I went to an Answers in Genesis “special outreach” conference today. The speaker was Terry Mortenson, and the topic was “Was Darwin Right?” (though the AiG web site said the topic would be “The Age of the Earth & Why it Matters”).
Here are some things that stood out to me:
- A common young-Earth strategy is to say that there are only two options: The AiG way (God’s Word is truth) or the anti-God way (man decides truth). They leave out a third way that is completely compatible with Scriptures, which is “all truth is God’s truth.”
- I find the extreme literalism of the young-Earth creationists to be completely unimaginative (I’m not sure that is the word I want to use; I’ll try to come up with something else). Even though the Bible is full of symbolism, they leave no room for symbolism in the opening chapters of Genesis. I am not necessarily advocating an allegorical approach to the opening chapters of Genesis, but these guys leave absolutely no room for interpreting Adam being created from mud as a picture of humans being created from the same material as the rest of creation, or thorns as a picture of painful toil in the fields.
- The speaker used quotes from prominent scientists in misleading ways. For example, he used quotes from geologist Derek Ager (author of The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record and The New Catastrophism) to try to support the YEC concept of flood geology. What Ager was advocating (I’ve read the first of these books) was that Lyell’s version of uniformitarianism—sediments deposited one grain at a time for millions of years—is not consistent with Earth history. The sedimentary rock record is made up of everything from slow deposition (e.g. mud in the bottom of lakes) to catastrophic episodes, such as deposits from hurricanes, tsunamis, 500-year floods (or larger dambursts such as the Lake Missoula/Scabland floods), landslides, asteroid impacts, and volcanic eruptions. The sedimentary rock record is still understood to be the result of ongoing processes that obey physical laws; this is a far cry from the flood geology of the young-Earthers. From the presentation, the audience would think that it was a short step from Derek Ager to Henry Morris.
I could say a lot more, but I’ll hold back.
Mortenson presented “Seven C’s of the Biblical World View.” As an old-Earth creationist I would agree with most of these:
- Creation — As an old-Earth creationist I believe in a real creation from nothing by the triune God of the Bible. I don’t believe that the Bible specifies when “In the beginning” occurred.
- Corruption — I believe in a real Fall into sin. The extent of the corruption is not clearly outlined in the Bible; the YECs say that it pervaded every aspect of creation, but this is not clear from Scriptures. Certainly the “curse” of Genesis 3 affected man’s relationship with nature, but the Bible does not say to what extent.
- Catastrophe — The catastrophism of the young-Earth creationists simply does not work. The Bible does not say that Noah’s flood created the bulk of Earth’s sedimentary rocks, and doesn’t even require a global extent for this flood.
- Confusion — The YECs claim that all nations and languages originated (with subsequent further diversification) at the Tower of Babel, even though the nations listed in Genesis 10 are mostly located in the Eastern Mediterranean/Middle East. Genesis 10 tells us nothing about the origin of Eskimos or Zulus.
- Christ — I’m in complete 100% agreement. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, and is God’s solution for the sin problem introduced in Genesis 3.
- Cross — Christ died as our substitute on the cross, taking the penalty for sin that we deserved.
- Consummation — Christ will come again as king and judge. The effects of Adam’s sin will be completely undone.
I asked one question in the Q&A session:
I am an old-Earth creationist who accepts the inerrancy of Scriptures. I reject young-Earth creationism because I believe it is Biblically unnecessary and scientifically unworkable. In your presentation, you had a slide that listed what you called “compromise positions” such as the progressive creation, framework, and gap interpretations. You said you rejected these because they all had one thing in common: death before the Fall. None of the passages used by young-Earth creationists to demonstrate that there was no animal death before the Fall—Genesis 3, Romans 5 and 8, and 1 Corinthians 15— actually say anything whatsoever about animals, so I don’t think you provided a firm Biblical foundation for rejecting these positions. Could you comment on this please?
Dr. Mortenson was very courteous and articulate in his response. I thought he was wrong on a number of his points, but I didn’t want to get into a debate. I asked primarily so the audience could see that perhaps there are Biblical problems with the young-Earth position. I’ve written my preliminary thoughts on death before the Fall elsewhere.
I’m planning on attending more sessions Sunday evening.
Grace and Peace