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 email@example.com.