What About . . . Young Earth Creationism?

Today the church is divided on many topics.  Should Young Earth Creation be one of those topics?

IN THE MIDST OF SUCH A HOSTILE AGE, IS THERE A PLACE AT THE TABLE FOR YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM?

Paper presented at the International Society of Christian Apologetics
Toccoa Falls, Georgia
April 2, 2016

Abstract: Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is often charged with inciting hostility towards Christianity rather than facilitating dialogue with unbelievers. For that reason, YEC is purposely excluded from many apologetics conferences and events and its adherents are often marginalized by fellow believers. Should YEC have a place in today’s marketplace of ideas or should it be excluded for the benefit of the cause? This paper presents a fourfold argument in favor of the inclusion of YEC in contemporary apologetics, while addressing some of the main criticisms of its detractors as follows. First, a strong case can be made that YEC represents orthodoxy in biblical interpretation, thus it should not be excluded due to its lack of popularity. Second, addressing the age of the earth and creation in general is vitally important. Third, YEC presents the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis that best correlate with the Gospel. Finally, the YEC position provides a clear rational front against the increasingly liberal positions of many modern biblical scholars.  

 

INTRODUCTION

Imagine a utopian Christian world where everyone would come to the proverbial table in complete agreement about all matters of faith and biblical interpretation. Where everyone would love God and each other with perfect agape love. What a picture! Alas, such a world has eluded us. I’m convinced divisiveness is a direct result of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. In spite of the sincerest idealistic desires of many, we must accept the realities of a world with much disagreement in matters of faith and doctrine and less than perfect love for God and one another. Inevitably, the table will be a place of varying levels of agreement and disagreement.

There seems to be far more disagreement than any of us would desire. Protestant Christianity can’t seem to agree on issues of soteriology. Consider the growing debates between Calvinist and Non-Calvinist. Consider the debates even within Calvinist circles regarding the infamous tulip. Non-Calvinist cannot come to an agreement either. Bibliology has seen an escalation of debate in the areas of inerrancy and inspiration. We can’t even agree on which philosophy of translation is best—literal or paraphrase. This on top of the KJV only battles against the NIV and every other version. When it comes to Eschatology the church today is embroiled in a heated disagreement between the advocates of a pre-tribulation rapture and those who advocate either a mid-tribulation, post-tribulation, or no rapture at all position. Some favor premillennialism while others are ardent amillennialists. We can’t even seem to agree on how to look at the book of Revelation. Is the preterit view correct or is the futurist view correct? What about the disagreement regarding pneumatology? Are the gifts of the Spirit for today or have they ceased? Is baptism in the Holy Spirit the same as or different from the seal of the Holy Spirit? Not to mention disagreement with regards to the church ordinances, church government, ethical issues, etc. The list of disagreements gives the impression of being almost endless.

Most people would like to reserve the seats at the table only for those with whom they are in complete agreement and as a result are cataloged as ‘intolerant’, while those that open the seats to all, regardless of their beliefs, are cataloged as ‘liberal’. Both extremes encounter serious difficulties engaging with our culture. To further complicate the matter of unity, It seems that the list of things we can all agree on is getting shorter and shorter. In an effort to walk in unity, we must attempt to meet the minimum standard of agreement that the Apostle Paul spelled out for the Ephesians 4:1-6 (NKJV)?

1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.[1]

Paul’s exhortation to the believer equates the pursuit of unity with a walk that is worthy of the calling. He addresses both the issue of loving one another as well as the unity in matters of faith and doctrine. Can we agree on this minimalist menu of beliefs that should unite us?

  1. There is one body—there is only ONE CHURCH.
  2. There is one Spirit—the Holy Spirit of God that indwells all believers.
  3. There is one hope—Salvation and Eternal life through Jesus Christ.
  4. There is one Lord—Only Jesus Christ is Lord—the only way, the only truth, the only source of life, the only way to the father.
  5. There is one Faith—one set of core doctrines upon which the church is built.
  6. There is one baptism— the one public act that marked all Christians.[2]
  7. There is one God—and only one God.
  8. This God relates to his creation as a Father of all.
  9. This God is above all—He is transcendent and rules over all of his creation.
  10. This God is through all—God’s activity permeates the church and the entire universe. Nothing takes place in isolation from him.[3]
  11. This God is in all—God is in all believers (the church).

Let us hope that the church, as a minimum, can agree on this list of non-negotiables tenets of the faith.[4] I believe Liefeld captures the essence of what Paul is teaching the Ephesians regarding the importance that ought to be given this task of pursuing unity,

It is often observed that verse 3 does not tell us to accomplish unity; that has already been done by Christ. It is now necessary to make every effort to keep that unity. This is not easy and requires diligence, but the task is supported by the Spirit who produces unity and by the encompassing bond of peace.[5]

In the midst of such a hostile age, lack of unity is a chink in the armor of Christianity that can be exploited by those who seek reasons to reject the message of the Gospel.[6] Our unity should be obvious in our relationships and it must prevail in public discourse. Our unity inspires far more confidence in Christianity than our sermons do. Why is it so hard for us to achieve such unity? The answer may be found in the list of virtues listed by Paul in verse 2, or the lack thereof. Liefeld explains,

Some notable divisions within the church over the centuries might have been avoided by the exercise of these virtues. Not all doctrinal controversies have been purely objective; personal pride and stubbornness have made their contribution.[7]

Pursuing unity in a way that is worthy of our calling also requires the pursuit of the virtues of lowliness, gentleness, and longsuffering.

As apologists, there are numerous questions regarding origins that we should consider answering as we move forward in our quest to remove the obstacles to faith in Christ that many may have (pre-evangelism) and as we give an answer to anyone that demands a reason for the hope that we have. In this paper I attempt to answer questions including: how does the topic of creation fit into the struggle for unity? In the midst of such aggravated hostilities regarding creation vs. evolution, who should be allowed a place at the table? What are the non-negotiables if there are any? Furthermore, I will argue that those who hold to Young Earth Creationism (YEC) are often treated with condescension and are denied a place at the table, not only by non-believers (which is understandable), but also by their fellow believers. I will then present a fourfold argument in favor of the inclusion of YEC in contemporary apologetics, while addressing the main criticisms of its detractors as follows. First, a strong case can be made that YEC represents orthodoxy in biblical interpretation, thus it should not be excluded due to its lack of popularity. Second, addressing the age of the earth and creation in general is vitally important. Third, YEC presents the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis that best correlate with the Gospel. Finally, the YEC position provides a clear rational front against the increasingly liberal tendencies of many modern biblical scholars.

THE PROBLEM

Young Earth Creationism is often charged with inciting hostility towards Christianity rather than facilitating dialogue with unbelievers. In a recent book on the Genesis creation account, John Lennox expresses this frustration from the perspective of a Christian in academia. Referencing a quote by Augustine regarding the conflict between Science and those that teach an erroneous interpretation of the Bible, he says,

The take-home message from Augustine is, rather, that, if my views on something not fundamental to the gospel, on which equally convinced Christians disagree, attract ridicule and therefore disincline my hearers to listen to anything I have to say about the Christian message, then I should be prepared to entertain the possibility that it might be my interpretation that is at fault.[8]

While I agree with Lennox about carefully considering whether it is our interpretation that is wrong, I would disagree that the way we interpret the early chapters of Genesis is a peripheral issue that is unrelated to salvation. It is uncertain from the context in Lennox’s quote whether he considers the age of the earth as peripheral or central to the topic of salvation.[9]  

Hugh Ross, astronomer and founder of Reasons to Believe, has established a well-deserved reputation as being a peacemaker and has gone to great lengths to bring unity in the area of biblical creation and science among Christians. On numerous occasions he has dialogued with those that hold a different model of origins than his, and he has done so gracious and amicably. Unfortunately, that spirit has not always been reciprocated by critics. Nevertheless, his assessment of the YEC position is clear and not quite as diplomatic,

Few, if any, other issues today generate as much animosity between Christians and secularists as does this doctrine of a recent, 144-hour creation week. The idea that the beginning of the universe, Earth, and life on earth dates back only a few thousand years makes a mockery of all the sciences and infuriates scientists.[10]

Ross’ opinion seems to be that we should not engage in discussions that generate animosity, such as YEC, with non-believers. That’s a fairly dangerous position to adopt. What about other topics that provoke animosity? Should we not advocate the Pro-Life message because it provokes anger and animosity with unbelievers? Should we not advocate traditional marriage because it infuriates the same-sex marriage advocates? Was this Jesus’ modus operandi?[11] As an apologist, I understand the need to find common ground with unbelievers and use that as a platform for amicable dialogue, but anger and animosity are often unavoidable when one takes a stand on biblical truth.  

In February of 2013, after a lecture at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa a physics professor approached me with similar concerns. I had just lectured in the science hall on the scientific predictions found in Genesis 1-3 that substantiate it as a legitimate model of origins. Early in the presentation, a student interrupted me to ask if the Bible said the Earth was only 6,000 years old. I responded with a simple answer—No.[12] I had no intention of entering that debate prior to presenting my case for Creation. The physics professor approached me and identified himself as a Christian. He told me he really enjoyed the presentation and was challenged to look at Genesis in a different light. However, relevant to the topic at hand, he informed me that he stayed and heard me out ONLY because of the way I answered the young student at the beginning. Had I affirmed the young earth position at that point he assured me he would have walked out of the lecture and dismissed me as an ignoramus.

The fact that YEC is mocked and ridiculed in academia is not really in dispute. The fact that all of the aforementioned mocking was at the hands of other Christians is sad but not surprising, given the popularity of multiple theories that attempt to harmonize science and the Bible, particularly with regards to the billions of years. Some modern biblical scholars argue that the proper interpretation of the Genesis account does not conflict with millions of years nor with the theory of evolution. However, the dispute really centers on whether avoiding adverse reactions to Christianity should be reason enough not to present the YEC position in public, especially in academia. After all, as Christians, we don’t want to be stumbling blocks in the lives of non-believers. Furthermore, such brow beatings as are often dispensed upon YEC can be very intimidating to Christians who want to be true to what they consider the correct interpretation of Genesis. I agree with Gentry that,

Oftentimes Christians are cowered by the fear that they are acting as mere Bible thumpers, mindlessly promoting an outdated party line that actually embarrasses the integrity of our holy faith.[13]

In the following sections we must consider whether YEC is an outdated belief or a belief built upon eternal truth revealed by God? Is YEC a truly biblical concept or is it the product of faulty interpretation? Does biblical exegesis support a young earth or millions of years of death and suffering. Is there any way of inserting millions or even billions of years into the Genesis account without violating the rest of the Bible? Is the age of the earth a central issue as it pertains to the gospel, or is it a peripheral one? What about modern biblical scholarship that supports the millions of years as the proper interpretation of the Genesis account?

 

YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM AND BIBLICAL EXEGESIS

I have no doubt that the two greatest needs of the 21st century church are apologetics and hermeneutics. Our Christian culture today has settled for superficial faith based on feel good slogans and selective promises, usually taken out of context. Many (maybe most) Christians don’t have a clue how to defend what they believe nor do they have any notion of what sound biblical interpretation looks like. For too long the church has been told what to think but it has not been taught how to think. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the handling of the early chapters of Genesis. The classic historical-grammatical-theological approach to biblical interpretation has been lost. Even among modern biblical scholars, what we find very often is an approach to the Bible with preconceived conclusions that we attempt to insert into the meaning of the text (technically called eisegesis) instead of allowing the Word of God to speak for itself and shape the conclusions we reach as we engage with the text (exegesis). Instead of asking ourselves how we can fit millions of years into the text or how we can introduce modern scientific ideas into the creation narrative, we should be asking “What did Moses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, attempt to communicate with the people of Israel, as they wondered out of Egypt, regarding the origins of the heavens and the earth?” We should be seeking to harmonize all of the teachings in the Bible that pertain to Creation, properly understanding each within its genre, in order to extract from the Bible what God attempted to communicate with mankind about His miraculous creation of the heavens and the earth.

In his book titled, As It is Written: The Genesis Account, Literal or Literary? Gentry presents an excellent and very thorough exegetical case study of the Creation accounts in Genesis 1-2. He lays out a ten exegetical conclusions that clearly establish the YEC position as being firmly grounded in the text.[14] To follow is a brief summary of the main points Gentry makes when engaging the text through proper hermeneutical & exegetical methods.

  1. Argument from Primary Meaning – the Hebrew word for “day” is yôm which is the fifth most frequent noun in the O.T. appearing 2,304 times. It appears in the Pentateuch 668 times and 152 times in Genesis. According to the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, there are two primary meanings of yôm: (1) “The basic meaning of yôm is ‘day (from sunrise to sundown)’” and (2) “in the sense of the astronomical or calendar unit” (TLOT 2:537-538). The overwhelming majority of the appearances of yôm in the Old Testament clearly refer either to a normal, full day-and-night cycle, or to the lighted portion of that cycle. And both of these directly related options would be easily understood without any difficulty by the casual reader both in antiquity and today. As conservative theologian Berkhof (1941, 154) declares in defending the historic exegesis of a six-day creation” “In its primary meaning the word yôm denotes a natural day; and it is a good rule in exegesis, not to depart from the primary meaning of a word, unless it is required by the context.” Dabney (1973, 254-55) adds, “…It is freely admitted that the word day is often used in the Greek Scriptures as well as the Hebrew (as in our common speech) for an epoch, a season, a time. But yet, this use is confessedly derivative. The natural day is its literal and primary meaning. Now, it is apprehended that in construing any document, while we are ready to adopt, at the demand of the context, the derived or topical meaning, we revert to the primary one, when no such demand exists in the context.”[15]
  1. Argument from Explicit Qualification – So that we don’t miss the point, Moses relentlessly qualifies each of the creation days by the phrase “evening and morning:” wāye hiy ‘ereb wāye hiy bōquer, “and it was evening and it was morning.” Outside this chapter the singular words eber (“evening”) and bōquer (“morning”) appear 30 times in the Old Testament and denote a normal day. Further, the word “morning” and the word “evening” occur alone with yôm 17 and 19 times (respectively) outside of Genesis 1. And as Stambaugh notes, “With each occurrence a twenty-four-hour day is signified.” Thus, he continues, “any combination of the words ‘morning,’ ‘evening,’ and yôm use their extra-linguistic referential value to its fullest extent. It seems most likely that both terms (“evening”/ “morning”) stand pars pro toto: as a part for the whole, i.e., the evening representing the whole period of darkness and the morning the whole time of light. Dabney (1973, 255) argues that this evidence alone should compel adoption of a literal day view: “The sacred writer seems to shut us up to the literal interpretation, by describing the day as composed of its natural parts, ‘morning and evening…’ It is hard to see what a writer can mean, by naming evening and morning as making a first, or a second ‘day’; except that he meant us to understand that time which includes just one of each of these successive epochs: –one beginning of night, and one beginning of day. If the “days” themselves are metaphorical devices, why does Moses relentlessly employ this additional verbiage (“evening and morning”) that gives the clear and distinct impression he wants to emphasize their literal reality?[16]
  1. Argument from Numerical Prefix – Genesis attaches a numeral to each of the days of creation week: the cardinal prefix, ‘one’ and the ordinal prefixes on the remaining days, “second,” “third,” “fourth,” “fifth,” “sixth,” and “seventh.” Moses affixes numerical adjectives to yôm 119 times in his writings. And these always signify literal days. The same holds true for the 357 times numerical adjectives qualify yôm outside the Pentateuch.[17]
  1. Argument from Numbered Series – When yôm appears in sequentially numbered, uninterrupted series, it always specifies natural days. This is another means by which Moses indicates literal days are in view, not images like ‘the day of the Lord’ or metaphorical time frames. As Young (1964, 100) observes against the framework view, “If Moses had intended to teach a non-chronological view of the days, it is indeed strange that he went out of his way, as it were, to emphasize chronology and sequence…It is questionable whether serious exegesis of Genesis 1 would in itself lead anyone to adopt a non-chronological view of the days for the simple reason that everything in the text militates against it.”[18]
  1. Argument from Coherent Usage – The word yôm in Genesis 1 also defines days 4, 5, and 6. This is significant in that these days occur after God creates the sun expressly for undertaking the ongoing, providential task of marking off the days (Gen. 1:14, 18). How could Moses inform his audience of the sun’s creation for the expressly stated purpose of governing the day/night pattern, call this a “day” and not expect that his readership would also assume days 4 through 6 are real, historical days? In fact, nothing in the text suggest a change of temporal function for yôm at day 4. Moses employs a coherent usage of his expressions, maintaining his set pattern while allowing a smooth flow of temporal process from the first three days into the last three days of God’s creative activity.[19]
  1. Argument from Divine Exemplar – The Scripture specifically patterns man’s workweek after God’s own original creation week. Our workweek follows the pattern God established at creation (Exodus 20:11 & 31:15-17). We should also note that the Ten Commandments were directly written in the tablets of stone by God himself (Exodus 31:18, 32:15-16, 34:1; Deuteronomy 9:10). Gerard Hasel makes an important hermeneutical observation on Exodus 20:11 and its significance to the creation debate. This text provides “an internal Pentateuch and Old Testament guideline” as to how God intended us to understand the days of Genesis 1 (Hasel 1984, 19). Thus the historical action serves as the rationale for the moral injunction. Kline (1996, 7) notes that “earthly time is articulated in the astronomical phenomena that structure its flow.” That is certainly true for days (based on the period of time required for one rotation of the earth between successive sunrises), months (based on the lunar phase cycle), and years (the orbital period of the earth revolving around the sun which, due to its angle relative to the sun, generates the four seasons). But this is not true for the week. The calendrical week is rooted in an historical, not astronomical, reality; it is rooted in God’s original creative activity, just as Exodus 20:11 and 31:15-17 inform us.[20]
  1. Argument from Plural Expression – Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 also teach that God created the heavens and the earth “in six days” (yāmiym). As Reymond (1998, 394) reminds us, “Ages are never expressed by the word yāmiym” In fact, the plural yāmiym occurs 858 times in the Old Testament and always refers to normal days. Exodus 20:11 (like Gen. 1) lacks any kind of poetic structure; it presents a factual, historical accounting.[21]
  1. Argument from Unusual Statement – Due to the common Jewish practice of reckoning days from evening to evening (e.g., Exodus 12:18; Lev. 23:5), the temporal pattern of “evening and morning” may seem unusual. But Cassuto (1998, 28) explains that “whenever clear reference is made to the relationship between a given day and the next, it is precisely sunrise that is accounted the beginning of the second day.” We see evening closing the daylight time, followed by morning, which closes the darkness, thereby beginning a new day (e.g., Gen. 19:33-34; Exodus 10:13; 2 Sam. 2:32).[22]
  1. Argument from Alternative Idiom – Had Moses intended that the six days represent six eras, he could have chosen a less confusing and more fitting expression: ôlām. This word is often translated “forever,” but it also means a long period of time [Moses regularly used ôlām throughout the Pentateuch to represent long periods of time]. Furthermore, Moses should not have qualified the days with “evening and morning.”[23]
  1. Argument from Scholarly Admissions – Remarkably, scholars who deny the reality of the historically accepted exegetical conclusion of a six-day creation process recognize Moses Actually meant literal days [see Gentry’s partial list of 12 examples, pp. 115-17]. Thus, Gerhard Hasel (1984, 21) concludes: “The author of Genesis 1 could not have produced a more comprehensive and all-inclusive ways to express the idea of a literal ‘day’ than the ones that were chosen. There is a complete lack of indicators from prepositions, qualifying expressions, construct phrases, semantic-syntactical connections, and so on, on the basis of which the designation ‘day’ in the creation week could be taken to be anything different than a regular 24-hour day. The combinations of the factors of articular usage, singular gender, semantic-syntactical constructions, time boundaries, and so on, corroborated by the divine promulgations in such Pentateuchal passages as Exodus 20:8-11 and Exodus 31:12-17, suggest uniquely and consistently that the creation ‘day’ is meant to be literal, sequential, and chronological in nature.”[24]

 

What make Gentry’s case so powerful is no just the excellent exegesis, but the fact that it is not unique! Any student of the Bible that engages the text in search of its meaning and applies the common rules of biblical interpretation will reach the same conclusions. In fact, many have reached the exact same conclusions throughout the history of biblical interpretation. WHY? Because it is what the Holy Spirit attempted to communicate by means of Moses to the original audience. Why are so many today reaching other conclusions? The primary reason given for rejecting the clear meaning of the early chapters of Genesis is the conflict it creates with modern scientific theories that insist on millions and billions of years—not thousands.

 

YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM AND THE AGE OF THE EARTH

Are hostility and anger among scientists exclusively provoked by adherence to a YEC position? I would posit that the age of the earth is only one of many issues that provoke hostility among mainstream scientists. What angers them is the position that there is a God and the use of the word “creation.” They are vehemently opposed to ANY supernatural explanation, including God. Furthermore, at its core, YEC is a creationist position. As such, YEC proponents dedicate enormous amounts of time and resources to counter naturalistic evolutionary theories. As an apologist that holds to a YEC position, my primary focus and mission centers around debunking macro-evolution and presenting a case for the Creator. In doing so, I use many of the same arguments presented by Old Earth Creationist and by the Intelligent Design community. Most of us are in agreement that the current naturalistic Darwinian model of macro-evolution can no longer provide satisfying answers. We are also in agreement that Creation by God is best answer to the origin’s question.

In addition, there is another phenomenon that is growing amongst scholars from every discipline—we are seeing a willingness to speak-up against the failed Darwinian hypothesis of macro evolution. Take for instance, Dr. Thomas Nagel, of NYU, prolific writer, eminent philosopher, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a corresponding Fellow of the British Academy as representative of this skepticism,

“…for a long time I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms came to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process works. The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes.”[25]

He goes on to state that,

It is prima facie highly implausible that life as we know it is the result of a sequence of physical accidents together with the mechanism of natural selection….given what is known about the chemical basis of biology and genetics, what is the likelihood that self-reproducing life forms should have come into existence spontaneously on the early earth, solely through the operation of the laws of physics and chemistry?[26]

Further, what makes these declarations so powerful is that Dr. Nagel IS NOT A THEIST, as he makes clear,

My skepticism is not based on religious belief, or on belief in any definite alternative. It is just a belief that the available scientific evidence, in spite of the consensus of scientific opinion, does not in this matter rationally require us to subordinate the incredulity of common sense.”[27]

So why, in the midst of so much doubt about Darwinism, is it so difficult for the creationist view to be given due consideration? Again, I will defer to Thomas Nagel, who I believe is spot on,

“I realize that such doubts will strike many people as outrageous, but that is because almost everyone in our secular culture has been browbeaten into regarding the reductive research program as sacrosanct, on the ground that anything else would not be science.”[28]

Unfortunately, many scientists in academia today would privately agree that the Darwinian model of molecules to man has failed, but they are afraid to voice their opinion publicly, and rightfully so, it would mark the end of their careers as scientists.

So how important is the age of the earth? While it is not the main focus of most YEC proponents, it is still an extremely important issue. There is no Bible verse that states the age of the earth nor the date of creation. However, the Bible presents clear genealogies from Adam to Jesus.[29] These genealogies account for no more than 6,000 to 10,000 years. That is far different than the billions of years incorporated into big bang cosmology. Nor does it correspond with modern human evolution time frames which posit a beginning of human evolution several hundred thousands of years ago. Furthermore, the body of scientific evidence in support of a young earth is overwhelming.[30] Some would argue that there is even more scientific evidence in favor of an old earth. Even if that were the case, the volume of contrary evidence should be a clear sign that the issue is far from resolved scientifically. So why should YEC not be allowed a place at the table when it is not only biblically sound, but also scientifically supported.

 

YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM AND THE GOSPEL

            Genesis is primarily a historical book and as such it lays the foundation for many important doctrines in the rest of the Bible, it is especially foundational to the message of the Gospel. Many opponents of YEC go to great lengths in their attempts to undermine the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis.[31] However, the historicity of Genesis was obvious to Moses’ audience (as well as today’s readers). Old Testament scholar, Walter Kaiser points out that the first 11 chapters of Genesis include 64 geographical terms, 88 personal names, 48 generic names, and at least 21 identifiable cultural items.[32] This alone is sufficient to disqualify fables, myths, saga, and other genres which lack any such historical content. However, it is important to ask how the rest of the Bible interprets the early chapters of Genesis. Allowing the Bible to interpret itself whenever possible is another fundamental hermeneutical principle. Jesus himself interpreted the early chapters of Genesis as real history. Notice his words in the Gospel of Mark 10:6-8,

But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Jesus addresses Adam and Eve as real people that model the marriage relationship as it was purposed by God. The evidence for the humanity of Adam and Eve is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. J. Warner Wallace makes a great point about the historicity of Adam and Eve when he reminds us that,

Moses places Adam in genealogies, along with other specific individuals whom we acknowledge as real, historic human beings…. Other authors of the Bible include Adam in their lineages of real humans as well. For instance, Adam appears in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:1, in Luke’s genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:38), and in Jude’s references to Enoch (Jude 1:14). These genealogies and references record the names of specific, real individuals, and Adam is included in their ranks.[33]

The Apostle Paul makes a powerful doctrinal connection between Jesus and Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

He elaborates further in Romans 5,

18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

In this passage Paul speaks of the first Adam as being “one man” who committed an “offense” and had to deal with the consequences of “condemnation.” Furthermore, this “one man” is accused of “disobedience.” It is clear that Paul interprets the early chapters of Genesis as historical narrative. Any interpretation of Genesis 1-3 that approaches the passage as anything other than historical narrative directly contradicts the way Jesus and Paul both interpreted it.

            Negating the historicity of Adam and Eve has devastating effects on the Gospel message of salvation. If there was no first Adam, why should we believe Jesus is the last Adam? If there was no first Adam and Eve, then there was no fall, no disobedience, no offense and no condemnation. So why do we need a Savior? Furthermore, if the story of Adam and Eve is only symbolic, poetic, mythical—or anything other than actual history—then both Jesus and Paul were wrong. They did not get the proverbial memo. It is impossible to allow for the dismissal of the historicity of Genesis 1-3 without suffering the loss of the gospel as well.

 

YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM AND MODERN BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP

Brandon Ambrosino of the Boston Globe published an article recently where he goes after Answers in Genesis (AiG), a YEC ministry. After touring AiG’s new themed attraction that will include a full size replica of Noah’s Ark he presents counter arguments in the article by appealing to supposed “modern biblical scholars” that are theistic evolutionists. He cites Brad Kramer, managing editor of BioLogos and Peter Enns, both theistic evolutionists that are openly anti-creationism, regardless of whether it is espoused by young or old earth advocates. Ambrosino presents Peter Enns position as follows,

Pete Enns, biblical scholar and author of “The Evolution of Adam,” sees creationism as harmful because it sets children up either to experience a crisis of faith or to become unflinchingly rigid about their own faith and closed off to their own human development. Both are tragic, he says.[34]

Someone commenting on the Facebook post of the Boston Globe article was angered by what he called YEC’s refusal to embrace “modern science and modern biblical studies.” Of course, “modern biblical studies” is a vague generality as is “modern science.” However, the tone and content of the suggestion is typical of what we hear on college campuses and other venues. The idea is one of chronological snobbery. YEC, or creationism in general, represents an “outdated” view of ancient biblical scholars. The “new” or “modern” view is better and should be embraced without question. Obviously, it’s a simple fallacy to deal with. The veracity of a proposition has nothing to do with the date in which it was proposed.

Sadly, what is considered “modern biblical studies” for many is anything but biblical. Peter Enns is a wonderful case in point. If we were to embrace Enns’ views, how would we view the authority of Scripture? Consider the following quotes,[35]

If evolution is correct, one can no longer accept, in any true sense the word “historical,” the instantaneous and special creation of humanity described in Genesis, specifically 1:26-31 and 2:7, 22.[36]

When there is a conflict between science and Scripture, Enns has a recommendation,

Unless one simply rejects scientific evidence (as some continue to do), adjustments to the biblical story are always necessary.[37]

Regarding the Apostle Paul’s teachings comparing Adam and Jesus, Enns explains,

For Paul’s analogy to have any force, it seems that both Adam and Jesus must be actual historical figures. Not all Christian traditions will see it that way… The problem is self-evident. Evolution demands that the special creation of the first Adam as described in the Bible is not literally historical; Paul, however, seems to require it… When the issue is framed this way, the discussion tends to move towards one of two extremes: Christians either choose Paul over Darwin or abandon their faith in favor of natural science.[38]

In summarizing his own view on the Romans 5 passage, Enns affirms,

…attributing the cause of universal sin and death to a historical Adam is not necessary for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be a fully historical solution to that problem.[39]

Regarding evolution and the Bible,

Without question, evolution requires us to revisit how the Bible thinks of human origins.[40]

Peter Enns even questions Paul’s ability to correctly interpret the early passages of Genesis,

…whatever Paul says of Adam, that does not settle what Adam means in Genesis itself, and most certainly not the question of human origins as debated in the modern world, Paul was an ancient man with ancient thoughts, inspired though he was.[41]

If this is what we are supposed to be embracing as “modern biblical scholarship” then why call it biblical?

CONCLUSION

            I believe YEC should have a place at the table for numerous reasons. First, a strong case can be made that YEC represents orthodoxy in biblical interpretation, thus it should not be excluded due to its lack of popularity. Second, addressing the age of the earth and creation in general is vitally important. Third, YEC presents the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis that best correlates with the Gospel. Finally, the YEC position provides a clear rational front against the increasingly liberal positions of many supposed “modern biblical scholars.”

 

 

 

 

WORKS CITED

Ambrosino, Brandon. “Noah’s Ark, dinosaurs, and a theme park.” The Boston Globe, March 23, 2016.

Enns, Peter. The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins. (Grand Rapids:

Brazos Press, 2012), xiv.

Gentry, Jr., Kenneth L. As It Is Written: The Genesis Account Literal or Literary? (Green Forest, AR: Master Books,

2016), p. 218.

Lennox, John C, Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 2011), p. 32.

Liefeld, W. L. (1997). Ephesians (Vol. 10, Eph 4:4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Nagel, Thomas. Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly

False. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.) 5.

Ross, Hugh. The Genesis Question (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998), p. 66.

Wallace, J. Warner. “What is the Biblical Case for Adam and Eve?” Salvo. Issue 26 Supplement, Fall 2013. pp. 39-40

 

[1] All Bible passages are NKJV unless otherwise noted.

[2] Liefeld, W. L. (1997). Ephesians (Vol. 10, Eph 4:4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Ibid.

[4] I do not advocate unity at all cost. There are definitely non-negotiables. Further, I do not consider this list to be exhaustive of non-negotiables. However, both the topics of establishing exhaustive parameters for unity and defining a comprehensive list of non-negotiables is outside the scope of this paper.

[5] Liefeld. [emphasis in the original].  

[6] As apologist we can argue that all religions suffer from similar internal discord. We can argue that universal agreement is not a necessary condition for truth. However, these arguments seem vacuous at an existential level.

[7] Liefeld.  

[8] John C. Lennox, Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), p. 32.

[9] I will argue vehemently that the way we interpret Genesis is vitally central to the Gospel. See section YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM AND THE GOSPEL below.

[10] Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998), p. 66.

[11] I don’t advocate purposely setting out to anger people and infuriate them with what the Bible clearly teaches. I believe we should follow Peter’s advice and engage our culture with gentleness and respect. I believe much [not all] of the backlash can be avoided if topics are approached with a loving attitude.

[12] There is no Bible verse that says the Earth is 6000 years old. I am a young earth creationist, but it isn’t my opening statement when making a presentation to a hostile crowd. The age of the earth was not a topic relevant to the point I was making that the Genesis model is a far more reasonable model of origins than the evolution model.

[13] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., As It Is Written: The Genesis Account Literal or Literary? (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2016), p. 218.

[14] Gentry., pp. 94-121.

[15] Extracted and summarized verbatim from Gentry, 94-96.

[16] Ibid., 97-100.

[17] Ibid., 101.

[18] Ibid., 103-105.

[19] Ibid., 107-108.

[20] Ibid., 109-112.

[21] Ibid., 113.

[22] Ibid., 114.

[23] Ibid., 115. Parenthetical commentary added, it does not appear in Gentry’s text.

[24] Ibid., 115-117. Parenthetical commentary added, it does not appear in Gentry’s text.

[25] Thomas Nagel. Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.) 5.

[26] Ibid., 6.

[27] Ibid., 7.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Some argue that there are numerous gaps in the genealogies and therefore the earth could be much older. Even if there were gaps, it is quite difficult to insert millions or even billions of years’ worth of gaps into the genealogies.

[30] Numerous articles and books have been written that present the scientific evidence for a young earth/ a young creation. These can be found in most creation ministries such as AiG, ICR, CMI, etc.

[31] More on this in the next section on “Modern Biblical Scholarship”

[32] As quoted by Gentry, p. 74.

[33] J. Warner Wallace, “What is the Biblical Case for Adam and Eve?” Salvo. Issue 26 Supplement, Fall 2013. pp. 39-40

[34] Brandon Ambrosino, “Noah’s Ark, dinosaurs, and a theme park.” The Boston Globe, March 23, 2016.

[35] I refrain from responding to each of these quotes below because it falls outside the scope of this paper, but the problems are quite obvious.

[36] Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins. (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), xiv.

[37] Ibid., xv.

[38] Ibid., xvi.

[39] Ibid., 82.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid., 117.

Juan Valdes

Dr. Juan Valdes is a bi-lingual speaker for Reasons for Hope (English and Spanish) and the senior pastor of a Spanish-speaking congregation in Miami, Florida. He has taught Theology, Bible and Apologetics at the seminary level in both English and Spanish and speaks regularly across the country and internationally at Pastor’s Conferences, Youth Conferences, Apologetics Conferences and local church events. Juan, his wife Daisy and their children, Juan Elias and Jessica serve in multiple areas of ministry in Miami, Florida.