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Questions arising from an old earth talk

Responding to old-earther Eric Gustafson

Eric Gustafson
Published: 6 June 2020 (GMT+10)

Mr K.W. enquired about an old-earth lecture at a seminary, wondering if we had addressed some points made. It so happens that core biblical (‘young-earth’) creationist works had addressed most of those canards long ago. This lecturer would hardly be the first to criticise YEC while being very ignorant of their strongest arguments, while at the same time acquiescing to secular interpretations of our natural world. Conversely, CMI addresses the strongest arguments from the other side, such as Richard Dawkins on atheopathic evolution, Hugh Ross on old-earth creationism, and BioLogos and their counterparts in other countries on theistic evolution.

Before we answer the specifics, it is worth summarizing the main problems with old-earth compromise. I think the two most serious ones are:

  1. Authority. Is it the Bible or secular science? So the debate over origins and age is different in kind, not degree, with other debates in the Church. All the others—whether the Millennium, baptism, form of church government, Calvinism v Arminianism—presuppose that the Bible is the final authority, and the only debate is over what it means. See also End-times and Early-times. But in the origins issue, it is whether the Bible is really authoritative, or must its origins account be ‘re-interpreted’ to fit secular ‘science’?
  2. Death and suffering. Without exception, all long-age views must place human and animal death before Adam’s sin. This is true of the day-age theory, gap theory, and framework hypothesis. But the Bible says that death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23).
However, every old-age view interprets geologic layers as being laid down in a uniformitarian process of hundreds of millions of years. And these layers contain the fossils of billions of dead organisms, including undoubted humans. So it is a serious Gospel issue, because every old-earth view places death before day 6 of Creation when God pronounced His finished work “very good’ and, thus, death before the Fall of man in Genesis 3.
In particular, in 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul makes a clear connection between the physical death of Jesus “the last Adam”, with the physical death brought by the sin of “the first man, Adam” in Genesis 3. And this is a major Gospel/Resurrection chapter of the Bible. So anyone who thinks that we can preach the Gospel and ignore Adam and Genesis is tacitly claiming that Paul’s Gospel message is faulty and divisive.

Also, since the old-earth talk is in the public arena, it is right and proper to answer it in the public arena.

K.W. writes:

Dear CMI,

Last October, I was in a session where Eric Gustafson of Southern Evangelical Seminary discussed the debate about the age of the earth—”The Age of the Earth: A Charitable Approach”.

His first point was that the debate between Christians about the age of the earth has brought out a lot of ugliness.

Christians should be civil with each other when disagreeing and I completely agree with him on that. (2 Timothy 2:24–25)

He then raised some points that I had not heard before.

He showed us several scriptures that seem to say the earth doesn’t move.

He said that science has showed us that the earth revolves around the sun and we all accept this and interpret scripture in light of this fact.

Since we do this with the earth revolving around the sun, why shouldn’t we use science to interpret the age of the earth?

I don’t think this is a valid argument but I would like to hear what you have to say about it.

He then showed quotes by Luther, Augustine, Aquinas, and also part of Psalm 104 that he said are not being dealt with by YECs.

  1. Luther – animal death before sin?
  2. Augustine – the creation in Romans 8 refers to the human race?
  3. Aquinas – all animals were not vegetarian to begin with?
  4. YECs often discuss Psalm 104 as referring to the creation account but intentionally ignore verses 20–22? (In The Defender’s Study Bible, Henry Morris refers to verses 10–23 as being after the flood.)

Please see the attached slides from his deck that he gave me with the understanding that I would be asking you these questions.

Have these items been dealt with? If so, can you tell me where?

If not, why not?

I believe that we should take every thought captive to Christ and not leave old earth creationists a single leg to stand on.

Finally, why don’t we see more debates between young earth and old earth creationists?

It seems like this would be a great way to show the incredible weaknesses of their position to Christ-followers.

replies (expanded and contextualized for the web):

Dear Mr W.

Thank you for writing to CMI.

Hugh Ross

Actually, most of these questions have been answered long ago. E.g. I wrote Refuting Compromise in 2004. Has he even read it? It’s hardly an obscure title, given the favourable reviews by a number of leading creationists.

Tone of argument?

We can agree about civil disagreement. But I also note that old-earth compromisers love to play the martyr, but they are only too happy to denounce YECs in a hostile manner. E.g. day-ager Hugh Ross compared YEC to the Gnostic heresy and flat-earthism, and theistic evolutionist William Lane Craig called YEC “hugely embarrassing”.

In general, CMI practises “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). But if errors are public, we will also publicly refute those errors, still out of love for all those being misled, including the proponents of those errors. These include groups like BioLogos who publicly teach a different Gospel, Reasons to Believe who undermine biblical authority, and in cases like the chaplain of a Christian school who refused to have creation ministry even when the parents of the students wanted it.


The geocentrism canard was addressed in Refuting Compromise, pp. 51–54; and the 2005 article ID theorist blunders on Bible in the section The Galileo excuse. Most of those who raise it have very limited knowledge of either the physics involved or the real historical debates. E.g. even in Galileo’s time, the best science of the day taught geocentrism, so it was more science vs science rather than science vs Scripture. See for example our detailed paper Refuting absolute geocentrism, as well as The truth about the Galileo affair.

Gustafson completely misrepresents Cardinal Bellarmine’s approach for example. He quotes him as saying:

To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.

But that was because the best science of the day said that the geokinetic model was wrong. One interesting account comes from Australia atheistic history writer Tim O’Neill:

Old-earthers are in effect calling bone cancer “very good”. One wonders what would count as “very bad”.
On the contrary, the crux of the issue was that Galileo could not show heliocentrism was true, and everyone involved knew it. In both of his trials, in 1616 and 1633, his problem was that the theory he championed still had major scientific objections to it and it would not be until several decades after his death that these were considered sufficiently resolved for the scientific consensus to swing around to heliocentrism. Though it was not the flawed and tangled model of Copernicus that Galileo argued which was accepted, but a version of Kepler’s model, which Galileo vigorously rejected. [I.e. with elliptical orbits rather than epicycles, and with Newtonian gravitation, while Galileo scoffed at any ‘occultic’ attraction-at-a-distance force to explain the tides.—JS]
As surveys of the scholarship of the time by Jim Westman (1980) and Pietro Daniel Omodeo (2014) show clearly, only around 10 to 12 scholars in the whole of Europe accepted the Copernican model on the eve of Galileo’s trial—the Church had the overwhelming consensus of science on its side, Galileo was the lonely outlier who had to admit he could not demonstrate what he claimed. …
This is why he cannot even understand the judgement of the Inquisition that he quotes in such high dudgeon. The reason that judgement says the propositions are “absurd” and “false in philosophy” is it is noting these ideas are contrary to the scientific consensus I just mentioned. “Philosophy” here means “natural philosophy”—i.e. what was later to be called “science”. As anyone who has actually bothered to study the Galileo Affair knows, the judgement is saying that his ideas are scientifically wrong (“false in philosophy”) AND, therefore, “formally heretical”.
The Inquisition, headed in 1616 by Cardinal Bellarmine, upheld the traditional reading of certain Biblical texts because the science said they should do so. As Bellarmine had explained in a widely circulated letter just a year earlier, if heliocentrism could be demonstrated then “one would have to proceed with great care in explaining the Scriptures that appear contrary, and say rather that we do not understand them than what is demonstrated is false”. But, he observed with dry understatement, “I will not believe that there is such a demonstration, until it is shown to me” (“Letter to Foscarini” 1615).
Galileo’s problem was that in his time there was no such demonstration and both he and Bellarmine knew it. And so the consensus that his preferred model was “absurd in philosophy/[science]” remained. In 1616 and in 1632 the Church had consulted the best science of the time and it had science on its side.1

Who is really ignoring counter-arguments?

Gustafson asserts that YECs ignore Psalm 104:20–22, which says:

You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens.

This proves my point: that he is criticising something without reading much about what he criticized. Far from ignoring that, I addressed it in Refuting Compromise, pp. 206–207:

The Bible on predation in the current era

God uses images from predation to portray violent judgment on Israel (Hos. 13.8). This gives an indication that predation is a violent intruder into our world. However, there are several passages that indicate that, in this cursed creation, predation is part of God’s provision for some animals, e.g. Psalm 104:21, Job 38:39–41, 39:27–30. These passages are the only plausible supports for Ross’s view that carnivory is part of the original created order, and indeed he makes much of them.2

Psalm 104 is the most widely cited passage used as an excuse for this eisegesis. But it is poor hermeneutics to interpret Scripture against Scripture. Indeed, this Psalm is a poetic version of Genesis. It is in part a hymn to God’s acts in the past—note the past tense of the verbs from vv. 5–9. But it is also a hymn of praise for God’s provisions in the present, as shown by the present tense of the verbs afterwards. So Psalm 104:21 deals with the present day, not the original creation. Therefore, it cannot be used to over-ride the clear teaching that animals were originally vegetarian, and will once again be vegetarian.

Furthermore, there are a number of provisions for a fallen world which even Ross would not claim were necessary pre-Fall. One is the death penalty for murder (Genesis 9:6), yet Ross would not believe there was murder before the Fall.

He also raises boring old canards about the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11. He ignores our clear explanation for why there are no time gaps even if there were people gaps (arguendo). His suggested pretzelization of Genesis 5:6 “Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the ancestor of Enosh” is fit only for the New Compromise Version. At what age does someone become an ancestor? And consider Genesis 4:26: “Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.” Are people named by their ancestors?


As for debates, CMI doesn’t major on them for reasons explained in our page on debates. But Hugh Ross refused to debate me unless I apologized for writing Refuting Compromise. Not going to happen, because there is nothing to apologize for. See more at More false claims by Hugh Ross.

Death and sin

Unfortunately, the attachments didn’t come through. No matter, because they are available online.3 But they don’t prove his case at all. E.g. with the Luther quote, I also think that Romans 5 and 1 Cor. 15 are referring to human death, but this has a huge problem of human death before the Fall. I.e. what about all the undoubted human (Homo sapiens) fossils that secular dating methods place long before Adam—e.g. the fossils ‘dated’ over 300,000 years old. See how Hugh Ross bluffed in the face of such evidence.

Ancient authorities

Thomas Aquinas is expressing his opinion, but he notes that Bede and unnamed others disagree. Before Bede, there were Church Fathers who agreed that animals were created vegetarian, as they will be again in Isaiah 11 and 65, which were Edenic allusions. He doesn’t mention that Thomas explicitly taught:

Thus we find it said at first that “He called the light Day”: for the reason that later on a period of 24 hours is also called day, where it is said that “there was evening and morning, one day.

And note that he claimed Augustine as an old-earther, which is demonstrably false. In fact, he unambiguously denounced old-earth ideas. Again from Refuting Compromise, pp. 116–117:

Not only was Augustine’s error the opposite to Ross’s, he also explicitly taught what would now be called a ‘young’ Earth. In his most famous work, City of God, he has a whole chapter, Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past, where he says:
Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race. … They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.4
Since he believed creation was in an instant, then in Augustine’s thinking, the time from Adam to the present was also the time from the beginning of creation to the present, which was less than 6000 years. Furthermore, contrary to Ross’s assertion, Augustine wrote against a backdrop of evolutionary thinking in his time.5 He summarizes various proto-catastrophist and proto-uniformitarian theories this way: >
There are others who think that our present world is not everlasting. Of these, some hold that, besides this one, there are a number of other worlds. The remainder, who admit only one world, claim that over and over again, it periodically disintegrates and begins again. In either theory, they are forced to conclude that the human race arose without human procreation, since there is no room here for the hypothesis that a few men would always remain each time the world perished, as was the case in the previous theory where floods and fires did not affect the whole world but left a few survivors to repeople it. For they hold that, just as the world is reborn out of its previous matter, so a new human race would arise from the elements of nature and only thereafter would a progeny of mortals spring from parents. And the same would be true of the rest of the animals.
There are some people who complain when we claim that man was created so late [i.e., recently]. They say that he must have been created countless and infinite ages ago, and not, as is recorded in Scripture, less than 6,000 years ago. …
It was this controversy [over the beginning of the things of time] that led the natural philosophers to believe that the only way they could or should solve it was by a theory of periodic cycles of time according to which there always has been and will be a continual renewal and repetition in the order of nature, because the coming and passing ages revolve as on a wheel. These philosophers were not sure whether a single permanent world passes through these revolutions or whether, at fixed intervals, the world itself dissolves and evolves anew, repeating the same pattern of what has already taken place and will again take place …6

List of old-earthers and young-earthers

I note that his list of YECs doesn’t mention any CMI scientists, although CMI possibly employs more scientists than any other Christian organization. Also, he omits modern young-earth theologians and church leaders.

The list also lacks any Christian proponent of old-earth or theistic evolution—until such views became popular in ‘science’ in the early 19th century. Rather, most biblical scholars before the rise of long-age geology accepted Genesis as written. This includes Josephus7 and later Jewish scholars,8 most church fathers9–13 including Basil the Great14 (and Augustine as documented above), Thomas Aquinas (as above), and all the Reformers including Luther and Calvin,15 and later famous Christians like the Wesleys.16 This indicates that such views were not gleaned from Scripture; instead they are novel interpretations from outside the Bible that are diametrically opposed to the text.


I note his conclusion:

A reasonable balance:

– Old Earth Creationism is biblically permissible and is scientifically preferable.

– Young Earth Creationism is scientifically permissible and is biblically preferable.

The second point is certainly true—you would never get an old-earth view from Scripture alone. I dispute the first point, that OEC is scientifically preferable, although it is uniformitarianly preferable, a different concept (see for example 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe).

This gets to the real issue: one of authority, as pointed out in the introduction. The comparison is a tacit admission that old-earth compromise is not text driven but driven but ‘science’ driven. This is why Hugh Ross declares ‘nature’ to be the 67th book of the Bible. We await the Reasons to Believe Study Bible which has all 67 books. Unfortunately we would need to keep buying the latest edition, because the 67th book is changing all the time!

References and notes

  1. O’Neill, T., “Aron Ra” gets everything wrong, History for Atheists, historyforatheists.com, 18 Aug 2019. This site could be considered as “Arguments Atheists should NOT use”. Return to text.
  2. Ross, H., Rana, F., Samples, K., Harman, M. and Bontrager, K., Life and Death in Eden, The Biblical and scientific evidence for animal death before the Fall, audio cassette set, Reasons to Believe, 2001. Return to text.
  3. Gustafson, E., A charitable approach to the age of the earth debate (PDF), ses.edu, 11 Oct 2019. Return to text.
  4. Augustine, De Civitate Dei (The City of God), 12(10). Return to text.
  5. The early 20th century evolutionist director of the American Museum of Natural History, Henry Fairfield Osborn, showed in his book, From the Greeks to Darwin (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929) that all the essential ideas of Darwin’s theory can be found in the writings of the ancient Greeks long before Augustine or even Christ. Return to text.
  6. Augustine, The City of God, Books VIII–XVI (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1952), transl. by G.G. Walsh and G. Monahan, p. 265, 267. Return to text.
  7. Frank Luke, Josephus says, ‘Genesis means what it says!’ Creation 29(3):15–17, 2007. Return to text.
  8. Paul James-Griffiths, Creation days and Orthodox Jewish tradition, Creation 26(2):53–5, 2004. Return to text.
  9. Fr. Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation and Early Man, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 2000. Return to text.
  10. Mortenson, T., Orthodoxy and Genesis: What the fathers really taught [review of Rose, Ref. 9, J. Creation 16(3):48–53, 2002. Return to text.
  11. Warkulwiz, V., The Doctrines of Genesis 1–11: A Compendium and Defense of Traditional Catholic Theology on Origins, IUniverse, Nebraska, 2008. Return to text.
  12. Oard, M., Roman Catholicism and Genesis, J. Creation 22(2):21–22, August 2008. Return to text.
  13. From Robert Bradshaw’s in-depth study, Genesis, Creationism and the Early Church, Ch. 3; robibradshaw.com/chapter3.htm, 13 August 2003. Return to text.
  14. Genesis means what it says: Basil (AD 329–379), Creation 16(4):23, 1994. Return to text.
  15. .Sarfati, J., Calvinsays: Genesis means what it says, Creation 22(4)44–45 September–November 2000. Return to text.
  16. Wesley, J., On the fall of man, 1872, available from gbgm-umc.org. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Jim T.
Good Job Jonathan.

I get emails from “Reasons to Believe” and I responded over 50 times asking them to please ask Hugh Ross who Jesus was talking about when he said this—who was this “Abel” person that Jesus was talking about:

From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation—Luke 11:51

Interesting how I have never gotten a response—after 50 attempts!

I dont even need to go into the flood of Noah that Jesus spoke about in detail.

It appears that people like Hugh Ross and other Oval-Earthers are hell bent (pardon the pun) on writing their OWN Bible!!

God bless you all at CMI

Jim T. [Full name supplied—Ed.]
Robert P.
The concluding remark [by Dr Gustafson]:
“Old Earth Creationism is biblically permissible and is scientifically preferable.”

Not withstanding your objection to the comment about OEC being scientifically preferable, I further object that if old earth creationism is “biblically permissible”, then it, and the other theological conclusions that logically or necessarily flow from it, would also be permissible, and therefore not heresy!! I think it would have been good to comment particularly on this point, in your closing remarks.
Jonathan Sarfati
I thought that my critique briefly showed that old-earth views are biblically impermissible. I wrote a whole book showing that—Refuting Compromise.
Donald M.
There remain many thousands of folks worldwide who’ve never read or heard God’s word. My sense is to recognize

  1. What Jesus said about those who reject or twist Moses’ words (John 5:46–47)

  2. What Jesus said about the true and imitations among us who reveal their fruit—Wheat & Tares (Matthew 13)

  3. That Jesus did not pursue those who rejected His words (John 6:66); there are still many unreached who won’t reject them

  4. God warned us all concerning the “strong delusion” He would bring (2 Thessalonians 2) on those who choose to believe the Lie.

  5. That we need to pray for them as God leads; if He does not, it may well be they’re hard-hearted as Pharaoh was.

1 John 2:15 should be treated as authoritative. I condemn no one—that’s Jesus’ job. We need to quit ignoring the obvious, those things God makes clear to us so we can still lovingly relate to those whose Christianity is merely intellectual. Jesus said that by their fruits we shall guess? Those who imply so, are putting words in His mouth. OECs do that.
Tim L.
In point 2 at the start of the article, you state, “Without exception, all long-age views must place human and animal death before Adam’s sin.” But this is not true. Some believe Adam was the first hominid and lived 2 million years ago. They therefore argue (unpersuasively) that there was no human death before the Fall, and that is what Scripture is talking about when it says there was no death before the Fall.

Now, obviously that view had significant problems because Scripture is pretty clear that the death of the nephesh chayyah (which clearly includes animals, though not things like insects) is included in the effects of the Fall, and saying Adam was created ~2 million years ago stretches the genealogies far beyond their breaking point. And that just names two of the many problems. But the point is, at least these people are honest enough to admit that human death before the Fall is extraordinarily problematic. Having said that, I'm not sure how prevalent the view is. So maybe my friend at work who believes this is the only one. I’m just putting it out there as something to be aware of though.
Jonathan Sarfati
OK, but is there any published writer who has said this? I mean, published anywhere at all? We can’t be expected to know what every single person is thinking. There are probably those who think that Adam was an ET. So this belief has Adam as the first Homo (erectus) ergaster, around the time of its supposed evolutionary split from H. habilis? But these sorts of ideas also fail against Paul explicitly calling Adam “the first man”, while any of these views has a population of ape-like creatures evolving into a population of human-like creatures.
David G.
OECs seem to have missed the philosophical boat. The Christian epistemological starting point is that God has spoken, that God is the ontological starting point of all belief, thought and inquiry and that pagan ideas at their very start have to assume God out of the picture and then embark on their epistemological project. The admix of paganism and the God of creation means invariably that the self-assuring doctrines of paganism take the priority, and pagans are left with the applause of Christians for their view of reality.
Its a problem of starting points. My starting point is supernatural. Theirs seems to be metaphysical naturalism.
Douglas L.
Just a comment about debates since this was one of KW’s questions. In addition to the excellent points in the debates page, I’d like to point out that debates are perhaps the worst way to discover or present any scientific argument. For that matter it may be the worst way for presentation of any kind of truth!

The way debates are usually done is that one side tries to anticipate and blindside the other with an argument they’re not prepared for. The only intellectually honest thing to do would be for each side to communicate with the other before the debate. Each person’s arguments should be clearly made known beforehand as should the other side’s counter to that argument. There should be zero surprises IF you actually want an honest public discussion. But debates don't usually want an honest discussion. They rely on the ‘debating’ skills of the opponents, not on the truth of the debate topic.

I'm probably like a lot of people. I always think of the perfect answer the next day, long after any discussion is over.

There was a famous ‘debate’ a couple of years ago between a very well known creationist and a TV ‘science’ guy [presumably this one that we analyzed in depth—Ed.]. The only thing that was proved to me was that the creationist, although a terrific speaker/preacher, was a lousy debater. And that shows the problem with debates. So I completely agree with CMI in not majoring on debates. They have to be entered into with a lot of caution and forethought.
Lassi P.
Even if any ‘YEC’ hadn’t answered to the ‘OEC’ argument on Psalm 104:20–22, it should be crystal clear, that when literally all Bible translations translate Psalm 104:20–22 as present tense and verses Psalm 104:5–9 as past tense, then one must either propose that all the translators are simply wrong about Hebrew or be satisfied with Psalm 104:20–22 not speaking about the time before the Fall.

It was clear to me the first time, I read the psalm, and it should be clear to anybody. Eric Gustafsson is without excuse in this case.
Robert O.
Item 3, Doctrinal Statement of Southern Evangelical Seminary:
We believe in the special creation of the entire space–time universe and of every basic form of life in the six historic days of the Genesis creation record. We also believe in the historicity of the biblical record, including the special creation of Adam and Eve as the literal progenitors of all people, the literal fall and resultant divine curse on the creation, the worldwide flood, and the origin of nations and diverse languages at the tower of Babel.

Another in the long list of historically Christian institutions that are cut loose from their biblical moorings.
Melvyne C.
Excellent article.
The following article is worth reading. It dismisses all erroneous thought that Augustine favored evolution!

“St. Augustine Rediscovered: A defense of the Literal Interpretation of St. Augustine's writings on the Sacred History of Genesis” by Joseph Gedney.

From the Kolbe Centre for the Study of Creationism. The centre is only one of a few Catholic sources believing in a young earth creation.

All English quotations from The Literal Meaning of Genesis and On Genesis: A Refutation of the Manichees come from: Edmund Hill O.P., On Genesis: A Refutation of the Manichees (Unfinished Literal Commentary on Genesis) The Literal Meaning of Genesis, ©2002 Augustinian Heritage Institute, New City Press. In light of the original Latin, some of the quotations were changed slightly.
Joe J.
Thanks for the article, it was a very interesting read!
Do you have any articles that explain whether or not animals died before the fall?
I personally imagine that they would, as the fall mainly affected man (mankind would die, mankind would have to work harder, mankind was separated from God, etc.), and immortal animals are not clearly mentioned in the Genesis record. God’s purpose with the Earth is centred around mankind, so why should the animals be immortal? Also, wouldn’t the deaths of animals allow Adam to see what would happen to him if he disobeyed God’s command?
Many thanks
Jonathan Sarfati
Glad you liked the article.

At the top of this and all other articles, we have a handy box on the top right labelled “SEARCH”. This might be quite helpful in answering your questions ;) E.g. if you type animals fall into it, the first article that comes up is The problem of evil: pre-Fall animal death? (Compare the principle of teaching someone how to fish than giving that person a fish ;) )

The search button works most of the time. But I agree that other things would not be so easy to find unless you knew what to search for, and you raise reasonable questions, so I hope that the following information is helpful.

A long time ago, I wrote the following:

The purpose of reproduction was to ‘fill the earth’. We cannot presume to know what God would have done once this purpose had been fulfilled, but it’s likely that the command would have been rescinded. Actually, even in this fallen world, there are mechanisms to slow down reproduction in an overcrowded population. This has been observed in rats, for example. It comes down to what sort of God you believe in. The God who prevented the Israelites’ clothes and sandals from wearing out for 40 years in the wilderness (Deut. 29:5) could certainly have controlled overpopulation problems.

In my book Refuting Compromise, at the end of Chapter 6, there is:

Would Adam have understood death without seeing a dead animal?

RTB [Reasons to Believe] theologian Kenneth Samples raised the common canard that Adam would not have known what death was unless he had seen a dead animal.1 But this ignores the fact that God would have programmed Adam with language, as He did to the clans of Babel. The only difference is that with Babel, the people would already have personal experience of using grammar and vocabulary, and it was merely changed; in Adam’s case, the programming would have included these concepts so he was already able to communicate with God.
It’s preposterous to argue that Adam would need to see something to comprehend it. Adam was instructed NOT to eat a fruit—did Adam see a ‘NOT’? Did Adam have to visualize a logical relationship between propositions such as ‘eat fruit’ and ‘die’?

In any case, death is really not an entity in itself, but the negation of life. Even Ken Samples must agree that Adam could comprehend life and negation. In fact, this would be very similar to Augustine’s argument that evil is not a thing, but a privation of good, which Samples and I both agree with.

Finally, this claim is a tacit admission that physical death was in view, contrary to Ross, since Adam could not have seen any spiritual death!

Joshua M.
Interesting use of Psalm 104 as an attempt to prove animals were carnivores from the start, when verses 6–9 are clearly referring to the Flood, with 10 possibly referring to the time immediately afterwards, while the quoted verses are clearly afterwards.
Phil M.
This is in response to the reference about Hugh Ross declaring ‘nature’ to be the 67th book of the Bible. Nature can never be regarded as a book, whether of the Bible or not. To understand what is written in the books of the Bible, or in any book for that matter, the correct approach is to read (or attempt to read) their meaning out of them, which is objective reading. When it comes to nature, the old saying is that “facts do not speak for themselves”. In other words, we have to read meaning into nature, which is subjective reading.
And in the context of the statement of Hugh Ross, the meaning that is being read into nature is historical meaning. The Bible is (amongst other things) an historical record, and you read that history out of the Bible. You cannot read historical meaning out of nature. For example, we cannot read history (neither creation-history nor evolution-history) out of the fossils and fossil layers, only into them, and thus the fossil layers cannot, of themselves, constitute an historical record. History is read into the fossil layers and that history must be sourced from elsewhere.
When it comes to the history of the origin of nature, including man, we are talking historical novelty, and our knowledge of that historical novelty will be sourced either from an historical record or from the human imagination. Either way, we then impose it upon nature and nature's artefacts. Nature, of itself, is not and cannot intelligently be regarded as its own historical record, and hence cannot rightly be regarded as another historical book. It is not a 67th book of the Bible.

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