Est. May 2008

08 July, 2011

Old-Earth Creationism And Genesis

Likely one of the best-known ‘Christian’ theories of origins which tries to reconcile Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 is Old Earth Creationism.

As the link suggests, there are basically two lines of though for old-earth creationism: one is in rendering Genesis 1:1 to intimate that the Genesis story is one of rehabilitation or re-creation of an existing planet; the second is that the ‘days’ of creation were actually long periods of time – on the order of thousands, millions or billions of years.

Adding ‘when

The implications of adding the word ‘when’ to Genesis 1:1 go far beyond what the article suggests; it implies that one can add – or remove – things to Scripture, something the apostle John warns about at the end of the book of Revelation (22:18-19).

It also implies that God initially created something imperfect (not ‘good’), erased it and started over, getting it ‘good’ the second time around.

Can God create something that is imperfect? I’m sure He could, if He wished to, but there’s no evidence anything He ever created was ‘not good’. The original creation fell into sin and began to fall apart after it was pronounced ‘very good’ – it didn’t start out as imperfect.

Now, some might argue that God did wipe out His creation and start over – the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6 – 9:17). But there are critical differences between this account and that found in Genesis 1:1 – 2:3.

In the time of Noah, God decided to ‘start over’ because He ‘saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,’ not because His creation was ‘not good’.

God wiped out every living thing on the planet, save Noah and his family; He did not start completely from scratch (Genesis 1:3).

The populating of the planet began based on an existing family which had survived the ‘restart’, not with a re-creation of a man and woman.

After the Flood, the world was different, with mountains and valleys and changeable weather (some scholars attribute these to the eruption of the ‘fountains of the great deep’ and the opening of ‘the floodgates of the sky’ (Genesis 7:11-12)): these changes were wrought on an already-existing planet – the planet itself was not re-made.

Days as long ages

The exegetical contortions one must go through to make the word ‘day’ – as found in Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 – to mean ‘long ages’ is astounding. I haven’t the bandwidth here to thoroughly discuss the ‘Day-Age Theory’ – volumes have been written on the topic already – but there’s a very good review of the information here. Some highlights:
The language of the text is simple and clear. Honest exegetes cannot read anything else out of these verses than a day of 24 hours and a week of 7 days. There is not the slightest indication that this is to be regarded as poetry or as an allegory or that it is not to be taken as a historical fact. The language is that of normal human speech to be taken at face value, and the unbiased reader will understand it as it reads. There is no indication that anything but a literal sense is meant (Rehwinkel, 1974, p. 70).


The days of creation should be accepted as literal, 24-hour periods because God used and defined the word yom in the context of Genesis 1.


The days of creation should be accepted as literal, 24-hour periods because whenever the Hebrew word yom is preceded by a numeral in Old Testament non-prophetical literature (viz., the same kind of literature found in Genesis 1), it always carries the meaning of a normal day.


The days of creation should be accepted as literal, 24-hour periods because of the problems in the field of botany if the days are pressed into becoming long periods of time.


The days of creation should be accepted as literal, 24-hour periods because of plain statements about them in Scripture. (references at the link)
For me, though, there’s an even more devastating critique against the ‘long ages’ exegesis, and it comes from the apostle Paul in Romans 5:12.

In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul tells them, ‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— ‘ (emphasis mine). Until Adam sinned, death did not exist on Earth. If ‘day’ actually means ‘long ages’, then by Paul’s reckoning, from the initial creation of the world to Adam’s fall, not one organism ever died.

I highly doubt anyone who embraces Old Earth Creationism – or any non-biblical theory of the origin of the Earth – would admit to a belief that for millions – perhaps even a couple billion – years, nothing on planet Earth ever died; fossil evidence – the cornerstone on which evolutionary theory is based – demands that organisms have died throughout the long history of Earth and became fossils for us to find. Old Earth Creationists cannot affirm that nothing died – to do so would require a denunciation of Scripture.

So, if Old Earth Creationism doesn’t fit the bill, what might? Perhaps our next topic – Evolutionary Creationism.

No comments: