We studied creation last night, as we are starting an overview or a survey of the Old Testament in our home group.
When preparing for the study, I looked in depth at some arguments for an old earth in Genesis 1.
One of the interesting threads I looked at was this one. I have no intention of doing a point by point critique of the arguments, but in preparing for the study I came up with some reasons why I don’t buy the old earth hypothesis.
Firstly some background.
The book of Genesis was written by Moses sometime during the period of Israel’s wanderings. This gives us some important insights into the purpose of the book. The book of Genesis was intended to explain the origin of the Hebrew people and their God including an explanation of the origin of the universe (primarily that it was created by and subject to the Hebrew God), how it got to be the way it was and why, as well as where the nation of Israel had come from and the origin of the nations around them.
Given this, the book was written to be easily understood, which indeed it is – even to children today.
With this in mind here are my 10 reasons why I don’t believe the Bible supports an old earth.
1. The old earth hypothesis is based on evidence that is interpreted through uniformitarian philosophies. What I mean by this is that if you took all the "evidence" out of the picture and read Genesis 1, you would come naturally to the conclusion that the earth was made in six 24 hour days. The only reason to put an old earth into the creation account is to support current scientific theory.
2. It assumes that current scientific theory is correct and complete. Scientists suppose that the earth is old because of certain data that suggests this, however, not all the data is available yet (there is much we don’t know), and much of what is available is only hypothesis to support atheism. Theories such as this one are interesting as they demonstrate that there are hypotheses that are yet to be explored, but yet hold up well to scrutiny while upholding the laws of relativity, etc.
3. The old earth hypothesis opposes the apparent intention of the author who as we saw above wrote an account to give understanding. This is not to say that it explains every aspect of creation, however, the intention of the author seems to be clearly to present a six day creation. If this were not intention of the author, he would have used different words to get his point across – words that gave the intended message.
4. It sets about reconciling scripture with scientific theory rather than pushing back on science and saying the science is wrong. In this way it marginalizes the authority of scripture
5. If the days were not literal 24 hour days but long periods of perhaps millions or billions of years, and given Adam lived through part of the sixth day and the seventh day, he must have been millions of years old, yet Gen 5 states that he was 930 years old when he died, therefore it introduces significant discrepancies into the word of God.
6. Unless you throw out the consecutive order of the days (which you have to do) then much of the plant life would not have survived the millions of years without birds and bees (and other insets) to pollinate them.
7. Similarly to point 5, it requires interpreting other passages of scripture differently to their historical and natural translation. The example on the page I linked to above did this with Rom 5:12 to make it say that mans sin only brought death to man as animals are not explicitly mentioned. However this particular example plays roulette with the redeeming work of Christ not to mention that it flies in the face of verses like Rom 8:20-21 and Isa 24:5-7.
8. Given the argument I just mentioned and that the primary purpose of old earth thinking is to account for the fossil record – it marginalizes the effects of sin. If sin only affects man then sin is not as bad as we have been led to believe. This has huge implications as we will see in a moment.
9. It marginalizes the wisdom of scripture by elevating the wisdom of man.
10. It is designed to make Christianity more palatable and acceptable to unbelievers rather than accepting that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who reject it.
It is also mooted by old earthers that the age of the earth does not affect any of the major doctrines of the Bible, so it is harmless to hold this view. True it does not completely oppose the major doctrines, but it is more insidious than it first appears:
- It marginalizes the authority of scripture. Rather than opposing false science, false science is elevated to at least as much authority as the bible. Both scripture and science must be seen to be true or there would be no attempt to align their conflicts. However, scripture is the inspired yardstick by which science is to be measured.
- By accommodating the fossil record before the fall, it marginalizes the consequences of sin and therefore the seriousness of sin
- This in turn marginalizes the seriousness of Gods judgement as judgement is based on the weight of the individuals sin
- It marginalizes the work of Christ on the cross. If sin is not so bad then Christ’s death is not as significant.
- It marginalizes the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit – as sin is not as significant to overcome
- It marginalizes the supernatural nature of creation by replacing it with natural process
- It marginalizes the glory of God as seen in His creation – this is the most serious issue
- It marginalizes the role of faith by trying to rationalize what cannot be rationalized. Heb 11:3 says "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible". If everything can be rationalised intellectually, then we have no need for faith.
On this last point I have much more to say, but that will have to wait until another day.
For what do we do all this damage? Just to accommodate current scientific theory that is incomplete and in many cases incorrect.
Interestingly Peter wrote about this and cites uniformitarianism: "…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Pe 3:3-4 emphasis added). Now, here we are in the 21st century defending the word of God against even evangelical Christians who uphold this error.
It would be interesting to see what scientific theories they are trying to shoe-horn into the Bible in 200 years time…