Viewpoint: Evolution denialism is back. This time it’s coming from the left

Let me preface by saying I am agnostic on the question of the Earth’s age as I have not done the prerequisite research to take a strong position, so I appreciate your presentation of a Young Earth viewpoint in this thread. But to respond to the question, it seems to me that God is neither bound by or even able to experience “time” as we understand it (see 2 Peter 3:8). So it is not an absurd notion to me that making a direct translation from the “God-days” of the creation to the “man-days” we as humans experience may not be possible. Seven 24 hour days is the closest those of us in creation (and to narrow it further, to those of us on Earth) can come to comprehending God’s experience. As with countless other examples, our understanding may only be but a shadow of heavenly things.

1 Like

That’s a fair criticism. How about this:
“Creation, therefore, did not take place slowly in order that a slow development might be implanted in those things that are slow by nature; nor were the ages established at plodding pace at which they now pass. Time brings about the development of these creatures according to the laws of their numbers, but there was no passage of time when they received these laws at creation.”

Augustine’s view was that God created in an instant, so the creation of the earth happened at the same instant as the creation of man.

Augustine often gets trotted out as some sort of proto-OEC. It’s true that Augustine didn’t believe in a literal interpretation of “day” in Genesis, but he didn’t seem to believe that the earth was billions of years old. Actually, he believed that the earth was six days younger than I do! Why didn’t he believe in a day-age hypothesis? Why didn’t he believe there were gaps in the genealogies?


1 Like

Good article. Thank you. I think the burden of proof is on those who believe that “day” in Genesis 1 is metaphorical. What in the text tells you that it is a metaphor for something else?

We would demand the same from John Shelby Spong’s denial of the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus.

I’ve said a lot of negative things about YAC here, but I think for the ordinary Christian in the pew, it doesn’t really matter for his Christian walk or life in the secular world whether he holds young earth or old earth views. My concern with YAC is whether as a theological movement it will strengthen or weaken the church in the long-term. And as I age I become less interested in particular arguments for or against and more interested in the unstated and unconscious philosophical assumptions underlying YAC.

It has become clear to me that YAC is thoroughly Modern in its philosophical orientation, though in a reactionary rather than progressive way. One example is the YAC insistence that creation happened over six 24-hour days even though this is not essential for the Christian doctrine of creation – God would still be the maker of heaven and earth if He created instantaneously or over billions of years. Rather, the six-day 24-hour view arises from the YAC understanding that the text of Genesis 1 admits no other interpretation. But why do they conclude this? It is because Modernity says truth is only that which is expressed in terms of objective fact and considers figurative and metaphorical expressions as too subjective to be really “true”. And by adopting this premise of Modernity, YAC is forced to interpret all scriptural passages as literally as possible because non-literal interpretations cannot, by this definition, possibly be true. This wooden approach is similar to how Dispensationalists insist all O.T. prophecies must be fulfilled literally because they consider typologcal fulfillment or use of O.T. language to express N.T. reality not to be an expression of truth. But this is not how the apostolic authors viewed the O.T. – they often saw the real truth as something greater than the literal text.

The presence of the Modernistic premise appears elsewhere in YAC reasoning. One could agree to a literal six-day 24-hour recent creation and account for light from distant stars as something that God created along the way, but this is unacceptable to YAC adherents. That they view this hypothetical as “deceptive” reveals that they agree with Modernity that the physical world is the starting point of reality. But my guess is that our pre-modern forefathers would have thought otherwise. If, as a hypothetical, God had a distant star appear as a supernova in the sky to guide the wise men from the East, I don’t think our forefathers would be troubled that the supernova event would appear to have occurred before the beginning of creation but instead would have viewed it as consonant with God’s governing of all of reality in accordance with His purposes.

One frequently raised objection by YAC adherents is that once you accept a non-literal interpretation for one passage, then how can you determine that the Resurrection wasn’t also metaphorical? This is a red herring, because it’s not difficult to identify literary genre, the author’s purpose in writing the text, the intended audience, the historical context, etc., but if not, it again shows how YAC has adopted the reductionistic premises of Modernity. For the secular Modern, there is only one possible tool for determining truth: empirical science. For the YAC Modern, the only possible tool is the literal-grammatical hermeneutic.

In essence, by adopting Modernistic premises and then inverting them in a mirror image of secular science, YAC has bound itself with a straitjacket. That’s fine with me, and I can bear with my weaker brother, but I object when they insist that everyone else put on the straitjacket as well. We have strong arguments against the secular view – even with the Big Bang theory, they still cannot explain how the universe came to be, and it’s a house of cards to derive morality and rationality from random natural processes. But those strong arguments we have are not YAC arguments. Is there any effective apologist against the atheistic materialistic worldview who is a YAC adherent, or if he is a YAC adherent, who uses YAC views as part of his arguments. I have not seen such. Where is the fruit of YAC in debates against unbelievers and not just internecine theological disputes?

1 Like

I think so, yes. God is still resting from His work, which is why Jesus defends his actions (in John 5:16-17) on the Sabbath by pointing out the ongoing work God does during that time. It is also why we look forward, according to Hebrews to entering his Sabbath rest.

It’s especially interesting that the time of creation and then the flood seems to be referenced in that passage, while mentioning that a day for God means something different than for us.

My default position is 24/7, but I could be convinced by Augustine’s position.

Agreed. But I do believe there are some pretty good reasons to believe that. And the fact that Augustine did is clear evidence that such a position is not in itself simply modernism’s influence.

I’ve never understood this hang up. Drives me crazy.

Yes, you are correct that it’s a red herring. We always have to make those determinations. If this type of reasoning about literalism works, then the YAC proponents haven’t gone nearly far enough. I have a friend on FB who can teach them the consequences of their teaching. He insists on taking the Bible literally when it says in Gen that the moon is a “lesser light.” Therefore it cannot be reflecting the sun’s light, because then it would not be a literal light, but merely a reflector.

I suspect that it is more about strengthening Christians against scientism’s attacks than convincing unbelievers. However, as you can see in the example of my FB friend, it certainly isn’t universally good fruit.

1 Like

So I think I get what you’re saying here, and it’s an interesting point that I’ll chew on.

But I do find it entertaining that I’m being called a Modern for taking the Fundamentalists’ side in the Fundamentalist/Modernist debate!

I also personally have no issue with light from stars being created en route or other similar explanations.

1 Like

Using YAC to strengthen believers against scientism is like buying the latest smartphone for your kid so he can make emergency calls – sure, it may get the job done, but it costs much more than needed and may cause new problems along the way.

It’s true that YAC combats scientism, but so do other creation views. The disadvantage of YAC (@FaithAlone and a few others excepted) is that it insists that the earth and universe have the appearance of recent creation. It’s simple to provide a robust argument that science is not the ultimate means of ascertaining truth, but it’s far more difficult to convincingly argue that light from distant starts was emitted after creation and that by some speculative ad hoc mechanism managed to arrive at earth in a short period of time. So why unnecessarily burden our apologetic with the latter argument? Moreover, running with weak scientific arguments will strengthen the hand of the atheists. The people I have in mind are not those like @Alistair and @henrybish but instead our children and other young believers who we send out into the world and who will experience attacks on their faith. I want them to have strong arguments at hand, not weak arguments that will give the other side an unnecessary victory.

1 Like

Check the abstract of this article.

Also check the last paragraph of the LIGHT TRAVEL TIME PROBLEM section in this article.

But perhaps I was too hasty in characterizing all YAC hypotheses as untestable.

I think so. Even in the articles you linked to there is nothing close to suggesting that all YAC hypotheses are untestable.

1 Like

Choosing an interpretation based on its impact to our perceived apologetic “effectiveness” is guaranteed to end in tears. Most of the errors that folks like us beat up on pertaining to theology of sex or homosexuality can be traced to people being embarrassed to believe or proclaim what God has clearly revealed against the firm beliefs of our culture.

May we be ready to proclaim the truth God has revealed in season and out of season. Let God be true and every man a liar.

1 Like

I agree with this statement in general, but in the context of YAC, I’d say you are assuming facts not in evidence. It has not yet been demonstrated that six-day 24-hour creation is the actual truth that God has revealed, and no one here has exhibited embarrassment over what the secular culture thinks of biblical truth.

In many areas of life – parenting, marriage, pastoring, civil law, etc. – there is no shortage of men who think there are standing firm on God’s revealed truth against opposition from those around them. Maybe so, or maybe not. How can one tell? Our Lord told us to look at their fruit, something that is also advocated by our hosts here as well.

When it comes to fruit in combating scientism, I have heard people describe the helpful influence of C.S. Lewis’s apologetic books in their conversion, and he was no YAC adherent. But I have never heard anyone who was not already firmly rooted against scientism express appreciation for a YAC book. And when I have seen YAC adherents go up against atheists, they put forth Lewis-style arguments rather than specifically YAC arguments. So in my experience, any fruit that YAC produces comes from the non-YAC part of their apologetic. Perhaps others have seen differently.

I should acknowledge that fruitfulness is ultimately in the hands of God, and sometimes the secret will of God is such that a man can be faithful and diligent and yet see no fruit in this life. Accordingly, it is important to distinguish why one’s arguments are rejected. It’s one thing to have someone disagree because he doesn’t believe in God or the Bible. But it’s quite another thing having someone disagree because he is not convinced by one’s YAC explanation for how light from distant star can get to Earth in a short time or how a global flood could produce the vast variety of rock layers seen in the geologic record. Rejecting the latter does not necessarily mean a rejection of God or the Bible.

1 Like

For you old-earthers out there, who is your go-to author? Hugh Ross? His stuff seems pretty solid. It seems a lot of OEC are evidence based apologists. Many presuppositionalists are YEC. We need a fresh batch of presup-OEC :slight_smile: