Creation Science is a Lie of the Devil
Many Christians glancing at the title of this essay would assume that I’ve made a mistake in typing. Surely it is EVOLUTION, not Creation Science, that is a lie of the Devil. Isn’t evolution, after all, the foundation of atheism, moral relativism, and attacks against the veracity of the Bible? Don’t many innocent and inexperienced Christians lose their faith due to the influence of godless evolution in high school and college? Yes they do. And I propose that the blame for this rests squarely with Creation Scientists. I believe that Creation Science, through faulty logic, poor scholarship, and the arrogant and blasphemous identification of its own human opinions with God’s word, poisons Christianity and lays the groundwork for massive loss of faith.
Jesus railed against this kind of spiritual arrogance. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for you don’t enter in yourselves, neither do you allow those who are entering in to enter.” (Matthew 23:14 WEB) By insisting on making opposition to evolution the litmus test of Christianity, Creation Science turns away the scientifically minded and creates an artificial social rift.
Ok, let me back up and turn down the rhetoric for a minute. There are many in the Creation Science movement who are good, sincere people. There are some who have good scientific training in a variety of fields. A number of Creation Science arguments seem to make good sense, and require some expertise to refute – I believed in them myself for many years, and I was a Zoology major in college. Also, the variety of “Creation Science” I am arguing against here is hard-core Young-Earth Creationism. There are many believing scientists who, like myself, accept the basic facts of evolutionary biology and geology but still see the presence of God in the phenomena of life at some level.
The purpose of the “rant” above is to try to shock my Young Earth Creationist friends into looking for a minute at the consequences of their own rhetoric in a new light. Don’t assume too quickly that only your own view honors God. Don’t assume your reading of scripture is the only way to read it. Don’t make your personal theology a Procrustean bed in which all Christians must lie. Remember what God asked Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4 WEB) I’ve often heard this verse quoted against evolutionists. Billions of years you say? Were you THERE? But it applies equally well to Christians. We don’t have any direct knowledge of how God did it. We have our personal interpretations of the ancient Hebrew texts. We have the traditions of our denomination or our favorite teachers. These do not constitute personal omniscience on the subject of the creation! If it turns out that our insistence on one particular interpretation of Genesis is turning people away from the teachings of Jesus, is that the work of a positive spiritual force, or a negative one?
I submit that it is a negative force on several fronts. It is unscriptural. It is untrue, and it is ultimately harmful.
The Bible supports an old earth and evolutionary development.
I will address this topic first, because many people who believe in Young Earth Creationism in spite of significant opposition from the scientific community primarily because they are convinced that the Bible explicitly and unambiguously teaches Young Earth Creationism – leaving them with no choice but to dispute all evidence to the contrary. This is not true. Long before Darwin and evolution became household words, students of the scriptures had different theories on how God created the world, and how long it took. In short, they had questions over how to interpret the creation stories of Genesis. These differing interpretations continue to this day.
For example, Some think that the days of creation were thousand-day periods, not 24 hour days, based on the scripture:
“For a thousand years in your sight are just like yesterday when it is past, like a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4 WEB)
They point out that in Genesis 1:11, not only are plants created, but they produce seeds and fruit without any mention of supernatural intervention – hardly the work of a single day. If we try to harmonize Genesis 1 and 2, then it seems difficult that all the events of the sixth day, including the creation of animals, the creation of man, the naming of all the animals (thousands of species) Adam falling asleep, and the creation of woman – were all possible in a 24 hour period.
Others believe the creation days represent long ages of indefinite length – longer than simply a thousand years. They point out, for example, that the first several days of creation take place before any mention of the sun and moon – hence the evening, the morning, and the “day” mentioned must be symbolic of an age.
Indeed, while we are told that God rested on the seventh day (Gen 2:2) the book of Hebrews implies that the seventh day of rest is STILL going on, many thousands of years later. (Heb 4:4-11). Indeed, the Hebrew word translated “day” in Genesis (yom) also refers to ages of time, from years to entire epochs. For example:
“The time [Hebrew =’yom’] that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.” (1 Kings 11:42 WEB)
This could hardly be referring to a forty year DAY. It refers to a time. Using this definition, we could translate the verses of Genesis “and this was the first time period” . An even more striking example is here:
“Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time [Hebrew = ‘yom’ to come forever and ever [Hebrew = ‘ad olam’]” (Isaiah 30:8 WEB)
Did God intend Isaiah’s writing to last only a day? Clearly this is an age of time, and a very LONG age. It lasts for an “olam” which in Hebrew means a very long age of time, for example:
“The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting [olam] covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16 WEB)
How long does God’s promise last? Ages and ages. But what does the Bible say about the age of the earth?
“He stood, and shook the earth. He looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains were crumbled. The age-old [olam] hills collapsed. His ways are eternal [olam].” (Habakkuk 3:6 WEB)
Even back in the time of Jacob, supposedly soon after the flood, the hills are referred to as “olam” (Gen 49:26) or “age-old”. This doesn’t fit if the earth is only a few thousand years old – especially if most of the mountains were supposedly carved out by the flood – only a few generations earlier.
More on the word “olam” can be found here: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/olam.htm
Returning to our various creation theories, a number of theorists make an interesting observation about Genesis 1: 1-2. In the first verse, the entire earth is described as being created. Then Genesis 1:2 seems to begin a listing of the seven days of the creation of the earth. Is Genesis 1:1 part of the six days, or might it have occurred ages before? This is called the “gap” theory:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep. Gods Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters.
(Genesis 1:1-2 WEB)
Some even suggest that previous creation and destruction events are all part of this silent gap, based on 2 Peter 3:5-7 (see the site here: http://www.kjvbible.org/major_models.html for a further explanation).
Another possible gap occurs between Genesis 2:3 and Genesis 2:4. Those of us who have studied the documentary hypothesis will recognize this as the gap between the “P” creation story and the “J” creation story. But in any case, it represents a completely new and somewhat different creation story following on the heels of Genesis chapter 1. Some Christians have hypothesized that this represents a of some kind. Perhaps between earlier “versions” of creation and the current one. Perhaps between a “spiritual” creation and a physical one (this gains support from Genesis 2:5). A further elaboration of this is the so-called “proclamation” theory, described here: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/synop.htm. Basically, according to this theory, Genesis one consists of God’s proclamation of a particular aspect of creation, followed by Moses commentary that, eventually, it was accomplished – but the accomplishment did not necessarily happen on that creation day. For example:
God: “Let there be light [proclaimed on the first day]”
Moses: “and [in the course of time] there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. [occurred at some later time in fullilment of the first day proclamation]”
(Genesis 1:3-4 KJVA)
Moving from the age of the earth to the development of life, there are several interesting observations to make about the Genesis account. When we are told that God “created” the earth, and life, the word used is “baw-raw”. While this can simply mean create, it also can refer to using pre-existing materials. The word can ALSO mean to “choose” or “select” or “mark for use” – a fascinating fact considering the implications of natural selection. Combine this with the fact that in several of the verses regarding creation, God seems to arrange things so that the laws of nature produce life in and of themselves.
“Let the earth yield grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with its seed in it, on the earth” (Gen 1:11)
“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life” (Gen 1:20)
“Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind” (Gen 1:24)
These all seem to imply a natural process, whereby the earth and the waters produce life on their own, rather than God producing it directly.
Even in the case of man, God is described as creating him out of the “dust of the earth” – out of the constituent chemicals already present on the earth. All these seem to fit well the concept of God using and directing natural processes such as evolution and natural selection.
I have focused above on fairly conservative biblical ideas. It is also quite possible, of course, that Genesis is poetic and figurative – and has little to do with an exact narration of the physical events of creation. In this case, there is no reason to insist on literal days and special acts of direct creation.
Needless to say, I’m not the first person to believe that the Bible teaches or is compatible with an ancient earth and the gradual evolution of life. Many intelligent believers have come to one or both of these conclusions. The next part of this essay will consist of quotes from some of these Christians. I believe the reader can see that Old-Earth Creationism and/or Theistic Evolution are widely-held and respected viewpoints among believers.
“Of course, there are many Creationists who argue for an old earth. Biblically, this position that the word for day is used for more than twenty-four hours even in Genesis 2:4, the events of the sixth day surely took more than twenty-four hours, and Hebrews 4:4?5 implies that God is still in His seventh-day rest. If the seventh day can be long, then the others could too. Scientifically, this view does not require any novel theories to explain the evidence. One of the biggest problems for the young earth view is in astronomy. We can see light from stars that took 15 billion years to get here. To say that God created them with the appearance of age does not satisfy the question of how their light reached us. We have watched star explosions that happened billions of years ago, but if the universe is not billions of years old, then we are seeing light from stars that never existed because they would have died before Creation. Why would God deceive us with the evidence? The old earth view seems to fit the evidence better and causes no problem with the Bible.” (Dr. Norman Geisler- Theologian, Apologist, Philosopher)
“But there is a very real, point of conflict that has been created in much of the church. Because of attitudes of bigoted, as often times prejudiced position is self righteous, if you don’t believe in creationism THIS WAY then you are not a Bible believer, that’s simply not true. And this way that they are describing is usually called the young earth approach…” (Pastor Jack Hayford, Church on the Way)
“Nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible; and we only interpret the Word of God by the Word of God when we interpret the Bible by science. As this principle is undeniably true, it is admitted and acted on by those who, through inattention to the meaning of terms, in words deny it. When the Bible speaks of the foundations, or of the pillars of the earth, or of the solid heavens, or of the motion of the sun, do not you and every other sane man, interpret this language by the facts of science? For five thousand years the Church understood the Bible to teach that the earth stood still in space, and that the sun and stars revolved around it. Science has demonstrated that this is not true. Shall we go on to interpret the Bible so as to make it teach the falsehood that the sun moves around the earth, or shall we interpret it by science, and make the two harmonize?” (Charles Hodge – Presbyterian theologian and professor)
“I would opt for the day-age theory, given all that must take place on the sixth “day” according to the Genesis record. Incidentally, this day-age view has been the majority view of the church since the fourth century, mainly through the influence of Saint Augustine.” (Walter Kaiser – president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
“The (young earth) author uses the verse from Job, ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?’ (Job 38:4) to admonish the old-ager. To the author I say, “Where were you when God laid the foundations of the earth?” You were not there either! So you can’t “assume” a 6,000-year-old earth, just like we can’t “assume” a 13.7 billion year old universe. What we have to decide this issue is the evidence from God’s creation, and not our assumptions. Job 12:8 says “speak to the earth, and it will teach thee.” Secular and Christian scientists, outside of a religious framework, have examined God’s creation, and it says, “I’m 13.7 billion years old.”.. Does it matter which position you believe in? No, it doesn’t. The doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ is not affected by the age of the earth, nor the method God used to create the earth.” (Greg Neyman – founder Answers in Creation)
“As for the age of the earth and the universe, within the usual limits of any scientific conclusions, I believe that the present calculations of about 4 billion years for the earth and 14 billion years for the universe are not far wrong, and I see no conflict with that understanding and my understanding of the Bible.” (William D Phillips – Nobel Prizewinner in physics)
“The charge that evolution is anti-Christian, and that theistic evolution is not a respectable position, is very difficult to make good in view of the evidence we have here given.” (Bernard L. Ramm – Baptist theologian and professor)
“Christian apologists trained in the physical sciences and familiar with the Scriptures see no danger in connecting big bang cosmology with biblical teaching because the connection is based on well-established, thoroughly tested science and clear exegesis.” (Hugh Ross – theologian and scientist)
“The simple fact is that day in Hebrew (just as in English) is used in three separate senses: to mean (1) twenty-four hours, (2) the period of light during the twenty-four hours, and (3) an indeterminate period of time. Therefore, we must leave open the exact length of time indicated by day in Genesis.” (Francis Schaeffer – pastor and theologian)
“The first creative act refers to the dateless past, and gives scope for all the geologic ages. . . . The frequent parabolic use of natural phenomena may warrant the conclusion that each creative ‘day’ was a period of time marked off by a beginning and ending.” (C.J. Scofield – pastor and author of the “Scofield Reference Bible)
(quotes above courtesy of http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/notable_leaders/index.shtml)
To summarize, old-earth creation theories and theistic evolution are perfectly compatible with solid Bible interpretation. They have been the preferred interpretation of many good, devout Bible scholars and intelligent men of science. The literal six-day interpretation of Genesis does not account for all the facts, even Biblically.
I’ll pause for breath before proceeding to the subsequent points – Creation Science being untrue and harmful.