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Christianity and Science, Creationism, Intelligent Design, Old Earth Creationism, Science, Young Earth Creationism

Ken Ham on “Compromise” and Stand to Reason

Ken Ham recently released a rant about compromise in the church. Rather than evaluating any single point, I’m just going to go through a short, point-by-point response. Quotes from the article are in block quotes.

…a big part of our mission is to bring reformation to the church, so of course we expect opposition to our efforts. Sadly, the worst opposition from my perspective is from within the church, since we should expect opposition from the world.- Ham

I would like to know what the “reformation” is that Answers in Genesis (hereafter AiG) hopes to bring about. I suspect it is a reformation of young earth creationism, but that seems to be a fairly major position within the average church anyway. A “reformation” is never restricted to just one point, however, so one must wonder what theology it is that AiG hopes to bring to the forefront.

Stand to Reason states its mission as teaching people “not just what to think, but how to think.” Sadly, their supposed teaching people “how to think” is actually teaching them to think in terms of millions of years and evolutionary ideas. -Ham

Ken next turned to an attack on the ministry group, “Stand to Reason.” Note that the reason it is under attack is because the group is teaching “to think in terms of millions of years and evolutionary ideas…” I found this quote particularly strange, considering that Stand to Reason is a specific and vocal advocate of Intelligent Design. The group goes so far as to offer Intelligent Design as “a scientific alternative to evolution.” As far as “millions of years,” one may say that this is indeed part of teaching people “how to think.” Let’s investigate the evidence. Let’s come to our own conclusions. Let’s think about it.

It seems particularly strange to see an AiG person complaining about others teaching “how to think” because anyone who disagrees with the AiG position on the age of the universe is labeled, ironically, a “compromiser.” Only if you hold the position AiG desires you to hold are you someone who knows “how to think.” Seems like a very strange way to teach “how to think,” doesn’t it?

 Hugh Ross believes in an old earth and promotes the day-age and progressive theories of creation. He says God created over millions of years in the same basic order as the secularists claim life evolved (in reality, this is a form of theistic evolution). -Ham

Hugh Ross is a favorite target of groups like AiG. Why? I suspect it is because Ross doesn’t focus exclusively on scientific evidence (which young earth creationists tend to reject as  “a different interpretation of the same evidence”) but instead offers alternative theological interpretations.

That aside, this quote from Ken Ham is factually incorrect. It makes me wonder whether he has interacted with Ross’ works on a thoughtful level. Ross certainly doesn’t hold the position outlined above. Ross does believe the timeline science has uncovered matches up with the Biblical account. The important distinction is that Ross leans towards progressive creationism (in the writings of his I have read); in other words, God created species over time. When one species passed away, God brought forth a new one. Initially it may seem that this is how Ham described Ross’ position, but note the last clause in which Ham says this is a form of theistic evolution. That is absolutely incorrect. I know of no theistic evolutionist who would agree that God brings forth new species over time in special creative events. None. Rather, it seems Ham is just using the scare word “evolution” and associating it with any position he disagrees with (see Stand to Reason above).

[Skipping over a number of point-counterpoint rebuttals in Ham’s post.]

They [Stand to Reason/other groups like them] can try to modify things all they want, but what they are doing is compromising man’s ideas of millions of years with the Bible and reinterpreting the clear text of Scripture, thus undermining the authority of the Word of God. They do believe in evolution—it’s just that they just don’t accept the naturalistic neo-Darwinian view but modify their beliefs to suit their purposes of having God create but over millions of years. -Ham

Another juicy quote. Let me break it down. First, Ham is tugging the standard YEC line that anyone who disagrees with their interpretation of Scripture is “compromising” by using “man’s ideas.” Essentially, if you are a Christian who doesn’t believe the universe is 6000-10,000 years old, you are compromising Scripture. Never mind a huge amount of exegetical evidence to the contrary (one thinks of C. John Collins’ study of Genesis; Hugh Ross’ own theological work; Sailhamer; Walton’s important study of Genesis in light of ANE cosmology; etc.), if you disagree, you can’t possibly take Scripture seriously. I have run into this personally a number of times. If you disagree, your position simply cannot even have any merit. Never mind if you offer a reading of Genesis which more closely matches the theological/cultural/historical aspects of the text, you’re just wrong.

Moving on, Ham, in baffling fashion, wrote that Stand to Reason does “believe in evolution.” Again, this is a simple misrepresentation of STR’s position. In fact, Young Earth Creationists “believe in evolution” in the abstract too. What? It’s true. Consider the research YECs do in journals of their own publication. Not only that, but even the “Answers in Genesis Research Journal” does a study of “kinds” in the Bible and asserts, “the Bible’s description of created kinds implies an information model which uses variables. The findings in this paper show that a model which uses variables forms a stronger basis for true scientific understanding of biology and, by implication, the Bible provides a superior foundation for scientific investigation.” Wow, looks like AiG believes in microevolution through variables too! I should therefore reject the site as “compromise.”

The problem is that, as is typical in these types of discussions, such a rejection would be an unfair reading of the opposition. Ham and others put scare words like “evolution”; “compromise”; and “man’s ideas” in the context of their opposition. The tactic is highly rhetorical and has little, if any, substance. The fact remains that Ham is cherry-picking ideas from the opposition, putting them in context with scare words, and then declaring victory.

Overall, one must wonder about a few things based simply upon this recent article. 1) What kind of theology is a group like AiG trying to “reform”? Is their perspective limited only to the age of the universe, or do they have a broader vision? 2) Did AiG inaccurately represent their opposition? 3) No matter what side we take in this debate, should we not try to be fair and honest about the other side’s view? 4) Was Ken Ham fair and honest?

Source: “Compromise Being Spread” Ken Ham, http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2012/05/08/compromise-being-spread/.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

93 thoughts on “Ken Ham on “Compromise” and Stand to Reason

  1. As an outsider in this debate, it seems to me that Ham thinks Creation is representative of all of Christian theology. Think about it this way – there would never have been any need to reinterpret the YEC literal reading of Genesis had it not been for scientific evidence. There surely are answers now that Christians can accept as some kind of reconciliation of Biblical and scientific evidence, but Ham’s objection is that you think you must reconcile the two. My dad actually wrote a book advocating Creationism and always said, “if you can’t believe the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, how are you going to believe the rest of it?” He therefore spent a number of years fighting to protect the Creation story. I think Ham’s theology is probably along the same lines – if you are willing to read Genesis through 21st century lenses, blending traditional teaching with scholarly interpretation and scientific evidence, what’s stopping you from reading the rest of the Bible through those lenses? To some Christians, this is totally fine, but to others it apparently cries out for a reformation.

    Posted by Walt | May 9, 2012, 12:12 PM
  2. My disagreement with Ken Ham is that he and the other young-earthers never seem to venture outside of the church. Their entire ministry seems to be focused on whipping Christians into shape, as if by getting some critical mass of Christians to be sufficiently pious, they can change the society to be less secular. But I think that a better approach is to go out there and engage with non-Christians based on the scientific evidence. It’s not like we are losing THAT debate. Seriously, did you all hear Lawrence Krauss debate on Unbelievable? That was bad – for them. That’s what we should be doing.

    Take a look at the events at ICR:
    http://www.icr.org/index.php?f_type&f_keyword&f_submit=Search&f_month&f_year&f_regionID&module=events&action=search

    And AIG:
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/outreach/conferences/

    It seems to me to be all churches, churches and more churches. To me, that means that their view cannot survive an encounter with the opposition. It’s exactly the same as Richard Dawkins refusing to debate William Lane Craig.

    Posted by Wintery Knight | May 9, 2012, 1:48 PM
    • Excellent observation about Christians (YEC in particular) preaching to the “choir”. Your example of how we should do it (the Krauss debate on Unbelievable) is right on target. Yes, it did expose the weakness of the Krauss position, but what really encouraged me was that Krauss himself commented (enthusiastically) how he enjoyed the discussion. This shows that we can initiate true dialogue with rather dedicated unbelievers to where we aren’t just talking past one another.

      Of course we must do our utmost to get all of our facts straight, but we can be confident in the truth and trust where the facts lead.

      Posted by Gary Plavidal | June 9, 2012, 3:07 AM
  3. If the world is not 6,000 – 10,000 years old, why did God wait so long to reveal Christianity?

    Posted by C | May 10, 2012, 1:00 PM
    • I’m wondering if this is a serious comment. Do you think that Jews were not saved? Abraham? They were around before Jesus, so they weren’t Christians, yet they were saved by faith (see Hebrews). I think this is, if serious, the worst argument I’ve ever seen for a young earth.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 10, 2012, 3:56 PM
    • I don’t know if this is a good answer for you, but I don’t think the time matters so much for our persecutive, because Humans are very young, if we assume the long days and an earth of 4 billion years. The LORD is not subject to time like we are so 6000 years or billions would not really make a difference to Him. I hope that helps. For the others I want to mention something, and that is when people try to date the earth using the Bible they date backwards to Adam. But when did Adam age start to be counted? How long were Adam and Eve in the Garden before they fell? we are not told. So the best we can do is count back to the Fall, I think. The Scripture tell us the LORD created the Havens and Earth, but do not tell is when; So I never get dogmatic on dating it. A couple other things to consider is the gap theory and also is Genesis 1 actually a recreation after some traumatic event, such as the fall of the satan?

      Posted by Rick | May 2, 2014, 7:16 PM
  4. Thanks for that polite response… it was a questions not an argument, so what’s the answer?

    Posted by C | May 10, 2012, 5:20 PM
    • I’m not sure what the force of the question is supposed to be. Jews were saved before Christianity, believers were saved (Abraham, etc.), so what’s the question?

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 10, 2012, 5:26 PM
      • I don’t know where I stand on YEC/ ID/ OEC argument, so I posed a question that I find difficult to answer myself, to which I got an incredibly rude response. I’ll try one last time even though you insulted my question before seeking to understand it…

        The earth is 6,000 years old and Christianity was revealed 2,000 years ago vs. the earth is 4.5 billion years old and Christianity was revealed 2,000 years ago. If the latter is true, why the delay? God does not have the same relation to time, but we’re not talking about a small difference we’re talking orders of magnitude. If we are the central part of God’s design, why did he wait so long to create us and even longer to reveal Christianity.

        Posted by C | May 10, 2012, 5:41 PM
      • Wouldn’t the time scale be relative no matter how much time had passed? Why did God wait 4000 years if the earth is 6000 years old?

        I think the question is based on an improper understanding of providence and God’s salvific plan. Christianity wasn’t the only way God saved people–again, think of the Jews, Abraham, Nineveh (in the book of Jonah), Melchizedek, and the like. I’m not saying all religions are true or even that more than one is true. I’m saying that in the past, God worked with people where they were.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 10, 2012, 5:55 PM
      • The time scales seem odd to you, but not to God. When you have infinite time, spending a few billion years to create a desired effect is of no consequence at all. So, why would God not have created the universe in 13 billion years, just to get a small window of a few thousand years with living creatures?

        You could ask the same question about space: why would God create billions of galaxies just so He could have living creatures on one rock orbiting one star in one galaxy?

        The answer is the same in both cases: God has infinite time and space, so the expenditure of time and space to create a few living creatures is not a problem. Besides, we don’t know what interaction God had with the rest of the universe for the rest of time. It’s really not our business.

        Perhaps you do not appreciate just how unlikely living creatures truly are. Our universe is remarkably hostile to life in nearly every way, nearly everywhere you go. It may actually have been physically impossible to create a universe containing living creatures without spending that much space and time.

        Posted by philwynk | May 10, 2012, 10:23 PM
  5. The relativity is the point as far as the time scale, and you said “why did God wait 4000 years if the earth is 6000 years old?” – That was part of my question, so I’m not sure I understand that part of your response.

    As far as my not understanding the salvific plan – I actually have not once mentioned salvation but you keep responding about it – are you saying that Christianity is not necessary for salvation? This raises a lot of questions in my mind.

    Anyway, not sure I’ll get the answer I’m looking for here so I’ll keep looking. Thanks!

    Posted by C | May 10, 2012, 6:28 PM
    • What is wrong with God waiting to reveal Christianity? Throughout Scripture, it is clear that Abraham was saved by his faith, which was before Christianity. Christ saves all who are saved, but the fact that there was a time before Christianity doesn’t mean no one before that time was saved. What I’m getting at is I don’t see what the point of the question is. What are you trying to ask? Is it a problem that God waited? If so, why?

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 10, 2012, 6:49 PM
      • I don’t know if this is what C was wondering, but I would wonder why God waited to communicate with humans if the earth were older than 6-10k years. Biblical scholars who believe in OEC will say that Adam was perhaps the first homo sapiens to have a spirit, but we know for a fact that homo sapiens have been around for far longer than the generations listed in the Bible. Unless the Biblical genealogies are metaphorical or incorrect, there were many many humans before the one that God chose to start the whole line leading to Abraham, etc. I myself have never understood the argument that Adam was perhaps the first human, because he couldn’t have been in my reading of the Bible. So I’ll pick up C’s question and ask why God waited so long to begin a relationship with humans, or if Adam actually lived at least 50,000 years ago then what of the genealogies in the Bible?

        Posted by Walt | May 11, 2012, 6:49 AM
      • Well it can be demonstrated that the genealogies in the Bible are definitely not without gaps (see C. John Collins’ study of this in “Genesis 1-4”). So the time scale is wrong anyway, for those who say 6-10k years. I therefore think it is not implausible whatsoever to think that Adam/etc. lived that long ago.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 9:36 AM
  6. You could ask the same question about space: why did God create billions of galaxies with billions of stars each, just to create living beings on one small rock circling one star in one galaxy?

    The answer to both time and space questions is that God has an infinity of both. Spending a million dollars on a wedding seems extravagant; but if you have infinite funds, why not spend a million? God has infinite time and space; why shouldn’t He spend exorbitant amounts of both just to create living beings for a few thousand years in one place?

    Perhaps you don’t appreciate just how unlikely living creatures are. Most of the universe is cruelly hostile to life. Perhaps there was no physically possible way to create a universe where life was possible without spending that much time and space.

    Posted by philwynk | May 10, 2012, 10:28 PM
  7. Ham seems to think it’s telling to be able to say to those who claim that God created the universe 14 billion years ago, “That’s not what God said He did.” And truly, that’s the primary basis of his objection to the scientific evidence that the universe is that old.

    The problem he has is that the author of Genesis 1 could not have described a singular explosion 14 billion years ago even if he could conceive of such a thing. The language does not have any way to say “14 billion years.” Even if a Hebrew writer were to try, it would not be possible to distinguish 14 billion from 4 billion, or even from 4 million. The Hebrews just did not have those concepts.

    Consequently, Ham saying “God did not say He created the world in 14 billion years” is something like a man trying to measure a few microns with a yard stick; his tool simply does not have the granularity to do the job. And for that reason, the failure of Genesis 1 to describe the age of the universe precisely cannot be taken to mean that the universe is young.

    If some Young Earther comes up with a plausible way that a Hebrew writer, writing in 2000 BC, could have described the beginning of the earth 4.5 billion years ago in accurate terms using the language as it existed then, THEN I’ll let them get away with saying that the language of Genesis 1 does not support an old earth. But if the language had no way to say that, then the failure of the account to say it proves nothing.

    Posted by philwynk | May 10, 2012, 10:38 PM
    • Thanks for the very thoughtful comments, Phil! I think it’s worth noting that I’ll go even farther and say I do think the language of Genesis 1 supports an old earth. It only makes sense if the days and/or the “In the beginning” are not literal 24 hour days. Why? Any number of reasons. One being that “evening and morning” is used–which is the inverse of the order they come in anyway, but apart from that–and the sun didn’t exist for the first 3 days (or it wasn’t revealed yet). So how is there evening and morning without a sun? The Bible is using metaphorical language to describe work days passing. I’ll cite the study again, because it is fantastic–C. John Collins’ work “Genesis 1-4” does a simply fantastic job drawing out the literary context and meaning of these passages.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 12:15 PM
      • I’m curious where OEC proponents draw their lines…I can see how Genesis can be read with an old-earth perspective if you take many of the descriptions to be metaphorical, but there doesn’t seem to be a way around the idea of Adam being the first human being and then being presented with the first female human being. OEC must be at odds with evolution?

        Posted by Walt | May 11, 2012, 12:22 PM
      • Walt,

        It really depends which form of “old earth” believe you run into. Old earth creationists would tend to say that yes, Adam and Eve are real people and existed as the first human pair. Theistic evolutionists (not creationists) would hold that no, there were many other humans around, and Adam and Eve were just the first to be given souls.

        I favor the OEC camp. Is that at odds with evolution? I’m not so sure. Why would it be at odds to claim there was an original pair?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 12:47 PM
      • Also, I’d be interested to see an outline of what is meant by “at odds with evolution.” What do you mean by “evolution”? There is much debate within the community of scientists over the meaning and extent of evolution. What does it mean for something to be at odds with “evolution” when there is no homogeneity on its meaning as a theory?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 12:50 PM
      • JW, thanks for the reply – I’ll try to be clearer. Thanks for differentiating between OEC and theistic evolution, that difference makes sense to me.

        By at odds with evolution I mean specifically at odds with what we think about hominid evolution. The idea is that homo sapiens split from other hominids 100-200k years ago. The most obvious reason to me why there couldn’t have been an original pair as described in Genesis is that man came first ie: that Adam didn’t have a mother because woman was created after. No evolution leading to homo sapiens if we came directly out of the ground. Another reason is that an original pair would have been two among many thousands of similar hominids. I don’t have a problem saying that God may have given this original pair the first two souls ever, but it seems to me that Genesis claims they were alone and isolated rather than living in a group. Thanks for the discussion!

        Posted by Walt | May 11, 2012, 1:07 PM
      • Walt,

        Sorry for the late response.

        I hold that God did indeed specially create Adam and Eve. Thus, on my view there is an original pair. But that doesn’t preclude the existence of other hominids. And, to be quite fair, the lineage of humans within naturalistic evolution is under extreme debate.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 14, 2012, 5:28 PM
  8. “alternative theological interpretations.” Yeah I’m certain God appreciates that.

    Posted by Joe | May 11, 2012, 7:00 AM
  9. “There is only one truth, but arriving at that truth is a process. By rejecting any alternatives, one effectively closes off any interaction and possibility to strengthen one’s own position.”

    What do you mean by process? What is involved in the process?
    How do you know the truth you arrive at the the correct one?
    If your position is true, why is there need to strengthen that position?

    Posted by C | May 11, 2012, 9:38 AM
    • Theological development has occurred since the beginning of Christianity… and before that within Judaism. The word “trinity” was not used in the Bible, but was confirmed by the universal church as properly drawing out the implications of the Biblical narrative. As Christianity faces new challenges, it must meet these challenges with a proper response. Thus, recent attacks on OT morality have required development of proper understanding of the ANE context which wasn’t part of the whole Christian perspective before.

      So what I mean by process is just that: as new challenges arise, they are met by development; this also answers what’s involved. Truth is objective, and so knowing which truth is correct can be determined through a testing process involving all our capacities to discover knowledge.

      Regarding the need to strengthen a position: it is true that “God exists.” But on its own, even a deist, pantheist, or panentheistic monist can affirm this. Thus, we need to strengthen the position; we must clarify it as theism; we must then clarify it as Christianity; etc. Similarly, as new arguments are raised against the proposition “God exists”; we must defend against those arguments, in order to show that the truth is rationally defensible.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 9:49 AM
  10. Why is it so hard to just take God at his word, that’s what it really boils down to right?

    Posted by Joe | May 11, 2012, 9:53 AM
    • Well, what does God’s word say? Can you show me a verse in the Bible that says the Earth is 6-1000 years old? I’d like to see it.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 9:55 AM
      • “Well it can be demonstrated that the genealogies in the Bible are definitely not without gaps”
        They trace back to Adam yes?

        Posted by Joe | May 11, 2012, 9:57 AM
      • They do. But specifically, they leave out members. This can be shown by cross-referencing the genealogies. For example, Matthew 1:8 tells us that Joram fathered Uzziah. However, in 1 Chronicles 3:11-12 we find that Joram fathered Ahaziah, who fathered Joash, who fathered Amaziah, who begot Uzziah who was also called Azariah. (To see this, compare also 2 Kings 14:21-22 with 2 Chronicles 26:1-2.)

        Another example: Exodus 6:16-20 shows that Jochebed bore Moses to Amram son of Kohath, son of Levi… but Kohath was born before Jacob took his family to Egypt (Gen 46:11). If Israel was in Egypt 430 years, as we see in Exodus 12:40-41, and if Moses was 80 at time of exodus, (Exodus 7:7), then Kohath was born at least 350 years before Moses. But then that’s too long to be Moses’ grandfather (because Israelite lifespan was about the same as ours [Psalm 90:10]).

        More examples can be found.

        So we know that the ANE world felt comfortable leaving gaps in genealogies by assuming that people knew there were people in between them. Even when they specified “X fathered Y,” they meant this in the sense of “descended from.” There are gaps in the Biblical genealogical record.

        So I’ve shown you several Scriptural reasons to believe that the genealogies weren’t exacting but rather generalized accounts, and the authors treated them as such. You say, “Why is it so hard to just take God at his word, that’s what it really boils down to right?” If you think your 6-10000 years is based on the Bible, I want to see the verse. I’ve shown my position is in the Bible. Where does it say 6-10000 years?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 10:14 AM
  11. Show me where it says millions of years in the bible.. Oh wait that’s just silly, we’ll just have to believe those who want to reconcile life without God to have those answers and we’ll assume that God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit are the one’s who have sent us the mixed and confusing messages about life.

    Posted by Joe | May 11, 2012, 12:22 PM
    • Not sure where this came from. Joe, you were implying the claim that your position is the only Biblical one. Again, you wrote, “Why is it so hard to just take God at his word, that’s what it really boils down to right?”

      This seems like a rhetorical question to back up YEC. Many YECs take this strategy.

      Unfortunately, you, like others, when asked to support that claim, retreat to a “tu quoque” fallacy.

      Perhaps I read you wrong, perhaps you weren’t implying that your position is Biblical. In that case, I see little reason to respond. If, however, the question was rhetorical and an attempt to discredit my own position, then I ask you to back it up. If you claim the Bible’s text supports only the young earth position, then I’d like to see a verse in the Bible which tells me the earth is 6-10k years old. Let us see it.

      If you can’t give me that evidence, then you need to stop making the claim that your position is the only Biblical one.

      Again, there is major confusion about hemeneutics in the YEC camp. They tend to favor the kind of reasoning implied by the rhetorical question above–that their position is the only possible Biblical position. But when challenged, they tend to retreat from the stronger claim and argue the other side must argue against them. This is very disingenuous.

      You are making a claim (presumably–again, it may be the case that you don’t think YEC is justified by the Bible, in which case I’m confused over your argument), so you need to back it up. Let’s see, in the Bible, your position. Let’s see a verse that tells me the earth is 6-10k years old. Instead of throwing this back in my face, I want you to justify your claim.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 12:44 PM
  12. Oh and to say that there were several gaps in genealogies could explain a difference of 15,000,000 years….really

    Posted by Joe | May 11, 2012, 12:25 PM
    • It depends how long the gap is. Plus, I have no idea where you got the 15 million years from. At all. The older estimates would be about 200,000, while some posit 50-100k. Let’s have some accuracy if we’re going to honestly debate this topic.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 12:45 PM
      • JW is correct, the top end of such estimates are ~200K YA.

        My initial question was that if the Universe is 15B YO, the Earth is 4.5B YO and anatomically modern humans are ~50 – 200 YO – why the delay? Of course you could say “why not” but it would seem to make more sense if the Universe, Earth and Humans were all created within spitting distance of Jewish/Christian revelation as opposed to the equivalent of thousands or millions of generations.

        Posted by C | May 11, 2012, 1:11 PM
      • I’m still trying to figure out why you think that would make more sense. What makes more sense about it?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 11, 2012, 1:13 PM
  13. Ok let’s start form the beginning (pun intended) because I’m not here just point fingers and say no you’re wrong. We both love the same Jesus so I apologize for for coming on so strong. Let us debate this in a more brotherly manner. First let me get an understanding on what you believe so that I’m no longer making assumptions. I’ve gathered that you believe in a literal Adam and Eve, do you believe that Adam was created from the dust and Eve from his side? What is you exact belief in how much time it took God to create and by what means did He do it?

    Posted by joe | May 11, 2012, 6:42 PM
    • I do believe Adam was created from dust and Eve from his side. God’s creation of the universe itself out of nothing was probably instantaneous (In the Beginning); but there is an indeterminate amount of time from that in the beginning until the first day; furthermore, there is an indeterminate amount of time for each creation day. The age of the universe and earth can be determined by observational evidence (Psalm 19) and because we know that God doesn’t lie (Numbers 23:19), we know that God will not lie to us through the record He left in nature, which declares his glory (Psalm 19). Thus, the universe is approximately 14.5-16 billion years old. The Earth is about 4.5-5 billion years old.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 14, 2012, 5:32 PM
      • So we both agree that God does not lie, so was He just pulling our leg when he said and the evening and morning were the first day. He repeats this phrase over and over, almost as if He knew that this very argument would come about. How do we get around the seven day week? For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor. I don’t believe there’s anything indeterminate, it’s written very plainly. What is your reasoning for thinking that God was speaking in riddles here in Genesis? Also, you state the age of the earth so matter of fact, where did you get this number, because nature does not declare billions of years, the current indoctrination of atheists and faulty scientific assumptions do, but nature does not. Not bashing you here because the wool has been pulled over so many eyes in this area of science. If we’re going on the fact that God can not lie, why do we put the word of man and his biased “science” over genesis 1?

        Posted by Joe | May 16, 2012, 7:26 AM
      • Joe, there was no sun on the first day, according to young earth creationists’ interpretations, so there was no evening and morning in the sense that we know it. Therefore, the interpretation can’t force the evening and morning into a 24 hour period. In fact, it isn’t until the 4th day when God says that the lights can be used to tell the days. So God Himself tells us that we couldn’t monitor days by the sun until day 4, but there was evening and morning on days 1-3 as well. Thus, the evening and morning must mean something different.

        Notice that none of this is puting the “word of man… over Genesis 1”, it is simply reading the text. I read the text and I find that on day 4, God says the lights can be used to tell seasons and times and days. So days in the 24 hour sense didn’t even exist until day 4.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 16, 2012, 10:37 AM
      • I always feel compelled to hop in when I read about indoctrination of atheists…Joe, what do you mean by current? Geologists have known for at least 200 years that the earth is old. What faulty scientific assumptions are you referring to?

        Posted by Walt | May 16, 2012, 10:28 AM
  14. If I may I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes.
    “When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are.” -Martin Luther

    Posted by Joe | May 16, 2012, 9:53 AM
    • Luther does indeed have a way with words. I find much of what he said compelling, but I also find much of what he said mistaken [i.e. his view on the Jews]. That said, I think it is just as important to “grant the Holy Spirit the honor” of using the text in the way that it was meant by the author; and the more we study, the more we find that ANE cosmology exactly fits the framework of Genesis 1 and that in that context, we’re asking the wrong questions of the text to squeeze time frames into it (cf. John Walton).

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 16, 2012, 10:00 AM
  15. Yeah good ole Luther.. Here’s my next question, why did it take God, who is all powerful, 4.5 billion years to create the first man? I mean, what would be the point? He’s all powerful, why limit Him by saying, “no He can’t just speak things into existence (like He said He did), He has to form them through billions of years through trial and error”. Or are you stating that He just waited all that time to start creating anything?

    Posted by Joe | May 16, 2012, 10:25 AM
    • I’d have to say this is definitely a straw man. Nowhere do I claim that God could not have just done it all in an instant. Nowhere have I claimed that God had to “form [things] through billions of years through trial and error.”

      I actually don’t know of any reason to answer these questions because none of them are even close to my position. I could similarly ask these questions of a young earth creationist:

      “Why did God have to wait 6 days to finish creation? Why was God limited to 24 hour days before He created the sun on day 4? If He’s all powerful, why limit Him by saying ‘no He can’t just create things instantly without taking 6 days’?”

      After all, Augustine did, in some of his writings, hold to an instantaneous creation.

      So I’m not even going to respond to those questions because not one of them speak to my position. If someone holds those positions, maybe they can answer the questions.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 16, 2012, 10:32 AM
    • Joe – If you look at the top of the comments in this post, you’ll see I have been asking the exact same question. I have yet to get a response aside from mocking the very question. I’m assuming this won’t be approved by the moderator but I figured I’d try.

      Posted by C | May 16, 2012, 1:06 PM
      • Actually the question you asked was this: “If the world is not 6,000 – 10,000 years old, why did God wait so long to reveal Christianity?”

        You later wrote, “My initial question was that if the Universe is 15B YO, the Earth is 4.5B YO and anatomically modern humans are ~50 – 200 YO – why the delay? Of course you could say “why not” but it would seem to make more sense if the Universe, Earth and Humans were all created within spitting distance of Jewish/Christian revelation as opposed to the equivalent of thousands or millions of generations.”

        I’m still waiting to hear an answer to my question back: “I’m still trying to figure out why you think that would make more sense. What makes more sense about it?”

        I am still waiting to see a positive case made for the claim. What makes more sense about it?

        We can see in the Bible that people like Abraham were saved before the revealing of Christianity, so what exactly is it that makes more sense on your view?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 16, 2012, 1:10 PM
  16. I sense some aggravation here, and I certainly was not trying to put you there. You never answered the question where do you get 4.5 billion?

    Posted by Joe | May 16, 2012, 12:12 PM
    • There are any number of methods we can use to determine the age of the earth. I don’t think it’s necessary to outline them all. A simple search on google can turn up millions of results regarding the scientific data.

      But if the question is from Scripture, I would say that nowhere in the Bible do we have a verse that says how old the earth is. If you disagree, show me the book, chapter, and verse which states the age of the universe and/or earth.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 16, 2012, 12:44 PM
      • This is the point I’m trying to make here, brother I look forward to spending an eternity in heaven worshiping our Lord together, but this is a major issue. There are far reaching consequences to this kind of thinking. You’re essentially saying that God’s Word is fallible and man’s is not.
        Romans 3:4
        …let God be found true, but every man a liar.
        You’re saying that because man’s science says that the world has to be billions of years old, we have to reinterpret God’s Word to fit what man believes.
        You keep saying straw man, and that you could pose to me the same questions like why six days. The difference is I can answer that question, it’s what He said He did. Again Genesis, the mosaic law, Mark 10:6 In the beginning God created them male and female.
        If I can take man’s science and say “ok now I have to fit billions of years into Genesis, because science can’t be wrong” What’s to stop me from reinterpreting the resurrection, science proves you can not raise a man from the dead. The virgin birth, scientifically impossible. A global flood, can’t happen. Jonah and the whale, nope. Well it would appear that the bible is full of fictional tales. How in the world can I trust it when it says that my trust in an invisible God can save me, which by the way science says does not exist.
        Do you see the danger of this poses?

        Posted by Joe | May 16, 2012, 2:07 PM
  17. Joe said “why did it take God, who is all powerful, 4.5 billion years to create the first man?” That is the same as my question – “why the delay” given the 4.5B assumption you are asserting. Again – it’s the same basic question and you’re answer is effectively “why not?”

    Genesis says the earth was created in seven days. You claim something very different. Joe and I are merely trying to better understand your position.

    Posted by C | May 16, 2012, 1:17 PM
    • See my comment below.

      Basically, you’ve never demonstrated that the text necessitates 6-10k years; I see no reason to accept it.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 17, 2012, 9:23 AM
      • I was never saying or trying to demonstrate that “the text necessitates 6 – 10K years” I just said that it seems to make more sense that he would create man soon after creating the universe as opposed to millions of generations later. You said “why does it make more sense” but I think that’s being evasive.

        Create universe. Create earth. Create man.
        Create universe. Wait 10 billion years, create earth. Wait 4.5 billion years, create man.

        I’m not accepting or rejecting either, but I think the Bible infers the first (doesn’t necessitate it) but I think geology infers the latter. I was never asking anything more than “if the latter, why?”

        Posted by C | May 17, 2012, 2:52 PM
      • C,

        I’m not trying to be evasive. What I’m genuinely asking is why would it not make sense. What is it, specifically, about “waiting” that doesn’t make sense to you?

        And furthermore, does there need to be a reason for God to wait to create man? Can not God choose to do what He wills? Is that not what the Bible says about God? ” He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 17, 2012, 3:11 PM
  18. Look J.W., you’re working on your masters in Christian apologetics, so I know I don’t need to go into what apologia means. Would it not benefit your (and any Christian’s for that matter) defense of faith if God’s word always trumped man’s? We are such finite creatures in a universe that we’ve barely begun to understand. We both agree that God is the one one who knows all things so when our ideas or beliefs go against scripture, which one do we adjust.

    1 Corinthians 14:8 For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?

    Sadly this is what the church has done in this generation. Very few are prepared to to to war for Christ because we as a church keep giving an uncertain sound. The secularists and atheists are trumpeting loud and clear their beliefs “Billions of years and evolution. The bible is a lie. God does not exist. Science proves there’s no room for the supernatural.” The church however, “Well we’re not exactly sure how God did things. Maybe there’s a gap. Perhaps when God said a day what actually meant was millions of years. Don’t worry about genesis, just trust in Jesus.” And we wonder why two thirds of our youth in the church is walking away from the faith when the hit college.
    We are doing a sad injustice to God when we tell people that they have to adjust God’s word to fit the current scientific theories.

    I say all this to you not just for your sake but you are one who has influence, a teacher, a guide to those who are blind. Don’t give those who are seeking a watered down God. Don’t fear ridicule from those who think themselves wise. If a Follower of Christ is what you are, follow Him, not man.

    God bless you J.W.

    Posted by Joe | May 17, 2012, 6:42 AM
    • Joe,
      As a Christian who lost faith not long after college, I would say that my personal experience is that quite a bit more uncertainty from Christians would go a long way toward reducing the number of youth who leave the church when they are confronted with concepts like evolution. I was initially frustrated with Christianity because my belief going into science class was that I knew exactly how universe, earth, and life were formed. When I discovered that I was wrong, it was the first giant red flag for my faith. It seems more reasonable to realize that God was speaking to people in ways that people could understand. The Bible talks about four corners of the earth, but there is no need to conclude that there are actually four corners of the earth because God said so. A more reasonable conclusion would be that God was seeking to convey something under than geological principles in the biblical texts. Similarly, JW is arguing that there is nothing in the Bible that pins down a YEC story – he pointed to a book on the topic that explains how the first few chapters in Genesis may be compatible with an old earth story. Indeed, there is the obvious contradiction that a day or two passed before there was any sun to define what we currently mean by a day. JW points to the idea that Genesis need not be a lesson in cosmological, geological, and biological principles but instead a lesson in God’s relationship with man. Is it somehow a failing of the church to uphold what God says about His relationship with man while leaving the cosmology, geology, and biology to science? Science says nothing about whether or not there exists supernatural forces, but it does provide evidence that seems to contradict what some people say particular gods do and have done. Germ theory is one example…we now know that microscopic organisms and viruses rather than evil spirits cause infectious disease. Would it be a failing of the church to concede this point? Astronomy led us to the understanding that the earth revolves around the sun, even though this would contradict some literally interpreted passages in the Bible – would it be a failing of the church to concede this scientific principle?

      I don’t think that science is completely compatible with a literal Biblical account, but I see no reason to think that the Bible claims perfectly describe scientific principles.

      Posted by Walt | May 17, 2012, 9:16 AM
      • Walt,

        Thanks for the gracious and generous comment. I think you have hit most of it right on. The problem is too many are simply asking the wrong questions about Genesis. John Walton does a fantastic job in his work pointing out that the text of Genesis 1 is very much like other ANE cosmologies and it is a temple narrative. It is rich in theological content, and the intention was to use that richness as a polemic device against other ANE cosmologies or simply to show that the Genesis account is more compelling. But if we look at a text which is written in a specific, 7 day format because it is intended to reflect other ANE contexts, then if we go around asking “how long are the days” or “when, exactly, did ___ happen?” we are asking the wrong questions. We should be asking “What does this mean?”

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 17, 2012, 9:33 AM
    • Here’s the thing, you haven’t demonstrated that the young earth position is what God’s word teaches. I’ve already shown above that the genealogies have gaps, and no one has rebutted that argument. So I can say with confidence that we know that the genealogies have gaps in them, so we can’t simply add them up and get the age of the earth.

      Note that even if the genealogies didn’t have gaps, it is still an inference from Scripture, not Scripture itself that people take to say 6-10k years. I can’t stress that enough–it is a hermeneutical tool people use to try to get the age of the universe.

      But then there’s the second point: where in the Bible does it necessitate 6-10k years, anyway? I have asked for a verse, and still haven’t gotten one. Where is the verse? Tell me.

      Third point: the young earth position completely ignores proper principles of Biblical hermeneutics. Rather than observing the ANE context [in which the Genesis 1 narrative fits ancient cosmology very, very, very well]; rather than observing the text itself [which lacks the definite article with the word “day” despite pseudotranslations in the NIV and other versions]; the YEC position assumes an ultra-literalist stance and bases their position upon the English text!

      So if you’re going to tell me that I’m adjusting God’s word to fit current scientific theories, I want you to show me, explicitly, how that is the case. I want you to show me a book, chapter, and verse that demonstrates the young earth position. Moreover, I want you to show me how the young earth hermeneutic doesn’t do violence to the text [which it does]. I want to see an argument for ultra-literalism which demonstrates the young earth hermeneutic.

      Until you can do that–and especially until you can show me a verse which demonstrates the young earth position–I stand unconvinced.

      All you have done is assume that the young earth position is correct. Notice that your entire comment here simply assumes your position, without argument. Well, frankly, the young earth position is not the default position. It needs an argument.

      Finally, if, as you suggest when you say ” Very few are prepared to to to war for Christ because we as a church keep giving an uncertain sound…”–that is, if Christians are failing to defend the faith because of supposed “compromise” then I want to know why every single major Christian apologist I can think of who isn’t part of a ministry which serves to promote YEC over and above any other creed or doctrine believes in an old earth.

      Why is it that the following people all hold to an old earth, if supposedly by doing so they are not prepared to defend God’s word (note that many of these are members of the evangelical philosophical and/or evangelical theological societies which require adherence to inerrancy):

      William Lane Craig
      JP Moreland
      Robert Spitzer
      Richard Swinburne
      Alvin Plantinga
      Paul Copan
      C. John Collins
      John Sailhamer
      Robin Collins
      John Lennox
      Norman Geisler
      Kenneth Samples
      William Dembski
      Michael Behe
      ….I could continue. That is off the top of my head.

      So why is it that people like Alvin Plantinga–the man credited with single-handedly bringing about a renaissance in Christian philosophy and bringing theism back into philosophical discussion; William Lane Craig–a prolific writer, debater, and eminent philosopher of religion and time; and Norman Geisler–a theologian and philosopher who has done untold amounts of work in bringing apologetics and philosophy to the lay person; why is it that these people are all able to operate under an old earth position and yet not compromise the Bible? Why is it that the greatest Christian minds of our time (Plantinga, Swinburne, Craig, Geisler) all hold to old earth positions?

      It seems to me the answer is because they’ve studied the texts, they’ve studied the science, and they’ve realized there is no conflict. Furthermore, it hasn’t affected their faith.

      So I think that the kind of insinuations young earthers bring to the table–that if you hold to an old earth you will somehow discredit Christianity or that you will jeopardize inerrancy–need to be dropped.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 17, 2012, 9:22 AM
      • J.W. I never said that you have to stupid or ignorant to have a different view so it would make since that there are some great minds, scholars, debaters, strong men in the faith about there that hold to the old earth position.

        Have you done any studies of the importance of genealogies in the ancient world and how accurate they were in record keeping? I suggest some time invested into that.

        You keep asking for a verse that says 6-10,000 years, how do you expect me to answer that? If the bible stated how old the earth was it would only be true for that one day in history, then the bible would no longer be inerrant.

        And on your 3rd point, are you assuming that a literal interpretation of genesis is based off of the English translation. If so I’d advise some study of the word yôm and what most Jewish scholars believe about the creation week.

        You never answered my question about mosaic law and the Sabbath.

        Why does there have to be a sun to represent a day, could not the sphere of the earth been rotating prior to the sun. And while were on the subject of the sun to lengthen these days of creation would state that not only God got it wrong with conveying how long a day was but He got the order all mixed up because science says the sun came long before the earth.

        I have more to post but will have to do it later

        Posted by Joe | May 17, 2012, 1:58 PM
      • I’m asking for evidence, not hypotheses.

        Regarding the genealogies, I presented any number of studies which did the exact thing you asked for. We know, for sure, that many of the Biblical genealogies contain gaps.

        It is unfair of me to ask for a verse that says 6-10k years. What I mean is I want a clear verse that tells me, in time, when the earth was created. Where does it say that “at x time in history, the earth was created.” I’d like to see where in the Bible it necessitates a young earth. That’s what I’m asking for.

        Regarding my third point, what I am saying is that people do not at all take into consideration the ANE context and cosmologies. The Genesis account is squarely in that area, as a polemic against the rival cosmologies.

        As for Mark 10:6 and the Mosaic Law, “in the beginning” is an indefinite time expression, which one can discover by a word study of reshiyth. We do the same thing. We use the word “beginning” as a broad term for around the start; the first; and the like. Just saying “in the beginning” doesn’t necessitate a young earth. I’d like to see an argument for that.

        Days are based off of the sun. In fact, Jesus himself says that there are 12 hours in a day (John 11:9). Does that mean that the days were literal 12 hour days? Have we doubled the length of creation? Or is it not just possible that the way “day” is being used is different in different contexts? And that is what I’m emphasizing–the days of creation are in the ANE context.

        So instead of just assuming that you are correct, I would like to see an argument. Let’s see it. Where does the text necessitate a young earth?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 17, 2012, 2:38 PM
  19. Joe and JW – you are both more learned than me on the subject but from following the conversation it seems that JW is asking Biblical reference of a young earth and Joe is asking for a scientific reference of an old earth. Why do you each hold your respective positions? You’re both convinced of one side of the argument, I’m not… so here is someone on the fence asking to be persuaded….

    Posted by C | May 17, 2012, 2:46 PM
    • ” You’re both convinced of one side of the argument, I’m not… so here is someone on the fence asking to be persuaded….”

      Oy a kindred spirit umm I mean brother 🙂 Lots of things you have said here seems to indicate we are on the same page. Which unlike others mean we haven’t decided what to write down yet. lol. So maybe we can help each other on our journey. YECs have it right that scripture has supremacy. I would like to see that more from the OEC perspective. However with no side taken by me yet JW ‘s point on day four is well taken and on the first part of Genesis 1 the OECs seem shaky. A strict reading of Genesis without any modern science interpolated tends to give alot of credence to today’s 24 hour days not being whats being spoken of.

      However that can go either way in this debate. Take day one. It is not necessary at all and I’d say even unlikely that verse 2 is a part of the first day. Right now I take a VERY literal look at the first day. To me its the appearance of daylight and the evening and morning are the first day. You could have a long long night in verse two but its the appearance of light that caps that evening and morning first day. On the other hand it could be even shorter than a 24 hour period.

      SO I find myself in No man’s land as to the earth with initial ground and water being even a hundred billion years old or 6,000 years not mattering biblically to me. If not for sedimentary rock and fossils I would take no issue at all on an old earth without even the slightest bit of discordance with a totally literal even hyper literal meaning for the Genesis account. HOWEVER just when you think I am leaning OEC all the way I have serious issues with especially the last day being anything but a day and it has little to do with the long battle over Yom. The age of Adam is stated in Genesis 5 . We are told all the days that Adam lived were 930 years point blank. If Day 6 is all about creating Adam as the scripture states then we are not talking about millions of years if Adam years come up to less than a thousand years.

      SO though its true we might be able to fit in billions of years in day one by the time we get to genesis 5 the 6th day seems pretty nailed to the ground by the clearly stated age of adam. So my willingness to accept the earth itself being even billions of years old doesn’t do a thing for the bigger modern science issues of sedimentary rocks with fossils. Just as JW argues convincingly to me for a nonstandard day up to the Sun and Moon appear its hard to maintain millions of years after that. It works both ways

      JW would love a link to wherever you talk about the ANE studies that you have looked at. Unfortunately those that i have seen pretty much only use that context to fudge their positions not prove their point. I’ve yet to find any that takes in the whole context of Judaism including the messianic Judaism of Christianity. We have hundreds even thousands of years of views that encompass Jesus’s statements , Psalms , The practice of the Sabbath etc. I’m having a hard time seeing the scriptural evidence for the kind of old earth creationism I see being suggested. the only thing I can come up with that makes sense is the Talmudic gap theory which predates the Church’s gap theory by hundreds of years (and why many jews have no issue whatsoever with modern geology – well almost none) and perhaps seeing the seven days as sequential but not consecutive days from the perspective of God (which leads really nowhere toward fitting in with modern naturalistic geology).

      Posted by Michael Marks | May 17, 2012, 8:31 PM
  20. Not sure if it’s intentional but I can’t re-reply to your reply, so I’ll add it here – answering in reverse order.

    “And furthermore, does there need to be a reason for God to wait to create man?” – Nope
    “Can not God choose to do what He wills?” – Of course
    “Is that not what the Bible says about God?” – It is

    Those are reasons why (and I agree) the Bible “does not necessitate” a young earth.

    “What I’m genuinely asking is why would it not make sense. What is it, specifically, about “waiting” that doesn’t make sense to you?” – My best response is that if the earth is 4.5 billion years old and humanity is 150,000 years old, how could humans possibly contend to be a significant portion of His plan? (which we are according to His word (or my interpretation of it)) How could we pretend to be more than a drop in the cosmic bucket?

    If we’re NOT a significant part of His plan, then I have a lot of rethinking to do as my interpretation is way off. If we ARE a significant part of His plan, see above….. do you see what I’m grappling with?

    I’m not saying x or y is right, but this is why (to me) YEC makes more sense to me according to the Bible. According to geology (a subject I am learned in) the evidence absolutely necessitates an old earth. A science teacher in high school gave me the best answer I’ve heard – “IF the earth is 6 – 10K years old, he made it look like it’s 4.54 billion years old.”

    Posted by C | May 17, 2012, 4:22 PM
    • C,

      Now I’m more sure of where you’re coming from. Forgive me for initially taking it as an argument for a young earth–I’ve seen that question presented as such before.

      You wrote, “My best response is that if the earth is 4.5 billion years old and humanity is 150,000 years old, how could humans possibly contend to be a significant portion of His plan? (which we are according to His word (or my interpretation of it)) How could we pretend to be more than a drop in the cosmic bucket?”

      One could look at it that way, but I think one could paint a different picture. First, God is timeless, as in God transcends time. Categories of time do not apply to God. Thus, for God to “take time” doing something is simply a malformed statement (in the philosophical sense). Second, here’s the story: God delights in creating. As He formed the cosmos, he continually had in it His plan of salvation, foreknowing that humans would fall. He aligned the heavens, brought forth the stars, and breathed life into man. All of the heavens were shaped so that humans could come forth at the right time for humanity to flourish. (For an exploration of the fine tuning, see Hugh Ross, “Why the Universe is the Way It Is“.)

      Am I speaking metaphorically? Am I speaking literally? Yes, I’m painting a cosmology, just as is Genesis 1.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 17, 2012, 6:12 PM
      • (BTW, I reply to posts in the dashboard on wordpress so I don’t see the comments as you do. I only occasionally look at them on the site to see the order… so I’m not sure what the issue would be with the replies, except that I know for some reason it cuts off the amount of replies that can happen to replies… as in it stops pushing them right before the format messes up.)

        Regarding the argument “IF the earth is 6 – 10K years old, he made it look like it’s 4.54 billion years old.”

        I used to argue in just this fashion. It made the most sense to me. But on reflection, I think it makes God into a deceiver. I’ve written about this elsewhere.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 17, 2012, 6:14 PM
  21. In one of my first posts I acknowledged the same point “God does not have the same relation to time, but we’re not talking about a small difference we’re talking orders of magnitude.” to which you replied “it’s all relative”… I took that to mean: whether a long time is actually a long time doesn’t change that a big difference is a big difference (put very simply). I agreed with that – which to me still leaves the same question, but only to a small degree.

    As far as your second point – “God delights in creating….” Beautifully said.

    Posted by C | May 17, 2012, 6:42 PM
  22. I have to say this is a mighty good talk we have going here and I thank all who are taking part in it. A few more questions, that you may not be able to answer but at least ponder.

    I want to first bring up a question concerning the gaps in genealogies. I agree there could be gaps in certain places of the bible, and at one point you said that there’s a guesstimate of Adam living 150k years ago, do you believe that these gaps could account for 146,000 years? And what about the Genesis 5 genealogies? The gap view has failed to provide any evidence to demonstrate gaps in the Genesis 5 genealogy

    Question 2, why does history only go back several thousands of years. Our first known writings are only about 5500 years old. The first story we can find, The Epic of Gilgamesh, dates somewhere between 2750 and 2500 BC. Did it take man tens of thousands of years to develop a written language?

    Question 3 How do we as Christians rectify, or balance our belief that our God is good and yet He calls pain and suffering good? If “God delights in creating..” does He delight in all the disease, bloodshed, and death that took place during His act of creating. Does not scripture tell us that death is an enemy and that death is the direct response to sin?

    Posted by Joe | May 18, 2012, 7:04 AM
    • Joe,

      Regarding the first question: I think the genealogies are incomplete. By implication, that implies that I do think that all of human history–whether 10,000 or 200,000 years–fits within these genealogies. Regarding Genesis 5, I suggest this article on the genealogies in general.

      Question 2: While writing itself may be only that old, we have cave art from as far back as the 42k years ago. I’m also still not sure what problem a question like “Did it take man tens of thousands of years to develop a written language?” would present. It seems that yes, it did take man that long to develop a written language.

      Question 3: The death in Scripture as a consequence of sin must be spiritual death, because Christ defeated “death” in that same sense. If it refers to physical death, then that would mean that we should no longer die–after all, death is defeated. Regarding animal deaths: animals are not sentient and therefore not aware of any pains/sufferings. I think it is very easy, especially for YECs, to take a negative view of death and/or ecosystems. I can’t help but think of them as an opposite. It truly is a beautiful and very good thing that we have ecosystems wherein all the creatures interact to bring about a stunning, cohesive complex of life. Without predation or disease the overpopulation of certain segments of the ecosystem would lead to the collapse. Yet God has designed life in such a way that it is an intricate inter-reliable web. I don’t see why so much negativity is heaped upon this.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 24, 2012, 9:18 PM
      • I will certainly read the article on genealogies.

        About the cave paintings, if we use the same flawed methods that supposedly prove billions of years it’s easy to get 42k years from a painting. But if we’re going to use cave paintings as evidence let us consider all the paintings of dinosaurs which would back the theory that man lived along side them.
        I still can not get past the idea that from Adam and Eve who were created perfect, and I believe that includes a much higher intelligence than we may have even today, yet it took till their great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great (and so on) grand kids to say “Hey, if we were to make these symbols to represent the words we’ve been speaking for thousands of years, we can start recording things!” When we say that mankind took that long to develop the written equivalent to what they had already been speaking for hundreds of thousands of years we severely depreciate God’s creation of the human mind.

        Here is the issue with animal death over millions of years, Gen1:30 and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so. The fossil record gives us thousands of examples of animals eating each other. So if we claim that those fossils are a result of millions of years, rather than the flood of Noah, then what do we do with verse 30?
        Then we have thorns.Thorns that are found in the fossil record supposedly millions of years old, so then what do we do with Gen 3:18?

        Posted by Joe | May 25, 2012, 7:29 AM
      • Joe,

        First, I’m wondering what “flawed methods” you are referencing. There is an extraordinarily broad range of methods used to date the earth and universe, so it is hard to know what you’re referencing. Honestly, though, I used to make these same arguments. But once one examines both the theological and empirical evidence, it’s hard to deny the universe is indeed old.

        I challenge you to take a hard look at your own dismissive attitude towards empirical evidence. In response to my comment about 42k years from a cave painting, you say “About the cave paintings, if we use the same flawed methods that supposedly prove billions of years it’s easy to get 42k years from a painting…”

        This is actually very inaccurate and I really challenge you to read more than just the standard YEC response to dating techniques. The reason I say this is inaccurate is because of this, for example:

        1) In order to date the age of the universe, one primary method is to look at cosmic background radiation of the expansion of the universe, which yields billions of years.

        2) In order to date cave paintings, radiometric dating is often the primary use.

        So clearly, it is not “the same flawed methods…” But that does sound exactly like something a standard YEC text would tell you. Unfortunately, such texts are woefully inaccurate. If you genuinely seek truth–something all Christians are charged to do–let me suggest a book: “The Bible, Rocks, and Time” by Young and Searley. Rather than just churning out the same tired YEC objections, investigate them from not just a sympathetic but also a critical mindset. Isn’t that just what YECs tell you to do? To examine science texts critically? Well YECs are making claims about science too; do you just accept them?

        Regarding supposed dinosaurs in cave paintings: I challenge you to find me one expert in that field who argues that they are, in fact cave paintings of dinos. Not only that, but I challenge you to refute the fact that one of the main ones used is, in fact, not a dinosaur.

        Moreover, I challenge you to find me a YEC group that actually brings in the tough objections and fields them. I unfortunately have found that the hardest objections are completely ignored.

        But the YECs tell you to think critically. Do so; read all sides of the discussion.

        I still admit I’m not sure why it should be so astounding that writing took so long to develop. What need would they have for writing?

        Regarding animal death and thorns, read those links.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 29, 2012, 10:48 AM
      • I don’t have a ton of time so I’ll just comment on a couple things and come back later. “What need would they have for writing?” I’ll start here, and lets’ say Adam was create 50,000 years ago, I’m assuming that’s a low estimate from your standpoint correct? Now put on your logic cap (not being sarcastic here). Look what writing has meant to mankind in the past 6000 years, how it’s developed from simple characters all the way to what we have today, it’s mind boggling. And that’s just in 6000 years, think about how long 50k really is. You say what need, I say how could they go without it? Stories, genealogies, transmitting information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records, laws and commandments, I could go on. Mankind survived 50-150k years with none of the above, I can not logically even support that notion.

        One more quick thing to address form the animal death article you linked. “Adam named the animals, using terms that described their carnivorous activity” hold up here. This guy is claiming that we know what name Adam gave to the animals? Where is that in the bible? He refers to the lion, eagle, and the owl (in Hebrew form); those names are not found in scripture. Rich Deem is making some large assumptions here, and he several times points blame at creationists for doing the same.

        “Did God judge the animals based on Adam’s sin?” “God does not pass judgment upon the innocent.” -Rich Deem

        YES HE DID

        Gen 6:5-6 The LORD saw how great the WICKEDNESS OF THE HUMAN RACE had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created— AND WITH THEM THE ANIMALS, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.

        Posted by Joe | May 30, 2012, 7:57 AM
      • Joe,

        I think your discussion about written language here really underestimates the nature of oral tradition. I suggest you read up on oral cultures and see how they easily utilize orality for all the functions you seem to think necessitate written language. In fact, the Gospels themselves reflect adherence to oral tradition.

        You wrote, “You say what need, I say how could they go without it? Stories, genealogies, transmitting information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records, laws and commandments…”

        This really betrays a lack of knowledge about oral cultures, and, frankly a very anachronistic view of history. You’ve read back onto oral cultures our own ultra-literary conventions. Frankly, you’re historically wrong, and before you make such statements you should read more on the topic.

        I linked the article not because I agree with everything but because I think that overall it is very good. However, the verse you cite to support God’s judgment upon the animals does not work. You’ve transmitted the judgment of humans to the judgment of animals in a way that is not supported by the text. In fact, the text itself says that it was the wickedness of the human race which led to the judgment of the humans. As a consequences, the animals died with the judged humans. The Hebrew uses a pronominal suffix for “made them” and this refers back to humanity. The animals were simply destroyed along with the humans but all of this was due to the humans sin. There is no judgment for the animals, which are not moral agents. The burden of proof is upon you to read the text differently.

        Regarding the naming of animals–are you suggesting that Adam gave them different names, which are now lost? Where does the text say that?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 1, 2012, 1:17 PM
      • It’s not oral tradition that’s being underestimated here, it’s how long 150,000 years truly is. Have you not stop yet to ponder just how long that is? The history that we do have is a small fraction of that time. We are young men and look at what we’ve seen in our very short lifetime, we could live nearly 4000 of our lifetimes in 150k. Why so little history if there has been 150k years of man? So much more should have happened, handed down (written or oral). You’re missing the point here, it does not matter how good oral communication is, one hundred and fifty THOUSAND years. I won’t even go into the problems that would create with how many prophets God sent to speak and lead His people, it would not have been enough, thousands of years would have passed with absolutely no word from God.

        I agree with you that the animals were not specifically judged, but the suffered judgement. Why is it so difficult to imagine that when God cursed the earth that they shared in that judgment as well.

        “are you suggesting that Adam gave them different names, which are now lost?” I am saying that’s possible. Once again you ask the wrong question. Where in the text does it say Adam gave to them those names? It’s much easier to postulate that the names had been changed to fit what was seen in the fallen world and there’s NOTHING in the text to say different. My goodness, if 150K years were true it’d be even more reasonable to believe so from your standpoint this should be easy for you to agree with.

        Here’s one for you. Do you believe that Adam and Eve only had access to the garden on eden. Is this how you can justify death, suffering, thorns etc, that was all just outside of paradise? If your answer is yes then my next question would be, why did God command them to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it if eden was their only living space?

        Posted by joe | June 3, 2012, 8:01 PM
      • Joe,

        You wrote “We are young men and look at what we’ve seen in our very short lifetime, we could live nearly 4000 of our lifetimes in 150k. Why so little history if there has been 150k years of man?”

        Again, the assumption here–and I think it is more of a presumption–is that these more ancient societies had the same concerns with literary preservation and literal history as we do now. I’d like to see an argument for that.

        You wrote, ” I won’t even go into the problems that would create with how many prophets God sent to speak and lead His people, it would not have been enough, thousands of years would have passed with absolutely no word from God.”

        I’m very confused by this. We’re very near ‘thousands of years with no word from God’ if I take your meaning. It’s been 2000 years since the final prophet, God’s Son and our Lord! Your logic seems to undermine this very belief!

        And again, are prophets the only way to have a word from God? And is every prophet and prophecy recorded?

        Easy answers: no, and no. Particularly the latter: we know of other NT prophets who are not recorded. Anywhere. For an oral society: not surprising.

        You wrote, “I agree with you that the animals were not specifically judged, but the suffered judgement. Why is it so difficult to imagine that when God cursed the earth that they shared in that judgment as well.”

        Look, this isn’t even an argument. I want to see evidence, not rhetorical questions. Let’s not be disingenuous.

        You wrote, “I am saying that’s possible. Once again you ask the wrong question. Where in the text does it say Adam gave to them those names?”

        It’s an inference. Adam named them, then they are called by names.

        You wrote, “My goodness, if 150K years were true it’d be even more reasonable to believe so from your standpoint this should be easy for you to agree with.”

        This seems like a subtle ad hominem. Again, let’s not be disingenuous.

        You wrote, “Here’s one for you. Do you believe that Adam and Eve only had access to the garden on eden. Is this how you can justify death, suffering, thorns etc, that was all just outside of paradise? If your answer is yes then my next question would be, why did God command them to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it if eden was their only living space?”

        Wow, that’s a really easy one.

        Let me answer with another question: “If the whole earth was like Eden, what was there to subdue?”

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 4, 2012, 3:15 PM
      • I should also note that I don’t necessarily believe Adam/Eve only had access to the garden. There’s a difference between possibility (where they could go) and actuality (where they did go and/or would go).

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 4, 2012, 5:27 PM
      • “I want to see evidence” You keep saying that. Why is the burden of proof always on me when I’m the one taking scripture at face value? You are the one saying God meant something else. Where is all the evidence for your claims? The names of the animals, (which by the way the “inference” should be 6 24 hr days of creation), the age of humans, the fact that people didn’t find record keeping important. Where are these evidences? And speaking of the age of humans, 50-200k years fits neither a biblical nor evolutionary model so where does that number come from?

        It’s apparent we’re going to continue to disagree on this subject that we can agree on. That being said I leave you with this. The bible has many areas in which Christians and biblical scholars differ on what the text is saying. Eschatology, baptism, gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc. The origin of life is the only place that we go outside the bible and use man’s knowledge (the word science comes from Latin meaning knowledge) to explain what God meant. If science is man’s knowledge, and we know almost as much as God does about the universe and how He created it, (yes, much sarcasm there)…could man be mistaken? Is it possible that once again man will prove himself to be the finite beings that we are and one day have to admit themselves wrong?
        You can continue to base your beliefs on assumptions that somehow this time man has figured out the universe, or start with scripture in it’s literal form and believe that the Word is infallible. If you can for a moment push aside man’s “dating” methods to explain life without a creator and look at the world around you, it all points to a literal Genesis.

        Posted by Joe | June 5, 2012, 6:47 AM
      • Joe, you are making positive claims and therefore need to back them up with evidence. So far you keep asserting that you’re the “one taking scripture at face value.” Well, first of all you need to justify a hermeneutic which says that the “face value” meaning is always right. I read in Psalms that rivers clap their hands. A face value reading of that texts leads to absurdities.

        Second, you say “You are the one saying God meant something else”

        I can’t help but think you’ve been very disingenuous this whole time and only pretending to be interested in fair discussion. Statements like this show you’re merely assuming your position is correct, without argument. Note that I’ve presented several lines of evidence in contrast to your position, but you’ve failed to answer them. In fact, you granted the genealogies, so you grant that the face value reading isn’t necessarily correct.

        You wrote, “And speaking of the age of humans, 50-200k years fits neither a biblical nor evolutionary model so where does that number come from?”

        Unfortunately this betrays your lack of knowledge on the topic. A simple search of “human” on google yields hundreds of links saying things like “Humans (known taxonomically as Homo sapiens,[3][4] Latin for “wise man” or “knowing man”)[5] are the only living species in the Homo genus. Anatomically modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago, reaching full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago.[6]” (Wiki).

        Again, statements like this seem to say to me that you’re not actually interested in an honest discussion. Instead, you’re assuming your own position is correct and unassailable, without so much as a simple fact check!

        “The origin of life is the only place that we go outside the bible and use man’s knowledge (the word science comes from Latin meaning knowledge) to explain what God meant.”

        here you’ve betrayed your lack of knowledge of history. Have you heard of geocentrism? At one point, the church thought the Bible said the earth was the center of the universe. Then it was shown that position was scientifically untenable. That’s right, a discovery in the natural world helped aid the change of a reading of the text.

        Again, this statement shows a lack of care in comments. You are literally asserting falsehoods to defend your assumption.

        You wrote, “…could man be mistaken?”

        Of course! You, however, seem incapable of understanding how this applies to your own position. You and other YECs are not infallible interpreters. You are using “man’s reading” of the text to assume you’re correct. It’s not working very well for you (cf. the factual errors above).

        ” If you can for a moment push aside man’s “dating” methods to explain life without a creator and look at the world around you, it all points to a literal Genesis.”

        I believe in a literal genesis. Unfortunately for you, the text doesn’t entail YEC, as I’ve demonstrated repeatedly.

        Here’s what you have reduced your position to: bashing me on the head with lies. Literally. You didn’t even bother to research many of your statements in this comment. You’ve granted several of my arguments for an old-earth reading of the text.

        Your position is untenable, and the only thing you’re able to do is complain about not wanting to present evidence.

        I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 5, 2012, 8:39 PM
      • Evidence, evidence, evidence. You’ve given me theories based on man’s science, then loosely tied them into scripture.
        Psalms, really, and you say I’m not being reasonable..

        “the text doesn’t entail YEC” What do I say to that? I suppose you are correct, 6 days can not mean 6 days when it says 6 days in Genesis 1 and Exodus 20, it must be re-interpreted because man says so, you win.

        I can be wrong, I admit that, but I would rather stand before our God and say, “forgive me Father, I was simply trying to rely souly on the word that you gave me with a child like faith that you meant what you said.” rather than, “sorry Father, your word didn’t agree with the current scientific theory so I mixed it up a bit.”
        Both I know would be covered by our loving Father’s mercy.

        When I speak of God I will continue to speak of Him as the God who made a perfect creation with no death or suffering. I will testify of His goodness vs man’s fallen state and never mix the two. To me death will always be an enemy, no matter what form it takes, therefore it is because of sin that death exists at all. I will never teach my children that our heavenly Father sees animal death as perfectly normal and good. This is why animal sacrifice in the OT was so difficult and horrific. We no longer have to bear witness to the slaughtering of animals because our Lord Jesus has become the final sacrifice for our sins. I will not let man’s ideas persuade me otherwise for I refuse to believe in a God who sees suffering as a good thing. A holy judge I can handle, malicious ruler I can not.

        Posted by Joe | June 6, 2012, 8:00 AM
      • I can see you have, apparently, been disingenuous in your pretense of having a discussion. I’m saddened by this.

        I’ll reiterate to other readers the points I made above. I’ve shown how the text is part of ANE cosmology. I’ve shown how the genealogies cannot be added up because they contain gaps. I’ve shown how you, Joe, have literally just used lies (man’s fallible ideas?) to try to undermine my position without so much as a simple fact check. I’ll let readers decide between us.

        Finally, and this is perhaps the most important point, Joe. You hold that man is fallible. So do I. The problem is you apparently think YECs are infallible when they read the text of Genesis. It doesn’t add up.

        Anyway, I’m sure the next comment in response will again be similar, criticizing me for using “man’s fallible ideas” as though your interpretation is infallible, so I’m signing off this discussion. I was hoping you were being honest when you said you were interested, but now I see I’ve been wasting my time.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 6, 2012, 8:54 AM
      • I can be wrong, I admit that. That’s a repeat from my last comment in case you missed it. Both of us are fallible, yet my view is the one NOT imposing my ideas on the text. I don’t have to explain my belief with “ANE cosmology” or radiometric dating, or gaps in genealogies that don’t relate to the current argument. And I agree, if there are people still reading this they can decide for themselves. Ultimately it has no affect on ones salvation.
        But the one thing that still urks me though is that you hold to a belief that animal death is a good thing. Anyone reading this can conduct their own experiment if they’d like. Throw a cat in an airtight bag and seal it up. Does God see this as good? I mean, it does not have a soul. It would have died regardless of our sin because it lives outside that judgment. We could still be living in a perfect paradise with no human death and it would have been eaten by some carnivorous creature. Perhaps if you kill enough in this manner for an extended period of time they will adapt and evolve into a cat that can survive with very little oxygen.
        Yes I’m beyond the discussion, I found it needless the more outside sources you kept bringing into scripture. I had hoped you could bring some light to your point of view using the light of God’s word, but all I’ve seen is man’s ideas and that does not impress.
        J.W. I wish you no ill, I would gladly have you over my house for a grill out, but I can not find agreement in beliefs of our origin. We still hold the same about where we’ll end up so I’ll see you there where I’ll greet you with a smile and a hug.

        Posted by Joe | June 6, 2012, 11:04 AM
      • Just to clarify, I do not hold that animal death is a good thing. I hold it is a morally neutral thing. The situation you brought up is a moral agent’s active torture/murder of an animal. That is a great harm. However, a cat eating a mouse is not a morally wrong situation.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 6, 2012, 11:11 AM
      • I say that ecological systems and the like are good things, wherein animal death serves a purpose. And, finally, readers may note I’ve brought a number of evidences to the table. None have been refuted and few are disputed. Joe’s position has offered no evidence, and relies solely on a naive presupposition.

        I ask for a reading of the text in light of the whole body of revelation: both general and special.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 6, 2012, 11:14 AM
  23. ??? Are we done?

    Posted by Joe | May 22, 2012, 6:37 AM
  24. J.W., hey man I doubt there are a lot of readers following our little debate here. This isn’t a court of law that you have to make a final statement..It was kinda funny though so so I’m glad you did. God bless ya brother.

    Posted by Joe | June 6, 2012, 1:40 PM
  25. Hey JW, Thanks so much for this article. I find such intelligent, respectful, and careful analysis such as this extremely helpful to the Christian realm of thought. I am so broken and torn with the way in which YEC is presented as if they are the papal authority on the Bible and how dare anybody question their infallible reading of this controversial passage….They say it is plain and simple, but I honestly don’t see how it is so plain and simple when they have to contort parts of it in a non-literal way themselves to make it all work….people who I worship with at church are completely on board with Ham and I am not sure how to engage without getting crucified. Do you have any advice on how not to get crucified….?

    Posted by Steve | April 20, 2016, 12:22 PM
    • I think that approaching the issue the same way you might approach any other disagreement would be helpful. Respectful dialogue is possible, but it is often not the case. I don’t know your situation or background but I think starting with points of agreement is almost always the best bet. If you can say, “We agree on the Bible being inspired, inerrant, etc.” before you say “we disagree on how to read x” that may get you started on better footing.

      That won’t guarantee non-crucifixion, however. It is such a contentious issue for some that it has become the way to determine whether one is a “true” Christian or not.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | April 20, 2016, 1:04 PM

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  3. Pingback: Ken Ham on “Compromise” and Stand to Reason | A disciple's study - June 26, 2015

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