Friday, December 28, 2007

Some musings on old-earth creationism

Hugh Ross' The Creator and the Cosmos provides a fascinating overview of old-earth creationism. I’ve been thinking about old-earth creationism lately, and in my view it seems that this belief has theological problems. Moreover, old-earth creationism seems to limit the omnipotence of God.

On page 109, Ross writes:

The Bible declares that God has currently ceased from His work of creating new life forms. But in the fossil record era (God’s six days of creation), God was active in creating millions of species of life, introducing new species and replacing and upgrading all those going extinct by natural processes.

Ross argues that, for millions of years, God simply created life forms until, one day, he created humans. However, there seems to be, in my mind at least, a theological problem with this belief. Palaeontologists have found fossils of many creatures – such as dinosaurs that lived before the supposed creation of Adam and Eve – and these fossils show signs of death, disease, suffering and pain. However, according to traditional Christian doctrine, elements of suffering and death only entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. If we accept Ross' interpretation of creation, then we have to accept that elements of sin existed in the world before Adam and Eve existed. Is this a viable theological position?

Why did God wait do long to create humans? On page 116:

The answer is that, given the laws and constraints of physics God chose to create, it takes about ten to twelve billion year just to fuse enough heavy elements in the nuclear furnaces of several generations of giant stars to make life chemistry possible

Why these constraints? If God is truly omnipotent, wouldn't it have made more sense to simply create the universe with the right conditions to sustain human life from the very beginning? It seems a little strange that God would wait a whole 13 billion years before the real reason of his creation (i.e., sorting out humankind’s salvation) came about. That's a long time to twiddle your thumbs! Young earth creationism seems to make more sense when one considers the idea of an omnipotent creator. But even if we consider young earth creationism, why would God spend seven days, or any time at all, creating the universe if he could simply do it all in a single instant?

What do you think?

6 comments:

CyberKitten said...

I think that debating creation is the same as trying to figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

It's pointless and somewhat less than illuminating.

Eric said...

I enjoy your writings, my friend. They are level headed and well suited for an average reader to be informed in a non threatening transaction of knowledge. I hope your message reaches many more with a positive influence. Best of luck and warm wishes to a happy new year.

-Eric

Anonymous said...

"But even if we consider young earth creationism, why would God spend seven days, or any time at all, creating the universe if he could simply do it all in a single instant?"

Perhaps to set an example for people, to work 6 days and then rest 1.

My 2nd answer: "Why not?"

:)
Ethan

Kevin Parry said...

Ethan wrote:
Perhaps to set an example for people, to work 6 days and then rest 1.

Thank you for the comment. I suggest that there is an alternative, and maybe more plausible, explanation. The working habits of humans are a human-made, and the writers of Genesis imposed this characteristic on their invented god. In other words, this is a case of a god who is made in man’s image. Why an omnipotent god would need to take off a day to rest is quite odd, don’t you think? I think the passage in Genesis is metaphorical, telling us more about the culture of the time than the creator of the universe.

All the best
Kevin

Korolev said...

Hey - just found your blog and I think it's quite good. Then again, I would say that as I am a humanist.

I think the book is a cop-out. I know several Christians think in similar ways to this book - but in reality, you can't mesh the two together. The story of genesis is very clear - god created the world in 6 days. It doesn't say 6 "God days" it just says 6 days. Science says the earth was formed over billions of years, and life also took a long time to evolve. You can't mix the two together - it's impossible. You can believe one or the other, but not both, not if you're logical (which the blogger, thankfully is).

I admire the author for not denying science. But he's still refusing to resolve a serious contradiction out of fear of losing what makes him comfortable. Understandable, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Kevin,

Excellent thoughts. I agree with you in that I see both scientific and theological problems with the development of "Old Earth" creationist theory. It seems to betray the most straightforward understanding of the Hebrew text in Genesis, as well as the fact that (as Ethan mentioned) seven literal days provided the basis for the Israelite week (Exodus 20:8-11). The prominence of the 7-day week among various world cultures throughout history reflects the fact that it seems to "work" for a reason (some interesting secular research has been done on this in recent decades). Regarding your response to Ethan about this being "a case of a god who is made in man’s image," that's an interesting theory, but of course we have no way to objectively prove the motive or intent of the biblical author. I personally believe in the Young Earth creation account on the basis of the reliability of Scripture as a whole, and because I believe scientific evidence does not support an Old Earth (whether "created" or not). Old Earth creationists reflect an unnecessary compromise and deviation from the more trustworthy, straightforward teaching of the biblical record. Of course, evolutionists would disagree, rejecting both the young earth and the creation account, but that's a whole different can of worms.

phil