The Lord holds Christians to a high standard, and so does the world. The use of uninformed and misleading arguments does not bring honor and glory to the name of Christ. Only when fellow believers are treated with respect and dignity will progress be made in this important debate.
Most importantly, God will be glorified when His followers seek to honor His Word from the very first verse to the very last verse. Christians have no need to compromise the Word of God with the opinions of man. When science can help clarify gray areas of Scripture, then it should be used cautiously; this is called the “ministerial role of science.” However, science should never be set up as equal to or above Scripture; that is, science should never be used in a “magisterial role.” As we saw in chapter 7, science requires the principles of Scripture in order to exist. Therefore, science cannot be more authoritative than the Bible on which it stands. In addition, Christians can trust the Word of the One who was there “in the beginning” and chose to reveal His works to His people. It is sad that so many believers place more trust in the opinions of fallible men than in their omniscient and holy God. Charles Spurgeon spoke so eloquently about the danger of compromise when he stated:
Neither may we hope to gain by being neutral, or granting an occasional truce. We are not to cease from conflict, and try to be as agreeable as we can with our Lord’s foes, frequenting their assemblies, and tasting their dainties. No such orders are written here. You are to grasp your weapon, and go forth to fight.1
Old-earthers are charged with compromise in the area of the age of the earth and the extent of the Flood. Their ideas do not originate in Scripture but come from their philosophical beliefs. They have accepted the majority view among scientists and have attempted to make the Bible fit this view. Yet the Bible cannot incorporate these views without contradicting itself. As such, these views cannot be correct.
Old-earth creationists are hereby found guilty of compromise concerning the age of the earth and the extent of the Flood. Fortunately for Christians, God has already paid the penalty for sins and believers are already forgiven. However, old-earthers are sternly warned to stop trying to accommodate the false philosophies of the day and learn to fully trust in the Word of the omniscient God.
Recommendations for Improving the Debate
Debate can be healthy for the Church. Because of man’s fallibility, it is guaranteed that differences of opinion will arise. It is in these moments that the Church must show the world how to behave properly. Unfortunately, believers often allow their emotions, biases, and pride to get the best of them. There are three major areas that must be worked on from both sides of this debate. Only then can “iron sharpen iron” (Prov. 27:17).
First, both sides need to practice academic integrity. This would entail applying rigorous discipline to scientific endeavors. Rather than making spectacular claims based on sketchy evidence or searching for the “magic bullet” that “proves” a particular age of the earth, Christians need to continue to develop scientific models that fit the evidence. The past decade has witnessed a great deal of progress for young-earthers, but there is still work to be done. For example, Dr. Russell Humphreys’ white hole cosmology uses the scientific data available today to construct a viable framework that is consistent with the evidence. Dr. John Baumgardner has used computer modeling to demonstrate rapid plate tectonic movement as a result of the Flood. Further scientific research in these fields and others can only help the young-earth creationist movement.
Old-earthers must learn to base their theories on the words of Scripture rather than on fallible men whose theories are constantly changing.
For the old-earther, this recommendation will be a tougher pill to swallow. The many weak and misleading arguments refuted in this book must be abandoned. Old-earthers must learn to base their theories on the words of Scripture rather than on fallible men whose theories are constantly changing. Old-earth creationists must also stop using arguments that have already been answered by mainstream young-earth organizations. Finally, academic integrity demands that old-earthers stop attacking the arguments made by those on the fringe of young-earth creationism and treating them as if they are the mainstream arguments. They need to deal directly with the arguments from the leading young-earth organizations, such as The Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, and The Creation Research Society.
Second, personal attacks are unnecessary and unbiblical. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul instructed his readers that we are in the business of “
casting down arguments” not people. Perhaps the most frustrating part of any debate occurs when one or both sides resort to ad hominem attacks to advance their particular agenda. Arguments should be evaluated on their merit, and not on the person making the claim.
In the same way, old-earthers must refrain from labeling young-earth creationists as unscientific and on a level of those who hold to geocentricity and a flat earth. While demonstrating Martin Luther’s belief in the scientific accuracy of Scripture, Dr. Geisler sought to lump Luther’s views on geocentricity in with his belief that the days of Genesis were 24 hours long.2 Logic once again escapes Geisler. Luther’s belief in geocentricity had nothing to do with his belief in a young earth. Even though he believed Scripture taught both of these ideas, the falsity of one does not disprove the other. They are completely unrelated.
These types of accusations do nothing to encourage honest discussion of the views. They are designed merely to warrant an emotional response from the other side. Christians, both old-earth and young-earth, should be above this type of argumentation.
Finally, old-earthers must endeavor to develop a coherent theological position that is consistently supported by Scripture. We contend that it is not possible to do this within an old-earth framework. However, old-earth creationists are welcome to attempt to refute our position using legitimate hermeneutics, sound logic, and appropriate ministerial use of science. Rather than basing their view on questionable or unlikely interpretations of the text, they must show that the Bible provides strong support for their view. Just because a certain Hebrew or Greek word can be translated in a particular way does not mean that it should be interpreted that way. The interpretation depends on context. If old-earthers are forced to adopt a questionable interpretation on several, if not all, of their points, then this does not strengthen their position. In fact, with the addition of each questionable interpretation, their position weakens.
Old-earth creationists must be able to conclusively demonstrate that Scripture repeatedly not only allows for, but also implies, an age of the earth in excess of 10,000 years. Non-specific comments about the antiquity of the universe simply do not accomplish this. For example, 2 Peter 3:5 reveals that “the heavens were of old.” From Peter’s perspective, 4,000 years would have been a long time, especially when one considers that the Jewish people of the day did not hold to a notion of billions of years. What the old-earth creationist has to be able to show is that the Bible speaks clearly for his or her position and at the same time conclusively against the young-earth view. This has never been accomplished.
An important principle of biblical hermeneutics is that Scripture cannot contradict Scripture. Any view that forces the Bible to contradict itself cannot be accurate. This is precisely what old-earth creationism does on numerous occasions. Based on this overview of the theological arguments used by the old-earthers, it is clear that young-earth creationism is the only viable biblical position. It has the support of the New Testament writers and the majority of leaders throughout Church history. It even has the backing of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is time for pastors, professors, and laypeople to stop being intimidated by arguments for an old earth. God’s Word clearly teaches a young earth and that settles the matter.
You have nearly reached the end of this book. If you began this book as a young-earth creationist, we trust that your confidence in this view has been greatly strengthened. If you started out as someone who was unsure which position was correct, we believe that what you have read is more than enough information to demonstrate the fact that old-earth creationism simply cannot stand up to biblical and scientific scrutiny. As such, it must be rejected. If you began as an old-earth creationist and were not swayed in your conviction, then we hope and trust you have seen the weaknesses of many of the arguments used by old-earthers. We hope that you have read enough to convince you that the young-earth position is the only viable, biblical stance one can take. However, if you have not changed your mind, we encourage you to help improve this debate by utilizing sound arguments in a loving manner.
God’s Word is truth and true science will always line up with it.
Perhaps you have been convinced that the Bible obviously teaches a young earth but struggle with reconciling that with modern scientific opinion. Be encouraged! The billions of years and evolutionary theories are simply houses of cards. We have shown the fallacies of such arguments in chapter 8. Old-earth science is based on naturalism; but if naturalism were true, science would be impossible. God’s Word is truth and true science will always line up with it. God created the universe, and He knows how it works! Have confidence in the author of Scripture and take some time to read through some of the books listed in Appendix F. These will go a long way in strengthening your faith and providing answers to some of the tough questions.
When dealing with the question of the age of the earth, the best place to find answers would be from a history book. In the Book of Genesis, the Bible provides a record of the very beginning of time and space. This record is inspired by the God who was there and who made all things. His record shows that He made everything during a span of six days of approximately 24 hours each and that this occurred about 6,000 years ago. Since God cannot lie, then this record must be true. It does not matter how many fallible men disagree with it. Jesus boldly proclaimed, “
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
Let’s Get Practical
We have discussed this issue with numerous pastors and other Christian leaders. Often we have been told that it just is not that important because it is not practical or is merely a side issue. Before jumping to this conclusion, please consider the following real-life testimony of one of the authors (Tim).
In the summer of 2006, I was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocitic Leukemia (APL or M3 for short). My doctor told me that when I checked into the hospital I was “on the razor blade of life. Too much or too little of anything” and I would die. In fact, for a few consecutive mornings, he left me with the following charge: “Tim, your job for today is to stay alive and wake up in the morning.” In other words, I was in very critical condition.
Fortunately, my type of leukemia was the most treatable kind and I have been in remission since September of 2006. I spent a month in the hospital during what is known as the induction stage of my treatment. Throughout that time, I suffered from the debilitating effects of the disease and through many of the side effects associated with chemotherapy. All told, I went through four rounds of chemotherapy and several months recovering from the symptoms of the disease and the treatment.
The reason that I share this with you is not for you to feel sorry for me. I want to show you how important this issue really is. Please think about the following point for a few minutes so that it sinks in.
Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood. Scientists have found evidence of cancer in fossilized bones that are allegedly much older than the time of Adam and Eve. Yet after Adam and Eve were created, God looked at everything He had made and declared that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). This means that our loving Creator must think that cancer is “very good.”
This point cannot be overstated. Cancer has affected the lives of so many people. It nearly took my life and has harmed or killed millions of people and animals around the world. Yet, if the old-earth view is correct, then cancer must be “very good.” Think about how this attacks the goodness and holiness of God! We know that cancer is not “very good.” In His earthly ministry, Jesus healed the sick; why would He do this if sickness were “very good”? Biblically, we can be confident that cancer is not something that God would call “very good.” I can tell you from personal experience that it is an awful disease.
During my time in the hospital, I often thought about what my mindset would be if I were an old-earth creationist. After all, if cancer had been part of God’s “very good” creation, then my God must really like the disease that was taking away my life. Is it even possible to view Him as a God of love if one is an old-earth creationist? We realize that old-earth creationists do believe that God is a loving God; however, the logical conclusion of their view is that He is a God who enjoys death and suffering. Fortunately, most old-earth creationists do not carry out their viewpoint to its logical conclusion. Many unbelievers have made this connection and have rejected the Gospel message because they cannot believe in a God of love since this world is full of death and destruction. In fact, this is the very point that pushed Darwin over the brink of unbelief when his precious daughter Annie died at age ten.
Since my diagnosis, I have heard many fellow believers say, “We don’t know why God allows these things to happen.” In fact, a pastor who refuses to take a stand on the old-earth/young-earth debate said these very words to me. As I thought about his words, I realized that he really does not know why God allows these things to happen. In fact, countless Christians have struggled to find an answer to this question and oftentimes their pastors or teachers do not provide adequate responses. But I know the answer. I know exactly why I had leukemia and nearly died. Are you ready for this? It is because I am a sinner. The Bible says that “
the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). As a result, I deserve to die! It was not that I committed a particular sin that resulted in leukemia, but because I am a sinner living in a sin-cursed world it is always possible for something bad to happen to me.
Having this perspective on things put my mind at ease during this entire ordeal. I can honestly tell you that I never asked “Why me?” I knew the reason. The questions I had were “Why did it take so long?” and “Why not everyone else?”
If his view is correct, the old-earth creationist would be completely justified in asking God “Why me?” He could go one step further and ask why God would create a planet so full of death and suffering. The old-earth position simply is not consistent with a loving God. This is why this issue is extremely practical. If somebody accepts unbiblical teaching, such as old-earth creationism, then he accepts an unbiblical view of God. Nothing could be more practical than making sure that our view of God is correct.
On the other hand, only the young-earth creationist can make sense of the situation. God created a perfect world with no death, no disease, no bloodshed, and no suffering. He created Adam and Eve and told them they could serve Him or disobey Him. He even told them what the consequences of disobedience would be (Gen. 2:17). They chose to disobey Him when they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result of their disobedience, God cursed His creation and now we are suffering from the consequences of the sin of our first parents.
It is not God’s fault that so many terrible things happen in this world. It is our fault. We cannot blame God. We can only blame ourselves for the mess we are in and look forward to the day that God will make all things new.
It is time for the Church to stop compromising with an unbiblical theology that views God as a God of death, disease, and suffering. It is time to stop compromising the clear words of God’s inspired Word and start trusting fully in what He said He did.