Looks like you are using an old version of Internet Explorer - Please update your browser
Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., responds to a reader, who believes that the Bible should not be interpreted literally and that we should just focus on the message of salvation.
I believe in God and was raised a Lutheran. However, I am open to other religious thought, because no one can claim to know the true nature of God and how the earth was created. I believe that your strict views of creationism are archaic, ignorant of what god has revealed to us through science and technology (which God also created), and the Christian equivalent of the Taliban. Why don’t you just support the Amish way of life as well, and reject modern technology? I believe it is unlikely any of you are well educated. You are small thinkers who cannot think outside of a box. I am curious what the IQ of all your supporters could possibly be. You obviously believe God has limited power, and not unlimited power, since you cannot fathom or comprehend a God who created the universe, earth and life over a very long period of time. You are too simple minded to comprehend this. The Bible cannot be interpreted literally. It speaks figuratively and in parables, to people who existed before the discoveries of science and technological advances. You were born after these discoveries, and have no excuse to reject the truths of Gods method and timetable of creation that has been revealed to us through science. Rejection of these discoveries is simply ignorance. Even the Bible says that with the lord, a day and a thousand years is the same. With an eternal God who has no beginning and no end, don’t you think a day and a million or billion years is also the same? Is this too complicated for you to understand? I am an old earth believer, yet have also had supernatural experiences regarding family members who have passed on, which point to evidence of a God and afterlife. Furthermore, the main message of God and Jesus is salvation. It is not that important for us to know how, and over how long a period of time everything was created. It is not important for the purpose of salvation. It is something interesting for us to ponder, but you are wasting your time and efforts to focus so much of your time and energy on it.
I honestly believe that God is using me as an instrument for getting this message across to you.
I believe in God and was raised a Lutheran. However, I am open to other religious thought, because no one can claim to know the true nature of God and how the earth was created.
Greetings. I’m glad to know that you believe in God; however, being “open to other religious thought” is directly opposed to clear teachings in God’s Word. Jesus unambiguously stated that He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6), and that anyone who did not believe in Him is condemned already “
because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Paul declared to let anyone who teaches “
any other gospel” be accursed (Galatians 1:8–9).
Why do you say no one can claim to know the true nature of God and how the earth was created? Surely God, who is all-knowing, would know how to reveal Himself to His own creation. He has done that in several ways, notably in the person of Jesus Christ as He walked the earth revealing the Father (John 6:46; 14:9–11; 15:15; Colossians 2:9). In fact, Scripture states the following:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. (Hebrews 1:1–2)
God has also revealed Himself and truth about us and our world in His written revelation—the Bible. Although God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9), we can certainly know the things God has revealed to us in His Word. In Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11, the Lord told us that He made everything in six days. Why would you reject God’s revelation of Himself and the truth in His Word?
I believe that your strict views of creationism are archaic, ignorant of what god has revealed to us through science and technology (which God also created), and the Christian equivalent of the Taliban.
You are certainly entitled to your beliefs, but if this is merely your opinion, then your claims are simply arbitrary. Do you have any rational reason for claiming these things?
Also, you are employing several logical fallacies in your claims. First, you made an appeal to emotion by calling us “the Christian equivalent of the Taliban.” This is also a form of ad hominem attack known as ad metum (“appeal to fear”)—instead of dealing with our arguments in a calm, respectful, rational manner, you have chosen to make personal attacks and appeal to the fear people have about a society run by the Taliban. Next, you have used loaded words (archaic and ignorant), and engaged in the fallacy of chronological snobbery by assuming that recent ideas are automatically better than ancient ideas.
Why don’t you just support the Amish way of life as well, and reject modern technology?
Not only is your argument a non-sequitir (i.e., supporting the Amish way of life does not follow from our acceptance of the biblical account of creation), it shows that you do not recognize the stark difference between historical (origins) science and operational (observational) science. Modern technology has been developed using operational science, which involves the use of repeatable, observable experiments to learn how living and non-living things operate or function so that we can make useful things or find cures for diseases. Most of physics, chemistry, biology, and all of engineering and medical research are examples of operational science. But that kind of science will not answer the question of how and when the Grand Canyon and its layers of rock formed, or the question of how we know that Charles Darwin existed and how he came into existence. For those kinds of questions, we need historical science, which involves observing present processes and conditions and, when available, eye-witness testimony, to try to reconstruct what happened in the unobservable, unrepeatable past. Historical geology, paleontology, archeology, and criminal investigation are examples of historical science. It is critical to understand both evolution and creation as views of the past that fall in the realm of historical science. The big difference is that evolutionists have no eyewitness testimony to help them interpret the circumstantial evidence, whereas creationists do: we have an accurate record (the Bible) from God—the infallible eyewitness of creation and all history.
I believe it is unlikely any of you are well educated.
This seems to be just another arbitrary opinion. Do you have any evidence to support your belief? We can easily put your beliefs to the test. What do you mean by “well educated”? Does possession of master’s degrees or doctorates from accredited universities count as “well educated” in your opinion? If so, then you are simply wrong, showing that you have not done basic research on our web site. A few minutes of searching our website would reveal that Answers in Genesis employs several PhD scientists, and many of our employees hold advanced degrees in various disciplines of science, theology, history, etc.
You are small thinkers who cannot think outside of a box.
This is a question-begging epithet. Also, which box are we talking about? If the Bible is the box, then we are certainly capable of thinking (and behaving) outside of it (i.e., rejecting its teachings)—and that is our natural tendency, as Romans 7:15–19 states. But our desire at AiG is to stay within the “box” of Scripture. Why would we ever want to think anything contrary to what the all-knowing, all-powerful God has revealed? But we must ask you a question. Have you ever thought outside the box of evolution and millions of years that you (like we) have been taught to believe all your life in school, museums, science programs on TV, and so on?
I am curious what the IQ of all your supporters could possibly be.
I doubt the average IQ of our supporters would vary significantly from the average IQ of people in general. We have supporters from all walks of life and levels of intelligence and academic training. However, the point is irrelevant. One’s intelligence does not determine the truth or falsity of a position. Consider the fact that extremely intelligent people are often wrong and adjust their thinking. In fact, as one who claims to believe in God, you must surely think that atheists like Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan are wrong, even though you (and we) would agree that they are very intelligent. This is also a slightly veiled fallacy known as an illegitimate appeal to authority.
You obviously believe God has limited power, and not unlimited power, since you cannot fathom or comprehend a God who created the universe, earth and life over a very long period of time.
God is only limited by His own nature, so there are many things that God cannot do. He cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18), cease to exist (1 Timothy 1:17), or deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), nor can He perform the logically absurd, such as create an uncreated being or make a square circle.
The Bible reveals that God got it right the first time and called His creation “very good.”Furthermore, the biblical teaching that simply by His spoken word (Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6–9) God created “
the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” in six days (Exodus 20:11) shows a vastly more powerful, intelligent, loving, and just God than one who needs to use billions of years’ worth of death, suffering, disease, bloodshed, and extinction to create. The Bible reveals that God got it right the first time and called His creation “
very good” (Genesis 1:31). He did not need to tinker with His work for eons to finally get a fit habitation for man to live in and rule over. Why would God, for example, create the sun, moon, and stars so that man could measure days, seasons, and years (Genesis 1:14), and then wait billions of years before creating man, the first physical being who could tell time? And why would He create plants millions of years before man, birds, and most land animals, when plants were made to be a source of food for man, birds, and the other animals (Genesis 1:29–30)? And why would He create billions of creatures to live and die and even become extinct millions of years before He created man to rule over them? A god who would use evolution and millions of years to create would be weak and wicked, not the God of the Bible. And such a god would not be worthy of worship, especially if that same god lied about how long it took him to create everything (i.e., saying that everything was made in six days when it really was billions of years).
You are too simple minded to comprehend this.
Perhaps if you would refrain from all of these personal attacks and used rational arguments then this discussion could be mutually beneficial.
The Bible cannot be interpreted literally.
Actually, the Bible can be interpreted literally. The real question is, should the Bible be interpreted literally? And the correct answer is that each passage should be interpreted according to the standard principles of interpretation for that particular type of literature. That is, historical narrative passages should be interpreted in a straightforward manner, just as you would interpret other historical narrative (such as Exodus, Joshua, Ruth, 1 Kings, and the book of Acts). Poetry should be interpreted as poetry (where there is frequent use of figurative, non-literal language), parables as parables, wisdom literature as wisdom literature, etc. Since there is strong biblical evidence that Genesis is historical narrative, it should therefore be interpreted as such.1
It speaks figuratively and in parables, to people who existed before the discoveries of science and technological advances.
Again, you are exhibiting cultural and chronological snobbery. So the people to whom the Bible was originally written existed before there were any discoveries and technological advances? Hardly. The first man born (Cain, Adam’s first child) built a city (Genesis 4:17). Six generations later, some people, obviously through exploration, invention, and experimentation, figured out how to mine ores, extract metals from them, and make musical instruments (Genesis 4:22; 1 Chronicles 23:5). Noah built a large ship that survived a year-long, violent Flood (Genesis 6:13–22). A few generations later, people were building a city and tall tower (Genesis 11:4), and not many years later the Egyptians built the great pyramids. By the time the New Testament was written, the Romans had built an expansive system of roads and aqueducts. So these ancient people clearly attained a high degree of technological achievement. We only appear to have exceeded their abilities because of the worldwide sharing of knowledge.
Were they aware of all of the scientific and technological advances we have today? Of course not. But using your line of thinking would mean that we cannot accurately interpret the Bible either, since at the current rate of change people ten to twenty years from now will have made far more technological advances than we have today.
Your comment was not only a put-down to intelligent people who lived long ago, but it was actually an attack on the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture and the intelligence or integrity of God, who created man and gave him the mandate to study, manage, and rule over the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26–28).
You were born after these discoveries, and have no excuse to reject the truths of Gods method and timetable of creation that has been revealed to us through science.
My date of birth is irrelevant because again you are confused about the nature of science, equating technological (operational) science and historical (origins) science. We at AiG don’t have any problems with the technological discoveries of operational science. What we reject are the atheistic assumptions used to imagine the method and timetable of creation. The millions of years of evolution are not a discovery but an invention in the minds of Darwin and many others who attempt to use science to justify their denial of the God who made them.
Please give me an example of something that science has revealed to us about the “timetable of creation.” You won’t be able to do this because you have committed the reification fallacy. Science doesn’t reveal anything to us. Some scientists reveal their views about the past. As someone who proclaims belief in God, you have no excuse for rejecting the truths He has clearly revealed in His Word about the “method and timetable of creation.”
Rejection of these discoveries is simply ignorance.
We don’t reject true discoveries of science. Not everything that scientists claim to be a “discovery” actually is one. So we reject the conclusions or stories about the past announced by any scientist, if that conclusion or historical reconstruction contradicts the Word of God. Since God has always existed, knows everything, and has told us what He did, we will trust His Word any day over the ever-changing opinions of man.
Even the Bible says that with the lord, a day and a thousand years is the same.
Actually, it doesn’t say that. 2 Peter 3:8 states, “
But, beloved do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (emphasis added). This is likely based on Psalm 90:4, which states, “
For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night” (emphasis added). There are two small words that appear in these verses that demonstrate the inaccuracy of your statement: like and as. In both of these passages, a simile is being used to demonstrate that to God (who is not bound by time) a thousand years is like or as one day. The Bible is not claiming that a thousand years and one day are equal, but is making the point that the Creator of time is not bound by it. Peter used this truth to illustrate God’s patience with mankind.
Perhaps you could tell us why 2 Peter 3:8—a passage originally written in Greek in the context of discussing the attitude of scoffers leading up to the Second Coming of Christ—should be used to reinterpret the historical narrative of Genesis 1—a passage originally written in Hebrew explaining what God did during the Creation Week. This is not a responsible way to interpret the Bible.
Even if it was legitimate, what would it prove? If one day really means a thousand years, then that would only add 6,000 or 7,000 years to the biblical age of the earth, which would still be nowhere near the alleged 4.5 billion years proposed by old-earth proponents. Furthermore, if 2 Peter 3:8 is some type of mathematical formula, then you have another problem because you need to read the rest of the verse. If this is supposed to mean that one day is equal to a thousand years, then a thousand years are equal to one day, so you’re right back where you started.
With an eternal God who has no beginning and no end, don’t you think a day and a million or billion years is also the same?
Actually, I think God is fully capable of keeping track of time and clearly communicating what He means by the words He uses in Genesis 1–11 about creation and the early history of the earth.
Is this too complicated for you to understand?
It’s not complicated at all. But it is foolish and arrogant to reject God’s Word and twist its meaning to fit what sinful man thinks about origins.
I am an old earth believer, yet have also had supernatural experiences regarding family members who have passed on, which point to evidence of a God and afterlife.
I assume you are saying that you are a believer in Jesus Christ and that you also believe in an old earth. That means you accept as true the gospel message—Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the Cross for our sins and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1–4). The Bible also teaches that He was born of a virgin. Yet modern scientific consensus is against virgin births, resurrections from the dead, and miracles altogether. Why do you still believe these things despite what the majority of scientists believe? I’m glad if you do believe those things about Christ. But to be consistent in using the majority view among scientists as your authority for interpreting Scripture, you should reject these biblical teachings as well. Why do you arbitrarily choose which portions of Scripture you want to believe and which sections to reject?
Many people claim to have had supernatural experiences, but the enemy of our souls, Satan, can also produce counterfeit supernatural experiences (e.g., Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:8–9; 2 Corinthians 11:13–15). So there must be a way to test whether or not one’s experience is genuinely from the Lord. The way to do that is to compare the experience with the Word of God. Like the Jews in Berea who were commended for comparing Paul’s teaching with the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 17:11), we must examine all things in light of Scripture, instead of reinterpreting Scripture in light of experience.
Furthermore, the main message of God and Jesus is salvation.
True. But God has provided a lot of other information in His Word that is absolutely essential to properly understand God and the salvation message (2 Timothy 3:14–17). And we dare not treat any of the truth God has given us as unimportant or irrelevant, including the accurate account of the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and the teaching of His apostles in the rest of the New Testament, which show that Jesus and the apostles took Genesis as straightforward literal history.
It is not that important for us to know how, and over how long a period of time everything was created.
Then why did God include these details in His Word? If God merely wanted us to know that He is the Creator and that He made us in His image, then He could have simply given us Genesis 1:1 and 1:26–27. According to you, the rest of the details are irrelevant. But it is important for us to believe God when He tells us how He made everything and how long it took Him to do it. If we reject the plain meaning of the text in Genesis 1 and try to add billions of years of evolutionary processes, then we force multiple contradictions into the text. For example, to adopt the evolutionary timeline places death and thorns before Adam’s sin, yet the Bible states that these things are a result of his sin. Also, adding the billions of years places the sun before the earth, reptiles before birds, and a host of other contradictions in the order of events. Finally, several biblical passages speak of mankind being around since the beginning (Matthew 19:4–5; Mark 10:5–9; Romans 1:20), so adding billions of years before man falsifies these statements.
It is not important for the purpose of salvation.
Says who? If Adam was not a literal, historical person who literally rebelled against God by eating a literal fruit, thus bringing in the Curse upon this world, then why did Jesus (a descendant of the literal Adam) come to die on the Cross? We do not teach that one must be a young-earth creationist to be saved, but we do express how important it is to take God at His Word in all areas, particularly in Genesis, which is foundational to the gospel message itself. If we say the account in Genesis 1–11 is not true, then that opens the door for others to deny the rest of Scripture.
It is something interesting for us to ponder, but you are wasting your time and efforts to focus so much of your time and energy on it.
If this is what God has called us to do, then how could it possibly be a waste of time and effort? Furthermore, based on many of the positive comments we receive, we know this ministry has long been a blessing to Christians, and God has even used us on many occasions to lead people to salvation that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
Our primary desire is not to see people become young-earth creationists. We want people to come to know the Creator, Jesus Christ, and since His Word affirms the teaching of a young earth, then we must take an uncompromising stand on that issue in spite of fierce opposition from unbelievers and even many professing Christians.
I honestly believe that God is using me as an instrument for getting this message across to you.
God does not resort to multiple logical fallacies when correcting and rebuking people. Nor did He ever insist that people reject the plain meaning of His Word. The opposite is true. We can observe how Jesus corrected and rebuked, and He was always perfectly logical. He often called His audience to look at the Scriptures: “
It is written …” (Luke 4:4) and “
Have you not read …?” (Matthew 19:4)—God’s Word is authoritative and accurate. We cannot improve upon it with man’s ever-changing ideas about the age of the earth.
I hope you will consider what I have written and make the commitment to trust God’s infallible and inerrant Word over the ever-changing fallible ideas of men.
Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.