Random Apologetics – Scriptural Support for Old Earth Creation

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Continuing the apologetics questions from this list in random order:

#46. What are the key pieces of scriptural support for the OEC (Old Earth Creation) interpretation?

There is much scientific evidence that the Earth (and universe) is old; but I do not find substantial evidence from the Bible on this subject. The obvious biblical point of conflict regarding the age of the Earth is the creation accounts in Genesis 1-2. I’ve seen convincing arguments that “day” should only be understood to mean a 24h period, along with an “evening” & a “morning”, indicating that creation was a 144h event (I just noticed that this duration is the square of 12; I wonder if this is symbolically significant). On the other hand, I’ve also heard convincing arguments that “day” along with “morning” & “evening” can all be understood metaphorically, as in Psalm 90:6.

This seems weak to me; it clearly does not prove an old Earth; though I suppose it helps open the theological door to let outside scientific discoveries settle the issue. In other words; if the biblical text does not necessarily contradict an old Earth, then we are free to accept whichever view the science leads us to. If, on the other hand, we feel compelled for theological reasons to a specific scientific view; it seems objective scientific inquiry is out of the question. This may be unavoidable; but in that case we ought to be certain that this view is necessary.

I do not think any scientific view concerning the age of the Earth is necessary for theological reasons. Having said that, I do think the creation account in Gen 1 is describing a 144h process (or literal 6 day creation). Similarly, when Jesus said in Luke 15:11, “A man had two sons…” he is literally stating a fact about a man. In both cases, the reality of what is described is inconsequential. Most likely Jesus was making up a story about a man with a prodigal son; but it is possible that it was a true story. Either way, it doesn’t matter for the point he was trying to make. Similarly, the creation account in Gen 1 is a story about a 6 day event that may or may not have actually happened. Once again, it doesn’t matter; because the story is not the point. Why should it matter to us whether God created quickly or slowly?

The words of the Bible are not magical; they were written to normal human beings to be understood. It seems reasonable that we should read them the same way we would read anything else; and the first step in reading anything is understanding what genre we are reading. Wouldn’t it be silly to pick up “Cat in the Hat” & treat it the same as the morning news? Or vice versa.

Given the extremely poetic nature of Genesis 1 (and let’s be clear; it is a masterpiece), we should be very surprised if it was a genuine attempt to record actual history. But look at what useful things it does teach:

1) God is the creator
2) There are no gods of sun, moon, stars, ocean, earth, etc; God made it all
3) The importance of the Sabbath rest

So to conclude; I personally accept the old Earth model on scientific grounds. I don’t find any reason in Scripture to challenge that view; but on the other hand I am not particularly committed to it. If I found out tomorrow that there was strong evidence that the universe came into being in 6 days in a matter of thousands of years in the past, that would be fine with me.

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