it will mean accepting other ways of interpreting Scripture.

Failure to accept this mind shift may in fact do more to destroy faith in God because of lost credibility. What a price to pay in lost ability to reach people? What a loss to all the people who may find the Churches irrelevant to their lives?

But, maybe its not too late... maybe we can let go our presuppositions and simply let God be God, without the arrogance of believing He needs our defense of what is at the end of the day only an interpretation.

Author's Bio: 

Chris Barrett spent his early years farming, gold mining, and stock mustering. He spent over 10 years as a Minister of religion, but left because of health problems. He now has a strong interest in natural health, and issues like creation vs evolution.

He lives in the Eastern side of Australia, is married with three children who are nearing the end of high school, with one starting university this year.