Tag Archives: Old-Earth Creationism

Does the Bible Speak Definitively On the Age of the Earth?

Albert Mohler

Albert Mohler: Theologian and defender of a Young Earth view of Creation.

C. John Collins

C. John Collins: Old Testament scholar and defender of an Old Earth view of Creation.

I recently listened to a debate between Dr. Albert Mohler and Dr. C. John Collins, with the provocative title, “Genesis and the Age of the Earth: Does the Bible speak definitively on the age of the universe?” Christians have very different views on this topic, and sadly, a lot of debates of this sort tend to descend into either rancor, or simply talking past one another, particularly for debates with non-believers. But this debate, intended for an audience of Christian pastors, was different, and for that reason, I thought it worthwhile to make some notes and share them here on Veracity. You can view the debate yourself at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s website, and I would encourage you to do so to get the most out of my following comments and observations (another synopsis of the debate is available here).

Al Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, answered the debate question with “yes.” But in doing so, I appreciated what Mohler had to say about the very nature of this debate. As he put it, there are three different orders of theological debates that have an impact in the church:
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The Groaning of Creation in Romans 8:19-23

Christians and the call to care for the earth.

Christians and the call to care for the earth (Image credit: Catholic Web Services)

Earth Day is coming up soon, and Christians who are called to engage the culture are faced with how to respond to the call to care for the earth. But what does the Bible have to say about it?

In what sense does the whole of creation; including plants and animals, cats and dogs, rocks and weather systems, await the complete fulfillment of God’s plan for redemption? The Apostle Paul appears to be addressing this issue in Romans 8:19-23 (ESV):

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

It covers a lot of areas related to environmental concerns, everything from the question of natural evil (why are there earthquakes and hurricanes?), to hot topics like global climate change, to the question of whether or not your pet dog will be in heaven. It is as though Paul is connecting God’s ultimate redemptive plan for humanity; i.e. the revealing of the sons of God, with the full revelation of God’s purpose for the created order. But before that day comes, the creation is subjected to futility. Hence, we will live in a world where the creation groans in frustration as in the pains of childbirth.

I have been working through Romans 8 along with our small group, and the passage just jumps out at me with questions. There is a lot of theology here for the thinking person, so please indulge me to ponder a bit on this blog post. As a little taste, I would like to refer you to part of the “Great Debate” between Young Earth and Old Earth Creationism feature on the John Ankerberg show, highlighted some time ago on Veracity, or you can simply skip the video and read on…


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Henry Morris and the Case of the Missing Signature

Henry M. Morris (1918-2006). Along with Grace Theological Seminary's John C. Whitcomb, this engineer was one of the fathers of the contemporary Young Earth Creationist movement.

Henry M. Morris (1918-2006). Along with Grace Theological Seminary’s John C. Whitcomb, this engineer was one of the pioneers of the contemporary Young Earth Creationist movement and a leading figure in the inerrancy crisis of the 1970s and early 1980s.

The pen lay undisturbed on the table. The document needed one more signature. Others had scribed their name in ink. But Dr. Henry Morris had left the room. The hope for having a unified front in defense of the inerrancy of the Bible were dashed at that moment.

The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) had accomplished so much. In 1977, this group of Bible scholars and teachers had drafted a document affirming a set of principles that sought to expound on the meaning of Biblical inspiration and authority. Christian leaders from across the widest denominational spectrum had agreed to put aside their relative doctrinal differences to stand on what Francis Schaeffer had understood to be the “watershed of the evangelical world“. Against the tide of a creeping liberalism in the churches that would compromise God’s Truth, these leaders had pinned their hopes on the banner of inerrancy to unite the evangelical church.

But it was now 1982, and despite how well things had gone, the unique opportunity for a consensus was gone. How did we get here, and what went wrong?
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What About the Cavemen?

Some of this Veracity blogger's distance relatives, or just a really bad TV show from the 1960s? (It's About Time).

Some of this Veracity blogger’s distance relatives, or just a really bad TV show from the 1960s? (It’s About Time).

One of the most persistent challenges in trying to reconcile Biblical truth with the findings of modern science is this: What do you do with the cavemen?

The mainstream scientistic consensus today is that there have been human-like creatures discovered in the ancient fossil record that predate humans like you and me. Names such as Cro-Magnon man, homo erectus, and the neanderthal fill our imaginations with images of semi-ape, semi-human creatures hobbling or running around with crude tools, making grunting noises, many of them living in… well… caves. My wife thinks I must be related at times to these creatures, particularly when I get out of bed in the morning, bumping into things when I am barely awake!!

But seriously, could it be that these brute creatures are related to us, we homo-sapiens, or is such a concept alien to the teaching of the Bible? Does the existence of these creatures insult or even undermine the Christian concept of the special status of humanity’s uniqueness?

News within recent years suggests that there is some evidence of actual interbreeding between modern humans and neanderthals thousands of years ago, as in this story from the British Natural History museum:

So what does the Bible have to say regarding creatures like the neanderthal?
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Bill Nye & Ken Ham Debate: One Year Later

A year ago today, popular children educator Bill Nye and the president of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham, debated one another at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Has anything changed within a year?

Bill Nye was recently interviewed by the folks at BioLogos. Two things stand out to me in the interview:

  • For Bill Nye, “creationism” means believing in a Young Earth that is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. Other forms of “creationism,” including Old-Earth Creationism as articulated at Reasons to Believe and Evolutionary Creationism as articulated at BioLogos simply do not count as “creationism.”
  • For Bill Nye, the science of evolution does not allow a reasonable person to see any divine “plan” in nature… at least for him.

If you accept the black-and-white categories laid out by both Bill Nye and Ken Ham, it leaves very little room for talking about harmonizing the God of the Bible’s Creative activity with contemporary science without compromising either the Biblical authority on the one hand or modern Science on the other. I was not very thrilled with the debate as it just seemed as though the participants kept talking past one another, something that comes out in the Answers In Genesis video linked below.

Has there been more fruitful dialogue to come out of the Nye/Ham debate over the past year? I will let you be the judge, but from where I sit, it does not help the situation when even Christians find themselves unable to see past their own prejudices, confusing making a stand on the Truthfulness of God’s Word with merely being uncharitable towards others with whom they disagree.

*SIGH*

But allow me to make a positive illustration: At the National Conference on Christian Apologetics that I attended in October, 2014, with a few Veracity friends, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Michael Behe, one of the leading lights of the Intelligent Design movement, discussed here earlier on Veracity. I also met Hugh Ross, the president of Reasons to Believe, a favorite here at Veracity. I told both gentlemen that I was a bit bothered that while there were Young Earth, Old Earth, and Intelligent Design people represented at that conference, the Evolutionary Creationist camp represented by BioLogos was conspicuously absent (this is ironic since WORLD magazine soon thereafter made the counter-claim that BioLogos excluded prominent critics from a BioLogos conference … I guess WORLD magazine never covered the National Conference on Christian Apologetics… more *SIGHING*).

What Michael Behe and Hugh Ross said was refreshingly encouraging. While both  disagreed with the view of Darwinism held by the folks at BioLogos, and both nevertheless continue to try to persuade others to their point of view, both men still count a number of their critics at BioLogos as being friends.

Wow. What a novel concept: Embracing fellow believers in Christ as friends, even when you strongly disagree with them on a particular non-salvation issue.

Perhaps if others in the creation/age-of-the-earth/evolution debate within the Body of Christ had that type of attitude with one another, then when you have debates with folks like Bill Nye, it would not seem like you were always talking past the other person.

Thanks, Dr. Behe and Dr. Ross!


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