by Ken Hamrick
Old-Earth Creationists, who accept the evidence-based claims that the earth is billions of years old, ought to honestly acknowledge that their view does not rest on natural evidence, but upon their own prior skeptical denial of creation by divine fiat (or, command). It is dishonest to put forth such a view as being based on the evidence. Without first denying that a miraculous creation by fiat might have occurred, they would have no basis for giving weight to any natural evidence. This doesn’t mean that they have properly thought this out and realized that they must first deny the plausibility of a miraculous creation by fiat; rather, for most of them, their preconceived skeptical denial remains unrecognized, like a hidden assumption.
To answer the question, How long ago did God create the world?, they immediately look—as a matter of course—to what the scientific evidence ‘reveals.’ Ostensibly, this supposes to give equal weight to all sources of truth, whether God’s revelation in Scripture or God’s revelation in the physical world (nature). However, the bias of the scales toward nature becomes evident: whenever the two (the plain reading of Scripture and natural evidence) seem to contradict, they never opt for reinterpreting natural evidence in light of the inerrant Scripture, but always insist on reinterpreting Scripture in light of the inerrant natural evidence (at least where creation is concerned). Thus, the authority of natural evidence is much stronger to them than whatever authority they ascribe to Scripture. But if we’re not careful, we might buy the subtle lie that says that the plain reading of the Bible’s creation account was objectively weighed against the natural evidence and found wanting—and only after this “open-minded comparison” was the Old-Earth view selected as superior. But the inconvenient truth is that the plain reading of the creation account was rejected PRIOR TO any physical evidence being brought to bear.
How do I know this? It’s simple: Until the question of whether or not the world was recently created by divine fiat—out of nothing in a moment—is answered, physical evidence has no validity or bearing on the question of how long the world has been in existence. The miraculous creative acts of God leave no trace of scientific physical evidence. If we still had samples of the wine that Jesus had miraculously made from the water, or the bread that He had miraculously multiplied to feed the 5000, we would not find under a microscope any “miracle particles” among the molecules to prove the miraculous nature of the origin. We would simply find it to be what it is, with nothing to point to the miracle. That is God’s way in performing miracles. Even those who drank the wine were mistaken regarding its origin. Every supernatural miracle of God is deceptive to those who do not believe or know the truth of it.
The supernatural acts of God transcend the natural world. The supernatural nature of creation ex nihilo leaves nothing of the supernatural in the nature of what is created. Nothing of the nature of nonexistence, or of the nature of supernatural creation, is brought forward into the nature of what is brought into existence in such a way as to identify what is created with creation ex nihilo. A supernatural origin transcends the nature of the thing created and leaves no mark on its nature to identify it with supernatural origin. How old something is in its nature does not depend on when it was supernaturally created. How long something has existed and how old it is by nature do not have to correlate—not when supernatural acts are involved. The Hebrews’ shoes never experienced wear and tear when they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness because God supernaturally preserved them from getting old.
After raising Lazarus from the dead, what scientist, upon examining him while alive for the second time, would conclude, based on the evidence, that he was once dead for four days? None would. For that matter, what scientist, if he could examine Adam on the day of his creation, would not declare with absolute scientific authority that Adam’s age must be measured in years and not hours? They would all declare it so, since it is “a scientific fact” that adulthood takes years to develop. The prospect that an adult man is only one day old is scientifically absurd and laughable—and so also the raising of a dead and decomposing man, the turning of water into wine in an instant, and the feeding of 5000 with only a few loaves. When faced with the question of how long the wine (or Adam) has been in existence, we FIRST must choose between two UNPROVABLE beliefs:
- We can choose to believe the Biblical testimony of an instantaneous miracle of God in this case; or
- We can choose to reject as implausible the idea of an instantaneous miracle of God in this case.
If it is true that Jesus miraculously turned the water into wine, then it will be of no use to put it under a microscope (or other scientific tests) to determine how long it has existed, since it will simply show the normal conditions and “age-markers” of normal wine. THAT is why the question of whether or not an instantaneous miracle occurred IS PRIOR TO the weighing of natural evidence. ONLY AFTER WE DECIDE THAT A MIRACLE DID NOT OCCUR CAN WE THEN ACCEPT THE WEIGHT OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. And don’t be fooled: that first question is never skipped—accepting the weight of natural evidence is itself an unsupported affirmation that no instantaneous miracle occurred. Therefore, those who accept the scientific conclusion that the natural evidence proves that the earth has existed for billions of years do so WITHOUT ANY PROOF THAT SUCH EVIDENCE CAN VALIDLY BE APPLIED TO THE QUESTION! To prove that the evidence has bearing on the question would require proof that no miraculous creation by fiat occurred. Thus, the whole Old-Earth view is founded on mere preconceived skepticism against instantaneous miracles as explanations for the origin of the world. The supposed evidence only serves to reinforce the skepticism that was there from the start.
When it comes to a recently created earth versus an old earth, it’s not really a matter of one interpretation over another, as if the two were equally based on Scripture. No, it’s a matter of an interpretation versus an incorporation. The former relies on revealed truth alone, while the latter incorporates both the revealed truth and the supposed discovered truth of [a particular interpretation of] physical evidences. Can we be honest here? It’s not like the Bible is vague and mysterious regarding how long it took God to create the world or how long ago it happened. No, the fog didn’t roll in for most of the Church until “science” insisted that the earth was far older than is indicated by the plain reading of the Biblical account. The insistence of science fueled the drive to come up with alternative interpretations—ones that wouldn’t contradict the science of an old earth, and so various alternatives came about, including the latest employing a “literary framework” to explain the six days.
It is a matter of whether or not the intended meaning of the author is held in such importance that the text be allowed to speak for itself—with every effort made to not read into the text ideas that were not intended—and to get our clues as to what was intended only from the text itself, rather than permitting ideas, claims, evidences and authorities from outside of the text to tell us what the text means. This is why we go by the axiom, If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense. When it tells us that Christ physically rose from the dead and left the tomb, we don’t allow science to weigh in and tell us that He must not have actually died, but only “swooned,” since dead bodies do not reanimate. Certainly, science has a legitimate claim in the matter, since what is claimed is above and beyond all natural laws and a physical impossibility. Nevertheless, science must be ignored in this matter, since it is a supernatural matter outside of their ability to explain, detect, or prove. For us today, it is a matter of pure revelation. The eyewitnesses are dead and unavailable for examination. Christ Himself no longer appears, having ascended to heaven. But we believe the Bible’s testimony because our faith lets Scripture speak for itself and we refuse to look for an alternative interpretation regardless of how ridiculous or absurd our belief might seem to skeptics. We let the Bible speak for itself—if a particular passage makes sense in its plainest reading, then why would we need to look for any other understanding?
The creation account is one of the clearest, most straightforward chronological-historical accounts in Scripture. As if in anticipation of end-times compromise with the materialistic-naturalists, God specified, “and evening and morning were the ______ day.” And now, not even that is enough, as Christians—jaded by the scientific overconfidence—read such a sentence and say, “What ever could He mean by that?? It’s so vague and mysterious. What kind of evening? What kind of morning?” What kind of nonsense! If words have meaning, then accept them. But the scientist whispering in your ear tells you, “Not so fast—it can’t mean what it plainly appears to mean. You better look for some other interpretation.”
Old-earth and Young-earth interpretations are NOT EQUAL. The Old-Earth interpretations only appear to be justified in their rejection of the plain, straightforward reading when backed up by the supposed weight of the physical evidence. However, since God is fully capable of creating a world that is “old” from the first moment of existence, then the solid ground of physical evidence that justified resorting to Old-Earth interpretations VANISHES. No amount of dancing around that point will make it go away.
It’s time for the Southern Baptist Convention to denounce skepticism and take an uncompromising stand for Biblical authority that includes a line-in-the-sand affirmation of the plain reading of the creation account, before the foundation is eroded beyond repair and we end up in the ever-growing dust-heap of denominations that used to be part of God’s Church.
Ken Hamrick, 2015