Sunday, December 03, 2006

Old Earth arguments: a response to David pt. 1

Its been a while since i've dealt with anything regarding science and the Bible. My reason being that i've been searching out which areas i'm gifted in and which areas i'm not. After much thought and research i've come to the conclusion that i'm not gifted in the areas of science. In no way does this mean that I don't love science or want to study it. On the contrary, I will continue to study the origins issue from a scientific standpoint. But lately i've realized that I simply do not have the capacity to deal with scientific issues on a public forum. And I think a lot of people need to really take note of this because many Christian apologist have gotten themselves in trouble with this before; don't try to take on every issue under the sun. The problem comes when we think we can be experts in every single area and refute every argument that comes our way, irregardless as to how much we've studied the relevint issues. Find out where you are gifted and focus on those specific areas. For example, don't go out debating Muslims if you haven't researched the Koran. Narrow your study down to what you can handle. In my situation, I simply don't have the time or capacity to study all the relevant literature related to biology, anthropology, geology, astronomy, chemestry, or any other physical scientific discipline. Therefore, I am not going to write blogs trying to defend something that I can't back up.

All this is to say that what i'm about to write on will provoke many science related questions. A fellow myspace blogger, David has written a blog called Old Earth Creationism, where he seeks to defend the idea that the earth is billions of years old using scientific and biblical arguments. And what I intend to do is to show why the Old Earth perspective is not only wrong, but detrimental to the Christian faith and the cross of Christ. Now, I realize that those are pretty strong words and that many will wonder why i'm even taking the time to bother with this. But let me assure you that I have good intentions.

I have no desire to cause disunity or make this a personal issue between me and David. I think David is a great writer and a really smart guy. In fact, he probably has twice the IQ as me. He's written a lot of things that i've really benefit from. And if you haven't read anything of his, please take the time to do so. But unfortunately, David and I don't agree on everything. David believes that the Earth is billions of years old beyond a reasonable doubt. I, on the other hand, believe that the earth is only thousands of years old beyond a reasonable doubt. So who is right? Does it even matter?

I hope that those reading this will not see this as a debate between whether or not the earth is young or old. Instead, I hope that you will see this issue for what it really is; is the Bible alone our authority? With that said, I intend to deal with the biblical issues related to this debate. If you read David's article in its entirety, you will notice that a significant portion was devoted to so-called scientific arguments for an Old Earth. And while I disagree with David's "scientific" conclusions, I am going to deal only with the biblical arguments that he raised. My reason being; as stated earlier, I do not have the scientific expertise to address the relevant scientific issues in a public forum. I will, however, deal with them in private if you so desire. So with that said, let's see what David said and test it against the Scriptures as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11.

Like YEC, the logic of OEC can be summarized with a simple syllogism:

1. The Bible (or at least Genesis) is the inerrant word of God.

2. Science has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that we live on an old Earth and an old universe.

3. Therefore, Genesis does not teach that we live on a young Earth and in a young universe.

I honestly don't see how this syllogism is helpful. For example, I can use the same logic against David:

1. The Bible is the inerrant word of God.

2. Science has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that we live on a young earth and young universe.

3. Therefore, Genesis does not teach that we live on an old earth and an old universe.

So which is it? Obviously, both syllogisms can't be true.

Assuming that a young Earth/universe and an old Earth universe are mutually exclusive, this logic is simple and incontrovertible. If Genesis is truly without error, and if we know that we live on an old Earth and in an old universe, then it must be true that Genesis does not teach YEC. Regardless of what you might think Genesis teaches, it is absolutely, logically, 100% impossible that Genesis teaches YEC.... if we agree that Genesis is the inerrant word of God and if we know beyond a reasonable doubt that YEC is incorrect.

Translation: it doesn't matter how clear Genesis is on this issue. We must trust the ideas of fallible scientists over the infallible Word of God!

Is this how we are supposed to interpret Scripture? I submit that this type of argumentation is extremely dangerous and detrimental to the Christian faith. If we can use the ideas of fallible men to re-interpret Genesis, then why can't we use the ideas of fallible men to re-interpret other parts of the Bible? And I know that David would disagree with this, but I must ask him where this slippery slope stops? Are we to believe in Sola Scriptura or not?

The upshot of this syllogism is that OEC's or Progressive Creationists do not have to debate our interpretation of Scripture with YEC's. We can simply focus on the scientific evidence. If the scientific evidence clearly and irrefutably supports the conclusion that we live in an old universe -- and I believe it does -- then all Christians must agree that Genesis does not teach YEC, or else concede that Genesis contains errors.

Yep, just throw out the Bible. It doesn't matter what Genesis teaches. Just go ask your friendly neighborhood atheistic geologist to tell you the true history of the Universe. After all, he was there wasn't he?

Well, at least David is being honest. I just wish the rest of the progressive creationist camp would admit that they aren't concerned with what the Bible teaches.

OEC and Evolution

Evolution is generally defined as the change in the heritable traits of a population over successive generations. All Christians, including YEC's, believe that species have undergone and continue to undergo genetic changes over the generations (microevolution). Whether human beings in particular have evolved from entirely different species, however, is much more controversial.

It is interesting that David brought up human evolution. From what I know about the human evolutionary timeline, modern humans have been around for at least 200,000 years. And I would like to ask David along with anyone else who trusts the ideas of modern scientists: how does Adam and Eve fit in with this? See all those genealogies in Genesis? Believe it or not, those actually mean something!

By definition, YEC's must reject macroevolution -- or at least the view that human beings in particular arose from an entirely different species. That is because 6,000 years is an insufficient amount of time for such major changes to occur. By contrast, OEC's accept a 4 billion year old Earth, in which there is plenty of time for those changes to have occurred. OEC neither requires nor prohibits the view that our species in particular resulted from lesser animals.

Another honest statement by David: it doesn't matter what Genesis teaches about the history of man. Let's just go with the Leakey's and believe whatever they tell us about human evolution.

Some OEC's believe in this macroevolution, such as Howard J. Van Till. That view is typically called "Theistic Evolution." Other OEC's believe the same thing but use a different term. Francis Collins, for example, was the director of the Human Genome Project and a Christian. In his new book "The Language of God," he prefers the term "BioLogos." Other OEC's, such as Robert Newman and Norman Geisler, do not believe that our particular species resulted from successive changes in other species -- that is to say, we were created in the form we are in now, even if other species have radically changed. At any rate, my point is that while OEC allows for human evolution from lesser species, it certainly does not require it.

I submit that any Old Earth creationist who does not subscribe to a naturalistic, evolutionary history of life is being inconsistent. Because "science" is the authority, they must reject anything opposed to the scientific mainstream. This also means they must reject anything supernatural in regards to the origin of life because the majority of biologists will agree (although they will admit that they haven't figured out the details) that the origin of life was naturalistic. This is why I believe that Norman Geisler, Hugh Ross, William Craig, and other Old Earthers are being inconsistent in their hermeneutic. "Theistic Evolutionists" are, in my opinion, the only consistent ones because they just throw the literal history of Genesis out the window in favor of an allegorical interpretation.

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