The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Is accepting an old Earth heresy?

There has been some controversy regarding this post. I’ll do my best to clear up any misunderstandings here at the beginning:

  • The author of the blog (DefendingGenesis) I reference accused me of “enabling apostasy” by teaching an old Earth. He did not accuse me of apostasy.
  • It was one of the commenters on that blog who accused me of heresy for teaching an old Earth. The blog author did not accuse me of heresy.
  • Neither the author of that blog nor any commenters on that blog accused me of not being a Christian for accepting and teaching an old Earth (though perhaps that was implied by the accusation of heresy).

I had no intention of misrepresenting (either here or in my comments on that blog) what anyone said. In a few instances, my wording could have been a little more precise.

Kevin N

Many young-Earth creationists have zero tolerance for opposing viewpoints within the church. I’ve been involved in a discussion on a young-Earth creationist (YEC) blog where I’ve been accused of heresy (or at least setting the stage for apostasy) for accepting the concept that the Earth and universe are billions of years old. One commenter (Dan) stated:

“In my FIRST post I asserted in effect that for almost 18 centuries NO theologian who so much as professed the name of Christ (including therefore even the various heretics) held any form of old-earthism. Anyone may step up to cite a counterexample, but I’m not holding my breath. Kevin, how do you feel about teaching a doctrine that (among Christians) appeared completely out of the ether over 17 centuries after Christ? From that point of view, if THIS isn’t heresy, nothing deserves that name.”

This is a common tactic of young-Earth creationists, and here is how I responded:

Dan:

I agree that some sort of YEC was the almost universal view of theologians until the 18th century. Young and Stearley have documented this in their excellent old-Earth book The Bible, Rocks, and Time. Among the church fathers, there were men like Origen and Augustine who held that the days were symbolic or figurative, but there is no indication that these fathers imagined a universe billions of years old.

But then again, geocentrism was the almost universal position of the church throughout this period as well. When the overwhelming evidence for heliocentrism (sun-centered solar system) was presented, there was resistance within the church (and within science). Eventually, the church took a closer look at what the Scriptures actually said, and realized that the scriptures did not teach geocentrism after all.

Regarding heliocentrism, then, one could have said, “if THIS isn’t heresy, nothing deserves that name.”

One could even take your approach to something like the doctrine of justification: saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This doctrine was absent from the church for a long time, and was never stated in those words until the 16th century. The Roman church took your approach rather than taking a closer look to see what the Scriptures themselves said on the topic.

The Copernican Revolution required a closer examination of the Scriptures to determine what the Bible really said and didn’t say about nature. The Protestant Reformation took a closer look at the Scriptures, to see what they really said and didn’t say. I take the same approach to the age of the Earth and the extent of Noah’s flood.

If all you read is YEC writings on the topic, you will be convinced that the Bible requires a young Earth and planetary flood. There are a large number of conservative, orthodox Old Testament scholars, however, who hold to an old Earth. They do this because they have taken a closer look at the text than the young-Earthers have, and have come to the conclusion that it does not require a young Earth.

There are plenty of young-Earth creationists out there who believe that one cannot be a Christian if one believes in an old Earth. My response to that is:

I believe in:

  • A real creation by the triune God.
  • A real Adam in a real garden
  • A real fall into sin with real consequences
  • In Jesus Christ as the only solution for our sin

Where’s the heresy? Where’s the apostasy?

I also believe that:

  • The opening chapters of Genesis were not intended to be an outline of the history of the universe, and do not require a young Earth.
  • The Bible does not say that the flood covered the entire planet, nor did it create the geological column.

I’ll write more on these points soon.

Grace and Peace

September 13, 2009 - Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Creation in the Bible, Geology, Old-Earth creationism, Young-Earth creationism |

30 Comments »

  1. I struggle a bit with the subject myself. I have no theological objections to an old year or even evolution, but instead struggle with how we should read the early chapters of Genesis in the first place. If it’s not literal or an “outline of the history of the universe”, what is it? BTW, I’m not arguing with your point, but truly asking — it’s the thing that I struggle with.

    So, if I accept an old earth (which I do), I appear to have 2 main approaches — concordism a la Hugh Ross, where I say everything is literal but the days. Or I say it parable or metaphor — in which case, I have to ask, was there a literal Adam & Garden? And if so, why are those literal, but not the rest? Again, I’m not challenging you, these are my own challenges.

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    Comment by Kenny | September 13, 2009

  2. I find this entire topic intriguing, as I haven’t really researched the Old Earth theology since the evidences that I have been shown through my education always pointed towards a young earth. I’m not convinced that believing in an Old Earth is heresy though. I think calling it heresy is rather silly because the Bible never says “Now, the earth is 10,000 years old”. And I don’t believe it is crucial to your salvation that you believe in a young earth.

    That said, I’m curious as to one of your statements at the end of your post. You said:

    “The Bible does not say that the flood covered the entire planet, nor did it create the geological column.”

    I am interested in your interpretation of Genesis 7:19-24. To me, it seems as though it is describing the entire earth as being covered by the flood waters. What’s your take on that?

    I’m not here to attack, just to learn.

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    Comment by Michael | September 13, 2009

  3. This type of charge works both way, though. If you read the fine book “The Creationists,” Ronald Numbers makes a very good cases that recent YEC theory came about mainly through the efforts of Sevent Day Adventists and their Ellen G. White. Hardly a model of Christian orthodoxy, she.

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    Comment by Richard | September 14, 2009

  4. Richard (#3):

    You are correct: Morris and Whitcomb tried to cover their tracks when the wrote The Genesis Flood. They drew heavily on George McCready Price—a Seventh Day Adventist—but had few footnotes that indicated this.

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    Comment by geochristian | September 14, 2009

  5. GeoChristian/Kevin,

    OK, now I’m a bit pissed off. I’ve NEVER accused you of heresy. You’re simply misleading everyone here as to what was actually said. By linking to my site and making these comments, you leave the suggestion that I made such a claim.

    The commenter Dan did of course make such a charge. And you once accused me of accusing you of apostasy. My response then is cogent:

    “I should begin by noting that accusing you [and those similarly afflicted of Biblically inconsistent hermeneutics] of enabling apostasy in others and accusing you personally of slipping into apostasy are not in any way the same thing, sir. Are you PURPOSELY thatching this straw man or are you simply unable to divorce these two charges in your own mind? If by accusing you enabling apostasy, you suppose I’m accusing you of committing apostasy, you’re, well, wrong. By the accusation of enabling apostasy, I’m accusing you of undercutting the authority of the Bible, of purposely teaching error, of calling evil good and good evil [or calling error truth and orthodoxy error, of making a lie of the doctrine of Biblical perspecuity by requiring that it be interpreted through the filter of 21st Century science and of causing these little ones to stumble. But I’m not accusing you of falling away just because you’re sticking your foot out to trip others. If on the other hand I was simply unclear, I’m sure I’ve corrected the ambiguity by this point.

    The lack of subtlety that accompanies my reply should be addressed. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in a sermon entitled ‘Hideous Discovery’ [July 25, 1886], made the following comment on evolution:

    ‘In its bearing upon religion this vain notion is, however, no theme for mirth, for it is not only deceptive, but it threatens to be mischievous in a high degree. There is not a hair of truth upon this dog from its head to its tail, but it rends and tears the simple ones. In all its bearing upon scriptural truth, the evolution theory is in direct opposition to it. If God’s Word be true, evolution is a lie. I will not mince the matter: this is not the time for soft speaking.’

    It is far past the time for soft speaking. Love constrains me to speak. Yet if I’m to love you at all, I am compelled to speak the truth with great plainness of speech, as St Paul put it.”

    Please be more careful in the future.

    And as to your two statements of unbelief, you’ve got it entirely wrong. I suspect you knew I’d say as much.

    If the opening chapters of Genesis were not intended as true history, why did Christ and the Apostles take them as such?

    And denying a global flood that covered the entire earth simply makes nonsense of the plain meaning of the passage and of subsequent references to it made by other biblical authors. You’re simply denying it to save face with the same sort of science that would, if consistently applied, also deny miracles such as men walking on water, turning water into wine, commanding wind and water, raising the dead and feeding multitudes with a sack lunch.

    Who exactly is your final authority? God or godless men, so long as they call themselves scientists?

    -Sirius Knott

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    Comment by Sirius | September 14, 2009

  6. Sirius:

    I sincerely apologize if you feel that I misrepresented you in anything. That certainly was not my intention.

    Let’s review the conversation on your blog (DefendingGenesis):

    1. You said: “The tragedy is that guys like Geo enable apostasy by their compromise, but point the finger at those who don’t compromise.

    I agree that you did not accuse me of apostasy, but of compromising on Scripture in a way that will make it easier for others to become apostate. This is a serious charge, and one which I of course deny.

    2. I replied: “You may not agree with me on the age of the Earth, but to say that I’ve slipped into apostasy (or enabling apostasy) is quite an extreme statement.

    I admit that I should have been more careful with my wording.

    3. You replied: “I should begin by noting that accusing you [and those similarly afflicted of Biblically inconsistent hermeneutics] of enabling apostasy in others and accusing you personally of slipping into apostasy are not in any way the same thing, sir. Are you PURPOSELY thatching this straw man or are you simply unable to divorce these two charges in your own mind? If by accusing you enabling apostasy, you suppose I’m accusing you of committing apostasy, you’re, well, wrong. By the accusation of enabling apostasy, I’m accusing you of undercutting the authority of the Bible, of purposely teaching error, of calling evil good and good evil [or calling error truth and orthodoxy error, of making a lie of the doctrine of Biblical perspecuity by requiring that it be interpreted through the filter of 21st Century science and of causing these little ones to stumble. But I’m not accusing you of falling away just because you’re sticking your foot out to trip others. If on the other hand I was simply unclear, I’m sure I’ve corrected the ambiguity by this point.

    I agree that there is a difference between apostasy and encouraging apostasy, but both are very serious accusations. It is typical of young-Earth creationists to elevate their doctrine—which most would identify as secondary compared to things like the Trinity or justification—to an inappropriate level.

    On my blog post here, I tried to make it very clear that it was Dan who accused me of heresy, not you. I’m sorry if you perceived any ambiguity in my wording. I said: “I’ve been involved in a discussion on a young-Earth creationist (YEC) blog where I’ve been accused of heresy [that’s Dan] (or at least setting the stage for apostasy [that’s you]).

    I will work harder at making sure my wording is unambiguous in the future.

    Again, my most sincere apologies for any misunderstanding or misrepresentation that you perceived.

    Kevin N

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    Comment by geochristian | September 14, 2009

  7. Geo,

    As I just noted on my site, your clarification is most welcome and indicative of your Christian integrity.

    Peace friend,
    Rev Tony Breeden
    aka Sirius Knott

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    Comment by Sirius | September 14, 2009

  8. Sirius, re-read what Geo said. He said that he was accused of heresy on your blog, not that YOU accused him of heresy. I haven’t gone to read all the back and forth on your site, but assuming that Geo copy-pasted properly, your accusation that he claimed you called him a heretic is incorrect.

    A bit less haste and a bit more care would help the conversations go MUCH more smoothly.

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    Comment by Webmonk | September 14, 2009

  9. Oh. Sorry about that. The posts 6 and 7 didn’t show up on my browser until I submitted my own comment.

    Sorry about coming in a day late and a dollar short. Please ignore my #8 post.

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    Comment by Webmonk | September 14, 2009

  10. Sirius Knott (Rev Tony Breeden) has shown a wonderful graciousness in his part in resolving any misunderstanding that existed regarding my comments.

    I still believe his doctrine of young-Earth creationism goes beyond what is recorded in Scripture and distorts the geological record, but my respect for him as a brother in Christ has been enhanced.

    Grace and Peace,
    Kevin N

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    Comment by geochristian | September 14, 2009

  11. I don’t know if I want to inflict the visitors here upon a fine, upstanding blog, but InternetMonk has an evolution piece where he asks a variety of “Liturgical” pastors about how they view the whole evolution-creation discussion. Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, etc.

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/liturgical-gangstas-15-that-evolution-question

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    Comment by WebMonk | September 15, 2009

  12. Hey Kevin, new guy to your blog here. I would identify myself as a Young Earth Creationist. But I would also say that certainly a lot of time is evidenced in creation- for instance, why is it that we can see stars that are millions of light years away? But (and I have not done a lot of textual study on my own) the bible seems to clearly indicate a 24-hour “day” in the creation story.

    In the interest of believing the whole bible and not trying to pick and choose which parts we can believe, and trying to take literally as much of it as I can, I come down saying, “God is all powerful, He can do whatever He wants”. So why couldn’t he have created our universe, maybe around 10,000 years ago, with time built in?

    Does this idea not resolve the apparent conflict between the young and old-earth evangelicals? Or am I missing something here?

    Thanks for any input you may have!

    Like

    Comment by Eric Jost | September 15, 2009

  13. Eric, I JUST had this conversation with a guy over email, so forgive me for jumping in. I’ll just touch on the one item I was just talking about.

    Very few YEC groups, and certainly none of the larger and more widely respected ones, hold to the “God made it all LOOKING old” sort of view. (AiG, ICR, CRS, CSI, CSM, CSF) Certainly God could have done it, but if God made it look old, then He would be deceiving mankind.

    The typical explanation is that God needed to make the light/stars/earth/plants/animal full grown to function. And/Or the mature world/universe is be another demonstration of who He is and what He is like. (the “heavens declare the glory of God”)

    For many things, this works, but it starts to come apart when you look at the details. Just one of MANY examples of how the details which show age could be deceptive:

    There are tiny little galaxies (1000 – 100,000 stars each) which are near our galaxy. They are hundreds of thousands of light years away. We look at them, and we can tell they are “deformed” in that the stars aren’t in the shape they would be if our galaxy’s gravity weren’t tugging on them.

    What does that mean? It says that our galaxy’s gravity has had time to affect those galaxies, a 100,000+ light years away. We can’t see them without telescopes, and it makes not a difference to anything if the little galaxy is stretched out a little bit on one side.

    Either our galaxy’s gravity has been affecting that galaxy for millions of years, or God made that little galaxy deformed in the exactly precise same way as if it had been affected by gravity for millions of years.

    That the micro galaxy exists – that can be chalked up to “the heavens declare…”

    That the micro galaxy is deformed just as if it has been affected by our gravity for millions of years – that would be God doing an incredibly detailed, and precise in the smallest details, faked age impression.

    God doing deceptions like that isn’t the God displayed in the Bible. That’s why most of the YEC groups and their leaders stay away from that sort of view.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | September 15, 2009

  14. The current explanation that seems to be promoted (at least by AiG and ICR, and picked up by most of the others) is that gravitational time dilation caused a LOT of time to pass in the rest of the universe while only six days passed on Earth. Thus six days passed in “Earth-central time,” as Humphreys puts it in his book “Starlight and Time”.

    AiG and ICR have backed away from it some in recent years. Now they describe it as “a possible explanation that is being worked on but which still has challenges and difficulties to work out”. (that’s from an AiG DVD about Starlight. That DVD also sets aside the “God made it look old” view.)

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    Comment by WebMonk | September 15, 2009

  15. Eric,

    Sorry jumping in too. I guess I’m with Webmonk here in that I think making the universe appear old when it’s not seems deceptive. To me there is just too much evidence for both an old earth and old universe and they cross many disciplines: astronomy, geology, archaeology, physics, etc. To deny it and say you don’t believe it because a specific literal interpretation of Genesis doesn’t line up with it seems wrong to me. I believe that both nature and scripture declare God’s glory.

    But here’s the other problem. Who taught you (or us or anyone) that a literal interpretation of Genesis is how we have to read it? Who says it should be read as if it were written by modern historians or scientists? Who says it was meant to be a completely historical or scientific text? Who told you what the author’s theological and/or historical intentions were when they wrote the text?

    As someone who considers himself an Evangelical, I feel comfortable appealing to other authorities in both science and theology. And both Christian scientists and evangelical theologians argue no only that we don’t need to read the early chapters as literal, but that it may be incorrect to do so.

    With that said, Hugh Ross does read it fairly literally, but still denies a young earth. I’m not on board with everything he says, but it proves you can still hold to a literal interpretation without accepting a young earth. See his site: http://www.reasons.org

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    Comment by Kenny Johnson | September 15, 2009

  16. Well, both geocentrism and young earth theories (and evolution) prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christian theologians have been wrong in the past. It’s not a huge problem. We are not saved because of the correctness of our doctrine. We are saved through our faith (i.e trust) in out Lord and Savior. The early Christians are not damned because they didn’t have the benefit of science.

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    Comment by ruidh | September 15, 2009

  17. Kenny (#1):

    Are the opening chapters of Genesis “literal history” or are they somehow figurative?

    Some of it, such as the flood account, reads as historical narrative, so I expect this portion to be in some sense more historical.

    Genesis 1 is in some ways unique in terms of its literary genre.
    —Is it historical narrative? Not necessarily.
    —Are there elements of symbolism that are not to be taken literally? There is no reason to rule this out.
    —Is Genesis 1 chronological (i.e. events in order)? It could be non-chronological, as the order of events is different than in Genesis 2. This does not mean that these two passages are contradictory; only that at least one of them is non-chronological.
    —The primary purposes of Genesis 1 is theological, not scientific. We should not expect this passage to tell us much about science (this is a caution for old-Earthers as well as young-Earthers).
    —There really are no other passages in the Old Testament that seem to be of the exact same genre as Genesis 1. It doesn’t read like historical narrative. It doesn’t read like the Prophets. It has structure, but it is not poetry like one would read in Psalms. Because of this, one should be careful to draw dogmatic statements about how Genesis 1 relates to science.

    Regarding the proper interpretation of Genesis—young-Earth, day-age, analogical days, framework, etc.—I make no commitment beyond saying that I don’t think the young-Earth interpretation can be correct for reasons of external evidence. I make no further commitment.

    I do believe in a literal Adam in a literal garden.

    Thanks for your comment, and I apologize for taking a few days to answer.

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    Comment by geochristian | September 15, 2009

  18. Michael (#2):

    In regards to whether the flood was local or global, consider the following:
    —The phrase “all the earth” often doesn’t mean “all the earth” in the Bible. For example, in Genesis 41:57 “all the earth” came to Egypt to Joseph to by grain. Do we have to assume that Eskimos and Chinese were there because of the phrase “all the earth?”
    —Every place where the word “earth” appears in Genesis 6-8, it could also be read “land.” Genesis 7:10 gives a very different sense to us when we read “And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the land” instead of “And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.” (ESV) One word makes a lot of difference, and this is a perfectly good translation of the Hebrew text.
    —Along these lines, when we read “earth” in the text, we read “globe.” Neither Moses nor his Hebrew readers would have pictured a globe in this passage. They would have pictured the land.
    —Genesis 7:20 could be translated “The waters rose more than twenty feet, and the hills were covered” (NIV footnote, with a substitution of ‘hills’ for ‘mountains’).
    —The Bible does not say that the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat, but on the hills of Ararat. This could be anywhere from the northern edge of the Mesopotamian plain up to somewhere near the Black Sea, and did not have to be at a high elevation.

    Because of these things, I have no problem whatsoever in seeing the flood as local, though universal from Noah’s perspective. We old-Earthers are not forcing this interpretation on the text. Instead, we have been forced to take a closer look at what the text actually says.

    I plan on writing more on this topic soon (or at least in the next month or two).

    Thanks for your comment.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | September 15, 2009

  19. Guys,
    Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful posts in reply to my questions. I have a few points I’d like to pursue. First, Webmonk and Kenny, your main argument against the “God Created it with time built in” argument is that this would be deceptive on God’s part, which of course His nature would not allow. I struggle with seeing this as a deception on God’s part. That’s just how I feel about it, although I have no real rational arguments one way or the other here yet.

    I also appreciate Kevin’s post discussing how to treat Gen. 1 from a literature standpoint. Perhaps some of the early Genesis chapters can be taken less literally. The danger to me is the pick & choose what you want to be literal and what not can be problematic unless you are a pretty good literary scholar who is also a believer. But His Spirit should guide us into truth as we study, so maybe we all should be able to discern these things, especially with some godly guidance.

    Anyway, I figured I’d re-read it, and as I look over Genesis again, I see that there could be a 2-tiered creation. See Gen 1:1-2 where God creates the heavens and earth, and then the Spirit hovers over the waters for possibly a long time. Then it goes from there until on the 6th day man & woman are created…..wait a second, this is different than Gen. 2:7, where Adam is created, then put into the Garden, then God commands Adam to stay away from the one tree, then Adam names ALL the animals, then sometime later Eve is created… that would really be a jam-packed 6th day.

    Then we hit the Fall, Cain & Able are born, etc., then we hit Chapter 5. I think we have to take this one literally, see how the geneology is given with specific life spans, from Adam to Noah.

    So how bout this, God created over a long period of time, but when He creates Adam a clock starts, and from him to now is around 10,000 years (or whatever it is), not millions as some scientists would say. So possibly old universe, young history of mankind. I guess that would leave me back at the “God is being deceptive” spot, since external evidence would point to mankind being around longer than that. Unless the evidence is being misread….but the scientists would scoff at that suggestion, I’m sure.

    Sorry for rambling guys, that’s just my thoughts this evening. Thanks again for your inputs!!

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    Comment by Eric Jost | September 15, 2009

  20. Eric – If I’m understanding you right, it sounds like your view is like Glenn Morton’s Days of Proclamation view. Re the life spans in Genesis, ASA member Carol Hill wrote an interesting paper for Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, which can be accessed at: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2003/PSCF12-03Hill.pdf

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    Comment by Tim Helble | September 16, 2009

  21. Thanks Kevin (geochristian), for your response. I too am not dogmatic about my interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, but also agree that the YEC seems untrue due to the overwhelming external evidence.

    I don’t disbelieve in a literal Adam or Garden, but I’m not dogmatic about it either way. I think it’s possible that Adam just represented early man and his rejection of God. This may sound silly, but the part that makes me doubt a literal Garden is when they were kicked out of the Garden, it wasn’t destroyed and it was guarded by an angel so they couldn’t get back in. So… where is it? Can we find it today with an angel at the front gates? But I realize that for some to make sense of the 2nd Adam theology of Christ, they feel the need to have a literal Adam. And because Paul uses that terminology, I agree that from a theological standpoint, a literal Adam makes more sense.

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    Comment by Kenny Johnson | September 16, 2009

  22. Eric Jost,

    I’m not a literary scholar, but Genesis 1 certainly does read differently than historic narrative and even has poetic qualities, such as the repeating refrain (“and there was evening and there was day, the x day”). It doesn’t prove it’s non-literal, but it certainly seems to be an obvious difference in style from even Genesis 2.

    My problem with the young mankind theory you propose is that it’s not just some scientists, but just about every scientist that believes that human kind is very old… and there are reasons for that. I believe the Clovis people of North America have been consistently dated back to at least 13,000 B.C. And, assuming humankind started in Africa or mesopotamia, they had to travel here (N.A.).

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    Comment by Kenny Johnson | September 16, 2009

  23. Thanks Tim – I don’t know who Glenn Morton is, sorry I haven’t done a bunch of research on this topic, yet.

    I did take a look at the first few pages of Carol Hill’s paper, and I take exception to the idea that the patriarchs could not have grown so old. To me this is not a problem, for two main reasons:
    1- They were very close to the original creation of Adam, therefore their DNA was probably much better than it is nowadays. 2nd law of thermodynamics.
    2- I believe in a whole-earth Noah’s flood. As such, the bible states pretty clearly that it never rained before the flood, and that the whole earth was watered by springs of some sort. I guess these items are part of the “Canopy Theory”, which if true would severly cut down on the amount of cosmic radiation bombarding the ancients’ bodies, before the flood. Around the time of noah’s flood is when God limited man’s life span to 120 years, if I remember the number correctly. This all fits in nicely with a canopy theory and a whole-earth flood. No problem for God in my mind.

    Therefore I take the life span numbers in Gen. 5 literally. Why would God be so specific on these if they are not actually correct? Seems to me that would be deceitful by God, right?

    Since I take Gen. 5 literally, then where before this does the Word start to get taken figuratively? I like Kevin’s post #17, and my own reading of the text, which looks to me like we should take Gen. 1 figuratively. The style of writing changes dramatically beginning with Chapter 2, looking much more narrative to me. So that’s where I’d draw a line between “figurative” and “literal history”.

    My 2 cents. Thanks to all of you for helping me take a fresh look at the creation story and early days of mankind.

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    Comment by Eric Jost | September 16, 2009

  24. Eric,

    “Why would God be so specific on these if they are not actually correct? Seems to me that would be deceitful by God, right?”

    Remember that the authors of the Bible were also human. It’s was a dual effort. :) I’m not arguing against the long lifespans here, but just letting you know it’s important to keep in mind that these people were from the Ancient near east and had their own culture, there own way of recording history, etc that differed very much from our own — and that we can’t expect to read it the same way a ANE person would. One thing that we know is that they (the Hebrews) weren’t exact in many cases and often rounded numbers, etc. We also know that numbers were very symbolic for them. 3, 7, 40, etc.

    Again, that doesn’t mean that long lifespans aren’t true. I’m just reminding that we are dealing with human authors as well as a divine author.

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    Comment by Kenny Johnson | September 16, 2009

  25. Eric comment 23 –
    you’re mixing YEC and OE creation ideas, and obviously when OE interpretation details are viewed in a YEC framework, they seem “off”. This is true in reverse too.

    One item you mentioned – DNA. It is the general/traditional YEC interpretation that Adam was created with perfect DNA and it has just degraded since then. OE interpretation doesn’t have “perfect DNA”, and so long lives would be a problem.

    Anyway, AiG and ICR are moving away from the “perfect DNA” model. Todd Wood, one of their biologists, has written a variety of things on this along with his discussions of mutations.

    Also, your statement about “never raining before the Flood” is one of those arguments that AiG says people should not use – http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/arguments-we-dont-use

    Eric comment 19 –
    Eric, what you mentioned (varying details) is a generic outline of most Old Earth views.

    Details vary, but the underlying principle is that the days of Genesis are literature and teaching the truth of Creation, but not using a precisely historical, what-I-would-see-if-I-were-there-with-a-camera sort of description.

    Much like Jesus used parables – no there wasn’t really a beggar Lazarus in heaven who was begged by a rich man in hell for a drop of water.

    Based on this, are we going to be sitting in Abraham’s lap in heaven and have conversations with people in hell? No, but that’s what the conclusion would be if Jesus’ words are taken as a scientific description of heaven and hell.

    Understanding which parts are meant to be historical accounts and which parts are parable or poetic – that takes work. It’s not a whatever-I-feel-like process, but neither is it always a clearly indicated this-is-history, that-is-parable.

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    Comment by WebMonk | September 16, 2009

  26. Kenny,
    Good points- I appreciate them both.

    First and most importantly, you are correct, the authors of the Bible were human. But it is all “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16), Matt 5:18- “not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass away from this law”, and lastly somewhere it states that men were guided by God when they wrote (sorry don’t have that ref. available off top of my head).

    This guy has a pretty comprehensive answer to this question here:
    http://bible.org/seriespage/bible-written-word-god

    Also, here’s a quicker read from Dr. Livingston about what Jesus thought of the bible: (this one’s pretty good)
    http://ldolphin.org/infallible.html

    So as to point #1, I believe all scripture is God-breathed, guided by Him during its writing, and therefore flawless. This is very important for me. If it’s not flawless then question marks may start rising in our minds whenever there’s a passage we don’t really want to hear- we need to be very careful not to decieve ourselves.

    Second point, this one not as important to me as the infallability of all scripture, is the dating of ancient mankind. How old are the oldest human remains or evidences thereof?

    On this I’d say that I believe that perhaps the rate of carbon decay has changed, so that the decay rates now are higher than they used to be. Perhaps this occured after the canopy was removed during Noah’s flood, or maybe some other reason. Anyway, if that happened then things that are carbon-dated to be millions of years old may actually be only thousands of years old. Pretty sure that’s how that argument goes.

    So that would leave open an old-earth, young-man type of theory. I’m probably missing something here, but that’s what I’d say.

    Like

    Comment by Eric Jost | September 16, 2009

  27. Mr Webmonk,
    Some good points, I’ll consider them and come back to this later- sorry but have to get back to work today!! :)

    Like

    Comment by Eric Jost | September 16, 2009

  28. No problem. I have a job that has long stretches of monitoring/waiting followed by frantic activity. I’m in a slow stretch (at least for another hour or so). Don’t feel like you have to reply within five minutes.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | September 16, 2009

  29. Eric,

    I consider myself an evangelical, so I do agree that all scripture is inspired by God. My point was that there is a human element and we need to take that into consideration. While there is certainly universal truths in the Bible and it was preserved (I believe by God) for us today and until the end, we have to remember that when Paul wrote first Corinthians, he was a 1st century Jew in a Roman/Greek culture writing to Jews and Gentiles living in a 1st century cosmopolitan Greek city. That means that what he was writing would be understood by his audience differently (unless we do our research) to them than to us. Again, there are universal truths, but there are also cultural, language, etc. issues to consider.

    So my point was, that if the Bible said that someone lived to be 500 years old. To not take that literally, but as symbolically, due to the cultural the author was writing in and to does not make God a deceiver.

    I’m not saying that 500 years old has to be taken symbolically mind you, I was simply arguing that to take it symbolically doesn’t make the Bible untrue (or uninspired, or non-inerrant) nor does it make God a liar.

    I will admit I don’t know enough about dating methods and I’m certainly no expert. But as I mentioned before, I have no problem appealing to experts (we do this all the time) that I trust… And I believe that most Christian (even evangelical, which I consider myself) scientists would say that the earth, universe, and even mankind is older than 10,000 years. Could they be wrong? ABSOLUTELY. I also appeal to Christian/evangelical theologians who have no issues with these older dates.

    Like

    Comment by Kenny | September 16, 2009

  30. Also Eric, just two other points.

    The water canopy idea is another that AiG (and increasingly most other groups) have set aside. You can see their explanation on their page that I linked to earlier.

    Also, I’m guessing you may have meant that radioactive decay was FASTER in the past than what it is now. That is the now-proposed theory that ICR and AiG have been promoting for the last five or six years. If you’re interested, you can check out their RATE study.

    I’m not suggesting that everyone has to stay in lockstep with AiG and ICR, but they are far and away the largest organizations in the YEC movement and tend to have the largest groups of adherents as well as doing actual research and investigations. For those reasons, I tend to use them as YEC yardsticks and authorities.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | September 16, 2009


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