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Feedback archive Feedback 2009

Can Christians believe “dogmatically” that the earth is 6,000 years old?

Published: 19 December 2009(GMT+10)

Photo by Don Batten

Eastern beach syncline

Radical folding at Eastern Beach, near Auckland in New Zealand, indicates that the sediments were soft and pliable when folded, inconsistent with a long time for their formation. Such folding can be seen world-wide and is consistent with a young age of the earth.

This week’s Feedback highlights two letters regarding CMI’s stance on the age of the earth. First was correspondent Patrick B., whose letter is first printed in its entirety, then Lita Cosner responds point-by-point below. Then Louis v.R. accuses CMI of not believing what we say, to which Don Batten responds.

Patrick B.: I believe in a young earth but I am always uncomfortable when I read the earth is 6,000 years old, stated dogmatically.

This is for 3 reasons.

1. I remember reading Henry Morris, Genesis Flood, in the ‘60’s and him cautioning that there could be some gaps in the genealogy.

2. I understand that the Greek version of the Bible gives nearly 3,000 years more than the Hebrew version. I further understand that the Apostles mostly quoted from this Greek version (though I don’t know about Jesus). If this is the case it at least raises some questions.

(It would be interesting to know whether these extra years are before or after the flood—but not having such a Bible I do not know).

3. Concerning Adam’s age. I don’t know your views, but I doubt anyone will keep a record of the number of years we spend on the ‘New Earth’-only it will be an eternity. With regard to Adam, if he wasn’t dying in Eden (which he wasn’t) then surely it makes sense to count his years from the day he was cast out of Eden? In which case we don’t know how long he lived without sinning.

If the age given for him is from creation, then it is obvious he did not live long in that ‘paradise’ before he fell.

I could add a fourth reason—when facts are presented dogmatically they rarely appear attractive, and the Truth should always be made as attractive as the circumstances permit.

May the good Lord continue to bless your very important ministry.

Patrick B.

CMI’s Lita Cosner responds in point-by-point manner:

Dear Patrick,

I believe in a young earth but I am always uncomfortable when I read the earth is 6,000 years old, stated dogmatically.

This is for 3 reasons.

1. I remember reading [John Whitcomb and] Henry Morris, Genesis Flood, in the ‘60’s and him cautioning that there could be some gaps in the geneology.

This objection is answered in Biblical chronogenealogies, which I highly recommend for you, as it answers all of the questions you’ve raised. Basically, no-one ever saw any gaps in the genealogies from the time of ancient Judaism until fairly recently. Also, the grammar does not allow the insertion of gaps. Even more importantly, there are no time gaps—even if there were gaps between the names (doubtful), the time between the names is clearly given, which is why Genesis 5 and 11 are chronogenealogies. The article gives a much more in-depth answer.

2. I understand that the Greek version of the Bible gives nearly 3,000 years more than the Hebrew version. I further understand that the Apostles mostly quoted from this Greek version (though I don’t know about Jesus). If this is the case it at least raises some questions.

The biblical chronogenealogies article referred to above also defends the Masoretic dates, please see the defense there.

(It would be interesting to know whether these extra years are before or after the flood-but not having such a Bible I do not know).

There’s a very helpful chart, located in the same article. I hope it is helpful for you.

3. Concerning Adam’s age. I don’t know your views, but I doubt anyone will keep a record of the number of years we spend on the ‘New Earth’-only it will be an eternity. With regard to Adam, if he wasn’t dying in Eden (which he wasn’t) then surely it makes sense to count his years from the day he was cast out of Eden? In which case we don’t know how long he lived without sinning.
If the age given for him is from creation, then it is obvious he did not live long in that ‘paradise’ before he fell.

Humans have to experience things in time, while God is outside of time

I would suggest that our being eternal creatures and living for an eternity in the new heavens and earth does not exclude the measurement of age, because we are eternal beings in such a way that our existence has a beginning, but no end, while it makes no sense to ask how old God is, because He had no beginning. So we are able to measure our ages, and this does not change whether we are 9 or 90; why should it change after 9 million years? Of course, it is impossible to say just how time will be measured in the new creation, or how important the passage of time will be in an eternal state, but it seems that humans have to experience things in time, while God is outside of time. On the other hand, even if there is no time in that state, it does not change the reality of time from the beginning when God created things (Genesis 1:1). The fact that Genesis spends so much time telling us of time, including how it is measured, indicates that time is an intended reality in God’s created order; it is not something we can lightly put aside (see, for example: Why Genesis 5 is a key chapter in the Bible).

We have frequently argued that Adam and Eve could not have lived long in the Garden before they sinned, because they were given the command to be fruitful and multiply. In their unfallen state, they would have wanted to obey immediately, and they would have had perfect bodies which would have been able to fulfill the command. That Eve did not conceive before they sinned indicates that they could not have been in the Garden long.

I could add a fourth reason, when facts are presented dogmatically they rarely appear attractive, and the Truth should always be made as attractive as the circumstances permit.

While I agree that we shouldn’t be unnecessarily offensive in presenting the truth, we cannot water down the truth to make it less offensive. In a culture that does not accept the existence of an objective, absolute truth, it will necessarily be offensive to some when we claim anything is absolutely true. Sometimes it is possible to make the truth look attractive without watering it down, but where it is offensive, we cannot water it down. Indeed, the places where the truth is offensive are often where truth is most needed.

“Dogmatism” has become something of a dirty word to postmodernists, especially when it is Christians who are dogmatic. It is ironic indeed that postmodernists are quite dogmatic that there is no such thing as truth; except their assertion about the lack of any truth, which is true, of course! But we are taught in Scripture to be dogmatic about certain things; for Christians, this would be the things contained in the various Church creeds (the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, etc). They succinctly sum up the lowest common denominator for what makes a person a Christian. If one isn’t dogmatic about the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, one simply isn’t a Christian, and so on, with the rest of the statements of the creeds. Historically, these ‘lowest common denominator’ issues have been referred to as the Dogma of the Church, distinguished from doctrines, which are important scriptural truths. However, disbelieving in doctrine makes one heterodox, while disbelieving a dogma makes one a heretic.

When I talk about Christians being commanded to be dogmatic, I don’t mean the sort of stereotypical dogmatism such as uncritical acceptance of anything one’s local church teaches. Dogma has to be based on the clear teaching of Scripture. Being dogmatic doesn’t exclude logic or thought about one’s dogma. Being dogmatic, before it became a pejorative term, simply meant being absolutely confident in the truth of something, to the point where nothing else could shake one’s faith in it. Isn’t that precisely the attitude Christians should hold about Scripture’s teaching?

May the good Lord continue to bless your very important ministry.

Patrick Bateman

Thanks and God bless,

Lita Cosner
Information Officer
Creation Ministries International


Our second highlighted feedback this week is from South African correspondent Louis v.R. who provided this comment on Don Batten’s article Twiddling the knobs:

Twiddling the knobs

Louis v.R.: This article is certainly very persuasive — to the unthinking and uncritical. It is a matter of argument-by-analogy. The analogy is the TV set and the radio and for those two gadgets the argument works perfectly. However, no analogy ever fits a situation under discussion perfectly. Here the gaping bad fit is glaringly obvious: the TV and the radio are inanimate, man-made objects and thus inanimate; they really have nothing to do with living things. Moreover, the radio and the TV are recent inventions; life has been around for unimaginably longer periods, as you all well know despite your pretended insistence on the six-thousand-year universe.

Dear Louis,

The article clearly bothered you to get such a strong response!

But it seems that you have missed the point of the article, or side-stepped it. The article was not saying that living things are analogous to man-made machines in every respect. The comparison was limited. Note:

"The natural changes we see in living things are like twiddling the knobs on a complex machine".

The analogy was between the limited natural changes observed in living things and the minor changes that are possible with a complex man-made machine by making adjustments to the in-built controls.

For microbes-to-man evolution to be at all plausible there needs to be a mechanism that adds new functionality, not just adjusting, or even destroying, what is already there. This is similar to building a television set; you need to add functionality (a visual display and the circuitry to decode the video signals, for example), not just adjust the settings on a radio.

A minimal microbe has several hundred proteins. Not one of these could have arisen by chance, even if every atom in the universe were an experiment with all the right amino acids for every atomic vibration possible for the supposed evolutionary age of the universe! But then, let’s assume that such an impossible event did happen and that first life just popped into existence (no intelligence allowed!). Then mutations have to create the code for one hundred thousand extra proteins to make a human and many more beside to account for all living things on earth. This is a tall story of grand proportions.

The sorts of changes we do observe in living things (real science!) give no support to this belief that all these new proteins, with thousands of new, radically different protein families, for example, could have made themselves without intelligent input. I gave several examples of the sorts of changes that evolutionists claim as evidence for “evolution”, but which are just examples of twiddling the existing knobs of the organisms, not creating new knobs (new protein complexes, new functions).

… the radio and the TV are recent inventions; life has been around for unimaginably longer periods, as you all well know despite your pretended insistence on the six-thousand-year universe.

Time is actually the enemy of evolution, not its friend

Here you accuse us of deliberately deceiving people, which is rather below the belt. You have no evidence whatsoever for such an accusation. Many of us have given up well-paying careers to be involved in creation ministry and we would not have done that for something we knew to be a lie. Your suggestion is preposterous. But on the age of things, I composed a list of many different indicators of age that contradict your unquestioning acceptance of deep time; see: Age of the earth: 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe.

I fail to see what the time-frame has to do with it anyway; the principle that there is no natural mechanism for creating new genetic information for new complex functions (such as new biochemical pathways) applies no matter what the time frame—unless you subscribe to the dictum that "given enough time anything is possible", which is demonstrable nonsense; see The fish in the bathtub. Time is actually the enemy of evolution, not its friend.

Yours sincerely,

Don Batten

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