This is part 1 of a series of guest posts by Mike Trutt on Geocreationism. Check out other posts on the “Life Dialogue” within Christianity here.
Mike Trutt is an evangelical Christian with a Jewish background. He believes the Bible is inspired by God, recorded by man, and given its life by the Holy Spirit. You can read about and discuss his Old Earth views on scripture, science, history, and other topics at his blog,http://geocreationism.com.
I believe the Earth is old, and God’s Word is true. This is not an easy position to hold. There are Christians today feeling challenged to abandon the church, because long-standing theology requires a young earth that science tells them does not exist. Faith tells them that science and scripture should not be at odds, but if the earth is so old, then what does scripture mean? Why does Genesis say what it says, and science sees what it sees? Christians can agree that science and scripture must somehow align, but disagree as to how. A science that conforms to a young earth requires one to dismiss the scientific basis of established dating techniques, while an interpretation of scripture that conforms to an old earth requires an explanation of why pre-historic death does not unravel the doctrine of Original Sin, and in turn our need for a savior. As an Old Earth proponent and a Christian redeemed from sin, I have found no mainstream theory – on either side – that satisfactorily answers these questions.
Though I consider them my brethren in Christ, the Young Earth scientists whose writings I have read do not appear to understand the science they theoretically embrace. While using science reliably for everyday tasks like keeping airplanes in the sky and maintaining reliable cell-phone signals, the moment you provide evidence of something incredibly old that The Great Flood cannot explain, they say carbon dating is unreliable beyond 5,000 years (which is roughly true), hence rendering any dating technique equally suspect. Why? Because the Bible clearly says to them that the Earth is young. To them, evidence to the contrary indicates a misunderstanding of the evidence. While such strong faith is potentially advantageous to their relationship with God, it dismisses the possibility that Genesis is what we misunderstand. But, if that is the case, and the earth is old, then where is the theory of Old Earth Creation that keeps Christian Theology intact? In all my years of looking for it, it isn’t there. Enter Geocreationism.
Most Old Earth approaches relegate Genesis 1-11 to some form of symbolism, even though every chapter is clearly written in a literal manner. For example, concordist theories (e.g., Day-Age, Progressive Creationism) map the days of creation to overlapping geological eras, even though Genesis 1 clearly discerns a break between creation days. Gap theories fail to account for the fossil record, by acknowledging the age of the earth, but not the development of the species. Theistic Evolution relegates God to the beginning of creation, when Genesis 1 clearly shows God’s involvement at every step. And so it goes, as every mainstream Old Earth theory dismisses the plain meaning of scripture, an unsatisfying response to Young Earth theories, which dismiss the plain meaning of the science. It creates a false dichotomy that puts many in the unenviable position of dismissing their heart or dismissing their mind, when God would have us dismiss neither.
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The first mistake of Old and Young Earth Creationists alike is one of perspective. They read Genesis 1 from the perspective of the earth’s experience being created by God, when it is really telling us of God’s experience creating the earth. If there is any doubt then consider who it is that hovered over the deep in Genesis 1:2. God was there, physically hovering. He had a perspective, and from His perspective the earth had no form and He could see no light. “And God said ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day’, and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.” (Genesis 1:3-5) From God’s perspective, hovering over the deep, there was now light separated from darkness. In Job 38:5, God describes it as stretching the line upon the face of the earth. Proverbs 8:27 calls that line the circle on the deep, which we see from space, even today.
The Hebrew word used for day is “yom”, and it refers specifically to the period from sundown to sundown, or from darkness to darkness. In other words, God experienced the end of the day, but it was not specifically 24 hours. This has profound implications for understanding Genesis 1, and it is a perspective I have read nowhere else.
For God to, by choice, physically experience 6 days creating, calling each phase of creation “good”, it suggests an ability to watch the earth rotate beneath Him until the entire earth passed Him by. As Genesis 1:2 says so clearly, God hovered over it, an intentional physical perspective for Him to watch His work. But what would happen after 24 hours, after the entire earth has passed through His view? From the perspective of a point on the earth, one “yom” would certainly pass. However, God was not limited to a point upon the earth. He was hovering above it as the earth rotated beneath Him, hovering in the light, which imposes no arbitrary time limit on when He moves into the dark. Combined with the literal meaning of “yom”, scripture is not requiring a creation day to be a 24-hour period. Sundown for God becomes the time God chose, not a time imposed. It means the earth may be old, and God created it in 6 literal days.
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Another common oversight in Genesis 1:2 is the nature of the deep over which God hovered. What is it? When was it? What if science could find a period in history when the earth was covered in water and darkness, a period that ended with the appearance of light, but no land, no life, and no visible sun? Would that confirm at least the possibility that Genesis 1:2 is recording something that literally happened? I thought it would, and I found it.
About 4.5 billion years ago, the earth is thought to have formed. According to the aging of zircon crystals from as long as 4.4 billion years ago, it strongly suggests the formation of an ocean around the world as it cooled. It would also seem from the moon’s craters that large meteors were hitting earth until around 3.9 billion years ago. The sizes of the meteors were large enough to vaporize any ocean that was forming, and blow away any infant atmosphere as well. But interestingly, that stopped quite suddenly 3.9 billion years ago. This gives us a point in time when the earth, covered in water, vapor, and gas was finally allowed to start settling down, and allow the sky to clear. The sun was dimmer at the time, and what light did reach the earth would have been too obscured to be seen. It is the precise condition described in Genesis 1:2, and would seem to record the result of God’s statement, to “Let there be light.”
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While we’re on the topic of the deep and its formation, I want to jump to Genesis 2:4-7…
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
What fascinates me about this passage is verse 5. It describes the state of the earth when God first made it. Does this passage give us a clue as to when that was? Well, look at the description of the earth in verses 5 and 6…
- No shrubs
- No plants
- No rain yet, ever
- No people to work the ground
- Streams gassed up from the earth to water the ground
This is in fact a precise description of the earth 4.5 to 4.4 billion years ago. Scientists call this process outgassing. They believe it is how the deep formed, over which I believe God hovered in Genesis 1:2, and it is described quite accurately in Genesis 2:5-6. Though no mainstream theory will call Genesis scientific, the appropriateness of these verses should no longer be overlooked. Finally, we come to verse 7, which says, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
To paraphrase, God started with dust 4.4 billion years ago. He then proceeded through 6 literal days of creation until around 6,000-7,000 years ago, when Adam was born. God introduced Himself and breathed new life into him.