By Lawson Winton
During the past few months, several articles have focused on the length of days in Genesis 1, and if error has been or is being taught at Florida College. Up until my retirement a few years ago, I was a member of the science faculty. Since I was named in one article and was alluded to in another, I am taking the opportunity to tell my story. My purpose is not to enter into the lengthy controversy, but rather explain the problems I encountered as a developing scientist and how I finally reconciled the Bible account of creation with the scientific evidence of the age of the earth and the length of days in creation.
When I first entered college in 1947, the best scientific evidence favored an old earth millions of years old. Most Christians were faced with two alternatives of either accepting the old age and trying to reconcile the Bible account to an old earth, or else rejecting all of the prevailing evidence and accept the literal days of creation as stated in Genesis 1. Like many other Christians of that time, I chose to believe that the days of creation were not literal, but that God somehow worked at creation over vast geological ages. Today, this or variations of it, are referred to as theistic evolution. My definition of a theistic evolutionist is one who denies the literal, consecutive, 24-hour days of creation and believes that God worked over vast geological ages of the earth. My story is given in the belief that there may be many Christians who are torn between what evolutionists teach in school, on TV, and in the print media of an old earth, and what the Bible teaches.
When I returned from Korea in 1952, I re-entered college, obeyed the gospel, and Janette and I were married in 1954. We moved to the University of California at Berkeley, where I earned a BS degree after five years. But, I was told that I would never be able to earn a doctorate degree in the Department of Genetics because I was a Creationist. Actually, I was a theistic evolutionist, but I believed in God and this was close enough to be blackballed. We moved to Minnesota, where I earned a MS and a Ph.D. degree since my advisor did not care what I believed. In 1964, we moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where, with the help of God, I was the first to clone a tree from callus tissue. Today, similar methods are used to clone 15-20 different commercial trees, to rid them of viral infections. I was unable to reproduce Douglas-fir from suspension cultures of single cells, so I was fired and we moved to Tampa in 1980. At Florida College, I taught zoology, botany, embryology, and anatomy on a regular basis and for a few years taught chemistry and Bible/Evolution. Janette and I were also sponsors of the Science Club CREST, where students gave reports on how Christians should act on questions such as abortion, etc.
My concept of the universe and the age of the earth began to change about the time we went to Wisconsin, with the writing of The Genesis Flood, by Whitcomb and Morris in 1961. Scientific Creationism appeared in 1974, by Morris, and in 1976, R.L. Wysong came out with his Creation-The Evolution Controversy. These three books were the first to show that scientific evidences could be used to support a young earth, and hence, the literal interpretation of the days of creation. Today, there are dozens of books, written by many scientists throughout the world in what has become Scientific Creationism.
Our whole family attended a creation meeting in Atlanta, and Janette and I went to three International Conferences on Creationism in Pittsburg. Most books on the subject are available at the FC Bookstore, and numerous bound volumes can be found in the FC Library on creation research reported from many countries.
By the time we arrived in Florida in 1980, there was no longer any question in my mind that scientific evidence supported recent creation, and therefore, the literal 24-hour days of creation were true. Whenever possible, I taught this in my classes and in special lectures to many congregations and at the Florida Lectures.
However, every time I speak of the scientific evidences, I also caution that the evidence should never replace our belief in the Genesis account in the Bible, but that any evidence only reinforces our faith.
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