Monday, November 12, 2012

Old Earth Theology

As a matter of full disclosure from the beginning of this, I’ll let it be known that I’m a Young Earth Creationist (YEC – I’ll refer to Old Earth Creationists as ‘OEC’).

Additionally, to limit any discussion to the topic at hand this series is about the differences between Old Earth Creationism (OECm) and Young Earth Creationism (YECm) between Christians. It will involve some of the science surrounding this topic and will assume that naturalistic evolution has not occurred. So that eliminates discussion of theistic evolution. It’s not that I get many commenters here, but I have a very specific topic that I wish to discuss. I won’t entertain discussion otherwise here.

I have thought about this for a number of years now. The topic of the age of the earth is one that seems fraught with a lack of understanding. Most of the time when I read or hear an OEC explain why he or she believes OECm, the rationale typically given is limited to arguments regarding the exegesis of Genesis 1.

The problem with this approach is that an exegesis of Genesis 1 devoid of scientific considerations results in interpreting each ‘day’ as a single rotation of the earth. In other words, the exegetical arguments that result in a gap between verse 2 and 3 (the Gap Theory), or interpreting each of the days as referring to very long unspecified periods of time, are obviously informed by some information that the OEC isn’t disclosing.

The reason it seems is that OECs think it goes without saying that science has absolutely proven that the earth is old, but they aren’t prepared to discuss the science because they are theologians, not scientists. They haven’t studied the science in any depth, but what they have seen appears to have been pretty convincing to them. Most OECs that I have read or heard merely dismiss the science with statements such as “Well, Genesis 1 isn’t a science textbook.” I can only interpret that to mean, “I don’t understand the science, but it seems to me that scientists have proven that the earth is very old. Genesis can be interpreted different ways. It’s not a deal-breaker. Therefore, I can say that the earth is very old without changing the gospel. That’s so scientists don’t think I’m an idiot and other Christians won’t think I’m a heretic.”

The view of YECm is that a plain reading of the scriptures are that the days are single rotations of the earth and that the science isn’t conclusive.

The only non-theistic evolution OEC that has addressed the science that I have seen merely said that the science for the age of the earth is not encumbered with the same naturalism as Darwinian evolution is. Therefore, he concluded, we can accept the conclusions without delving into the intent of the scientists. The only problem I have with that is that many of the scientists whose work contributes to calculations of the age of the earth are Darwinian evolutionists otherwise and invested in an old earth a priori to testing and analyzing data.

The point of this article is simple. I have some sources that I have reviewed regarding arguments for OEC. But I may not have them all. I have reviewed plenty for the exegesis of Genesis 1, but can find very little other than what I have mentioned for importing scientific conclusions into the exegesis of Genesis 1. If anyone reading this knows of some better argument for OECm, please let me know. I’d like to interact with it and post my findings. I’m looking for the best arguments for OECm if any are out there that I haven’t found. Post links or resources in the comments and I will review what I understand.

What I plan to cover in the future is how the early church fathers handled Genesis 1 (in general) and how the science is not conclusive. If anyone comes up with a better argument than I have seen, I’ll include it as well.

The second article discussing who (in general) is making the arguments can be found here.

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