Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Well, That Didn't Take Long...

Answers in Genesis has a response to the recent comments by Pat Robertson exhorting Christians to accept modern science. Dr. Tommy Mitchell writes:
We know that Creation Week lasted six ordinary days because the Bible says so. A study of the use of the Hebrew word yom in Genesis 1 clearly indicates that God told us He created in six ordinary, twenty-four-hour days. So how do you put millions of years into the text where it plainly does not fit?

Further, Exodus 20:11 tell us, “"For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."” So again we see that God created everything in six ordinary days. (There was no “before the time of the Bible,” as Robertson claims, in which dinosaurs or anything else could exist, as we will discuss further below.)

So with a six-day Creation Week as our starting point, we can use the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11, along with other information in Scripture such as people’s ages, dates of births, and dates of key events, to come to conclusions about the age of the earth. This is precisely what Ussher did. And we recognize and honor this great scholar for the work that he did. We also owe a debt to many other great men who have done similar work throughout the ages. A number of these scholars—independent of Ussher and relying solely on Scripture—have concluded the age of the earth was in the range of 6,000–7,000 years.
Mitchell does not cite which ones have concluded this.  He also extols the work of James Ussher, who had no scientific body of knowledge from which to work and had no familiarity with what was known at the time.  The problem of relying sola scriptura is that one loses the context of what has been written and when it was written down.  Joshua Moritz, on the other hand, has this to say:
Even more recently, such as at the time of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial (1925), the actual face of biblical literalism was quite different than one might expect—especially if one has in mind young earth creationism with its insistence upon a 10,000 year old recently-created earth and its focus on ‘‘flood geology’’. Around the time of the Scopes trial in the early twentieth century, there is no record of any biblical literalists within normative Christianity who interpreted the Bible as claiming a recent creation in six 24-hour days or that Noah’s flood had anything to do with how one should interpret the record of global stratigraphy. Indeed, literalists at that time saw Noah’s flood as a local phenomenon and ‘‘even the most literalistic Bible believers accepted the antiquity of life on Earth as revealed in the paleontological record.’’
This is similar to what Mark Noll has to say:
Despite widespread impressions to the contrary, [young-Earth] creationism was not a traditional belief of nineteenth-century conservative Protestants or even of early twentieth-century fundamentalists. The mentality of fundamentalism lives on in modern creation science, even if some of the early fundamentalists themselves were by no means as radical in their scientific conclusions as evangelicals have become in the last forty years. For instance, during the century before the 1930s, most conservative Protestants believed that the “days” of Genesis 1 stood for long ages of geological development or that a lengthy gap existed between the initial creation of the world (Gen. 1:1) and a series of more recent creative acts (Gen. 1:2ff) during which the fossils were deposited.1
Most young earth creationists that I know do not know much of this.  They simply tow the party line because that is what they have been taught and, given their general lack of knowledge in the earth and biological sciences, have no reason to think otherwise.  The folks at AiG, on the other hand, claim to have studied the data and still come up with unsupportable scientific statements and vacuous attacks on the age of the earth and evolution.While Robertson is certainly no science scholar, he is correct about evolution and the age of the earth. 

1Noll, M. (1995) The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. New York: William B. Eerdmans

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