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SFN Die Hard

14408 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2009 :  06:37:50  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seldom does a day go by when I fail to visit AiG. As often as not, I find some wondrous, even astonishing things there. This one exceeds most in presenting downright dizzying apologetics, aimed largely at Old Earth Creationists. It's quite long, so I'm just going to take a hack off the beginning to present and let the discerning reader decide just
how much of a glutton for punishment he/she wishes to be. Me, I'm a major glutton and consumed the whole mind-boggling thing.


In the past few decades there has been a growing controversy in society and in the Church over evolution and the age of the earth. Some Christians accept the idea of billions of years, as taught by the scientific establishment, while others contend that Scripture requires that we believe that creation is only a few thousand years old. Systematic theology texts are influential in this debate as they are used in the training of future pastors, missionaries, and seminary and Christian college professors and are also read by many lay people, thus affecting the Church’s witness. After briefly explaining the evidence in defense of the young-earth creationist view and why this subject is important, three deservedly respected theology textbooks will be examined regarding their teachings on the age of the earth. It will be argued that in spite of their many helpful remarks, these scholars have not adequately explained the biblical truth on this subject nor have they persuasively defended their old-earth positions and provided convincing rebuttals to the young-earth view. On this subject then, I conclude, these systematic theology texts are not helping but rather hindering the Church in her witness in our evolutionized world.


Over the past few decades there has been a growing and often very heated controversy in the public square and in the Church (not only in America but in many other countries as well) over evolution and the age of the earth. Over 20 states are considering changing (or have recently tried to change) their high school science standards to allow students to be exposed to scientific criticisms of evolution. This is due to the combined efforts of young-earth creationists and people in the Intelligent Design Movement.

Almost every day articles appear in leading newspapers, news magazines, and popular science magazines dealing with these issues. Many of those articles deal with the age of the earth. In fact, in one week in October 2006 several magazines produced by Lutherans, Presbyterians, Catholics, and Jews, all had cover stories on the question of origins.1 And the documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed has generated much discussion since its release in 2008.

In 2008 Answers in Genesis (AiG) had five full-time and about ten part-time speakers who conducted teaching seminars in about 300 churches, schools, and colleges, and the demand for such teaching keeps increasing. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and the Creation Research Society (CRS) also present many creation seminars each year, as do creation organizations in over 35 countries (MacKenzie 2000; Morris 1993b, pp. 408–410).2, 3 Over one million people from all over the world visit the AiG web site every month, and AiG has received emails from 122 countries.4 The web sites of ICR, CRS, and many other creationist groups and individuals based in many countries are also being accessed by a growing number of readers.5 AiG’s world-class, 70,000 square-foot Creation Museum,6 which opened 28 May 2007 and to-date has had over 900,000 visitors from all over the world, has been reported on by major TV, radio and newspaper sources in America, England, Germany, Italy, Australia, and many other countries, and even in a communist Chinese newspaper. Such widespread internet and media interest reveals the importance many people place on this issue.

Many Christians today accept the idea of billions of years, as taught by the scientific establishment, while others contend that Scripture requires that we believe that creation is only a few thousand years old. Systematic theology texts significantly influence this debate as they are used in the training of pastors, missionaries, Christian college students, and future Christian college and seminary professors. These texts are also read by many lay people. And through translation into a growing number of languages, these texts are having a worldwide impact.

After briefly summarizing the creationist view and explaining further why this subject is vitally important, I will examine the old-earth views of three justifiably respected theology textbooks by Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, and Gordon Lewis and Bruce Demarest. It will be argued that in spite of their many helpful remarks on creation, these scholars have not explained the biblical truth on this subject adequately, defended their old-earth positions persuasively, or provided convincing rebuttals to the young-earth view. On the question of the age of the earth, I will conclude, these fine systematic theology texts are misleading the Church and weakening her witness in our evolutionized world.

Creationist View Summarized and Defended

Young-earth creationists believe that the creation days of Genesis 1 were six literal (24-hour) days which occurred 6,000–12,000 years ago.7 They believe that about 2,300–3,300 years before Christ, the surface of the earth was radically rearranged by Noah’s Flood. All land animals and birds not in Noah’s Ark (along with many sea creatures) perished; many of which were subsequently buried in the Flood sediments. Therefore, creationists believe that the global, catastrophic Flood was responsible for most (but not all) of the rock layers and fossils. In other words, some rock layers and possibly some fossils were deposited before the Flood, while other layers and fossils were produced in postdiluvian localized catastrophic sedimentation events or processes).

The biblical arguments in support of this view can be briefly summarized as follows.8

1.Genesis is history, not poetry,9 parable, prophetic vision, or mythology. This is seen in the Hebrew verbs used in Genesis 1 (Boyd 2008),10 the fact that Genesis 1–11 has the same characteristics of historical narrative as in Genesis 12–50, most of Exodus, much of Numbers, Joshua, 1 and 2 Kings, etc. (which are discernibly distinct from the characteristics of Hebrew poetry, parable, or prophetic vision), and the way the other biblical authors and Jesus treat Genesis 1–11 (as literal history) (Kaiser 2001, pp. 53–83).11

2.The very dominant meaning of yōm in the Old Testament is a literal day, and the context of Genesis 1 confirms that meaning there (Hasel 1994; McCabe 2000; Steinmann 2002). Yōm is defined in its two literal senses in verse 5. It is repeatedly modified by a number (one day, second day, etc.) and with evening and morning, which elsewhere in the Old Testament always means a literal day. It is defined again literally in verse 14 in relation to the movement of the heavenly bodies.

3.God created the first animate and inanimate things supernaturally and instantly. They were fully formed and fully functioning. For example, plants, animals, and people were mature adults ready to reproduce naturally “after their kinds.” When God said “let there be . . .” He did not have to wait millions of years for things to come into existence. He spoke, and things happened (Psalm 33:6–9).

4.The order of creation in Genesis 1 contradicts the order of events in the evolution story in at least 30 points. For example, the Bible says the earth was created before the sun and stars, which is just the opposite of the big bang theory’s order. The Bible says that fruit trees were created before any sea creatures and that birds were created before dinosaurs (which were made on Day 6, since they are land animals), exactly the opposite of the evolution story. The Bible says the earth was covered completely with water before dry land appeared, and then it was covered again at the Flood. Evolution theory says the earth has never been covered with a global ocean, and dry land appeared before the first seas (Mortenson 2006).

5.Exodus 20:8–11 resists all attempts to add millions of years anywhere in Genesis 1 because it says that God created everything in six days. The day-age view is ruled out because “day” (yōm) is used in both parts of the commandment. The days of the Jewish work-week are the same as the days of Creation Week. God could have used several other words or phrases if He meant to say “work six days because I created in six long, indefinite periods” (Stambaugh 1991a). But He didn’t. These verses also rule out the gap theory or any attempt to add millions of years before verse 1 because God says He created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them during the six days. He made nothing before the six days. It should also be noted that the fourth commandment is one of only a few of the Ten Commandments that contains a reason for the commandment. If God created over millions of years, He could have not given a reason for Sabbath-keeping or He could have given a theological or redemptive reason as He did elsewhere.12

6.In Jesus’ comments about Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc., He clearly took the events recorded in Genesis as literal history, as did all the New Testament writers. Several passages show that Jesus believed that man was created at the beginning of creation, not billions of years after the beginning (as all old-earth views imply), which confirms the young-earth creationist view (Mark 10:6 and 13:19 and Luke 11:50–51) (Mortenson 2004a, 2008a). His miracles also confirm the young-earth view. From His first miracle of turning water into wine (which revealed His glory as the Creator, cf. John 2:11 and 1:1–5) to all His other miracles, His spoken word brought an immediate, instantaneous result, just as God’s word did in Creation Week.13

7.The Bible teaches that there was no animal or human death before the Fall of Adam and Eve. So the geological record of rock layers and fossils could not have been millions of years before the Fall. See my development of this point on page 178.

8.The nature of God as revealed in Scripture rules out the idea that He created over millions of years. See on page 179.

9.The global catastrophic Flood of Noah was responsible for producing most (but not all) of the geological record of rock layers and fossils (Barrick 2008). Careful exegesis has shown that this was not a local flood in Mesopotamia (Sarfati 2004, pp. 241–286; Whitcomb and Morris pp. 1–88). It is most unreasonable to believe in a global, year-long Flood that left no geological evidence (or that it only left evidence in the low lands of the Fertile Crescent, as some suppose) (Hallo and Simpson 1998, pp. 32–33). The global evidence of sedimentary rock layers filled with land and marine fossils is exactly the kind of evidence we would expect from Noah’s Flood. If most of the rock record is the evidence of the Flood, then there really is no geological evidence for millions of years. But the secular geologists deny the global Flood of Noah’s day because they deny that there is any geological evidence for such a flood. So, the fossiliferous rock record is either the evidence of Noah’s Flood or the evidence of millions of years of geological change. It cannot be evidence of both. If we do not accept the geological establishment’s view of Noah’s Flood, then we cannot accept their view of the age of the earth. So, it is logically inconsistent to believe in both a global Noachian Flood and millions of years.

10.The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 give us the years from Adam to Abraham, who virtually all scholars agree lived about 2000 BC. This sets the date of creation at approximately 6,000 years ago. Some young-earth creationists say the creation may be 10,000–12,000 years old, but the arguments for gaps of any length of time in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies are not compelling to this writer and many others. Freeman, Jones, and Pierce present strong arguments for accepting these genealogies as tight chronologies with no gaps (Freeman, 1998, 2008; Jones, 2005; Pierce, 2006).

11.For eighteen centuries the almost universal belief of the Church was that the creation began 4,000–5,000 years before Christ (Mortenson 2004b, pp. 40–45).14 So, young-earth creationism is historic Christian orthodoxy. It was also Jewish orthodoxy at least up to the end of the first century of church history (Whiston 1987, pp. 29–33). In light of this fact, it seems inconsistent with the truth-loving nature of God revealed in Scripture to think that for about 3,000 years God let faithful Jews and Christians (especially the writers of Scripture) believe that Genesis teaches a literal six-day creation about 6,000 years ago but that in the early nineteenth century He used godless men (who rejected the Bible as God’s Word) to correct the Church’s understanding of Genesis.15

Two of the points above require further explanation because they are so important and overlooked or resisted by the authors under consideration (as well as by nearly all other old-earth creationists)."

And this they want taught side-by-side with the Theory of Evolution in science class. Their only reference is a single, antiquated text of doubtful translation; their only argument is ad verecundiam.

Y'know, when you start liking the taste of Maalox and Alky-Seltzer, you begin to suspect that you might have a problem.....

"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres

"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Skeptic Friend

346 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2009 :  07:35:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send leoofno a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think Mr. Mortenson is very reasonable, to an extent, based on what you printed above. I think he is correct that the plain meaning of the Bible contradicts a day-age interpretation. He is correct that Genesis contradicts the scientific explanation of creation, and that a global flood would leave definite evidence and is inconsistent with the idea that the sediments we see were deposited over millions of years.
If only he would take the next step and realize that the only reason day-age interpretations came into existance in the first place is because of the total inadequacy of "literal" interpretation to explain the evidence dug up by geology, astronomy, archaeology, biology.... etc.
He has fallen into the pit of the false-dichodomy: if he shows Old-Earth Creationism to be false (easily done) he thereby proves Young-Earth Creationism to be true. He fails to see a thire option: they could both be wrong.

"If you're not terrified, you're not paying attention." Eric Alterman
Edited by - leoofno on 12/17/2009 07:36:54
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Evil Skeptic

13476 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2009 :  10:14:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This reminds me of the lawsuit brought by Haagen-Dazs brought against Frusen Gladje for using a Scandinavian theme, an idea that Haagen-Dazs felt they owned.

In a court action between Haagen-Dazs and Frusen Gladje, a manufacturer of ice cream attempted to keep a competitor from using features of its packaging which evoked a fresh, Scandinavian image of the product. Haagen-Dazs sought to keep Frusen Gladje from using a two-word "Swedish"-sounding name, a prominently displayed list of the product's natural ingredients, a list of artificial ingredients not found in the ice cream, directions for serving and eating the ice cream (essentially that it was best served soft), and a map of Scandinavia.

Despite the well-developed promotional techniques employed by Haagen-Dazs, the court refused to extend protection to its Scandinavian marketing theme.

The judge threw the case out proclaiming that what the suit amounts to “infringement of balderdash,” because neither company was Scandinavian, or had ties to Scandinavia in any way, other than as a marketing gimmick.

The young earth and old earth creationists are fighting among themselves, and their debate consists of who’s “balderdash” is the true “balderdash” and that the other side is presenting untrue “balderdash”, if you see what I mean…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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SFN Regular

1888 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2009 :  10:57:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Though presenting a different perspective of the same event I found Mooner's post to be a bit funnier, though not by much.

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
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