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of loosely-affiliated religious writings then there can be other authorities (culture, scholarly paradigms, other historical documents) that can OVERRULE biblical texts.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 29 times in the old testament that say this exact phrase:

  • 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 24:2
  • Jeremiah 26:14
  • 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!!!

 

Welcome to the Great Debate

IMG_7019For years Matt Walsh has been an outspoken conservative commentator and blogger on politics and abortion. He has amassed an ardent audience through his multiple media portals. I’ve enjoyed reading  many of his opinions.

With the release of his YouTube video, Why I am Not A Young Earth Creationist, this past week, he took a bold step into an area of theology for which he appears to be completely unprepared.

Walsh brings to the discussion monumental misunderstands of what biblical creation teaches …and not much else. Here are the glaring misunderstandings that he attributes to biblical creationists:

  1. Biblical creationists take every single thing in the bible completely literally. Poetry, parables, exaggerations, symbolism are all held the same as history, doctrine and the words of Jesus. 
    1. This is a ridiculous view. Biblical creationists take the genre into consideration when reading God’s revealed word. Walsh’s opening point is very polemic and unhelpful to the conversation. Genesis is written as history. The author’s intent was to to convey to his readers that the events in Genesis are part of the history of God’s interactions with humanity and specifically the origins of the Hebrew people. The rest of the old testament and dozens of times in the new testament, Genesis is quoted as having actually happened. Genesis regarded by Moses, the other old testament authors and the new testament authors as history. Should Walsh want to believe that part of Genesis was metaphor and part history, where does this switch happen? 
  2. Biblical creationists demand that Genesis be a scientific encyclopedia that explains all fields of science in the greatest depth.
    1. Again, this polemic misrepresentation adds nothing to the discussion. Nothing in scripture is intended to be a scientific treatise, but where scripture covers something scientific, it’s never incorrect. The creation story in Genesis 1 and 2 is not concerned with teaching humanity about profound scientific principles. It is God’s revelation of his miraculous acts of creation. Since creation was supernatural acts involving his supreme power, why do old earthers, like Walsh, expect naturalistic explanations for these miracles but not the other miracles in the Bible? Virgin birth? Resurrection from the dead? These things are scientifically impossible. Why do old earthers specifically segregate the miracle of creation as impossible? 
  3. Biblical creationists demand that the word day means 24 hours every single time it is used throughout scripture without exception. According to Walsh, a day can be measured on earth, Pluto, or Saturn because God was not clear in his revelation, so he can take whatever frame of reference he wants a day to be. Walsh: “We have no reasons at all to assume that the days in Genesis 1 were 24 hours long.”
    1. Biblical creationists agree that the Hebrew word “yom” can be translated in many ways. The key to understanding what it means in each passage, and specifically Genesis 1 is called exegesis. Look at the context and where scripture talks about this event in other places to see what the word means here. Each of the days of Genesis 1 are denoted with an ordinal (THE 1st day, THE 2nd day, THE 3rd day…), and each of the days is bounded by evening and morning. Looking at Exodus 20 (which is a passage that NO ONE says is poetry), God says your weeks should be like my creation week. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…For in 6 days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” So, by exegesis we have 100% verification that God intended his people to work for six 24-hour days and rest on one 24 hour day…just like He did during the creation week. So if old earthers want to change the definition of a day in this context they have to overcome the direct command from God about the course of a week and the ordinals and familiar boundaries of evening/morning.
  4. Biblical creationists hate science and they think that all scientists in all fields of science are lying about their conclusions of long ages. 
    1. Again, more straw-man arguments that are not true. Most branches of science were started and developed by biblical creationists. There are axioms and assumptions in all scientific research. Biblical creationists forsake the naturalistic assumptions that the modern paradigm relies upon for their old earthism. If Walsh wants to accommodate old earth cosmology because the vast majority of scientists believe it, he is bound to accept the biological origins of humanity as well, which is also untenable from a biblical perspective.

Walsh starts his video with this friendly sounding quote: “We should be able to discuss an important and interesting issue without getting angry and without getting offended.”

But the more you watch his video, he is not interested in rational discussion. He is clearly not trying to be persuasive but is instead purposefully mischaracterizing those with whom he disagrees as morons.

Walsh gets his arguments mixed up at one point by saying there are days prior to there being an earth…except the first sentence in the Bible says that God created the earth at the beginning. He then misunderstands the definition of a day saying that there must be a light source or days mean nothing. This is not true. The definition of a day is 1 rotation of the earth on its axis. No light source necessary. But for his old earth position, he has a HUGE shortcoming in his foundations since a year is defined as the time is takes the earth to revolve around the sun. What are the units of time prior to the sun and earth coalescing from primordial space dust and how is that calibrated? They would say it’s 9 billion years, but what is a year prior to the calibration of a year existing?

Watching his video once was bad enough, but going back through it again to highlight his misunderstandings is nearly unbearable. So, while there are more strawmen arguments and lazy analysis of biblical creation, it is sufficient to say that Walsh could use a serious re-adjustment of his perspective regarding God’s revelation in Genesis. Our understanding of science is based upon God’s revelation from the Bible; not the other way around.

Should he want to do his due diligence (and he doesn’t care for Ken Ham) there’s more than enough information to learn what real biblical creationists teach from these resources:

  1. Bible
  2. ApoloJedi.com
  3. Creation.com
  4. crev.info
  5. TheCreationClub.com
  6. BiblicalScienceInstitute.com
  7. Icr.org