Young-Earth / Old-Earth Creationist Exchange, Part 1 of 3: Bellybuttons and the Appearance of Age

nebula in space with "In the beginning..."One of the issues covered in this blog is the whole Creation/Evolution/Design debate and related topics. In my writing in this area, I occasionally make some statement to indicate that I am neither a Theistic Evolutionist nor a Young-Earth Creationist, when it comes to theories about the beginnings of the universe, Earth, diversity of life, humanity, etc. The former position — which basically tries to insert God into an otherwise naturalist, basically evolutionary theory — has only recently started gaining some momentum in certain Christian circles. The latter position, though, is much more prevalent among Christians, particularly Evangelicals.

In short, Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) a) stresses a literal, “plain reading” of Scripture; b) assumes that the “days” of Genesis 1 are 24-hour days; c) takes the genealogies of Gen. 5 & 11 to be fairly comprehensive, giving an age of 6-10,000 years for all creation; and d) usually requires that the fossil record be explained by a catastrophic, global flood (Gen. 6-9). It has been my experience that many evangelical Christians are brought up or socialized to believe that the YEC view is the only acceptable, orthodox position on these matters. If they are aware of the Old-Earth Creationist (OEC) position, they are usually taught that it puts science above Scripture and “compromises the Gospel”. (Neither of which is true, I assure you.) Some have even called OECs heretics and apostates!

Last September, I had a brief dialog on Facebook with a Young-Earther that I thought might be of interest (even instructive) to my readers, whether you follow the debates or are unfamiliar with the issues. If you are a Young-Earther and not very familiar with the Old-Earth Creationist position, this may help you get a little more understanding of OECs. Contrary to the way many such exchanges go, this one was pretty reasonable and irenic. I only wish I had saved my interlocutor’s comments, as well. (That may be the first time I’ve used “interlocutor” in a sentence.)

We obviously didn’t go into anything in extensive detail, but we did hit several areas of concern. The first thing we addressed was the “Appearance of Age” argument that YECs often use to explain why so many things on Earth and throughout the Universe look to be sssooooo much older than 6-10,000 years.

But first, here’s a little more context. A mutual friend posted something somewhat humorous in his FB status that included a negative statement about Abraham Lincoln and a reference to Adam’s navel. (Yeah. Don’t even try to figure it out.) I left a humorous comment in return (as I often do) but also stated that I doubted that Adam had a navel. A gentleman named “Jeff” responded strongly (but not obnoxiously) with a comment that made it clear he was a Young-Earth Creationist and disagreed with my view. I don’t always take the bait, but this time I decided maybe I could have an intelligent discussion with this guy. So, I responded as follows:

“Heh! I figured I’d provoke a response from those remarks! ;> I need to do a lot more reading on Lincoln and the Civil War era before commenting on that. (Let’s just say I’m not ready to vilify Mr. Lincoln quite yet.) As for the other, I’m quite familiar with the “maturity” arguments of YECs.

It is true that some things were created in a state that would have appeared “mature” or “fully grown”, say, to a time-traveler who went back to observe. That would be the natural assumption, since most people understand that living things tend to grow & develop over time until they reach a “mature” state. Indeed, the Bible indicates that Adam began his life with an adult-sized body & capabilities. (Same with Eve, later.) But, if our hypothetical time-traveler were to examine Adam closely during those first few minutes/hours after he was formed, I believe he would find Adam was “brand new” in every respect. No liver spots; no scar tissue; no indications of changes in blood & bone chemistry, visual acuity, muscle & skin tone; no memories of past events. Similarly, if there were any nearby, adult-sized trees that God had created ex nihilo roughly 72 hours earlier (which I doubt), I don’t think they would have had tree-rings. These are the reliable indicators of age, and their presence at this time would have attested to false history.

By the same token, for Adam or Eve to sport a navel would have been “evidence” of a birth that never happened. (Though, this wouldn’t have been an issue until many years later when their offspring started questioning them about it.)

view of person's stomach & bellybuttonI certainly understand the appeal of the appearance-of-age hypothesis for the YEC. It gives one a way to explain how/why an earth & universe that are supposed to be only 6-10,000 years old actually looks — by multiple, often independent, methods — billions of years old, as does the history of life. Of course, besides the issue of God’s integrity, it also means that we can’t be sure of our own or anyone else’s past existence. Taken to its logical conclusion, we/they could have been created an instant ago with implanted memories and all the indicators of natural age (as above) and a social history (e.g., photographs, material possessions, family & friends). We would feel and appear older than we really are. Taken further, God could have built an appearance of age throughout the universe (e.g., creating light in transit from distant stars), testifying to events that never took place (even when the Bible refers to them). But, it would all be a lie.

This is one of many reasons why I can no longer buy into the YEC position.”

Btw, in a more recent conversation on this topic, I also added:

“By His very nature, God cannot and does not trick or deceive, either in word or in deed. And He doesn’t hide revealed truth from those who seek and want to understand it. The Scriptures tell us we can learn about God by studying His creation. If we can’t believe what the evidence tells us about God’s creation (and YEC leaders are on record admitting that the Earth and Universe do indeed appear to be billions of years old), then how can we trust God or know what His creation really says about Him?”

At this point in the original exchange, I apologized to the friend whose comments got us going…

“Sorry for usurping your thread, [dude]. (Though, technically, you started it!) ;>”

It was a good start to our dialog and gave me a chance to give him some things to chew on that he may not have really considered before.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in a couple days….

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4 Responses to "Young-Earth / Old-Earth Creationist Exchange, Part 1 of 3: Bellybuttons and the Appearance of Age"

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