Answering 10 Old Earth Questions

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 14, 2019 6 comments

by Steve Risner

Biblical creationists have been the “norm” in the faith for literally thousands of years. In fact, as I've stated in another blog post, I believe Adam was the first “young-earth” creationist, and the Judeo-Christian faith has maintained that position since that time. It's only in recent years (the last couple of centuries or so) that some have tried to insist there is another truth—one that the Bible doesn't so much as hint at. This “truth” is deep time, that of the “old earth” creationist.

I recently was shown a blog post by an old earth creationist (possibly a theistic evolutionist, I can't remember in my interactions with him) that I had encountered years ago in various groups online. This blog post, which you can find here, consists of 10 questions this old earth creationist thinks are actually good questions to ask a person who believes what the Bible actually teaches about creation—that being the Biblical creationist, or what Mr. Roberts (the blog post's author) calls a young earth creationist. They are, I guess, supposed to be “gotcha” questions that should make Biblical creation look incorrect. However, as I hope to express quite clearly over the next few blog posts, they are nothing of the sort. In fact, they're not difficult questions at all.

First, about the author: Michael Roberts is a retired priest of the Anglican church. He also claims to be a geologist, and he’s authored a book or two. That is really the extent of the info I could gather on him. I do know he's acquainted with my biggest fan, Ashley, also from England, I think. I have interacted with Mr. Roberts in the past, as I stated above. He was usually less than cordial. Perhaps that's just the culture clash of the UK and the USA. I don't know, but I've always found him very condescending when talking with people that don't believe as he does, myself included. I'm sure this blog post will be shared in groups he may frequent on Facebook where I will be mocked and ridiculed when, in reality, their beef isn't with me. Their issue is with the plain teaching of Scripture.

The intro to Mr. Roberts' writing says he'd like to ask people who believe what the Bible teaches about creation and when it happened these 10 questions, so I'm glad I can answer them for him. Perhaps he'll come to the light.

He rightly states that “at first sight” one must believe in a “young earth” because Genesis teaches such a thing. That's exactly right. That should be the end of the discussion, but he feels he needs to trump the obvious teaching of the text with man's skewed interpretation of nature. He follows this first statement up with an appeal to the majority and, to be frank, he makes a claim that is wildly erroneous. That claim is that for 2000 years (the time since Christ walked the earth) most believers believed in an older earth. I say “older” because, to me, 6000 years is really old. I'm 41, so 6000 years seems like a long time. But to state that “most Christians have not believed in a young earth” since the time of Christ is an incorrect statement. He also makes the claim that creationism based on the Bible has only recently become a thing.

To me, these statements are absurd to an exceptional degree. “Young earth” creationism, which we appropriately term Biblical creationism, has its foundation taken directly from the text of Scripture. The details, mechanisms, and processes surrounding that which are not found in Scripture have been theorized by scientists and theologians for quite some time. These models are always changing as new information arises. But the text is exactly what our position is based on. Suggesting that Jews and then Christians believed anything except what the Bible clearly teaches makes me suspicious that Mr. Roberts is even concerned with accuracy or truthfulness. Perhaps he's just not well informed on the subject. I'm not sure. The fact is, although he states that Biblical creation is a thing developed only in the last 50 years, Biblical creation has always been the overwhelmingly accepted interpretation of the text primarily because it's exactly what the text says.

Mr. Roberts has written other pieces explaining how Christians never cared about geology or deep time until the Seventh-Day Adventists invented the idea of reading the Bible and accepting its teachings. This, of course, is farcical at best in my opinion. It's no secret that early Church fathers believed in the literal or natural reading of Genesis. Concerning geology and its connection to the Flood of Noah's day I've written on the origins of Flood geology in the past, and I want to include part of that writing for you here:

Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus was a very early Christian writer. He wrote on a variety of topics in the very early 3rd century AD after his conversion. It’s true he had issues with some Church teachings, but the point of addressing him is that as early as the 3rd century, less than 200 years after the establishment of the Church, Christians believed that the days of the creation account were literal and that the earth was formed 4000 years before them. Flood geology, the belief in the so-called geologic column, is claimed by some to be a recent development. However, Tertullian said that the global Flood explained why marine conches and tritons’ horns were found high in the mountains. This particular man is regarded as the father of Western theology. A little later we have John Chrysostom, a legendarily eloquent speaker and apologist who wrote in the late 4th century, who was also a literalist when it came to the creation week. At nearly the same time, we have the well-known Christian philosopher Saint Augustine. Some claim Augustine of Hippo believed in an allegorical creation story and, therefore, that he believed the earth to be much older than the Bible tells us through genealogy. This is a mistake. Although Augustine did believe the creation story was symbolic, he actually believed the opposite of the creation week when compared to old earth creationists, gap theorists, or theistic evolutionists. His contention was that the creation of the universe was instantaneous and that the 6 days of creation were allegorical to describe the single instantaneous act of creation for us. These 3 philosophers in Christian thought, which are only a sample of those we can pull from, show us that it was only just over 100 years after the Apostle John’s death that Christian writers were fully convinced of the natural interpretation of Genesis. The Apostle Peter also seemed to believe in a literal Genesis and the global Flood when he wrote of it in 2 Peter 3:3-7. This was likely written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 AD, thus placing Christian writings on the literal interpretation of Genesis within 30 or 40 years of the Church’s birth. Couple that with the obvious beliefs of the Old Testament prophets and writers and the case for a natural reading of the creation history is pretty clear.

Attributing most geological formations to the Flood or shortly after the Flood is a major pillar in the Biblical creationist's origins theory. We see that early writers in Christianity and even the Apostles themselves seem to have been sold on the idea of a natural reading of Genesis. So, claiming that this is some sort of new idea is simply nonsense to be frank. It doesn't fit with history, logic, or any of the facts. In the U.S., a nation that claims a large number of Christians (many of which are Christians in name only), only 40% of us believe in human evolution. That number was declining at that time of the poll. Also, 42% of Americans (all Americans, whether Christian or not) believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis. It seems like Mr. Roberts' ideas on the numbers might be a little off.

The problem here is that creation according to the Bible is not just some story that we can gloss over or create cartoons for our children to be entertained. It's not a story we can choose to believe or distort if we like. The book of Genesis (not just the first 11 or 12 chapters, where most old earth creationists start to accept what it says) covers about 1/3 of earth's history! The foundation for our faith is found in Genesis. That foundation is that God created everything—He is all powerful, all knowing, and all present as He is not a physical being. He created man in His image and has given man instructions on right living. Not living according to those standards is called sin. Once man sinned, there were consequences that all of creation suffered as a result. One of those consequences is death and decay. God tells us the payment for sin is death. This is why Jesus Christ died for our sins—He was a perfect sacrifice and paid the price for the sins of mankind, reconciling us to God Almighty. Except for that last statement, every bit of that is found in Genesis and the last statement is alluded to in Genesis. If we read Genesis as anything but a narrative on actual history, it falls apart and Christianity has no foundation whatsoever.

It's also about trusting God and taking Him at His Word. If He tells us He's done something, of course that's what He did. If we find that science disagrees with what is clearly taught in the Bible, then we've misinterpreted the science. In this case, however, the “science” is not science. It's a little bit of science misapplied with a great deal of presuppositions that guide extrapolation that ends up with a conclusion that is unknowable and not scientific.

Mr. Roberts has not started this blog post of his well, in my opinion. He's made wildly inaccurate statements and that doesn't look good for the rest of his statements. We'll see more next week.

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ashleyhr said...

Post notified to Michael Roberts via email (did you notify him yourself).

Steve Risner said...

Of course I attempted to inform him of my intentions. I have done this for any author I am doing a post about. Thanks for letting him know. I did, in fact, message him via Facebook. I looked all over for an email or something for him and couldn't find one. Facebook was all I knew to do. I figured you would see and let him know if he didn't already. Blessings...

Michael Roberts said...

Ta for publicity

You may like the original before editing to a word limit

Steve Risner said...

aside from Michael Roberts' link to the full document I'm responding to, I have no intention of having links to other places posted here, Ashley. If there is something specific at a particular link you want someone to view, please cut and paste it and I'll be happy to take a look.

ashleyhr said...

In fact - having now searched my records of my recent attempted comments on these blog posts - I'm not sure what link(s) I posted that you are not showing. (I now have seen that you did publish new comments of mine under your posts dated 3 January and 7 February.)

(From memory, maybe I referred to the new CMI article - Part 1 - responding to the Roberts Premier article.)

Steve Risner said...

Hello Ashley
I don't recall what your link was to, but that's not really important. I ran across an article responding to Roberts just this past week. I don't know if it was creation or AiG or ICR or someone else. I didn't get a chance to read it, but I'm sure it was done well and revealed the lack of coherence of the OEC/TE crowd. It's too bad intelligent folks accept such rubbish.