We’ve Got Mail: What are your views on evolution and the age of the Earth?

Hi Chris,

My name is [Svy]. I want to thank you for your website. It has become one of my favorites in just one week. I hope that one day, after college, that I may engage in discussions and maybe write some articles. And I hope you continue your podcasts. I love them. They are very helpful and entertaining!  We will see where God will take me. I’m starting college in a week, and I’ve just recently learned about reformed/Calvinism/TAG method. I agree with all these and believe that they are true. I don’t, however, claim to understand everything in depth. I’m still learning. The Holy Spirit brings new insights to me everyday! Anyways, the reason I am emailing because I would like to know your views on Evolution. Do you believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old. I believe it is and that it is taught in the Bible. From your website, I can assume that you do believe the earth is “young.” However, I was wondering why you don’t mention websites like Answers in Genesis or ICR? Actually, I don’t think  any reformed websites or blogs that are similar to yours have ever mention these organizations. I don’t know why, but I can guess. Maybe it is because they are more on the Evidential side. This may be true, but Answers in Genesis supports the use of TAG and even reprinted some of Greg Bahnsen’s articles on their website. They also wrote a book called the Ultimate Proof, though I’m not sure how good it is. Moreover, Answers in Genesis works to promote the creation science motel and NOT disapprove Evolution. I think this is the right approach and it indeed does take “every thought captive.” There is evidence that the Earth is young. Lots of it. I myself will be majoring in Biochemistry and possibly philosophy. I  will most certainly take classes in philosophy if not double major in that area! Of course, I do also wish to extend the creation model as well. Maybe I’m too ambitious. What are you thoughts?

God Bless,

Svy

____________________

Svy,

Thank you for contacting us with your kind words and your questions. As you probably know, much of the battle over evolution occurs at the level of definitions. While I do not necessarily speak for the rest of the contributors, I reject any type of evolution that is defined or described in such a way that it is inconsistent with the creation account provided in Scripture. (Actually, I’m positive all of the other contributors agree with me on that much!) There are those who will take my admittedly vague answer to your question to be evidence that I am attempting to hide something or to dodge the question, but there are many, many different understandings of what the term in question covers. For example, some take the belief that the Earth is billions of years old to be an evolutionary belief, and while that belief is a necessary tenet of evolutionary theory, my thoughts are that one could hold that the Earth is billions of years old while simultaneously rejecting, say, the belief that men and apes are descendants from a common ancestor. As someone who has learned about evolution in both state and private secular schools, I am also aware of those who would posit perfectly normal, factual, observable, repeatable events that have taken place in nature as evidence for a broader evolutionary theory or as evolution itself. While I would accept those events as having obviously happened, I would not so flippantly label myself an evolutionist. So, specificity and care is needed in answering a question like the one you have posed to me, and I am afraid that the way your question is framed requires me to paint with far too broad a brush. One would need to spell out exactly what it is one means by “evolution” in order for me to compare it to what Scripture says concerning that particular understanding of evolution, if it says anything at all, and even then there is no guarantee I will understand the alleged evolutionary tenet in question well enough to discern whether there is conflict between it and Scripture or not.

You claim that you believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, that this belief is taught in the Bible, and ask if I believe this as well. Well, no. Scripture does not explicitly state that Earth is 6,000 years old. Does Scripture imply that Earth is 6,000 years old? Again, no. Scripture may, however, imply that the Earth is roughly 6,000 years old, and I suspect that is what you meant to say. Perhaps you are simply rounding off the age of the Earth. A position labeled “Young Earth Creationism” or YEC claims that Earth is anywhere from 4,000-10,000 years old. You are likely asking me whether or not I am YEC. If you are not asking me that, then you already have the answer to your question. Before you think I am being overly pedantic I will go ahead and answer the question as rephrased above.

For some time I fell into the category of a so-called “Old Earth Creationist” or OEC. That is, I accepted what I believe is the majority position of the current scientific community that Earth is billions of years old. More specifically, I held to what is called “Day Age” and took the days of the Genesis account of creation to refer to unspecified periods of time. I considered this understanding of the Genesis account to be a literal reading of the text. Also, I did not think that the text necessarily forced one to hold to Day Age or vice versa. Rather, I held the Genesis account to be ambiguous with respect to the question of the age of the Earth as well as other texts which allegedly address that question. Hence my study of the Bible led me to believe that Scripture left the age of the Earth an open question that was to be answered through scientific study.

After holding and defending the aforementioned position for years the OEC/YEC debate came up in private with some of the other contributors to this site. By this time I was already very familiar with the typical YEC arguments offered against Day Age. I thought most of them were horrible. I still do. But I also recognized where some of the weak spots in Day Age were, and one of those was a difficulty with how to take the “evening/morning” phrases. Again, I was unconvinced by the typical YEC arguments concerning evening/morning phrases and still am. However, RazorsKiss pressed me on evening/morning phrases with respect to his being able to account for their meaning and my not being able to. To be more clear, RazorsKiss pointed out that he understood evenings and mornings in roughly the same way that we understand them now – as marking the ends and beginnings of regular 24-hourish days – and that I had to take the phrases figuratively or symbolically or whatever else but could not really state what exactly they refer to beyond the ends and beginnings of unspecified periods of time. My usual counter that the phrases in question could not refer to what we normally mean by evening and morning since the sun was not yet created fell flat since I had already conceded that there could be and indeed was light prior to the sun being created (or appearing) on the fourth day. More than that, I could not ignore what had already been pointed out to me concerning my own understanding, or lack thereof, of what was meant by the evening/morning phrase. RazorsKiss was drawing his understanding from at least a surface reading of the text coupled with our current understanding of the phrase and an assumption about God wanting to communicate to us clearly through His Word. Finally, RazorsKiss showed me where “light” and “day” and “dark” and “night” were linked earlier in the text and my fate was sealed. So, I started singing all of the verses of “Just As I Am” and became a YEC right then and there.

Now, this all leaves my questions concerning how to deal with alleged scientific evidence pertaining to the age of the Earth intact. I have been giving some of the YEC arguments pertaining to such evidence a closer read and can see where many of them do work. But I still have a lot of ironing to do. Given my belief in Scripture as the final authority on all matters to which it speaks (some of my close friends would tell me this is precisely where I go wrong, for they would say Scripture does not speak to this issue – I leave it to them to show me how it does not), I am unashamedly a YEC as defined above, but given the scientific evidence concerning the age of the Earth (assuming I could understand it apart from the Christian worldview, which I cannot) I would be an OEC (er – OE). I have been told that Kurt P. Wise holds a similar position. Again, I am speaking for myself and not for any of the other contributors to the site. I hope that serves to answer your questions about my own position, but if not you are always welcome to ask more.

There is no real reason that we do not or have not linked to creationist websites like Answers in Genesis or Institute for Creation Research. I am not even completely sure that we have not at one time or another. I am aware that there are some presuppositionalist strains in the material on those sites. For example, AiG sells Greg Bahnsen’s Always Ready, and I have heard a fair amount about a book by a Dr. Lisle but have not had the opportunity to read it. In any event, the “evolution debate” is just not something we focus on much. There are so many other sites and organizations that do so, and the debate is, in my opinion anyway, on such a periphery topic that we tend to leave it to sites like those you mentioned while we focus more on covenantal apologetic methodology. For my own part, I think that the underlying naturalism in most evolutionary schemes is a much greater (and much more presuppositional) problem than is, for example, Tiktaalik Roseae or the age of the Earth. That is not to say that we do not need rigorous Christian accounts of such evidences. We do.

As for your degree in biochemistry then: Go for it! That would be a very presuppositionalist thing to do.

Grace,

Chris


2 Comments

Daniel Fasco

Dr. Jason Lisle (astrophycisist) does indeed hold to a Van Tillian, “presuppositional” apologetic method, and from what I understand, he is Reformed (or, at least holds to a monergistic soteriology). It comes out not only in his writings, but also his recorded lectures. If you haven’t already, I would recommend watching his introductory, 4-part DVD series, “Ultimate Apologetics.”

As for the age of the Earth and issues related to it, there are a number of scientists who take a presuppositional, YEC view (based on Scripture) and show how the evidence makes perfect sense within that framework. Andrew Snelling (Ph.D in Geology), for example, frequently addresses the various assumptions that go into dating methods. He challenges those assumptions–sometimes with technical jargon and other times quite simply (depending on who it is he is addressing)–and shows how the evidence perfectly “fits” within the Biblical worldview (since it is in fact true).

I would keep checking out more of AiG. They’ve produced some really, really good stuff.

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