Review by Ruben Baron
First Published 1 September 2009
Chapter 9 is followed by a series of appendices. Appendix A on page 165 deals with other interpretations of Genesis, with the word “Interpretations” put in quotation marks to show that from a YEC viewpoint, none of these are legitimate interpretations of Genesis.
It is pointed out that “old-earth theologies were essentially nonexistent prior to 1800.” Presumably the point here is that OEC theologies have no legitimacy since they did not exist before 1800. First of all, as already shown in the review of earlier chapters there were examples of old-earth theology, even if not the majority view, before 1800.
Secondly many other areas of theology were developed at least hundreds, if not over a thousand years after the time of the New Testament, such as, for example, the doctrines associated with the Reformation. Even though the Reformation took place about 1500 years after the time of the New Testament, neither YEC’s or OEC’s would say that theology developed in the Reformation had no relevance or were totally incorrect, simply because the theology was formulated 1500 years after the New Testament was written. So to conclude that “This fact alone provides strong evidence that these views are not derived from the Bible” simply has little basis.
The following interpretations are reviewed:
The Gap Theory
The Day-Age Theory
Each of these viewpoints is summarized and dismissed in favor of YEC. Many of the viewpoints here were already reviewed in earlier chapters, so a review of each viewpoint will not be given here. OEC’s would probably agree with some of the assessments of these viewpoints, but it is not so easy to dismiss all of them, as is described here in this appendix.
A chart is presented on page 171 that summarizes the alleged problems with other interpretations of Genesis. Most of these problems have been dealt with in the reviews of earlier chapters of this book, so they will only be summarized here:
Death before Sin
The Sun created before the Earth
Satan Fell before the End of the Creation Week
Man Did Not Live with Dinosaurs
Noah’s Flood Was Not a Worldwide Catastrophe
All of Creation Was Not “Very Good”
Symbiotic Relationships Nonexistent
Other “Order of Events” Conflicts
Only a few of these problems warrant a response here, since most of them have been dealt with earlier.
1. Satan Fell before the End of the Creation Week. This is more of a theological question than a question directly related to creation. It is raised here in response to the “Gap Theory” interpretation of Genesis. It is also claimed on page 174 that the other interpretations of Genesis need the fall of Satan to occur earlier to account for death and suffering prior to the fall of man. But is this is indeed the case? Regardless of the exact answer to this theological question, there is no question that Satan played a role in the temptation associated prior to the Fall of man as described in chapters 2-3 of Genesis. In accordance with this, OEC’s prefer to emphasize, as the Bible itself does, that sin is associated mostly with man’s rebellion against God, and not with the death and suffering of other nonhuman life forms.
2. Man Did Not Live with Dinosaurs. This alleged problem focuses mainly on the interpretation of Job 40, in which it is stated that the behemoth and leviathan are actually dinosaurs, so as to provide evidence from the Bible that men and dinosaurs did live together. First of all, in spite of the claims of this chapter, there are many problems with interpreting these animals as dinosaurs. Secondly, the same argument raised in Appendix A can also be used here against this interpretation. The interpretation of the animals in Job as dinosaurs is an interpretation that only arose after 1800, when dinosaur fossils became more well-known. It is not at all that clear that the biblical writers were referring to dinosaurs as we know them today.
It is indeed theoretically possible that dinosaur-like creatures that are now extinct may have been seen and recorded in ancient cultures as mentioned in this section, but whether they have or have not been seen has little bearing on the question of the age of the earth. As stated many times in this review, a conclusion to any question, such as dinosaurs living at the same time as men, needs to account for all of the evidence, not just a few selected pieces of evidence to the exclusion of all of the other evidence.
3. Symbiotic Relationships nonexistent. The idea here is that for symbiotic relationships to exist between various life forms such as plants and insects, they both would have had to have been created at about the same time, which would rule out an old age for the earth. However most OEC’s do not claim that life, including symbiotic relationships, are static over long periods of time. Even without any sort of macroevolution, life has a remarkable ability to adapt to different kinds of environments, include an environment with or without symbiotic relationships.
This appendix discusses the issue of gaps in genealogies in the Bible, particularly in the book of Genesis. On page 179 it is alleged that the issue of genealogical gaps is important because “The old-earth proponent assumes that if gaps exist, then one cannot claim to know an approximate age of the earth based upon biblical data.” Actually it is hard to see how this is even relevant to the issue of the age of the earth for at least two reasons:
The genealogies at best give a date for the creation of Adam, not for the age of the earth. Most OEC’s assume that the time of the life of Adam is at most several tens of thousands of years ago, which is much less time than the time of the creation of the earth itself.
Even many YEC’s acknowledge that the gaps in genealogies make the date for the creation of the earth somewhat uncertain, but still not significantly longer than 6,000 years ago. What makes a YEC is not the gaps in the genealogies, but the assumption that the earth was created only a very short time before Adam was created.
Even though the genealogical gaps are not really relevant to the question of the age of the earth, this appendix goes into quite a bit of detail to show that the genealogies in Genesis do not have gaps. The focus of the discussion is a comparison of the genealogies of the beginning of Matthew and Luke with those in Genesis, which do have obvious differences. In particular comments from Dr. Norman Geisler are analyzed in quite a bit of detail, including textual analysis of the Septuagint (LXX). Again all of this discussion comes across as a lot of effort put into a relatively insignificant point.
It is then asserted that the Hebrew word ילד (yalad — to give birth or “beget”) is always used to indicate a direct parent-child relationship. It is certainly true that this word usually used in this way, but there are also many instances of the use of the same word in a metaphorical sense (for example, Numbers 11:12; Deuteronomy 32:18; Job 15:35, Isaiah 33:11, and many others). So to draw the conclusion that all genealogies must always mean parent-child relationship with no intervening generations is really a question determined by the context of the use of the word.
Regardless of the conclusion on the issue of gaps in the genealogies, even OEC’s would generally agree that gaps “would only add a few decades or perhaps a few centuries, but not millions of years.” But this misses the main point that OEC primarily deals with time before the genealogies, not within the genealogies.
This appendix on page 185 gives an overview of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement from a YEC perspective. It is acknowledged that ID has some positive points, especially as an alternative to evolution.
1. Intelligent Design Arguments. This section summarizes the major ideas behind the arguments for ID, and will not be repeated here. Most ID advocates and OEC’s would agree that ID does not require the God of Scripture. Near the end of this section it is concluded that both ID and YEC advocates use the same or similar arguments, but the difference is that ID advocates do not use the Bible as YEC’s do.
To say that ID advocates should use the Bible as the primary source of information (as YEC’s already do) misses the point of ID. The whole point of ID is simply to use scientific means of demonstrating design in nature. The results may be (and usually are) consistent with biblical teaching, but that is not the goal of ID. YEC’s do not have to agree with this goal in itself, but they cannot assert that ID must approach the study of nature in the same way that YEC’s do.
2. The Intelligent Design Movement Strategy. This section discusses some of the strategies of the ID movement that is presented in much ID literature, especially in attempting to separate religious dogma from the scientific aspect of origins. It is acknowledged, as ID itself also does, that it is not a specifically a Christian movement, even though there are Christians within the movement.
On page 188 is a long discussion on why ID cannot detach science from the Bible, especially because science itself is based on biblical teaching. Suffice it to say here that most advocates of ID do not accept this conclusion, and to assert that ID cannot detach science from the Bible misses the point of ID.
3. The Unknown God. This section uses the passage in Acts 17 that refers to an unknown God to show that, at least for a Christian, the vague creator-God of ID is not enough. Again the points here may be theologically correct, but ID advocates would say that this is not within the scope of ID.
4. The Pretended Neutrality Fallacy. This section discusses the idea that to leave the Bible out, as evolutionists demand, is to make the discussion more “neutral.” Of course this statement is not totally true, since everyone, both evolutionists and creationists, come with their own presuppositions to the question of origins. It is true, as stated on page 190 that “Biblically, there is no such thing as ‘neutral ground’ when it comes to one’s ultimate authority.” And from this statement and the discussion following, it is stated that the ID strategy is to leave the authority of the Bible out of the discussion.
However YEC’s, as shown many times in this review, are always trying to formulate the question of origins as a question of “authority,” especially the authority of man versus the authority of the Bible. But the ID movement does not formulate the question of design as a question of authority at all. For ID, it is not a question of science versus the Bible, but rather a question of what is the scientific evidence for design, regardless of the “authority” given to that evidence.
5. No World History. Here the ID movement is criticized for not having a “history” of the world as do both evolutionists and YEC’s. But the question can be asked as to why ID must have a “history” when its goals are simply to demonstrate design by scientific means. It is even acknowledged here that both OEC’s and YEC’s are involved in ID, since ID does not have a viewpoint of history. The YEC’s that are involved in ID are criticized here for using ID as a “better strategy” than being “upfront about their world view in its entirety,” but again this criticism misses the point as to why even some YEC’s are in the ID movement. To repeat again, the point of ID is to demonstrate design scientifically, not to have a “better strategy” for supporting creationism. In fact it is ironic here that this criticism by YEC’s is also a frequent criticism of ID from secular evolutionists.
6. Designed for Pain. This section returns to the question of pain, especially relating to something being designed for pain, such as thorns. The idea here is that since God is a God of love, how can the design argument be used to point to a loving designer when it involves something designed for pain. It is concluded therefore that the ID supporters cannot answer the objection of pain.
Many of these points have already been dealt with in this review, where it was concluded that YEC’s tend to maximize the effects of the Fall of man on the physical world, while OEC’s tend to emphasize the effects of sin on man’s relationship with God. Even with the example of thorns used in this section, it can be asked why thorns are the way they are. Are they designed to cause pain, or designed to protect the plant itself? In fact a careful reading of Genesis 3:18 mentions thorns only in the context of the fruit of the ground that was cursed, not as a means of causing pain. Therefore it is very risky to assume a particular purpose for a specific design, especially for thorns that are actually mentioned in the Bible.
7. Biblical Authority. This section repeats the same points about the importance of biblical authority mentioned many times in this book. Because the ID movement does not use biblical authority as its basis, Christians are cautioned to think carefully about points related to ID. In conclusion it is stated that Christians should place “their confidence not in man’s autonomy, but in God’s word.” As mentioned many times in this review already, the issue of ID or the age of the earth cannot simply be reduced to a question of “authority,” despite the repeated efforts of YEC’s to the contrary. Both OEC’s and ID advocates would maintain that the question of the age of the earth is a question of interpretation of both the Bible and science, and not just a simplistic question of authority.
The last appendix on page 195 returns to the issue of the Big Bang, already reviewed in Chapter 8. Many of the same arguments reviewed earlier are repeated here and will not be reviewed yet again. As reviewed in chapter 8, one still wonders why YEC’s are still so opposed to one of the most dramatic evidences of a beginning of creation. The only reasonable answer, all of the YEC arguments in this appendix notwithstanding, is that the Big Bang assumes long ages, which is fundamentally opposed to the main foundation of YEC.
One point brought out in this section on page 196 deals not with the past, but with the future, which according to the Big Bang is a future in which the universe expands forever and all usable energy will eventually be converted to a useless form (according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics). It is then pointed out that this is a totally different future from that given in the Bible.
However this is an unfair comparison, and entirely misses the point of the Bible’s teaching about the future. The Bible’s teaching on the resurrection, judgment, and other doctrines deal not with the present material world, but with the spiritual world. Even those who believe in a physical millennium on earth acknowledge that after the millennium there will be a new heaven and earth not like the current world. So to say that the Big Bang contradicts the future according to the Bible is simply a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the teachings of the Bible regarding the future.
1. Jumping on the Big Bang Bandwagon. This section illustrates the desperate means that YEC’s now use in order to discredit the Big Bang. It is pointed out that the Bible does not change, but the theory of the Big Bang does change. Dr. Hugh Ross is mocked for allegedly changing his mind several times on details of the Big Bang as more evidence accumulates. As stated many times in this review, Dr. Ross does not put the Big Bang on the same level as the Bible. Of course the Bible does not change, while the understanding of the Big Band will certainly continue to be refined both now and in the future. The point of promoting the Big Bang is not to replace the “authority of the Bible,” but to point out how contemporary science is generally consistent with and supportive of the teachings of the Bible about origins.
It is asserted that the Big Bang does not specifically support the God of the Bible, but that is not at all the point of the Big Bang. No one, whether an OEC advocate or anyone else, is trying to make a systematic theology of the Big Bang to replace the Bible. This is simply another desperate attempt by YEC’s to discredit something that does not fit their own viewpoint.
Other theological objections are raised to discredit the Big Bang. For example, on pages 198-199 there is an attempt is made to compare the order of creation with the OEC understanding of Dr. Norman Geisler relating to the order of creation. But actually the issue of the order of biological creation has little or nothing to do with the Big Bang and has been dealt with extensively in OEC literature.
In the remainder of this section Dr. Hugh Ross is criticized yet again with the same repeated arguments that have already been dealt with many times in this review, with the conclusion that only the YEC understanding of the Bible is the correct understanding, and anything else is simply an attempt to add “man’s fallible and changing opinions.”
2. What about the Scientific Evidence? This reviews some, but certainly not all, of the science used to support the Big Bang theory.
The evidence of “missing magnetic monopoles” is given as evidence to dismiss the evidence for the Big Bang. First of all, why do YEC’s even use this as evidence against the Big Bang, since they do not accept the kind of science that would predict this phenomenon? Secondly, as stated many times in this review, one piece of evidence that does not support a theory does not discredit that theory. If the theory is indeed incorrect, then a new theory that replaces it has to account for all of the evidence, not just that one piece of evidence that does not support the old theory.
A similar issue is also brought up with the “baryon problem” or the missing antimatter problem. It is true that this is still a problem to be dealt with, but as with the magnetic monopole problem, one piece of missing evidence does not automatically invalidate the entire theory, especially since the new theory must also account for all of the evidence.
Certainly the Big Bang is not the “final answer” and will certainly be modified in the future as it is better understood and more data is gathered. But contrary to the YEC understanding of the importance of the Big Bang to OEC, OEC’s do not put it as an “authority” either above or even equal to the authority of the Bible. But rather OEC’s simply see the Big Bang as a powerful evidence that points to a creation consistent with that described in the Bible.
One final evidence is presented in this section for a young earth (or young universe in this case). This evidence is the differential rotation of spiral galaxies, with the idea that with an old universe over time the spiral galaxies would lose their spiral structure. So instead of saying that this is an interesting phenomenon that needs more research, the book immediately concludes that this is evidence for a young universe.
Recent research on the role of dark matter on the structure of a galaxy is providing a very plausible explanation for the continued existence of spiral galaxies without resorting to a young universe. If indeed the universe is required to be very young, so as to explain the spiral structure of galaxies, then the young universe theory also needs to explain all of the other many evidences for an old universe and for the Big Bang, which it clearly fails to do.
3. What to Make of the Scientific Problems? This section again repeats much of what has been already said earlier in the this book about the Big Bang. Since it has been dealt with in this review, so it will not be repeated here again.
4. Conclusions This section concludes by saying that the Big Bang is not compatible with the Bible and is not good science. It is asserted that “The Big Bang erroneously assumes that the universe was not supernaturally created, but came about by natural processes.” Actually this is not at all what the Big Bang theory says, since it makes no statement about the very beginning of creation, but only the process of development of the universe after the creation. Even today secular skeptics of the Big Bang are looking for way to avoid the implications of a beginning of creation by hypothesizing other theories such as the multiverse. These skeptics realize what a basic understanding of the Big Bang implies about the beginning of creation. So for YEC’s to assert that the Big Bang assumes that the universe is naturally came into being is simply not true, even if secular scientists would assume so.
The final statement in this appendix states that “Science confirms the message of the Bible: ‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.’” Both OEC’s and YEC’s would agree with this statement, but an agreement with this statement in itself, will not resolve the serious differences between OEC’s and YEC’s on the age of the earth. It is hoped that in the future this debate can be resolved among Christian believers in a civil manner that is more respectful than that demonstrated in this book.
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