Phil Johnson has just asked people not to debate the Age of the Earth on his Facebook page, after he Tweeted/posted this:
What to do with Dr. Mohler’s Ligonier message? Biologos is fumbling and scrambling: http://bit.ly/95ie0x
This gives me great relief, because I’m very busy today and had to fight the dreaded Debate Draw! But now I have better reasons to ignore and move on, not engaging some of the popular ideas that have recurred there.
That includes this one:
I’ve always held to an old earth idea…after all, Jesus did make aged wine at the wedding feast…so its not beyond God to make things that are aged already.
Yet if one assumes this is true, consider a few points and questions:
1. Why didn’t God reveal the Earth was far older than we’d thought?
If God did create Earth to “look old,” He also inspired His primary revelation in a written Word that gives us the “appearance” of a “younger” Earth. Why include lists of generations (likely without significant gaps1) that when added together in ways the original authors would have meant, yield ages of thousands of years, not millions/billions?
2. How does “God made with appearance of age” help anyway?
John’s Gospel reveals the wine Jesus made was superior in quality, so we might guess it did seem to be old (John 2: 1-11). However, Jesus made this wine quickly — it was, in fact, young. If the “God made with appearance of age” idea has any merit, it would still prove the “young-earthers’ ” point: that despite whatever things appear to be, the world is not that old and was made in six short days.
3. So what does on “old earth” look like?
Do we have a version of Earth that we know for sure is old, so we can compare it with this Earth? Without historical witnesses, who decides the age? And why should we accept conclusions about history based on the words of scientists who
a) were not there to witness and record it?
b) decide a priori that evidence shall not be interpreted according to views that integrate God or Biblical truth, but instead with Only Naturalism Allowed presupposed rules?
c) make little distinction between present-day operational science and their own constructs of unobservable, nonrepeatable history?
4. What did the Flood do?
If God made the Earth with “appearance of age,” and that age included fossils, the global Flood would have destroyed them all anyway. Some try to get around this by positing a “tranquil flood,” or even less Biblical, a local flood. But again God is left surely guilty of deceiving His readers, for the constant repetition of the flood’s worldwide nature in Genesis 6-9.
5. Will we ever get past the same old “science vs. religion” myths and the even bigger myth of “neutral” scientists?
Some may never understand this, but the argument really isn’t over millions or thousands of years anyway. Rather, does the book of Genesis mean what it says, based on its genre and how its Author, and the human authors He inspired, intended it?
A Christian cannot add the secular-origins-science belief in millions of years into Genesis without also adding death, disease and suffering, for both animals and whatever human-like creatures preceded Adam and Eve. Such addition not only fails to respect Genesis, or actually reconcile the Biblical account and evolution-based origins science, but results in a greater difficulty for the Gospel: in such a view, a “loving” God approves of death, disease and suffering.
There’s less (or no) reason to oppose death, disease and suffering now.
By comparison with historical “fact” of particles-to-people evolution, the doctrines of God being love and creating His world with love sound senseless and pathetic.
The same God created using millions of years of death and suffering, then called it “good,” acted as though Adam’s and Eve’s sin was the problem, not Him, then inspired a book that misleads us.
I’ve written this quickly, and it could sound more callous than my usual style.
Christians can certainly believe in secular-science notions of history, and I know many good Christians who do. Maybe they haven’t thought about it, or maybe they have studied the issues and come away legitimately convinced in mixing evolution-based history constructs with Biblically based history constructs.
But taken to its logical conclusion, adding millions-of-years evolution to Scripture erodes the Gospel’s foundation and cheapens the very reason Jesus needed to die for His people.
Yet it’s a testament to God’s grace that He keeps such people in the faith, loving them and using them mightily for His Kingdom, regardless of such Gospel-eroding beliefs. I suppose either way, He gets the glory.
- Chapter 5: Are there Gaps in the Genesis Genealogies?, Answers in Genesis, from The New Answers Book 2. ↩