Do Psalm 90 and 2 Peter 3 Support Deep Time?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 8, 2022 0 comments

by Steve Risner

This week I’d like to look at some Scripture shared with me by a theistic evolutionist, as I did last week, that he claims supports his position of deep time and universal common descent (what some often just call evolution, but I prefer a more precise nomenclature). Last week we looked at 2 passages that were very similar: Genesis 1:11-12 and Genesis 1:24. This week, I plan to combine a couple as well since they, like the previous two references, are similar.

We’re looking at Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 this week. These verses read like this, respectively:

“A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

These verses, especially 2 Peter 3:8, are very commonly cited by evolutionists and old earth creationists – inappropriately so, but often nonetheless.

Why would the person who wants to believe in deep time present these verses for us to look at as evidence from the Bible? The reason is they want these verses to mean that if God says, “I did ‘x’ in a day,” what He really could mean is it took Him a thousand years. In other words, just because God said He created in 6 days that doesn’t mean that’s what He meant because what’s a “day” to the Creator?

Like many such questions concerning the meaning of a passage of Scripture, context is critical. What were these passages about?

Psalm 90 is a prayer written by Moses. It begins with a brief description of the greatness of God. He spends considerable time on the timelessness of God—that He is eternal and existed before we or the earth did. He speaks of how insignificant man is in respect to the great power and majesty that is our God. So, the verse here in Psalm 90 that is being used to prop up deep time and universal common descent has literally nothing to do with how God measures time. God created time, so how He measures it is important. But I think it stands to reason that if God says, “I did ‘x’ in a day,” that this is exactly what He means. If He says, “I made everything that exists in 6 days and rested on the 7th,” you can be sure that’s what He did. Otherwise, it seems the argument is, “God isn’t subject to time, so He might not get it right when He gives us a timeframe for something.” That’s literally what this argument is. But verse 4 isn’t telling us to forgive the Lord if He accidentally says “a day” when He means “a thousand years.” It simply means that while man frets over days and years because his time is short, it means nothing to the Creator who is beyond time and will never end. His time will never cease, so He’s not worried about getting something accomplished today because He may not have tomorrow to do it like us humans. God transcends time. That’s really all this is saying. It’s certainly not saying He took millions or billions of years to create the universe, and there is clearly nothing about universal common descent here.

The second and more commonly used Scripture reference, 2 Peter 3:8, essentially means the same thing, but the context is different. Here, Peter is here talking of the second coming of Christ. As early as the writing of this epistle by one of the closest friends of Jesus, people were already saying, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” Peter is encouraging his readers to not be disheartened that Christ hasn’t returned yet. While it might seem like a long time to human beings, the 30 or 40 years that may have passed since Christ’s ascension are not even the blink of an eye to an all-powerful Creator who is not subject to time. That’s really all this passage is saying. It’s a very applicable Scripture for us in our lives as we wait on the Lord. We may be praying about something or waiting for God to move on our behalf, and it might seem like it’s taking forever. “God, how long will this go on? How long before You move?” But to God, the passage of time is irrelevant, and He is always “on time.” Generations may pass, but God is still God, and He is still waiting for the appropriate time—which is often not our time. As Peter goes on to say in verse 9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” In God’s love, He wishes no person should perish without knowing Him, so He is waiting. “Just one more,” is often the way I’ve heard it described. The Father is looking down on the world while the Son is anxiously awaiting to return and the Father says, “No. Not yet. Just one more. Just one more.” How great is the love of our Lord for us?!

This argument used by people who are Christians but want to believe in deep time based on these verses is another failure. The argument falls flat when you apply it to other portions of Scripture. For instance, how many days did Joshua and the Hebrews march around Jericho? Was it 7 days, 7000 years, or some other time period? How long does the Fourth Commandment tell us to work? Is it 6 days, 6000 years, or some other time period? When Moses asked Pharoah to allow the Hebrews to travel 3 days into the wilderness to worship God, did he really mean 3 days, or was it 3000 years or some other time period? When Moses was on Mt. Siani receiving instruction from the Lord, was he there for 40 days, or was it 40,000 years or some other time period? The same goes for Jesus; when He was in the wilderness, did He fast for 40 days, 40,000 years, or some other time period? How long was Jesus in the grave? The Bible says He was raised after 3 days, which is pretty awesome! But was He really there for 3000 years? He would definitely need a resurrected body after that amount of time rotting in a tomb. You can see how this argument would mean we can’t know much at all in the Bible because anything can basically mean anything. What a silly idea, right?

Peter goes on to use this as an opportunity to encourage his readers, us included, to live lives that are blameless and Godly. Since we do not know when Christ will return and it will happen quickly and without warning, we should always be living a Christ-like life. You can read more of Peter’s words on this here.

Something very noteworthy here is that this chapter of this letter by Peter, a close friend of Jesus, confirms for us a few things about the Flood. If we read 2 Peter 3:5-6 we find, “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” We can conclude from this that nothing the evolutionist believes is supported here, whether deep time or universal common descent.

We can also learn some affirmative things about our faith in the Bible being the trustworthy Word of God. First, it shows us that, according to Peter, who we believe is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Flood happened. Secondly, Peter explains that the entire planet was flooded during this event. Thirdly, it emphasizes that things do not plod on as they always have (an idea known as uniformitarianism). While there is a fairly consistent drone of marked change over time due to erosion and geologic disturbances like minor eruptions and earthquakes, there are major catastrophes that impact geology and the landscape tremendously and can make huge changes very quickly. This passage is often cited by creationists who believe the Bible (Biblical creationists) because it confirms that even the New Testament authors believed the Old Testament and its teachings on the Flood. The universality of this event seems pretty clear in this passage if the numerous references in Genesis to it being a global flood were not enough. It is a little surprising to me that a person who wants to make a claim that the Flood didn’t happen (a major tenet of Biblical creation) would reference this passage. Cherry picking can be a fun way to go about reading the Word… for some. This is the second blog post on Scriptures used by theistic evolutionists that actually support Biblical creationism (what they like to refer to as young-earth creationism).

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