Christianity and Science, Old Earth Creationism

The Life Dialogue: Old Earth Creationism 4

This is part of a series of posts on the “Life Dialogue/Origins Debate” within Christianity. View other posts in the series here.

The obvious point of contention between Old and Young Earth Creationism (hereafter OEC and YEC) is the age of the Earth/Universe. Hugh Ross argues powerfully for an old universe from both a theological and scientific perspective in A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy.

The argument against the YEC position (derived from A Matter of Days) runs as follows:

1) The most coherent YEC position to explain the appearance of age in the universe is to hold that the universe appears to be old, but is not old in fact. (YECs often hold that God created light already traveling to earth, created Earth already to the point it could sustain life, etc.)

2) Scripture states that God does not lie. God is not a deceiver.

3) Scripture states that nature provides an accurate record of reality, though not a complete record.

4) 1) Scientific evidence (nature) demonstrates the universe is about 14 billion years old, as opposed to the 10,000(ish) years YECs grant.

5) Therefore, the universe is actually old. This follows from the accurate evidence of nature combined with 2) that God doesn’t deceive. If the universe is, in fact, 10,000 years (or so) old, then God has deceived humanity by making it in such a way that it appears to be much older than it is.

Premise 1) seems to definitely be the case. First, because the universe, according to the most modern science, is anywhere between 13-16 billion years old. Second, while YEC potentially has theories to explain why earth looks so old without relying on it being created already aged to a certain point (i.e. hydroplate theory), this does nothing to explain the background cosmic radiation; how we can see light from stars that are too far away to be seen yet were the universe 10,000 years old, etc. It therefore seems as though the only way to explain the apparent age of the universe is to argue that it is just that: apparent only. On this theory, God created the earth universe enough to support life, about 10,000 years ago.

Premise 2) doesn’t really need a defense (but if desired: Romans 3:4; Numbers 23:19; Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:1-2).

Premise 3) can be seen in things like Psalm 19:1-4a:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”

Premise 4) is at least implicitly accepted by YECs because they argue that even though science shows the universe is very old, it is not actually that old. It is worth noting that some YECs would claim that “real” and “unbiased” science would not lead to the conclusion that the universe is very old. There is little one can do to counter this claim other than argue that were that true, the YEC account would be able to present a fully testable, verifiable scientific model that shows that things like the background cosmic radiation are false.

Finally, the conclusion seems to follow from the preceding argument. God told us nature is an accurate record; He also created the universe (on YEC) in such a way that it appears to be billions of years old, but is not actually that old. Therefore, He created a universe that would deceive us into thinking, falsely, that the universe is old. But, God does not lie, so this cannot be true. Therefore, the universe is old.

I find this argument very convincing. It underscores my main problem with the YEC position: namely, that the best evidence does show the universe is old, and so God would be a deceiver were He to make it thusly.



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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.


3 thoughts on “The Life Dialogue: Old Earth Creationism 4

  1. So when God created Adam and then Eve were they created as newborn babies or as grown adults?

    I guess they must have been newborns or God would have been a deceiver because anyone looking at them would never say they are a few hours old?

    Posted by Grant | March 16, 2012, 10:30 AM
    • There are multiple responses that can be given to this.

      1) When we say the universe is old, it’s not as if one merely glances at the universe and says “yeah, it’s about 13 billion” like one would look at a person and say “yeah, they’re in their 20s”. This conclusion comes from several diverse lines of evidence such as radiometric dating which depends on the fundamental nucleic behaviour of atoms; not a sort of eyeballed estimation. Likewise, if one were to glance at Adam and Eve, one may say “yeah, they look about 25”. But, if one were to examine closer, they would see Adam has no scars, no food in him, no chipped teeth, nothing that would indicate he’d been around for 25 years. That’s one response, but there’s an even better, more powerful one.

      2) This is an inaccurate analogy. Adam may have appeared old but, would he have had memories? If our mystery observer had asked Adam ‘What is your favourite story from when you were 10 years old?’ Adam would’ve said ‘I wouldn’t know. I’ve only been alive for an hour’. Conversely, if Adam had told a long story about running through Eden as a small boy and pointed to a tree he had climbed 15 years ago, then we would have to say that we’d be dealing with a liar. If God made Adam ex nihilo in a mature body, he wouldn’t be lying. If God instilled Adam with 25 years worth of memories that never happened, then He would be lying. That’s the claim we OECs make: the universe has 13 billion years worth of ‘memories’. We ‘speak to the earth’ (Job 12:8) about its memories just as we would speak to Adam about his.

      Posted by Zachary Lawson (@Captain_Lawson) | July 24, 2013, 6:03 PM


  1. Pingback: Animal Death?- A Theological Argument Against Young Earth Creationism « J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - March 12, 2012

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