Answering Common Old Earth Creationist Arguments
A fellow Christian posted a blog titled “Answering Common Young Earth Creationist Arguments” located here: http://jwwartick.com/2012/06/11/yec-args/. Please read his article first, and if you like, pull this one up in a parallel page. I will answer each of his attacks on the YEC position in order under a heading with the same name. I’m sure the author has the best of intentions, but there are many problems with this particular blog entry and point of view I would like to address.
First off, the author makes this claim:
“This post is not going to argue against young earth creationism specifically. Rather, I hope that it can be a resource for both young earth and old earth proponents in order to avoid faulty reasoning.”
A noble cause and worthy endeavor, but the author fails his own claims by only outing the YEC arguments as faulty and then offering the OEC arguments as an unchallenged substitute. I read the entire blog thinking I would see the problems with arguments on both sides of the fence, but alas, I was disappointed to find absolutely zero criticism of the OEC arguments. This is alarming to me that someone could make a blog with a specific claim and then fail to meet that claim altogether. So let’s give the other side to this delightful debate, shall we?
Perspicuity of Scripture
This is, at best, a straw-man argument. I know of no one, YEC, OEC, or other that claims to be able to understand all of the scriptures in the Bible. Anyone who is honest with you will tell you that one time they understand the scriptures one way and later on they’ll see another aspect of the same scripture. This new aspect doesn’t change the meaning, but it does add more perspective and enlightenment. Also, the plan for salvation is not necessarily clear to an unsaved reader. Just think about how many times you’ve heard someone preach salvation through works and that notion is blown out of the water.
Now for the real problem of this argument; he has claimed that the text isn’t clear and precise. Well, read the text and see for yourself:
Genesis 1:1-5 NASB In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
The first time we see the word “day” it is in a sentence that defines it – “And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” Pretty perspicuous if you ask me! We have our timetables set and the first time we see day (yowm in the original Hebrew) comes directly after this description “And there was evening and there was morning…”
The Meaning of Day
The author is correct in that the word “yowm” has several meanings in regards to time. However, according to www.blueletterbible.org you’ll see this breakdown of how often the word is used with other meanings:
Wow! Of the 2,287 times “yowm” is used in the Bible, 2008 times it is used as the meaning for the literal 24 hour period. That’s almost 88% of the time which means that alternate meanings of the word are rare. What’s more is that their alternate meanings are made clear by the surrounding text. For example:
Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.
Here we see this phrased directly translated from this text “kol yowm chay” which translates as “(kol) of it all (yowm) the days (chay) of your life.” We can see clearly through the text that yowm means something other than a 24 hour period. This is not the case in Genesis 1:5.
Day is not a long period of time
This is an excellent observation by the author. However, he fails to see the change in context around the word “yowm”. Please see previous point about the usage of “yowm” and its context.
That’s Just Poetry
Poetry in the Bible certainly is relevant, but only in revealing spiritual truths, not historic ones. Psalm 94 is another way of saying the Lord is timeless, eternal; He never ages and never changes. This is obviously a spiritual truth, not a historical one. Nowhere does the Bible use poetry to convey historical truth. Also, the sentence structure of Hebrew poetry and historical narratives are completely different. In short the syntax of the factual statement follows the form of conjunction–verb-subject-object, whereas the poetic form is constructed subject-verb-object. Genesis and the account of the creation are written in the former, not the latter. If you have any issues with whether or not Genesis is poetry or historical, please see here: http://www.ldolphin.org/genmyth.html, here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v5/n1/semantic, and here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v4/n1/literary-forms-biblical-interpretation
Appearance of Age
More straw-man arguments. I’ve never heard any serious YECer use these arguments. Old appearance has nothing to do with God’s creation and how it may appear. This stance is also unsupported scripturally, hence it is blatantly flawed. So, if you are a YECer and you used this argument, stop it! 😉
Another notion has to do with testing the age of plants and the earth. The author claims Psalm 19 infers that we cannot infallibly search reality, though I’m not sure how he sees that in the Psalm. The fact is that tree rings, carbon dating, radiometric dating, ice core dating, etc. all have flaws and are all suspect to whether or not they are capable of properly observing the age of the materials tested. Many assumptions are made before calibrating the instruments and in making assumptions you make a lot of room for error. The bottom line is these methods are unreliable at best.
“The age of our globe is presently thought to be some 4.5 billion years, based on radio-decay rates of uranium and thorium. Such ‘confirmation’ may be shortlived, as nature is not to be discovered quite so easily. There has been in recent years the horrible realization that radio-decay rates are not as constant as previously thought, nor are they immune to environmental influences. And this could mean that the atomic clocks are reset during some global disaster, and events which brought the Mesozoic to a close may not be 65 million years ago, but rather, within the age and memory of man.”
Frederic B. Jueneman, “Secular Catastrophism,” Industrial Research and Development, Vol. 24 (June 1982), p. 21
“It is obvious that radiometric techniques may not be the absolute dating methods that they are claimed to be. Age estimates on a given geological stratum by different radiometric methods are often quite different (sometimes by hundreds of millions of years). There is no absolutely reliable long-term radiological ‘clock’.”
William D. Stansfield, The Science of Evolution (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1977), p. 84.
These two quotes from Evolutionists are damming to the idea that our current dating methods work properly. When this is taken into consideration the entire age of the earth is in question, as well as the theories based on its old age, specifically evolution. Furthermore, if a plant was grown instantly you could not age it based on standard methods since its introduction into this world was not one which has ever been observed.
The author is correct here. To presuppose naturalism is to rule out God’s existence from the start and OECers do not go that far. But they do assert that God used naturalism as the method to manage the creation of the earth and universe. Since, in their minds, God created naturalism it is OK to say that He used it to create the earth and heavens instead of doing it supernaturally. But then we come back to Genesis chapter 1 and we see that the better fit with the creation account is a supernatural one as opposed to the semi-naturalistic one.
See my section above about dating methods. These apply just as much to geologists as anyone else, if not more so. Also, see this link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v6/n1/fossilized-organic-materials for a good understanding of C14 dating, a primary tool of geologists, and its limitations.
Look, it’s what the Bible says
We’re finally getting to the greatest point of contention – this argument states that the Bible is inaccurate and as such flawed (“the genealogies are incomplete”). This goes against the premise that the Bible is the holy, inspired, infallible, written Word of God. If it is those things it cannot simultaneously be missing parts such as historic genealogies. This also flies in the face of the proven historical accuracy of the Bible and undermines its entire nature. If the Bible is flawed in this area and not true, then how can we trust its message of salvation? See here for a proper defense of the genealogies in Genesis: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab2/gaps-in-genesis-genealogies
Another point is this – man’s fallible ideas. I’ll put it as it was once put to me when I believed this abomination of the truth – where did you get the idea of an old earth – from the Bible or from man?
You weren’t there!
Again, the author is partially correct. None of us were there at the beginning, just like none of us were there at Christ’s burial and resurrection. Yet we both believe in the event and the power of the resurrection based on the historical accounts given in the text! Let’s nonsensically apply the “poetic” translation of the OECer’s version of Genesis to the Gospels. What happens? They become undermined and the entire event that Christianity stands upon is smashed to pieces! The historical account of Genesis is just as accurate as the historical account of the Gospels and both lend themselves to a purely exegetical reading. There is no need to embellish, suggest, read into, or any other such nonsense. The accounts are complete and satisfactorily so.
Well, now; those are interesting points. Let’s see what the Bible says about death and when it started, shall we? Well, first off I looked up the term “very good” in the original text. It transliterates as “m@`od towb.” “m@`od” is an adverb meaning exceedingly or much. “towb” is an adjective meaning
1) good, pleasant, agreeable
a) pleasant, agreeable (to the senses)
b) pleasant (to the higher nature)
c) good, excellent (of its kind)
d) good, rich, valuable in estimation
e) good, appropriate, becoming
f) better (comparative)
g) glad, happy, prosperous (of man’s sensuous nature)
h) good understanding (of man’s intellectual nature)
i) good, kind, benign
j) good, right (ethical)
These definitions were provided by http://www.blueletterbible.org. Furthermore we do not see death recorded before the fall of Adam and Eve. This make the OECer’s position an assumption that is predicated upon semi-naturalism. Have you ever watched a nature video where a lioness takes down her prey and then watch her eat it? Turns your stomach, doesn’t it? I would call that NOT GOOD. It involves pain and misery, being eaten alive. How can this possibly be good? If the definitions above stand there would be no need for that kind of behavior as animals would have everything they need. Also the entire work of Christ is that of restoration. Not only of humans, but God’s entire creation that was separated by the fall of man. This is why we see in the book of Isaiah 11:6-9
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion [a]and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
God lost more than man on the day Adam and Eve sinned, for man subjected the entire work of creation to sin and death by his deed. Man was already given dominion over the earth and all things in it. As such his punishment affected his entire domain until the day when Christ returns to restore it all. Amen.
And it does not say that the whole earth was like the Garden of Eden, but it does say that “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:31 NASB. So His judgment over what He created was not specific to the Garden of Eden, but, rather, to the entirety of creation!
Unfortunately the YECer’s assessment of the situation is correct. Again I ask where does one get this idea – from man or from the Bible? An OEC position does exactly what the YECer has proposed – it allows the “Christian” to modify the Bible to fit into the current world view of secular science. It’s been said to me before that “the world will determine your Biblical view or the Bible will determine your world view.” This is a classic case of the world determining how one interprets the Bible. The only thing I have to say against the YECer in this case is that we should never rule out texts based on authorship. We should read them, give them a fair evaluation, and make our assessment at that point.
Plain and Obvious Meaning- or “I don’t need to twist the text.”
One doesn’t interpret an historical narrative, which is precisely what Genesis is. You simply read it and pull facts from it. If you desire to dive further into the linguistic and stylistic differences of the Bible please see my previous point under That’s Just Poetry.
The YEC is the classic viewpoint and the OEC is the challenging viewpoint. It is up to the OECer to prove his view and substantiate his claims. As for now, www.ansersingenesis.org and www.icr.org sufficiently address the faulty charges of an old earth.
You’re Using Science to Change the Meaning of Scripture
I disagree with the first part of the argument. For reasons stated above I believe this is not true. Next I ask whose reality is the church supposed to line itself up with, science’s view or God’s? Science changes all the time while God’s Truth remains the same. Why would the Christian side with science when it clearly doesn’t have all the answers? Most likely this is to keep from being singled out and persecuted for one’s identity in Christ.
As far as the heliocentrism vs. geocentrism is concerned, this is a blatant straw-man argument rife with error. See here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/galileo-geocentrism and read up.
The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it
Simply put the answer is on the pages of Genesis. It accurately and completely accounts the days of the creation, the days of Adam and Eve, and the days all the way to the flood. Not only does it do all of this, but it does so with specific detail on who begat so and so and how old so and so’s father was when the begetting took place! There is too much incredibly specific detail to be poetic or erred. Again, see here for a proper defense of the genealogies: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab2/gaps-in-genesis-genealogies
Man’s Fallible Ideas
First off, not a single shred of credible extra-biblical evidence contradicts the Bible. Period. As a matter of fact, the Bible is the most accurate and most tested historical document we have today.
Here we go again with this interpretation jargon again. Let me reiterate, you don’t interpret historical narratives. You interpret poetry, allegories, and parables. When you try to interpret historical narratives you can effectually rewrite history on a whim. This is an absurd notion and the roadmap leads you off the deep end never to return. And furthermore, when you do interpret scripture, you interpret it using the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not your own wisdom. Man’s wisdom is inherently flawed and cannot be trusted. God is the source of all Truth, Wisdom, and Knowledge.
Again I ask why it is necessary to believe in an old earth? Is either viewpoint necessary for salvation? In a word, no. But a proper understanding of scripture is necessary for a healthy understanding of God’s authorship of the universe and of man as well as God’s nature. Folks, be careful when reading the Bible. Do not put words into God’s mouth – He will surely spit them back out at you. Listen for His guidance and His direction. Take Him at His Word. Trust Him, He’s good for it.