As promised, Ken Samples is back in the blogging world with Reflections, a blog aimed at challenging and helping Christians to think carefully about the implications of their worldview. Visit Reflections for regular updates from RTB’s resident philosopher/theologian on humanity’s unique position as the only creature endowed with the image of God. We hope this new resource proves encouraging to you in your walk with God.
The RTB Scholar Team
Although I keep abreast of the arguments advanced by the most prominent young-earth creationists—mainly the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and Answers in Genesis (AiG)—I don’t typically respond directly to the materials they produce. However, every now and then something they say warrants a response, such as when they misrepresent RTB’s position on the genre of Genesis 1 or the relationship between humans and the hominids. In a similar vein, the ICR made a statement in a recent publication that merits some discussion.
In the December 2010 edition of their Acts & Facts publication, ICR president Dr. John Morris discusses the issue of creation with the appearance of age. After talking about how one might assess Adam’s age upon first meeting him (hypothetically, of course) and the impact of the Fall and Flood on humanity and the Earth, Dr. Morris ends with this statement:
On the other hand, if fallen scientists extrapolating present process are right and the universe is old, then God has lied to us, for He clearly said He created all things in six days, not too long ago. (Emphasis original)
Although young-earth (YE) and old-earth (OE) creationists share many common beliefs, Morris’s declaration highlights one key area of difference. Old-earth proponents argue that the Bible does not provide a definitive timescale for the start or duration of the creation week. None of the creedal statements ever elevated as orthodoxy a particular interpretation of the creation day lengths. (It seems that creation ex nihilo was the main aspect of creation that did receive note in the creeds and confessions of the early church.) On the other hand, this statement by Morris asserts that the correct interpretation of the creation days is the young-earth position and that the matter is settled.
One significant issue I have with this assertion pertains to the range of views expressed by contemporary, well-respected, orthodox Christian thinkers such as Hugh Ross, Gleason Archer, Lee Irons, Meredith Klein, J. Ligon Duncan III, and David W. Hall. Specifically, these authors argue for day-age, framework, and calendar-day interpretations of the creation days. A survey of historic Christianity reveals an even larger range of views concerning Genesis 1. Yet in almost every instance, these thinkers would share almost identical views concerning the Incarnation, Atonement, and other essential Christian doctrines.
Well-known Christian apologist, philosopher, and theologian, J. P. Moreland was once asked to justify his defense of an old-earth position. Part of his response addresses just this issue:
Now, when it comes to the days of Genesis…I’m of the view on this that while we ought not allow science to dictate to us our exegesis of the Old Testament, nevertheless, if there is an interpretation of the Old Testament that is exegetically permissible—that is, an old age interpretation; that is to say, if you can find conservative, inerrantist, evangelical Old Testament scholars that say that the interpretation of this text that treats the days of Genesis as unspecified periods of time, and that is a completely permissible thing to do on exegetical grounds alone, then my view is that that is a permissible option if it harmonizes the text with science because that option can be justified exegetically, independent of science….But if there is enough of these men that I trust—I’m not talking about people that are trying to give up real estate here and are just bellying up; I’m talking about men that the community recognizes to be trustworthy authorities of that Hebrew exegesis are saying that this is an option—then I’m going to say in that case it’s permissible.
I would wholeheartedly concur with Moreland’s assessment. Indeed, there are trustworthy Hebrew exegetes that affirm an old-earth view. Contrary to Dr. Morris’s assertion, an old-earth view does not make God a liar.