Genesis: Four Views

I recently read Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Kindle edition; J. B. Stump, ed.; Zondervan 2017, contributions by Ken Ham, Hugh Ross, Deborah Haarsma, and Stephen C. Meyer).  I will be posting my ruminations about it from time to time.

This is the third in a series on the old earth/young earth controversy and the first on Four Views.

Chapter 1: Young Earth Creationism by Ken Ham.

Ham writes:

. . . [C]reation is cursed, whereas Scripture (the written Word) is not. Without the biblical revelation about  the cosmos-impacting fall of man, the creation gives a confusing message about the Creator.5 Therefore, we start our thinking about origins (as in all other areas) with Scripture, God’s inerrant, holy Word.  [Kindle Location 292.]

From the fact that the creation is cursed it does not follow as a matter of logical necessity that God’s revelation in nature is confusing.  It certainly can be, of course, and there is no question that the scriptures teach much about God and a great many other things which cannot be discerned in nature.  But Paul writes to the Romans that God’s power and deity are readily apparent from nature.  Paul’s view is vindicated by Big Bang cosmology and the Fine-Tuning of the laws of physics, which prove God’s existence[1]; and that is no small thing.

Moreover, Ham here claims merely that nature is confusing without the revelation of the Fall; but none of the other contributors deny the Fall.  So is Ham conceding that nature is not confusing, as long as the Fall is in view?  Then he is not making much of a claim.  It might be more pertinent to observe that in light of the Fall, we should adopt a healthy skepticism with regard to all our judgments, and be cautious about human interpretation of both Genesis and the book of nature.

To me it is not the meaning of the word “day” which is most interesting about the Genesis account, but the phrase, “and there was evening and there was morning.”  It’s pretty hard to interpret that as having anything in mind other than one period of darkness followed by one period of light.  This may be YEC’s best argument.  There are other compelling arguments, based on Exodus 20:8-11 (“in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them”), the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, and the question why it would have been necessary to save the animals in an ark if the flood was not global in extent.

Yet the findings of science appear to be at great tension with these texts.  The question is whether there is a way to resolve that tension without stretching either the biblical text or the science to the breaking point.

My present bias is that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe much older.  If, at the end of this project, I remain of that opinion, then I may be forced to say that I do not understand the biblical text.  I do not think I will be forced to say that I do not believe the biblical text.  Instead, I might say that it belongs in the catalogue of the many unanswered questions that I have about the universe, God, and his plan of redemption, right up there with the Trinity, the Incarnation, and atonement for sin.  I do not understand those things either, yet I believe them because the Bible clearly teaches them, they make very good sense insofar as I do understand them, and I have very good, independent reasons to believe that the Bible is the Word of God.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Ham does not go into YEC’s responses to mainstream geology and astronomy, and I intend to reserve judgment until I can review all of that.

I do very much doubt I’ll change my opinion.  It’s like my views on same-sex attraction (SSA).  I read widely and have been doing so for many years.  I noticed pretty much everything that was said about gay rights from the time I was in law school starting in 1971; but I did not take notes, and would not have been able to marshall the evidence against the notion that SSA is inborn and immutable.  Yet I was sure that that evidence was out there.  When, ultimately, the task of marshalling the evidence became unavoidable, I researched the matter thoroughly.[2]  I was not certain, when I began that project, that my opinions would be confirmed, but they were confirmed.

It is like that here.  I have been paying attention for a long time to the debate over the age of the earth, and have not been convinced by YEC arguments about the unreliability of radiometric dating, geological strata, ice corp samples, or astronomical measurements.  But until now I was not taking notes, and I confess I have not heretofore had the motivation to entertain young earth theories seriously and carefully as I now, God willing, hope to do.

[1] See joshualetter.com/blog, June 28, 2018 post, “The Existence of God: Four Philosophical Arguments.”

[2] See joshualetter.com/blog, July 4, 2015 post, “What is Homosexuality?  A Survey of the Scholarly Literature.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Genesis: Four Views

  1. debahlynn says:

    Tom, thank you for these posts. It helps me to follow your thoughts and your process. I admire the intellectual integrity you bring to this and other topics.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s