There seems to be no lack of opinion about the opening of the new 27 million dollar Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY last month. The museum seeks to present an alternative understanding of how the world came into existence. Following a strict biblical literalism, the museum teaches that God created the universe in six literal days and that the earth is young, being under 10,000 years old. Obviously, the museum does not support evolution; it seeks to present a scientific alternative to evolution, using the Bible as the authoritative guide. Naturally, many in the scientific community are not happy about its opening. There were over 800 scientists in the surrounding three states that offered a statement articulating their concern about this museum, believing it to be highly influential on young minds that cannot think critically.

In the Christian community, the opinions are extremely radical. There are those who have disdain for the endeavor of “young earth creationists” (henceforth “young earthers”), believing their theories and adherence to a literal interpretation of Genesis is pseudoscience. This group is made up of those who hold to an intelligent design (henceforth “IDers”) theory of creation, usually holding to an old earth and allowing for the possibility that God utilized macro evolution in creation. The ID movement has gained much ground in the scientific community in the last twenty years and does not want to be identified with young earthers as represented by the Creation Museum. They think it will create a guilt by association that cuts them off from the audience they have worked so hard to reach. IDers seek to demonstrate without the use of the Bible or reference to the Christian God that the scientific evidence is in favor of creation by an intelligent designer. This does not mean they disregard the Bible, but they believe that one cannot presuppose the Bible’s authority in order to establish its authority. Most IDers have not had good things to say about the opening of the museum. 

There are, of course, those on the other side who support the young earth theory of creation. These believe that the museum is the greatest thing since U2s Achtung Baby (OK, maybe not THAT great, but they really do like it). They are militantly against the propositions of evolution believing it is the major cause for the moral decline of our society. As well, young earther and president of Answers in Genesis Ken Ham would propose that if you believe in an old earth or evolution, you cannot have a doctrine of sin since you would have death before the fall.

It is important to note that young earthers and IDers alike have a common agenda to point to God as the ultimate source of all things. Normally, both would affirm that God created all things ex nihilo (out of nothing), the deity of Christ, his resurrection from the dead, the doctrine of the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith, and the inspiration of Scripture. Yet, with all this in common, it is hard to find two groups of people who get along less than these two. As the old saying goes, “the dogs of the closest breed fight the hardest.” This seems to be the case here.

IDers usually look down upon young earthers believing them to be naive. Young earthers look at IDers as those who compromise essential elements of the faith. IDers wave the claims of young earthers away like an annoying fly, believing their claims to be outdated, irrelevant, and unscientific.

My thoughts on these issues are neither passionate about a particular position nor infinitely informed. Nevertheless, here is my advice to both sides:

Young Earthers:
Cool the rhetoric. People can interpret the early chapters of Genesis differently than you. This does not mean that they have compromised the faith. The method of creation is not the article upon which the church stands or falls. You may be setting up a false dilemma that keeps people (from a human standpoint) from accepting the Christian worldview.

  • God could have used evolution to create the world.
  • The early chapters of Genesis could be condescending speech.
  • The flood could have been local.
  • All of this and sin could still be real.

Humble your tone. If there is anything we have learned in the last 100 years it is that science changes. Much of that which was once proclaimed from the scientific mountaintops is now in a discarded pile of rubble named “Oops.”

  • Young eathers maybe correct; you really don’t know with certainty.
  • The assumptions of uniformitarianism may be misguided. The speed of light may not be constant and the decay rate of isotopes may have been different in the past.
  • Once you accept creation ex nihilo, belief in talking serpents, dinosaurs on the ark, and men living to 900 is really not that difficult.
  • Those in the young earth creation camp do offer some viable theories, even if they are not scientifically driven. Give them some respect. They are trying to honor the Lord.

To both sides:
It seems that God has called both sides into the marketplace of ideas. But we all need to respect the ignorance with which we approach these issues and be respectful of each other. There is no reason for either side to anathematize the other to the pits of irrelevance, much less to the hottest parts of hell.

Personally, I don’t know the answers to these questions. I think the theory of evolution itself is unpersuasive from a biblical and scientific perspective. But when the issue of the age of the earth is on the table, I fold. There are great men on both sides of the issue. Let me put it this way: when I get to heaven I will not be bent out of shape either way.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    20 replies to "Young Earth, Old Earth, the Creation Museum, and Christian Options"

    • Joshua

      This is an interesting issue, here are a few of my observations that might be useful.

      I think this issue of the first 11 chapters of Genesis is important, but I think sometimes we (including myself) fall into “searching the Scriptures because we think that in them we have eternal life” and forget that they all are focused and centered upon Christ. That being said I have used much of the AIG (Answers in Genesis) material and has been extremely helpful in my Christian walk and relationship with God.

      Here are a couple guidelines that I think anyone interested in this discussion (and I think everyone should have at least a little interest in wanting to understand what a Biblical worldview really is):

      1. Does the theory of evolution cause you to read the Bible differently?

      What I mean by that is when David said in Psalm 139:13-16, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” does the theory of evolution cause you feel less intimate toward God as though you were just “randomly” assembled through mutations and not precisely and preciously made by His hand. If it does I think you really need to wrestle with this issue, because if you don’t see God intimately and lovely forming you for His purposes I think you will have such a small view of God that it was scarcely resembles the God of the Bible.

      2. Does the age of the earth affect the way you read your Bible?

      I am not a biblical scholar, and have not done extensively scholarly research on this (and I hope someone can point me to a book or something that can explain it), but from the limited knowledge of hermeneutics I know, I can definitely see the tension in trying to explain how a Hebrew (during the time it was written) reading the earthly chapters of Genesis could come to the conclusion that the universe was created in anything more than 6 days especially in light of texts like Exodus 20:11 and the fact that Genesis is a narrative. If this type of thing causes you to question the authenticity and consistency of the Bible then I think you need to wrestle and address and figure out the issues that bother you.

      A special note of interest that might be useful to people is that the New Testament is so scholarly verifiable in its authenticity that almost all skeptics attack Genesis now because its historical accuracy is so well defended. Josh McDowell’s, Evidence that Demands a Verdict is devastating to those that would question the historical and authenticity of the New Testament. Also Hugh Hewitt recently had two guests on his radio program, Mark D. Roberts, a New Testament Scholar and author of the recently published Can we trust the Gospels? and Christopher Hitches and atheist, author of the recently published God is not great: how religion poisons everything. Its note worthy because in the second segment Hitches actually admits that, “we cannot say for certain that Shakespeare and Socrates ever really existed, we just have their work” which I found quite amusing, because for the sake of denying the authenticity of the New Testament he throws out all logical and systematic ways of how we (and when I say we I mean secular-non Christian historians) determine history. There is additional information in the “debate” if you want to call it that and here are the links for it:


      Part 2:

      Part 3:

      3. Does this effect the way you view the Gospel?

      If we define the Gospel in four categories, God, man, sin, and Jesus we lose 2 of them (man and sin) if we discard Genesis. When I say discard, I mean to put them in the back of our minds as though they are “there” but they have no authority because they are “unscientific” in our modern world. Paul makes so many references to Genesis when we he is talking about our justification through Christ (see Romans) it seems that in his theology he held Genesis as crucial and inseparable. My main thrust in this point is that if evolution and the age of the earth cause you to “put Genesis to the side” then I think you need to really wrestle, read, and come to a conclusion in your mind as to who you were before Christ and what you are after you have come to Christ so that you will have a solid biblical foundation of the Gospel.

      Overall I think it has the potential to be both good and bad within the Evangelical community.

      Good because it is causes dialogue over issues that have long been “put away” and hushed in the public eye. I mean look at the recent Presidential debates, they question them about religion, evolution, etc so clearly there is an interest from the public about God (or at least about the “spiritual”) which should give us as Christ’s ambassadors more and more opportunities to talk about Him more openly and freely with people who do not know the real Jesus.

      Bad because I think these type of issues have the potential (and I think already have) to produce more Calvinist vs. Arminist type arguments within the body which is not edifying and helpful to reaching the lost and dying people of our country and our world.

      I am not suggesting with shouldn’t have our own personal convictions I am saying within the American Church we need to move in a more missional direction where Christ is exalted and focused upon even through doctorial disputes so that we can agree upon the essentials and disagree in love and grace about the non-essentials for the sake of the Kingdom.

      Yours in Christ,


      P.S. Here is a link to a blog that has some additional information regarding evolution with some very insightfully information (one of the commenter’s is a geologist with a masters degree from a secular university) that may be of use to people:

    • Jeff


      You sum it up well. Everyone needs to cool it and realize we are on the same side.

      The speed of light is a very interesting subject and the implications are huge. For the geeks among your readers (like me) here are some links to some research by Barry Setterfield on the speed of light. He has published papers in journals with research showing the speed of light may be changing.


    • veritas83

      Michael – I appreciate your desire to approach this (and every) issue from a balanced, mature perspective. However, I feel compelled to disagree with your assessment of this issue.

      You correctly pointed out that good Christians can disagree over the interpretation of Genesis 1-11. People will not gain entrance into heaven on the basis of their view on the age of the earth.

      The important question, however, is one of authority. Why do we feel constrained to allow for the possibility of evolution in Genesis? Why do we feel compelled to limit the scope of Noah’s Flood? Why do we feel the need to find billions of years within the Creation Week? Does this stem from an exegesis of the text? No…we feel compelled to hold these views (or at least allow for their viability) because of the opinions of scientists.

      Now, I am all for science. My grandfather worked with NASA on the Apollo space project, helping to send the first man to the moon. As a result, I have been raised with a fascination with science, and an inherent liking of science fiction.

      But science is different from exegesis. We cannot allow scientists (whether Christian or not) to hold hostage our interpretation of the biblical text. This is what happens: A bunch of atheistic scientists tell us that the world is billions of years old (they used to have different ages, but that’s the current model). So, biblical scholars have attempted to harmonize science and Scripture in order to make Scripture fit with the humanistic model. So, now we have elaborately constructed cosmologies whereby we “prove” that God used evolution, and that the chronology is exactly what fits in with the “scientific” model. But what will we do in 100 years when the Big Bang is laughed at by every reputable scientist? You see, their theories will keep evolving (pardon the pun). We, on the other hand, will have been locked in, having gone out on a limb to say that the Bible supports the Big Bang.

      This illustrates that the whole problem is one of authority. What is our authority? Is it the biblical text or is it the fallible (changing) opinions of fallible men? There is no room (exegetically) for evolution or billions of years in the Genesis account of creation. When we alter our interpretations of the Bible in order to earn the approval of men (whether they be Christians or atheists) we will find ourselves on a very slippery slope.

      Whatever happened to Sola Scriptura?

    • Vance

      Oh man, I will have to restrain myself here! I speak for the third Christian alternative: those who accept evolution as basically presented by the scientific community (including the vast majority of scientists who are Christian), but simply don’t accept any concept of “philosophical naturalism” that so often goes along with it.

      I don’t see this as in any way compromising or “feeling constrained” to accept it. I just don’t see any reason NOT to accept the best scientific explanation when there is nothing in Scripture which precludes it. As an historian and student of ancient literature, I had concluded that early Genesis was never meant to be read as strict literal narrative history in the modern sense long before I looked into the scientific issues (and was thus, technically still a young earther).

      And the entire idea of “accepting Scripture for what it says” is a straw man. I accept Scripture ENTIRELY for what it says, I just believe it says something different that the Young Earth Creationists do. I believe Scripture is ENTIRELY true and correct and even inerrant in its presentation. I just don’t think that these Scripture are even attempting to provide that type of scientific or strict historical narrative, so the failure, I believe is in the reading, not in the text. Read correctly, the text can be entirely true and correct AND evolution can be the correct explanation for how God created.

      As for ID, I appreciate their efforts, but really I ultimately have to disagree with their conclusions. I don’t think God created the universe in a way that allows for scientific proof that He did just that. We can not establish God scientifically, we believe in God by Faith. Yes, nature cries out “GOD!!!!” at every turn, but that is for those with “ears to hear”.

      BTW, some of the top ID scientists, like Behe and Denton, have no problem whatsoever with the concept that life, including human life, has developed over billions of years from earlier life forms. Basically the same process laid out by traditional evolution. The difference is that they believe that the mechanics of the process can’t have worked entirely naturally, but HAD to have included some higher power.

      Michael, I think you have the right approach in general, this is not a salvation issue. We should not preach it like it is dogmatic truth, because we are not all-knowing God. Ultimately, the true message of Genesis is not HOW and WHEN, but WHO and WHY.

      In truth, I believe that the Creationist movement has done more to damage the Christian message than just about anything an atheist could come up with.

    • Ed Komoszewski

      Veritas83, I couldn’t agree with you more: science cannot and must not govern our hermeneutic. We should allow the text to speak for itself and let the chips fall where they may. This is not to say that we shouldn’t seek ways to reconcile our understanding of Scripture with science or even allow science to inform our understanding. It is, however, to say that the tail can’t wag the dog. In that spirit, I frankly contend that we must seek to rid our historical-grammatical hermeneutic (which rightly gives attention to literary and theological motifs) of our scientific presuppositions if we’re going to get at the intended and inspired meaning of the original author(s).

      But here’s the $64,000 question: Does a responsible historical-grammatical exegesis of the text demand a literal 6-day creation? Is that a certain interpretation of the text? I’m not asking if a literal 6-day view is defensible or even likely to be right; I’m asking if the view is true beyond a shadow of doubt. My own answer to that question is, hardly.

      After all, many high-caliber scholars with daunting exegetical skills and deep commitments to the authority of the Bible have differed on this matter. And I don’t think it’s fair to say that those who opt for anything other than a 6-day literal creation are just looking for ways to make themselves—or even the Bible—look more respectable. I know that some people mock the “well, good and godly people disagree” argument, but I’m not just talking about good and godly people. I’m talking about good and godly (i.e., regenerate) people with the highest levels of training, ability, and maturity. This fact isn’t easy to dismiss.

      I appreciate your heart and agree with your overarching concern. But, in this instance, I’m not sure that things are as simple as splitting folks into two groups, namely, those who submit to the authority of the text and those who succumb to the pressures of contemporary scientific theories. This would force us to cast judgment on the motives of solid evangelical thinkers and “old earthers” like Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Gleason Archer, R. Laird Harris, Carl F. H. Henry, Walter Kaiser, Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, Bruce Waltke, John Sailhamer, J. I. Packer, and many, many others. I humbly suggest that we all think twice—and then again—before we ascribe to them anything less than a total commitment to the authority of God’s inspired word.

    • C Michael Patton

      Ed, Vance, and Veritas,

      Good comments from you all.

      In addition to Ed’s comments, I think that we must realize that science itself is simply an extension of nature. It deals with our observation of the world God created. When interpreted correctly, it is also an authoritative voice of God according to Ps. 19. It speaks forth his majesty no less than Scripture. Truth is truth. While we hold to sola Scriptura, believing that rightly interpreted Scripture has absolute authority over any other source, we must also recognise that nature can contribute to our understanding of what Scripture is saying.

      I agree with Veritas that the Scriptures, upon a cursory reading, does seem to suggest that God created the earth in six literal days. But some very good people would say that science contributes to this issue in a different way. They believe that its observations are clearer, in this case, than Scripture concerning the mechanics of creation. Because of this clarity they believe science can help us understand what Scripture is and is not saying.

      I think those who follow this model may or may not be correct. What we must keep in mind is that while science represents the voice of God through nature, it is a voice, like Scripture, that must be interpreted. And, like Scripture, it can be misinterpreted. There are many presuppositions on both sides.

      I think we should be careful and not put all our eggs in one basket with regards to this issue. Both sides need to approach this with humility and respect understanding that God’s authoritative voice, whether in nature or Scripture, can be misunderstood.

    • Chad Winters

      I agree Michael (SHOCK!!)
      Personally I see that there are two fairly equally valid possible interpretations of the Bible and one of them matches General Revelation and one of which causes you to close your eyes to General Revelation.
      Maybe its wrong, but for now I will pick the interpretation that also matches General Revelation.

      It is actually a very important point. Debates with atheists inevitably revolve around this point. From the Old Earth perspective Science actually proves the Bible as the only religious book that fits with science (the world is not on the back of a turtle, etc.) Athiest astronomers originally did not want to accept the Big Bang theory because it fit to well with the Bible and the need for a creator.

      I find it hard to denigrate the hard sciences too much, granted like interpretation it is refined, but we are unlikely to find cosmological changes. The universe, in every testable way is 14 billion years old. Granted God could have built a 14 billion year old universe a few thousand years ago….

      For Old Earth perspective and how science agrees with the bible from that perspective I recomend
      These are creditable scientists who are doing good work from this perspective.

    • Chad Winters

      oops…that was

    • C Michael Patton

      Chad, you always agree with me. When have you strayed off the path of truth? I can’t remember. 🙂

    • Vance

      Keep in mind that a cursory reading of Scripture also seems indicate a geocentric universe. That was the “traditional” reading of Scripture until we allowed science to inform our interpretation. That took a while to accept, and both Catholics and Protestants dug in their heels and INSISTED that to accept heliocentrism was, in so many words, to deny the truth of Scripture (Luther and Calvin included).

      We are going through the same growing pains now. We have dramatic and overwhelming evidence from God’s Creation itself that He did NOT create the earth over six literal days less than 10,000 years ago. We have dramatic and overwhelming evidence from God’s Creation that God used some sort of evolutionary process over billions of years for the development of life. To my reading, this only contradicts one, particularly narrow, geocentric-like, view of Scripture. It does not conflict with my reading at all.

      In fact, for me it is not even a matter of science even informing my reading, since I would read (and DID read) Genesis 1-11 as something other than strict literal historical narrative BEFORE reaching any conclusions about the science.

      My question is always why is there a presumption of literalism? Why is there even a preference for it among the wide varieties of literary styles of writing about the past? When we know that the Ancient Israelites would NOT have read it that way, why in the world should we?

      Ironically, the “traditional” reading of Scripture in that way is a product of the scientific modernism that has also attempted to deny the supernatural and God in particular.

      Remember, it is not secular science dictating how we should read Scripture. It is looking at ALL that God has given us as clues regarding the past and making decisions based on ALL the evidence as a whole. God gave us a revelation in Scripture that can be read a variety of different ways. God gave us the evidence of His Creation itself. We must view them together to make the best choice when we are seeking to determine the HOW and WHEN of God’s creation process (to the extent we need to do this at all).

      There are still geocentrics out there today who believe that it is the young earth creationists who have compromised, and allowed modern scientific notions to influence their reading of Scripture by accepting heliocentrism.

      I believe that in another 100 years, if the Lord tarries, we will be looking back on this controversy much the way we look back on the geocentrism controversy. There will still be some hardcore hold-outs who insist on a young earth and deny that God used evolution, but they will be as rare as modern-day geocentrics.

    • C Michael Patton

      Vance, points well taken. You may be correct.

      Here is a couple of things that may cause some problems to what you have said.

      I don’t know if comparing the flat earth scenario to the old earth scenario in anything other than general conceptual language. Yes, thinking there was a flat earth was taking the Bible too literal, but that had to do with mistakenly taking anthropomorphic language for literal scientific statements. The issue with Genesis is not dealing with anthropomorphic language. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone on either side argue such. The issue has to do with either 1) accommodating language, or 2) symbolic language.

      Granted, God could have used either on in the first 11 chapters of Genesis and the Bible still be authoritative and inspired. The issue that many exegetes would have with this option is not whether or not it is available, but whether or not it should be applied in this case due to discoveries in science. As I said before, this may be the case. If so, then we do have a rather odd occurrence where we don’t really know where to draw the line with the Genesis narrative. If we are going to say that the first 11 chapters are symbolic or accommodating, then why stop there? I am not saying that this is an absolute slippery slope, but it is confusing, you must admit. The type of literature in Gen 1-11 is really no different than that contained in the rest of the book (and much of Exodus for that matter). If we interpret the first 11 this way, why stop there?

      I guess that is my question. We must recognise that the “literary argument,” while helpful, is not as clear as some like to make it out to be. In fact, it could be that we are using an accommodating hermeneutic ourselves, fearing not to repeat the black eye of the past with regards to the Galileo incident. This will not do either.

      The rhetoric in this issue causes much imbalance and an awful lot of overstatement on both sides. Let’s all just approach this with much humility. I don’t think anyone is threatening to put someone in jail for teaching a old earth! The fact is we really just don’t know with much certianty the answers to these questions. Like you said, we do know the what and who, but not the how.

    • Ed Komoszewski

      Vance, I appreciate your insights into this matter. But I would offer you a caution similar to that which I offered Veritas83. Competent exegetes have differed on the interpretation of Genesis 1, and not all who land on a literal 6-day view can be charged with a “cursory” reading of the text. For example, Allen P. Ross, an Old Testament scholar who has forgotten more about Hebrew exegesis than I’ll ever know, reveals his belief in a literal 6-day creation in his excellent tome, Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis (Baker, 1988).

      Just to be clear, my ultimate concern is not necessarily with folks espousing one view or the other—even with vigor. From a purely exegetical standpoint, both young-earth and old-earth views are defensible. My concern is with our caricatures of those who hold views on this matter that conflict with our own. It simply won’t do to say that those who reject a literal 6-day creation reject the authority of Scripture. Neither is it fair to say that those who hold to a literal 6-day view are simplistic in their reading of the text.

      Let’s put forth our views with passion. Let’s bring our best arguments to the table. But let’s, as Michael’s original post suggested, refrain from judging the motives and/or competency of everyone on the other side. Neither side can be painted with a broad brush. And both sides can craft a decent exegetical portrait of our origins.

    • veritas83

      Michael & All: I want to make it clear that I am NOT saying that Old Earthers or IDers are heretically denying the authority of Scripture. I know that these men and women (scientists and scholars) are sincere Christians who hold to the authority of the Word of God. However, it is possible to believe in the authority of Scripture and practically undermine it.

      I can preach from the pulpit that the Bible is the sole authority to govern our lives. I can tell the church that the Bible is to be supreme over every area of my life. I can sincerely believe this. But if I continually give in to a particular sin (as we all do), I am fighting against the authority of Scripture. Practically speaking, I am undermining the authority of Scripture. I have not denied it, because I still give mental assent to this proposition. However, I am undermining its authority over my life. And this is a struggle we all face.

      When we transfer this to the world of doctrine, we can purposefully deny the authority of Scripture…or we can unintentionally undermine it. I believe the Old Earth position fits in the latter category. I am concerned that well meaning theologians are undermining one of the key principles of the Reformation: that of the supremacy and sufficiency of the Scriptures.

      Michael: I agree with your comments about Psalm 19, with some caution. I would just point out that the second half of the psalm speaks of the superiority of special revelation over general revelation. And nature, while a valid tool, must always maintain a ministerial, rather than a magisterial role in regards to Scripture.

      Thanks against for fostering a stimulating discussion!


    • kolabok21

      Is it possible that god allows mankind to gain knowledge by his unveiling of our blindness to all the wondrous truths that he has kept hidden from us since eternity past?
      And now Mankind is on the verge of unlocking some of the most intriguing, profound questions ever posed.
      How do we know anything thing at all? God allows what he allows to our understanding.
      We often forget that the bible is a story about mankind, his beginning and his end. We know nothing else besides the saving grave we need to persevere.
      I often wonder if the earth has been a giant laboratory of God’s.
      Really it makes no difference about IDer’s or young earthers point of view and what is in the text is not enough to determine either way.
      But God is ancient of days and so is the earth; he left clues did he not?
      Keep digging , there are to many mysteries coming up from the ground to assume a young earth view IMO, I might be a Clarence Larkin Adherent and I do not necessarily agree with everything he agrees with, but, I do think he’s right about the age of earth! Sounds go anyway, check this place out and conclude young earth

      It’s hard to imagine anything else but old,
      P.S. real pics from hubble and spiziter telescopes

    • Vance

      Michael, to be clear, I was referring to geocentrism, not the concept of a flat earth. There are two analogies to be drawn there. First is with the exegesis itself, the other is with the degree to which we allow the evidence from Nature to inform our exegesis in general.

      On the first point, basically everyone read Scripture geocentrically prior to Galileo because everyone WAS a geocentric, they did believe the sun and stars revolved around the earth, which was at the center of the universe. But they also argued this FROM Scripture. They pointed to the Creation stories, where earth was created first and everything else around it. They pointed to Joshua: the SUN stood still, not the earth, etc. They also pointed to the theological implications (what would it mean if the earth was just one planet among billions, revolving around a sun which was one among billions!, etc). They believed they had solid Scriptural and theological reasons for rejecting heliocentrism. Luther and Calvin were particularly dramatic on this point.

      The other point of the analogy is the degree we should be willing to allow science to inform our reading of Scripture. For me, it is always a sliding scale, not a slippery slope necessarily. I start with one true and solid anchor: Everything Scripture says is TRUE, there is no error in the text. This has nothing to do with literalness or factual or scientific accuracy. If a text was not intended to provide scientific information or literal history, then there is no error if it does not do so.

      So, I look at the text and use my best exegesis to determine what God is trying to tell me. I look at the historical setting, the literary style, the theology involved, etc. From these I will come to a conclusion with a humble DEGREE of certainty about what the message is. Then, if there SEEMS to be a contradiction between that and what the evidence from Creation itself seems to be saying (ie, science), then I have to consider the degree of certainty I have over my particular interpretation of Scripture v. the degree of evidence is coming from Nature itself.

      The problem I see is that the Creationist is starting with the assumption that their interpretation is true without doubt. They talk as if by defending their literal reading, they are defending Scripture in absolute terms, when what they are really doing is just defending their interpretation. I think this bias effects even the most learned scholars, Ed. I have read most of them, and even when I agree with many of their talking points (like the term “day” referring to a literal 24 hours), I think their conclusions do not always follow, and I suspect that their reasoning is drawn toward their desired conclusion (as is true of most human endeavors).

      As for the sliding scale of literalism for non-literalism, the solution can only be that we take each text on its own, without any preconception of what it should be. We have to step out of our cultural biases and seek to determine what people at the time would have thought, how they would have read it. We do not read Song of Solomon, Revelation and Luke with the same expectations of literary style.

      The problem, ultimately, is that Genesis 1 -11 tells about the past. We in the modern world (and this goes back hundreds, even a couple thousand years), tend to value stories about the past to the degree they provide accurate facts. To the extent it does not, it is in error, it is false, it is untrustworthy. So, when we see Genesis, and we see stories about the past, we apply this mindset and say that if it is not providing literal historical narrative, then it is not true and correct. And since the Bible must be true and correct . . . etc.

      In ancient times, however, they did not tell stories about the past in order to pass on a list of factual details in a strict narrative. They told STORIES about the past which conveyed the ultimate truths about what happened. Which, ultimately is most important. There is a reason why they call Herodotus the “Father of History”. No one was even TRYING to write that type of history before him (and even he did not try all that hard, some would argue!).

      Here is a quick example that even modern readers accept. We know that God is Spirit. He does not have a human body inherently, although he can take that form if he likes, of course. Now, we read that God “breathed” the spirit of life into Adam. Most exegetes would not assume that God took some type of human form, took a deep breath with physical lungs and then breathed literal air into the body of Adam. No, we accept that this is a image of something . . . else. Something bigger and deeper than our human minds could understand possibly. We know that SOMETHING happened, wherein God breathed the “spirit of life” (meaning to be debated) into “Adam” (Mankind?, again meaning to be debated), but we don’t assume we know that that EXACT action (process?) was. The language is powerful, and it is evocative and it gets the message across very dramatically. We GET the TRUTH about what happened, probably more so than if we got a literal blow-by-blow of what actually happened in detail (assuming we could even understand it).

      I read much of early Genesis the same way, and as someone with a college degree in ancient history, I believe that is how the ancient Israelites would have read it as well.

      Now, this does not mean I read Luke the same way. That was written possibly a thousand or more years later, by someone who had a VERY different mind, more akin to our own than the writers of Genesis 1 and 2. My analysis of Genesis 1 to 11 has nothing at all to do with my reading of the Resurrection story for the same reason. Both are true, but they are different literary styles.

      Slippery slope. When you are standing at the top of the slope and you know that the truth may not be at the top, but is somewhere before you get to the bottom (which is error as well, you know), do you just stay where you are, and hope that it is pretty close? No, you get shoes with a good grip, you get grappling hooks and stout rope, and you head down the slope carefully in search of the truth. Always humble, always willing to consider. The anchor of that rope, however, is ALWAYS:

      Scripture is true and is not in error. Now, let’s see what that might mean . . .

    • Vance

      Sorry, I just realized I didn’t finish the point of the second analogy with geocentrism. The point was that, prior to scientific evidence pointing to heliocentrism, they all believed Scripture was saying one thing. And when first confronted with the evidence, and conclusions from the evidence, that contradicted their interpretation, they rejected it outright. They clung to their traditional interpretation and condemned those who proposed the heliocentric theory as attacking Scripture. As it turned out, the only thing being attacked was one interpretation, but it took a LONG time to accept that. As it turned out, the entire Church CHANGED its way of reading those Scriptures, based entirely on new scientific evidence. And this was the right thing to do in that circumstance.

      Now, this does not mean, as you rightly point out Michael, that we react knee-jerk style to accept every oddball scientific theory to avoid making that same mistake. But we should use that fiasco to learn that it definitely IS acceptable exegesis to allow evidence from the natural world to inform and complete our picture of what God is really telling us in Scripture in order to avoid error.

      BTW, here are two really good links that discuss the point of view of the Christian who has a very high view of Scripture AND accepts an old earth and evolution without seeing a conflict:


    • Chad Winters

      It looks like the theme park owners may be swallowing camels….,20867,21843706-2702,00.html?from=public_rss

    • Sam

      Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
      -Genesis 1:31 (NKJV)

      For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
      -Romans 8:19-22 (NKJV)

    • Michael Snow

      “Following a strict biblical literalism…”

      Well, not really. They do not take the first three verses of Genesis 1 as literal. Many Christians read the text as if the first two verses were not there. Context!

    • Sam

      Yes Michael snow, but you ignore genesis 1:31. While the earths creation in genesis 1:1 may actually be the earths restoration. Due to the fact of why would a God of order create chaos insinuating something happened before Genesis 1:1. In Genesis 1:31 The creation of earth as we know it was deemed as “everything he has made was good” now tell me , would a perfect and holy God call the process of evolution with all it’s defects be deemed good? Would a world with no corruption, for man had not yet sinned be deemed good by the survival of the fittest, and the destruction of the weak so that the strong can be fruitfull and multiply? That would contradict the whole theme of Genesis.

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