Month: November 2013

Supreme Court to hear landmark Hobby Lobby case

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday (Nov. 26) agreed to take up Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the constitutional rights of businesses to operate without violating their religious convictions. 

The high court accepted the federal government’s appeal of a June decision by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that a federal mandate to provide potentially life-terminating drugs and devices in employee insurance plans places a substantial burden on the religious freedoms of Hobby Lobby, which is solely owned by founder David Green and his family.

“This is a major step for the Greens and their family businesses in an important fight for Americans’ religious liberty,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby. “We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens.”

In July, a lower federal court granted the Oklahoma City-based retail arts and crafts chain a preliminary injunction preventing the government from enforcing the HHS mandate requiring the family businesses to provide in the employee health insurance plan two drugs and two devices that are potentially life terminating.

The Greens and their family businesses, which also include a Christian bookstore chain, have no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives required under the HHS mandate and do so at no additional cost to employees under their self-insured health plan. But they took the unusual step in October of joining the government in asking the Supreme Court to review the case, despite the family’s victory in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented, “The Supreme Court’s consideration of the Hobby Lobby case is the most important religious liberty question in recent years. What’s at stake in this case is whether or not the Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion.

“We cannot accept the theology lesson that the government has sought to teach us, that religion is merely a matter of what happens during the scheduled times of our services, and is left there in the foyer during the rest of the week. Our religious convictions aren’t reduced to mere opinions we hide in our heart and in our hymns. Our religious convictions inform the way we live.

“I pray the Supreme Court recognizes what the founders of this country saw, that religious liberty isn’t a gift handed to us by Uncle Caesar. Religious liberty is given to us by God and is inalienable. Let’s pray for the justices as they think through this monumentally important case.”

The ERLC filed a friend-of-the-court brief Oct. 21 calling for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby and other family-owned businesses that have conscientious objections to a regulation that requires employers to provide abortion-causing drugs for their employees. For-profit companies are not currently exempt from the HHS Mandate.

Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement, “Obamacare not only forces Americans to buy insurance they don’t want or need, it also forces businesses to subsidize or offer services contrary to their religious beliefs. Texas supports business owners’ freedom of religion by joining in the Amicus Brief for states in this case. The Obama Administration’s disregard for religious liberty violates the Constitution and should be rejected by the Supreme Court.”

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. will be argued and decided before the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June 2014.

There are 84 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate. In addition to Hobby Lobby, The Becket Fund represents Little Sisters of the PoorGuidestoneWheaton CollegeEast Texas Baptist UniversityHouston Baptist UniversityColorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network,Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.

—Compiled from news releases from The Becket Fund, ERLC and the Texas attorney general’s office.


Opinions authored by Scalia, Breyer on HB 2 downloadable

The Supreme Court’s Tuesday decision that keeps in place the Texas law passed last summer restricting abortions may be read in detail online.

The concurring opinion, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, and the dissenting view, authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, are accessible here:

A news story will follow later today. The law faces further vetting when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned a federal district court’s ruling that portions of it were unconstitutional, takes it up in January. 

The TEXAN will have a news story later in the day. 

Typhoon relief team ventures into villages off the main road

CEBU, Philippines—Social media and news programs around the world are filled with images of relief teams making their entrances into Filipino communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, but hundreds more villages in extremely isolated areas have yet to see any relief vehicles at all.  

These villages are tucked away in northern Cebu’s rolling hills, down winding, bumping roads barely wide enough for vehicles to traverse. They are the kinds of villages sought out by Southern Baptist relief efforts.

Eleven days after the storm, the recovery task in the cities and towns is monumental and millions of dollars in relief aid is flowing into those efforts. Many smaller communities, however, must fend for themselves. 

People in out of the way areas often are neglected for one to two weeks in the aftermath of a major disaster, said Larry Shine, a member of the four-man BGR rapid assistance team sent to Cebu Island. The team’s goal is to go into areas not highlighted in the media and partner with local pastors to bring effective aid to neglected communities.

Shine, pastor of Pine Forest Baptist Church in Onalaska, Texas, and Scottie Stice, pastor of Southwest Texas Cowboy Church in Uvalde, Texas, traveled Nov. 16 to the ministry area of Filipino pastor Nabanglo Driz.

First visitors

They were the first people to visit three mountain villages after the typhoon. On a rural road, their van passed a sign tacked to a post that read “Help Us.”

The houses in this area are perched on hilltops, meaning they were more exposed to Typhoon Haiyan’s ferocious winds. People in these villages are still living in their collapsed homes. One family with a 1-month-old baby is trying to shelter in a badly damaged hut not even tall enough for someone to kneel in. 

To get relief supplies, the villagers must hike out to the main road and hand-carry the goods back down windy, bumpy paths. 

In one village the team visited, the five concrete houses of Leonilo Liquigan and his extended family look as if a wrecking ball came through. Liquigan said people in the village came to his home because it was concrete and stronger, but even his concrete home couldn’t withstand the storm.

He said he knew they needed to leave the area, but they had nowhere to go.

Since his village has been without electricity, Liquigan said he’s cooked coconuts and taken the oil and inserted a wick to make candles. Shine holds Liquigan’s hand and prays a blessing over him, asking God to “bring order where there is chaos.” 

Survivor with a scar

In the village of Kapilya, 5-year-old John Carl Ulila plays with a plastic lid, a metal bolt and a rock. He does not have any toys. He is a survivor, but one who will forever bear a scar.

During the typhoon, a flying piece of corrugated tin hit Ulila and cut his nose and cheek – coming dangerously close to his eye. His mother took him to a medical clinic but was referred to a more expensive clinic his family could not afford.

They came home without any medicine. 

Stice noticed Ulila’s eye when he arrived at his home. He gave Ulila’s mother antibiotic cream to treat the wound. 

Driz identified Kapilya as one of the neediest villages out of the nine he serves. There are 30 families in Kapilya, where a house church meets each week for worship. The gazebo they meet in was destroyed by the storm.

The closest water reservoir to Kapilya is 11 miles away. The village’s water system operates off of a pump and because the electricity is out, the water is too. Right now, Ulila’s mom says they are collecting rainwater to drink. Stice and Shine discussed having a pump station to help bring water closer.

Later that day, Shine, Stice and Driz discussed how to handle aid relief and sharing the gospel with women in the area who aren’t as open. “The best ministry is to come build the house, share with her and tell her why you came and built the house,” Shine told Driz.

Driz believes this distribution project will open doors to the community. Many people close their hearts when they see him approach with a Bible, Driz said. Showing Christ’s love by helping the hurting is a bridge to sharing the gospel. 

“With this project, I believe there will be more fruit,” Driz said.

Cowboys and pastors

Over a dinner of rice and vegetables, Shine showed Driz photos of his guns and the elk and deer he has shot in the backyard of his East Texas home. Stice showed pictures of his horses on his West Texas ranch. Driz talked about one of his favorite TV shows – Rambo – and how he enjoys detective movies because of the suspense. The men talked about what fish the U.S. and the Philippines have in common.

For the evening, they were just men – talking about hunting and movies.

Later that evening, Driz, Stice and Shine sat down and continued their discussion about the areas they visited. Shine asked questions to help Driz to think through the rebuilding process and what resources they would need. 

He encouraged Driz to use Filipino church members to deliver the relief supplies.

“By using an existing network, it is more effective,” Shine said. “The church is the best network in the world.”

Filipino churches know the people and the culture — and will be there after all the international aid workers and media have left, Shine said.

“What Western churches can do is provide the financial aid resources he [Driz] doesn’t have,” Shine said. 

Shine encouraged Driz and his church to train others and then encourage them to pass the knowledge on – an approach to humanitarian aid that facilitates church planting. 

The discussion then moved to what to include in relief kits — items every Filipino family must have in their kitchen to survive — and how best to transport the goods. Shine asked Driz to make himself available to minister to the families while others of his team are distributing supplies. 

Driz, Stice and Shine formulated a plan for aid relief and packets to be delivered the following week. BGR will purchase supplies for the relief packages with funds donated by supporters in the United States and elsewhere.

“We have full confidence in your ability to do this,” Shine told Driz.

To donate to Disaster Relief, click here


Liberty University somber after fatal shooting of Texas student

LYNCHBURG, Va.—As police continue their investigation into reasons behind the fatal shooting of a Liberty University student Tuesday, Nov. 19, a spokesman for the school called the mood on campus somber and prayerful.
“We dedicated a portion of this morning’s weekly convocation service (Nov. 20) to remembering all of those affected by this tragedy,” said Johnnie Moore, vice president of communications. “That includes the family and friends of [victim] Joshua Hathaway, the police officer and all others who are especially heartbroken.”
Hathaway was shot during an early morning fight with a campus security officer, according to news reports.
Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. called the event “traumatic” during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. He said the university was doing everything in its power to cooperate with the Lynchburg Police Department’s investigation.
“We’re providing professional counseling services to our students,” a somber-looking Falwell also said. “We are deeply saddened by what has happened. It’s impacted our entire community in ways that we are just beginning to understand.”
Moore said Liberty has licensed counselors who are normally available to students and additional faculty from the Center for Counseling and Family Studies have been made available.
At the convocation service, Falwell encouraged students to seek counseling, whether it concerned struggles related to Hathaway’s shooting or other issues.
“No one knows what was going through Joshua’s head,” said Falwell, according to a report in the Lynchburg News & Advance. “I urge you to get help. Don’t wait till it boils over.”
Classes continued on a normal schedule after the shooting, which occurred just after 4 a.m. Nov. 19 at Annex II, a women’s dormitory affiliated with Liberty. It is a school residential hall even though located approximately three miles north of campus.
An affidavit from the Lynchburg Police Department said the 19-year-old Hathaway lived across the street from the dorm, where students have set up a memorial to him.
Police Detective Collin Byrne said Tuesday morning that Hathaway approached a Liberty security officer, saying he had been robbed and someone stole his White Pontiac (later located in the dorm’s parking lot).
“The security officer then began to investigate Hathaway’s complaint but Hathaway then pulled out a hammer from his clothing and assaulted the officer,” Byrne said in a search warrant issued for the victim’s campus records.
“A struggle ensued between Hathaway and the security officer. At some point during the struggle there was separation and the security officer fired two rounds at Hathaway. [He] was struck by at least one projectile and subsequently succumbed to his gunshot wounds.”
Byrne, recounting a conversation with Hathaway’s roommate, said Hathaway reportedly had displayed unusual behavior in recent days.
The detective said he was seeking the warrant to help determine events that occurred prior to the shooting. However, this morning a spokesman for the police department said it had no additional information to release.
The name of the Liberty security officer has not been released.
According to a report from Texas in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Hathaway was class salutatorian and one of the first 11 seniors to graduate last May from Southcrest Christian School.
Founded in 1993, the school’s main campus is located at Southcrest Baptist Church, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. A second campus nearby serves as a facility for pre-kindergarten and first grade students.
A Lubbock TV station reported that Hathaway’s mother is a teacher at the school. Superintendent Linda Merriott told KCBD that many students and faculty were grieving the loss.
“I loved this young man and believed in him and would do just about anything to help him,” Merriott said. “Our country has lost a young man who loved the Lord with all his heart [and] who worked hard to achieve and succeed. He was a young man who had the heart of others in mind.”
Others also described Hathaway as a good student, including Susie Driscoll, who was one of his junior high teachers at Southcrest.
Driscoll told the News & Advance he was a “brilliant” student and fluent in Spanish, which he had used on a trip to Peru. She said he helped a ministry there that serves homeless children.
“Josh [was] a really great kid,” Driscoll said. “We are devastated.”
Falwell, in the news conference, said Hathaway had a 3.9 grade point average and no record of discipline problems. Falwell noted at the convocation that Hathaway’s grades had earned him a full academic scholarship to Liberty, where he was studying business.
Among those the president requested prayer for is the security officer who killed Hathaway, saying that nothing can prepare a university campus for this kind of tragedy.
“These kinds of things are not easy to get over,” Falwell said.


So what about dinosaurs and the Bible?

The latest science claims the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago—a million years earlier than previously thought—resulting from a combination of a colossal meteor hitting the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and fallout from volcanoes, according to a study reported by the journal Science last February.

But how does this jibe with Scripture? There are two prevailing approaches among biblical inerrantists: the young-earth perspective (YEC), which puts dinosaurs on the earth until after Noah’s Flood, and the old-earth perspective (OEC), which places them prior to man’s creation in a period of long creation “days” and makes a distinction between animal death (part of God’s good creation) and human death and disease caused by sin. (Some OEC proponents see the creation days as a literary framework to explain what God did, not as chronological days.)
The YEC camp, meanwhile, holds that dinosaurs came about with the other land animals on day six. Perhaps infant dinosaurs boarded Noah’s Ark, as was likely with other large animals. Following the flood, radical environmental changes from the flood judgment may have been the dinos’ demise.

The YEC perspective points to passages such as Job 40-41 as evidence that Scripture likely references the “terrible lizards.” Behemoth (Job 40) is described as the “first of the works of God” with “limbs like bars of iron” and a tail like a cedar. Most OEC commentators dismiss this thinking, suggesting Behemoth may have been a hippo or some other large beast.

In Job 41, Leviathan sounds like a dragon-like dinosaur, according to YEC proponents, with its fierce, untamable nature. In contrast, some conservative scholars such as Gleason Archer have suggested Leviathan is a crocodile.

A third way, put forth by Greg Neyman of Old Earth Ministries, suggests God in fact describes dinosaurs in Job 40-41, but they are descriptions of extinct animals for which Job may or may not have had a reference.

SEBTS hosts dialogue among YEC & OEC proponents

WAKE FOREST, N.C.—The tone and tenor of a recent debate between proponents of old- and young-earth creationism was diplomatic, but the underlying subtext of the presentations made at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary intimated that the other side was wrong in their assumptions and nothing less than the communication of the gospel was at stake.

Representatives on both sides of the issue said it was essential that Christians have a gracious yet vigorous debate regarding the age of the earth during the conference held on Oct. 25.

Appropriately titled “Noah’s Flood and the Age of the Earth: A Dialogue Between Old Earth and Young Earth Creationists,” the conference included old-earth scientists who said the young-earth model generates ridicule from peers and a crisis of faith for young adults.

Young-earth proponents said acceptance of an old-earth paradigm essentially rejects the first 11 chapters of the Bible and calls into question fundamental doctrines about the nature of God, man and sin.

“Some of you will be pastors where you will be ministering to … scientists, and they know what the earth is like,” Ken Wolgemuth told the audience of seminary students and faculty. “If it is misrepresented it leaves a black eye on Christianity.”

Wolgemuth, a geochemist and founder of Solid Rock Lectures and old-earth proponent, was one of four scientists lecturing at the conference. He was joined by Gregg Davidson, University of Mississippi professor of geology and geological engineering.

Presenting evidence for a young earth were Ronald Marks, North Greenville University professor of chemistry, and Eugene Chaffin, professor of physics at North Greenville.

Ken Keathley, director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, moderated.

During their lectures each scientist testified to his Christian faith, belief in the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, and that God created the universe and all that is in it.

Wolgemuth and Davidson added the caveat that their old-earth presuppositions did not conflict with the Bible. Christian proponents of old-earth creationism contend the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old and generally discount the global scope of the Genesis flood. Instead, they argue for a regional flood.

But, said Davidson, a partner of Solid Rock Lectures, science will never “trump” Scripture. Rightly understood the two do not conflict, he argued.

“The reason why we’re here is a love for the Bride of Christ and a concern over some hindrances that we feel exist to the mission of the church,” Davidson said.

What the church typically communicates is a dogmatic adherence to a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation as a tenet of Christian faith, pitting those with differing views as apostates, he insisted.

Davidson then suggested Christians who espouse a young-earth theory are less than truthful in their evidentiary presentations.

“Scientific evidence that supports a young earth is invariably based on incomplete information,” Davidson wrote in response to several questions following the dialogue.

Wolgemuth, who asserts that “95 to 98 percent” of all Christian geologists believe in an ancient earth, was more direct in his refutation of the young-earth view. “It is claimed by those with a flood geology viewpoint that Noah’s Flood formed most of the Earth’s sedimentary layers, including the mile of exposed layers of the Grand Canyon, in one year about 5,000 years ago. This hypothesis is not in the Bible, and does not stand up to scientific scrutiny,” he wrote.

Davidson asked, “When the church teaches and promotes misrepresentations of history and of scientific evidence, what impact does that have on our ministry to the body and the lost?”

But an old-earth interpretation not only discounts a straightforward interpretation of Genesis, it indicates a worldly bias brought to the study of the evidence, Marks and Chaffin countered. And the notion that all “acceptable” science must be couched in old-earth presuppositions blindly discounts any evidence to the contrary, they said.

What the old-earth view calls “scientific evidence” requires an a priori commitment to millions of years of uniformly deposited geologic data. Any other possibilities—including a catastrophic global flood—are ruled out of bounds, the young earth proponents contend.

“If the evidence is the same and we’re drawing different conclusions, than either we’re being dishonest and untrustworthy or we simply have different worldviews,” said Marks, a former theistic evolutionist.

To view the lectures go to:


Resources for further study of origins

SALVO magazine – Published by The Fellowship of St. James (non-denominational)—an organization deeply engaged in apologetics for students in high schools and colleges—SALVO dedicates a portion of each quarterly issue to Christians’ engagement with science. A great gift for the thoughtful student.

Answers in Genesis
An extensive website,, and AiG’s printed materials advocate strongly and significantly for young-earth creationism. AiG’s Creation Museum in Kentucky is a popular, family friendly enterprise. AiG also produces “Answers” journal,, a superb resource for homeschoolers, Christian schools or anyone who wants to explore the worldview of creationists.

The Institute for Creation Research
As a sister organization to AiG, ICR—online at—has supported the biblical view of creation for 40 years.

World magazine is today’s premiere Christian news magazine. Though not focused on creation science, World approaches important contemporary issues from a Christian worldview. Every Christian who can read should read World.

Discovery Institute
Seattle-based Discovery has a broader scope than some groups and addresses economics and foreign affairs in addition to promoting Intelligent Design as a reasonable explanation for creation through its Center for Science & Culture.

“When Faith and Science Collide: A Biblical Approach to Evaluating Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Age of the Earth” by Gregg Davidson
An old-earth creationist and inerrantist, Davidson offers a simple, three-step approach for examining Scripture and science any time the two appear to clash, and he finds far more harmony than discord.

“Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Volumes 1 & 2” by Larry Vardiman, Andrew Snelling and Eugene Chaffin
ICR’s eight-year research project known as RATE, or Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, reveals incredible physical evidence that supports what the Bible says about the young age of the earth. Volume 1 exposes radioisotope theory plaguing problems and offers a better alternative. Volume 2 helps answer this question: If the six-day Genesis account is fallacious, how can the rest of Scripture be reliable?

“Thousands Not Billions: Challenging the Icon of Evolution, Questioning the Age of the Earth” by Donald DeYoung
This book tackles major barriers for faith seekers, is an apologetical resource, and shatters dating methods employed by evolutionists to cast doubt on the veracity of the Bible and its chronology of earth history.

“The Genesis Factor: Myths and Realities” by Ron J. Bigalke Jr.
Leading voices in the creationist movement defend the first book of the Bible from compromise positions using scientific and historical evidence. The reader can be assured of the accuracy of the Word from its very fist verse—and the validity of this biblical worldview. Contributors include: Terry Mortenson, Christopher Cone, Tas Walker, Eugene H. Merrill, Ron J. Bigalke Jr, Jonathan Henry, Larry Vardiman, and Donald DeYoung.

“The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel
High school science class convinced Strobel that God didn’t exist. However, Strobel demonstrates how scientific discoveries have strengthened his faith in God and the biblical accounts.

“Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth” by Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury, editors
Discussing  biblical, theological, and historical arguments in favor of a six-day creation, the global flood, and a young earth, 14 theological scholars critique several contemporary old-earth interpretations of Genesis and defend the literal history of Genesis 1-11, thus providing a valuable text for seminary and Bible college professors and students, pastors, missionaries, and others who want an in-depth apologetical resource.

“Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design” by Stephen C. Meyer
Deemed a defining work in the discussion of life’s origins and whether life is a product of unthinking matter or of an intelligent mind, Meyer’s book presents a convincing new case for intelligent design based on revolutionary discoveries in science and DNA.

Resources for Kids
“Genesis for Kids: Science Experiments That Show God’s Power in Creation!” by Doug Lambier and Robert Stevenson
Aimed at children ages 8-14, this book of fascinating science experiments describes and explains important science concepts showing God’s creative purpose and design.

“The Answers Book for Kids, Volume 2: 22 Questions on Dinosaurs and the Flood of Noah” by Ken Ham
Answers are important. Questions are, too, like: How did all the dinosaurs fit on the ark? How did Noah keep the animals on the ark from eating each other and his family? Where did all the water go after the Flood? If children don’t have answers to questions about the Bible, they cannot defend their faith in a fallen world.

Video Resources
The Intelligent Design Collection” (3 DVDs): “Darwin’s Dilemma,” “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” and “The Privileged Planet”
“Darwin’s Dilemma”—From Darwin’s own writings, his dilemma was also his inability to explain the Cambrian Explosion.
“Unlocking the Mystery of Life”—Using eye-popping computer animation, this video reveals the incredible nanotechnology inside bacteria and human cells.
“The Privileged Planet”—This treatment explores the relationship between earth as a home of intelligent life and earth as an ideal platform for studying the universe.

“The Great Debate on Science and the Bible” with Ken Ham, Dr. Jason Lisle, Dr. Walter Kaiser and Dr. Hugh Ross
Ham and Lyle represent the young-earth view; Ross and Kaiser, the day-age view, in a debate on numerous topics, including whether the Bible teaches that God created in six, literal, 24-hour days, what happened to the dinosaurs, were Adam and Eve created, how accurately are starlight and time measured, and why the age of the earth matters.

The Earth”s Age: A Q&A with Kurt Wise

Kurt Wise is professor of biology at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga. He earned his Ph.D. in paleontology at Harvard under the late evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould and has long been a proponent of young-earth creationism. For his views, he has been called by atheist Richard Dawkins “the greatest disappointment” he knows in modern science. Wise answered a series of questions for the TEXAN about science, Scripture and the age of the earth.

1) What is your position on the age of the earth and how it was created?
Since no human was present at the origin of the earth, I accept the perfect eyewitness account of the earth’s origin (Scripture) given to us by the only perfect eyewitness (God). That account indicates that the earth was created within a couple centuries of 2,000 years before Abraham (i.e., 4,000 ± 200 B.C.), instantaneously by the spoken word of God (depending upon what is meant by ‘earth’, sometime in the course of six sequential day/night cycles, or sometime in the course of 144 hours).
2) What are the weaknesses of old-earth creationism?
Old-earth creationism is not reconcilable with the scriptural account of creation. Unless the normal meanings of words are unlinked from the words of Scripture, acceptance of old-earth creationism leads to the rejection of the historical claims of Genesis 1-11 (e.g., the sequence and length of creation, the unfallen nature of the creation before man’s fall, the nature of Eden, the mode of creation of Adam and Eve, the nature of the Fall, the nature of the initial culture of man, the global Flood in the days of Noah, the tower of Babel as the origin of modern language groups), and all doctrines based upon that history (e.g., the nature of God, the origin and nature of man, the nature and need of salvation, the origin and nature of marriage, the nature of end-times … i.e., every Christian doctrine).
3) What are the weaknesses of young-earth creationism?
The theories of young-earth creationism are poorly developed. Old-earth creationists have developed better evidenced and reasoned theories for most of the detailed observations of the universe. In other words, the science of old-earth creationists is better.
4) How important is it for a believer to be right about the age of the earth? Are other theological points at stake in this discussion, or is it a matter of speculation without much practical consequence?
Belief in the correct age of things does not have salvific value—i.e., a correct understanding of the age of things is not in any way an entrance requirement for getting into heaven. Faith in Jesus and what he did for us is all that is required. However, God also asks a believer to [pursue] a full understanding of himself, and this is not possible if a person is incorrect about the age of the earth—and not just because it is another fact that should be known to have a full understanding. This is because if a person is completely consistent (and no human being is or has been completely consistent), what one believes about the age of the earth impacts what that person believes about every doctrine of Christianity. In particular, if a person consistently applies the concept of an old-earth he or she is forced to reject all traditional Christian doctrines (e.g., old-earth, the chronology in Genesis 1-11 is wrong, Scripture is in error, Scripture is either not inspired or the inspirer is wrong or a liar, etc.).
5) What should drive our views of the universe’s origins? Is it OK to consider science and Scripture, or should Scripture be our sole authority for learning about origins?
From the very beginning of humanity, humans have been called upon to accept God’s word—even over human observation and reason. For example, God’s command to “freely eat of every tree of the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was to supersede any human observation that the fruit looks beautiful (i.e., has evidence of having been created by a good God and no evidence that it wasn’t) and looks good (i.e., has evidence of being provided by a good God and no evidence that it would do any harm), or any human reasoning that the fruit must be good for us (e.g., a good God would never do anything to hurt us). That should have been sufficient, but ultimately Eve looked at the fruit, “saw that it was good to look upon and to eat and that it was desirous to make one wise” and she did take of the fruit and eat it. God said not to eat of the fruit. Adam and Eve were condemned for disobeying God, which they seem to have done by accepting human reason and observation over God’s word.

And remember, that was done while humans were unfallen! Imagine how much more important it is that we accept God’s word after the fall, when our nature is fallen, our observation is marred, our reasoning is marred, we are subject to blinding from the truth, and our nature is to run from God! Consequently, when God tells us something we should accept it without reservation—even over our observation and reason (e.g., Abel was to sacrifice even though killing an animal didn’t make much sense as a way of cleansing him from sin; Abraham and Sarah were to believe they were going to have a child even though Sarah had already gone through menopause; etc.). If the Bible doesn’t say something about an issue, then we are justified in using science to “fill in the blanks”—as long as what is “filled in” is not somehow contrary to what God has stated—but if the Bible says something about an issue and science says something else, we are to accept the word of God rather than the word of man every time.
6) What role should science play in the formation of a Christian worldview?
Science is possible because of the way God created us and the universe. Romans 1:18-20 indicates that God created the universe to provide physical illustrations of his invisible attributes, so he made the universe understandable and made us capable of understanding the universe. This not only makes science possible, but science arose in a culture that generally accepted the Christian perspective of creation. Furthermore, the Christian worldview is the only worldview that provides justification for the presuppositions of science. And, since he formed the creation to (among other things) inform us about him, science should play a part in a Christian’s understanding of the world and God—i.e., science should play a role in the formation of his/her Christian worldview. However, science must play a secondary or subservient role to special revelation (Scripture). In other words—as stated above—science should “fill in the blanks” left open by Scripture, for many of those blanks were left there by God to be filled in by us as we apply the gifts God gave us to fill in those blanks.
7) How can old- and young-earth creationists dialogue constructively? Is there anything to be gained from believers in these two camps talking more?
Scripture makes it clear that believers are to “love one another”—so much so that unbelievers will then identify us as believers (as God-followers) by that love. This means we have been commanded not only to love other believers, but also act as if we love one another. The high level of antagonism in old/young creationist interactions (much greater in my experience than the antagonism between unbelievers and creationists) is NOT evidence of love at all—it is evidence of hate; it is sin. In fact, the antagonism that currently exists is “natural”—it is what one would expect of the natural man. It is what unbelievers expect of people having such different beliefs, thus it is by no means the kind of love that God calls us to. In contrast, if it were to happen that old- and young-earth creationists could interact in such a way that it was obvious to unbelievers that we love one another, then our witness to the unbelievers would be increased. In fact, we would have a powerful witness for God. Besides, we might even be drawn closer to God in the process! How this state is to be achieved is not at all obvious, for in my experience all attempts at “dialogue” are plagued by a desire on each side to “win”—not to illustrate God’s love to the world.