Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, blogged about our point of agreement today: Do Old Earthers and Young Earthers Agree on Anything?
Recently, a blogger commented on my recent blog post about a religion professor at Butler University and his testimony of how he became a “born-again Christian.” Frankly, I saw little evidence in this professor’s testimony that he in any way understands what a “born-again Christian” really means from a biblical perspective. At the same time, without knowing the professor, I want to be careful about commenting on what his walk with God might actually be.
The blogger—who commented positively on what I wrote—believes in an old earth and thus is not an AiG supporter. The blogger stated the following:
[long quote from my blog].
Yes, old earthers and young earthers can agree in regard to the message of salvation, as this blogger and I do.
I decided to comment on this blog post for two reasons:
- I appreciate reading an old earther quoting me in regard to salvation, understanding that I do not say, and have never said, that a person has to believe in a young earth to be a Christian. Salvation is conditioned upon faith in Christ—not what one believes about the age of the earth. I have stated this clearly many times over the years. But sadly, I still read those who falsely claim we at AiG tie salvation to the age of the earth, which brings me to my second point.
- We do not tie salvation to the age of the earth, but we do tie biblical authority to the age of the earth. Although this old earther I quoted above does not agree with us (well—not yet anyway ), nonetheless I stand by our insistence that to add millions of years into Scripture is to apply a hermeneutic whereby one is taking the fallible results of man’s fallible dating methods to reinterpret the clear reading of God’s Word (e.g., reinterpreting the days of creation, adding a a gap of time, or presenting the many other similar positions).
Yes, at Answers in Genesis, we are an evangelistic ministry. We proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, we recognize that the gospel message comes from the Word of God, and if the Word is compromised, it can lead to (and has lead to) doubt that turns into unbelief. The results of such undermining of God’s Word are set out clearly in our book, Already Gone, which I urge you all to read. You can find out more about Already Gone and why so many young people are leaving the church from the AiG website online bookstore.
I have a strong desire that the unity we have in Christ will be stronger than our differences over secondary matters, however important those secondary matters might be to us. I really do believe that AiG is wrong in its interpretation of Scripture and its forcing of that interpretation on Earth history. I try to be careful in how I write about these matters on this blog, knowing that these are my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. I will be bold and blunt at times, but I hope to always do so in love.
And, sorry Ken, but I’m not on the verge of becoming a young-Earth creationist. Yes, I am fallible, and science is fallible. Our understanding of the Scriptures is also subject to human fallibility. As it says in the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith:
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. [link]
The gospel is crystal clear in the Bible. Things like the age of the Earth, the extent and work of the flood, and limits on biological change, are not quite so easy to sort out.
Grace and Peace
60 thoughts on “The GeoChristian on Ken Ham’s blog”
Good post..From a fellow Old Earth Creationist who is also not on the verge…:)
Your patience and generosity is astounding, and as another Old-earther, I marvel.
So Ken blogged about a blog which blogged in response to Ken’s blog to which Ken replied with another blog post. Geo blogged about Ken’s blog post reply to the blog post reply and Ken then responded with a blog post about Geo’s blogging and now Geo has replied with a blog post to Ken’s blog post about Geo’s blog post about Ken’s blog post in reply to another blog post which was in reply to a blog post by Ken which was about a blog post.
Hmmm, I think the term “incestuous” comes to mind.
“However, we recognize that the gospel message comes from the Word of God, and if the Word is compromised, it can lead to (and has lead to) doubt that turns into unbelief.”
AIG consistently portrays Hugh Ross and all old earth creationists as “compromisers” who will eventually lead people into disbelief.
If that view is taken, then those who are guilty of this crime are subject to the curse of Matthew 18:6/Mark 9:42/Luke 17:2 — it would be better than a millstone be tied around our neck(s) and be thrown into the sea.
This is not the treatment for a brother with whom we are walking arm-in-arm despite our differences.
I don’t mind Ken Ham and company disagreeing with me. I do have a problem with Ken Ham and company being hypocrites.
“However, we recognize that the gospel message comes from the Word of God, and if the Word is compromised, it can lead to (and has lead to) doubt that turns into unbelief.”
I would take that quote as a serious condemnation of AiG – they base the entirety of the Bible’s reliability upon the scientific evidence of a 6000 year old Earth and a global flood at 2300 BC.
They base the truth of God on science (and really shoddy science at that), and when someone begins to learn that science doesn’t truly support their position, “it can lead to (and has lead to) doubt that turns into unbelief.”
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FYI, Ken Ham responded to this blog post…
So he responded to the response to the response?? This is getting funny.
As to the post – eh, standard sort of stuff.
Particularly bizarre is his claim that there were no thorns at all before the Fall based on Gen 3:18. No adding to scripture there! :-P
And, of course they have to again put forward their self-proclaimed statement that “very good” must equal “no death at all”. Maybe some day they’ll actually try to generate a reason why it has to mean that.
Oh well. On the bright side of things, hopefully it will drive some traffic Geo’s way!
Geo, do you have any traffic tracking tools to see if you’ve gotten more traffic than normal?
It is nothing more that two dogs chasing each other’s tails.
The comment by WebMonk on Nov. 4 is really interesting from a psychological viewpoint. It shows how convoluted some things can become in one’s brain when a person is faced with contradictions to their own world view. To anyone who has read any of Answers In Genesis articles that deal with the nature of science and the Bible (e.g., http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v5/n3/science-balance), it is very clear that they believe that Scripture trumps science when there is apparent conflict between the two. They stress that to have it the other way around would cause the Bible to be beholden to current scientific opinion – which frequently changes from year to year. On top of that, it would also mean that every miracle in the Bible would have to trashed since the current majority scientific opinion certainly doesn’t believe in the supernatural.
No, Answers In Genesis does not base the entirety of the Bible’s reliability upon scientific evidence of a 6000 year old Earth and a global flood. Quite the contrary, they point out many times on their web site that it is the Scriptures that tell us this is the way things happened. They simply point to the science that agrees with this axiomatic fact given to us by the God who was there.
So what are we to do in our interpretation of Genesis when a 24 hour 7 day literal interpretation appears to conflict with factual science? For example, the earth bringing forth vegetation on day 3 and the sun being created on day 4? Shouldn’t our interpretation agree with scientific facts if God created an orderly Universe from the start? Or do we believe that an orderly supreme God created the Heavens and the earth “in the beginning” and left the Sun moon and stars out?
What else is there to do other than believe believe it? (Romans 3:4) You have to be making some sort of determination to decide what is “factual” science and what is not. You tell me. How does one decide what is factual science?
I can also give you my opinion about vegetation being created on day 3 and the sun on day 4, but it is still only an opinion. If you are a Christian, it would seem to be much more important to know why you picked this small “difficulty” from the Bible but ignore weightier ones like, how people can walk on water, how dead people can come back to life, or how a woman can give birth to a baby without having sexual relations with a man? Do you believe these things happened even though they don’t “agree with scientific facts”?
Thank you, Paullin, for your comments. Right on.
GeoChristian, I want to encourage you to be open minded (not that you haven’t been) about what Ken is saying, and what you can find on their site. He’s very intelligent, the contributors to articles on the site are often highly-credentialed scientists and all of them stand by AiG’s statement of faith, which I encourage you to read. Please consider Ham’s arguments on their individual merit, and don’t discount them because they disagree with popular science or the writings of uninspired men.
I was an evolutionist prior to March of this year. Believe me, the scientific arguments are secondary to AiG’s purpose. As a Bible-believing Christian, I accepted a single axiom–that if the Bible is God’s Word, then it must be correct in every statement it makes. Going off of that simple understanding, I found (and you will, too) that the Scriptural support for a young earth is overwhelming. Lest you abandon Scripture, I’m sure you’ll be convinced, as I was.
I strongly encourage you to pray about it and then read AiG’s Biblical arguments for their position.
With love in Christ,
Paulin – With all due respect, I think that we can understand the in house debate between old earth and young earth creation, and discuss which interpretation agrees more with our study of that creation, without bringing in the Virgin Birth. This is not debated scientifically between Christians the last I checked so the comparison is not really valid.
You are right, Christians aren’t concerned with the scientific feasibility of the Virgin Birth. But my question is, why is that the case when the Virgin Birth is also against science just as Creation is? What makes the order of Creation, the Flood, and the age of the universe so difficult for Christians to swallow when they apparently have no problem accepting the miracles in the New Testament?
But in actuality, my first sentence should be qualified: There have been many “Christians” who have stopped believing in the Virgin Birth, as well as other miracles of the Bible. I would posit that they started out on this path by accepting what scientists are saying about how all thing evolve over long periods of time – including religion itself. Eventually they come to the point when they no longer consider God necessary.
We can debate the scientific merits of old earth vs young earth, but ultimately that is not what is going to convince anyone what is true. What needs to be decided is who or what is to be accepted as authority in these matters: What men say or what the Bible says.
Thanks for your comment.
I started out as a young-Earth creationist. As a college student in geology I started to see the multiple geological problems with the flood geology of young-Earth creationism, but I did not abandon that position until I became convinced that YEC was Biblically unnecessary.
I am not alone in accepting the Bible as God’s word and an old Earth. A wide range of solid Evangelical scholars over the past few centuries have been on my side, such as Francis Schaeffer, Charles Spurgeon, J. Gresham Machen (a staunch defender of inerrancy), and R.A. Torrey (co-author of The Fundamentals).
I agree that Ken Ham and his associates at AiG (as well as the scientists at ICR) are intelligent people. I also believe that they are trying force Earth history to fit a Biblical interpretation that has more conjecture in it than they are willing to acknowledge.
I agree with your single axiom: that the Bible is God’s inspired and inerrant Word. But I am not going to read all sorts of things into it that simply are not there: dinosaurs in the Garden, sedimentary rocks formed by the flood, super-rapid evolution after the flood, and so forth.
Grace and Peace
Paulin – I accept your last point, and it actually explains where those believing in an old earth are coming from. Specifically for me, I accept the Bible as authority on the Virgin Birth and an old earth view because I believe the Bible says both, not because Science says it. I just happen to believe Science agrees with the old earth view which solidifies my belief but it is secondary.
Your point is a good one though for people who don’t hold to the Bible as the inerrant word of God. Science can be used wrongly in an attempt to replace God, but it can also be used to proclaim him. Sometimes Ham makes it sound like if you don’t believe in a young earth you are replacing Biblical authority for Scientific authority and that simply isn’t true of any I know. As stated above I believe in the Virgin birth and an old earth because the Bible says it
llondy – it’s hard for me to fathom how anyone can read the Bible and conclude that it teaches an old earth. Please tell me how you manage it!
If that is the case (and I don’t doubt your sincerity), then I would think that you, and others who believe the same way, must have a very difficult time understanding the daily newspaper correctly or anything else they read. Certainly you didn’t come to that conclusion on your own from your first encounter with the book of Genesis (i.e., evening and morning, Day 1; evening and morning, Day 2; evening and morning, Day 3, etc.)?!
If the average person can understand a newspaper, certainly the English language of the Bible would make any reader conclude that creation took place over 7 literal days, and that the genealogies (assuming that a person would do the math) would place creation around 6000 years ago (certainly not millions or billions of years!).
I haven’t heard from every Hebrew scholar in the world, past and present, but I would guess that it would be nearly unanimous that they believe that the author is trying to communicate, “6 solar days, and not so very long ago.” One has to pretty much wait for the 19th century to roll around to see a few people starting to suggest that the language might allow for long time periods – and that conclusion is not based on the language, but a desire to make Scripture agree with what scientists were saying.
The Bible doesn’t teach that the Earth is old. You are asking llondy to demonstrate something that old-Earth creationists don’t teach.
But it does not require a young Earth either. If all you read is stuff from the young-Earth creationists, then I can see why you would think it does.
Contrary to your hunch, conservative Hebrew scholars are nowhere near unanimous in believing in a young-Earth. Take a look at my recent post on the ESV Study Bible to get a taste of where a lot of conservative, Bible-believing Old Testament scholars are coming from. There is a lot more peer pressure on these scholars to conform to the vocal young-Earthers in their denominations than there is from secular science.
The “evening and morning, Day 1” argument isn’t as strong as YEC leaders want you to believe. Note that something is missing. There is evening, and there is morning, but those two time periods don’t make a complete day. Also note that the first three days were independent of the sun, which make them not standard solar days. One can make a good case from the text itself, independent of scientific concerns, for non-YEC interpretations of Genesis. These don’t require an old Earth, but they do not require a young-Earth either.
Paulin #10, I can state that the AiG group puts the entire support for the Bible on science because they have stated a thousand times that if the first chapter of the Bible is not a scientific description of the creation of the universe then the entire Bible can’t be trusted.
That is basing all their faith on a particular set of scientific facts. I can’t see any way of working around that. I find it interesting the anyone would deny that. There are dozens and dozens of articles which talk about how if the first chapters of Genesis aren’t a scientific description we can’t trust anything in the Bible. You can find a dozen places where they’ve said if Genesis isn’t true (meaning a scientific description) then Jesus was lying. Or if it’s not “true” (aka scientific description) then there is no answer for sin. If Genesis isn’t a scientific description then we can’t trust anything else.
There are thousands of statements to that effect all over the AiG publications and poured heavily into all their conferences.
How can a person not say that AiG bases all their confidence on anything other than a particular scientific theory?
Let’s say that we develop some FTL travel some day and fly out 50,000 ly and look back toward Earth and see the light from 50,000 years in the past complete with Earth there – according to AiG, if that were shown we couldn’t trust the Bible at all.
AiG puts its trust in the Bible on a specific scientific theory of science requiring that science prove the Earth is only 6000 years old.
Kevin N (#19)
So you are saying that llondy is wrong when he/she says that the “Bible says” the earth is old?
I don’t disagree that there are conservative Hebrew scholars who believe in an old earth. What my post said was that most Hebrew scholars believe that the author of Genesis was trying to communicate to his readers that the earth was created in six solar days, a few thousand years ago.
It wasn’t until people like Werner, Hutton, and Lyell started to publish their works on geology that Bible scholars started to look for ways to harmonize the Bible with long time periods. Thus my original premise: old-earth creationists believe that science trumps Scripture – at least (inconsistently) when it comes to Creation.
I suggested it, but I will now go on and say it: Eventually, OECs graduate and become theistic evolutionists, who then go on to become atheistic evolutionists. I’m not saying that everyone does this; only that it happens quite often to intelligent Christians.
Your post on the ESV Bible opens up the door for all sorts of possible interpretations, not only for Creation and the Flood, but for the whole Bible – including the deity of Christ. For example, if the Bible can accept an old universe, why can’t it accept evolution? All of this simply leads to “Higher Criticism” or “Evolution applied to the Bible”.
Liberal theology has already emptied most of the churches in Europe, and many mainline churches in the United States have seen the same results as well. Even some conservative churches are now opening their doors to OEC and theistic evolution.
Christians (especially young Christians) soon see that if Genesis is wrong about Creation and the Flood, then it probably is wrong about Jesus and everything else in the Bible. They see the various attempts to harmonize science with the Bible as feeble or outright phony. They eventually quit the church – according to surveys, two out of three by the time they reach college age.
Would you please give me two or three examples of the many times where AiG says or implies that “if the first chapter of the Bible is not a scientific description of the creation of the universe then the entire Bible can’t be trusted”? I think you have misunderstood what they are saying, but we shall see.
Paullin (#19) writes, “So you are saying that llondy is wrong when he/she says that the “Bible says” the earth is old?”
Most old-Earthers don’t try to show that that the Bible says the Earth is millions of years old. It doesn’t. All we have to show is that the Bible doesn’t require that the Earth be thousands of years old.
In regards to Werner, Hutton, Lyell, and forcing Scripture to fit science: All that happened was that science forced Biblical scholars to take a closer look at what Scripture itself actually says. This is no different than the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries geocentrism conflict, where some passages were used to prove that the Earth is the center of the universe. When confronted with Copernicus and Galileo, some Biblical scholars (e.g. Luther) held their ground, while other were willing to take a closer look at Scripture.
I am going to modify your final paragraph and shoot it back to you:
I think the whole Already Gone argument (I assume that is what you are referring to) backfires. Young people who go to Sunday school regularly are more likely to drop out of Christianity. These Sunday school students, of course, are more likely to be exposed to YEC materials than are those who never attend Sunday school. Perhaps YEC is part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
My anecdotal observation is that less than half of the college-aged young people I know who were home schooled K-12 — all of whom were given a steady diet of YEC — are still in the faith. Again, perhaps the problem is that once they see that YEC is seriously flawed, they throw their Christianity out along with their AiG/ICR/Dr. Dino DVDs.
All because they are told, “If the Earth is older than 6000 years, then the Bible isn’t true.”
Sine my specific belief is being asked I will give it to you. I believe that the Bible says the world is older then what YEC’s like Ken Ham teach. I would never say that the Bible is a science book and that it tells us the world is billions of years old like atheistic evolutionists believe. However modern science says that the world is older then 6,000 years as well so “secondary” evidence supports OEC and many Christian scientists are seeing this.
I also have to respectfully say that Paulin’s post #21 sounds like someone that is very scared their view could be proven wrong. Almost as scared as some Church elders in the 17th century. I couldn’t disagree more with the idea that “intelligent Christians” somehow go from OEC to atheistic evolution and I have seen no evidence of this at all in OEC circles. In fact I see even greater love and confidence for God in many OEC people. Why anyone would think this would overturn a persons faith in God I don’t understand. If it does then they never had any to begin with.
This is the type of thinking that encourages Christians to see Science as the enemy when any exploration of God’s world should be encouraged. The Heavens declare the Glory of God and both YEC and OEC hold to this so lets not start questioning a person’s faith based on the Genesis account.
As John Piper said, both views believe that “In the Beginning God” so let’s not make this an essential but more of an in house debate between Christians
Paullin, I had thought about putting up an example with my last post, but decided against it because I thought it was too blatantly obvious to bother with.
But here goes. This one will get caught by Geo’s filters because of all the links, so it may take a while to get through. Note that when they talk about Genesis being true they mean that in a strictly scientific, I-was-there-with-a-camcorder sense of the word.
I then explained how all Christian doctrines (like marriage) are founded in Genesis. If Genesis is not literal history, then they have no foundation. (please note that “all Christian doctrines” phrase – that’s the whole Bible)
If Genesis is not the literal account of God’s creative actions, then does that mean that God is deceptive? (they go on to say yes it does mean God would be deceptive – ie can’t be trusted)
It is true that in this era of history, people are asking questions about Genesis, as they recognize that if Genesis is not true, how can one trust any of God’s Word?
Suffice it to say that if Genesis is not accepted as literal history, then there is no foundation for any Christian doctrine to stand upon.
When those outside the Church saw Church leaders rejecting Genesis as literal history, one can understand why they would have quickly lost respect for all of the Bible.
If you don’t believe in the literal history of Genesis 1-11, then there is no basis for determining the meaning of sin. Sin could then be interpreted any way you want. The only reason we know that sin is rebellion against the absolute authority of the Word of God is because of the literal rebellion in Genesis 1-11. The doctrine of sin is dependent upon the foundational Book of Beginnings being true-being literal history.
If Genesis, on which all Bible doctrine is ultimately built is false, then the entire story of the Bible falls apart.
I could have pulled up a hundred more pages that say the same sorts of things. For them, the only way that Genesis can be true is if it is describing a 6000 year old Earth. AiG repeats over and over and over that if the Earth isn’t 6000 years old then nothing in the Bible can be trusted.
You say, “…science forced Biblical scholars….” It appears that you are agreeing with my original premise: OECs believe that science trumps Scripture. But as a side note, “science” can not force anything. It is the scientists, who have a particular interpretation of the data, who instigate paradigm shifts. The difference is not trivial because many people believe that “science” is next to infallible.
Your hypothesis that YEC is likely the culprit that causes young people to leave the church does not fit the data: The dropout rate is larger for liberal churches, where they are more likely to get teaching about OEC. Beemer and Ham conclude that the dropouts in conservative churches is due to the way the Bible is taught (i.e., not real history; but “stories”). But this is only a conclusion and not tested.
I can’t say much about your anecdotal observation, other than my experience tells me the situation is worse for kids who have been brought up in mainline churches. While evangelical churches also have problems with youth leaving the church, it doesn’t seem to be as serious. Ham’s method of teaching apologetics seems to work, and to see and hear the converts, it does definitely seem to be working. Plus, the amount of money that is donated, and the number of contributors, also testifies to growth in the YEC movement. I also regularly go to local RTB meetings and their complaint is that they and sister organizations can’t get the people and money like Ken Ham does.
So you would then say that science trumps Scripture?
I’m very scared that what has happened in Europe and the U.K. will happen here in America; not that the Bible will be proven wrong. As I said, I take the Bible axiomatically. Romans 3:4 says, ““…let God be found true, though every man be found a liar….” As you surely know, there are also many examples of people in the Bible who didn’t believe God because “science” contradicted His Word. Shouldn’t that be a lesson to us today?
The question about OEC being the first step on a slippery slope to atheism would be a good question to survey. All I can do is give my personal observations and a few quotes. My reasoning is that if it becomes easy to make the Bible say what it doesn’t appear to say about Creation and the Flood, then there is nothing to stand in the way to reinterpret miracles or the deity of Christ. Eventually, why should people believe anything that the Bible says if it is so plastic?
Your plea to stress the “essential” parts of the Bible is common among OECs. But it raises problems on at least three fronts: 1) The Bible doesn’t give any indication that some things are essential and others nonessential; 2) Determining what is essential is a subjective process; and 3) People think that the “nonessential” stuff is unnecessary or even uninspired.
Every quote you have given clearly shows that AiG gives paramount importance to what Scripture says about a particular subject, rather than what scientists are saying. The articles you refer to even give a clear contrast of this hermeneutic by pointing to people who interpret the Bible in light of what scientists are saying.
Therefore, the examples you have given show that your original statement in #5 is incorrect: “…AiG – they base the entirety of the Bible’s reliability upon the scientific evidence of a 6000 year old Earth and a global flood at 2300 BC.”
To say that science (or archeology) forces us to take a second look at our interpretation is not the same as saying science trumps Scripture.
With a second look, conservative Biblical scholars have seen things that have been overlooked in the past, and it turns out that in a number of cases, the YECs read things into the Bible that simply are not there. In these cases, it is the YECs who are guilty of eisegesis (reading something into the text) rather than exegesis (interpreting the text).
There are a lot of young people who end up leaving the church because of YEC. You don’t hear about them unless you know them, as they usually leave quietly and YEC organizations don’t publish their testimonies.
Young people leave liberal churches because there is no good news to hold them there.
Paullin #28, AiG insists that the only way in which Genesis can be true is if it is describing a 6/24/6000 Creation. If a 6/24/6000 Creation isn’t true, they insist that none of the Bible can be trusted. I’m not sure how it can be stated more clearly.
Your #28 never addressed the statements – they are stating that the only way for the Bible to be true is if the world was created 6000 years ago. Do you disagree with that?
How can “if Genesis is not accepted as literal history, then there is no foundation for any Christian doctrine to stand upon.” be understood as NOT saying a 6000 year old creation is the foundation for all Christian doctrine?
By “literal history” they are referring to a 6000 year old theory of Creation. Do you disagree?
They say without that, then there is no basis for any other Christian doctrine to stand on. Do you disagree?
If you disagree, explain to me how that statement means something other than the entirety of Christian doctrine and trust in the Bible resting on the accuracy of the scientific theory of a 6000 year old earth?
I have no idea how you read my post and come to the conclusion that I say science trumps scripture. Since you are reading into these posts what you want to hear I can understand how your readings of the Bible might be done. I will simply send you to post 29 where my position is restated correctly.
There are clear essentials in the Bible. If I believe in an earth older then 6,000 years because the Bible speaks nothing of calendar days in verse 1 (among many other problems with YEC) then it in know way effects my salvation in Christ. I am not saying that the Genesis account is not important, but it is in no way essential. To make non-essential aspects of the Bible into essentials is to take away from the Gospel message and Christ’s atonement which I do believe some YEC supporters are guilty of.
Bottom line is that we don’t know how old the Universe is and we don’t have to know to have saving faith in Christ. It is a subject in the Bible that we shouldn’t be dividing over within Christianity but have open debate on. Many YEC supporters want to cut the debate off and insist on their position while hiding from Science as evil and claiming OEC conclusions to be heretical.
I’m uncertain that responding to Paullin is profitable. Paullin has only constructed an knocked down straw men during this conversation. This individual seems to be interested only in mocking Christians, and I’m good with that.
Paullin, if you want a much easier straw man argument to knock down in public, skip forward to 2 Peter, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Read that with the same simplicity you insist on reading any other difficult passage with and your work of showing the the Bible is nonsense is done.
If that one doesn’t suit your needs, go with “I am the vine and you are the branches.” Have a field day. Just set down and read through John (the Gospel)…. you’ll find a lot of passages that theologians agree are “hard to understand.”
Consider your work here done. Go away feeling confident that you have made fools of all those stupid Christians and carry on.
I welcome your comments. All too often old-Earthers and young-Earthers talk past each other, and the only way that is going to change is to dialog.
Grace and Peace,
Geochristian (#29, #30)
YECs typically take these four steps (here abbreviated from a flow chart) when there is a discrepancy between Scripture and what the majority of scientists are saying:
1. Reexamine Scripture to see if we are understanding it according to the author’s intent.
2. Assuming our reading of Scripture is correct, reexamine the scientific data to see if an interpretation can be found that is in accordance with Scripture.
3. If no interpretation of the scientific data is found that is consistent with Scripture, then, if feasible, collect new scientific data to see if it is in harmony with Scripture.
3. If new data collection is not feasible, or still not in harmony with Scripture, go back to step 1., or patiently wait until it does become feasible.
Notice that this procedure honors God’s word over the conclusions of men. This is in accordance with what God commands of us.
From my perspective, OEC’s seem to take only two steps when they see a discrepancy between Scripture and what the majority of scientists are saying:
1. If the scientific evidence is solid, examine Scripture to see if it can be interpreted to fit with the science evidence.
2. If the scientific evidence is not solid, go with what the Bible says and reinterpret the scientific evidence if necessary.
You can probably give me a more accurate scenario. I would like to see your conception of how OEC’s handle discrepancies between science and the Bible.
“…conservative Biblical scholars have seen things that have been overlooked in the past, and it turns out that in a number of cases, the YECs read things into the Bible that simply are not there.”
Would you give me some examples please?
I personally know people who left churches that believed in YEC. But they never taught it like ICR and AiG. Unfortunately, the leadership of these church simply never discuss the conflict between science and the Bible or give kids answers. When they get into high school and college, they see that all their questions about such things are eagerly answered by teachers who seem to know what they are talking about. Thus they quit the church and no longer believe in YEC. I assume there are also people who have a good grasp of theology and science who have also left YEC that was properly taught, but I don’t know of any. I think most of this is an “I say”, “you say” situation and somewhat subjective.
Yes, I disagree. If AiG would discover some legitimate Hebrew manuscript that would change the days of creation to long time periods, and the date of creation to billions of years, then they would change their beliefs. But they believe that the Hebrew text teaches solar days about 6000 years ago. Therefore they will not change, no matter what scientists say. That’s what I mean when I say that AiG believes that Scripture trumps science.
Post #29 is by Geochristian; are you sure that is the post you meant?
If I understand correctly, you say that the Bible teaches OEC; Geochristian says that it doesn’t, but it allows for it. I don’t think it teaches OEC either, and I don’t think that it even allows for it. Please tell me why you think that the Bible teaches OEC.
Regarding “essentials”…like AiG, I don’t believe that believing in an old earth or a local Flood condemns a person. The Bible is clear on that. But also like AiG, I believe that teaching OEC can undermine people’s faith because now they see how easy it is to make “difficult” verses into figurative language, even when the grammar doesn’t support it. They also see that if old ages can be made to fit with the Bible, then evolution can also. Next they see that you don’t even need the Bible at all.
Also, God doesn’t take doubting of his word very lightly. Zacharias (in Luke 1:5 – 22) was struck deaf and dumb because he doubted that his wife could become pregnant in her old age (it goes against science!). Examples abound of similar circumstances. The clearest, most obvious, most historical, most grammatically correct, most contextually correct reading of the Creation account is solar days, about 6000 years ago. But I would like to hear your side.
“Many YEC supporters want to cut the debate off and insist on their position while hiding from Science as evil and claiming OEC conclusions to be heretical.”
Who does this?
Paullin, you merely said that you disagree, but never bothered to try to explain how AiG could say what they say and yet not believe that the Bible’s trustworthiness rests on a 6000 year old earth. (as they’ve directly stated numerous times)
You can phrase it however you like, “They trust the Bible and the Bible teaches 6000 years,” but that’s just changing the wording to again describe that the Bible requires a 6000 year old Earth to be true.
I need to go to work soon, so will only respond to a little of what you said.
You asked for some examples of where “YECs read things into the Bible that simply are not there.”
Death before the fall is one. See my post Death before the fall — an old Earth Biblical perspective. In brief, none of the passages used by YECs to “prove” that animals did not die before Adam’s sin say anything whatsoever about animal death (Gen 3, Rom 5, Rom 8, 1 Cor 15).
Another is that the flood deposited most of the sedimentary rock record. Show me that in the Bible.
Another is that Earth’s geography was radically changed by the flood. A Hebrew reading Genesis two would have said, “Tigris, Euphrates. That’s Mesopotamia.”
There are others. The YECs read things into the Bible and then criticize the rest of us when we don’t go along.
Paullin, back at #21 you stated that the non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 is a recent phenomenon (paraphrased).
Not so. I’m quoting a comment I made at another blog recently on the same subject:
What I also found intersting, is that I recently read about the understanding of Creation and the literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis in the earky Church. A wide variety of Church Fathers leaned towards an allegorical/non-literal interpretation: for instance, while Tertullian and Theophilus were literalists, Origen, St. Irenaeus and St Augustine where not. All this is detailed in Peter Bouteneff’s “Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives” (Baker Academic, 2008). He also takes the discussion to St Gregory of Nyasa and the Cappadocian Fathers.
It is apparent that the “strict literalist interpretation is the only orthodox option” view is a newer phenomenon, one that has more in common with post-elightenment rationalism than anything else.
A few postings here have sort of implied that mainline church equals liberal church, but that isn’t always the case. There are many mainline churches which take the gospel seriously and are faithful to the scriptures. From my personal observations, youth in these mainline churches continue on in the faith at as good or better percentages than evangelical megachurch kids. Again from my observations, megachurch Christianity doesn’t seem to pass on to the kids very well.
Another problem which seems to be masked in these discussions about why children in Christian churches don’t continue in the faith as adults is that young girls in these churches tend to be more serious about their faith than the boys, and this tends to continue on into adulthood. I think it’s a common observation in Christian schools that the girls feel that it’s hard to find boys who are serious about the gospel. My hypothesis is that the boys tend to have more idols (e.g., sports, cars, video games) than the girls, but I have no statistical evidence of this — it’s just a hunch.
Just to back up what TSO said, even AiG admits that the non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1 has been around for as long as Christianity has been around. (and even longer, as some of the earlier Jewish writings on the topic were clearly non-literal)
They do claim that most of the early church fathers had a literal interpretation, but they don’t attempt to claim that they all were. The claim that a majority of early church fathers had literal interpretations is not solidly backed up, though neither is the claim that the majority were non-literals – it gets pretty fuzzy since many wrote things that seemed to take it both ways at different times.
Paullin, I have also begun a small series on the matter, from a geologists’ perspective, on my own blog, and I invite you to follow there as well as here.
also, I strongly advise you not to place all your trust in AIG. Kevin is a gracious fellow, but in my opinion, AIG will not give you any evidence contrary to their position, as that cuts into their finacial support base. They are dependant on the perpetual continuation of the culture war.
You might also like to check into the origin of AIG, and the split from (what is now known as) the ICR:
Oh, and WOW is the list on that particular page cherry-picked!!! However, that is just that particular list. I’ve run across much more complete discussions of the issue by AiG, and they run about 70/30 (guesstimation) in favor of church fathers and notables being of the literal approach.
However, like I said, it’s nowhere nearly that cut and dried to stick them into literal or non-literal categories, as some of them seemed to change over time, apparently hold both positions, or were very vague about it.
And then, one can also very heavily sway the list numbers by who is considered a “father” or “notable”.
The short of it is that the non-literal interpretation has always been around and has always been quite common, even if it wasn’t the majority view.
Perhaps more importantly, it was not until quite recent times that the non-literal interpretation has received serious condemnation – it has always been a strictly secondary issue.
Webmonk, which doe suggest that the modern concept of literal/figuritive was much more fuzzy in times ancient. Thus the seldom-heeded exortation to read the text through the eyes of the primary audience.
46. WebMonk (#38)
My disagreement was with your conclusion in post #5. “AiG – they base the entirety of the Bible’s reliability upon the scientific evidence of a 6000 year old Earth and a global flood at 2300 BC.” AiG says what it says because if anyone can make the Bible say something other than what the author obviously intended, then it is open hunting season for everything in the Bible.
It boils down to “words” can have any meaning that you want them to (postmodernism). God gave us language and it is the basis for our understanding of what God says. If God can’t communicate clearly, or if we can’t understand what He says, then all communication is suspect and there is no basis for believing the Bible, the newspaper, or anything that we read or hear.
Instead we get beliefs like, “all roads lead to heaven”, “one interpretation is as good as another”, “man is the measure of truth”, “truth is relative”, “it all depends on your viewpoint”, and, a “strict literalist interpretation is [not] the only orthodox option” (post #40).
47. WebMonk (#42)
Did I say anything about the early church fathers believing in a literal interpretation of Creation?
#46. If you aren’t going to bother answering the question, I guess we’re done on that topic.
#47 You said above that we have to wait for the 19th century “to see a few people starting to suggest that the language might allow for long time periods”. That’s up in post 18.
Check my logic here: if it wasn’t until the 1800s that people suggested that the language might allow for long time periods, then all the church fathers certainly must have been YEC. After all they were certainly before 1800.
Did I miss something? You claimed every Christian before 1800 was YEC.
I read in Gen. 1:30 that animals were vegetarian. This coupled with the many other passages that relate to death, shows that God is communicating that there was no death before the Fall.
Your other two examples are logically inferred from observation and experimentation and are not found in God’s word but are consistent with a universal flood. Therefore in this case, I don’t believe that AiG is reading anything into the text – it is an inference, just as it is an inference that Jesus laughed on occasion or had figs for supper.
I didn’t directly answer your questions in #31 because it was a “have you stopped beating your wife?” type of question. I guess either I don’t understand or you don’t understand. Sorry!
51. Webmonk (#47)
Read carefully my post #18 again please – I use the words, “nearly unanimous” and “pretty much wait”. This was to give me wiggle room to allow for a few pre 1800 scholars to interpret old age from the text. And incidently, notice also that I said nothing about scholars believing or not believing in a “literal” interpretation.
Then I have completely lost track your points on all your topics and I shall bow out to avoid further muddying the conversation. By all means, please continue on with the others, though.
I don’t know if this is too little too late, but in response to #35 and the flowchart of how to reconcile scripture & science, I will attempt to put forth the way I approach it as an old earther.
From #35, the young earth flow:
“1. Reexamine Scripture to see if we are understanding it according to the author’s intent.
2. Assuming our reading of Scripture is correct, reexamine the scientific data to see if an interpretation can be found that is in accordance with Scripture.
3. If no interpretation of the scientific data is found that is consistent with Scripture, then, if feasible, collect new scientific data to see if it is in harmony with Scripture.
3. If new data collection is not feasible, or still not in harmony with Scripture, go back to step 1., or patiently wait until it does become feasible.”
1. Underlying principle: The Bible is God’s Word and is Truth. Ultimately if my interpretation of scripture conflicts with my understanding of science unresolvably, the Bible must trump science.
2a. If there is a conflict, go back to scripture. What does it say, not say? Am I bringing a cultural/theological bias to it? How would the original readers understand it? etc. (Example: the Galilean controversy. Passages seen to support a geo-centric universe were reintrepreted to match the science.)
2b. If there is a conflict, examine the science. What is the scientific concensus? How well has the science predicted future discoveries? What are the strengths & weaknesses of the science? How are weaknesses explained?
** I labeled the above 2a and 2b because they go on simultaneously and there is interaction between these two actions.
3. If there is still a conflict, trust God that the conflict is only apparent and not real (See Underlying Principle 1). Go back to step 2a and also wait for more developments in science & exegesis. (Example of science changing to agree more with the Bible: it was thought the universe always existed, simply existed in a steady-state. The Big Bang Theory turned that idea upside-down.)
** I left out the “go out and collect more data” step that is in the young earth flow because I do not have the expertise to go do that. I need to wait for the scientists to advance their field of expertise and see how they deal with the weaknesses in a given theory.
In an interview with The Christian Post (May 27, 2007) Ken Ham states: “First of all, there are many Christians that believe in evolution. There are many Christians that believe in billions of years. We are not saying that if you believe in evolution that you can’t be a Christian, not at all. Because the Bible says that by grace you are saved. You don’t save yourself. It is by confessing the Lord Jesus and that he was rose from the dead that you are saved. [The Bible] doesn’t say you have to believe in six days or in thousands of years.”
So why does Ken Ham call on the AOG, for example, to “repent of their statement on creation?”
Because Ham says one thing in general public situations, different things to YEC audiences, and yet more different things to private audiences. As the audience becomes more and more YEC oriented, he stops saying things about an old earth and solid Biblical interpretation being possible, and starts saying things about how denying a YEC is denying Jesus.
Just had a hilarious/sad experience where a teacher was using Spurgeon (via an ICR article) as a champion against compromise about the age of the earth. He (and apparently ICR) was completely oblivious that Spurgeon was very firmly an “old earth” guy.
The “lesson” was full of the standard phrases of “denying a young earth is denying Jesus” statements. (direct quote) He repeated used Spurgeon as a champion of Biblical stalwartness against compromise and compared it to compromising on the age of the earth – totally clueless and ignorant. As I was a newbie there, and the lesson wasn’t an interactive one, I just sat there and cringed as he thoroughly (though unwittingly) disgraced himself over and over with the phenomenally inaccurate claims. (“exactly no evidence of any man-monkey link” and “no intermediary forms have ever been found” were some that almost got me jumping up)
I have been in the Old Earth camp and as a Presbyterian during my formative years I was also in the Divinely Inspired, Intelligently Guided Evolution camp.
But, as a born-again Christian who has been through many “schools of thought” since, I am just aghast at what you, Kevin Nelstead, FINALLY REFER to as an Explanation of where your particular faith is rooted:
“As it says in the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith:
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. ”
As an ex-Presbyterian I am aware of this Westminster Confession of Faith. THIS is what you point to as the Best and most pertinent reason for your present state of faith?
This does not embarrass you, Kevin?
I understand we are talking about Salvation. Which is quite a leap of Faith, is it not?
And where do we stop leaping?
Where do we tell the Lord of Our Salvation that we will go with Him so far, but no farther?
Where do we tell the Lord of Our Salvation, Jesus Christ, Yeshuah, “Whoa, whoa, Big Fellah, I was with You when You said “I am the Door, the Truth, and the Life”, and I sure committed myself to You when You said,”You must be born again”.
But, my dear sweet Lord, I am going to have to sit this part of your message out — no hard feelings, right Lord?”
“When you said to the crowd in chapter 5 of the book of John,
“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?””
“I mean, Lord, Moses wrote a genealogy going back to Adam and Eve that by any interpretation would make the Earth much much younger than present day Science, and that is where I must depart and question your Truthfulness, Lord.”
Kevin, have you not departed from an important part of the Faith delivered by Jesus Christ?
It was HE who cemented his testimony and mission to the LITERAL words of Moses.The first five books of the Bible, – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, are referred to in other parts of the Bible and by JESUS Himself, as the books of MOSES.
While the words of Moses are not intended as a geology or science lesson, nevertheless, Jesus Himself ENDORSED them, every single word of Moses, every claim, every promise, every jot and tittle of Moses’s words were CONFIRMED as trustworthy for your LITERAL FAITH and SALVATION by the Lord of Creation.
I do believe what Moses wrote, from the very first verse: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.”
I believe that the Triune God created everything from nothing, by his word and by his infinite wisdom. I believe that Adam and Eve were real individuals, created from the stuff of the Earth, that they sinned, that they died because of that sin, that this sinfulness has been passed on to us, and that Jesus Christ is the sole solution for our sin problem.
I also happen to believe that there is ambiguity in the Bible regarding some issues—the meaning of “day” before the appearance of the sun, the extent and work of Noah’s flood, and the existence of death before the fall—that young-Earth creationists are dogmatic about.
I do believe the Bible. I just don’t believe the Creation Research Society, Answers in Genesis, and other young-Earth creationist organizations.
Do you really believe that everything in Scripture is equally clear? Most people who hold to this raise secondary issues up to the level of primary issues, and take a my-way-or-the-highway approach to lesser Christians. What you are doing is taking a secondary issue—the age of the Earth—and making it a gospel issue, and this is wrong.
One important item missing from the CRSQ article on helium diffusion: the accelerated nuclear decay advocated by the RATE study should have melted not only the zircon crystals, but much of the crust of the Earth. Again, I believe the Bible; I don’t believe the YECs.
Grace and Peace
(1) “I believe that Adam and Eve… sinned, that they died because of that sin”
(2) “I also happen to believe that there is ambiguity in the Bible regarding… the existence of death before the fall”
It strikes me that (1) and (2) cannot both be true. Unless by “death” in (2) you mean exclusively non-human death?
Re. radiogenic heat, I’m no expert but this claim does sound a bit outlandish – akin to the claim I saw on Youtube that the SO2 from volcanism during the Flood would have made it hard for the Ark’s occupants to breathe. How could one quantify it – e.g. how much water was passing to remove heat, etc?
At the end of the day, I don’t mind leaving it to further investigation – after all, old-worlders have several heat problems of their own….
In regards to death before the fall, I am thinking specifically about animal death. None of the passages that speak of Adam’s sin and its consequences say anything about animal death. Go back and re-read Gen 3, Rom 5, Rom 8, and 1 Cor 15.
I am not sure why you think the claim that accelerated radioactive decay would cause melting of the crust is outlandish. Take a billion years of decay of all the K-40, U-235, and U-238 (and other isotopes) and compress it into a year, and there would be a tremendous amount of heat generated. Rocks are rather poor conductors of heat, so that heat would not just radiate out into space.
The same goes with the accelerated volcanism that is necessary in young-Earth scenarios. Volcanoes produce a tremendous amount of H2O, CO2, SO2, H2S, and other gases. Again, taking a billion years of volcanism—subduction zone volcanism, hot spot volcanism, mid-ocean ridges, flood basalts—and compressing this into a year, produces a score of problems for YECs, including atmospheric.
I’m not even sure what old-Earth heat problems you are referring to.
I’ll stick to what the Bible says, and it says nothing about accelerated nuclear reactions or volcanoes during Noah’s flood.
Grace and Peace
Dan, the “boiling earth” problem is an self-acknowledged problem with the YEC accelerated radioactive decay (ARD) theory. They mention it themselves, saying that if all that radioactive decay had happened in a year that the energy would have been enough to boil off all the water of the Flood and melt the entire crust of the Earth.
It’s not an outlandish claim at all – it’s a natural result of their theory; one the YEC group themselves have acknowledged. They don’t have an explanation other than God did more miracles to remove the natural results of the ARD miracle.
It’s an issue of miracles to solve the problematic results of other miracles and then miracles to solve the results of those miracles. Miracle to start the Flood, Miracle to start the ARD, Miracle to take away the radiation, Miracle to take away the heat, Miracle to take away all the SO2 from the volcanoes, Miracle to stop the ARD, Miracle to …..
The whole reason AiG and the others introduced the Miracle of ARD was to solve the problem of billions of years worth of radioactive decay. They couldn’t deny that billions of years worth of decay had happened, so they introduced a Miracle to make it all happen in just a year. But, from there, they have had to start introducing more and more miracles to cover for the results of past miracles.
It has gotten to the point where they have declared one miracle followed by dozens (if not hundreds) more to remove all the results of the first miracle(s) except for the couple of results they want. That is the same as God making stuff look the way it is “just because”, and that’s not a road AiG wants to go down.