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Posts Tagged ‘Young Earth’

Reviewing Hugh Ross: A New Blog Series from Fred Butler at ‘Hip and Thigh’

November 1, 2016 1 comment

While I’m still working on other blog posts (with too little time generally nowadays), here is the start of an interesting series from Fred Butler:  His review and response to Hugh Ross’s book “Navigating Genesis,” beginning with this post.

This is an issue I also feel very strongly about, after so many years.  As one who came to Christianity from a secular atheist, evolution old-earth modernist background – there simply is no excuse for Hugh Ross’s basic reasoning that the Genesis age question is somehow any type of stumbling block to Christians, and that to attract evolution-minded unbelievers to the truth of Christianity means that they need this apologetic, his “reasons to believe” with an old-earth version of Christianity.

Indeed it all really does come down to presuppositions, and the “two books” idea (or the 67th book), the book of nature, is laughable.  The same physical evidence can be viewed in different ways, based on one’s presuppositions: uniformitarianism, or the global flood (catastrophism).  And once this issue of presuppositions is rightly understood, the same physical evidence gives even greater proof of a recent creation, rather than the long, slow gradual uniformitarian processes of evolution/old-earth.

Listed here, some of my past blog posts on the doctrine of creation:

 

 

 

 

Creation Apologetics: The Creation Ordinance Sabbath

September 2, 2014 3 comments

In studying the idea of a creation ordinance sabbath – the significance of the seven day week and setting aside one of those seven days as different from the others – I recall the value of extra-biblical historical records, for apologetics related to other events of Genesis 1-11, in support of biblical “young earth” creation, the flood of Noah, dinosaurs (dragons) coexisting with humans, and the “Table of Nations” genealogies.  Reference this post (After the Fall), related to the study of the nations listed in Genesis 10.

It is not the purpose of this post to consider all the issues related to the Christian Sabbath. One very good resource is Robert L. Dabney’s “Systematic Theology,” of which nearly a full chapter (25 pages) is devoted to the issue of the 4th commandment, available online here, and includes the historical background of the two main views throughout Christian history as well as all the pertinent scripture passages.

The issue (for this post) is related to creation, and evidences available, including early historical records.  It is often asserted by non-sabbath believers, that the Pentateuch makes no mention of Sabbath observance after Genesis 2, until Exodus 16, and thus we have no evidence of any Sabbath observance before the law of Moses.  In response: first, the seven day week itself is an unusual phenomenon, as it does not fit with any calendar system of timekeeping — a strong evidence for the biblical record itself in contrast to evolutionary ideas; see this article from the Institute for Creation Research.  (As a side note: observance of a Christian Sabbath is not a “Covenant Theology vs. Dispensationalism” issue. As acknowledged in online discussions, even some dispensationalists believe and practice it; ICR is one such example, 4-point Calvinist-Dispensational with Christian Sabbath.)  Aside from the fact that the Sabbath is mentioned in the Exodus wilderness before the giving of the law on Sinai, it is true that the references in Genesis (after chapter 2) only mention the seven day week cycle and do not explicitly mention anything of people observing a rest for one day out of each seven.  Yet consider: if the seventh-day sabbath precept did originate at creation, we should expect to find some indication of it in early pagan civilization and their written records – similar to what is found regarding the flood of Noah, dragons, and the “Table of Nations” genealogies. Interestingly enough, we do find such evidence that the sabbath (a rest day for one out of seven days) goes back to creation itself.

Ancient Pagan Religious Practices

Secular sources note that the ancient Babylonians, like the Jews, also observed a seven day week (somewhat modified for their lunar monthly calendar), and their pagan observance included “holy days” every 7th day. Such evolutionary sources, such as Wikipedia, of course try to “find” another explanation for the 7 day calendar, apart from its origin in Genesis, yet still note the following about early Babylonian practice:

The origin of the seven-day week is the religious significance that was placed on the seventh day by ancient cultures. The earliest ancient sources record a seven-day week in ancient Babylon prior to 600 BCE.[1] Babylonians celebrated a holy day every seven days, starting from the new moon, then the first visible crescent of the Moon, but adjusted the number of days of the final “week” in each month so that months would continue to commence on the new moon … Counting from the new moon, the Babylonians celebrated the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th as “holy-days”, also called “evil days” (meaning “unsuitable” for prohibited activities). On these days officials were prohibited from various activities and common men were forbidden to “make a wish”, and at least the 28th was known as a “rest-day”.[4] On each of them, offerings were made to a different god and goddess.

And from this online article:

In their normal seven day week, the Babylonians held the seventh day of each week as holy, much like the Jews did and still do.  However, the Babylonians also held the day to be unlucky.  Thus, similar to the Jews (but for a different reason- the unluckiness of the day), the seventh day had restrictions on certain activities to avoid dire consequences from the inherit unluckiness of the day.

Early Pagan Literature

This idea can also be found in ancient extra-biblical literature. Cited in Dabney’s “Systematic Theology”, the following evidence from early pagan literature:

The assertion that the Sabbath was coexisting with the human race, and was intended for the observation of all, receives collateral confirmation also from the early traditions concerning it, which pervade the first Pagan literature. It can hardly be supposed that Homer and Hesiod borrowed from the books of Moses, sabbatical allusions which would have been to their hearers unintelligible. They must be the remnants of those primeval traditions of patriarchal religion, which had been transferred by the descendants of Japheth, to the isles of Chittim. The early allusions to a sacred seventh day may be sufficiently exhibited by citing a collection of them from Eusebius’ Preparation Evangelica(50. 13., Sect. 13), which he quotes from the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria. The latter father is represented as saying: “That the seventh day is sacred, not the Hebrews only, but the Gentiles also acknowledge, according to which the whole universe of animals and vegetables revolves.” Hesiod, for instance, thus says concerning it:

“The first, the fourth also, and the seventh is a sacred day.” (Ieron `Hmar .) Dierum, line 6.

And again: “The seventh day once more, the splendid dawn of the sun.”

And Homer: “The seventh day then arrived, the sacred day.”

Again: “The seventh was sacred.”

“The seventh dawn was at hand, and with this all the series is completed.”

And once more: “On the seventh day, we left the stream of Acheron.”

And thus also writes Callimachus the poet: “It was now the Sabbath day: and with this all was accomplished.”

Again: “The seventh day is among the fortunate; yea, the seventh is the parent day.”

Again: “The seventh day is first, and the seventh day is the complement.”

And: “All things in the starry sky are found in sevens; and shine in their ordained cycles.”

“And this day, the elegies of Solon also proclaim as more sacred, in a wonderful mode.” Thus far Clement and Eusebius. Josephus, in his last book against Apion, affirms that “there could be found no city, either of the Grecians or Barbarians, who owned not a seventh day’s rest from labor.” This of course is exaggerated. Philo, cotemporary with Josephus, calls the Sabbath eorth pandhmo”.

These references from ancient history clearly support the biblical data for a seven day week and its associated creation sabbath ordinance: a creation precept set in place in Genesis 2, an ordinance and precept unlike the later ceremonial Sabbath set forth in the law section of the Pentateuch (which was given AFTER the events of Exodus 16 and AFTER the giving of the Ten Commandments). Like other knowledge from the antediluvian era, this was passed down to the post-flood world by Noah and his sons.  As with other knowledge from that time, though, this original understanding of the true God was soon distorted among the Gentile peoples who spread out from Babel (Genesis 11), along with all other distortions of yet true accounts in their literature (i.e., the creation story and the flood), and finally forgotten by our world which looks to godless evolution and millions of years, suppressing the truth (Romans 1) that was known by our distant ancestors.

The Significance of Both Creation and Last Things (Eschatology)

July 30, 2013 8 comments

Occasionally I come across statements, such as from individuals involved with Creation ministries, from those who hold to young earth creation but are not consistent in their end-times position.  As someone well observed in an online discussion recently, “obviously Creationists are not necessarily dispensationalists when it comes to prophecy; but there are far fewer non-literal-Creationist dispensationalists than 6-day-Creationist-CT/NCT people around.”

I previously referenced this over a year ago here (this post) in reference to (Answers in Genesis) Ken Ham’s statement, that he thinks creation and eschatology are somehow different and unrelated.  His reasoning:  we also have the scientific physical evidence for creation, and the creation compromises came about from people responding to external ideas about evolution and old-earth. Whereas, he claims, eschatology is only dealing with the words of scripture themselves, apart from any external ideas.

His first point, about scientific evidence, of course overlooks the issue of presuppositions.  Unbelief will compel an old-earth scientist to come up with explanations for observed data that “fit” his own presuppositions; physical evidence does not of itself “prove” anything.  His second point ignores the clear hermeneutical issues and the history of the development of amillennialism and replacement theology through those who embraced the allegorical, spiritualizing hermeneutic instead of the literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic.

In online discussion someone recently posted this link from Creation.com, in which the writer responds to a church-goer’s question about her pastor’s post-modern approach to God’s word.  Here the reasoning is that somehow creation is a more important doctrine than eschatology: The issues regarding Genesis are in a quite different league to those concerning prophecy, we would submit, because they are foundational to, and woven throughout the fabric of, the very Gospel of salvation itself.

Really? A closer look shows us that errors in creation and eschatology have several features in common, directly attacking central biblical teachings concerning the attributes and character of God, the authority of God’s word, and understanding of our salvation:

Concerning the Character of God:

       Doctrine of Creation

  • a liar, whose word cannot be depended on: that He did not really create the world in six literal, ordinary days as He said (even directly inscribed in stone tablets by God, on Mt. Sinai; reference Exodus 20:11, the Ten Commandments)
  • a cruel God whose idea of “very good” before the fall was actually a creation already cursed and experiencing death long before Adam fell.

      Doctrine of Eschatology / Last Things

  • A Bait-and-Switch God whose word cannot be depended on, who gave one set of promises to one group of people but later changed both the promises and the recipients.
  • A Pelagian-salvation God: Israel lost their promises due to their apostasy, and blew their chances due to their fall.  How, then, do we have any assurance that God will not also give up on us (Christians in this age) and reject us after all?

Concerning the Authority of God’s Word

The above-mentioned writer continues:   That does not mean that one can’t be terribly inconsistent and be saved in spite of disbelieving what Genesis teaches, but it has serious ramifications in church, culture, and society, and in the lives of many individuals—as well as for our effectiveness in evangelism, if the authority of the Word of God can be so cavalierly evaded in such a plain, straightforward matter.

Substitute “premillennialism” for “Genesis” above, and the meaning is the same.  Our understanding of the church (ecclesiology), and culture and society is DIRECTLY affected by our millennial view.  Errors here have brought about misguided ideas such as postmillennial dominion theology and “Christian America,” over-emphasis on the Church age (falling into the very error the apostle Paul warned against in Romans 11), and seriously hampered evangelism efforts among the Jews — and any unbelievers who read the Bible without awareness of Covenant Theology’s allegorical hermeneutic.  (Try explaining to Jews that all of their prophecies about Christ’s First Coming were literally fulfilled in Christ, BUT the prophecies about His Second Coming are instead spiritualized to mean something else, blessings to the (Gentile) Christian Church).

Creation AND Eschatology (the future), unlike all other scriptural teaching, are both areas unknown to mankind apart from Divine Revelation: we weren’t there at the beginning, and we don’t know the future.  Underlying both of these teachings are major, fundamental issues concerning the character of God and the nature of salvation.  Whether said by the leaders of various creation ministries or not, whatever “reasons” to justify the preference of one teaching over the other, the reality is that the doctrine of creation is not at all “in a different league” from the prophetic word.

Biblical Creationism: The Genesis Toledoth

July 23, 2013 3 comments

I’ve started reading Biblical Creationism (by Henry Morris), a good biblical commentary on all the scriptural references to the doctrine of creation: an extensive study going way beyond the obvious texts such as Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 104.  Read it free from the PDF online).

The very first chapter introduced an unfamiliar idea (to me), and thus prompted a little background study before continuing forward.  Having always heard that Moses authored the Pentateuch, the five books of the Bible, I never considered further details of how Genesis was written, but just assumed that the material was given directly to Moses by God.  Yet Morris refers to Adam writing a few chapters, and then Noah and so forth, with reference to the “book of the generations of Adam,” as meaning the previous chapters (not what follows immediately after Genesis 5:1).  The first endnote gives a little more explanation:

The archaeologist P.J. Wiseman was apparently the first to call attention to this “tablet theory” of the original writing of the records in Genesis that were eventually compiled and edited by Moses. A number of later Old Testament scholars (e.g., David L. Cooper, founder of the Biblical Research Society) have adopted it, and I consider it the only theory that fits all the facts. For a summary of the evidence for this theory, see my commentary, The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976), p. 22–30.

This online article explained the matter: the meaning and usage of the Hebrew word translated “generations” (toledoth) and the tablet theory. (See also this article for further reference.)  These articles and Henry Morris reference the initial work done by archeologist P.J. Wiseman in the 1930s.  The Hebrew word toledoth (generations) is also considered a “colophon phrase,” something put in ancient documents AFTER the material it refers to:

Many Bible scholars have long considered the toledoth formula  “the book of the generations of” to be the introduction or heading to what followed. However, in more recent years they have come to realize that the toledoth is, in fact, a colophon phrase. That is, this phrase when used in Genesis is used “to point back to the origins of the family history.” According to Damien F. Mackey this was a common practice in Mesopotamia where “It was customary for the ancient scribes to add a colophon note at the end of the account, giving particulars of title, date, and the name of the writer or owner, together with other details relating to the contents of a tablet, manuscript or book.” …”in ancient documents the colophon with its important literary information was added in a very distinctive manner.”

Learning this, I immediately thought of another of these toledoth usages that had puzzled me, that suddenly makes a lot more sense:  the statement at the beginning of Genesis 37 (which begins the story of Joseph), verse 2: “These are the generations of Jacob” (ESV) or “These are the records of the generations of Jacob” (NASB).  Referring to the previous material, Jacob’s story, that statement makes a lot more sense than saying that Jacob is telling Joseph’s story.  The first chapter of Morris’ Biblical Creationism now makes much more sense, and I’m continuing on to further chapters in this creation commentary, already learning interesting things about biblical creation — from the human means of written records from early history.

Additional resources:

P.J. Wiseman – Free PDF book “New Discoveries In Babylonia About Genesis” (4th Edition, 1946)

Other article links:

The Tablet Theory of Genesis Authorship

Review of Wiseman’s “Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis”  (out of print; no e-book available)

Genesis Genealogies and The Age of the Earth

June 8, 2013 1 comment

From Dr. Barrick’s 2013 MacDonald Lectures Creation series, one minor yet somewhat interesting issue from the first Q&A: the age of the Earth and the question of whether there are any gaps in the genealogies.

The question is often referred to as whether or not the Genesis genealogies are “closed” (complete) or “open” (skip generations and have gaps).  The Old Earth view would stretch the supposed “gaps” out to fit hundreds of thousands or more years, which is simply unworkable.

Dr. Barrick holds to and presents the belief that the Old Testament genealogies have gaps, such that the earth could be as much as 8,000, 10,000 or even 25,000 years old.  He cites the writing of Henry Morris, “The Genesis Flood,” for this idea, as well as the mention of the genealogy gaps in 1 Chronicles, and the gaps in Aaron and Moses’ ancestry. (For further reading on this point, see “Hard Sayings of the Bible,” edited by Walter Kaiser and F.F. Bruce, which addresses this point.  Click here to view pages 140-142 in Google Books.)  He further notes extra-biblical “evidence,” the uncertainty of certain ancient civilizations, that even secular scientists argue among themselves:  low chronology, middle chronology and high chronology for China, Egypt, and even for Sumeria.

I too heard that idea of “gaps” and thus the earth could be as much as 8,000 or 10,000 years old, when I first studied Creation Science years ago, from reading The Genesis Flood and similar material.  But as pointed out in this article at ICR.org, the Genesis genealogy from Adam to Abraham does not have such gaps, and the other genealogies are not relevant to the question.  We are told the age (to the nearest year) of each individual, from Adam’s age when Seth was born, on down to Abraham.  The only “gap” is in the partial years, that each individual had reached a certain birthday plus some number of months, but less than the next full year.  So the genealogies do not allow for a “gap” of a few thousand years, but only of 37 years.

Some people assume that the historical events related in the early chapters of Genesis cannot be precisely dated because we cannot be certain whether the genealogical lists are complete (“closed”) or whether they skip generations and have gaps (and are thus “open”). The issue is irrelevant because the timeframes given in Genesis are measured by the number of years between one event and another event, regardless of how many generations occurred between those “bookend” events.

As Barrick said, even if there were gaps we are still talking about a young earth, not millions and billions of years as some old-earth advocates would try to stretch the “gaps” to fit.  But the Genesis genealogy doesn’t have such gaps, so we can know that the earth is approximately 6000 years old (with a variance of possibly 37 years from Adam to Abraham), not 8,000 or 10,000 years old.

Biblical Creation Observations: the Problem of Death, and Is it Poetry?

June 5, 2013 5 comments

Continuing with Dr. Barrick’s 2013 creation series, some key points and responses to common objections to young earth creationism.  (From Barrick’s lectures #3, “The Problem of Death,” and #4, “Is It Poetry?”)

In reference to the theological issue of death, as in animal and plant death supposedly for millions and billions of years before man, old earth creationists sometimes point to Romans 5 and “reason” that the issue of spiritual death only relates to man’s death: the death of plants and animals is irrelevant.  As one undecided pastor remarked years ago in a conversation about death before Adam, “Ahh, but what kind of death was Paul talking about?”  Another pastor, firmly set in the Old Earth view, somehow thinks that plant and animal death is “normal” and part of the overall creation that God purposed, of course completely unrelated to Genesis 3.

Here we note that, indeed, Romans 5 is talking about spiritual death, in a comparison and contrast between the first and last Adam.  Yet Romans 5 is not the full answer or even a “prooftext” for Old Earth Creation, since of course we look at all of God’s revelation.  Genesis 3 is the first obvious text, and we also note many other OT texts which equate “blessing” with “life” and “curse” with “death.”  Another text to consider is Romans 8:19-22, which clearly links the curse put on the creation, not willingly, and  this curse affecting the creation is clearly linked to man’s sin – and the promise of redemption given both to redeemed sinners, as well as to the creation: the future Resurrection of the Righteous, and the future deliverance for creation itself.

Regarding the common claim that Genesis 1 is just poetry, I often think of a  John MacArthur quote (from the 2009 Shepherd’s Conference), emphasizing that: Genesis 1 is not poetry, and that the person who admits that ‘Genesis 1 purports to be a narrative account, only I do not believe that account’ is a better interpreter of scripture than the one who says ‘I believe Genesis but it’s just poetry.’  Dr. Barrick devotes a full message to this topic, with major responses to the ‘Genesis is poetry’ line.

1)      Genesis 1 lacks  parallelism, a major feature of Hebrew poetry.

2)      The grammar is same as that of the narrative style, not poetry.  Barrick references a study (through ICR.org) in which the scientist worked with a group of statisticians. They tabulated and analyzed all the grammatical features in the original Hebrew, of many passages recognized as narrative (such as 2 Kings 5), as well as passages recognized as poetic, and even passages considered part poetry and part narrative.  No surprise here, but Genesis 1’s grammar came up as on the extreme narrative category.

3)      Genesis 1’s lack of imagery and symbolism.  Compare it to Psalm 104, poetic verses about the creation.  Why would anyone think Genesis 1 is poetry, in comparison to Psalm 104?

4)      Even if an account is poetic, that in no way negates its truthfulness. Or as Barrick described it, “Poetry provides no automatic confirmation of a lack of historical veracity.  The genre style of a text has no connection to its truthfulness or historicity. We have non-true prose: it’s called fiction.  Even in secular literature, who would dismiss the classic poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” as of no value since it’s just poetry?  Looking more closely at biblical texts: compare Judges 4 (narrative account) with Judges 5 (Song of Deborah), and Exodus 14 (Deliverance through the Red Sea) and the song in Exodus 15.  Each of these provides one narrative account followed by a poetic version of the same event.  Psalms 78, 105 and 106 provide additional examples. Do we think these cannot be taken as fact, taken seriously, just because it’s poetry? No way.

Dr. Bill Barrick’s Creation Seminar

May 29, 2013 3 comments

Linked at the Domain For Truth blog is another instructive lecture series from Dr. Bill Barrick:  a four-part series plus two Q&A sessions done at Central Seminary earlier this year for the 2013 MacDonald Lectures.

As usual Dr. Barrick provides many quote-worthy observations, especially concerning the mirror-image of the Biblical accounts of the beginning and the end, something I observed previously here (the Masters Seminary audio lecture Kingdom of God series), with many good points regarding the link between creation and eschatology.  The hermeneutics is a crucial point, and Barrick continues to uphold the underlying importance of biblical creation – biblical authority and inerrancy.  As he also points out, what we think about the past directly affects how we understand and what we believe concerning the future events revealed in God’s word.

A few excerpts from the first lecture:

Think about it.  If it really took millions or billions of years to create the First heavens and the First Earth, how long will we have to wait for the New Heavens and Earth after the old is destroyed?  Are you willing to wait millions and billions of years for the New Heavens and New Earth to evolve like the First one?  If God can create the second one instantaneously, why not the first? … Any time we start messing with either end of that entire structure of scripture, it affects the other end. Whether we reject the future prophecies — if we do that, then why would we accept the past, history?  If we reject the past history, why would we accept the future prophecies?

And

What kind of Bible does your ministry depend upon? Think about it. A trustworthy Bible, or an untrustworthy Bible? A Bible you can believe about creation the same as you can believe about salvation? How important is the Bible to your ministry? As soon as we start denying either end of the spectrum here we’ve looked at, in this overall and overarching theme that runs through the Bible, as soon as we start messing with either the eschatology, the future things, or the protology, the first things, we begin to destroy the Bible.  So if the Bible is significant to your ministry, why work to destroy it?  Because if you destroy it, then there’s no more foundation for the ministry you perform, for what you’re doing.  How can you tell people, ‘Thus says the Lord’, if you say, ‘well I only accept that when the Lord says such and such, but when the Lord says this, I don’t accept it.  I don’t care if God wrote it with His finger on the tablet of stone on Mt. Sinai that He created the heavens and earth and all that is in them in six days, I don’t believe that.  But I believe God over here when He says this.’ How can we pick and choose that way? How can we treat the Bible so casually?

What kind of God do we serve if we feel free to contradict what He Himself wrote on a stone tablet on Mt. Sinai?  Can we really say with Paul then, ‘let God be true and every man a liar’?  Are we instead saying, ‘oh, let modern science be true and let God be a liar when it comes to creation?’  It affects the character of God.

The second session, The Historicity of Adam, addresses an issue apparently of great discussion today within Seminary circles, and one he later addressed at the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference.   An additional reading source mentioned here:  Creationist Bill Cooper’s (1995)  “After the Flood: The early post-flood history of Europe”  (online text available here), which traces all European nations back to Japheth.

I’m still going through the series, and highly recommend it as well worth listening to.

Presuppositions and Hermeneutics: Conversation with an Old Earth Creationist

November 16, 2012 19 comments

I referenced this topic a while back in this post, but it came up again in a recent online conversation.  While discussing one person’s question — general resources to answer a seminary professor who holds to old earth creation — the following conversation ensued with an an old-earth creationist who is inconsistent in his hermeneutics concerning creation and the future: literal hermeneutic concerning the future, but not the past.  The old earth advocate will here be referred to as OEC.  Another biblical creationist in the conversation will be referred to as BC.

OEC: The best young earth creationist out there is probably Jonathan Sarfati — look him up on Wikipedia. He also happens to (probably) be dispensational and Jewish (like Casey Luskin from the Discovery Institute). Casey however is (like myself) a scientist and an old-earther.  Personally I would encourage (the person asking the original question) toward Intelligent Design.

BC: If you ‘like’ him (Jonathan Sarfati) on Facebook you might be able to get him to give you some resources. He’s pretty involved. Also, OEC, I think ‘ID’ at this point might do more harm than good, since it is devoid of the God of the Bible.

Me: The same hermeneutic that drives our eschatology is that which brings the correct biblical understanding about creation. There are some non-premillennialists who affirm literal, recent creation. But (with the exception of the Gap Theory, early-to-mid 20th century) relatively few dispensational premillennialists hold to old-earth.

OEC: You are right… Intelligent Design does not posit any Designer with a capital “D”. Speaking as a scientist however, I think Intelligent Design has far more potential for dealing a severe blow to the Darwinist materialist camp than YEC will. ID is simply where things are moving toward in science. The important part for Christians is to be ready with an answer (1 Peter 3:15) to who the Designer is.

From my point of view, the saddest part of this old/young earth thing is that there are so few Christians and pastors involved in science. Thus the church really has so little to contribute to the current frantic pace of scientific development — and I really do mean frantic pace (I speak from personal experience as a postdoc physicist).

Me: Regarding Christians who hold to old earth — unless the school is completely liberal and apostate and doesn’t even hold the basic tenets such as Christ’s incarnation and resurrection — Intelligent Design isn’t really a problem for them. They understand that God is the creator, but they show blatant disregard for God’s word, because they only believe Genesis 1:1 and disregard the rest of the creation account. The ID movement does not bring people to Christianity, and is the inconsistent position that is rejected by the unbelieving atheists; yet those who focus on ID do no service to the truthfulness of God’s word. Consider that if all God wanted to tell us was that He created the world, then why not just have that part in the Bible? Genesis 1:1. Instead we have two full chapters, plus a specific reference in Exodus, telling much more of the details. God clearly wants us to recognize not only that He is the creator, but also to recognize the specific manner in which He created.

BC: And then Paul’s warning in Romans 1 that you don’t even need the Bible to know that He’s created. But in rejecting that they come under God’s judgment and wrath.

Me:  The “science” aspect of young earth is already out there — ICR.org especially highlights that. The real underlying issue, though, is presuppositions. As I have learned from direct experience with someone who holds to old earth: no amount of scientific evidence will change someone’s mind, even that of a professed Christian, if that person is hardened and God in His sovereignty has hardened that person to not accept or receive the truth.

OEC: I think that many of us old earth guys take Genesis very seriously, but we also recognize that there are two books: Scripture and Nature. And these two books should be in harmony. So while we (or me at least) would hold to Scripture being infallible, we also realize that our interpretations of Scripture may not be.

BC: Nature is not a book. That is, if by that you mean the “67th Book of the Bible”. It is not inspired nor is it authoritative like Scripture is.

OEC: Yes, presuppositions are indeed the real underlying issue. And that goes for YECs and OECs and the rest…

BC: How do you interpret Gen 1:1-2:3?

Me: Our presupposition is that we believe God says what He means!!!  The burden of proof is on the one who rejects God’s word, and claims that it doesn’t really mean what it says.

OEC: Right now, I hold the age of the earth and Gen 1-2 tentatively. D.A. Carson says the mixed genres in Genesis make a water-tight interpretation difficult. Fruchtenbaum says old. Science almost universally disputes a young earth, yet 90ish percent of the universe is missing. Sarfati (heavily presuppositional) say young, Luskin says old. Sproul has changed his mind (now YEC I believe)… so I am happy to let the dust settle while working as a scientist. But I would add… … that the important issue in all this is not the age of the earth — I think it is largely a distraction. The issue is materialism (or naturalism) and that is why Intelligent Design is so key to the future. I can talk Intelligent Design to my professors, but YEC — like it or not — is not even on the table.

Me: Science does not prove anything concerning the age of the earth. It really goes back to presuppositions and how we evaluate the evidence observed. Creation is ORIGIN science, not operational science. That is an important distinction that old earth creationists do not seem to understand. We can not replicate the “science” of creation. Operational science is what we observe in the world around us. To call the creation of the earth, science, is a misnomer. More accurately, origin science is like archeology, looking at what already happened and, from our presuppositions, determining the likely (origin) cause of what we observe.

An Inconvenient Truth  — a good article summing up the different positions.

Concerning ID specifically, from this article:

The Intelligent Design movement is something of a mixed bag. Many of its adherents are active Christians who maintain a strong personal testimony of their faith in Christ. Although the movement has become somewhat amorphous and some of its leaders are now identifying the “Designer” of creation, the core philosophy is still centered on using science and the evidence for design as the means for persuasion—without stressing the obvious need for recognizing the omnipotent and omniscient Designer.

Two serious problems continue to weaken the effectiveness of the Intelligent Design movement. By consciously excluding the identity of the Creator from its message, the least that can happen is that the Creator Himself will not identify with its message.15 Further, by deconstructing the clear teachings of Scripture of a recent creation and a worldwide flood, ID proponents are placing the teachings of secular science over the written Word of God, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”16

“that the important issue in all this is not the age of the earth — I think it is largely a distraction.”   Please read the above comments, all of this thread.  If the age of the earth were not important, WHY is it in God’s word in the first place?

The argument you are using about the age of the earth not being important, is the VERY SAME argument that amillennialists and postmillennialists use concerning eschatology: the details aren’t important, we only need to understand that God is in control and that Jesus is coming back.

OEC: Intelligent Design is probably the most misrepresented area that I have ever studied. Yes it is made up of a mixed bag of people, and no, it does not identify the designer. However I think that these are hardly weaknesses given the context that we are living in. I put it back on IDs critics — how are you proposing to change the world? Intelligent Design is a world changer… and science is heading very rapidly toward that reality. Of course, like big bang cosmology, many materialists will deny design in nature until the cows come home, and then finally they will accept it because it will be too obvious to deny. e.g. the weight of evidence and the shift to the new “design” paradigm will make it obvious, and the people will wonder how they could have believed in Darwinism for so long. Yes, Paley is back. Exciting times to be in science…

Me: How is ID as a philosophy any different from the amills and postmills who emphasize that the details are not important, all we need to do is point people to Jesus, that God is the one in control and Jesus is coming back?

OEC:  “If the age of the earth were not important, WHY is it in God’s word in the first place?” I think you are begging the question — this is exactly what the discussion is about. Who said presuppositions???

Me: The recent creation in six literal days is in God’s word. The presupposition is that we believe God and what He said, which includes Genesis 1 and 2 plus many genealogies and other biblical evidence regarding a recent creation.

BC: And the presence of wayyiqtols in Genesis 1:1-2:3 make the text undeniably historical narrative, not poetry. Therefore it must be read as such.

OEC: Intelligent Design is a scientific program. It studies the book of nature and makes inferences from the data. Some Intelligent Design people like Paul Nelson are YECs. Most are not. I simply don’t see the connection to our (text-mutilating) amill friends…

BC: But the creation itself is fallen. Much of the data is flawed. And you still can’t posit how it came into being from it.

OEC: Another difference is that Genesis is in the past while the rapture and 2nd coming and so on are future. Thus we cannot compare the record of nature (using science) to Rev 20 or whatever… One day, we will be able to… but we cannot now.

Me:  OEC, the connection is there and it is huge! Old earthers twist the plain meaning of scripture, to get other ideas, just as non-premillennialists do.

That is not the issue (the idea that Genesis in the past thus proven, and thus different from the rapture and Second Coming in the future).  None of us were there at the beginning — so our knowledge of both the past AND the future is the same, unknown directly by us, and only known by God. The solution is that we trust the same God for both the past AND the future.

What do you think about the Genesis flood of Noah’s day? Was it a worldwide deluge or not?

BC: Exactly. And the problem with your last statement, OEC, is that, although Genesis is in the past, Genesis 1-5 was a different ecology. And it also cannot be postulated from the existing ecology. Unless you also don’t believe in a Global Flood.

OEC:  I think your presupposition is how you interpret Genesis1-2. If there was no earth then your case might be strong. But there is an earth, and as I said, the two books need to be reconciled. Perhaps YEC will turn out to be right. Perhaps your interpretation will turn out to be wrong. I am happy to hold these in tension. Darwinism and materialism however are another story…

Me: OEC, answer our questions:  do you believe in the global worldwide flood, from Genesis 6-9? Yes or No. What do you think happened during that event?

BC:  OEC said: “If there was no earth then your case might be strong.” What does that even mean? Are you saying that because there’s an earth, its very existence necessitates an OEC interpretation?

At this point the Old Earth Objector left, saying he needed to get to bed (different time zones): “Happy to talk more later.”

Final observations:  when pressed, he avoided the question regarding the Genesis flood (not even a yes or no answer) and simply left the conversation.  That was the style throughout, to not answer the questions and go off on some other idea. His remark about the “two books” reveals the dangerous slippery slope:  appealing to non-biblical authority, putting outside extrabiblical “evidence” – in this case, the supposed evidence that the Earth is billions of years old – as equal to God’s inspired word, and so we can’t believe everything God says, if it contradicts this supposed “self-evident” truth concerning the age of creation.

The inconsistency in hermeneutics and reasoning also comes out.  In previous conversations on different topics, this same individual had scorned D.A. Carson and R.C. Sproul for their beliefs regarding eschatology, often remembering R.C. Sproul’s incident of saying that dispensationalism is “goofy” – and yet these men were considered worthy of consideration, the appeal to authority, in support of old earth non-biblical creation.

The Hermeneutical Connection Between Creation and Eschatology

January 18, 2012 3 comments

As I’ve shared before, my first understanding of millennialism, Israel and prophecy was at a Reformed church that promotes preterism, amillennialism and Church Replacement Theology. Before that I had only experienced mainline Protestant churches (Presbyterian) that really didn’t say anything either way about these subjects, only teaching of the basic gospel message. The way I came to consider and learn about premillennialism and Calvinist-Dispensationalism was directly because of the local pastor’s anti-young-earth creation (Progressive Creation) view, a subject for which I understood the plain sense of language and the literal grammatical historical hermeneutic (even if I didn’t know that particular term at the time).

How ironic it is, then, to find a few modern-day professed believers who hold to dispensationalism and yet insist on an Old Earth view, specifically the Gap Theory.  Such is clearly a case of inconsistent hermeneutics, and demonstrates the same reasoning as those who hold to other ideas such as amillennialism, preterism, etc.:  abondoning the literal grammatical historical hermeneutic, along with the appeal to human authority, the otherwise respectable preachers who held to the Gap Theory.

Granted, the Gap Theory is less of a compromise than other ideas that came up later, such as Theistic Evolution and Progressive Creation.  As the first of the compromise ideas that developed in the 19th century, it makes more of an attempt to hold to true scripture, not directly saying that the six days of creation are really symbolic of indefinite, vast ages of time.  Instead it says a “gap” occurred between verses one and two, during which untold millions of years of events occurred.

Still it is a compromise, one of those ideas not thought of until relatively recent times when secular scientists said the earth was extremely old.  Spurgeon, too, at least in his earlier years, accepted what the scientists said and didn’t give the matter much thought.  When it comes to consistent application of hermeneutics, though, one might as well be trying to defend Covenant Theology, preterism, and amillennialism as defending the Gap Theory.

Some creationists at least understand the hermeneutical connection, as for instance the founders of ICR, the Institute for Creation Research.  Consider this excerpt from Ronald L. Numbers’ “The Creationists” (available through Google books):

[M]ost flood geologists (in America at least) came from churches awaiting Christ’s soon return to earth. And for Christians expecting the imminent end of the present age –whether premillenial Baptists and Adventists or amillenial Lutherans and Church of Christ members –Whitcomb and Morris offered a compelling view of earth history framed by symmetrical catastrophic events and connected by a common hermeneutic. “If you take Genesis literally,” reasoned Morris, “you’re more inclined to take Revelation literally.” Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists, p. 339

Ironically, Answers in Genesis does not see this hermeneutical link, in their emphasis on the physical evidence for creation, as in this audio clip (1 1/2 minutes) from Ken Ham in which he makes it clear that he sees eschatology as something different than the issue of creation: because, he says, we also have the scientific physical evidence for creation, and the creation compromises came about from people responding to external ideas about evolution and old-earth. Whereas, he claims, schatology is only dealing with the words of scripture themselves, apart from any external ideas.

How wrong he is on that point, actually, and it’s likely that he is unaware of the extrabiblical (Greek philosophical) influences that brought about the ideas of non-premillennial eschatology.  Both old-earthers and amillennialists approach scripture through their extra-biblical presuppositions and human authority. Old-earthers appeal to the secular scientists’ claim to vast amounts of time (an extra-biblical presupposition) as well as to the 19th and early 20th century preachers who held to old-earth ideas (human authority).  Non-premillennialists likewise appeal to the secular presupposition of Greek philosophy and allegory (see this paper for instance), the Greek view of physical material as evil and non-physical spiritual as good; and then they appeal to the human authority of Augustine who invented amillennialism in the early 5th century.

In closing, S. Lewis Johnson’s first message in his Genesis series contains his analysis of the Gap Theory and what verses are said to support it.  As one who originally held to the Gap Theory, because he was taught it by his mentor Donald Grey Barnhouse, he well explains the appeal of the Gap Theory.  He then goes on to point out the biblical problems with it, including Exodus 20:9-11.  A brief excerpt (read the transcript for his much longer commentary on the matter):

And so they tend to say well, you can put all of that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and you have no problem.  But really you do have a problem.  In the first place, because geologists don’t accept the guess or cataclysmic theory, they are generally evolutionary uniformitarians, and so therefore you cannot have any ultimate harmonization with them.  In addition you have theological problems because by accepting the geological aid system the Bible scholar is thereby accepting the Bible record, which identifies these ages.  Fossils are dead things.  They speak clearly of a world in which suffering and disease and death often violent and widespread death were universal realities.  They speak of a world much like our own, a world containing sharks and jellyfish, dragonflies, cockroaches, turtles, crocodiles, beavers as someone has put it — further dinosaurs and other animals that are now extinct.

But Peter says the world that then was, perished.  If that world existed prior to this pre-Adamic cataclysm, then it existed before the sin of Satan, which brought on the cataclysm.  That is, suffering and death existed for half a billion years before the sin of Satan and the subsequent sin of Adam.  How can you explain such deaths?  Do you not see that you have theological problems with that theory too?  So, I’m persuaded in spite of the fact that, I confess, I used to be persuaded by that theory — that we are rather to read Genesis as a straightforward account of the creation in six days.

Unbelief: Those Who Say “It is Not Necessary to Believe . . .”

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

From listening to S. Lewis Johnson teaching through Matthew 4, the temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness, comes the following gem:

You’ll notice also as you ponder ways in which men have attacked the faith, when they are guided by Satan, they do not, as a general rule, attack point blank the revelation that is found in the word of God.  They usually come with some kind of questions that suggest doubt concerning the Scriptures.  Ordinarily, you do not have a man who does not believe in the virgin birth stand in the pulpit and say, “I do not accept the biblical accounts of the virgin birth; the Lord Jesus was not born by a virgin.”  They do not normally say that.  They usually will say, “There are those who believe the Lord Jesus was born of a virgin, and there are those who believe the Lord Jesus was not born of a virgin; it is not necessary that we believe this doctrine.”  That is the usual way in which unbelief appears.  It is the kind of expression that casts doubt upon the word of God:  “it’s not necessary.”

How true this is:  the real enemy of biblical Christianity is not the overt anti-Christian message of atheists — it is those who come in among the church and take issue with some of the doctrines of the faith.  Where the scripture itself is clear and to the point, such individuals will come in and declare that belief in such-and-such a doctrine is optional — “not all Christians believe this,” and “Christians can believe this other way…”  It goes back to Satan’s word to Eve in the garden — questioning God; did God really say thus?

I can especially relate this to the so-called “second order” doctrines — truths clearly revealed in Scripture, part of God’s overall revealed word yet not part of soteriology — nonetheless doctrines that all true believers will love because they are in God’s book the Bible.  “God’s people are not offended by God’s word.”  Yet how many professing believers will come forth and proclaim that, because such doctrines are not “necessary for salvation” therefore these are really fringe issues and thus we can treat these as optional.  I have in mind specifically the doctrine of biblical creation, something clearly taught (not at all vague or unclear language) in Genesis 1 — and explicitly affirmed again in Exodus.  Yet I still recall the satanic words of a local church preacher on this point:  that not all Christians believe in a young earth, and we can still be Christians even though we don’t believe this.

Some might object to my calling this “satanic words.”  But what else can this really be called?  How is this any different from the example quoted above, or from the spirit of Satan’s words to Eve?  Even Peter once said the words of Satan, and Jesus rebuked him appropriately:  “get thee behind me, Satan.”

ICR’s (Institute for Creation Research) recent devotional also addressed the matter of “fringe issues” as compared to secondary doctrines that are revealed in scripture, observing that “Perhaps the rule might be, if it’s an essential doctrine, teach and defend it at all costs; if it’s a secondary doctrine, teach it in “meekness” and love (2 Timothy 2:25).” and concluding:

Is creationism a fringe issue? No! Few doctrines are so clearly taught in Scripture. Is it crucial to salvation? No! But it is essential to adequately understand the great primary doctrines for it is foundational to them all. Furthermore, it is the subject of origins which the enemy has identified as a major battleground, vowing to destroy Christianity over this issue. Here we must stand, if we are to guard our faith.