The Grand Canyon, and much of the rest of Earth's geological features, were formed in Noah's flood, and the underpinnings of modern science and textbooks are based on frauds that have been perpetrated in a war between secular culture and Christians.

That was the message brought to Northern Arizona University's Cline Library Auditorium on Thursday night by Flagstaff resident Russ Miller, who travels around the country speaking at churches as part of his Creation, Evolution & Science Ministries. He also publishes books like "Noah's Ark and Dinosaurs," and he leads paid tours into the Grand Canyon teaching his beliefs.

"You need to understand that you're involved in the greatest world war in the history of the world, and at a foundational level this is a war of world views," Miller said. "It's not a war of bombs, bullets and airplanes, it's much more serious than that. This is a war that's already claimed the souls of billions of people."

Miller believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible that he says confirms the Earth was formed over the course of six days several thousand years ago. He also believes that evolution is a religious belief.

"From the big bang ... to the big rock, to the rain on rock, to the spontaneous generation, to the first cells, to the first vertebrates; there is no evidence whatsoever. It's all a religious belief. And if you wanna believe that, it's fine; just admit it's a belief and stop teaching it in schools as fact," Miller said.

BIBLE AS 'TRUE HISTORY'

The talk was sponsored by the Victorious Life Christian Center in Flagstaff, which paid to rent the auditorium for Miller's talk. The audience was escorted to their seats by ushers in maroon sport coats with nametags and given fliers on the church.

Most in attendance were church members, but there were a number of NAU science students and professors in attendance as well.

Miller was introduced by Tim Masters, a pastor at Victorious Life, who said the point of the talk was to present information, not to stir debate.

"One thing about the Bible is it's not a science book, but it is the true history book of the universe," Miller said. "If billions of years of death existed before man, then the Bible is not true."

Rather than attempt to prove that the Earth had formed in six days or present evidence for a global flood, Miller spent most of the talk attacking evolution. He presented a barrage of slides highlighting what he claimed were problems with everything from radio-carbon dating to humanity's hominid ancestors.

Each point was met with alternating smatterings of laughter and 'Amen."

'ALL PRETTY RIDICULOUS'

His presentation flew in the face of modern findings in geology, biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy.

"The problem is they have to not only carve the canyon with the flood but they have to lay down all the layers of sediment with the same flood," said Northern Arizona University Associate Astronomy Professor Dave Koerner, who attended the talk. "And so you have to lay down all these layers of sediment that are in the Grand Canyon, they have to solidify within a short amount of time, and then when the waters recede, you have to carve them out again. That's all pretty ridiculous and impossible, but it doesn't keep them from trying."

Koerner does research on planets forming around distant stars using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. He also teaches astrobiology -- the study of life in the universe -- among other courses at the university.

Koerner felt compelled to start a course call "Evolution vs. Creationism" in response to the controversy surrounding prior talks Miller gave on campus.

The Daily Sun sat down with Koerner before Thursday's talk.

"In general it's a free country and you can believe really nutty things if you want to. Why not?" Koerner said. "Where I have a problem is if you are trying to compel a lot of people or teach them things that contradict the scientific results in our culture. ... There's a lot of students and young people who could have promising careers in technical professions. As long as scientists are demonized to them and lied about it, it puts a roadblock in their way."

FROM CREATIONIST TO AGNOSTIC

Koerner was raised in a creationist household in southern California and taught Bible school himself for years. He says he loved science growing up, but was scared to learn science because it was cast as evil.

He even believed a literal interpretation of the Bible up until he taught a course using the book of a well-known creationist named Henry Morris.

The book, called "The Genesis Flood," actually helped turn him against a literal account of creation because it was so hard to believe, even with a limited understanding of science.

By the time he had finished an undergraduate degree in geology, he had erased any doubt in a scientific understanding of Earth's origins. And after getting his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, he no longer believed in God at all.

Koerner says he now considers himself agnostic.

"I was not actually able to go into the science, just psychologically, until I was well into my 30s," he said. "It took me that long to overcome all the indoctrination about young Earth and the idea that scientists are evil, anti-religious people, which is not true."

TWO RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

The talk on Thursday was closed out by Masters, who dismissed the crowd without taking questions.

"We're talking about two religious beliefs, creationism and evolution," Masters told the audience. "One has tremendous proof, one does not. There is an end to everything. ... The question we have to ask ourselves is, 'Where do we want to spend eternity?'"

He then finished with a prayer and asked people to come up and turn their lives to Christ if they saw fit. Many students walked out during the prayer.

Miller was approached by several students after the talk who confronted him with scientific errors in his presentation, but the exchanges were mostly polite. That contrasted with previous talks at NAU during which discussions spun into yelling matches.

A small group of students stood outside in a protest, with one carrying a sign reading "Beware of Confirmation Bias."

Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or ebetz@azdailysun.com.

(16) comments

WCorvi
WCorvi

Question: What happened to the ~300 cubic miles of material removed from the Canyon? Did god just slip it in his pocket? Read Wayne Ranney's book "Carving Grand Canyon" to find out.

Flag
Flag

Yes, by all means let's allow our liberal profs at NAU to ridicule others beliefs and call them ridiculous. Just another reason not to make donations to the NAU.

Phil McCracken
Phil McCracken

Hey I thought April Fool's Day wasn't until Sunday?! (wow you gotta love the irony of THAT)

murison
murison

Anti-intellectual tripe such as what Miller so cynically sells to his gullible marks is verifiably wrong, dishonest, and highly irresponsible. It does NOT belong on any modern university or college campus. Utterly shameful.

chuckwillow
chuckwillow

Observation and reproducibilty are BASIC scientific processes and neither will ever have have a role in the origin of the universe. Whatever you believe, you take it on faith (belief).

chris24
chris24

I'm curious as to what real time applications creation science has to offer? Because, the "religion" of science can actually fund itself with discoveries that help move us along. This is the main reason we teach the "religion" of science in our school. So unless you're going to somehow usurp things like genetic research with the next "big thing" you might just want to leave the real religion to church, AND STAY AWAY FROM OUR SCHOOLS!!!!

Flagstaffer
Flagstaffer

Mr. Miller, lots of folks don't agree with your definition of religion. Science is an investigative process that does not rely on faith; verifiable trust yes, but not blind faith. Science cannot answer every question, e.g., what is the meaning of life? Religion and secular philosophy can help address those questions. But it is unsound reasoning to ignore facts, demonstrable proof, and deductive logic in favor of blatantly inaccurate arguments just because reality doesn’t mesh with your worldview

M Evans
M Evans

Why would one cast "Pearls before swine"? What did Pastor Masters and Mr. Russell expect. That being said, I am thankful that Mr. Miller did not get thrown into jail for expressing his beliefs,yet.

DanFrazier
DanFrazier

Re: "It all began with Noah": It is interesting that this sort of event is allowed on a college campus. Many other things are not allowed. For instance, you can't have a partisan political event on campus. One wonders if there are limits to who can use rented facilities. How about a lingerie show? What about a medical marijuana lecture? How about a wine-tasting event? A literal interpretation of the Bible is best because the Bible soon unravels when you start reading it with a literal mindset.

Springfield Armory
Springfield Armory

Only Al Gore is allowed to spew his opinion, call it fact, then leave without a debate.

Lisa Rayner
Lisa Rayner

There is no such thing as a "scientific" creationist. Period.

Biblical literalists are not scientists. Science is about testing hypotheses. If something cannot be proved or unproved, it is not a hypothesis. Creationists are merely falsifying data, or misinterpreting real scientific data, to one degree or another. They twist facts to suit biblical sayings. They believe the bible has to be true, therefore they will never accept data that proves biblical "truth" is false.

Ovid213
Ovid213

I am very proud of the students and faculty of NAU for showing both tolerance in allowing these people their beliefs and intelligence in not being bamboozled by them.

flagwagger
flagwagger

And God so loved the world that he littered the Earth with fossils of giant beasts, all so we could test our faith. Is that pretty much the gist of all this. Dinosaurs never existed and all evidence to the contrary is just God's idea of a practical joke? Why is it some people can only have faith when it matches what is written in a book. Faith and Fact have always co-existed in my brain; Mr. Miller might want to give it a try some time...

Opinionator
Opinionator

Intelligent people don't believe in Creation or God or Noah, do we believe the part about the Jews being God's chosen people or that He gave Israel to them or any of their other Old Testament stories?

jgault
jgault

Intelligent people believe in science, hypothesis that can be proved and repeated. Unfortunately I still can't find any intelligent people who can tell me where this all came from to begin with. And why. And how big is it? Does it end, and if so what's outside of that. Science is pretty good at the small stuff but doesen't address the beginnings or the ends.
If science comforts you so be it but it's a bit limiting for me.

Springfield Armory
Springfield Armory

When scientists can take the ingredients they are so sure were here at the start of the earth 4.5 billion years ago and create a single living cell with those ingredients I will have more respect for their OPINIONS and THEORIES.
Neither side can dis-prove the other and both rely on an enormous amount of blind faith, although scientists would probably make up a word other than "faith" to try to avoid the irony. LOL

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