Category Archives: old-earth creationism

Spectrum of Beliefs on Evolution, Creation and Literalism

Vance McAllister has done an excellent job of laying out the different positions in regard to evolution, creation, and biblical literalism. After reading his spectrum, head on over to Reclaiming the Mind Ministry’s Parchment and Pen blog and The Submerging Influence blog for additional discussion. Of course, feel free to discuss on this blog as well!

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Here is the spectrum generally, you can review the descriptions further below to see what each refers to:

1. FE
2. Geo
3. YEC
4. Gap (OEC)
5. Progressive (OEC)
6. TE1
7. TE2
8. TE3

(note: the Intelligent Design position could apply to any of these, other than possibly TE 3).

So, let’s look at the spectrum! See where you land:

1. Flat-earthers – believe that a plain reading of Scripture indicates that the earth is flat. Very few still hold onto this belief.

2. Geocentrists – believe that the sun and all the stars literally revolve around a fixed and unmoving earth. Still a surprising number of these around, although it suffered a major setback after the late 60’s. They have a plethora of Scripture and theological bases to argue from, however, and insist that a literal reading of Scriptures requires geocentrism.

3. Young-Earth Creationists – believe that the earth and universe are both young (less than 10,000 years old) and that all the diversity of species is the result of special creation, based on a literal reading of Scripture (even if not AS literal as those above).

4. Gap Theorists (a form of Old-Earth Creationism) – believe that the earth and universe were created at the time science says, but that God created Man and all the animals at the “young earth” time frame (with a huge “gap” in between. Some believe this is a “re-creation”, God having scrapped an earlier version (dinosaurs, etc).

5. Progressive Creationists (aka “Day-Age Creationists”, another form of OEC) – believe that the earth and universe were created at the time science says, but that each “day” in Genesis referred to an indefinite period of time. Genesis is an historically and scientifically literal account (using that alternate form of the word “day”), just that it happened over a VERY long time period.

6. Theistic Evolutionists (with a literal Adam and Eve) – believe in an old earth and universe, and accept that God used evolution as part of His creation, basically as science describes it. But they feel that there was a literal Adam and Eve in a literal Garden. Some attribute this Adam and Eve to an instance of special creation, others to election as “representatives,” etc. Also believe in biogenesis, not abiogenesis.

7. Theistic Evolutionists (no literal Adam and Eve, but biogenesis) – believe that Man evolved along with the other species (pursuant to God’s plan), but that the initial spark of life was immediately God induced. Some even push this forward to some mass special creation of a variety of “kinds” around the Cambrian period, with all the species evolving from there.

8. Theistic Evolutionists (abiogenesis) – God created everything and established the full system of natural laws upon with the universe and the earth would work. And it did work, entirely naturally, as God intended. With life arising at the time and place He had known it would, etc. So, here the “abiogenesis” would not mean that life arose without God, only that God built how life would first arise right into the “program.” This is not “deism,” however, since it says nothing at all about God interacting with and even directly intervening in His creation at any point in time (such as a particular event 2000 years ago, for example).

A bit of a side category is the Intelligent Design movement of recent years. This asserts that whatever you accept about creation, there is firm evidence that the universe and the earth in particular were designed with specific intelligence, by a designer, and not happening entirely naturally. Those holding this opinion come in each of the flavors mentioned above (other the last one, presumably), although the most recent and influential of these have been essentially Theistic Evolutionists of the first or second variety (whether they would claim that title or not). Also, some Theistic Evolutionists prefer the term Evolutionary Creationists.

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Filed under atheistic naturalism, evolutionary creationism, intelligent design movement, old-earth creationism, protology, young-earth creationism

My Evolving Views on Creationism

Several years ago, I introduced my children to the world of dinosaurs through BBC’s fabulous Walking with DinosaursDVD series. I enjoyed watching their jaws drop as the computer animators brought the extinct animals “back to life,” but I cringed every time the concept of evolution was mentioned, or whenever “XXX million years ago” popped up on the screen. The only reason I allowed those things to be viewed was that I felt I owed my children the benefit of grappling with the same questions I had as a child. It would surely do no good to shelter them from the creation/evolution controversy; I would better serve my children by exposing them to all sides of the issue, thus allowing them to work things out for themselves.During the course of my life as a Christian, I prided myself in looking at every theological issue from as many points of view as possible. I knew that an honest assessment of the facts would require me to know the opposition’s point of view thoroughly and represent it as faithfully as I could. Strangely enough, that approach would make me realize how easy it is to misinterpret Scripture, especially when I (or the opposition) failed to utilize the historico-grammatical method of interpretation and honor the historical and cultural contexts in which the Bible was written.

Using the historico-grammatical method of interpretation in the past, I had tackled the subjects of soteriology and eschatology with vigor, firmly grounding myself in Reformed and preteristic theology after agonizing paradigm shifts. For some reason, however, I was not quite ready to apply the same methodology to the debate over origins and the proper interpretation of Genesis 1. My unwillingness to explore these topics began to crumble as a close friend and I began meeting on a semi-regular basis to discuss all sorts of theological issues. Having considerable respect for my friend’s intelligence and knowing him to be a devout follower of Christ, I figured that questioning my YEC position would probably do me some good.

Approximately one year ago, I began reading David Snoke’s A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, which presented a strong scriptural defense of an old earth. I was still unconvinced, however, of Snoke’s method of explaining the six days of creation as anything other than six, 24-hour days, especially considering the use of the phrase “there was evening and there was morning—the nth day.” At the same time, I was asked to critique and copy-edit Tim Martin and Dr. Jeff Vaughn’s Beyond Creation Science (see cover above). Martin and Vaughn’s arguments began to reinforce those of Snoke’s. It wasn’t long before I went for the “90% solution” and accepted the scientific evidence for an old universe. Still, the proper method of understanding Genesis 1 eluded me. I knew that the historico-grammatical method would prove to be the key, but I didn’t know where to look for resources that used this method faithfully.

Perhaps it was God’s hand that I had just purchased Dr. John H. Walton’s NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, which, coincidentally, my good friend had also purchased. After several conversations on the origins debate, we decided to read the book together. What I read in those first few chapters blew me away. I had discovered the key to resolving (in my own mind) the YEC/OEC controversy!

More on this book’s impact in my next post . . .

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Filed under hermeneutics, old-earth creationism, protology

ProgRossing Toward an Old Universe

Continued from “Retreating to My YEComfort Zone
Those old universe arguments continued to haunt me, even in my YEComfort Zone. During one of my overseas deployments, I engaged in some friendly email conversation with an irenic atheist, who desired to prove to me the strength of evolutionary theory, both biological and cosmological. Many of his arguments for an old universe were compelling, despite my best attempts to hide behind the Institute for Creation Research(ICR).

It was about this same time that my father sent me several books written by progressive creationist Hugh Ross, one of which was Creation and Time. Although Ross’ approach to Genesis 1 was intriguing, I felt uncomfortable with his concordism, which seemed forced in many places, e.g., the “creation” of the sun and moon on Day 4 as actually a “revealing” of these two astronomical bodies as the earth’s thick cloud cover began to disperse. The real nail in the coffin, however, was Van Bebber and Taylor’s Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, which made very clear to me that progressive creationism’s requirement for animal death prior to the Fall of Adam directly contradicted Scripture (cf. Romans 5:12).

About the same time, ICR began promoting Dr. Russell Humphreys’ white hole cosmology, which attempted to reconcile an apparently old universe with a young earth using the theory of gravitational time dilation. The opportunity to accept scientific findings pointing to a universe billions of years old was freeing, especially considering it allowed me to maintain a literal reading of Genesis. However, Humphreys sometimes revealed a tendency toward forced concordism, with which I was not terribly comfortable. Still, it appeared to be the best of both worlds for many years ..

 

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Retreating to My YEComfort Zone

Continued from “In the Beginning . . .”

“You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is: Never get involved in a land war in Asia! And only slightly less well known is this: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! HA HA HA HA HA—”

In arguing with my Catholic-evolutionist-engineer major roommate, I was Vizzini.

“Never go in against a Young-Earth Creationist when biblical literalism is on the line! HA HA HA HA HA—”

I’ve never asked him, but I think that my roommate had very little exposure to YEC apologetics. More often than not, he acted quizzical every time I waxed apologetic on a “literal” interpretation of Genesis. His much more scientific mind would bring up some interesting counter-arguments:

ME: The Second Law of Thermodynamics!
ROOMMATE: You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.

And how about this one:

ME: I mean, what are the three terrors of an Old Universe? One, the Big Bang—no problem. There’s a popping sound preceding it; we can avoid that. Two, the Geologic Column, which I was clever enough to discover what it doesn’t really look like, so in the future we can avoid that too.
ROOMMATE: Mike, what about the S.B.S.T.L.Y.D.T.G.S’s
?
ME: Stars Beyond Six Thousand Light Years’ Distant That Go Supernova? I don’t think they exist.

Seriously, I fell somewhere in between the first two of Gordon J. Glover’s three options for understanding passages of Scripture that reflect ancient Near Eastern cosmogony (more on ANE cosmogony later):

(1) take these verses as literal scientific truth and vigorously defend this model of the universe against all rival theories based on extra-Biblical knowledge; or (2) take these verses as non-literal and reinterpret them in conformity with modern astronomy . . . (Glover, p. 87)

I was probably much closer to #1. Thank God my roommate wasn’t as “biblically literate” as I was, or else I could have been pushed into geocentrism! Of course neither of us was familiar with the third option:

(3) understand these verses as giving us a literal, but non-scientific, view of the universe based on the popular cosmology of the age that committed them to writing. (Glover, p. 87)

Confronted with some quite valid arguments against a YEC interpretation of Genesis, I felt more inclined to defend my interpretation of Scripture rather than admit to something in direct contradiction to it. If it took me out of the mainstream, so be it. Into my YEComfort zone I went. Thus, for the remainder of my college days and into my post-college Navy career, I maintained a solid YEC position.

CYPHER:  You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist.  I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious.  After nine years, you know what I realize?  [Takes a bite of steak]  Ignorance is bliss.

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Filed under ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogony, old-earth creationism, protology, young-earth creationism