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Apologetic Methods, Christianity and Science, Creationism, Presuppositionalism, Science, Young Earth Creationism

Young Earth Creationism and Presuppositionalism: An Analysis

Young Earth Creationism stands or falls based upon the specific use of presuppositionalism as an epistemological groundwork. Here, I will challenge the very core of the young earth paradigm: I will charge that it is an invalid presuppositionalist approach to viewing science and theology.

Young Earth Creationism (YEC will be used hereafter for “young earth creationism,” “young earth creationist”  and other forms of those words as needed), is, of course, the position that the Genesis account of the creation of the universe took place over the course of  seven literal 24-hour days about 6-12,000 years ago. I have extensively explored various aspects of young earth creationism and other positions, and my posts can be found under the “Origins Debate” page.

Presuppositionalism is a type of apologetics (defense of the faith) which relies upon presupposing the truth of the Christian worldview in order to defend it. I have analyzed presuppositional apologetics a number of times. For an introduction into this position, check out “The Presuppositional Apologetic of Cornelius Van Til.”

Epistemology is the study of how we come to know things. Essentially, it asks questions like “How do we know that we know?”

Before proceeding, it is worth noting that many debates between YECs and people who believe in an ‘old earth’ perspective turn on the YEC use of presuppositionalism. A common theme for mocking YECs is to say they just refuse to hear evidence or shout over evidence, yet it seems that this is an unfair portrayal. As we evaluate the young earth position, it will become clear that the YEC perspective operates from within a presuppositional framework that explains much of the way YECs reason. It will also become clear, however, that the YEC use of this framework is invalid.

Thus, it is my contention that YEC is directly dependent upon a presuppositional approach to how we know things. For support of this contention, I note the fact that many YECs see this connection themselves. For example, Answers in Genesis has a number of posts on the topic, including a post outlining the meaning of and need for presuppositional apologetics. Or again, Nathaniel Jeanson of ICR presented a presuppositional case for YEC (analyzed by the Geochristian). However, this is not the only evidence. YECs tend to argue exclusively within a presuppositional framework.

Consider this argument:

The Bible clearly states that the earth was made in seven days. There is no room to interpret the text in any way other than as a literal week of creation.

Such an argument is extremely typical within the YEC community. However, it is also clearly a presuppositionalist approach to the question of the age of the earth. YECs will argue that science must be interpreted in such away as to line up with the creation account. A common theme is that “The data is the same, it is the interpretations of that data that differ,” another notion is that people are rejecting the “plain and obvious meaning of the text” when they offer an old earth interpretation. Such a position is often united with the notion that only by using “man’s fallible ideas” can one come up with a date of millions or billions of years.

The thought process goes in this order: we presuppose the truth of the Bible => the Bible teaches that the earth is 6-12,000 years old => all scientific evidence for the age of the earth must line up with the truth of the Bible. The Bible is the infallible word of God, and so it cannot be in error. Because, according to the YEC paradigm, the only possible interpretation for the Biblical account of creation is the young earth perspective, it therefore becomes clear that all science and truth must line up with YEC.

We are thus left with two possible ways to challenge YEC. Evidence simply is not the problem. Any evidence, if the YEC use of presuppositionalism is valid, simply must line up with YEC. Thus, to challenge YEC, one must confront directly its presuppositions. First, one can challenge the position by attacking the premise that the YEC paradigm is the only possible interpretation of the Genesis creation account. Second, one can challenge the position by directly attacking the presuppositional epistemological groundwork that the arguments are built upon. Rather than focus upon the first challenge, we will here explore whether or not the YECs have validly made use of the presuppositional approach.

Assuming a Young Earth

It is important to note that the way the YEC argument works is to begin by simply assuming the truth of young earth creationism. I know this may sound radical, but it plays out time and again when discussing the various positions on the age of the earth. The young earth paradigm brokers no alternatives; only the young earth perspective is even possibly correct. How is it that YECs are so confident in their approach?

Simply put, the confidence is gained from the very way that they defend the young earth. YEC is not defended based upon evidence. It is not as though scientists are examining the earth and coming to the conclusion that the earth was formed only some thousands of years ago. Indeed, several prominent YECs assert that the very notion of finding the age of the earth from investigation of the geologic past is impossible or hampered by sin and fallible ideas. For just one example, Whitcomb and Morris, in their highly influential work, The Genesis Flood, write:

[I]f He [God] did this [created a universe full-grown], there would be no way by which any of His creatures could deduce the age or manner of Creation by study of the laws of maintenance of His Creation. (238, emphasis theirs, cited below)

Such a notion persists throughout much YEC literature. In principle, the only way to conclude a young earth is to abandon supposed “uniformintarianism” (hold that the processes in place today continue at the same rate they did in the past–see an evaluation of one YEC’s use of this notion here) and view all of the history of the earth through the lens of God’s word. Now, whether or not it is valid to assume that the Genesis text is a scientific account, the argument here should be fairly clear. Namely, the young earth position is assumed. It is not something demonstrated by science, but rather a given before any scientific investigation takes place. Similarly, the position is assumed to be true before any exegesis has occurred. All scientific evidence and any exegetical hints at a different position are subsumed into the YEC position because it is assumed from the outset as correct. Because YEC is correct, all evidence must line up with it.

Some may object by arguing that frequently YECs offer evidence for their position. They may cite various catastrophic theories or flood geology as alternative explanations of Earth’s geologic past. However, even the authors of books like these (such as Whitcomb and Morris, or Walter Brown in his In the Beginning) admit that the key is to presuppose Scripture, which is of course, on their view, to presuppose a young earth.

The Validity of the Young Earth Assumption

It is clear that YEC turns upon presupposing its truth. YEC is assumed to be true, and all alternative views are simply wrong by default. Unfortunately, this is an abuse of presuppositional apologetics.

It is important to contrast the specifically YEC use of presuppositionalism with the wider use of presuppositional apologetics. Presuppositional apologetics in general is the method of engaging entire worldviews by granting their core assumptions and lining them up against reality in a competition of best explanation. The YEC use of presuppostionalism is to defend a single contention–a young earth–against all comers. There are very significant disanalogies here. What the YEC has done is use presuppositionalism not to enter into the square of debate over whole worldviews, but rather to insulate their interpretation against any possible counter-evidence.

There is a distinct difference between the use of presuppositional apologetics, and the use of YEC in presuppositionalism. The latter tends to simply reject outright any challenge as either against the “clear word of God” or as “assuming uniformitarianism.”  By placing their own view beyond the realm of rational inquiry, they have undermined their own potential to know that it is true.

The Faulty Grounds of the YEC Presuppositionalist

The foregoing evaluation leads us to the greatest difficulty facing the YEC approach: a faulty epistemology. Unfortunately, the way that the defense of YEC has been shown to work introduces a paradigm of knowledge which is impossible to sustain. Essentially, the YEC must assume what they think they know. Such an assumption seems to be viciously circular. The YEC must reason thus: “The Bible teaches a young earth=> The Bible is True=> the earth is young.” When presented with counter evidence, rather than engaging with the evidence, the YEC generally falls back to this same argument and reinterprets the evidence. That is where the whole system breaks down: the YEC has not made the right use of presuppositionalism, which allows for entire worldviews to be falsified. Instead, the YEC has misused presuppostionalism to put a young earth interpretation beyond falsification.

The objection will be made that everyone has core beliefs that must be assumed without evidence. Although such an assertion is itself hotly debated, I think it is possible to sidestep such a difficult discussion. Instead, one can note that even if one grants that core beliefs are necessarily assumed, the burden of proof is squarely placed upon the YEC to show how holding to a young earth is necessary for knowledge. Why is this the case? The simplest explanation is that if one assumes the epistemology needed for presuppositionalism is correct, then one has essentially a framework that involves the assumption of core beliefs that are necessary to allow for any knowledge. Thus, for example, the existence of God might be argued as necessary for knowledge (a la Alvin Plantinga, Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, and the like) because without God to make us rational, there is no basis for thinking that our beliefs have any actual relationship to reality. Whether or not this is the case, it seems that a young earth is not one of these core beliefs.

Thus, we have finally come to the ultimate failing of the presuppositional defense of YEC: it abuses its epistemological framework to the point of breaking. The YEC has utilized an epistemological approach that allows for core beliefs to be assumed, but has done so in such a way that essentially any belief could be assumed with equal validity. An old earth creationist or theistic evoloutionist could equally argue that their position is based upon a core belief that must be assumed, in which case YEC is undermined. In turn, they could assume their reading of Scripture and make all others wrong by default.

Presuppositionalism must walk a fine line to determine which presuppositions are genuinely those which must be assumed for knowledge. When challenged, the presuppositionalist must make arguments to show that the presuppositions are indeed necessary for knowledge. Unless and until a YEC makes a case that by abandoning the notion of a young earth, one necessarily undermines all knowledge–a case which I must admit seems impossible–the YEC use of presuppositionalism is undermined. Rather than making a valid use of that apologetic approach, YECs have undermined its very principles, and have thus eliminated their own possibility of knowledge. They have relativized all truth by introducing as “first principles” things which are not necessary for knowledge.

A Final Defense

The YEC may object, saying that they have indeed established that YEC is necessary for knowledge. After all, if one denies YEC, which is the clear teaching of Scripture, one has denied God’s word, which is the basis for the entire presuppositional approach.

Setting aside a critique of presuppositionalism as the notion that one must assume the entirety of Scripture to have any knowledge, I would respond by simply noting that this argument does nothing to rebut my charge. I have argued that believing the notion that the earth is merely thousands of years old is not necessary for knowledge. The burden of proof rests squarely on the YEC to show how it is. By merely asserting that denying YEC undermines all of Scripture, one has begged the question. They have engaged in a presuppositional defense of something for which it has been charged that such an approach is epistemologically impossible. In order to defend it, one cannot simply assume that the other side is wrong, one must show how they are wrong.

Objective Knowledge

We have seen that YEC misuses presuppositionalism. A final point worth noting is that the YEC approach to apologetics actually undermines the possibility of objective knowledge. For, as we have noted, the YEC simply assumes their interpretation of the text without argument and then evaluates all science and theology through that lens. However, the YEC offers no reason for rejecting the notion that others could do exactly the same thing with their interpreatations of the text. The YEC has essentially made all truth relative. Anyone can simply assume their position is correct without argument, and then reinterpret all counter-evidence based on that approach. It therefore becomes clear that the YEC use of presuppositionalism must be rejected.

Unfortunately for YECs, the young earth position itself stands upon the bedrock of its faulty use of presuppositionalism. It remains to be seen whether it can adapt itself for a solid evidential base.

A Way Forward in the Age of the Earth Dialogue

It has become clear that YEC is based upon a faulty use of presuppositionalism and that its use of the presuppositional approach undermines the very possibility of objective knowledge.

How, then, can one proceed? It seems that the best way to proceed is to simply throw off the bindings of the misuse of presuppositionalism (taking note that presuppositionalism in general is not necessarily invalid if used properly–see discussion here) and engage in an honest debate over the evidence for either position. Rather than throwing out rote accusations at the other side (“You’re denying Scripture”; “That’s just because you’re assuming ‘uniformitarianism'”; etc, etc), let us engage in dialogue on the evidence at hand. Let’s look at the text in its cultural and linguistic context. Let’s examine the geological evidence of the earth and see where the evidence leads us. Let us not cut off the discussion before it has even begun by simply assuming we’re right and the others are wrong. We are called to always have a reason (1 Peter 3:15). By abandoning the necessity of reasoning when it comes to an issue such as young earth creationism, YECs have undermined the very possibility of a consistent apologetic.

Links

I examine a number of common young earth creationist arguments. Also check out my extensive writings on the origins debate.

Naturalis Historia is a phenomenal site which largely focuses upon investigating claims about a young earth. Some great starting places would be the series on the amount of salt in the oceans (Part 1 here) or some of the thoughts on baraminology.

Geocreationism is another site that examines evidence for the age of the earth with a theological approach. I highly recommend it.

Finally, the GeoChristian offers a number of critiques of the young earth theological and scientific perspectives.

Sources

John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood 50th Anniversary Edition (P&R Publishing, 2011).

The last image is from NASA. The other images were personal photographs and protected by the copyright on this site.

SDG.

——

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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

40 thoughts on “Young Earth Creationism and Presuppositionalism: An Analysis

  1. Great point about the YEC’s use of presuppositionalism in their argument. One other point I would add is the one powerful motivator they have to presuppose a young earth… sin. They so believe that physical death is sin, and came from Adam, that Christ’s death is rendered completely meaningless if life has existed for billions of years. Don’t you reject things that threaten the doctrine of salvation? Well, they are convinced that’s what they are doing.

    What I do not believe they realize is that if death is sin, then how could Christ conquer sin after succumbing to it? By rising? I agree He rose, but He never succumbed to sin. That’s what we learn through His temptations. He **never** succumbed and would never, in life or in death. Paul writes (to paraphrase) that Christ does not remove death, but death’s sting, and Christ’s resurrection is the first fruits. Therefore death per se is not the problem and never was. What they cannot see is that Christ will not rescue us from death; that is, we will all die. However, it will not sting; we will go to Heaven. So if death is not the problem Christ came to solve, then death before Adam is not a theological problem to fear. But alas, I have tried saying this to people, and have been met with loving compassion that I didn’t understand my scripture and worry that in my views I could stray… they essentially doubted my salvation in some way. They didn’t hear the logic (another gift from God). Their presuppositions were pretty strong.

    Posted by Mike | February 18, 2013, 7:31 AM
    • I find this a very interesting argument, but it seems to me hard to reconcile with the same passage Anthony brought up. It seems to me death was part of the issue, and that it was defeated through the resurrection. What I don’t see is the jump from that to no “animal” death before the fall given that 5:12 pretty clearly is talking about human death. What are your thoughts?

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 18, 2013, 5:43 PM
  2. Thanks J.W. I had an issue long ago with Ken Hamrick’s post “Old-Earth Creationists Embrace the Bias of Secular Science” at SBC Open Forum, pointing out the same YEC’s unsupported notions. Sadly most YEC think their understanding is correct, period.

    Keep up the good fight J. W.

    Posted by Prayson Daniel | February 18, 2013, 9:23 AM
  3. I know I’m ignorant. I’m not fluent in Greek. I’m not a scientist. Sometimes I even have to look up the words you guys use in your everyday conversation, but what about Romans 5:12, Mike? Tell me, J. W., what did Paul mean?

    Posted by Anthony Baker | February 18, 2013, 5:39 PM
  4. Romans 5:12 is a common verse YECs use to make their point. I have an article I wrote on this at http://www.geocreationism.com/young-earth/romans5-12.html. The issues are a little complex, and I should probably rework the article to make read better. So I will try and summarize the arguments below:

    1) Look at the next verse, Romans 5:13. It tells us that people without God’s law are not charged with sin. Therefore, if anyone was alive before Adam, they would not be charged with sin.
    2) Romans 5:14 goes on to explicitly say that death reigned “nevertheless” from Adam to Moses, even though those people had no law. Why from Adam? Because he was given a single law and he broke it. Therefore, if there were people before Adam, death did not reign for them.

    Now, if Paul is talking about physical death, this suggests that the people before Adam did not physically die. But that is scientifically absurd. Therefore, I do not believe Paul means physical death. I believe he means spiritual death. This means that the people before Adam physically died, but they did not spiritually die. How so? Because they were never spiritually alive, so how could they spiritually die? Paul clearly considered Adam to be the first person to be spiritually alive. And so when he sinned, he spiritually died, and death “came” to all people… from then on. Why do I say “from then on?” Because of the next verse…

    3) Romans 5:15 says that Adam brought death to many. Why only many? Interesting choice of word, huh? And YECs generally gloss over it, saying that “all” certainly equates to “many.” But consider that if Adam only brought spiritual death to those after him, then he really did only bring death to many. So if Romans 5:15 really means many, then the all in Romans 5:12 must refer to “all” those descended from Adam. It’s like when we say the Pledge of Allegiance… “with liberty and justice for all.” Really all? No, just those for whom the American flag waves. And so it is with Romans 5:12.

    As a sanity check against this interpretation, consider:
    a) Adam did not die from his sin per se. He died from being deprived of the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22). It is only YEC theology that says God gave the Tree of Life to someone already immortal. Scripture does not actually say that. It is presupposed. It also explains why Satan could tell Eve that she would not “surely” die, but would become morally aware. He was right. Sure, God deprived Eve of the Tree of Life, but Satan couldn’t really know God was going to do that.
    b) YEC theology can be paraphrased as “physical death is the sting of sin.” However, 1 Corinthians 15:56 says that sin is the sting of physical death. In other words, physical death logically precedes sin, because people were living and dying before there was sin in the world. It is only YEC presupposition that has us read it otherwise.

    So, having removed Genesis 3 and 1 Corinthians 15 as arguments against “physical pre-Adamic death”, Romans 5:12 cannot stand on its own to establish it. We are left only with presupposition, the biblical difficulties that result, and a rejection of science. Interpreting Romans 5:12 in terms of spiritual death however fits the science, and resolves the difficulties within the scriptures noted above.

    Posted by Mike | February 18, 2013, 11:53 PM
  5. Hi J.W., thanks for the great post. Do you think that, in light of what Francis Schaeffer describes as the modern “leap of faith” Christianity, the more evidence against the YEC position, the farther the leap and therefore the more faith required. In making the larger and larger leaps, the YEC (+ congregations) are edified by this decision/step of faith. Because it is a leap without reason, the larger the leaps, the farther they are removed from reason and cannot even evaluate “best explanation”. If they considered an old earth as an option, this would disable the “leap” mechanism and in turn disable their mechanism TO faith. Because “leaping” is their Christianity, they would be left adrift. These thoughts just came to me and I may be off base or have over simplified the issue. Thoughts?

    Posted by kwlowery | February 19, 2013, 7:57 AM
    • I was reading Genesis 2:9 this morning, and made an interesting connection that made me think of Knowlery’s comment. God warned Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. The warning was that Adam would essentially die in some significant way. Whether this was physical or spiritual is not my point, but Satan later told Eve that would really happen from the fruit is that they would gain knowledge and become like God. Well, they did eat, and they did gain knowledge and become like God in that they now knew good and evil. This knowledge, while containing more truth than what they knew previously knew, ended up getting in the way of people’s relationships with God.

      Consider how Satan presented this to Eve. He made it sound like she would not need Him any more, just as Evolution is discussed as a theory that doesn’t need God… but then Eve needed God more than ever, just as Theistic Evolutions need God more than ever, and for a similar reason. I believe God created live through Evolution. I believe that from God’s perspective His creation through Evolution was quite active, but that the footprint it left on the earth makes Him seem quite passive, even absent. Discovering Evolution therefore is like eating the apple… making us like God in our knowledge to some degree, but tending to proceed without Him, when in fact we need Him even more.

      To bring this back on topic, Adam and Eve presupposed that the Apple would literally kill them dead the moment they touched it. They were wrong. Satan told them the truth, though in a way to tempt, not help. Was their faith helped by the additional knowledge? Quite the opposite! And this is what Evolution has ended up being in the lives many Christians… a source of knowledge that brings them away from God. And so I view attempts at bringing YECs “around” as tempting them with the Apple in some respect. As frustrating as their presuppositions are, and as difficult as it is to pierce their blindness to science in a rational discussion, we are in fact talking about one of the building blocks of their faith. Push Evolution on them, and it feels like a push toward a precipice without God. It’s a pretty strong motivator to dig in their heels! If Eve had it to over again, wouldn’t she do the same thing?

      Posted by Mike | February 20, 2013, 10:32 AM
  6. I think your assessment of YEC is pretty fair for the most part, but I don’t necessarily agree with the claim that YEC misuses presuppositionalism. I think there may be some confusion there.

    I’m not aware of any YEC position that states YEC is a necessary precondition for knowledge. That always goes back to the Christian God, not the YEC position. The use of presuppositionalism among YEC generally occurs regarding the topic of atheism and darwinian evolution. Maybe some of your sources show this differently – I haven’t looked at them. I know AIG has made much use of Bahnsen but Bahnsen himself believed in evolution which AIG has recognized.

    YEC as a position is wholly based on the interpretation of Scripture, in which case God as the necessary precondition to knowledge is already presumed. It’s only from there that Scripture is the starting point for interpreting the world around us (and subsequently historical science). So I think we would be arguing the wrong starting points if old earth/young earth creationists began discussing what the necessary precondition for knowledge is. I would *hope* that we would all agree!

    Evidence is always going to be interpreted through our worldview – why can the atheist not see design in the world around us? He presupposes there is no design because there is no God. The debate between YEC and theistic evolution is, most of the time, going to be in the interpretation of Genesis 1-11.

    Posted by Chris | February 19, 2013, 10:33 AM
    • I’m sorry I didn’t respond to this earlier, but I wanted to point out that I don’t think your statement that “YEC as a position is wholly based on the interpretation of Scripture” is correct. Indeed, I would argue that YEC is based quite a bit upon philosophical and scientific perspectives as opposed to just being based on an interpretation of Scripture. In a debate I recently attended (see here for my summary/analysis: https://jwwartick.com/2013/01/07/davidson-snelling-yec-oec/) I noted that the vast majority of the argument was actually scientific rather than exegetical. The reason, I think, is because YEC is not purely an exegetical position. Instead, it attempts to incorporate the sciences and philosophy into an overarching view of the world.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | March 10, 2013, 3:05 PM
    • ” why can the atheist not see design in the world around us? He presupposes there is no design because there is no God”
      no its because they show NO SIGN of being intelligently designed, as well a reasonable person can have their worldview changed by evidence,or ajust your worldview to fit the evidence, you are trying to stick a square block into a round circle if you dont ajust your worldview to new evidence

      Posted by Tony Jiang "Kyonsenkoku" | August 12, 2013, 12:59 PM
      • “they show NO SIGN of being intelligently designed.” I’m confused. i thought design presupposes intelligence. design is a by-product of intelligence.

        Posted by max | November 27, 2013, 5:28 PM
  7. You don’t seem to have given an explanation as to why evolutionary presuppositions are better.

    Posted by Tim | February 20, 2013, 9:33 AM
  8. Just read this at Evolutionary News & Views and thougth of your post and “presuppositions”.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/02/for_answers_in_069431.html

    Posted by kwlowery | February 21, 2013, 6:20 PM
  9. Mike,

    “But that is scientifically absurd.”

    Why?

    Posted by Gerry | November 28, 2013, 11:20 PM
    • The reason I said said it was scientifically absurd that no one died before Adam is because I believe Adam dates back to around 6,000 years ago, but that the fossil evidence shows physical death pre-dates that. Was there something specific about that you want me to elaborate on? There are several aspects of this that I can think of and would prefer not to put words in your mouth.

      Posted by Mike | November 29, 2013, 6:26 PM
  10. You miss the point entirely.

    Presuppositionalists, of the Young Earth persuasion, do NOT claim that one must presuppose a young earth to be able to have knowledge, this is a straw man. YEC that use Presuppositionalism argue that the Scriptures are God’s Word, and therefore true. You mistakenly assume that presuppositionalism is a piece meal endeavor, as Greg Bahnsen explicitly taught, it is not. The WHOLE system is being defended as a unit, namely the existence of the Christian God, AND His revelation in the Scriptures being inerrant. Does the positing of an Old Earth contradict what the Scriptures reveal or the meaning of the Gospel? If one answers ‘yes’, then necessarily it is a challenge to the veracity of the scriptures. But, to challenge the scriptures means that you need to this on YOUR OWN WORLDVIEW. You cannot “borrow” from the scriptures and assume the laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, etc… that are part and parcel of the Christian world view, to then turn around and deny a particular portion of the scriptures that offends your sensibility.

    Consider what you wrote, “It is important to note that the way the YEC argument works is to begin by simply assuming the truth of young earth creationism.” A YEC, who is a presuppositionalist, BEGINS by assuming the Scriptures are true. To be sure, a Young Earth correlates with the scriptures, but this is a result of presupposing the that the SCRIPTURES are true, NOT that YEC is true.

    “… the burden of proof is squarely placed upon the YEC to show how holding to a young earth is necessary for knowledge.”______-This is a Straw Man. As a YEC and a Presuppositionalist I do NOT argue in this manner! I do NOT claim that holding a view of a Young Earth is necessary for knowledge. What is claimed by presuppositionalists is that a Christian worldview as revealed in the scriptures is necessary for knowledge. This is what Van Til espoused in all his literature, as well as Greg Bahnsen. A Christian Worldview encompasses the veracity of the Scriptures, and hence leads to, but is not grounded on, a YEC worldview.

    Posted by Manuel T. | January 13, 2015, 1:28 PM
    • Manuel T., I am an old earth creationist who presupposes, as you do, “that the Scriptures are God’s Word, and therefore true.” It is why I believe that the earth brought forth life, and God let it. It is why I believe the waters teemed with fish, and God let it. And yet, you read the scriptures as if the letting was the making, and it wasn’t the earth bringing forth life, but God directly, when scripture clearly says that He let the earth do it.

      I agree with your comment to JW that YEC’s “do NOT claim that holding a view of a Young Earth is necessary for knowledge.” They generally claim that a young earth is the natural reading of scripture. I disagree. It’s not, and I didn’t think so as a child. When I became an adult, and learned the science behind, suddenly the Genesis account made sense. My presupposition of the scriptures being God’s Word and true did not change. So what’s point? The point is that when I was a child, I presupposed several things. In addition to God’s word being true, I had a presupposition that the adults teaching me were correct when they says that the scripture means the earth is young. For same reason I chose to believe God, I believed my parents. I still believe God, but now realize my parents were wrong.

      Posted by Mike | January 14, 2015, 9:38 AM
      • Mike,

        Thank you for your response.

        Does the Hebrew text support a long age? Where would one insert this “long age”? Gap theory? How does this long age correlate with Exodus 20:11?

        It seems to me, that it is because of science that one would want to introduce an Old Earth, and NOT because of the text. And this is all well and good, but does this “long age” cause contradictions with other texts of Scripture?

        Does it not require more “Scriptural Gymnastics” to hold to a Long age than to a Young Earth?

        Posted by Manuel T. | January 14, 2015, 1:40 PM
      • Mike,

        I agree with you that the “Let…” construction fits nicely with a view that things came about through natural processes. However, John Currid makes the following observation about this construction: “The command is a jussive form. By using it, the speaker imposes his will upon another party. In addition, the jussive gives express emphasis to the action: it bears a sense of spontaneity and of the immediacy of the event’s completion” (A Study Commentary on Genesis: Genesis 1:1–25:18 (Vol. 1, p. 61).

        If Currid is correct, then the construction also fits nicely (moreso?) with a YEC view.

        Posted by Remington | January 14, 2015, 6:08 PM
      • Manual T., you ask, “Does the Hebrew text support a long age? Where would one insert this “long age”? Gap theory? How does this long age correlate with Exodus 20:11?”

        Exodus 20:11 uses the word Yom. The end of a Yom in Genesis 1 is delimited by the darkness that follows daylight, or rather, sunset. The problem is that sunset does not happen everywhere at once, so when in fact did the day end?

        My answer comes from noticing that the Holy Spirit was hovering over the deep in Day 1. I believe He was the one witnessing sunrise and witnessing sunset. But where was he hovering? Over the deep. That is all the scripture says. And for how long? Until sunset? Well, until sunset for Him. And from a posture of hovering over the deep, I imagine He could have stayed hovering over the deep, and in the sunlight watching the earth rotate beneath Him for as long as He wanted. And after a 1 billion years or so, when everything looked as He knew it would, He hovered into the darkness. He let the sun set on Him. Would that not be a literal sunset? It was light then darkness, one Yom. And indeed there were six of them.

        So yes, the Hebrew text supports a long age.

        //It seems to me, that it is because of science that one would want to introduce an Old Earth, and NOT because of the text.//

        It actually is because of the text. I noticed as a child that it didn’t make much sense for God to be bound by a day. And where did the day end? Everywhere? But I took everyone’s word for it. And as I said, the science answered the question for me.

        // And this is all well and good, but does this “long age” cause contradictions with other texts of Scripture? //
        None that I can find, for the reasons stated above.

        //Does it not require more “Scriptural Gymnastics” to hold to a Long age than to a Young Earth?//

        It required more scriptural gymnastics to hold to a young earth. For example, Genesis 1 says God created male and female on Day 6, and Genesis 2 says Adam was created himself, and then Eve only after naming all the animals and taking a nap because there was no helper for him. That’s an awfully busy day. And the sequences are different. I just don’t see Genesis 1 and 2 being of the same events, and I always had a problem with it. BUT, once I realized that mankind evolved on Day 6 under the Holy Spirit’s watchful eye, I realized that by the time Adam was alive, mankind had in fact subdued the earth as God told them. I now realize that Adam was created from the dust of the ground… over billions of years… as were you and I, and only God could do such a thing. It explains why the pain of child birth “increased,” because there was already pain in childbirth, outside the garden. It explains why Eve “became” the mother of everyone, because Adam’s sin reached back in time and forward, as did Jesus’ sacrifice, and Adam was a type of Christ.

        I think it’s fair to say that discovering the science of Evolution, and the God-breathed inspiration in how Genesis 1 and 2 were written, reconciled far more scriptural difficulties for me than it introduced.

        Posted by Mike | January 16, 2015, 1:52 AM
      • Remington,

        You pointed out that “The command is a jussive form. By using it, the speaker imposes his will upon another party. In addition, the jussive gives express emphasis to the action: it bears a sense of spontaneity and of the immediacy of the event’s completion.”

        I agree in part. The jussive is applied to the immediate “letting,” which is different than the completion of what was let. God did not say “Be light” in the jussive form, but **let** in the jussive form.

        In Proverbs 8, Wisdom is the master craftsman. Combined with John 1:1-3, I believe that Wisdom was Jesus, and that Wisdom with the Spirit hovering over the deep at creation. Poetic eh? And I believe liveral! And I believe it was to Jesus that the Father said, “Let there be light” or “Let the earth bring forth seeded plants” or “Let the waters teem,” etc. All Jesus had to do was make sure that light was being let, the earth was being let, or the waters were being let… and He did so obediently and immediately. The actual developments that followed took millions to billions of years.

        Posted by Mike | January 16, 2015, 2:00 AM
      • Mike,

        >>”I agree in part. The jussive is applied to the immediate “letting,” which is different than the completion of what was let.”

        As I understand it, the “letting” is itself the jussive command. This means that the immediacy implied in the command is applied to the thing being commanded, not to the command being given.

        And when you say that “God did not say “Be light” in the jussive form, but **let** in the jussive form.” I think that’s actually backwards. God did say “Be light”, and it is this command (to be) which is in the jussive form. The “let there” are just English words that are added to the text for clarification. The Hebrew text reads something like “yehi’ or'” (or something like that… I can’t do transliteration) which is “be [in the jussive] light”.

        For instance, see Hosea 14:9. The relevant portion says “let him understand” which is really just “ya-ben” (the word for “understand” in the jussive form).

        The NET textual have this to say of Genesis 1:3: “‘Let there be’ is the short jussive form of the verb ‘to be’; the following expression ‘and there was’ is the short preterite form of the same verb. As such [i’m ommitting Hebrew characters] (yehi) and […] (vayehi) form a profound wordplay to expressboth the calling into existence and the complete fulfillment of the divine word.”

        So I think the jussive “let there be” does fit more nicely in a YEC reading of the text.

        >>”In Proverbs 8, Wisdom is the master craftsman. Combined with John 1:1-3, I believe that Wisdom was Jesus, and that Wisdom with the Spirit hovering over the deep at creation. Poetic eh? And I believe liveral! And I believe it was to Jesus that the Father said, “Let there be light” or “Let the earth bring forth seeded plants” or “Let the waters teem,” etc. All Jesus had to do was make sure that light was being let, the earth was being let, or the waters were being let… and He did so obediently and immediately. The actual developments that followed took millions to billions of years.”

        I don’t think Jesus is the wisdom depicted in Prov. 8, but that’s not really relevant here. I would say Jesus is the Word and not the object the word is directed to.

        Posted by Remington | January 16, 2015, 10:15 AM
    • ” It is why I believe that the earth brought forth life, and God let it.”____This explicitly claims that not God, but the Earth, brought forth life. It rejects God’s decree that “everything reproduce after it’s own kind”. Furthermore, it asserts that life can come from non-life. It rejects God’s sovereignty over all creation and posits a God who “just sits back” and lets the world proceed on it’s own subject to the initial laws set forth during creation.

      That is quite a claim. To be sure, it ranks right along with the Naturalistic worldview that asserts that life sprang from primordial goo, and not by God’s creation.

      So, I would ask you to please explain how the Earth brought forth life. And I am not referring to only animal life, but to plant life as well. ALL LIFE, even plant life, can only come from preexisting life.

      Posted by Manuel T. | January 14, 2015, 7:23 PM
      • Manuel T.,

        //” It is why I believe that the earth brought forth life, and God let it.”____This explicitly claims that not God, but the Earth, brought forth life. It rejects God’s decree that “everything reproduce after it’s own kind”//

        Here is the what the scripture says…

        24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so.

        I didn’t make that up. The earth brought forth living creatures, and it was because God Let it. As I say in my reply to Remington above, I believe that it was the Father telling the Son to let it happen, and the Son obediently “Let” the earth do its thing. The writer then summarizes it as follows…

        25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

        Is it any less made by God, just because it was accomplished through His letting? Consider David’s defeat of the Philistine army in 1 Chronicles 14:15-16…

        15 “And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” 16 And David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer.

        This victory was no less God’s just because the physical evidence would suggest the victory was David’s. Evolution is no different. The creative act is no less God’s, just because the physical evidence would suggest the creation was from the earth. So God declared the earth would be “let” and God gets the credit for the results.

        //It rejects God’s decree that “everything reproduce after it’s own kind”.//
        No it does not, but in fact depends on it!

        // Furthermore, it asserts that life can come from non-life.//
        According to Genesis 2:7, Adam (life) came from dust (non-life). And through God it can!

        //It rejects God’s sovereignty over all creation and posits a God who “just sits back” and lets the world proceed on it’s own subject to the initial laws set forth during creation. //
        I have no doubt some believe this, but I do not. I believe it asserts God’s sovereignty, as it **only** happened because God let it. And God did not just sit back. He hovered over His creation, never leaving its side, until His will was done. And it was not done by laws that God is subject to, but to laws that are subject to Him, and His active letting.

        //To be sure, it ranks right along with the Naturalistic worldview that asserts that life sprang from primordial goo, and not by God’s creation.//

        Not all. The naturalistic world view would say God is unnecessary addition to the equation, but He is as necessary to creation as He was to David’s victory against the Philistines. So when life “sprang” (as you put it) from primordial goo, it was absolutely and only by God’s creation.

        // So, I would ask you to please explain how the Earth brought forth life. And I am not referring to only animal life, but to plant life as well. ALL LIFE, even plant life, can only come from preexisting life.//

        Scientists call the process of live arising from non-life abiogenesis. With God, all things are possible. You believe Adam was created from non-living dust. So do I.

        Posted by Mike | January 16, 2015, 2:20 AM
  11. While Gen 1:24 certainly does say, ” And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.” , and this SEEMS to imply that it was the Earth’s doing, we must keep reading, to verse 25 ” And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

    At first reading, the comment in verse 25 does not appear to add significantly to the command of verse 24. However, a comparison of these verses with similar verses (vv 11-12) shows that verse 25 does add an important clarification to the report of verse 24. In verse 11 God said, “Let the land produce vegetation,” and in verse 12 Moses adds, “So the land produced the vegetation.” The point of the comment is apparently that the land, not God, produced the vegetation. In verse 24 and 25, however, the emphasis shifts. Verse 24 reports a command similar to verse 11: “Let the land produce living creatures”; but the comment which follows in verse 25 stresses that God made the living creatures: ” God made the wild animals.” The author, Moses, wants to show that though the command was the same for the creation of both vegetation and the living creatures on land, the origin of the two forms of life was distinct. Vegetation was produced by the land, but living creatures were made by God Himself. Life stems from God and is to be distinguished from the rest of the physical world.

    From this exegesis it is plain that animal life was the result of God’s creation, and not the result of laws set forth during creation. Animal life could NOT have existed UNTIL the 6th day. This gives no time for life to have existed before Adam, so renders a long age for the Earth exegetically unsound.

    So, what is left for the Long Ager to do? He must either attempt to insert a “long age” between the Days of creation, or argue that the “days” are not literal 24 hour days. Both, I hold are eisegesis rather than exegesis.

    Posted by Manuel T. | January 15, 2015, 1:57 PM
    • Manuel T.

      At one point you say “it is plain that animal life was the result of God’s creation, and not the result of laws set forth during creation. Animal life could NOT have existed UNTIL the 6th day. This gives no time for life to have existed before Adam, so renders a long age for the Earth exegetically unsound.”

      I don’t believe that these are mutually exclusive (either animal life is the result of God’s creation or it is the result of natural processes). I believe that even events which occur through natural processes are at the same time ascribable to God (Job 5:10; 38:39; Psa. 139:13). Vern Poythress has a nice discussion of how these two things (natural law/proesses & God) fit together in his book Redeeming Science. You can find that book for free on Poythress’s website, or get it in Kindle or Logos edition.

      Posted by Remington | January 15, 2015, 4:01 PM
      • ” I don’t believe that these are mutually exclusive (either animal life is the result of God’s creation or it is the result of natural processes). “_____ Yes, you are correct, both Natural Processes AND God’s creative efforts are BOTH resultant of God’s will. Nevertheless, verse 25 clearly states that God created the animals and that they were not a result of Natural processes. (My whole post addressed this point.)

        “I believe that even events which occur through natural processes are at the same time ascribable to God (Job 5:10; 38:39; Psa. 139:13).”____As do I. Either God is sovereign over all, or He is not God. ( I am a 5 point Calvinist)

        Posted by Manuel T. | January 15, 2015, 6:02 PM
      • Manual T.,

        // Nevertheless, verse 25 clearly states that God created the animals and that they were not a result of Natural processes. //

        That is not accurate. It clearly states God created the animals. It does **not** say there were not a result of Natural processes. You inferred that. An act of God through you is no less of God; an act of God through the earth is no less an act of God.

        Posted by Mike | January 16, 2015, 2:24 AM
  12. Mike,

    You wrote, “// Nevertheless, verse 25 clearly states that God created the animals and that they were not a result of Natural processes. //

    That is not accurate. It clearly states God created the animals. It does **not** say there were not a result of Natural processes. You inferred that. An act of God through you is no less of God; an act of God through the earth is no less an act of God.”

    What?

    I gave a detailed analysis as to WHY this is so! This is not just an inferential leap, it is explicit in the text.

    Allow me to re-post the analysis here:

    At first reading, the comment in verse 25 does not appear to add significantly to the command of verse 24. However, a comparison of these verses with similar verses (vv 11-12) shows that verse 25 does add an important clarification to the report of verse 24. In verse 11 God said, “Let the land produce vegetation,” and in verse 12 Moses adds, “So the land produced the vegetation.” The point of the comment is apparently that the land, not God, produced the vegetation. In verse 24 and 25, however, the emphasis shifts. Verse 24 reports a command similar to verse 11: “Let the land produce living creatures”; but the comment which follows in verse 25 stresses that God made the living creatures: ” God made the wild animals.” The author, Moses, wants to show that though the command was the same for the creation of both vegetation and the living creatures on land, the origin of the two forms of life was distinct. Vegetation was produced by the land, but living creatures were made by God Himself. Life stems from God and is to be distinguished from the rest of the physical world.

    So, how can you then claim, ” It does **not** say there were not a result of Natural processes. You inferred that.”?? Does verse 25 not clarify the meaning, and, most importantly, differentiate this direct creation of God to the natural process given in verse 11?

    Why does verse 25 differ from verse 12 if the process was the same?

    Posted by Manuel T. | January 16, 2015, 12:01 PM
  13. “Exodus 20:11 uses the word Yom. The end of a Yom in Genesis 1 is delimited by the darkness that follows daylight, or rather, sunset. The problem is that sunset does not happen everywhere at once, so when in fact did the day end?
    My answer comes from noticing that the Holy Spirit was hovering over the deep in Day 1. I believe He was the one witnessing sunrise and witnessing sunset. But where was he hovering? Over the deep. That is all the scripture says. And for how long? Until sunset? Well, until sunset for Him. And from a posture of hovering over the deep, I imagine He could have stayed hovering over the deep, and in the sunlight watching the earth rotate beneath Him for as long as He wanted. And after a 1 billion years or so, when everything looked as He knew it would, He hovered into the darkness. He let the sun set on Him. Would that not be a literal sunset? It was light then darkness, one Yom. And indeed there were six of them. So yes, the Hebrew text supports a long age.”

    I am not following your argument here, would you please expound on it?

    The Hebrew text states, “It was evening and morning; one day.” What does it matter that a sunset does not happen everywhere at once? The text states: ‘One day”

    You continues, ” I imagine He could have stayed hovering over the deep, and in the sunlight watching the earth rotate beneath Him for as long as He wanted. And after a 1 billion years or so…”, to be sure, you can IMAGINE quite a bit of things, but is this how we exegete scripture? Ought we not to leave our imaginations out of our exegesis?

    What would it matter WHERE He hovered, if the text reveals that one day elapsed?

    Again, it is YOU who are bringing presuppositions to the table. While you are certainly at liberty to “imagine” such notions, that is NOT what is written in the text.

    Posted by Manuel T. | January 16, 2015, 1:43 PM
  14. I appreciate and have “liked” your page, so my difference of opinion (or possible difference of opinion) doesn’t negate that. You suggest that a (maybe the major) problem of some of YEC defense is a “problematic” epistemic use of presuppositionalism. Actually I want to say that there is more than one kind of presuppostionalism (or epistemic externalism) and though they have a lot in common, they just aren’t the same. I do think the way YEC uses presuppositionalism it is mistaken, but their problem seems to me to be more theological than epistemic.

    That is, they don’t give enough consideration to the possibility of differing but legitimate interpretations of Genesis due to its literature genre. For example, suppose we read in scripture that the sun rises and the sun sets and draw the conclusion that the earth is flat. Are we justified in thinking the presupposition of scripture allows us to justifiably draw that conclusion? I think the science shows that the earth is not flat and because of that we went back and re-thought our theology–and rightly concluded that the use of the terms ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunsets’ in the Bible are not NECESSARILY teaching flat earth. I don’t think more reading of the Bible followed by more and more authoritative teaching of what the Greek and Hebrew means would have helped much in discerning that. It wasn’t until we knew the earth wasn’t flat that we began to ask the question, is it necessary to read the Bible as teaching a flat earth cosmology. We didn’t come to that conclusion by the way.

    They could have used Plantinga’s account of epistemology (warranted Christian beliefs or “properly basic beliefs”), but according to Plantinga those basic beliefs are subject to “defeaters”, and there are also “undefeated defeaters”, “defeater-defeaters” and so forth. So, should I say that I think perhaps at some time we were justified to think the universe (or earth) was quite young, but now there are really too many undefeated defeaters for thinking that. Thus we should move away from it and consider other legitimate interpretations of the Creation account.

    Posted by Jim Cook | November 4, 2015, 6:21 PM
    • Thank you for the kind and thoughtful comment!

      I think you’re certainly onto something here regarding defeaters and the like, but I also wonder whether this discussion could yet be subsumed in to the presuppositional one. YECs effectively equivocate their interpretation of the Bible with the Bible, and because they so often are presuppositionalists when it comes to apologetics/epistemology, they then don’t see any alternative interpretation as even possibly legitimate. The difficulty is not that other interpretations aren’t considered; it is that there is absolutely no reason to consider them because they are impossible. Because the YEC starts by presupposing their own reading of the text, they have no reason to think other interpretations could be in play.

      This post was my attempt to point this out, though I think your way is another valid way to do so. I just wonder how to get the conversation started and force people to look at their own interpretation as interpretation rather than as the Bible itself.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | November 4, 2015, 7:48 PM
  15. YEC is not “clearly what the Bible says”, as you’ve mentioned. As, primarily, a presuppositionalist, I would fully argue against trying to determine the age of the earth via Gen 1-3 or geneolgies. There is no compromise to presuppositionalism by acknowledging literary genre, simple
    Definitions of words (“day” by no means HAS to mean 24-hours), and authorial intent (geneolgies are normally used to make specific points about lineage, not time).

    This is not an issue of presupositionalism, it is an issue of hermeneutics; though, many YEC people would disagree with me.

    In short, I agree with much of your article lol. And again, I am a strong presupositionalist.

    Posted by samuelbrewer42 | May 22, 2017, 4:25 PM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: The Rocks Cry Out: A visual journey on a lake and its implications for the age of the earth | J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - June 10, 2013

  2. Pingback: Young Earth Creationism and Presuppositionalism: A Response to J.W. Wartick | SBC Open Forum - October 10, 2013

  3. Pingback: Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye- An analysis of a lose-lose debate | J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - February 4, 2014

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