Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 3

The Clouds Burst 

light sun cloud japan

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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 – Chapter 2

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The Gathering Storm

In this short chapter, Ross attacks who he thinks is responsible for the conflict between biblical creationists and old earthers.

In the mid-seventeenth  century, however, two British scholars, John Lightfoot and James Ussher, produced commentaries that seeded the clouds of dissention. In their zeal for exactitude (and personal competition), they inadvertently opened the gates for a drenching dogmatism that divided Christian from Christian, and faith from fact, for centuries to come.

 

  1. Why would Ross use the term dissension? Ussher was reading his Bible and making use of his reason to learn about history. It is only dissension if someone disagrees with the Bible, and Ussher is in direct agreement with the Bible.
  2. “Zeal for exactitude” Should we not all desire to be zealous for truth? Ross is being pedantic here by criticizing a biblical scholar for wanting to be studious and careful in his research
  3. It’s hypocritical that Ross would criticize these biblical scholars for their “exactitude” because Ross is routinely quoted online and even in this book (p150) “the age of the universe is 13.79 billion years +/-  0.06 billion years”. It’s not ok for 17th century biblical scholars to propose an age of the universe with 4 significant digits, but Ross can do it?!?!?! 
  4. Ross builds this up as if Ussher created a schism within Christianity, but is that really the case? The Hebrew calendar year is 5780 in January 2020 when this blog was written. Interesting that the Hebrew calendar is set to have begun at creation and is counting forward in time. So, is Ross’s claim that Ussher created a schism within Christianity, or have the old-earthers like Ross created the division to accommodate the modern academic paradigm? Given the evidence of the Hebrew calendar year, it appears as if Dr. Ross is the one who has diverged from the biblical teaching in order to be acceptable to modern academic scholars.

On p22 Ross writes

Both Lightfoot and Ussher ignored Hebrew scholarship and assumed no generations were omitted from the biblical genealogies. They assumed the Genesis 1 creation days to be six consecutive 24-hour periods.

While Ross’s book is filled with citations (92 pages), nowhere does he cite why he thinks Lightfoot and Ussher “ignored Hebrew scholarship”. Should Ussher be alive today, he might consider that accusation something of a slight…especially when Hebrew scholars confirm over and over the interpretations that Ussher used.

Which generations does Dr. Ross assume were missing? He doesn’t say and there’s no citation to investigate why he thinks such a strange thing.

UPDATE: In Chapter 20, Ross again fails to make a compelling case for missing generations. In that chapter, I provide a more detailed rebuttal.

 

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 1

Flash Point

Ch1

In his first chapter, Dr. Ross describes a few encounters with biblical creationists where Dr. Ross felt insulted and identified with derogatory names. I have to agree with Dr. Ross in this area that Christians should not use derogatory names to define those with whom we disagree. As thinking Christians, we should instead be able to identify the specific areas of disagreement and then go to our authority (the Bible) to correct those Christians, who are in error. This is the primary purpose for this book review.

Some might point to my blog post from 9/8/17 where I referred to the disciples of Dr. Ross as Rossians and accuse me of being hypocritical for having written the above sentence. But in the same way that those who follow the teachings of John Calvin are called Calvinists, and those who uphold the teachings of Martin Luther are referred to as Lutherans, so it is not unfair to name the disciples of Ross’s teachings as Rossians. It is not a pejorative but simply a collective description of the ideals that his particular brand of old earthism espouses. 

In the same vein, but from the flipside, have not the old-earthers referred to biblical creationists as “science-deniers”, “knuckle-draggers”, and “ignorant morons”? Criticizing those with whom one disagrees using pejoratives rather than reasoned arguments based on God’s Word is unhealthy and against Jesus’ command for Christians to love one another. We can all do better by thinking critically rather than letting emotions lead.

On page 14 Dr. Ross says

I was overjoyed to meet many Christians, even fellow scientists, who were convinced that the Bible is completely true.

Again, I agree with Dr. Ross that the Bible is completely true. So, why do Dr. Ross and I disagree so strongly about the age of the earth when we both believe the Bible to be completely true? Because to accommodate his old earth assumptions, he must re-interpret many words and passages. We will get into many more of the specifics as this book review continues, but the following chart is a very brief summary of the re-definitions of words that allows Ross to say “I believe all of the Bible” but still hold onto his old-earthism.

 

There are also several other groups who have claimed to believe the Bible to be completely true, but all the while holding onto grievous theological errors.

This is not to say that Dr. Ross is a heretic, but just because he claims to believe the whole Bible does not exempt him from poor exegesis and serious error.

On p14, Ross says

The solidity if the scientific evidence for both Earth’s origin (a few billion years ago) and the universe’s beginning (a few more billion years ago…

Three things with this comment:

  1. Before the sun/earth (as Ross would say) coalesced from dense clouds about 5 billion (MOYBOY) years ago:, what is a year? How do you calibrate a year before the “timepieces” that define a year cosmically evolve? And how do you estimate billions of those time units?
  2. He has conflated ‘interpretations of observations’ for ‘scientific evidence.’ We find this particular conflation throughout the book – including in the next page when he says “Evangelical leaders who believe the Bible is true and that the universe and Earth are as old as the stars and rocks…” We find this particular conflation throughout the book. Interpretations of observations ≠ evidence
  3. What he has attempted to prove in his book (that the Bible teaches a very old universe) he has simply assumed to be true. This is the fallacy of assuming the consequent or circular reasoning.

Later on p15 he says “Now the hurricane of controversy whirls around a peripheral point – the age of the universe and the Earth.”

If it is a peripheral point and he is dismissive of the reasons it is a controversy, why then did Dr. Ross write a 389 page book about it? The age of the earth, in and of itself may be a peripheral issue, but the way that a Christian comes to the conclusion of the age of the earth is not. The age of the earth is a question of authority and biblical interpretation. Does God’s eternal Word have authority over modern academic paradigms, culture, political, and historical jurisdictions or can those disciplines bring force over the interpretation of the Bible?

Biblical thinking rejects those other disciplines as having authority over God’s Word, but we see over and over that Ross allows modern academic paradigms to re-interpret the eternal Word of God. It is called eisegesis, and Ross appears to be an Eisegesis-ninja

On p17 Ross uses the strawman fallacy to construct an easily defeatable caricature of biblical creationists, so that he can mock it

These comments expose the widely held assumption that all evangelical Christians reject the integrity of science and accept young-earth creationism.

Biblical creationists do NOT reject the integrity of science. Biblical creationists reject the old earth assumptions that precede evaluation of evidence, which result in old earth conclusions. Science has integrity because the Bible is true. For science to work, there must be pre-conditions of intelligibility that are immutable, abstract, and absolute. Some of these pre-conditions are laws of logic, math, truth, morality, and induction. The God of the scriptures is immutable, transcendent, and absolute, so He is the only sufficient justification for the pre-conditions of intelligibility, thus making science both possible and trustworthy. Since the Bible is true, we know that the Eternal Creator, who knows everything and never lies, has revealed some things, so that we can know them for certain. Part of what He has revealed is the historical creation of the universe.

On p19 Ross makes an interesting claim:

In the past I’ve called this difference between young and old-earth proponents trivial, referring only to mathematical terms. My intent was to indicate that young- and old-earth creationists are mathematically much closer to one another than they are to any form of naturalism. Thus, the controversy seems largely unnecessary.

The main reasons why the controversy is necessary is because:

  1. Ross uses modern academic paradigms to re-interpret scripture. Nothing has authority to interpret scripture but scripture itself.
  2. Ross teaches that death/suffering/destruction/predation/thorns (the very curses for sin) all existed for hundreds of millions of years prior to the sin of mankind. That makes the difference between Rossian beliefs and biblical creationists both necessary and a gospel issue.

 

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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.

UPDATE: Here’s what scientist and apologist Dr. Jason Lisle has to say about the Hebrew word for “day” (yom)

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Book Review: A Matter of Days 2nd Edition by Hugh Ross

AMOD_Cover

Writing a book is indeed a huge and trying undertaking. Reviewing a book is, by comparison, far easier and is rather painless. So, I will begin my review of A Matter of Days by Dr. Hugh Ross by recognizing the tremendous effort and time that he and his staff put into publishing a high quality book.

For those interested in the topic of biblical creation, theology, origins, science, and biblical interpretation, you will probably appreciate the book. It is 389 pages long including the appendices, notes, index, and biography. It contains 23 chapters.

The overall theme of the book is Dr. Ross building a case for old earthism in contrast to young earth creationism (henceforth to be referred to as biblical creation).

My plan for this review is to take each chapter as a separate blog post and keep track of the entire review in a “table of contents” format for easy navigating. I have purposefully not read any other reviews of this book, so that the contents of this review are entirely of my own reasoning. However, I will link to many outside sources to validate points and allow readers to further investigate points throughout the review. The exception to “other reviews” is part of the analysis of chapter 17. The reason for this is that I am not a practicing professional astrophysicist, and most of that chapter deals with astrophysics. Many of the points Dr. Ross makes in this chapter will need outside resources for proper reviewing.

My hope is that this review drives Christians back to God’s Word to study and grow…so that the believer knows God better and can thus worship Him in spirit and in truth with a fuller understanding of His greatness!

Introduction – Dawn of a New Day

Flash Point – 1

The Gathering Storm – 2

The Clouds Burst – 3

Wisdom of the Ages – 4

The Creedal Climate – 5

Toward Better Interpretations – 6

Anchored in Scripture – 7 Part 1

Anchored in Scripture – 7 Part 2

Guided By Theology – 8

Good God, Cruel World – 9

Peace Through Paradise – 10

Young-Earth Darwinism? – 11

Faith, Morality, and Long Creation Days – 12

Big Bang: The Bible Said It First – 13

Scientific Signs of Old Age – 14

Challenges to an Old Cosmos – 15

The Reliability of Radiometric Dating – 16

The Scientific Case for a Young Cosmos – 17

Physical Reality Breaks Through the Fog – 18

Narrow Time Windows – 19

The Significance of Man – 20

A Clear “Day” Interpretation

Councils Attempt to Bring Calm

Tranquility through Testing

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.

Why Disagree With Jesus?

Rose

This article from AIG was enjoyable to read. When a Christian apologist was surprisingly confronted with an accusation of teaching false information, this was the response:

“In the context of the first marriage between Adam and Eve, do you think Jesus was wrong in Mark 10:6 when He said that God made them male and female at the beginning of creation? Or do you believe that the creation has been around for 13 billion years and marriage first came about at the end of creation a few thousand years ago with Adam and Eve?”

The apologist, Bodie Hodge, then wrote an article documenting the encounter and laying out a case for why this question is unanswerable for those who want to believe both Old Earthism and the words of Jesus. One belief or the other will be compromised…and as we will see below, many Christians choose to hold more tightly to their Old Earthism.

Mr. Hodge lays out a solid case in his article showing the typical responses he’s gotten from those holding old earth positions and why they fail:

  1. “Biblical creationists have the same problem since Adam/Eve were not created at the beginning since they were created on day 6 and not day 1.”
    1. This is a poor response from old-earthers because then they bring the words Jesus said in to question. Jesus includes the creation week as “the beginning of creation” because (since He is the Creator) man and woman were made on day 6. The old-earther assumes incorrectly that only the 1st picosecond (or 1 minute or 1st day…) of God’s creative works to be “the beginning”. This response claims Jesus was wrong. Don’t be like those who respond this way, because Jesus cannot be wrong.
  2. “Jesus was talking about the beginning of marriage. This passage deals only with marriage not the age of the earth.”
    1. This is another poor response from the old-earther, but is sadly more typical of the way many people want to read scripture. Or should I say read INTO scripture. Jesus said “At the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.” Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses do with John 1:1 to avoid the clear teaching that Jesus is indeed God, old-earthers like to add the words “of marriage” to protect their old age beliefs and rather than see the actual words of Jesus, they actually put words in his mouth. They would rather reinterpret God’s revealed Word to protect their old age beliefs than let scripture speak.
  3. “The beginning of creation is just the figurative 6 days (13 billion years)”
    1. What the old-earthers are doing here is redefining the word “beginning” to mean whatever they want. In this case, they want it to mean 13 billion years (Also, what is a year prior to sun/earth revolutions?). Jesus spoke the words recorded in Mark 10:6 about 4000 years after Adam was created. To make their reinterpretation of “the beginning of creation” work, using a scale of 1 inch to represent the 4000 years Jesus was talking about, the beginning of 13 billion years is almost 52 MILES away. That’s a strange (at best) way to refer to marriage happening after 13 billion years. Will the End time be an equal amount away from when Jesus spoke these words? Should Christians expect another 13 billion years before Christ makes his glorious return? Only if you’re a consistent old-earther.

Old Earthism just cannot get around the pivotal words of Jesus without accusing Jesus of wrong, changing scripture, or redefining words.

This is just ONE example from scripture that refutes old earthism. There are many others than just the ones linked below:

After posting the link to Mr. Hodge’s article on Twitter, an old-earther decided to write a rebuttal article here.

The author of that article, who goes by Christian Defenders (CD), makes no attempt to answer the actual piece that Mr. Hodge originally wrote. CD simply argues that the Hebrew word for day (yom) can have multiple meanings. Clearly, CD has never investigated any teachings of biblical creationists, because we all know this to be true. The rule of hermaneutics is that when biblical interpretation is needed, we use scripture to interpret. The days of Genesis 1 were intended by the author to communicate a literal 24 hour day. I cover this information in greater detail here. Exodus 20:1 is strong evidence that the beginning of creation is speaking of literal days, because it actually refers to the Genesis 1 account when God tells the Jews to work for 6 days and rest on the 7th day, just like God did during creation week.

In his closing, CD laments that Hodge uses the phrase “undermine the gospel”. It would be wise for CD to read to context to see why Hodge uses this phrase. Because if one attributes theological errors to Jesus, then the gospel IS undermined. Not mentioned by Hodge, but shown above, old-earthism demands that death, suffering, and thorns be present prior to the curse of sin. But Genesis 3 clearly teaches that these enemies are a result of the rebellion of mankind. God spoke that his creation was not just good seven times, but VERY good. It was only after this, that man sinned and God cursed creation with death, suffering, and thorns. Believing old-earthism CAN be a gospel issue.

It’s not that old-earthers have a vendetta and are out to take down Christianity from the inside, but when they allow outside influences, interpretations, and culture to participate in biblical interpretation, then heresies abound! It’s the same type of thinking that allows gay ministers (because – culture) and women pastors praying for Planned Parenthood (because – social justice)…

As someone who believes the Bible clearly teaches what the world refers to as young earth creationism, I do not care so much about the age of the earth directly as much as I am passionate about correct exegesis of scripture. God revealed Himself in creation, in the Bible, and in Jesus. All of these revelations are self authenticating and in agreement. As shown, Jesus speaks of a young earth. As shown here, creation speaks of a young earth. Finally, with exegesis and the conclusion of our understanding of God’s revelation, the Bible teaches of a young earth.

Because we can trust God about his revelation of history, we can trust Him with our future.

The Eternal Creator is Good!

close up portrait of lion

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In C.S. Lewis’ timeless tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a conversation ensues between Susan and a native of Narnia,

Mr. Beaver: “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”

Susan: “Ooh. I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

Mr Beaver: “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

God is good. Here are 27 times in the old testament that speak of the goodness (towb) of the LORD:

  • I Chronicles 16:34
  • II Chronicles 5:13
  • II Chronicles 7:3
  • II Chronicles 30:18
  • Ezra 8:18
  • Nehemiah 2:8
  • Nehemiah 9:20
  • Psalms 23:6
  • Psalms 25:8
  • Psalms 34:8
  • Psalms 52:9
  • Psalms 54:6
  • Psalms 73:1
  • Psalms 84:11
  • Psalms 85:12
  • Psalms 86:5
  • Psalms 100:5
  • Psalms 106:1
  • Psalms 107:1
  • Psalms 118:1
  • Psalms 118:29
  • Psalms 119:68
  • Psalms 135:3
  • Psalms 136:1
  • Psalms 143:10
  • Psalms 145:9
  • Jeremiah 33:11

I’ve mentioned BlueLetterBible.org before, and it’s one of my favorite Bible study tools. Let’s look at the Hebrew word for “good” and see if we can make some connections in other parts of scripture:

GodIsGood

This Hebrew word ‘towb’ is used many times in the old testament, and it is translated as good, better, best, pleasant, excellent, prosperous. Now let’s look at places that pair ‘towb’ with its opposite: “ra” and “ra’a”, which is usually translated as evil, harm, destruction.

GoodEvil

Some examples would be Genesis 31:29

“I (Laban) have the power to harm (ra’) you; but last night the God of your fathers said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good (towb) or bad (ra).'”

I Samuel 24:17

“You (David) are more righteous than I (Saul). You have treated me with goodness (towb), but I have repaid you with evil (ra).”

My purpose in writing this post is twofold:

  1. Remind everyone that the Almighty Creator is the opposite of evil. He is good!
  2. To highlight the contradictions of old earth paradigms in God’s Word.

Without exception all old earth paradigms require that death, disease, suffering, harm, and predation existed prior to the rebellion of Adam and Eve. But as disciples of Jesus, we want to be in agreement with ALL of his eternal Word, so let’s look at the historical narrative in Genesis to see how a proper understanding of  “towb” and “ra” can help us eliminate contradictions.

Seven times in the creation story of Genesis 1, God looked at what He had made and declared, “it was good” (towb – H2896). On the seventh time, when the Creator viewed all that He had made, He declared “it was very good.” The number 7 has symbolic meaning in God’s Word, as it seems to be used for emphasis. So, the fact that God declares his creation good and the 7th time “very good” should accentuate that God wants us to tune in to his super-repetition.

Genesis 1:29-30 God clearly says that He intends his creatures to eat fruits, seeds, and greens rather than engage in predatory behavior, and when we see Isaiah 11:6 and Isaiah 65:25 there is clear evidence that the restoration of the new creation does not include harm, destruction, or predatory behavior.

“Towb” is used to describe the character of God, and God uses “towb” to describe his creation before sin entered it. “Ra” is the opposite of “towb”, and “ra” means harm, evil, and destruction. For old earthers to assume harm, evil, and destruction were part of the “very good” creation prior to sin is not just a contradiction, it actually speaks to the character of the Almighty. Can “towb” include evil, predatory behavior, and destruction?

The Bible says no, and we can trust God’s eternal Word. Old earth paradigms cannot be an acceptable part of Christian thinking because of the contradictions that are raised when one believes harm, destruction, and death were a part of God’s “very good” creation prior to sin…along with many other reasons.

Since we can trust God’s revelation about the past, we can trust Him with our future! Our good God is worthy of praise!!!

 

No More Eisegesis

In a debate with astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle, Hugh Ross tries to defend his old universe claims in contradiction to God’s written revelation and the words of Jesus. The moderator, Frank Turek asked Hugh Ross If there was anything that refuted the biblical claims of Jason Lisle. Ross talked about his books. To be fair, Turek asked Dr. Lisle what book would refute Hugh Ross. In one of the best debate responses of all time, Lisle held up the Bible as the book that refutes Hugh Ross. If you watch the linked debate above, this golden moment happens about 1:17:24.

HughRossRefuted

God has chosen to reveal Himself through his written Word, through creation, and through Jesus. With this starting point, we can conclude that each of these revelations are cohesive in their message.

  • God’s written revelation begins with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” The rest of Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 tell us that God did his creative work in 6 days. Genesis 1 also tells us seven times that God describes his creation as he describes himself: good. God’s written revelation also describes how mankind’s rebellion brought a curse on all of creation, and this is why we all experience suffering and death. We also see in God’s written word that His plan of redemption through Jesus will defeat death (I Cor 15) and bring all things under the authority of Jesus.
  • God’s revelation in creation is sufficient evidence to bring judgment on those who suppress knowledge of the Creator in their wickedness (Romans 1)
  • God’s revelation in Jesus is the fulfillment of all of His plans throughout history.

Satan has tried since the beginning to discredit God’s plan and pervert the revelations. For years, Hugh Ross and his followers have been using his unbiblical assumptions to interpret scripture. They have an unusual belief that some of the secular interpretations of nature are another book of the Bible. They take the billions of years that secular scientists claim as the age of the universe and shoehorn them into the Bible, where none of that time exists. Dr. Ross’s followers even developed a non-biblical timeline to try to bring the Bible into alignment with secular astronomy’s interpretations of evidence.

ReasonsTimeline

God’s word is clear in its message, even though there are places in the Bible that need interpretation. As Christians, we cannot let one’s own assumptions guide the interpretation of scripture. That’s called eisegesis. The proper interpretation method is to use scripture to interpret scripture. This is consistent and faithful.

Trust, but Verify!

I love watching and listening to debates. Listening to the arguments for and against a position really helps me to see new ways to think and new ways to study God’s Word. When someone challenges my worldview with difficult questions, it’s probably not the 1st time someone has brought up that question or the 1st time someone has answered it. So, viewing debates is a nice way to see how these questions come about and how to answer difficult questions.

Almost always, these debates drive me back to scripture to confirm that someone has answered in accordance with God’s Word. This pattern is called noble in Acts 17:11

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

So, let me encourage anyone reading this blog or any other blog to test what is read against the scriptures. Now, we live in a special time in human history as well, because not only are we able to READ the scriptures, but we can dig deep with all of the available tools of the internet. Let me put in an endorsement for Blue Letter Bible. They have a great website and mobile app! My favorite use of this tools is to see the original Hebrew and Greek words in which the divinely inspired texts were written, since I do not speak either language.

This debate caught my interest this week, and I’ve linked to the beginning of the cross examination portion of the debate. It is between old earth theist, Fuz Rana and philosopher Michael Ruse.

In their 1st exchange, Ruse reads Genesis 1:16

[Gen 1:16 ESV] 16 And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.

He then asks where is the sun is for the 1st three days. I’ve got a much better answer than Rana tries to give below

Watching Rana, you can clearly see he is uncomfortable with this line of questioning because he has left the safety of God’s Word and is crafting a new story with new definitions. At 54:57 he says, “We take days as a long period of time…” His yarn includes not 1 but 2 invented transformations of the atmosphere to allow light to pass to the surface of the earth. And then he is either badly mistaken or lying to cover a glaring hole in his worldview. Starting at 56:00 he says:

The text in the original Hebrew doesn’t say that the sun moon and stars were created, it says that let them appear.

Well, let’s check his scholarship of scripture with the tools we have available. If you click here on this link, you’ll see Genesis 1:16 open in Blue Letter Bible. You should see something that looks like the picture below. Notice the English transliteration of the Hebrew word for “made” is ‘asah.

Gen1_16

You can drill down further into the usage of this term by clicking the link H6213. This will show you specifically about this Hebrew word: how many times it’s used in the Bible, and which ways it is translated. Not once is this word (as Rana says) ever translated appear…as though the clouds cleared to show these lights having existed for millions of years prior as Rana sadly believes.

Now if Rana wants to believe this, he then has to account for other times this word ‘asah is used within the context. It is used in

  • Gen 1:7 – creation of the expanse
  • Gen 1:11 – plants making/bearing fruit
  • Gen 1:26 – creation of mankind

So, if we put Rana’s misinterpretation of ‘asah from Gen 1:16 in place of the other uses of ‘asah in the same context, can we say that the expanse, fruits, and humans have existed for millions of years and then the atmosphere cleared so that they became visible to a hypothetical observer. This is a huge problem for Rana and his parent company Reasons to Believe.

Perhaps Rana meant that in Gen 1:14 was when these concocted atmospheric transformations took place, and the sun, moon, and stars “appeared”. But God does not use the Hebrew word for appear (ra’ah) like he did in Gen 1:9. This would have given credence to Rana’s legend had the Biblical text included in Gen 1:14 the Hebrew word ra’ah because its definition is:

  1. to see
  2. to appear
  3. to present oneself
  4. to become visible

Dr. Ruse rightly pushes Dr. Rana and says, “as most of us would read Genesis then, it is profoundly misleading.”

Gen1_16

Yes, Dr. Rana, you are teaching misleading doctrine. This is not the only example of the folks at Reasons to Believe teaching indefensible interpretations of scripture.

Thankfully, we can check their words with context, other parts of scripture, and the tools available to us with the internet. God’s Word can be trusted in all matters.