My Path to an Old Earth

Posted: January 6, 2013 in Apologetics, Creation

I guess the easiest way of giving a synopsis is to review where I was having issues with the YE model. It actually started studying the OT and was primarily the two accounts of Gen 1 & 2. I just couldn’t buy into the documentary hypothesis, so the Gen 1 account being an E source and Gen 2 being a P source seemed, for lack of a better word, lame. Passages like Psalm 19 and Romans 1:18-25 were also giving me problems because their teaching of natural revelation did not align with with what I saw in Gen 1.

Our prof had discussed Gen 1 as polemic, Gen 1 as ancient Hebrew poetry, Gen 1 as a framework, etc. but I wasn’t comfortable just brushing it off like that. It could well be true that Gen 1 did serve the polemic role in countering other peoples’ creation stories. I could well be true that there are poetic elements in its structure — especially the “evening and morning” divisions. Yet that doesn’t justify trivializing the passage or questioning their accuracy.

Then I read it again, looking at the divisions created by the “evening and morning…” phrase. And that’s when it hit me. Those divisions were almost exact matches for the proposed epochs of geological time. Then I read Genesis 1:1 again and it was like a light-bulb; that is a perfect description of the Big Bang, if the expanding model was correct (they didn’t know at that time).

I had come to on my own, what I would later find was called the Day-Age theory. Gen 1 and 2 fit without conflict. The genealogies no longer presented a problem. The heavens clearly declared the glory of God. His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature were unarguably seen being understood through what has been made. Oh… and I got an A- on the term paper that this study became. 🙂

It was after that, that the science kicked in. In my Cell Biology class, the engineering in the cell is amazing. In embryology, discussions of the origins of life were desperate grasping of straws without a creator. In genetics I realized I was looking at highly sophisticated software engineering. Physics gave me a finite origin of the universe as well as the anthropic principle. My various math classes gave some perspective on dimensions, and the real kicker: probability. And when I started thinking in probabilistic terms regarding the building blocks for life, it became quickly apparent that there isn’t a difference between six thousand, 4 billion or even 10-12 billion years.

Genesis and especially Romans 1 took on a whole new level of jaw-dropping awesomeness. God and His transcendent majesty took on a whole new meaning. I used to describe it as “Give me the Big Bang and the Anthropic principle and you cannot avoid a transcendent, intelligent, personal, moral God. From there, it’s only a short walk to the God of the Bible.”

This was all some 15-20 years before I learned that the Hebrew ‘yom’ means an age as well as a day. Before I learned about flood geology and all the red flags of weak science that I saw surrounding it. Before I heard of ICR or AIG or Kent Hovind. Before I studied the early fathers’ perspectives on creation. Before I studied the history of church thinking on creation since Darwin, the history of the flood geology models and their ties to Seventh Day Adventists. Before I found out that not only was I not alone in my thinking, but that there were many more solid evangelical thinkers who carried similar opinions (that list is surprising).

So that is a synopsis — with a bit of editorial thrown in. At the end of the day, I’m left with model that satisfies a number of important issues:

    – a literal interpretation is maintained.
    – inerrancy is maintained.
    – internal consistency within the Bible is maintained or improved.
    – Genesis remains truthful and relevant in both Moses day as well as ours.
    – Natural revelation is preserved.
    – The God of the Bible is necessitated (and glorified).
    – It demonstrates the nature of God.
    – It doesn’t require “special knowledge” to reconcile Genesis with creation or the rest of the Bible (that sounds just TOO much like the gnostics).
    – Materialistic arguments cannot stand up well.
    – It provides very powerful evangelic tools (though for some reason skeptics don’t seem to want to discuss the subject with me anymore).
    – It’s well supported in conservative evangelical scholarship (outside certain vocal segments).
    – Faith is reasoned, not blind (an oft forgotten biblical principle).
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Comments
  1. Jeff says:

    I admit to not being well-versed on this topic, but for me the most convincing argument for OE was light and truth (funny that I never used that phrase in relation to this before, which lends it an additional meaning). The basic argument is that for YE to be true, light from distant stars would have to have been created in transit, a consequence of which is that God is misleading us – lying to us – about the age of the universe. I can’t accept that as a viable premise and still believe the rest of the Bible.

    Of course the alternative explanation that still leaves YE possible in this argument is that we are inaccurate in our measurement of the speed of light as a constant. I’ve seen a discussion of that as well and can’t dismiss it out of hand. But I still lean to an OE interpretation.

    Also, just want to encourage you: this is an excellent blog. Well written and, most importantly, shows respect for B5. 😉

    • Raul Ybarra says:

      Yes, I’ve found the “created in transit” idea a particularly difficult issue for the YE position. Such a theory has big problems when measured against Roman 1:18-22 and every other biblical teaching on natural revelation. True, such revelation is insufficient for salvation, but it is certainly sufficient for damnation. The YE arguments I’ve heard to date seem to degenerate down to “special knowledge” in interpreting natural revelation to get it right. Something that almost smacks of the old gnosticism to me.

      The speed of light issue really shouldn’t give you any problems – it has been long resolved. The empirical data for a changing speed of light turns out to fight the margin of error curse and reflects our increasing accuracy in making the measurements. Even more knowledgable YE advocates have abandoned this argument.

      Thanks for visiting, and I do hope you’ll come back!

      Raul

  2. Katie says:

    Interesting! However, do you factor in the element of pre-lapsarian eternity? Or would you claim that the story is told from our temporal perspective?

    • Raul Ybarra says:

      Katie,

      First, let me apologize for the delay in responding. Between the Easter holidays, taxes and moving my office at work, I have had almost no online time.

      Your question is a such great one. It is something I have meditated on in the past from both the perspective of eternity and the even older context if predestination. There’s no way to give a full answer in a comment response, but I’ll give you the short version here and more detailed thoughts would make a good article on its own.

      I’ve come to consider lapsarian thinking as not much more that a historical marker for us mere temporal creatures. From the perspective of a transcendant God, however, the concept becomes so inapplicable as to be meaningless.

      The real issue here, I think, is that we often have such a weak concept of what “transcendant” really means in the context of God. God is not simply unbound by space and time or even “beyond” it. Yes, He can interact within Space-Time, but it has no meaning when considering the nature of God. If you really think this through, it takes you to a fearsome place (in a positive sense). It not only impacts our view of eternity, but our thinking of the incarnation, predestination, common and special grace, general and special revelation and eschatology.

      For me, that’s one of the things that I’ve come to appreciate of an Old Earth view. Once you look at the cosmology in that view, it is impossible to avoid confronting the implications of God’s transcendence and glory. Grace becomes something truly amazing.
      I’m not sure when I’ll have a full article, but I already know the title; Lapsarianism in an Old Earth Creation. Check back or subscribe to the RSS feed.

      God bless,
      Raul

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