October 7, 2008
On September 10, 2008, a video of actor Matt Damon was released to the press that quickly got posted on YouTube, and has now gotten over two million hits. Here’s what he said:
I think there’s a really good chance that Sarah Palin could be president, and I think that’s a really scary thing because I don’t know anything about her. I don’t think in eight weeks I’m gonna know anything about her. I know that she was a mayor of a really, really small town, and she’s governor of Alaska for less than two years. I just don’t understand. I think the pick was made for political purposes, but in terms of governance, it’s a disaster. You do the actuary tables, you know, there’s a one out of three chance, if not more, that McCain doesn’t survive his first term, and it’ll be President Palin. And it really, you know, I was talking about it earlier, it’s like a really bad Disney movie, you know, the hockey mom, you know, “I’m just a hockey mom from Alaska”—and she’s the president. And it’s like she’s facing down Vladimir Putin and, you know, using the folksy stuff she learned at the hockey rink, you know, it’s just absurd. It’s totally absurd, and I don’t understand why more people aren’t talking about how absurd it is. I ... it’s a really terrifying possibility.
The fact that we’ve gotten this far and we’re that close to this being a reality is crazy. Crazy. I mean, did she really—I need to know if she really thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago. That’s an important … I want to know that. I really do. Because she’s gonna have the nuclear codes, you know. I wanna know if she thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago or if she banned books or tried to ban books. I mean, you know, we can’t have that.
Before I was a Christian, I could have easily said the same kind of things as Matt Damon. In fact, I probably did say similar things, often—and especially to Christians. Like: “How can these people believe in things like, ‘in the beginning God,’ Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark and that man walked around with dinosaurs a few thousand years ago?” I can still hear myself mocking Christianity as I type on my laptop.
But the truth is, Matt Damon, like so many people (and like me) was probably never given a chance to hear the case for Christianity. A sizable cross-section of our country hears only the case against Christianity—presented in nearly every classroom across America, from grammar school to university. Matt Damon has the added benefit of his “education” within the Hollywood elite.
Generally speaking, Matt is opposed to anyone who is not a liberal. Therefore, he’s opposed to anyone opposed to Obama. But he claims to oppose Sarah Palin due to her lack of experience and her young earth views. I bet he’d be bothered by me having the nuclear codes as well. I, too, believe the earth is thousands—not millions—of years old. But I don’t believe many Christians today believe in a strict 4,000-year age of the earth. That number is rooted in something known as Ussher’s chronology from the 17th century, in which James Ussher argued the date of creation was October 23, 4004 B.C. It has now been discredited.
Let me say that most of the Christian leaders and pastors I know are “young earthers” who also believe the earth is thousands, not millions, of years old. There are a number of “old earthers” that I still respect. I just disagree with them. What I especially oppose are the improper motives of people on both sides who say, essentially, “It’s got to be my way or it’s heresy.” I know young earthers who say, “If you believe the earth is more than 10,000 years old, then you’re not taking the Bible literally, you probably don’t believe in inerrancy and you might not even really be saved.” I’ve met old earthers who say, “If you don’t believe the Earth is billions of years old, then you’re rejecting God’s second book—that of general revelation—and since you’re unwilling to synthesize your beliefs about theology with the facts of science, then you’re the Christian equivalent of a flat earther or a Holocaust denier.
There are good cases to be made for both sides. And, based upon evidence and argument, I could be persuaded out of my young earth position. In my view nothing essential rests upon it. I can believe in a young man on and old earth thesis (as does Hugh Ross), and have no problem with it biblically or scientifically. I’m just not there.
Let’s face it, the impetus for the “old man, old earth” thesis is the time necessary for man to evolve from an ape. But, if you believe God created man a few thousand years ago, then all the skull and tooth fragments from any alleged “missing link” (that’s still missing) will never prove modern man is the descendant of apes. It can only prove similar design, not common descent.
The biggest problem for my young earth view is the age of light and, in critical terms, what I call the level of “the divine deception.” Ask a Christian junior high group if God can make trees out of nothing and you’ll get a quick agreement. Ask them to suppose that God creates a giant sequoia right in front of them right now. Ask if the tree would have bark, limbs, roots, and leaves. Again, a hearty yes. Then ask about whether there would be tree rings inside and some of the kids drop off. Why? Because tree rings mean time and time can’t have transpired if He just created the tree in front of you. Ask those who accept the tree rings why they think so, and you’ll hear, “Because God can create with the appearance of age.”
In fact, there’s almost nothing you can think of that doesn’t have the “tree ring” element to it. To create something means you must give it an age—and it always could have been younger. Even light. I’m no astrophysicist, but I read that light itself has elements of age to it and that distant starlight has these elements of decay or age. I used to say about distant starlight that “God had created the light in transit”—and I was intellectually satisfied, with no reservations. Now, however, I learn that the divine deception extends to the atomic level; the light is “aged” at the level of infinitesimal minutia. For many, that is a level of divine deception too great for their plausibility level. They’d prefer to believe there is no “deception”—that the universe is billions of years old (the earth too) and perhaps that man is millions of years old rather than thousands.
I, on the other hand, prefer to think of it not as deception, but as consistency. Adam could have been created a toddler, those trees in the Garden could have been seeds and those animals could have been newborns. But none of this would have served God’s perfect will and purposes. He was concerned with the “Who” not the “how.” The repeated refrain in Genesis 1—“and God said”—doesn’t give much detail on the how. God spoke. At the end of His creative work, God looked at it all and saw that “it was very good.” When you have infinite material and infinite energy, the “how” isn’t really an issue.
For me, once I was persuaded there was a Creator, the “how” of the creation became a matter of reduced importance. I wonder if Matt Damon’s God could have created man and the dinosaurs and allowed them to be contemporaneous. If not, why not?
More than likely, Matt doesn’t believe in God at all. In that case, he’s not really against Sarah Palin—or even Christians. He’s against the Creator himself.
Frank Pastore is host of “The Frank Pastore Show,” recognized by the National Religious Broadcasters as Talk Show Host of the Year in 2006. His program is heard on KKLA in Los Angeles 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact Frank at [email protected].