Creation Science

Creation Science Book Review

Old Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict Is In

by Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle


Review by Ruben Baron

First Published February 2009


     This book represents the most recent response to the age of the earth debate from a young-earth creationist (YEC) viewpoint. The title of the book introduces the format of the book as a court trial in which the evidence will be presented from each side of the debate, with a verdict given based upon the evidence. But because the book is written from a YEC perspective, the trial format presented in this book is anything but fair. In fact the book comes across as a last ditch effort to head off the growing popularity of an old-earth creationist (OEC) perspective within the modern evangelical community. For those who already hold a young-earth perspective, the book will simply reinforce their own previous viewpoint, but for those who do not hold a YEC perspective, the book will be disappointing in many respects as will be reviewed below.

     The book reviews different aspects of this debate by giving each chapter the title of Prosecution and Defense as if in a court trial. Unfortunately even the names of the chapters along with the use of quotation marks in the Defense chapters already give away the expected “verdict” in this book, as follows:


1. An Introduction

2. Prosecution — Biblical Age for the Earth

3. Defense — “Biblical” Arguments

4. Defense — Poor Reasoning

5. Prosecution — Extent of the Flood

6. Defense — A Local Flood

7. Prosecution — The Philosophy and Correct Application of Science

8. Defense — “Scientific” Arguments

9. The Verdict and Recommendations


     Following these chapters there are several more appendices that deal in more detail with specialized questions from a YEC viewpoint.


     The preface to this book immediately sets the tone of this book. There is first an acknowledgment of the fact that this issue has been debated within the modern church for at least two centuries. But then on the very first page of the preface of this book, the tone of this book becomes obvious with statements such as:


“ … many of the arguments used by the old-earth creationists do not stand up to scrutiny. Young-earth creationists have often supplied responses to these arguments, but it seems these responses are often ignored and the poor arguments persist.”


     This kind of response has no place in a book that presents itself as a court trial to evaluate the evidence fairly from both sides. The irony here is that this is exactly the same kind of statement that OEC’s would say about YEC’s.

     The other somewhat frustrating thing in this debate are the unspoken assumptions in statements that are made in this book without any justification or clarification whatsoever. For example in the preface it is stated:


“Although the scientific evidence certainly bears weight in the debate between these two camps, this work focuses mainly on the biblical and theological arguments. After all, from a Christian perspective, if one side cannot support its view from Scripture, then it cannot be the proper view.”


     There are several problems with this statement. First of all, this statement already sets the framework for the relationship of science to Scripture, as if one can be divorced from the other in our understanding of both science and Scripture. But the relationship of science to Scripture is actually one of the main points that need to be dealt with in this debate. How we understand science does (at least subconsciously) affect our understanding of Scripture in both an OEC and an YEC viewpoint. So really the main focus of the debate should not be OEC versus YEC, but rather to what degree does (or should) science affect our understanding of the meaning of Scripture and vice versa.

     Finally on page 11 the preface appeals to those in this debate not to use “misrepresentation, ambiguity, straw-man arguments, and caustic language.” But then in the very same paragraph it is stated that “this book will serve … by exposing the many fallacious arguments used in defense of the old-earth views.” How can someone fairly make this kind of a statement immediately after appealing to the reader not use “misrepresentation, ambiguity, straw-man arguments, and caustic language?” To use the term “fallacious arguments” is a judgment that already sets a negative tone in this book, which continues throughout the book.

     The final paragraph of the preface further exposes the intractability of this debate:


“The primary goal of this work is to call the Church back to the authority of Scripture rather than trusting our own methods and ideas (Ps. 118:8).”


     Since this book clearly supports a YEC viewpoint, this statement implies very strongly that the OEC viewpoint does not support the authority of Scripture, and trusts in its own methods and ideas. Again how can this statement be made in light of the appeal to not use “misrepresentation” in this debate? Already in the preface this book “misrepresents” the OEC viewpoint, since OEC’s again and again state that they also support the authority of Scripture. Are the YEC’s saying that they do not believe what OEC’s are saying?

     So despite all of the appeals to not misrepresent, or to use straw-man arguments, etc., even in the preface of this book there seems to be a rather negative tone characterized by doing these very same things.



Young Earth Book Review Home


Chapter List

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9




To learn more about old earth creationism, see Old Earth Belief, or check out the article Can You Be A Christian and Believe in an Old Earth?  

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