Old Earth Christians

From Prior article on SES National Conference on Christian Apologetics: “…and of a most interesting conflict among the scholars was of course young verses old earth opinions. I may do a follow up article on that, as it was quite unique the way scholars who believe in the big bang theory have to explain themselves under the paradigm of a creator. They certainly have rebuttals and evidences all neatly decided upon, however, to me (though I am no astrophysicist), these explanations fall very short, and completely contradict what we find in God’s word. You can play interpretation games all day long, but as Ken Ham said quite correctly at the conference, you do not get the idea of millions of years from a simple reading of bible. It is a man-made worldview, which must then be shoehorned into the text to make it seem to fit.”

Two  apologists whom I had the pleasure of meeting, and hearing speak, are both adamantly resigned to the “facts” of the Big Bang, and therefore are forced to explain the creation in a seemingly convoluted way, in my opinion. Dr. Hugh Ross, one such apologist, an author of many books, including Improbable Planet, is a proponent of a version of the Day-Age theory, whereas billions of years of prep and design happened during the overlapping “days” of creation. It is impossible to reconcile a plain reading of the bible text as a whole, and not be at the very least, inconsistent in understanding it when you try to force man’s world view into it. Though some of these old-earth Christians are learned scholars, have advanced degrees, and are smarter than I am, (I realize this puts me in precarious waters, though I’d also point out I met many doctors and scientists with my shared opinion as well), they also simultaneously  deny macro-evolution, Darwinism, and abiogenesis. (These processes, if given any serious thought without the philosophy of naturalism, have way too many holes to be viable, so much so that even the great atheists of our day are forced to kick the can of responsibility down the road.) This means they have to somehow imagine a scenario where God lays the groundwork of creation in stages, or steps, leading up to the existence of man, and during the great lengths of time, He must intervene intermittently in order to spur along the groundwork for mankind’s arrival at some later date.

This certainly conjures up many important questions about God, His infinite power and abilities, and why such a lengthy, slow, and clumsy process would be utilized. As stated, the bible certainly doesn’t even imply this process, and we have stated a “good” world in the beginning that stands as an example of what should have been, and that we will one day be redeemed to. This supposed history that led to our “good” and perfect Eden was apparently arrived at through, chaotic volcanoes, cosmic explosions, millions of years of death, carnage, flooding, cancer, thorns, and suffering. Not exactly a lion laying with the lamb scenario.

The problem is exacerbated when a Christian spends some time studying the actual history of evolution theory, Charles Lyell and his hate for God, how Chalmers reacted to save face for the church, and how over the years, coming up with naturalistic causes for creation and design has allowed for man to use theory in order to assert his own godhood, and how these theories have slowly become axiomatic facts that should not be questioned. (For an amazing book on that subject, read In the Minds of Men, by Ian Taylor.)

Bottom line is, I am not necessarily smart enough to argue with a doctor of astrophysics, and I’d point out that when I read his book, I can see not only his love of God, and Christ, but also his extensive knowledge about astrophysics. But it is obvious that all of his conclusions are based on the presupposition that the Big Bang is true, and that the days of creation are overlapping eras; a problematic position when one considers the importance of resting on the sabbath in the Old Testament, a particular day to honor God, not a roving, malleable representation of His glorious work (imagine an OT Hebrew resting on the 5th and 6th overlapping days in order to work on the seventh as a representation of creation week). So, if the Big Bang is true, then……

(for example) …. if it is true then we explain the collision that created the moon this way, its craters were formed this way, and Mars must be this size, and Jupiter must have formed first in our solar system, and the asteroid belt must have… etc etc, all based on computer models. One model states that there is, based on star observation, a conclusion that the Milky Way tilts up and down every 66 million years, and that the edges of this tilt are too full of radiation for mankind to live, so, of course it is ordained by God that we just happen to be in the center of this tilt process after billions of years at the exact time man arrives on the scene. A whole string of intelligent thoughts, conclusions and theories, based wholly on the fact that the group explaining it is dedicated to a Big Bang model creation. The easiest answer, from a seven day creationist standpoint is, this is where we were placed in the galaxy, and things can simply be observed moving.

Big Bang “proofs” are full of fudge factors, and faith based premises as well, and its problems are glossed over, and not addressed most times in speeches or books presented by Christians. The smoothness problem, dark matter theory, the horizon problem, all serve to discredit an already unscientific theory that challenges logic, laws of causality and energy. Ross even invokes the ridiculous Oort Cloud theory as if it were accepted fact, primarily because it needs to be in there to explain the Big Bang model, our comets, and our solar system, despite it being literally imagined (this passes for science in evolution theory). These issues are sufficient to make any Christian question this as the method in which God used to bring about mankind. But most damning to the theory is of course the bible itself, and how it clearly stands irreconcilable next to the theory, without presenting a myriad of verbal gymnastics, interpretation tricks, and imaginings.

… the earth was formed out of water and by water.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

The suggestion, therefore, is to once again, stick to the bible as authoritative, as always, in matters of history, and forensics, for as it has time and time again, despite thousands of years of criticism, it will prove true, and man’s hope that it will be proven false in its accuracy will continue to fail. If we do this, we are less apt to look foolish in retrospect, even if our current contemporaries consider us foolish now. This was the case with many kings listed in its pages, ancient cities, civilizations, and scientific observations up to this point. It will continue to be the case moving forward.

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Is There a God? How Do We Answer?

Obviously, to become a Christian, you must come to believe that there must be a Creator God of the universe. This is an essential step between non-belief and Christ as Lord of your life, but this very basic and obvious truth is attacked, and done so with such vigor, and under the guise of logic, materialism, and science, that it can be an intimidating hurdle for Christians to even explain how it is we know there must be a God.

Certainly there are many ways to unpack this particular question, but the three main logical responses are:

Cosmological

Teleological

Moral

Certainly our bible tells us “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20, This is a true claim, does prove to be accurate, but cannot necessarily be used as an argument against an atheist who gives no credence to the Bible yet. In other words, though the bible is true in its message, if a person doesn’t believe in a god, much less the God, why would they believe in anything that God says.

It used to be quite obvious that people were created, designed, that all of this organized world could not have come from nothing. The axiomatic truth was known to great philosophers, such as Aristotle, who called the creator the “Unmoved Mover.” It was clear to him that someone or something must have started everything, because science, is ultimately the search for causes, and something must always cause other things. Things do not, and never have been observed to have been caused by nothing whatsoever.

Cosmological, simply put, is the shared opinion of both naturalists and theists alike that the universe had a beginning. Things like the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and the general theory of relativity have led both theistic and non-theistic scientists to conclude that the universe had a beginning. Einstein himself stated being “irritated” that his equations pointed to a beginning, so much so that the great mathematician put a fudge factor into his work (dividing by zero!) in order to perpetuate a steady state theory. Arthur Eddington found this proof “repugnant” and said, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”

Like it or not, both sides are forced to deal with a beginning, and science continues to drive home the point that not only is a slow heat death occurring, but that “nothing” cannot cause something. There must be a first cause. Whether we believe that nothing caused the universe, or God did, both would qualify as anti-naturalistic miracles.

Teleological proof is simply the watchmaker theory, or an argument from design. There is much research on this, from the irreducible complexity of the eyeball, and human knee, to the detail and beauty of the peacock feather, to the written coded language in our genetic code, 1000 encyclopedias-worth of messages written into each cell in the correct order, in order to create and sustain life. We could walk into a cave and see a picture or message written simply by an ancient culture, and know that it was created, yet this obvious complex and stunning language to make and sustain life is somehow viewed as mere chance. Design is a powerful argument for a designer. In Dawkin’s book, the blind watchmaker, Dawkins himself states how things have the “appearance of design,” a logical and scientific conclusion, but rejects this based on his philosophy and world view, not because of any scientific reason, merely because for him it cannot be true. This is a philosophical rejection.

Thirdly, the moral argument, a basic standard of right and wrong. How do we know things are wrong? What makes the Nazis, baby killers, rapists wrong, and helping people right? An atheist would say that that it is a natural response to help perpetuate a society, but that is subjective, and when analyzed, does not hold water. If we can agree that any one thing is objectively wrong, above and beyond our own opinions and subjective standards, then there must be an objective good. A correct law (yes, written on our hearts) demands a law-giver. Without this, it is simply he who has the bigger stick that makes the laws. We have seen the results of this throughout history, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, from slavery, to genocide, to abortion. Without moral law, people do not by default fall into a paradigm that “works best” for society. It is a matter of opinion. If there is in fact a moral objective, then we should of course find it, and try to follow it. Seeking which morality is correct is maybe another topic, but agreeing that there is one, at this stage, is the goal.

These three arguments define quite simply why it is logical to believe in a creator. It is obvious from observing causes, winding down of the universe, time space and matter, life, that there must be a timeless, space-less, immaterial, personal, intelligent creator. This is the description of the God of the bible. It is merely good science, good logic, good philosophy.

Keep in mind, it is okay to doubt things, doubting helps us adjust our thinking, and leads us to research and find truth, but the evidence doesn’t change. If you go back and forth, good day you believe, and a bad day you struggle with faith, it is you and your emotions that change, not the evidence. The evidence for God, for historicity of the New Testament remain constant and readily available.