Is Young Earthism New?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 21, 2019 0 comments


by Steve Risner

This week we will be addressing old earth creationist (or theistic evolutionist) Michael Roberts' 7th question in a series of 10 for young earth aka Biblical creationists. This question is a great one as it allows me the opportunity to show very clearly how many of these people choose to misrepresent or rewrite history. It's far too common, and this misleading needs to stop. When I read statements like this, my first inclination is to wonder if it's a parody or spoof of some kind. Unfortunately, these sorts of statements are serious and concerning. In reality, this is an attempt to either create the image that deep time has been a traditional view (so they're looking to use an ad populum argument), or they're trying to strip the Biblical creationist of the same status, or both. The funny thing is, as Biblical creationists have said all along, popularity has no weight when it comes to the truth, but the truth is quite clearly on our side. What is Mr. Roberts' question?

Is young earth creationism the traditional Christian view?

The simple answer here, which I like to provide whenever possible, is: of course it is. However, for years I have seen old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists try to make it sound like Biblical creationism (what they term “young earth creationism”) is a recent development. They try to point to people from the 1800's or as late as the 1960's who have written on or promoted the Biblical age of the earth and/or the global Flood narrative as people who originated the ideas. This is laughable, if we're being nice.

The traditional and most widely-held view throughout all of history has been that God created the heavens and the earth about 6000 years ago with Adam and Eve being created on the 6th day. The Old and New Testaments both seem to have no issues with this. There is no way to use the text of Scripture to come up with anything else. There is no version of the Bible that even hints at the millions or billions of years old earth creationists want and theistic evolutionists require. I stated it previously in this series, but to get us all up to speed as to how the Biblical creationist (rightly called Biblical as our beliefs are drawn directly from the Bible) comes up with a date since creation of about 6000 years, I'll post it here again:

We start with Genesis 5 where we have genealogies recorded for us from Adam to Noah. This is not just a record of who was someone's father, but it also gives the number years in between. This is not like most other genealogies in the Bible which may be incomplete or without these age indicators. This makes them reliable for calculating time to within a year or so. Genesis 7:6 tells us how old Noah was when the Flood started. So, using the years indicated in Genesis 5 which ends with Noah and Genesis 7:6, we reasonably know that the Flood occurred 1656 years after Adam's creation (which was on day 6 of the creation week). This is reasonable but could be off by 10 years or so, depending on how the years actually fall. Genesis 11:10 begins another genealogy with ages assigned to its members from Shem, the son of Noah, to Abraham. Genesis 21:5 tells us how old Abraham was when Isaac was born. Genesis 25:26 tells us how hold Isaac was when Jacob (Israel) was born. Genesis 47:9 tells us that Jacob was 130 when he went to Egypt. Using only these numbers, we come up with Jacob moving to Egypt 2298 years after the creation of Adam.

Exodus 12:40 tells us that Israel was in Egypt for 430 years (confirming what God told Abraham about his descendants being in Egypt for 400 years). This puts the Exodus at 2728 years after the creation of Adam. Israel wandered the desert for 40 years, so they entered the Promise Land 2768 years after the creation of Adam.

Now we need to move on to 1 Kings 6:1, which states clearly that it was 480 years after the Exodus that Solomon began working on the Temple of God in Jerusalem. This means Solomon began work on the Temple 3208 years after the creation of Adam (that's over half the history of the world now). Based on the chronologies written for us in the Old Testament (which are too complex to list here), we know that the time from the Temple to the Exile was about 345 years. I say “about” because it is a little less solid a number, but it's certainly not thousands or millions of years off. It's probably within 100 years and likely much closer than that. This puts the Exile of the Israelites at about 3553 years from the creation of Adam. Here we can jump from the timing found in the Bible and put it in our terms. The Exile is generally considered to have occurred in 586 BC. That means the year 1 AD was 4150 since the creation of Adam, plus or minus no more than 50 years! Then we add 2018 years to get us to 2019 and we end up at 6168 years since the creation of Adam, who was made in the image of God on the 6th day of the creation week.

Was it really a small sect of people, or were people on sure or clear on the age of the world throughout history? I have compiled a short list of Jews and Christians. I say “short” because I got tired of recording the names and decided this was enough. There are many more from history.

This list of theologians, scientists, historians etc. who have adhered to a Scriptural reading and have maintained the “young earth” position would include: Julius Africanus, George Syncellus, John Jackson, William Hales, Eusebius, Marianus Scotus, L. Condomanus, Thomas Lydiat, M. Michael Maestlinus, J. Ricciolus, Jacob Salianus, H. Spondanus, Martin Anstey, W. Lange, E. Reinholt, J. Cappellus, E. Greswell, E. Faulstick, D. Petavius, Frank Klassen, Becke, Krentzeim, W. Dolen, E. Reusnerus, J. Claverius, C. Longomontanus, P. Melanchthon, J. Haynlinus, A. Salmeron, J. Scaliger, M. Beroaldus, A. Helwigius, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, Clement, Theophilus, Hyppolytus, Jerome, Bede, Henry F. Clinton, Maimonides, John Lightfoot, Ussher, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Augustine, and many many others. You can see many of these names at this link. The Jewish calendar is now at 5779. This is the number of years since creation, according to their traditions.

Has Biblical creation (aka young earth creation) been the traditional view over the centuries? Without question I think we can say, “Absolutely.” It's only been widely doubted as the obvious intent of the text in the last 200 years or so, as secularists hijacked science and have tried to make the history of the world and the universe for that matter a scientific subject to back up the humanist origins myth. Roberts makes the wild claim that people prior to 1800 had no idea about the age of the earth, primarily, it seems, because no one had ever seen a rock layer or a fossil found within one. What Roberts fails to recognize is that as far back as 200 AD, Tertullian was writing about the Flood and how it accounted for marine fossils being found on mountain sides in layers of rock. It wasn't until the 1800's that secular humanists decided to rewrite history and arbitrarily assign ages to rock layers. This is literally what happened. The dates assigned long ago were arbitrary, if we're being honest and designed to remove the Bible from history and science. Flood geology didn't start in 1960, as Roberts claims. Not even close. It's been the norm in Christianity for about 2000 years and in the Jewish faith for much, much longer.

Why would most people over the centuries believe the Bible's clear teaching is a universe and an earth that is 6000 years old? Because that's what the Bible obviously claims. Biblical creationists, old earth creationists, and even theistic evolutionists and secularists for the most part, agree that the text seems quite unquestioningly in support of a 6000-year-old creation. The reason for this is clear, I hope. It's what the text says.

But perhaps Roberts, like most old earth creationists or theistic evolutionists, is confused. He is maybe mixing up Biblical creationism (his term is young earth creationism) with the apologetics used to defend the Bible that focuses on the Genesis account of creation and the age of the earth. It's all too common, really. But the fact that this apologetic didn't exist until recently is a testament to the fact that everyone until recently accepted what the text clearly tells us about creation and the time that creation occurred.

Lita Cosner from Creation.com says it beautifully: “It's true that the specialized area of apologetics devoted to defending the Biblical doctrine of creation and bringing the relevant scientific facts to bear on the topic is a fairly recent development. However, there is a long line of Biblical interpreters, theologians, and scientists who have believed and defended the Biblical doctrine of creation. Indeed, it could be argued that creation apologetics is the logical outgrowth of the same sort of belief in Biblical creation in a context where the doctrine is being specifically attacked and undermined in the church. The lack of a specialized area of creation apologetics in the early church should therefore be taken as evidence of the universality of belief in creation—it simply wasn't even debated.”

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