A couple days ago, I started this series about my Facebook discussion with ‘Jeff’, a Young-Earth Creationist. The Young-Earth vs. Old-Earth dialog in general involves important worldview & spiritual issues, so it can be quite frustrating when the “other guy” doesn’t seem to understand or accede a point or perhaps mischaracterizes your view. Many such exchanges can get rather emotional — heated, even — but this one remained calm & respectful. If I had been forward-thinking and recorded his side of the exchange, you would have seen this on his side, too.
I don’t think either of us thought we would change the other guy’s mind, especially in such a relatively short & limited dialog. But, for my part, at least, I considered it good practice for articulating our respective positions. I hope it benefited others who were “listening in”, too. Also, from his comments I detected some incorrect assumptions about what I believed, so I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify (however briefly) my (and most OECs’) position on a couple things.
He responded to my earlier post and, a couple days later, I responded in kind:
“Regarding Genesis 1:11, it may not be as “clear” as you think, since the Hebrew verb dasha’ (“produce”) has broad meaning. It can be used if plants sprouted up immediately by divine fiat OR if they matured by natural processes OR by some combination of the two. So, in this case, the linguistic clues are insufficient for us to be sure to what extent miracle was involved in early plant life on Earth. I do believe, of course, that God created the initial forms of life de novo.
Just to clarify, I am an Old Earth Creationist of the Day-Age variety (though sympathetic to the Analogical Day approach). As such, I do not believe that a proper reading of the Bible demands either a 24-hour-day interpretation of Creation or a global Flood. I believe (for various reasons) that the “yom” of the Creation Week were long periods of unspecified length — one of the *literal* definitions for the word, btw. Genesis does indeed give an accurate accounting of what God did, and I think Genesis 1 jibes nicely with what scientific discovery has revealed. But, the Bible is not comprehensive on the subject by any means, and we must look to scientists to fill in the rest of the puzzle. Not all scientists are “godless”, of course. Even among those who are, while their interpretations of and conclusions drawn from evidence can be biased by a strong methodological and metaphysical materialism, the raw data is generally still good (assuming accurate measurements, adherence to scientific method, etc.). And, Scripture (e.g., Psalm 19) does seem to indicate that the facts of nature are a reliable source of information.
Incidentally, I am glad you indicated that we need to look “throughout the Bible”, not just Genesis, for information about God’s creative work. Passages in places like Job and the Psalms have some great info. However, I think that YECs sometimes make unnecessary assumptions and place unnecessary restrictions on what is allowable. For example, the language is sometimes more broadly defined (as with dasha’ and yom) and sometimes more specific (e.g., the types of animals mentioned in Gen. 1 & 6-9) than YECs might assume or prefer. Of course, I am convinced that a consistent reading of Scripture — theologically conservative and faithful to both genre and language — (as well as of nature) actually favors an OEC position.
I do NOT believe — as you seem to assume I do — in macroevolutionary development of either plants or animals. I am *not* a theistic evolutionist (or “evolutionary creationist”, as some prefer to be called), because I find both the scientific and Biblical/theological support sorely lacking. (In fact, the science points to Intelligent Design by Someone who sounds a LOT like the God of the Bible.) I do *not* believe that evidence of billions of years demands an acceptance of evolutionary theory, either gradualistic neo-Darwinism or some variation. Indeed, even *if* such was naturalistically possible (i.e., via “nature” selecting survivors based on random selection, genetic drift, lateral gene transfer, etc.), the math/statistics indicate it would take many orders of magnitude more billions (trillions?) of years just to produce any “advanced” lifeforms (after God presumably kickstarted it all). Yet, science shows us that *as soon* as the Late Heavy Bombardment ended, the first traces of life suddenly appeared on Earth roughly 3.8-3.9 Gya. Darwinists/materialists have no credible explanation for this (and many other things, as you know).
To be continued…”
As you can see, I was able to better explain (though still not comprehensively) certain points of an OEC model and let ‘Jeff’ know where I was coming from on the subject. In particular, I was able to disabuse him of the notion (common among YECs) that, since I believe the Earth and universe are billions of years old, I must also give credence to some sort of large-scale, Darwinian evolution to explain nature’s diversity. I felt it was important to clarify this point, in order to draw us & our positions closer together, so to speak.
Part 3 will follow this weekend….