The Earth and the Cosmos…Old or Young?
|By: James Virkler; ©2009|
|Old earth or young earth? The question should not divide Christians into warring camps.|
The Earth and the Cosmos…Old or Young?
The question should not divide Christians into warring camps. It is NOT a doctrinal issue. However, the matter of truth discovery is at stake. The truth issues are both theological and scientific.
If theology and science appear to contradict, as they do on this issue, there is an error in one, or the other, or both!
People are watching and listening to this discussion. It is bad if our theology or our science is errant, even worse if both are errant. If truth is discovered in each of these spheres, there will be no disagreement!
The witness of Holy Scripture and the witness of nature will NOT contradict each other. The disagreement appears to narrow to two issues:
LET’S CALL THE ISSUE THE 2-d DISCUSSION:
- Young earth creationists (YEC) insist that before the fall of Adam and Eve, death in the universe did not exist. There was no such thing as the death of a bacterium, an insect, a mouse, a dog, or a cow. And, of course, Adam and Eve had not been around long enough to experience death. Old earth creationists (OEC), however, claim that decay of matter and energy, and, of course, death of living things had been an overlay of the universe since the creation. This is called the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
- Young earth creationists (YEC) insist that the days of Genesis 1 are 24 hours in length, and that the creation events described all occurred in exactly six days, or 144 hours. Old earth creationists (OEC), however, claim that since the Hebrew word “yom” has three literal meanings in the original Hebrew, including “long period of time,” it is clear that the creation “days” were very long time periods. In the 4 ½ billion years scientists have documented for the age of the earth itself, the extensive fossil record shows sudden appearances of new life forms which can be made to accord with the creation events of Genesis 1. The scientific evidence for a very ancient earth (4 ½ billion years) and cosmos (13.7 billion years) is overwhelmingly strong.
The issues of death and days, even though only two in number, have caused extreme stress in the level of understanding, respect, and agreement between Christians of these two major camps, and unfortunately the stress shows few signs of abating. The real tragedy is that the public identifies “CREATIONISM” mainly with the young earth position. Old earth creationists seldom receive any attention, because today’s media find it much easier to ridicule the young earth position, and with that position, much of its orthodox theology. OECs do not believe in evolution, but believe God suddenly intervened supernaturally to create bio-chemically complex life and later created entirely new species suddenly and at widely spaced time intervals.
The following discussion is woefully brief, but outlines the main arguments for the young earth creationist view.
YECs believe the original creation was a perfect, beautiful paradise – no death, no suffering, no pain, no weeds, no discomfort – only utter perfection. They believe all animal and plant death resulted from the sin of Adam and Eve. Their reasoning goes like this: (1) Death (all death) is the result of sin (2) The death of Jesus Christ is also the result of sin (3) If death of trillions of fossilized creatures over billions of years of time was NOT the result of man’s sin, then neither was Jesus’ death on the cross the result of man’s sin (4) The basis for the atoning death of Christ on the cross is, therefore, negated (5) This destruction of the basis for the atonement a heretical position, according to YEC leaders Henry Morris, his son John Morris, Ken Ham, and other YEC leaders.
YECs must, therefore, preserve concepts of young earth, 24-hour creation days, and creation six to ten thousand years ago, in order to preserve “NO death before the fall of Adam.” The concepts are conjoined. To acknowledge the great age of the earth would be to deny the basis of the atonement. Their emphasis on physical death goes beyond the far more important spiritual death and alienation from God resulting from Adam’s sin and overlooks a broader view of this universe, imperfect as it is, as preparation for the New Creation, where both physical death and spiritual death will be no more. The New Creation was never intended to be a “paradise restored,” because this universe with its billions of years of decay and dissipation, was never a paradise in the first place. Death of animals and plants, even predation activity which some YECs view as cruel and displeasing to God, has actually been beneficial to many forms of life on earth, including humanity.
Other beliefs made necessary by the young earth belief include ascribing many geological features on the earth, such as the Grand Canyon and all the uncounted fossil remains in thick rock layers to a recent flood. This is called “Flood geology.” It is also necessary for YEC to claim rapid “evolution” for earth species (now at least five million) since the recent flood. It would have been necessary for dinosaurs to be on the ark. Dinosaurs would have had to co-exist with modern man.
Believers in YEC reject many different forms of convincing scientific evidence for the enormous age of the earth, viewing science as the enemy of their faith because it destroys their fideistic belief system. Fideism is a belief system based entirely on faith, disregarding reason and evidence. Belief in a young earth and no death before the fall is an unnecessary theological construct which, in turn, results in the necessary belief in errant science.