Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tread Lightly Young-Earthers

Is the universe billions of years old or thousands? Are the creation days of Genesis to be interpreted as 24-hour periods? How should science inform our interpretation of Scripture, and how should Scripture inform our interpretation of science?

Christians disagree on how to answer these questions and they have been cause of no small debate within the believing community. The two opposing sides are sometimes labeled “young-earth” and “old-earth” or “young-age” and “old-age.” One of the most central and disputed points is whether the creation days in Genesis are literal 24-hour periods.

Recently I read an article published in a young-earth creationist newsletter entitled “It's an Attack on the Son.”[1] The title is quite provocative, though this isn't the first writing of this kind I have come across. As you may have guessed from reading the title, a summary of the article could be as follows: 

A rejection of the young-earth creationist interpretation of Genesis is in reality (though perhaps unwittingly) an attack on Jesus Christ.

Yikes!

How did the author arrive at this conclusion? Young-earth creationists typically place great emphasis on the idea that the creation days in Genesis are literal 24-hour periods. While the following argument is not laid out explicitly in the article, I have done my best to reconstruct the flow of thought and logic of the writer:
  1. If the Word of God teaches the creation days of Genesis are literal 24-hour periods, then rejecting the literal 24-hour view is tantamount to attacking the Word of God.
  2. The Word of God teaches the creation days of Genesis are literal 24-hour periods. 
  3. Therefore (from 1 and 2), rejecting the literal 24-hour view is tantamount to attacking the Word of God. 
  4. The Word of God is Jesus’ Word. 
  5. Therefore (from 3 and 4), rejecting the literal 24-hour view is tantamount to attacking Jesus’ Word. 
  6. Attacking Jesus’ Word is attacking Jesus Himself. 
  7. Therefore (from 5 and 6), rejecting the literal 24-hour view is tantamount to attacking Jesus Himself.
Hence, the title of the article: “It’s an Attack on the Son.”

The argument hinges on premise two, which is obviously the premise that is under debate in the age-of-the-earth controversy. I'm not so concerned with the logic of the position above or even with defending a particular age-of-the earth view. What does cause me concern is the mindset reflected in this article which, regrettably, can sometimes accompany the young-earth perspective. What is this mindset? It is the mistaken approach to this debate which concludes,

Anyone who disagrees with young-earth creationism is not taking Scripture seriously but rather is elevating human reason and/or science above divinely inspired revelation.

I believe this conclusion is completely unwarranted and can unfortunately result in a hyper-critical and overly dogmatic position in the age-of-the-earth controversy.

Allow me to elaborate.

The writer of this particular article quotes both William Dembski and William Lane Craig as proponents of the old-age view, a view which has been influenced by “ideas outside the Bible, not the plain reading of Scripture.” Their position is one of “compromise” which is “sadly the norm in the majority of our Christian colleges and seminaries.” He goes on to state,

Many times in this newsletter, I have stated that such a compromise is really an attack on the authority of the Word, in spite of some scholars' sincere intentions to the contrary. It is what I call "The Genesis 3" attack (i.e., creating doubt in regard to God's Word and asking "Did God really say?") and it ultimately undermines the authority of the Scripture.[2]

What does this compromise and undermining of biblical authority eventually lead to? The writer tells us:

Many young people in our churches are already doubting and disbelieving God's Word. The result? At least two-thirds of children raised in theologically conservative churches now walk away from the church (or even the Christian faith together).[3]

In other words, the old-age view, in this writer's opinion, is a source of compromise which can be directly linked to causing doubt and disbelief in the minds of churched youth, as well as the outright rejection of the Christian faith in some cases. The author gives us the bottom line:

When Christian leaders deliberately reinterpret God's Word on the basis of man's fallible ideas (taken from outside the Bible), not only are they undermining the Word of God, they are actually (though unwittingly) conducting an attack on the Son of God!

This is very serious. Yes, when you compromise the Word of God, it is also an attack on the Son of God, whose Word it is.[4]

Yikes again!

Not very long ago a professor of mine who is on staff with a very prominent Christian organization (which happens to argue for the old-age view) stated that they receive more criticism and hate mail from young-earth creationists than they do from non-Christians!

Triple Yikes!

I believe this is all very unfortunate. Of course, I realize that this mentality can work in reverse as well. Young-earth creationists may be referred to as “anti-science” or “fundamentalist flat-earthers.” Again, this is regrettable. The difference is that, in my experience, it is usually non-Christians who are using these pejorative terms toward the young-earth position.

My intention here is not to offer a critique of any particular age-of-the-earth view. Rather, I would like to offer some important reminders to my young-earth creationist friends and fellow believers when engaging in this debate.

#1: Don’t Confuse the Issue.

The interpretation of the days of Genesis is an issue of hermeneutics, not inerrancy. I have often heard something like the following question posed by young-earth creationists:

Well if Genesis one is mistaken, what else in Scripture isn’t true?

Notice this questions assumes the issue is a matter of inerrancy. In other words, if the Bible is errant in Genesis one you have to throw out inerrancy, which in turn weakens biblical authority. This can be seen in the article quoted above: “...it ultimately undermines the authority of Scripture.” The implication is that one cannot hold both to an old-age view and the inerrancy of Scripture.

However, most Christians I know who hold to the old-age view also hold to the inerrancy of Scripture! How can this be?? Again, it is because this issue is a matter of hermeneutics. Old-age proponents simply interpret Genesis one differently. They hold that Genesis one is without error when properly understood, taking into account things like literary genre. By attempting to make this issue into one of inerrancy, young-earth creationists are not only creating a false dichotomy (by implying that one must choose either between inerrancy and the young-earth position or errancy and the old-age position) but they are also begging the question in assuming their interpretation is correct, which leads to the second important reminder.

#2: Avoid Fallacious Reasoning.

First, be careful of circular reasoning. Often young-earth creationists refer to their position as the “literal interpretation.” This is a bit misleading and can amount to question-begging. What exactly is meant by “literal interpretation”?  Should things like genre, context, and literary devices be taken into account? For example, when Jesus said, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1) or “I am the door” (John 10:7) should we interpret these sayings “literally”?

All of this to say, before we can determine the literal sense we need to find out the original sense. In other words, what was the original intent of the writer and/or speaker? In Genesis one, was the original intent to communicate to readers that the universe is only thousands of years old? By assuming the young-earth perspective is the “literal interpretation” you are assuming the very thing that is in question. The writer of the article refers to his position as the “plain reading of Scripture.” But “plain reading” does not necessarily equate with “correct reading.”

Furthermore, it should be noted that Scripture simply does not give us the age of the universe. Sorry, it just doesn’t! When young-earth creationists insist their view is the literal and plain meaning they are assuming an answer to an issue the Genesis one passage is not even addressing. In other words, everyone agrees that Genesis tells us the “Who,” “Why,” and “What” of creation. This is because the text is primarily theological in nature. But the “When” of creation is simply not addressed and the burden of proof seems to lie with those who claim otherwise.

Second, be careful not to engage in special pleading, i.e., holding others to a principle while exempting oneself. This is a double standard and inconsistent. The writer of the article speaks of

…Christian leaders [who] deliberately reinterpret God's Word on the basis of man's fallible ideas (taken from outside the Bible).

This is obviously an uncharitable characterization of old-age proponents. But lurking behind this statement is also a case of special pleading. The reason I say this is because everyone must engage in biblical interpretation, including young-earth creationists. One should not be too quick to assume that everyone else is deliberately reinterpreting God’s Word by employing man’s fallible ideas, all the while holding one’s own interpretation to be the “plain reading of Scripture.” Everyone must interpret Scripture, and young-earth creationists are just as susceptible to fallible ideas and fallible interpretations which are “taken from outside the Bible.”

#3: Keep an Open Mind.

On issues such as the age of the universe and the interpretation of Genesis one, I would hope we would at least occasionally entertain the idea that “I could be wrong.” Realize that there are intelligent, Bible-believing Christians on both sides of the debate. Let’s continue to dialogue about this issue with mutual respect, courtesy, and a humble heart, remembering that we are ambassadors for Christ, lest by our in-house fighting and quarrelsome attitudes we give non-Christians an excuse for rejecting the Lord.

In addition, keeping an open mind will help prevent unnecessary dogmatism in areas where it is simply not warranted. For example, if you are as dogmatic about the age of the earth as you are on the deity of Christ, that’s a mistake. This brings us to our fourth important reminder.

#4: Major on the Majors.

The age of the universe has nothing to do with your salvation, nor does your interpretation of the days of Genesis. This is not an essential Christian doctrine nor is it part of the Gospel. In other words,

Not all doctrines are of equal importance!

This is crucial to remember. Failing to distinguish between primary, secondary, and tertiary doctrines ends up placing issues such as the age of the earth on equal ground with the sine qua non (without which not) of the Christian faith. This in turn can mistakenly communicate the idea that all doctrine is equally important and all doctrine must be either accepted or rejected as a system. In other words,

An individual may be placed in the precarious position where they feel if they do not accept the young-earth creationist position they must reject Christianity altogether.

Remember the quote above where the author states,

Many young people in our churches are already doubting and disbelieving God's Word. The result? At least two-thirds of children raised in theologically conservative churches now walk away from the church (or even the Christian faith together).

The writer made this statement suggesting that the “compromise” of the old-age position is an attack on Scripture which leads to doubt, disbelief, and rejection of the Christian faith. It should be pointed out that this commits the fallacy of false cause, or minimally, an oversimplified cause. But more importantly, it could just as easily be argued that it is not the old-age view but rather a dogmatic young-earth position that leads to doubt, disbelief, and the eventual rejection of the Christian faith.

How so?

An excessively dogmatic position on the age of the earth combined with a failure to develop a sound doctrinal hierarchy forces people to choose either between a “young earth and Christian faith” or “an old earth and Christian rejection.” In other words, not only does this create another false dichotomy, but it could also just as easily explain the exodus of our churched youth.

Again, how so?

It could be that our children “are already doubting and disbelieving God’s Word” and walking away from the faith because they sincerely believe science shows the universe to be old. Yet they are also told an old universe is at odds with Scripture, or should I say, the young-earth interpretation of Scripture. They then feel forced to choose between science and faith.

In these situations it is important to communicate that one can be a Christian and believe the universe is old. The two are not mutually exclusive. Ironically then, though the writer of this article is concerned with keeping our youth in church, it may be a combination of unwarranted dogmatism and bad theology that is driving them away.

Moreover, it should be remembered that most old-age proponents are not denying a literal Adam and Eve nor are they denying the doctrine of original sin. There are some who do, regrettably, and those who do embrace positions which are theologically problematic and cause for alarm. However, it does not follow that a denial of 24-hour creation days necessarily leads to these troublesome positions, and implying so may be in danger of committing a slippery slope fallacy.

To sum up, we need to keep in mind this oft quoted maxim:

In essentials unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.


[1] Ken Ham, “It’s an Attack on the Son,” Answers Update 17, no. 11 (2010): 1.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid., 2.

30 comments:

Greg West said...

This is great advice! Thanks for writing on this topic that causes such needless division within the church.

Lenny Esposito said...

Great article! I've seen this type of reasoning before and it is indeed an issue to which we must be wary.

The other thing that becomes a danger in this discussion is the misapplication of one belief to another. Christians can continually mix up the Big Bang, the age of the universe, and the concept of evolution. See the blog post "Are you guilty of creation conflation?" at http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2011/06/are-you-guilty-of-creation-conflation.html

Aaron said...

Greg and Lenny,

Thank you both for your comments.

Lenny, thanks for the link to the article as well. I will check this out.

Shelby Cade said...

Great article! I have experienced this argument many times when dialoguing with other Christians. When your mind's made up, your mind's made up.

Maurilo e Vivian said...

Great article.
I'm a young-earther (as you call it in English, always have a hard time trying to translate it to Portuguese) but I have a great amount of respect for my old-earthers brothers and I don't think they have a low view of the Scriptures. I believe we look at the same evidences and get to different conclusions. It's sad to see a straw man in this, even from a ministry that I like so much as the one that wrote the newsletter.

Ruben said...

I must say I do disagree. I am a young-earther myself, but I do think the reasoning presented in this article (the 'young-earth reasoning', that is) is not the primary objection to an old earth.

The biggest issue for myself is: how do you deal with the fact that the Bible teaches that before Adam there was no death?

This fact is central to the gospel. Because of one man's sin, people die. But with an old earth, death had to happen before sin.

Thoughts on this?

Luke Nix said...

Great post, Aaron! Contrary to the claims of the author of the newsletter, the YEC view is what drove me away from Biblical inerrency and Christianity altogether. The OEC view is what brought me back to both. Because of my own experience, I have to keep my own dogmatism (on YEC and inerrency) in check constantly. This is an awesome article for both sides- not to use as ammunition against the other, but as a critique of their own approach to the issue.

I posted an article a while back called "Nature vs. Scripture" (http://goo.gl/fLWH3) where I talk about interpretation. You might appreciate it. :)

Aaron said...

Thanks for the link Luke. I will check it out!

Luke Nix said...

Ruben,
The OE model that I support specifically denies human death before The Fall. It only allows for plant and animal death before The Fall:

1. Morality and spirituality are necessary attributes of a being that has the possibility to sin or possess a sin nature.*
2. Plants and animals are amoral and aspiritual.
3. Therefore, plants and animals do not have the ability to sin. (1 and 2)
4. Plants and animals die today.
5. Therefore, plant and animal death is not a result of their sin. (3 and 4)
6. Sin was not in the world prior to The Fall.
7. Therefore, plant and animal death could take place prior to sin entering the world. (5 and 6)
8. Christ's sacrifice was for sin.
9. Therefore, Christ's sacrifice did not affect plants and animals (3 and 8)
10.Therefore, the presence of plant and/or animal death prior to The Fall has no bearing on Christ's sacrifice. (7 and 9)

Keep in mind that this does not exclude all death of plants and animals as being the result of human sinfulness. Some extra death (more than what would naturally occur) of plants and animals is the result of human sinful behavior. However, this is an indirect effect and not a direct penalty (similar to how Human A can suffer from Human B's crime even though Human A is not guilty of the crime).

*A clarification of #1: these are necessary but not sufficient attributes- meaning that there are other attributes that must be in place. So, this premise cannot be made to say that any person of the Trinity or the Godhead (as a whole) has the ability to sin or have a sin nature.

Josh Taylor said...

I had to take a class at a prominent evangelical university that promoted young earth creationism. Some of the class material definitely gave the impression that people who didn't believe in YEC were somehow less than orthodox. It's very unfortunate when opinions on second-order doctrines are raised on par essential tenets of Christianity.

Philip K. Panicker said...

I am a YEC Christian. You paraphrased for Ken Ham as follows: "Anyone who disagrees with young-earth creationism is not taking Scripture seriously but rather is elevating human reason and/or science above divinely inspired revelation."
Prior to becoming saved, during and for a short period after, I did place science+reason above scripture. In fact, it was science that pointed me to the Lord. Now, as a more mature Christian, I place scripture over science and reason.
I am of the opinion that anyone who studies science objectively and with integrity will accept that science and the Bible plainly and clearly teaches a 6 day creation about 6k years ago. (I say the following in brotherly love.) Why do OECs accept without questioning claims of millions of years from evolutionists? Why don't OEC check out the fallacy behind the unscientific radiometric dating techniques, the claims of index fossils and the non-existent geological column all based on circular logic and the post-hoc fallacy? Why do OECs accept made up claims by evolutionists such as "Neanderthals", "Lucy", "Ardi" and other supposed prehumans when all previous such claims_Peking man, Java man, Nebraska man, et al_have been shown to be false? Why don't OECs check out the "arbitrary assumptions" behind the big bang theory?...IMHO, anyone who believes in millions and billions of years not only have a wrong view of scripture but also a wrong understanding of science. But, bottom line is, God forgives you whatever else you believe, as long as you believe in Christ Jesus. God bless.

Eddie said...

I’m a young earth creationist, yet I agree much of this article. It must be remembered that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ through faith in Christ and not the age of the earth.

I do think both sides (not all of us) are guilty of an unloving attitude toward the other because of this issue though.

I know that some young earthers say that old earthers are compromising scripture for the sake of secular science and I also think it’s sad and wrong to hear Christians say old earthers are attacking Christ too in their old earth belief. Another prominent figure in the young earth camp has said that old earthers do not have confidence in God’s word. I think this is insulting rhetoric too.

Likewise some prominent old earthers say things that are wrong by saying young earthers are not sincere when it comes to evaluating all of scripture and even a major figure in leading the progressive creationist belief has insulting pictures of James Ussher in cartoon form as an idiot counting his toes to work out the age of the earth in his publications.

Another prominent figure I’ve seen on you tube who is an old earther l heard say in his thesis of young earth creationism was using words like”young earth creationist myth”.
I would not call any old earther’s belief a myth. I may think he is wrong, but I think he is sincerely wrong and I believe the majority of old earthers love the Lord and want to honour Him in everything.

To finish... I believe what might be a factor in contributing to our young people leaving the church is the attitude some Christians have towards the other.
Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”

Ex N1hilo said...

I think that Ken Ham would agree with Aaron that “The interpretation of the days of Genesis is an issue of hermeneutics, not inerrancy. “

Nowhere in the article in question (found here) does Ham accuse William Demski, William Craig, or anyone else of denying biblical inerrancy. The point of the article is in fact hermeneutical. Ham simply questions the propriety of using the current theories of empirical science to interpret the text of scripture.

The central focus of sound exegesis of any text is the attempt to ascertain the author's intent. What meaning is the author trying to convey to his readers?

In light of this, can we assert that it is a sound hermeneutical principle to use theories the author never conceived of as an interpretive grid through which to determine the meaning of his words? I say “no.” In general, sadly, old earth creationists are saying “yes.”

As an example of this type of thinking I offer the old leftist Literature professors at many universities with their (often unspoken) thesis that one cannot rightly understand any text, ancient or modern, without filtering it through the lens of Marxist economic theory.

They make the mistake of intentionally reading their own ideas and experiences into the text. And, in my view, those who read billions of years into Genesis 1 are doing essentially the same thing. We ought to read the meaning out of the text, based on a grammatical-historical hermeneutic, and try as best we can not to read our own ideas into it. Now, it is difficult to achieve this in practice, I realize, but it ought to be a goal we strive resolutely to reach.

bbigej said...

"The OE model that I support specifically denies human death before The Fall. It only allows for plant and animal death before The Fall"

You believe that our perfect, righteous and infinitely holy God of Love created the universe with animals suffering and dying for millions of years. And He called this creation "very good." You should dwell on that awhile.

RkBall said...

”young earth creationist myth”.

Myth in this context does not mean "false"; it is a form of communication, just like Jesus' parables. Jesus parables convey truth, but were they true?!

Peace.

Chad Miller said...

Ruben - "The biggest issue for myself is: how do you deal with the fact that the Bible teaches that before Adam there was no death?"

bbigej - "You believe that our perfect, righteous and infinitely holy God of Love created the universe with animals suffering and dying for millions of years. And He called this creation "very good." You should dwell on that awhile."


To be clear, the Bible does NOT say that animal and plant death are a result of the fall. Regardless if I "chew on the thought" for a while doesn't change what the Bible says.

When Paul says in Romans 5 "Therefore, just as through one MAN sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all MEN, because all sinned" (emphasis mine) and throughout the rest of Romans 5 he is clearly referring to HUMAN death, even though this is usually THE proof text YEC's give to support their view that plant/animal death could not have occurred prior to the fall. The text says nothing about plant and animal death, nor should we.

Romans 8:18-25 is also not speaking of sin entering the world and causing plant/animal death either. If you want to refer to the "futility" the earth is subjected to, that was subjected by God. If you refer to the creation groaning, that says nothing about plants or animals dying.

Did God create a world in which death was, in fact, a necessary (and good) part of the created order? Absolutely! Would you say that plant and animal death is a bad thing, when so many good things come from it? Also, if it is "bad", why is it bad? Is it morally wrong to kill a plant or animal, or for them to die? I'd take the position that plants and animals dying is viewed by God quite differently than humans... and I would hope we would all agree on that.

If it wasn't for animal and plant death, you wouldn't be typing on this blog right now since the bulk of the energy we use in this world originally came from plants and animals. Also, I have prophetic insight that the Lord takes delight in when I kill a mosquito. ;-)

Human death is another story entirely, and that IS what entered the world when Adam sinned. Plant and animal death are not sinful, and are not consequences of human sin. The focus is on how sin and death affected US and OUR broken relationship with God.

I still cannot understand how or why YEC's continue to use such a flimsy premise for their position. I really can't... If you want to believe in a Young Earth position based on interpreting the text of Genesis, I completely understand... but why try to include Romans when Paul is saying absolutely nothing about the fall causing death to all living things?

If YEC's want to include Romans 5 or 8 to support their position, they would also have to conclude that plant death is "not good" as well. If that is the case, what did Adam and Eve eat? Did the plants and vegetables somehow miraculously stay alive when they digested them? I know that sounds ridiculous, but that is the conclusion one must come up with when saying "the entire creation groaning" is referring to the curse causing death, since plants are part of the creation...

Again, Romans 8 says nothing about death, and Romans 5 is specifically speaking about the death of MEN, or at least that's the only conclusion I can come to.

Aaron said...

Ex N1hilo,

Thanks for your comments. Also, thank you for providing a link to the article on the web. I agree with much of what you say here.

You stated,

I think that Ken Ham would agree with Aaron that “The interpretation of the days of Genesis is an issue of hermeneutics, not inerrancy. “

Nowhere in the article in question (found here) does Ham accuse William Demski, William Craig, or anyone else of denying biblical inerrancy. The point of the article is in fact hermeneutical.


I think you are right, Ken Ham would agree that the issue is ultimately a matter of hermeneutics. And you are also right that Ken Ham does not explicitly accuse Dembski or Craig of denying biblical inerrancy in this article.

However, I think this is what Ken Ham is implying which is why I quoted him as saying "it ultimately undermines the authority of Scripture."

Moreover, Ken Ham has already set a precedent of turning this debate into an issue of inerrancy. For example, in his book The New Answers Book 2 he and Larry Pierce state, "Those who hold to the inerrancy of the Scriptures should reject all attempts to make the earth older than the Hebrew text warrants, which is about 4000 B.C." (pg. 181).

Also, if you go on the Answers in Genesis website and search, "Six Days-the key to inerrancy" you can listen to an audio clip by Ken Ham regarding this issue. However, the title "Six Days-the key to inerrancy" I think is quite revealing in itself!

Examples like this could be multiplied. And this is why I think we are justified in cautioning YEC not to turn this into an issue of inerrancy. Perhaps OEC are wrong hermeneutically, but that is a seperate matter.

Eddie said...

As Ive mentined in an earlier comment "I'm a young earth creationist." I have a question for Old earth creationist though.. I don't want to sound smart and I'm really sincere on this, but Genesis 1says that humans were created veggies and in the same way and context that all animals were too. Also Genesis says God gave all animals green plants to eat, but some animals are primarliy meat eaters today which I believe is a result of the fall. But why do OECs say that some animals were created carnivores, but still believe that humans were created veggies... I just don't get it! To me this is a very good proof for all animals been veggies at the beginning... Am I missing something here?, or is there something in the Hebrew that is not coming out in the English language.
Can anyone on the OCE side shed some light on this?
Thanks Eddie

Chad Miller said...

Good question Eddie! Instead of typing out a long comment, here is a good article from RTB on the issue. I believe this handles the text accurately and shows how animal death was indeed around prior to the fall. Thanks!

http://www.reasons.org/animal-death-fall-what-does-bible-say

Eddie said...

Thanks Chad,
Had a look at the article you sent from RTB. I got the impression from the article that Adam and Eve were actually meat eaters before the fall... I’d like to quote a sentence from the article “But Genesis 1:29-30 does not explicitly say that meat was forbidden” (end quote) So did Adam and Eve have to kill and cook some of the animals in the garden for food? Is this what the article is really saying or have I made a mistake in assuming this?

One issue I raised in my original comment was “Genesis says God gave "all" animals green plants to eat, but some animals are primarily meat eaters today which I believe is a result of the fall.”(end quote) This issue I feel was not really addressed in the article you sent.
You I think would agree that animals that are eat meat eaters get their energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively from consuming other animals and we call them carnivores.
So do you not think it sounds contradictory for God to say I give “all” animals every green plant for food?

I still think the proper exegesis of the text really does mean what it says, that Adam and Eve and all animals were actually herbivores before the fall.

Looking forward to hearing from you again.
Ed.

BenYachov said...

What's wrong with Augustine's & or Philo's view on Creation?

Genesis 2:4 is interpreted to mean God instantaneously created the Universe & Genesis One is not a literal exposition on Creation but an allegorical one.

This was a respectable minority view of creation centuries before Darwin was even born.

Chad Miller said...

I don't believe Adam and Eve ate meat while in the garden (prior to the fall), and I'm pretty sure the article didn't state that view either (I may have misunderstood).

The text never says animals never hunted or consumed other animals. Carnivores were exquisitely designed to be hunters and their digestive systems were designed for a carnivorous diet, so while God did give plants as the primary source of nutrition for herbivores (and secondary for carnivores), I see nothing in the text that implies that predators did not hunt. Herbivores eat plants, carnivores eat herbivores and plants...

Eddie said...

Hi Chad,
Ok, so you believe Adam and Eve were herbivores in the garden as I do and that’s good.

In relation to the question I raised about God giving “all” the animals green plants to eat we will have to agree to disagree.

In relation to the design of animals in having hunting features and a digestive system for meat. Well scripture does note some incredible changes due to the fall and there is nothing in the text to say this was exhaustive.
For e.g. women would now suffer terrible pain in childbirth and the ground would produce thorns.

(Btw thorns are found in the fossil record that predate the fall according to OECs)

These are real physical changes and I believe that animals were affected by the fall too.

One final question is and I'd appreciate it if you could respond.. “Do you think God thought it was “Very Good” that animals got diseases such as painful cancerous tumors as revealed in the fossil record again predating Adam’s fall according to OECs and that for millions of years? Or how do you look at this?
Thanks again for responding.
Eddie

Chad Miller said...

Ok, so you believe Adam and Eve were herbivores in the garden as I do and that’s good.

- indeed! I'm pretty sure all progressive creationists would agree on this, unlike theistic evolutionists who believe in an allegorical interpretation. Aside from the age, I actually believe we have more in common with YEC's than TE's.



In relation to the question I raised about God giving “all” the animals green plants to eat we will have to agree to disagree.

- Good deal. Otherwise we'd be whipping the (post fall, of course) dead horse. ;-)

In relation to the design of animals in having hunting features and a digestive system for meat. Well scripture does note some incredible changes due to the fall and there is nothing in the text to say this was exhaustive.
For e.g. women would now suffer terrible pain in childbirth and the ground would produce thorns.

- Actually, the text says her labor would "increase" or "multiply", meaning it was already going to be painful in the garden. As far as thorns are concerned, we would agree that Eden was a very special place. When Adam was removed from the garden back to the original ground outside the garden (from whence he was created), he was now outside of the special privileges of being in the garden and would have a rough life tilling the ground.


(Btw thorns are found in the fossil record that predate the fall according to OECs)

-Absolutely... But not in Eden...

These are real physical changes and I believe that animals were affected by the fall too.

- Here is where the burden of proof falls squarely in the YEC court. The text says absolutely nothing about animals changing for Adam (only the ground and his gardening life), and this is something YEC's force into the text to support their view. I'm hoping you can see this incredible difficulty since the entire change of every animal would be an amazing change for the Lord to make and not mention. Not saying he "couldn't", but why on earth would He?


One final question is and I'd appreciate it if you could respond.. “Do you think God thought it was “Very Good” that animals got diseases such as painful cancerous tumors as revealed in the fossil record again predating Adam’s fall according to OECs and that for millions of years? Or how do you look at this?
Thanks again for responding.

- Simply put, yes. Would you say those tumors are sinful or evil in animals? If they aren't sinful or evil (things only involving man or angels), then why would they not be considered good? When Jesus says the Lord cares for the sparrows, is He saying His eye isn't on the sparrow that's eaten by my cat? Or that His eye isn't on the lion that eats the impala, thus providing food for the pride? Sure, you could say "well thats just a result of the fall", but God is shown as still providing for ALL the animals.

I don't believe animal death (by predation or disease) is evil or sinful at all, therefore I can see the end of day 6 as "very good" since man hadn't sinned yet.

Thanks for the dialogue!

Eddie said...

Hi Chad,
Thanks for such a detailed response.
I feel I'm getting a better understanding of your position.
Just one point, I think you too are making an unfounded assumption.
You said that "thorns didnt appear in the garden", but God said that the ground would now produce thorns at the same time He put Adam out of the garden. Therefore thorns were only now appearing outside the garden after the fall. Adam would not be working the ground in the garden, Adam was to be expelled from the garden after he sinned.

My understandig of Eve's pain is that she would experience intense pain from now on... this is what I believe is the sense of the multiplication of her pains.

Animals suffering terrible pain before the curse is not good, if you had a pet suffering like this you would put it down to relieve the creature of it's misery.
God still cares for animals, but God does so in this present fallen world. God also cares for us more but we see human suffering too because of the curse.
Thanks again Chad.
Ed

Eddie said...

Just one point I forgot to mention, The physical changes that happen to Eve's body didn't change how she looked I assume. The changes to animals would relate to how they used the features of say claws or teeth. For eg, a bears teeth look like they are made for tearing flesh but many bears a herbivores. A sharp claw can tear flesh or rip open fruit. So altough I'm not an expert on this.. this is my understanding. The changes may have more to do with the nature of animals than the physical side.

Chad Miller said...

"Hi Chad,
Thanks for such a detailed response.
I feel I'm getting a better understanding of your position.
Just one point, I think you too are making an unfounded assumption.
You said that "thorns didnt appear in the garden", but God said that the ground would now produce thorns at the same time He put Adam out of the garden. Therefore thorns were only now appearing outside the garden after the fall. "

- It never says God "created" the thorns and thistles when Adam sinned. Go to the Hebrew and look at how many times God actually created (Hebrew "bara" H1254). The point of the text is that Adams work is going to be increased by the thorns sprouting up for him. He was already working in the garden, but it would be more difficult outside the garden.


"Adam would not be working the ground in the garden, Adam was to be expelled from the garden after he sinned."

- He was already working the garden, and he would now be working outside the garden. We agree on this.


"My understandig of Eve's pain is that she would experience intense pain from now on... this is what I believe is the sense of the multiplication of her pains. "

- Look to the Hebrew on this, or even the English. The fact is her pain already existed and it would be intensified, just as Adam's work already existed and would be intensified.


"Animals suffering terrible pain before the curse is not good, if you had a pet suffering like this you would put it down to relieve the creature of it's misery.
God still cares for animals, but God does so in this present fallen world. God also cares for us more but we see human suffering too because of the curse."


- You're making a good emotional appeal, but there is no Biblical support for that emotional stance, but rather more of a cultural stance. If you were to go back in time, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that would feel remorse at the death of any animal. The bottom line is the Bible never says that animal death or suffering is evil. He commanded the Israelites to slaughter "innocent" animals as a sacrifice. Why would He do that if animal death was evil? Would He command an evil act as a way of worshiping Him? I wouldn't think so.


"Just one point I forgot to mention, The physical changes that happen to Eve's body didn't change how she looked I assume. The changes to animals would relate to how they used the features of say claws or teeth. For eg, a bears teeth look like they are made for tearing flesh but many bears a herbivores. A sharp claw can tear flesh or rip open fruit. So altough I'm not an expert on this.. this is my understanding. The changes may have more to do with the nature of animals than the physical side."

- If that is your conclusion that you came up with, that's ok. There is no Biblical or scientific support for either (to my knowledge), but I understand why you would come to that conclusion.

Eddie said...

Chad,
I commend you for having such thoughtful answers. And I think it’s good that you are willing and able to defend your view.

I probably could be making my case better than I’m currently doing and there are others who I’m sure who could do a better job, but let me try clarify a few things I already addressed.

Adam was to work the ground by the sweat of his brow after the fall, the work in the garden before the fall was not the painful toil it was going to be outside the garden (this is what I meant by Adam working outside the garden).

God said the ground will (future tense) produce thorns and thistles.

In regards to your appeal to look into the Hebrew, there are those who know Hebrew well who would still advocate the YEC position.

Animals suffering terrible pain is emotional to us I agree. But I’m taking into account the fact that I believe God created animal’s herbivores.
I’m also making an inference from scripture as a whole that because God is absolutely good and perfect I therefore have a hard time believing our God would create animals to suffer real pain for so long. I know God allows animals and people to suffer now, but this is within the context of a cursed and fallen world.
The sacrifices of animals point to the Lord Jesus the innocent One having to suffer to secure our salvation... the sacrifices also point to the dreadful consequences of our sin and rebellion.
The innocent to suffer on behalf of the guilty was never God’s ideal and nether are animal sacrifices.

Finally you said... “There is no Biblical or scientific support for either (to my knowledge),”
For an animal to have their nature changed from herbivore to carnivore is something I don’t think we can establish scientificly today... this is a past event and therefore not something that can be test in a lab.

Greg thanks again for taking time to respond... one thing that is for sure is that we believe God is the Creator and Saviour of all of us who believe.
And we can be thankful that secondary issues such as YEC/OEC is something that we don’t have to divide over even if we agree to disagree.
Unfortunately many making are this a reason not to fellowship with each other which is really not what God intended for us.

Ed.

Chad Miller said...

Believe me, if this were a point of division with me I'd need to find a new church! My wife and I are on an island by ourselves in our church, but it doesn't get in the way at all with our service, fellowship, or love for our church family.

My main goal is to engage in friendly dialogue with my brothers and sisters and come away knowing we all have a high view of Scripture and our only difference is interpretation, not innerancy, sufficiency, etc.

Eddie said...

Yeh Chad, I agree.

God bless
Ed.