Equal airtime to deep time?
Published: 26 October 2019 (GMT+10)
Should CMI give equal airtime to ‘billions of years’ in our media and events? Bevan F. from New Zealand writes:
Hi all, hope you are doing well.
My parents are big fans of Creation.com so well done on the site. For myself, I don’t agree with the world view that the earth is 6,000 years old. I have listened to hours and hours of debate and made up my mind. Because it’s not a gospel issue—rather an internal church conversation it’s not debated a whole lot.
I would like to point out that there are some mistakes on your website. Firstly, the URL https://creation.com/how-old-is-the-earth. It states that evolutionists believe that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. What about the Christians that believe that? It misrepresents the ‘other half’ of the faith (badly).
If you could look at changing the way you represent the Christian faith I would be appreciative of that.
Also, it would be great if you could get the other side of the coin shown at the events. It would give participants the opportunity to think for themselves.
CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:
Thanks for writing in. Fair enough; you don’t agree with us. Is there anything specific that convinced you the young-earth creation view was wrong? I’d be interested to hear, and perhaps respond to it.
This issue isn’t debated a whole lot? It’s not the frequency with which people debate the issue that matters (that will be different depending on the circles you walk in); it’s the importance of the debate that matters. That’s where we fundamentally disagree. We think it matters a great deal, for both the integrity of the Gospel and the spiritual health of the church: Creation: Why it Matters.
The “mistake” you claim of us is no mistake at all; evolutionists do indeed believe that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Failure to mention non-evolutionists or Christians who also believe that doesn’t mean we’re saying that only evolutionists believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Think of it like this: Matthew 28:1 says that two Marys went to Jesus tomb on the first Easter morning; he mentions no other women. Luke 24:10 says that two Marys, a Joanna, and other women went to the tomb that Sunday morning. Do Matthew and Luke contradict each other? Of course not! Matthew mentioning only two women doesn’t mean he said that only two women went to the tomb; his silence allows for more women to have been present. Matthew simply didn’t want or need to mention the other women for the purposes of his account. Likewise, in a book entitled “Refuting Evolution”, it’s not exactly surprising that it doesn’t focus on Christians who reject evolution but accept deep time.
Moreover, we do acknowledge the existence of long-age Christians. Here is just one example among many: Common ground with old-earth creationists?. And in that article I explicitly acknowledge that there are genuine Christians who believe in ‘billions of years’ (see also Do I have to believe in a historical Genesis to be saved? and Can compromisers really be saved?).
Still, we think Christians who believe in ‘billions of years’ are dangerously wrong: Did God create over billions of years? And why is it important?. We believe the Bible teaches a history of the world that contradicts the standard ‘billions of years’ history of the world, and that trying to marry ‘billions of years’ with the Bible fatally undermines the Gospel. Why? Two of the most important reasons are that Jesus taught a history of the world that conflicts with billions of years (Mark 10:6: ‘From the beginning of creation’—what did Jesus mean?), and that human death before human sin fatally undermines Jesus’ death and resurrection as the solution for sin and death (The good news without the bad news is no news at all!). I believe in a perfectly reliable Jesus who saves me from sin and death. Don’t you? If so, then you might want to reconsider whether ‘billions of years’ is a belief worth holding on to.
You want us to give equal airtime to the other side of the debate at our events? Umm, no. Why? Well, I suggest trying to be fair: why not also ask long-agers to give us equal airtime in their media? Oh, wait; they’ll never do that in this climate! Why not? They think we’re idiots, psychos, and liars. Indeed, Dawkins won’t even debate a creationist precisely because he says that would give us equal airtime with him (World atheist convention rejects Australian creationist debate challenge). The fact is that neither side needs to give equal airtime to the other at their own events. If you don’t like the fact that in certain circles we get the final word (though a clear minority compared to the airtime ‘billions of years’ ideas get), might I suggest taking the beam out of your own eye before attending to the supposed speck in our own.
Let me make this clear; perhaps the most important part of our ministry is calling the church back to fidelity to the Bible’s whole history of redemption right from Genesis. It’s only in that history of redemption that the Gospel makes sense. Asking us not to represent Christianity that way is simply to ask us to give up our work. We won’t do that. We can’t. As Luther famously responded to the Diet of Worms: “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason … my conscience is captive to the Word of God.”
Creation Ministries International
Hi Shaun, thanks for the reply. Some thoughts:
In terms of sharing the stage, many times old age creationists like Hugh Ross has spoken at atheist conferences. They invite him but not young earth creationists because young earth does not have a scientific basis. The arguments for young earth are all based around theories that try to fit a square peg into a round hole. The bible has proven its worth and accuracy by not denying any new real provable scientific find on the earth’s history. I have listened to hours and hours of debating from both sides and honestly can say YEC have no decent argument.
Pushing out marketing trying to show that young earth is the only game in town is not helpful for the gospel. You are putting up a barrier by saying ‘unless you believe in this doctrine you can not believe’. This is not a gospel issue but is still important because it effects people’s worldview.
Here is (just) 3 of the reasons for my belief (there are many more):
1. The word for day Yom in Hebrew can be a very long finite period of time therefore defaulting to 6 literal days is not the correct way to read the text. Also, reading of the entire bible is very important to ensure you are evaluating consistently (see also book of Job backing up the Genesis account).
2. There is no 8th day - there was no evening on the 7th day. So what day are we in now? Your point about OEC ‘fatally undermining the bible’ is utter nonsense. Nothing in OEC undermines anything in the bible. Please name something so I can get a sense of where you are coming from.
3. From what I have seen the theory that YEC is true came from a position of fear (of losing faith or disproving the bible). So the background of your belief is fear of science, and yet you are going around teaching this ‘science’ to others. Doesn’t make sense. YEC has no real science to back it up in any meaningful way.
To discover these truths I did something really simple: I went back to the bible. I forgot my pre-conceived beliefs and I simply read it for what it’s telling me. As mentioned I also listened to hours of debates on both sides and from that I again went back to the text. The false teaching we have nowadays is an American invention started in the 1800’s claiming to be a ‘new revelation’. The only revelation we have is God’s word and that hasn’t changed.
I hope you find this helpful and you are willing to think for yourself and listen to both sides. If not you are intentionally avoiding possible change and keeping your truth as the truth. I have come out of the bondage (my words) of YEC. After realising how ridiculous it is frankly a little embarrassing and I am happy I never publicly admitted to the belief.
Sorry didn’t understand your Mary story, but you tried.
We are saved by repentance and faith so I hope this email comes across as from brother to brother in the faith.
All the best,
CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:
Some thoughts in response.
First, how seriously do you think atheists take Ross’ belief in special creation? The only reason they may give him a modicum more civility than us (to his face?) is that he accepts their timeline for the history of nature. But I can guarantee you, many of those atheists think that he’s playing fast and loose with the Bible to hold to billions of years.
Second, “pushing out marketing”? You do realize we can simply turn that sort of pejorative back around on the likes of Hugh Ross, right?
Third, I honestly don’t know how you could interpret me like this: “You are putting up a barrier by saying ‘unless you believe in this doctrine you can not believe’.” I said the exact opposite, and I even emphasized the exact opposite:
Moreover, we do acknowledge the existence of long age Christians. Here is just one example: Common ground with old-earth creationists?. And in that article I explicitly acknowledge that there are genuine Christians who believe in ‘billions of years’ (see also Do I have to believe in a historical Genesis to be saved? and Can compromisers really be saved?).
How do you expect me to treat your response as a good faith response if you attribute to me the exact opposite of what I actually said? Yes, I went on to say that deep time fatally undermines the Gospel. But people can hold inconsistent ideas in their head; people can believe the Gospel and deep time at the same time.
Fourth, as to your reasons for OECism, the ’yom can be indefinite time periods’ and ‘Day 7 continues’ arguments have been dealt with on the website: see Genesis 1: YÔM ≠ eon and God’s rest in Hebrews 4:1–11. Yom can’t mean ‘an indefinite time period for the numbered days of Genesis 1 because Genesis 1:2–5 defines the ‘one day’ (yom echad) of Genesis 1:5 (and thus all the other numbered days of Genesis 1) as a nighttime–daytime (dark–light) period. And no, Day 7 doesn’t continue to today; God’s rest which began on Day 7 continues to today. Say I rest from Saturday until Monday; does that mean Monday is actually still Saturday, since the rest I started has continued for more than 24 hours? Of course not. Day-age theory is a serious lexical blunder that doesn’t even respect the event sequence of either Genesis 1 (plants and earth before the Sun; birds before dinosaurs) or deep time (Sun before earth and plants; dinosaurs before birds), let alone the absolute timeframes of each idea.
Fifth, you said: “Your point about OEC ‘fatally undermining the bible’ is utter nonsense. Nothing in OEC undermines anything in the bible. Please name something so I can get a sense of where you are coming from.” I named two ways OECism does this in my last response, with argumentation supplied in the links:
“Two of the most important reasons are that Jesus taught a history of the world that conflicts with billions of years (Mark 10:6: ‘From the beginning of creation’—what did Jesus mean?), and that human death before human sin fatally undermines Jesus’ death and resurrection as the solution for sin and death (The good news without the bad news is no news at all!). I believe in a perfectly reliable Jesus who saves me from sin and death. Don’t you? If so, then you might want to reconsider whether ‘billions of years’ is a belief worth holding on to.”
Sixth, you list as a reason for your OEC belief an armchair analysis of our motives for holding our views. Why on earth would that be evidence for OEC? That’s called the genetic fallacy. Even if we held our position out of fear, it doesn’t prove anything about its truth or falsehood. The Bible motivates our beliefs: namely that an honest, studied, and heartfelt belief that the Bible conflicts with deep time, and we should believe the Bible rather than human extrapolations of physical processes into some deep and unwitnessed ‘prehistory’. And really, why else would anyone adopt such a position in a culture that regards deep-time belief almost as a test for rationality? Indeed, you prove my point: you regard YEC belief as “bondage” and “embarrassing” (I’ve written on that too: Why would Christians be hostile to biblical creation?).
Now, do I think there are scientific considerations that support our views? Yes (Age of the earth). But I don’t think they’re determinative, in part because scientific considerations are not the baseline against which our reconstructions of the past using physical evidence are measured (though they certainly have their place). The Bible is the baseline (Biblical history and the role of science, Historical science and miracles, and Deep time doesn’t make sense!). Until you understand that, and understand our exegetical basis for our views, you won’t understand why we do what we do. You’ll continue to rail against us for ‘rejecting the science’, as if that settles the dispute about how we should use science to reconstruct the past. You believe in miracles, in creation as well as in redemption, just as we do. Maybe it’s time to open your eyes to the notion that more creation miracles have happened in the cosmos than just the biological ones.
Don’t think our approach of starting with the Bible is somehow unscientific. In fact, it is no different from the way long-age evolutionists handle the ‘scientific’ data. Rocks, fossils, strata, landscapes, stars, etc are observed scientific facts but they do not come with a story attached to them, or a date. The dates and story presented to us come from the academic community’s belief system which denies God created, denies the global Flood happened, and asserts that present-day geological processes have always operated as they currently do. No matter what evidence is discovered and how powerfully it supports the biblical account, the scientific community’s commitment to naturalism is not negotiable. See for example Faith and Facts.
Finally, I used the Gospel resurrection narratives to illustrate my point that: “Failure to mention non-evolutionists or Christians who also believe that doesn’t mean we’re saying that only evolutionists believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old.” Just because Dr Sarfati didn’t talk about OECs in Refuting Evolution doesn’t mean he is ignorant of them. Indeed, he has written a book-length refutation of OEC Hugh Ross’ ideas: Refuting Compromise. I commend that book to you.
Creation Ministries International