About Old-Earth Creationism
Reasons To Believe scholars view the days of creation as long but finite time periods, and we refer to ourselves as old-earth creationists. We embrace the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture while also accepting the scientific evidence for the age of the universe, planet, and life. Varying interpretations of the biblical text exist within the old-earth perspective. Reasons To Believe accepts the biblical creation accounts throughout Scripture (not just in Genesis) as dependable, testable, and consistent depictions of reality. Any presumed conflict between science and Scripture arises from faulty interpretation and should be resolved by further research and testing.
Components of RTB’s biblically based, scientifically testable creation model include:
- All matter, energy, space, and time had a beginning, as stated in Genesis 1:1 and confirmed by big bang cosmology. Thus, the cosmos had a Beginner.
- As determined by scientific research, the universe is about 13.7 billion years old and Earth, 4.5 billion. These dates fit with the Genesis creation account. The original Hebrew text allows for literal interpretation of the six creation “days” as long, yet finite, eras.
- Complex life emerged suddenly and as soon as the planet could support it. In a series of events known as “biology’s big bangs” (such as the Cambrian explosion), God alternately created life and allowed mass extinction events as part of a grand plan to introduce new and more advanced life-forms under appropriate environmental conditions. To date, mechanisms proposed in support of macroevolution and chemical evolution are inadequate to account for life’s emergence and history.
- Earth’s geological features, fossils, and biodeposits formed over billions of years by a combination of gradual processes and catastrophic events.
- Adam and Eve were historical people, created between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago and were created in the image of God. Humans alone, among all other life-forms, are endowed with God’s image and possess a spiritual nature. The great apes and bipedal primates were simply advanced animals with no direct genetic connection to the human family tree.
- The flood of Noah’s day was “worldwide” in the sense that it destroyed all humans and the animals associated with them, but it was regional in extent because Earth’s population had not yet spread across the entire globe, perhaps not much farther than the Mesopotamian region.
RTB’s distinction is it that its scholars present a coherent, predictive creation model and invite others to test its viability. Models play an essential role in establishing the plausibility of a scientific explanation. As RTB president and founder Hugh Ross explains:
Using a model approach supplies researchers with enough detail to assist in further study. It offers explanations for how, when, where, why, and in what order phenomena take place. It anticipates or predicts discoveries that could either verify or falsify the model’s explanations. The best models also yield specific suggestions for how near-term research may help improve understanding of the systems or phenomena they attempt to explain.
Ross’s book More Than a Theory lays out the basics of RTB’s creation model, while other publications, such as The Cell’s Design by Fazale Rana, focus on particular parts of the model. Several free articles on RTB’s website provide an introductory overview of the model.
What Old-Earth Creationism Is Not
Old-earth creationism is not acquiescence to naturalistic or theistic evolution. Rather, it affirms God’s direct intervention in the creation of life and various life-forms, including the first humans (Adam and Eve). RTB scholars remain confident that an integration of emerging evidence from multiple research disciplines supports a creation perspective. “Evolution” defined simply as “change with respect to time” can be considered a fact, but in references to evolution as an explanatory model, the term “fact” does not apply.
Old-earth creationism repudiates that notion that Christ’s followers must either compartmentalize science and faith, or embrace one and discard the other. It also rejects that idea that plant and animal death prior to Adam and Eve’s sin somehow distorts or negates the doctrine of atonement. The Fall brought death to humanity, and physical death is an essential element in God’s plan of redemption.
As advanced by RTB, old-earth creationism differs from the Intelligent Design movement (ID or IDM) in that RTB openly identifies a specific Designer (the God of the Bible), rejects the young-earth view, and advances a creation model.
Additionally, old-earth creationism differs from the theistic evolution (TE), which generally proposes that God allowed natural process evolution to guide (indirectly) life’s emergence and development. Most TE proponents describe the Genesis creation account as a literary device or as myth rather than as history. While this stance may appear to offer middle ground for Christians who want to embrace the Gospel and the evolutionary paradigm, TE runs the risk of discounting an Old Testament story that the apostles and Jesus Himself treated as truth. Genesis and other creation passages indicate that God was directly involved in every major step of creation, as well as in the events of the New Testament, from Jesus’ miraculous conception to His redemptive work on the cross to His bodily resurrection and ascension.
Old-earth creationism provides a perspective that all truth is God’s truth, both in Scripture and in scientific discovery.