Because this exchange so clearly showed the differences between Old Earth and Young Earth advocate, I decided to post the exchange between me and David in its entirety. I hope and pray that everyone who reads this will not see it as a debate on the age of the earth, but on Biblical authority.
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.
Scriptural Evidence -- Beginning Presumption
Before discussing the Scriptural evidence for OEC, an important observation is in order: each of us is created in God's image (Genesis 1:27) and God does not want anyone to perish but for that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). There is no reason to think that God has made salvation more difficult today than He did in generations past.
But if YEC's are correct, that is exactly what God has done: I cannot help the fact that I was born in an era in which we have the scientific method, an era in which there are serious stumbling blocks to Biblical faith that did not exist just a few centuries ago. Had I lived a thousand years ago, I would never have been inundanted by this scientific evidence, and thus it would have been much easier for me to accept the Creation account thus the rest of the Bible.
Did God really intend the Bible to become a much greater obstacle to our faith in Him today than it was a couple centuries ago? If yes, has God arbitrarily made it more difficult for people in the modern era to come to Him than people in past era's?
I believe that God designed His word to be equally accessible and relevant to all peoples at all times throughout history. Now that's the kind of book we'd expect from an omnipotent God! Furthermore, we should interpret the Bible with an eye toward God's salvific purpose. Thus, we arrive at a presumption that His truth is no easier or harder to accept today than it was for people in previous generations.
David's theology is completely man-centered rather than God centered. It completely ignores the depravity of man, God's freedom in salvation, and the power of the Holy Spirit to regenerate the heart and will of man. So let me first dispel the myth that salvation is more "difficult" based on Young Earth Creationism.
"But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles." (1 Cor. 1:23)
Are we to believe that Young Earth Creationism is the real reason why people don't accept Christ? Is Old Earth vs. Young Earth what this is all about? First of all, even if the most rabid atheist comes to accept the Young Earth position as the most scientifically plausible explanation for the available evidence, is that going to make him more likely to accept the cross of Christ? No, for the Cross of Christ will always be foolishness to Him!
"But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." (1 Cor. 2:14)
Again we see the inability in the natural man to accept spiritual things such as salvation. Does this mean that convincing him that the Old Earth is really compatible with the Bible is really going to make it "easier" for him to accept Christ? No, for unless God takes out that heart of stone and gives him a heart of flesh, the cross will always be foolishness to him.
"For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 'He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them." (John 12:39-40)
I submit that the "easiness" of salvation has absolutely nothing to do with when we lived, where we live, or whether or not the earth is young. Salvation is impossible for each and every person. All of us are doomed unless something happens (which would not include convincing us that the earth is old); if God chooses by the pleasure of His purpose and will to regenerate and save us.
So if salvation doesn't depend on the Old Earth or Young Earth, why even bother with arguing this? Glad you asked. The reason I, as a reformed protestant, choose not to compromise the Scriptures (which clearly teach a young earth) in order to make salvation "easier" is because I believe that my responsibility is to glorify God by proclaiming His truth. And to do otherwise would be to bring only shame to His name. Think about it this way. Let's say that the salvation of your best friend was dependent on you commiting one sin, would you do it? Or how about we make the illustration more relevant: if the salvation of your best friend depended on you knowingly compromising a clear teaching of Scripture for his sake, would you do it? Now, if your soteriology (your study of salvation) is man centered, then why not? But if you hold to a God-centered soteriology, where God saves apart from man's will (which is enslaved to sin), then there is no amount of compromising that could ever bring him to repent without God's first regenerating his heart.
And how do we reconcile that view of science with Scripture like Psalm 19 and Romans 1:20 which encourage us to examine nature in order to learn about God?
Both of these texts tell us that God's existence can be known from nature so that no one will be "without excuse." I'm not sure where David gets the idea that these texts are telling us that nature can give us infallible, propositional revlation about the unobserved past.
Scriptural Evidence -- The Length of Each Day
As I noted in the syllogism above, it is not necessary for me to show exactly why YEC's are mistaken in order to know that they are mistaken. If Premises (1) and (2) of the syllogism are true, then we know that YEC is mistaken even before considering the text of Genesis 1. I will discuss the Scriptural text not for the sake of other Christians -- I really don't care if they adopt an OEC view or not -- but for seekers. I want seekers to know that OEC is not some convenient slight of hand but rather a comfortably supported, very mainstream view within Christian communities.
This is where David's honesty truly comes to light. Here he admits that his Old Earth views have nothing to do with what the Bible actually says. And even worse, it doesn't matter what the Bible says anyways, because scientists have already proven that the earth is Old! What an amazing admission! I hope my readers can now see how truly dangerous the Old Earth position is. For if we can just make Genesis say whatever we want, then would it not follow that we could do this with other parts of Scripture as well? If not, then why not?
I turn now to the text of Genesis 1. Here are six quick reasons to believe the "day" (Hebrew: yom) of Genesis 1 is longer than 24 hours.
Before we go into David's so-called "biblical" arguments for an old earth, let's lay a few ground rules as to how we should interpret Scripture. First, we need to understand that yom has a semantic range of five meanings:
1. a period of light in a day/night cycle
2. a period of 24 hours
3. a general or vague concept of time
4. a specific point of time
5. a period of a year
A rule of thumb that has always helped me is, "when the plain sense makes common sense, take no other sense, lest it be nonsense." We can all agree that the normal use of the word "day" is a 24 hour period. But we can also agree that "day" can sometimes mean something other than an ordinary day. And the constant objection that Old Earthers always seem to raise is, "Because day can mean something other than an ordinary day, then maybe the days in Genesis are long periods of time!" Such an objection is what New Testament scholar D.A. Carson calls, "An unwarrented expansion of an expanded semantic field." In other words, the meaning of a word must be determined by how it is used in the specific context, not by possible meanings in unrelated contexts.
For those who still might be confused as to how one might determine the meaning of "day," perhaps this illustration will help:
In my father's day, he would go to bed early Sunday evening and rise early in the morning of the following day, and spend the next six days traveling, during the day, to cross the whole country.
No one would deny that "my father's day" is an indefinite period of time. But this does not mean that it is right to interpret "six traveling days" as anything but ordinary days. The reason being that whenever you have "day" modified by a number (such as "six days, the second day, one day, etc.), it must mean an ordinary day. Furthermore, the combination of evening and the next morning is another way of showing that his bedtime was contained in one ordinary day, not an indefinite period of time.
It is interesting to note that the days in Genesis are modified by both "evening and morning" as well as a number:
"God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day." (v. 5)
Interestingly enough, God used even more indicators that "one day" was a 24 hour day. He used "day" to describe the daylight portion, and "night" to describe the nighttime portion. Furthermore, just in case the reader missed the point, He used "evening and morning" to show that we are talking about a literal day. And just in case the reader is a little thick headed, He used a number to describe that we are, without a doubt, talking about a literal day. This continues all throughout the remaining 5 days:
"And there was evening and there was morning, a second day." (v. 8)
"There was evening and there was morning, a third day." (v. 13)
"There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day." (v. 19)
And this continues all the way to the sixth day. So we see the constant pattern: evening...morning...number...day...evening...morning...number...day. Its as if God is trying to tell us something! Maybe they are literal days!
Some may think that such contexts don't really matter. But we need to realize that language is meant to communicate. If we can no longer trust that words have meaning, then we can no longer trust the Bible as a reliable means of communication. And if we can redefine what words mean in Genesis, then why can't we redefine what words mean in other parts of the Bible too? Maybe words like "grace, resurrection, sanctification, salvation" don't really mean what we think they do. Maybe these words mean completely different things to God than they do to us. See the slippery slope that such compromises in Genesis bring? And I know that David would never advocate such compromises in other parts of the Bible. But what happens when we start telling other believers that what Genesis says doesn't really matter? What happens when more and more Christians start being more consistent in their hermeneutic and redefining words other parts of the Bible? And this is exactly what is happening in our society today. Just read the writings of John Shelby Spong and Jesus Seminar scholar John Dominic Crossan. They have completely redefined what words like "resurrection" and "sin" really mean. And by no suprise, they do not believe in the historicity of Genesis either! And this is at the core of the entire debate. Is the Bible our authority? If so, then should we not allow the Bible to define its own terms and interpret itself, rather than starting with the ideas of fallible men ("science") and taking those ideas to reinterpret scripture?
I submit that the only way to know the true history of the Universe is to let the Bible speak. Allow the Bible to tell us how long ago God created the Universe. And once we determine what the Bible says, then we can go to the scientific evidence and see if we can make sense of it in light of what the Bible has already established. And if we find a discrepancy between the scientific evidence and the Scriptures, then the problem is not with what the Scriptures say! Maybe there's a problem in how we are interpreting the scientific evidence! But unfortunately, some people would rather think that there is a problem with the Scripture, and will either reinterpret the text or reject it all together. I like how Martin Luther described the situation, although he was fighting a battle with the church who wanted to shorted the creation week to one day!
“How Long Did the Work of Creation Take? When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are.”
-What Martin Luther Says – A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active, pp. 1523.
In the next section, we will see David attempting to build a "biblical" case for an Old Earth. But unfortunately, David has already rejected the possibility that the Bible might teach a young earth. So my question is, why even deal with the text? If science has already told us that the earth is Old, then is it even helpful to argue that the Bible teaches it? But for the sake of my readers, I will demonstrate that there is absolutely no way to reconcile an Old Earth and the Bible. And we will also see that David's so-called examination of the text has absolutely nothing to do with the text at all, but instead is based on outside influences. This is what Bible scholars call eisegesis. This is where you read your ideas, such as millions of years, into the Bible as opposed to exegesis where one allows the Bible to speak for itself with no outside influence.
Please be advised that I was raised Jewish and I am proficient in Biblical Hebrew. First, consider the Hebrew word yom. Although this word often refers to a 24-hour period, the Bible also uses the term to describe a much longer period, i.e. the "time" of Genesis 4:3, "continually" in Genesis 6:5, and "remain" in Genesis 8:22. Also, remember that the infamous "Yom (Day) of the Lord" (Isaiah 13, Joel 1-3, Amos 5, Zephaniah 1) refers to the seven year Tribulation. Granted, the mere fact that yom sometimes refers to a longer period than 24 hours does not mean it always does so, but the precedent set in those passages does open the possibility.
Notice that David fails to mention how we are to interpret "day." He assumes that because "day" can mean a long period of time, then that must mean that the days of Genesis are long periods of time! But what David fails to mention again is that words have meaning according to their context. And the burden of proof is on him to tell us why, despite clear hermeneutical rules of exegesis and the "morning, evening, number" modifiers in Genesis, the days are long periods of time. I would also invite David to show us where, in any part of the Bible, where "day" modified by a number, means anything but an ordinary day.
Second, the Bible teaches us that a thousand years to us are but a day before God (Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8). Given that Genesis 1 describes a purely divine activity with no human involvement, it is reasonable to infer that Genesis 1 is written from God's perspective, not ours.
Let's first read 2 Peter 3:8 and see if it supports David's conclusion:
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
What we first need to understand is that the context of 2 Peter 3:8 has nothing to do with the days of Genesis 1. In addition, these verses are not defining a day because it doesn't say "a day is a thousand years." Therefore, the correct meaning must be derived from its context. And the context is that Peter is encouraging his readers not to lose heart because of the fact that God seems slow at fulfilling His promise about the second coming. Rather, they are to remember that God is patient and is not a time-bound creature as we are.
The text says "one day is like [or as] a thousand years." The word "like" is a figure of speech that is called a simile. Here, the simile is used to teach that God is outside of time because God is the creator of time. In fact, the figure of speech is so effective that its intended aim is to contrast between a literal day and a thousand years. Or in other words, for an eternal being such as God, a short period of time and a long period of time is the same. But in no way does this text even begin to suggest that God is bound by time, as if eternity somehow means a "long time." And this is where Old Earthers really get into trouble when they use this text. If the days in Genesis are to be defined by how God "experiences" time, then are the Old Earthers admitting that God is a time bound creature as the Mormons believe? If not, then what good does it do to imply that because God is an eternal being, then we must interpret the days of creation as God "experienced" them? If we interpret "day" as an eternity (which is how God would, in essense, "experience" a day), then would it not follow that each day must be interpreted as an eternity?
Next, let's take a look at Psalm 90:4:
"For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night."
This is called synonymous parallelism, where the long period of a thousand years is contrasted with two short periods: a day, and a night watch. Unfortunately for David, he forgot the "watch in the night" part because if he were consistent, he would have to interpret both "day" and "watch in the night" to mean a thousand years. This is difficult to imagine in light of other texts. If "watch in the night" means a thousand years then,
"When I remember you on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches" (Psalm 63:6)
"My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word."
We must conclude that David (the King, not the blogger) was thinking on His bed and meditating on God's Word for thousands of years. Surely this is not what David is suggesting to us! If we let the text speak for itself, we will see that the immediate context tells us of the frailty of mere mortan men in comparison to God. And these verses (2 Peter 3:8-9, Psalm 90:4) amplify this teaching, saying that no matter how long a time period is from man's perspective, it is like a twinkling of an eye from God's perspective. But again, notice that I am not suggesting that a long time period is a twinkling of an eye to God, but is like a twinkling of an eye. And even then, such illustrations do not capture what "eternity" really means. They are simply meant to communicate something in such a way that time-bound creatures can understand and relate to.
Third, Genesis itself juxtaposes the term "generations" (Hebrew: tohledah) to equal a "day" (Gen. 2:4, Gen.5:1). And those verses refer explicitly back to Genesis 1, too. It is worth observing that the NIV Bible conceals the obvious implications of these verses by changing the wording, but every other version -- the KJV, NKJV, the NSAB, and the Amplified Bible -- correctly translates tohledah as "generations."
It is hard to understand how this argument is even relevant to the issue. Is "day" in Genesis 2:4 or 5:1 modified by "evening, morning" or a number? No. In fact, the argument is so irrelevant that the NIV translators correctly translated yom as "when" in Genesis 2:4,
"This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens."
Obviously, the author is using the word "day" to describe the entire creation process. In no way would this even begin to suggest that we should interpret the "days" of Genesis 1 to mean long periods of time. This would be, as mentioned earlier, the exegetical fallacy of an unwarrented expansion of an expanded semantic field. In other words, David is trying to take the meaning of a word in one context to define the meaning of a word in an unrelated context.
Fourth, the third day of Genesis 1 surely took longer than 24 hours because verses 1-19 say that God created trees which bore fruit according to their various kinds. It doesn't take a degree in horticulture to know that trees need several years to bear fruit.
Genesis 2:9 says,
And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food."
Notice that the text doesn't say that the trees needed time to grow. God is capable of making trees grow at the same rate as He turned water into wine and multiplied the loaves and fishes. Also, because David claims to be proficient in Hebrew, he knows that there is nothing in the Hebrew language that would suggest that the trees couldn't have been created as growing. So I ask you, the reader, to decide: who is deriving their theology from the text (exegesis) and who is deriving it from outside the text (eisegesis)?
Fifth, OEC's are often accused of interpreting Genesis 1 metaphorically or allegorically. That is not true. We believe God created the Earth in six literal days, but the time it takes for a literal day to pass depends on whether your perspective is from Earth or elsewhere in the universe. That's no joke. Einstein's Theory of Relativity shows that time passes much faster on a planet with higher gravity than it does on ours. Dr. Schroeder explains the practical consequences: "imagine a planet so massive that its gravity slowed time by a factor of 350,000 relative to Earth's rate of time. That meant that while we here on Earth live out two years, a mere three minutes would tick by on that imaginary planet." (The Science of God, 48) So if I write you a letter from this imaginary planet and say "I've been here one day!" I mean it literally -- but in the time that one literal day passed for me, roughly 350,000 literal days will have passed for you (almost one thousand literal years!). Thus, the OEC interpretation of yom is actually quite literal -- but it's based on literal time as experienced by God, not by Earth.
One of the most basic principles of hermeneutics is that the Scriptures are to be interpreted as the original audience intended. Is David suggesting that Moses and the Israelites knew about relativity? If not, then why would David even begin to suggest that Genesis was not written to communicate to its original audience? Scripture would have no ability to communicate if words didn't mean the same to God and man. It is illogical to believe that God was up there thinking, "Its too bad that it is going to take the Israelites 3,000 years of deception to figure out what in the world I mean when I say the word 'day.'"
And again, it is difficult to imagine what kind of God David is referring to. If time is determined by gravity (which I don't doubt), then is David suggesting that God is living on another planet like the Mormon god? Such an illustration is completely bogus because, again, if the days of creation are written through God's perception of time, then David is admitting that God experiences time! And if David is not going to admit that God experiences time, then the other logical outcome would be that the "days" are an eternity. But because both possibilities are absurd, and because God does not experience time, the only reasonable conclusion is that the days of creation were written from man's perspective (assuming that Scripture was intended to communicate truth, of course).
Sixth, it is arguably not even possible that each day of Genesis 1 is based on Earth-time. Dr. Schroeder explains why: "there is no possible way for those first six days to have had an Earth-based perspective simply because for the first two of those six days there was no Earth! As Genesis 1:2 states, 'And the Earth was unformed...'" (The Science of God, 51) Earth is formed on Day 3! Whatever measure of time is being used in the first two days, it is surely not from the perspective of a planet that doesn't exist.
Obviously, when the Bible used the term "earth" in Genesis 1:2, it wasn't referring to a fully functional planet. But you still had an "earth." So what exactly was the Spirit moving over in verse 2? Was it nothing? Was nothing formless and void, having a surface of the deep? Whatever is being described in Genesis 1:2, it is undoubtedly clear that it had an evening and a morning with light. If there was no earth, then what meaning would evening and morning have? There is absolutely no textual reason to suggest that the "earth," in whatever state it was in at that point, didn't experience time. And there is no textual reason to suggest that days 1-2 are any different from days 3-6. If there is a textual reason, then the burden of proof is on David to show us exegetically why days 1-2 were different.
Arguments five and six become much more complex and impressive in MIT biophysicist Dr. Gerald Schroeder's book, in which he demonstrates that not only are the six days of Genesis not based on Earth-time, but that they are based on Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR), a universal clock of sorts that has been left over from the Big Bang. "The Science of God" helped make a believer out of me.
Again, this assumes that Genesis had nothing to communcate to its original audience. It is simply absurd to read these ideas into the text when Moses had absolutely no clue what the Big Bang was! I truly hope that David doesn't treat the rest of the Biblical texts with such sloppliness as he does with Genesis. But one truly wonders how David might defend his faith against liberals who read their ideas into the text? Today's post-modern scholarship does the same thing David does with Genesis. They argue that because miracles do not happen today, such as turning water into wine and raising people from the dead, and because such miracles go against the natural laws of science, then the Biblical authors could not have possibly been referring to literal miracles in their writings! I'm sure David would deny my reasoning here, but did David not say that we are to interpret the text of Scripture based on what we "know" about modern science?
And we will find later in this critique of David's writings that we should squeeze modern science into Genesis so that non-believers will be more likely to accept Christ. Unfortunately, we all know that it isn't just Genesis that the liberals attack; they attack every single miracle mentioned in the Bible. The problem begins at the moment David convinces his atheist friend that Genesis is compatible with modern science. What then? What happens when the skeptic starts flipping through Genesis and gets to Exodus where he can't possibly imagine how all those miracles happened? Does David try to convince his friend that these miracles aren't literal so that his friend is more likely to accept Christ? What then? What happens when David's friend finally makes his was into the Gospels that describe Jesus as rising from the dead and appearing to his disciples? Does David go on to convince his friend that it doesn't matter if Jesus really rose from the dead? Do you see the slippery slope that David's thinking, along with the Old Earth thinkers, can lead to?
Please understand: i'm not suggesting that one must believe in a young earth to be saved. I have no reason to doubt David's salvation as well as many other Old Earthers who compromise the clear teachings of Scripture in Genesis. But I can see the dangers that come with this kind of thinking. And those dangers come when Old Earth advocates start to become consistent in their approach to the bible. And if you get anything out of this critique of David's theology, I hope that you will realize how important it is to stand on the authority of God's word rather than on the authority of man's fallible ideas.
The Scriptural Evidence -- The Order of Creation
Even though Genesis 1 in Hebrew accomdates and, I daresay, plainly teaches an ancient Earth and universe, there is still the problem of order. Regardless of how long each day is, does Genesis 1 teach that we had light on Earth during day 1 even though the sun and stars were not created later, until day 4? And how did plants survive on day 3, when plants depend on photosynthesis and there was no sun until day 4?
Since when is it a requirement that we must have the sun in order to have light? Is God not capable of creating light without the sun? David's approach here is completely backwards. What he should be doing is to first approach the Bible in an attempt to find out what it actually says. Are these literal days? They are modified by a number, as well as evening and morning, so there is no reason to doubt that God is communicating us literal days. And once we have established that these days are literal days, then we should go to the text and sort out the apparent problems or contradictions. But is there a problem with having light with no sun? Surely not, for there would be a huge problem in the new heavens and the new earth, "where the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb." (Rev. 21:23) Apparently for David, we have a huge problem in the new earth because there is no sun!
Also, Genesis was written in such a way as a refutation of the paganism of that day. For example, having the sun appear after the light would have been very significant to the pagans who worshiped the sun as the source of all life. It seems that God was making it very clear that the sun is secondary to Himself as the source of everything. He doesn't "need" the sun in order to create and sustain life, which is unfortunately not the case for Old Earthers.
To my knowledge, the following sequence/order is well accepted in the scientific community: first we have the Big Bang; then the Milky Way and our solar system formed; then the Earth cooled and liquid water appeared, followed almost immediately by bacteria and photosynthetic algae; then Earth's atmosphere became transparent as it became oxygenated; then multicelluar animals and insects appeared; and then mammals and ultimately mankind appeared.
That sounds nice, but it's too bad Moses, the Israelites, and Bible believers for the last 4,000 years were completely wrong about the true history of the Universe. And its also too bad that Moses was too ignorant to communicate truth to his original audience. Thank God for the anti-biblical thinkers like Darwin and Lyell, who came up with the real history of the Universe so that we could finally show how mistaken those "primitive" christians were!
That order is exactly what we find in Genesis! Day 1 starts at the beginning of time and God instantaneously creates light and darkness. That sounds a lot like the Big Bang, in which "light literally broke free as electrons bond to atomic nuclei." (Schroeder, The Science of God, 67)
What David fails to mention is how truly different the Big Bang is from the Biblical account. First, he forgets to mention that in the secular model, you have star and sun formation before the earth. But the Biblical account has the earth before the sun and the stars. As we shall see, David will only mention the similarities between the secular model, while ignoring the glaring differences that the Biblical model presents.
On Day 2, the "heavenly firmament" which took shape is the disc of the Milky Way, which are pretty much the only heavens we can see unaided from Earth.
Genesis 1:6-8 says,
"Then God said, 'Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.' God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven."
If we allow the Bible to speak and read it with the original audience in mind, the best way to understand "the firmament" would be where the sun, moon, and stars reside: interstellar space. And while I disagree with David's idea here, I don't see a point significant enough to respond to, besides the obvious time scale difference in the Big Bang and the text.
Day 3 describes the formation of our own planet, Earth, and its dry land. Day 3 also marks the appearance of liquid water and plants, which were the first form of life on Earth.
Again, notice how David fails to mention the stark contrast between models. The Biblical model says that water appeared before land. Is David suggesting that uniformitarian geology agrees with this? No, for the evolutionary model says that dry land was here long before water. What about the first life forms? Genesis 1:11-12 says that vegetation such as seed-bearing plants and fruit trees (land plants) were the first life forms. But even if we conclude that this includes marine plants, we still have a problem because the evolutionary model has invertebrates in the seas long before vegetation appeared on the land.
On Day 4, Earth's atmosphere became transparent due to the increased oxygen from the plants, which "gave light on the Earth" and allowed us to see the sun and the stars that had already been formed and were continuing to be formed.
Wrong again. The text is clear that the plants were created on day 3 while the sun and stars were created on day 4. In order for us to accept David's assertion that the sun and stars had already been formed, he must provide evidence from the text.
On Day 5, birds, insects, and sealife appeared -- after plans but before mammals, just like biologists have insisted for decades.
The only thing evolutionary biologists have insisted over the decades is a model completely contrary to the Bible. First, the secular model says that reptiles were before birds. In fact, they believe that reptiles evolved into birds! But the Bible tells us that land creatures were created after the birds! And the same is equally contradictory with the creation of insects and sealife as well!
Finally, on Day 6, God created cattle and other mammals, which were ultimately followed by His creation of mankind.
No dispute there, except for the fact that evolutionists insist that man evolved from "other mammals!" If so, then we have the biggest problem yet in the order of appearances. If we hold to the evolutionary model of human origins, then I submit to you that none of us has any hope for salvation in Christ. The Bible is overwhelmingly clear that all humans are descendents of Adam and Eve, who were the first humans (Lk. 3:38, 1 Cor. 15:45, Acts 17:26). But given that the genealogies in the Bible can only have so many gaps before we render them absurd, Adam and Eve can only go back so far. But what does this have to do with the cross? Why does it matter if Adam was the first man? Hopefully these texts will make the answer known:
"But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:20-22)
Did Adam bring death into the world or not? If the evolutionary history of man is true, then humans were dying long before Adam. But notice something: if death doesn't come through all in Adam, then the only logical outcome would be that all will NOT be made alive in Christ. Death must come through Adam and only Adam or else the resurrection cannot come through Christ. The two cannot be separated.
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come." (Rom. 5:12-14)
Again we see an implicit denial of original sin in Old Earth theology. If death was in the world, then sin was in the world. If death was there before sin, then we cannot say that the wages of sin is death, which makes Romas 6:23 false. I try to avoid using emotional language as much as possible so that I don't distract my readers from my actual arguments. But I can't help but be saddened by the logical outcome of Old Earth thinking. When we deny the trustworthiness of Genesis, we deny the foundation for the cross. Without the bad news, we have no good news left to proclaim. If we cannot say with absolute confidence that we are all sinners because Adam fell, then we have no message left. All we are left with is a history of death; a history in which God is constantly messing up through the sloppy process of evolution. In order for evolution to work, death is essential and a natural part of God's creation. In fact, if evolution is true, then death was here from the beginning; the original "paradise" in Eden was not the paradise that Christians once thought. Eden was a horrible place filled with disease, violence and cancer. If this was paradise lost, then what is paradise restored?
It is an unfortunate reality if we allow Old Earth thinkers to become consistent in their approach. This is why this issue is so important. This is why Christians must stand on the authority of God's word in all matters in which it speaks. And if we don't give an answer to those who oppose us, then why should we be surprised at the state of Christianity today where liberal thinking has seeped into the very fabric of evangelicalism? That is why I write these blogs, in hopes that you, the reader, will become more equipped to "make a defense for the hope that is within you." (1 Peter 3:15)
So the Bible teaches us that God's order went like this: The Big Bang ---> The Milky Way, including the sun -----> Earth, followed quickly by water and plants -----> transparent atmosphere -----> multicellular animal life -----> complex mammals -----> Man. And that's exactly what science tells us, too.
And as I demonstrated in the last section, the secular order is diametrically opposed to the Biblical order.
Note that this view resolves the "light/sun" problem and the photosynthesis problem because the light in Day 1 comes from the Big Bang, and our sun is actually formed at the end of Day 2; but it doesn't become visible until after plants have already appeared.
Again, this isn't a problem if you don't allow naturalism to determine what the text of Scripture means. And as I said before, David's point about the sun "not becoming visible until after plants" is completely false until he demonstrates from the text how this is so. But to David, it doesn't matter if his idea is supported by the text or not. If evolutionary scientists have confirmed it, then it must be so!
Note also that the order of Genesis 1 is silent as to whether humans in particular evolved from these other mammals; it just says we appeared after them.
Where does David get the idea that Genesis 1 is silent on this issue? Clearly, the biblical time scale isn't silent, and neither is the rest of Scripture that clearly tells us that Adam and Eve were the first humans. In my opinion, the reason David is using "silence" as an excuse, is to avoid the fact that Scripture is so completely opposed to anything regarding human evolution.
It is so amazing to think that God's word was written in such a way that it made sense to an ancient person -- written in a way that neither catapulted nor inhibited our social development... and yet it is equally relevant and true for us.
Between starlight and radiometric dating, I believe we have sufficient evidence to prove Premise (2) in the syllogism contained at the beginning of this blog. I have not even addressed other lines of evidence, i.e. the ways in which platetectonics and crusts in Earth's layer showcase an old Earth. Because the Bible itself teaches us that studying nature is a way of learning about God, we should embrace this research and allow it to enhance our understanding of His word in the modern world.
Is this what David really believes? If all believers were in the dark for the past 3,000 years on what Genesis taught, then how can we say that it made sense to an ancient person? The only ones who Genesis would be relevant for are those who have studied evolutionary cosmology. But what happens when secular astronomers abandon the Big Bang in favor of a newer model? Are we to twist the Scriptures to fit the new model? I think the honest reader can see through David's reasoning here. Obviously there has to be a point when we can say that the Scriptures no longer fit with the scientific mainstream.
Furthermore, even if we considered the Bible in a vacuum, without allowing any outside science into it, the proposition that we live on an old Earth and in an old universe would be comfortably supported.
Comfortably supported by what? Certainly not the Scriptures, for we have seen that there is absolutely no room for millions of years in Genesis 1! This statement, along with many others, has led me to believe that David does not believe in the reformed doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Instead, he has been honest with the fact that it doesn't matter what the text says. If evolutionary scientists believe it, then it must be so. Such conclusions are dissapointing, but they are the consistent outcome of the Old Earth position.
Thus, Premise (2) of my syllogism is true. And if Premise (2) of the syllogism is true, then YEC's must rescind their position. After all, YEC's have already accepted Premise (1), and if both premises are true, it is logically necessary that Conclusion (3) is true as well.
Wrong. Even if the evolutionary interpretation of the evidence were the best, then the problem would not be with the Scriptures, but with us! The Bible is infallible and we are not. Science is always changing whereas the Bible is not. So it is David who needs to rescind his position because, whether he likes it or not, he stands under the authority of the Word of God. Young Earth creationists have been consistent in their approach for the text. It is we who allow the text to determine its own meaning. So even if we are wrong, atleast we honored God by allowing His Word to speak rather than to bring out own ideas into the text.
I continue to respect my Christian brothers and sisters who cling to the YEC view despite good Scriptural evidence and very good scientific evidence to the contrary. I do not take the radical step of calling their views un-Christian.
There is no good Scriptural evidence to the contrary, as I have shown. But what about the evidence? It seems that David forgets that no one is arguing about the evidence. Its as if David thinks that the Old Earthers "have all the best evidence," while the young earthers have none. But the truth is, we all have the same evidence! We all have the same rocks and fossils. But its not the evidence that young earthers dispute, but the interpretations of the evidence. And our interpretations are completely dependent upon the framework that we take to the evidence. If you are a Bible believer, then you have allowed Genesis to establish your framework before you examine the scientific evidence. But if you hold Old Earth views, then you allow naturalistic and uniformitarian thinking to establish your framework. So David's assertion that there is "good scientific evidence to the contrary" is simply misleading and false.
But for the record, I am thankful that David respects us and doesn't label us as heretics. Although my arguments are forceful, I have the upmost respect for David and would consider him my brother in the Lord. And I hope that while we disagree strongly on this issue, that this won't disunify our fellowship as Christian brothers.
I am very concerned, however, by YEC's who have slammed the door of faith in the faces of seekers by declaring that YEC is the only reasonable interpretation of Scripture supported by mainstream Christians. That claim is outright false. If you want to believe YEC, fine -- but please don't make it a stumbling block for seekers.
I would suggest that it is David's view that is causing a stumbling block. For he declares that even though Scripture might clearly teach a young earth, we can't believe that because "science" says so. Yet, David expects us to believe that Genesis is somehow compatible with an Old Earth. Is David not well aware of the objections raised against His position by non-believers? They see the inconsistency in his position! They realize, just like we do, that the Old Earth position is a compromise. They know what the text says. And they know that millions of years cannot be squeezed into Genesis 1.
But I make no apology for proclaiming the truth of Genesis. God is glorified when His truth is proclaimed. So why would I want to bring Him less glory? Am I suggesting that we should tell everyone that they must believe in a young earth to be a Christian? No, but what I am saying is that we should boldly tell everyone what Genesis clearly teaches! So which side do you, the reader, stand on this issue? Are you going to stand on the side that holds "science" as an authority above the Bible? Or are you going to trust, along with Christians for the past 2,000 years, that God's Word can communicate in such a way that we can understand it? I'll leave that for you to decide.