Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 4

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Wisdom of the Ages

In this chapter, Dr. Ross laments the idea that biblical creationists have published saying that for the balance of church history, the church has taught and believed in a recent creation. Dr. Ross gives examples of scholars from the 1st – 4th centuries that had doubts of the six day creation.

  • Philo – “It is quite foolish to think that the world was created in six days or in a space of time at all.”
  • Justin Martyr- Dr. Ross mentions Martyr, but not why he believes Martyr questioned the teachings of scripture.
  • Hippolytus – from Dr. Ross “most of his writings have been lost. What scholars have recovered gives no explicit indications of what he believed about the duration of the creation days or about the dates for creation beyond his statements that humans have resided on Earth for only several thousand years”
  • Eusebius – from Dr. Ross “However, nowhere did Eusebius address the universe’s or Earth’s creation dates or the length of the Genesis days.”
  • Ambrose – “Scripture established a law that twenty-four hours, including both day and night of one day should be given the name of day only, as if one were to say the length of one day is twenty-four hours in extent.”

If those are the scholars upon which Ross is relying to build a case that the church has historically held an old earth view in contradiction to the “young earth” view, he is sorely lacking in having built a case to favor his view. Instead of constructing an airtight case that the church has historically held to an old earth view, his outliers didn’t really help his case. 

In deafness to his own plea from chapter 1 not to be disrespectful to those Christians with whom he disagrees, on p42 Dr. Ross is disrespectful to those with whom he disagrees:

Now what man of intelligence will believe that the first, and the second, and the third day, and the evening and the morning existed without the Sun, Moon, and stars?

For an astronomer and astrophysicist, I would have expected Dr. Ross to know that the definition of a day is simply “a single rotation of the Earth on its axis”, but instead he mocks biblical creationists for their understanding of scripture’s teaching that there were days prior to the creation of the sun. This is not a problem at all for biblical creationists. From looking through scripture (2 Cor 4:6, Isa 60:19, Micah 7:8, Rev 21:23), it is not a stretch to say that God provided the necessary light until on day 4, He placed his created light sources in the heavens to bring Him glory. 

The problem is for the old earthers, who must account for billions of years prior to the sun/earth standard for defining a year.

  • How do the old earthers calibrate a year without the emergence of the sun/earth pair that defines a year?
  • What were time units called before the sun/earth combination?
  • How do they know there were almost 10 billion years…or ambiguous time units prior to the stellar objects necessary for the definition of a year actually existed?
  • They have a genuine problem with time, whereas the biblical creationist does not. 

A few pages later on p45, Ross continues his analysis of the early church fathers when he writes:

They wrote long before astronomical, geological, paleontological evidence for the antiquity of the universe, Earth, and life had been discovered.

Since he is trying to build a case that the universe is old instead of young, rather than actually building a case here, he simply states it. This is the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

Chapter 4 was both short in length and short on compelling arguments for Dr. Ross.

 

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 3

The Clouds Burst 

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In this chapter, Ross attempts to plant the idea that “young-earth creationism” is a modern day cult. On p30 he writes

By 1980, nearly every American evangelical church and the school had been swayed by young-earth creationist teachings…Societies along the lines of the CRS (Creation Research Society) and ICR formed in more than two dozen nations.

Simply by reading God’s word, one sees the that “young-earth creationism” is the logical conclusion. With deeper and more comprehensive Bible study, a Berian finds that the “simple” reading is confirmed. It’s even a fabulous bonus that organizations committed to the authority of scripture in their scientific research (Answers In Genesis, Creation Ministries International, and the Institute for Creation Research [ICR] ) find that the evidence is in perfect alignment with both the simple reading and the comprehensive study of God’s special revelation.

In an inset on p33, Dr. Ross inadvertently destroys his only basis for knowledge when he ridicules presuppositionalism. He writes:

According to some of its advocates, presuppositionalism says all human reasoning and interpretation of scientific evidence must be subordinate to a “biblical” interpretation of reality.

 

It might have sounded hyperbolic to say that presuppositionalism is the only basis for knowledge. Much has been written on this topic, and you can see an example of this apologetic method here, but I will provide a short primer below

 

  1. Since all of humanity suffers from the influence of sin, even our reasoning and senses are subject to the curse of sin. (Genesis 3:17-19, Romans 1:18-23,Romans 8:18-27). So, trying to place one’s epistemological foundation on human reasoning or scientific observations of a corrupted creation is insufficient for true knowledge. By the gift of grace, when a person repents of their rebellion, a person can have an epistemology that is uncorrupted (Pr 1:7, Isa 33:6, Ps 111:10, Col 2:3).
  2. God has revealed Himself in creation, which has since been corrupted by the curse of sin. God has revealed Himself in his special revelation, which is the eternal Word of God. God has revealed Himself in Jesus
  3. God is the foundation of truth, morality, induction, knowledge & logic, which are immutable, abstract, & absolute. All of these things are necessary for empiricism. Empiricism works because these absolutes are unchanging. (Prov 1:7, Isa 33:6, Psalm 111:10, Col 2:2-3)
  4. God is immutable, transcendent and absolute, so He provides a sufficient and necessary justification for truth, morality, induction, knowledge & logic.
  5. Presupposing God is necessary to know anything, and because God has revealed Himself in the uncorrupted person of Jesus and His Word, we can be certain of everything He has revealed in his word. If outside sources (corrupted) have authority over the interpretation of God’s Word (uncorrupted), then the perfect epistemic foundation is no longer the highest authority but subject to those outside sources.

From pages 32-34 the “appearance of age” theory is panned by Dr. Ross. The “appearance of age” theory was a model introduced by a few biblical creationists in the early 1970s.  Dr. Ross quotes Dr. Gary North, who pushed the model:

The Bible’s account of the chronology of creation points to an illusion…The seeming age of the stars is an illusion…Either the constancy of the speed of light is an illusion, or the size of the universe is an illusion, or else the physical events that we hypothesize to explain the visible changes in light or radiation are false inferences.

Today, most creationists reject this model because there are too many time-limiting “clocks” that limit the age of the earth to under 10,000 years…just like the Bible says.

Also in this section, Dr. Ross quotes Dr. Marvin Lubenow who said, “There is no general Bible-science conflict if one recognizes the domain of science to be primarily in the present and involving the investigation of present-day phenomena.”

I agree with Dr. Lubenow on this point. Scientific concepts can assist with finding out about past events, but not at the expense of eye-witness testimony from the Almighty…which Dr. Ross tries to do time and again.

On a side note, I highly recommend Dr. Lubenow’s book, Bones of Contention. It has been one of my favorite books. If you have an interest in fossils and completely refuting the old earther’s story about human evolution, you will appreciate this book too.

On pg35 Ross introduces the idea that young-earth creationism drives people away from God.

Many people who have never looked into the matter for themselves assume that Scripture clearly says God created everything in 144 hours, just 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Given the scientific implausibility of such a position, many people reject the Bible without seriously considering its message.

  1. Ross pans biblical creation because of its “scientific implausibility”. Can anyone else think of other things (besides creation) recorded in scripture that are scientifically implausible?
    1. Exodus 14:21-22 The waters of the Red Sea parted at God’s command (scientifically implausible)
    2. 2 Kings 6:6 Axhead floats (scientifically implausible)
    3. Matt 1:18 Virgin gives birth (scientifically implausible)
    4. Luke 24 Jesus rose from the dead after 3 days in the grave (scientifically implausible)
    5. There are many other examples of “scientifically implausible” events that God brought about for his glory. So for Dr. Ross to hinge his argument on the “scientifically implausible” account of creation, brings his unbiblical old earthism into serious question.
  2. If one cannot trust God’s account of creation, why should they trust his ability to forgive rebellion? The same Creator, Jesus, provided his own body as the vessel to take on God’s wrath for sin, so that salvation for mankind could be achieved. Trusting the Creator (even if that account of creation seems implausible) is faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please God.
  3. Ross gives an example “One physician I know, though hungry for spiritual truth, ignored the Bible and the Christian faith for years because he couldn’t get past some believer’s insistence that the Bible’s first page taught a recent 144-hour cosmic creation.”
    1. Could this physician get past a virgin getting pregnant?
    2. Could this physician get past complete & instantaneous healing of a quadriplegic man?
    3. Could this physician get past the resurrection of a body after being dead for 3 days?
    4. The problem for this physician and with others who reject the miracles of the Bible (including creation) is not miracles, but the God of miracles. If miracles could be explained naturally, they wouldn’t be miracles that bring glory ONLY to God. God revealed his great power over nature, and by having faith in God’s revelation, we praise Him. 

To close chapter 3 Dr Ross says: 

Now is the time to make every effort-short of compromising either the words of the Bible or the facts of nature-toward a peaceful resolution.

As I spoke about in my review of the Introduction, Ross again erroneously claims that the “facts of nature” have the same authority as God’s eternal Word. All facts are interpreted according to one’s worldview. So, if Ross assumes modern academic paradigms are the highest authority, he will use that framework to interpret scripture. But as I’ve already said, nature has been subjected to corruption (Genesis 3, Romans 8), and so any interpretation one gets from observations of nature are also subject to that corruption. Trying to elevate the corrupted “facts of nature” over God’s eternal Word is an exegetical no-no!

 

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Review – A Matter of Days – Introduction

Dr. Ross begins his book by explaining part of the reason for his book:

Debates over the age of the universe and earth and the length of the Genesis creation days have-for the past several decades-deeply divided the evangelical Christian community…This impediment to Christian unity appears to be heightening into a storm of ferocious fury.

He is correct here. He is attempting in his book to provide a rebuttal to those who hold a young earth position, so that the “unity” for which he longs is really the eradication of the ideas of the other side. There is significant division on this point, but he seems not to understand the totality of the division when he writes, 

What could generate such tension and divisiveness? One simple word: ‘day’.

While the word day is the catalyst for such division, the totality of the argument is better understood to be ‘biblical interpretation.’ What things can be used to interpret the Bible? How much does context matter when interpreting words? Where there appear to be tensions between the Bible and interpretations of observations, which side of the tug-of-war maintains authority in interpreting the other. 

I’ll come back to this point repeatedly since throughout the book Dr. Ross echos that modern interpretations of observations that he calls ‘nature’s record’ and ‘scientific facts’ are authoritative over scripture. Being familiar with his arguments, he calls nature the 67th book of scripture or the “book of nature”. He cites passages like Romans 1:20, which says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” as confirmation of the book of nature. While I do believe every word of the text, Ross’s interpretation of the passage is that instead of the revelation of God in creation being sufficient for a person’s judgment, that modern paradigms that interpret creation can be used to re-interpret special revelation. However, Genesis 3:17 (God-”Cursed is the ground”), Romans 8:20-21 (“For the creation was subjected to frustration…hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to corruption”) and nature CANNOT have the same authority as God’s special revelation in the Bible. 

Proper biblical hermeneutics maintains that only scripture can interpret scripture. When there appears to be tension between the Bible and some competing jurisdiction (scientific paradigm, cultural, political, historical…), SCRIPTURE must be the authority. Competing ‘authorities’ must be submissive to God’s eternal revelation. Throughout the book, Dr. Ross tries to build the case that interpretations of fallen creation can interpret God’s eternal Word.

hermeneutics

Dr. Ross (and other old earthers) takes liberty with the Hebrew word for ‘day’ (yom), which he is able to stretch the meaning from 12 hours to billions of years. With a range that large, where day can essentially mean ANYTHING, does it have meaning at all? Using the same ranges would it be fair to use the word ‘puddle’ for both a body of water that is 

8,000,000,000 feet deep and 8,000,000,000 feet in diameter

AND

2 inches deep and 2 inches in diameter?

 

As the word puddle would lose all meaning if it could describe everything from a splash to a body of water twice the size of the sun, so the world ‘day’ loses all meaning if abnormally forced to include both “all time” and 24 hours.

Having said this, biblical creationists do recognize the Hebrew word (yom) has some flexibility. Like its English counterpart, yom can be daylight hours, 24 hours, or a season of time. But nowhere in scripture does yom have the pliability to accommodate billions of years as Ross suggests. To get this definition, he is forced to bring his outside assumptions into the scriptural text. This process is called eisegesis, and when interpreting the Biblical text, eisegesis is a NO-NO.

 

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Why Old Earthism Divides

The debate on the age of the earth has been ongoing for epochs…or at least for 150 years since Charles Lyell worked to “free the science from Moses.” I’ve addressed this particular issue many time before, and while not an issue of salvation, it has great importance for Christians in the area of biblical interpretation. So, while people can still be redeemed and not understand the intricacies of biblical hermeneutics, it is still important for maturing Christians to learn to correctly understand the revelation of God as intended.

hermeneutics

So, if the age of the earth is not an issue of salvation, why does it seem to bring such division? The division comes from how to interpret the Bible. If the Bible is the Word of God, then it should be the epistemic authority. Typically, it is those that are identified as youth earth creationists or biblical creationists that take this view. The Bible is authoritative, and outside sources are subject to what God has revealed. If the Bible is just a collection of loosely-affiliated religious writings then there can be other authorities (culture, scholarly paradigms, other historical documents) that can OVERRULE biblical texts. This is typically how old earth believers tend to view the Bible. They typically say, “We believe the Bible to to true” but then they immediately say, “Genesis needs to be interpreted differently than written because science proves it to be wrong.” See what happens there? They hold interpretations of evidence in authority over scripture, so that the Bible gets re-interpreted when the materialist assumptions of the foundation of the current scholarly paradigm. Below is an example.

Recently, I came across a blog that attempted to build a case that God’s Word can somehow accommodate billions of years and even evolution.

Sadly, this blog post starts out with an equivocation fallacy, and it’s a very common one, so the author, Candice Brown (CB hereafter) is probably just quoting from someone else who uses this particular mantra.

I remained convinced that science and religion were not compatible

The equivocations are that
1) science = old earth or evolution
2) religion = young earth

Bart_Conflate_Science_Evolution

However, science is the systematic study of nature through observation & experiment. So, science is a method, not an entity. Science measures evidence. Evidence is analyzed by people with presuppositions. The combination of presuppositions and science can be used to make conclusions. Someone who has the presupposition that the universe is old will use the tool of science to conclude that the universe is old. How would someone get the assumption that the universe/earth is old? For the last century, all universities have taught that the universe is old because of the work of Lyell, whose stated purpose was to “free the science from Moses”. This quote is a mutiny from the clear teachings of the Bible, which Lyell hated. So, all of today’s professors have been taught that the universe is old. Should someone raise doubts about this, they are figuratively and well as (sometimes) literally expelled from employment and teaching/learning at university.

The forensic scientists at Creation Ministries International, The Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis understand from God’s revelation in the Bible that God intended for the audience to see his handiwork in history, and the scientific studies seen today confirm this in every respect.

CB continues in her blog post with the idea that the Earth appears to be very old. She’s not wrong. It does look to be thousands of years old. That is a REALLY long time, and the maximum time that can be historically verified. Were the earth to be millions of years old (or older), the mountains would, at the very least, be rounded smooth by wind/water erosion. And if the earth were more than 10 million years old, the continents would have been ground into the sea by wind/water erosion based on current erosion rates.

A common response to the erosion problem by old earthers is “Well, you forget about the concept of continental uplift. As continents collide, the continents are being continually recycled up.” There are reasons that show why this does not help the old earther:

  1. This concept has already been factored into the erosion rates
  2. The fossils are still there. Since the rate of continental erosion limits their age to (at most) 10s of millions of years, then the fossils would have long ago been eroded along with the rest of the sedimentary layers if the recycling of uplift has renewed the continents. Since there are still fossils, the continents are young. Old earthism is falsified.

CB also quotes Reasons To Believe (an old earth organization) saying that humans emerged somewhere around 150 thousand years ago. This number is counter to the biblical genealogies in Genesis 5, against the population growth statistics, and against the latest research in genetics, which show an increase in entropy. The latest work in genetics confirms exactly what the Bible revealed in the biblical genealogies that have been repeated in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3. The human genome accumulates hundreds of mutations in each generation that natural selection cannot remove since natural selection works on the phenotype level and not the genetic level. Since humans have not gone extinct, old earthism is falsified.

CB continues with:

In order to dispute this evidence, Christians must make several leaps, such as believing dinosaurs and humans co-existed

The evidence is strongly in favor of humans co-existing with dinosaurs, but most people are unaware of the evidence. The links below are not comprehensive, but provide strong justification for the facts that dinosaurs and humans co-existed in the past.

  1. Dinosaur cave paintings
  2. Brass Dinosaur on Bishop Bell’s tomb
  3. Stegosaurus in Cambodia
  4. While not necessarily man with dinosaur, soft-tissue being found in dinosaur bones falsifies the mantra that the dinosaurs went extinct 65 millions years ago. At most, the bones are only a few thousand years old. The link of this text shows over 100 “ancient” bones that contain soft tissue. Old earthism is falsified again
  5. Historical accounts

MarcoPoloDinosaur

CB goes on to dispute the clear teaching of the days in Genesis to be of the 24-hour variety.

Much like the English word love has five meanings in ancient Greek, the Hebrew word yom יום (translated day in Genesis) has four meanings, one of which indicates not a twenty-four hour period, but an age of time

Biblical creationists are well aware of this meaning of the Hebrew word yom, and there are several reasons why the context of Genesis 1 demands they be literal days, and not figurative ones.

  1. The author intended his audience to see the Genesis days as literal days
  2. The days have boundaries (ordinals and morning/evening)
  3. Other scriptures confirm literal days
  4. God spoke to Abraham using analogies for incredibly large numbers, so it’s not that Hebrews were simple people and could not understand numbers greater than 10 as old earthers would contend. Gen 22:17 “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.” To describe a more consistent way that God would have communicated the many epochs of days, were old earthism to be true, would be for Him to have used language where He already shows His intention to communicate large numbers. But He did not. God instead chose to perform his creative works in 6 days as He said.
  5. There are contexts (plurality, modifying words, suffixes) in Hebrew for yom to mean more than a day, but none of these contexts are present in Genesis 1.
  6. There are 2 Hebrew words (zeman – H2165 and eth H6256) for epochs or long indefinite period of time, BUT THESE WORDS ARE NOT USED IN GENESIS 1

The biggest obstacle that old earthers must overcome to inject their biases into the biblical text is to somehow justify the curses of sin (death, suffering, and thorns) as being present in creation PRIOR to the rebellion of mankind. When they insist on this, it becomes an issue about the gospel. Invariably, when I ask old earthers to justify their position on this, I get either “well, it’s only spiritual death” or “I just interpret the Bible differently than you.”

  1. God declared his creation “very good.” Since creation is very good, there could not have been disease, bloodshed, and harm. Isaiah 11 and 65 confirm this. Harm, disease, and bloodshed prior to sin is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified
  2. In Genesis 3:17-19 God said to Adam “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree…to dust you will return.” The curse of sin resulted in both spiritual and physical death. Both Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15 are strong confirmation. So the debate is: Did death bring mankind into the world (old earthism) or did man bring death into the world (YEC). The Bible clearly answers that man’s sin brought death into the world. Death before sin is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified
  3. One of the curses is thorns. Jesus took the crown of thorns upon Himself at the cross to complete taking the curses of sin as our punishment. But if thorns existed prior to mankind as old earthism demands, then what was the curse of sin? There are fossil thorns buried in layers that old earthers “date” as having been made prior to mankind. This view is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified

Biblical interpretation is not an arbitrary function. When people interpret the Bible to mean whatever is popular in culture (homosexuality, old ages, contrary historical documents), then the body of Christ is divided and suffers.

Christians should be united. And the unity should center around God’s revelation in scripture and its fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus confirmed the testimony of Moses (Luke 16) and confirmed the historical nature of Genesis (Mark 10:6). So, God’s people should not be divided about the age of the earth. They should be united around a healthy understanding of the Bible, so that Jesus can be glorified.

We can trust God with our future because we can trust his revelation about the past.

What Ignites Your Passion?

This past week, a gay bully, Brian Sims, posted two videos of himself in front of Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia harassing an elderly woman and a group of teenage girls. He repeatedly misrepresented and verbally assaulted the pro-lifers, simply because they had come to the abortion-mill to pray for the babies.

In response to the disgusting videos, several people in the Pro-Life movement have coordinated a counter protest to this man’s attitude. I myself was tempted to buy a ticket to Philadelphia to join the protest. Sims’ behavior was reprehensible, and his “logic” was fallacious and wicked.

Here’s a video of Matt Walsh organizing the protest.

But I got to thinking, as reprehensible as Sim’s behavior was, is not the depraved actions INSIDE the abortion mill MORE reprehensible? We’ve seen the video of the bully, and it’s awful, but the BIGGER bullies are INSIDE Planned Parenthood with lab coats and stainless steel tools.

The more gross sin is the dismemberment and murder of unborn children. All sin in a rebellion against God, and for forgiveness, we are ALL in need of repentance through grace.

As Christians, we should be sharing the gospel with the lost. I hope that through these events, many people will realize their need for the Savior and that the actions that flow from redemption bring glory to God instead of judgment. Pray for the single women, who feel like they must kill their child to find happiness. If possible, donate time to mentor kids in single-parent families. Be-friend a needy family and help provide for earthly needs, so that they will listen to you when you enlighten people about their spiritual needs. Get involved in the foster parent program in your area. Teach your own children how to read and interpret God’s Word. Pray for forgiveness in your own life.

But don’t be motivated by a bully (pray for him) who mistreated some people in Pennsylvania. The problem is much bigger and much deeper than that.

As a side note: From these news reports, it appears that this particular Planned Parenthood has repeatedly failed health inspections, failed to report child rape, and performs no background checks on employees.

Please God or Man?

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Living Waters Ministries, The Fool, let me encourage you to take 60 minutes to do so.

 

I’ll admit, I sure don’t like being called an idiot or ignorant for my beliefs, but that should in no way hinder us from sharing the gospel of Jesus. What an amazing ministry that Ray Comfort has for sharing the gospel because of the ridicule he has endured.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. – Philippians 1:15-18

I’ve heard and still hear Christians tell me that it’s important to preach the gospel a certain way or don’t talk about creationism because it’s not well-regarded…all to not seem ridiculous to the lost.

What rubbish! What does the child of the King and joint heir to the eternal kingdom care about the petulant approval of mankind?

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10

  1. Repent of your rebellion
  2. Study the Word
  3. Share the good news of abundant life through faith in Jesus!
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