A Biblical Case for Old-Earth Creationism PDF file
by Jon W. Greene

Introduction

Is Old Earth Biblical?

Guest author, Jon Greene presents an overview of why the Bible supports an old earth interpretation of creation. Contrary to the common perception of young earth creationists, old earth creationists hold a high view of the biblical texts.

Rich Deem

One of the most fundamental doctrines held dear by Christians is God’s creation of the world and all living creatures. Yet among evangelicals, an ongoing controversy exists regarding the age of the earth and when God created the universe and life. Indeed, the “young-earth” vs. “old-earth” debate is one of the most polarizing and divisive issues within the Christian community.

This paper presents the biblical case for “old-earth creationism” (OEC) and endeavors to clear up theological misconceptions regarding OEC held by many well-intentioned “young-earth creationist” (YEC) believers. The purpose is not to dissuade young-earth believers from their position, but rather to propose OEC as a well-reasoned, Bible-honoring view that has been embraced by scholars such as Francis Schaeffer, James Boice, and Norman Geisler.

Old earth beliefs

Before presenting a more detailed explanation of OEC, here is a brief summary of core beliefs. Old earth creationists contend:

Old Earth Believers

Old-Earth Creationism (AKA “day-age” or “progressive” creationism) is distinct from other types of creationism, namely Gap theory, Framework Hypothesis, and Theistic Evolution. The most prominent 21st century proponent of OEC (progressive creationism) is Reasons to Believe, an international, non-denominational ministry founded by astronomer Hugh Ross, Ph.D. While young-earth believers may regard the OEC view as lacking Biblical authority, many conservative theologians and well-respected Christian apologists embrace the old-earth hermeneutic and vigorously defend Biblical inerrancy, including the following:

So what exactly do old-earth creationists believe? Below are the fundamental beliefs of old-earth (“day-age”) creationism.

The Bible

Proponents of OEC believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God and believe the Genesis creation account to be historical narrative—not myth, allegory, legend or poetic expression. While YECs believe a “plain reading” of the English translation of Genesis 1 necessitates belief that God created the world in six 24-hour days some six to ten thousand years ago, OECs believe that textual and grammatical nuances of the original Hebrew suggest six long epochs of time. Indeed, OECs contend a literal reading of the Biblical creation accounts in Hebrew provides certain exegetical clues pointing to prolonged creation “days.”4

Creation days

Biblical Hebrew has a very limited vocabulary (approximately 3,100 words) compared to the English vocabulary (estimated to be 1,000,000 words). Hebrew words often have several literal meanings.5 Linguistic scholars acknowledge the Hebrew word yôm (translated “day” in English) has several literal meanings: a period of daylight, 12-hour day, 24-hour day, time, period of time with unspecified duration, and epoch of time.6 While modern English has numerous words to describe a long time-span, no word in biblical Hebrew adequately denotes a finite epoch of time other than yôm.7

Young-earth creationists such as Kenneth Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, claim “day” (yôm) attached to a number or “ordinal” (1st, 2nd, 3rd “day”)necessarily means 24-hour days. However, noted Bible scholars dispute that assertion.8

Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding CreationHebrew linguist Gleason Archer writes, “On the basis of internal evidence, it is this writer’s conviction that yôm in Genesis could not have been intended by the Hebrew author to mean a literal twenty-four hour day.”9 Dr. Norman Geisler states, “Numbered days need not be solar. Neither is there a rule of Hebrew language demanding that all numbered days in a series refer to twenty-four hour days. Even if there were no exceptions in the Old Testament, it would not mean that ‘day’ in Genesis 1 could not refer to more than one twenty-four-hour period.”10

Note, however, there are Old Testament verses where yôm attached to a number actually does refer to long time periods. Here are two examples:

Archer and Geisler also point out that no definite article (“the”) appears with yôm on days one through five in Genesis one. Archer says the absence of “the” implies a more vague meaning than 24 hours—an indefinite but literal sense of time or age.

Similarly, YECs claim “day” (yôm) accompanied by the phrase “and there was evening and there was morning” necessitates a 24-hour day interpretation. Others dispute that assertion, suggesting the phrase was merely intended to communicate that each “day” or epoch had a definite beginning and ending. For instance, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary states, “These are not ordinary days bounded by minutes and hours, but days of God…The beginning of each act of creation is called morning, and the close of that specific divine act is called evening.”11 Noted Hebrew linguist Gleason Archer concurs: “Concerning the recurring [evening and morning] formula at the end of each creative day…there were definite and distinct stages in God’s creational procedure…it serves as no real evidence for a literal twenty-four-hour day concept on the part of the biblical author.”12 Other Hebrew language scholars (C. John Collins, Bruce Waltke, and Rodney Whitefield) agree the evening/morning phrase does not necessitate a 24-hour day interpretation.13 Collins comments that the order of evening and morning is a time-span that includes no daylight. While it is commonly thought that evening/morning represents a “day,” Collins says “Logically, this is nonsense [since] a day must describe 24 hours or at least a period of daylight.” He further states “and there was evening, and there was morning” brackets the night and marks the end points of each workday of God.14

Furthermore, the seventh day lacks the concluding refrain, “and there was evening and there was morning,” suggesting a non-ending day. The ongoing nature of the seventh day is implied in Hebrews 4:1-11, which describes God’s Sabbath rest: “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands…” (Hebrews 4:1). Verse 4 clearly ties God’s rest to the seventh day of creation, “And God rested on the seventh day,” while verse 6 states “Since therefore it remains for some to enter it.” If God’s seventh day were limited to 24 hours, it would be impossible for believers to enter it now. Though the work of creation has ceased, God’s ongoing work of bringing salvation to humanity continues: “Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has saidLet us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:3,11).

Many in the young-earth community point to Exodus 20:9-11 as evidence for a creation week of 24-hour days: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Reference to the Sabbath in Exodus 20 illustrates God’s pattern of six days of work and one day of rest, not their duration: God’s six yôms (epochs) of creating and one of rest. Man’s six days of work and one day of rest. The land’s six years of cultivation and one year of rest (Leviticus 25:4). Gleason Archer notes, “By no means does this demonstrate that 24-hour intervals were involved in the first six ‘days,’ any more than the eight-day celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles proves that the wilderness wanderings under Moses occupied only eight days.”15

Here are the views of several respected scholars on the meaning of the creation “day” (yôm):

Both young-earth and old-earth creationists believe the Bible is inspired and defend their views as being literal. The issue is interpretation of the Genesis text. Bruce Waltke asserts young-earth exegesis is hindered by an adherence to a “woodenly literal” reading of Genesis.21 Gordon Wenham concurs: “Six days has been seized on and interpreted over-literally, with the result that science and Scripture have been pitted against each other instead of being seen as complementary.”22

The when of creation

The Bible does not specify the age of creation. The YEC belief that God created the world 6,000 years ago originated from a mid-17th century examination of the Genesis genealogies by Archbishop James Ussher and theologian John Lightfoot. Based on the ages of patriarchs, Ussher and Lightfoot both calculated the universe, earth, and life were created in 4004 B.C. Over the next several centuries, this date became firmly entrenched in Christian belief. The cornerstone of belief in a 6,000-year-old earth rests solely on the genealogies providing a totally accurate and complete chronology. Is it?

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Professor William Henry Green and theologian Benjamin B. Warfield noted gaps and omissions in the Genesis genealogies. This suggested the creation was conceivably older than the 6,000-year timeframe proposed by Ussher and Lightfoot. Today many Bible scholars believe the Genesis genealogies were written primarily to provide only highlights and not necessarily a complete record of every actual generation.23 R.A. Torrey (1856-1928 A.D.), who was selected by D.L. Moody to become the first dean of the Moody Bible Institute, wrote the following of Bishop Ussher’s chronology: “Its accuracy is altogether doubtful. It is founded upon the supposition that the genealogies of Scripture are intended to be complete, but a careful study of these genealogies clearly shows they are not intended to be complete, that they oftentimes contain only some outstanding names.”24 There are gaps in the genealogies. Wayne Grudem writes, “…closer inspection of the parallel lists of names in Scripture will show that Scripture itself indicates the fact that the genealogies list only those names the biblical writers thought it important to record for their purposes. In fact, some genealogies include names that are left out by other genealogies in Scripture itself.”25

As evidence the genealogies are telescoped (compressed or abbreviated), scholars point to examples such as the genealogy of Moses, which appears four separate times in Scripture (Exodus 6:16-20, Numbers 26:57-59, 1 Chronicles 6:1-3, 23:6-13). Moses’ genealogy is given as Levi to Kohath to Amran to Moses. As straightforward as this seems, related Bible passages suggest that several generations were likely skipped between Amram and Moses.26 1 Chronicles 7:20-27 provides a parallel genealogy of Ephraim, son of Joseph (brother of Levi), from the same period of history as the Mosaic genealogies. While only 4 generations are listed from Levi to Moses, 12 generations listed from Joseph to Joshua during the same time period.

MOSES’ GENEALOGY JOSHUA’S GENEALOGY
Levi Joseph
Kohath Ephraim
Amran Beriah
Raphah
Resheph
Telah
Tahan
Ladan
Ammihud
Elishama
Nun
Moses Joshua

It has been suggested that the Mosaic genealogies are perhaps only 20 to 40 percent complete. Those who hold that the genealogies are telescoped place the creation of Adam and Eve around 10 to 30 thousand years ago, but perhaps as late as 60,000 years ago.27

Experts in Old Testament genealogy note there is wide-spread consensus regarding dates and chronology from the time of Abraham. However, prior to Abraham, there is little available Biblical or historical information on which to build a solid chronology. Grudem specifically mentions “prior to Abraham, the setting of dates is very uncertain.”28

In addition to gaps and omissions, genealogical words such as “son” (Hebrew ben), “father” (ab), and “begat” or “fathered” (yalad) are central to this issue. “Son” (ben) has many literal meanings: son, grandson, great-grandson, great-great-grandson, or descendent. “Father” (ab) can literally mean father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather and ancestor. “Begat” or “fathered” (yalad) is not limited to just the immediate generation, but can also apply to distant generations. R.A. Torrey noted, “The word translated ‘begat’ is sometimes used not of an immediate descendent, but of succeeding generations.” Further, “son” may be a literal son or a distant descendant many centuries removed.29 A good example can be found in Genesis 46:15, which enumerates the offspring of Jacob and Leah: “altogether his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three.” A careful look at this genealogy reveals that the “sons” (ben) included multiple generations of sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons.

As a result, the early Hebrew convention of including just the most historically important individuals in the genealogical record, coupled with the broad meanings of ben, ab, and yalad, raise serious questions whether the Genesis genealogies may be regarded as an absolute chronology pointing back to a 6,000-year-old earth. The genealogies themselves provide a rationale for human origins dating earlier than six to ten thousand years ago.

Creation of the universe and heavenly bodies

When the universe was first proved to have a beginning, cosmologists were up-in-arms, since they had always believed in an eternally-existing universe with no First Cause. Astronomer Fred Hoyle coined the term “Big Bang” as a term of derision, while Sir Arthur Eddington, a British cosmologist, said, “Philosophically, the notion of a beginning to the present order of Nature is repugnant…I should like to find a genuine loophole.”

Atheists attribute the Big Bang origin of the universe 13.8 billion years ago to purely naturalistic mechanisms, theorizing the universe is “self-caused” or just “popped into existence.” However, OECs believe the Big Bang supports the creation account in Genesis 1:1 with God speaking the universe into existence, creating it from nothing (creatio ex nihilo).

Genesis 1:1 is an amazing statement of God’s miraculous creation of the universe: In the beginning (re’shît), God created (bara) the heavens and the earth (ha’shamayim we ha’erets).

Respected Christian philosopher William Lane Craig notes, “This cosmological singularity, from which the universe sprang, marked the beginning, not only of all matter and energy in the universe, but of physical space and time themselves. The Big Bang model thus dramatically and unexpectedly supported the biblical doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.”36

One bone of contention is when the sun and moon were created. As noted above, “the heavens and the earth” (ha’shamayim we ha’erets) is inclusive of the sun and moon, suggesting they were created “in the beginning.” However, YECs point to the fourth creation day (Genesis 1:14-18) as evidence the sun and moon were created later. Let’s examine the passage.

Genesis 1:16 says, And God made (Hebrew asah) the two great lights. In contrast to the verb “create” (bara), the verb asah expresses making something from pre-existing material, not ex nihilo creation of Genesis 1:1. Further, it does not specify when God made the heavenly bodies, only that the task was completed.37 Several Bible scholars believe Genesis 1:16 is more accurately interpreted as meaning God had made the heavenly bodies prior to the fourth day.38 James Boice writes, “It is not said that these [sun and moon] were created on the fourth day; they were created in the initial creative work of God referred to in Genesis 1:1.”39 (For those wishing to delve further into the Biblical Hebrew grammar and verb forms, please see footnote below on Whitefield’s “The Fourth Creative ‘Day’ of Genesis: Answers to questions about the Sun, Moon, and Stars.”)40

One additional detail of the original Hebrew merits consideration. Genesis 1:14-15 tells us, And God said, “Let there be [hāyāh] lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years”…And it was so. Verse 14 focuses on the function of the lights (“for seasons, and for days and years”) rather than their origin. The completed-action phrase, “And it was so,” confirms the sun and moon had completed the functions God commanded in Genesis 1:14-15 (providing signs, seasons, days and years) for at least one cycle. The completion of the cycle of seasons, days and years requires much longer than 24 hours, and therefore is an additional indication the creation yôm is a long time period.41

Age of the earth

The Christian faith is based on truth. Scripture speaks of man knowing the Creator from His creation:

Philosopher and theologian Augustine of Hippo believed that science could not contradict orthodox Christianity because the Creator God and the Redeemer God are one. Truth cannot contradict truth.

Old-earth creationists accept the geological and cosmological estimates of a 4.5 billion year old earth. Scripture speaks not of a young earth or an old earth, but an ancient earth: Hear O mountains…you everlasting foundations of the earth (Micah 6:2). The ancient mountains crumbled, and the age-old hills collapsed (Habakkuk 3:6).

Multiple independent evidences confirm an ancient earth, including 40 different methods of radiometric dating and numerous non-radiometric measurements: Ice core samples from Antarctica and Greenland provide an unbroken record of annual ice layers spanning the past 800,000 years. Annual tree ring records provide a continuous record of the past 15,000 years. Coral reefs record long ages of growth (Eniwetok Reef 140,000 years, and the Grand Bahama Reef 790,000 years). Ancient annual lake varve sediments provide evidence of earth’s history dating back 15 to 20 million years.42

Augustine presciently wrote, “In matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision, even in such as we may find treated in Holy Scripture, different interpretations are sometimes possible without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such a case, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.”43 Copernicus and Galileo were castigated by the Church for advocating the cosmological theory of heliocentrism (earth revolving around the sun), which the Church deemed contrary to their geocentric understanding of Scripture (Psalm 93:1, Psalm 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5). Ultimately scientific discovery helped clarify Scripture and prompted correction of a faulty interpretation.

Young-earth believers attribute virtually all of earth’s geologic characteristics to catastrophic processes that occurred during the flood of Noah. OECs believe earth’s surface was formed through both rapid catastrophic processes (earthquakes, flash floods) and slow processes (plate tectonics; mountain building; formation of coal, oil, & diamonds; coral reef formation, etc.). OECs believe in the Noahic Flood and God’s judgment on sinful man, but reject YEC “flood geology.” (For those interested, the history of “flood geology” is a fascinating tale, which first originated in the mid-1800s through the “divine visions” of Ellen G. White, prophetess and founder of the Seventh Day Adventist movement. See references below.44)

The truth is that many geological features of earth simply do not support the YEC flood-geology model. Christian geochemist W.U. Ault writes, “The serious Bible student will not seek to support the physical aspects of Bible history with pseudo-science.”45 Conservative theologian Wayne Grudem comments: “[I] am not persuaded that all of the earth’s geological formations were caused by Noah’s flood rather than by millions of years of sedimentation, volcanic eruptions, movement of glaciers, continental drift, and so forth…its advocates have persuaded almost no professional geologists, even those who are Bible-believing evangelical Christians.”46

Young-earth believers posit the 6,000 to 10,000 year-old creation just appears to be much older. OECs reject the “appearance of age” concept. The “appearance of age” theory was first conceived by Philip H. Gosse in 1857. It was rejected in Gosse’s day, but was once again resurrected by John Whitcomb in 1961. Theologian Wayne Grudem asks, “Why would God create so many different indications of an earth that is 4.5 billion years old if this were not true?” Hebrews 6:18 states, It is impossible for God to lie. It is not in God’s nature to create something young and fallaciously give it the appearance of age. The concept runs contrary to Romans 1:19-20: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

In the final analysis, it is antithetical to God’s nature to create a young earth and give it an artificial appearance of old age.

Creation of life and mankind

Both young-earth and old-earth creationists believe God created all life. OECs believe God created the earliest primitive micro-organisms on earth approximately 3.8 billion years ago and continued to create life through the “days” of creation (long epochs of time), including all plant life, sea and flying creatures, land animals including primitive bipedal primates, and finally humanity’s actual historical parents, Adam and Eve, God’s “crown-jewel” of creation, made in His image (Imago Dei).

Young-earth and old-earth views on God’s creation of plant-life reveal significantly different interpretations of Scripture. The young-earth view is well stated by John MacArthur: “He created them as fully mature, fully developed…He did not create just seeds and cells…He made trees with already-mature fruit…The garden itself was created mature, fully functional, and therefore with the appearance of age.”47 But what does Genesis say?

And God said, “Let the earth sprout [dasha] vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seeds in them, on the earth,” and it was so. The earth brought forth [yatsa’] vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is there seed, each according to its kind.

The old-earth interpretation differs in several important ways. First, the old-earth view posits the sun is already present, having been created “in the beginning,” as part of “the heavens and the earth” (ha’shamayim we ha’erets), as opposed to the young-earth view in which the sun is not created until the fourth day of creation (the day following the creation of plant life). Second, Genesis 1:11 does not literally state that God created vegetation and trees fully formed. Rather, it says that God commanded the earth to sprout vegetation and trees. The Hebrew word translated “sprout” (dasha) means “to cause to sprout or shoot forth,” and “brought forth” (yatsa’) means to “come out or go forth.” There is no mandate that God created fully-formed plants and fruit trees. Third, the Hebrew phrase translated “and it was so” in Genesis 1:3-31 merely indicates the completion of God’s commands. (It is the waw-consecutive form of the imperfect verb “to be” and has the completed action meaning.) This phrase does not mean that the command was achieved immediately. It only indicates completed action (see footnote 34), but not when the action was completed.48And it was so” means God’s command, “the sprouting of vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit,” was fully completed. These completed processes (“plants yielding seed and trees bearing fruit”) require seasons and years, not just 24-hours. Textual evidence, therefore, seems to favor a view much longer than 24 hours.

OECs believe God created all life, from the simplest one-celled organism to the most complex creature. Origin-of-life researchers are stumped in their quest to find unguided naturalistic processes necessary for bringing life from non-life, since even the simplest primitive organism is unimaginably complex. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, comments, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to almost be a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”49

Regarding mankind, as noted earlier, the Genesis genealogies do not define the exact date of the creation of Adam and Eve. Whether humanity’s parents were created less than 10,000 years ago (YEC view) or more than 10,000 years ago (OEC view), both OEC and YEC believe in the historical creation of Adam and Eve and the historical Fall. They were at the headwaters of the human race and the result of special creation.50 In contrast, “Theistic Evolution” denies the historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall. This has profound theological implications, because the Fall of our historical parents is inseparable from the origin of sin and the doctrine of redemption. If mankind did not fall in Adam, we cannot be redeemed in Christ.

A quick note from science: Recent mitochondrial DNA studies in human females and recent Y-chromosomal studies in males trace all human origins back to one woman and one man, who geneticists refer to as “Mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosome Adam.”51

Darwinian evolution

Many in today’s secular society believe that Darwinism has reduced the Bible to a foolish fairy tale. The “New Atheists” (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett) routinely denigrate Christians as being “flat-earthers who reject real science and believe in a 6,000 year old earth.” Evolutionists incorrectly assume that an ancient universe makes Darwinism true, and YECs mistakenly assume that since OECs believe in an old earth, they also believe in evolution. Both assumptions are false.

Like young-earth advocates, old-earth creationists accept “micro-evolution” (i.e., variation in bird beak size, development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, minor changes within species, etc.), but adamantly reject Darwinian “macro-evolution,” which posits that all life originated from primitive one-celled organisms that ultimately evolved by unguided naturalistic processes into the broad diversity of plants and animals that have populated planet earth.

Old-earth creationists believe God supernaturally created all life over long ages of time, allowing early species to die out and then create new species, “renewing the face of the ground” (Psalm 104:29-30). OECs accept the geologic record as an indication of the age of the earth, but contrary to evolutionists, believe the fossil record more correctly reflects God’s creation of life rather than evolution. For example, during earth’s geologic Cambrian Period (circa 530 million years ago), numerous complex life forms appeared abruptly in the fossil record with no prior historical traces. The sudden and simultaneous appearance of more than 70 complex animal phyla defies a naturalistic explanation.52 Complex Cambrian life-forms just suddenly appeared, in agreement with Genesis 1:20-23. Paleontologists refer to this as the Cambrian Explosion. Harvard evolutionary paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson writes, “It remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families and nearly all new categories above the level of families appear in the [fossil] record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.”53 The fossil record actually comports better with special creation than Darwinian gradualism. Mathematician Granville Sewell writes, “[T]hose who claim that science has eliminated the supernatural from Nature have a view of science that has been out of date for 80 years.”54

Further, OECs believe the irreducibly complex biomachinery found in cells and the complex specified information present within protein molecules and DNA code clearly and unequivocally point to an Intelligent Designer—God. Renowned British Philosopher Antony Flew, a former atheist, writes, “It is impossible for evolution to account for the fact that one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.” Herbert Yockey, physicist and information theorist, states the universe is at least 1010,000,000,000 times too small or too young to permit life to be assembled by natural processes.55 So whether planet Earth is 6,000 years old or 4.5 billion years old, it is still too young to generate life through naturalistic processes.

Death before the fall

Though animal death before the Fall is not found in orthodox creedal statements, today’s young-earth leaders treat it as a defining issue of Christian orthodoxy. John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research, states, “If death and fossils predate man’s sin, then the death of Jesus Christ did not pay (sin’s) penalty, nor did His resurrection from the dead provide eternal life.” While YECs reject all death before the Fall, OECs believe animal death was part of God’s creation long before Adam was even created. The OEC view is that Adam’s sin caused his spiritual death, eventually followed by physical death, and pre-Adamic animal death is not related to man’s salvation or Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Here is the Scriptural support for the old-earth position:

Jon W. Greene

Jon W. Greene
Guest author, Jon Greene is retired, having worked in the pharmaceutical field. He is a trained apologist and is active in the Seattle Chapter of Reasons To Believe.

 

The issue of animal death pre-Fall is summed up succinctly by Augustine, who did not consider animal death a direct result of the Fall. He wrote, “One might ask why brute beasts inflict injury on one another, for there is no sin in them for which this could be a punishment, and they cannot acquire any virtue by such a trial. The answer, of course, is that one animal is the nourishment of another. To wish that it were otherwise would not be reasonable.”62

Conclusion Top of page

Reflecting on God’s days of creation, I conclude with the words of the late Gleason Archer, Hebrew linguist, Bible scholar, educator, author, and champion for biblical inerrancy. He wrote the following in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible:

“Moses never intended the creative days to be understood as a mere twenty-four hours in length, and the information he included in [Genesis] chapter 2 logically precludes us from doing so. It is only by a neglect of proper hermeneutical methods that this impression ever became prevalent among God’s people, during the post-biblical era. Entirely apart from any findings of modern science or challenges of contemporary scientism, the twenty-four hour theory was never correct and should never have been believed—except by those who are bent on proving the presence of genuine contradictions in Scripture…Who can calculate the large numbers of college students who have turned away from the Bible altogether by the false impression that it bounds the conscience of the believer to the 24-hour Day theory?”63

A Biblical Case for Old-Earth Creationism PDF file (456 KB PDF file)



Other Resources Top of page

A Matter of Days by Hugh RossA Matter of Days by Hugh Ross

Dr. Ross looks the creation date controversy from a biblical, historical, and scientific perspective. Most of the book deals with what the Bible has to say about the days of creation. Ross concludes that biblical models of creation should be tested through the whole of scripture and the revelations of nature.

Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth by Mark S. Whorton, Ph.D.

This book, written for Christians, examines creation paradigms on the basis of what scripture says. Many Christians assume that the young earth "perfect paradise" paradigm is based upon what the Bible says. In reality, the "perfect paradise" paradigm fails in its lack of biblical support and also in its underlying assumptions that it forces upon a "Christian" worldview. Under the "perfect paradise" paradigm, God is relegated to the position of a poor designer, whose plans for the perfect creation are ruined by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God is forced to come up with "plan B," in which He vindictively creates weeds, disease, carnivorous animals, and death to get back at humanity for their sin. Young earth creationists inadvertently buy into the atheistic worldview that suffering could not have been the original intent of God, stating that the earth was created "for our pleasure." However, the Bible says that God created carnivores, and that the death of animals and plants was part of God's original design for the earth.


References Top of page

  1. “Westminster Theological Seminary and the Days of Creation,” www.wts.edu/about/beliefs/statements/creation.html. Also see “Report of the Creation Study Committee,” www.pcahistory.org/creation/report.html.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Notable Christians Open to an Old Universe Old Earth Perspective,” www.reasons.org/notable-christians-open-old-universe-old-earth-perspective.
  4. Rodney Whitefield, Reading Genesis One: Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation (2003). C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary (2006). Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis (1998). G. Whitefield, Genesis One and the Age of the Earth, (2006). (Note: A free downloadable PDF file of this 35 page booklet, which provides a brief explanation of the Hebrew text of Genesis as it relates to the age of the earth, is available at www.creationingenesis.com.)
  5. David G. Hagopian, Editor, The Genesis Debate : Three Views on the Days of Creation (2001), 125.
  6. Brown-Driver-Biggs’ Hebrew Lexicon (1996); Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke (1980).
  7. The Hebrew word ‘olam is sometimes claimed to mean a long time period. However, Hebrew lexicons show that only in post-biblical writings did ‘olam refer to a long age or epoch. In biblical times, it meant “forever,” “perpetual,” “lasting,” “always,” or “the remote past.” (See David G. Hagopian, Ed., The Genesis Debate : Three Views on the Days of Creation, 148.)
  8. Gleason L Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, (1982), 60-61. Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, (1999), 271. Rodney Whitefield, Ph.D., “The Hebrew Word ‘Yom’ Used with a Number in Genesis 1,” www.creationingenesis.com/TheHebrewWordYOM.pdf.
  9. Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1994), 199.
  10. Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Zondervan 1999), 271.
  11. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, Editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1990), 3.
  12. Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (1982), 62.
  13. C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary (2006), 55-57.77; Rodney Whitefield, Reading Genesis One: Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation (2003), 68; Gleason Archer, R. Laird Harris, Bruce Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (1980), 1:125.
  14. Collins, 56, 77. (Note: Collins served as chairman of the Old Testament Committee for the English Standard Version (ESV) and holds a Ph.D. in Hebrew linguistics.)
  15. Gleason L. Archer, “A Response to the Trustworthiness of Scripture in Areas Relating to Natural Science,” Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible: [papers from ICBI Summit II], ed. Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Prues (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books (1986), 329, cited in Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy, NavPress (2004), 91.
  16. R.A. Torrey, cited in Rodney Whitefield, Reading Genesis One: Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation, 136.
  17. J. Gresham Machen, quoted in “Westminster Theological Seminary and the Days of Creation,” cited in www.wts.edu/news/creation.html.
  18. Edward J. Young, quoted in “Westminster Theological Seminary and the Days of Creation.”
  19. James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-11 (1998), 84.
  20. Ibid, 78
  21. Bruce K. Waltke, “The Literary Genre of Genesis, Chapter 1,” , volume 27, number 4 (1991), 2-10.
  22. Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-15, (Waco, Texas, Word Books), 39.
  23. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (1994), 273, 290-291; Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time (1972), 122-123; Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis, second edition (2001), 108; Ryrie Study Bible (NASB) (1995), study note Genesis 5:3; C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary (2006), 204-206, 242; William Henry Green, “Primeval Chronology,” Bibliotheca Sacra (April 1890), 285-303, accessed at http://www.rosetree.com/ccog/pchron/f_pchron.html, James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-11 (1982, 1988), 88-89.
  24. R.A. Torrey, Difficulties in the Bible: Alleged Errors and Contradictions, Chapter 5, http://isom.vnsalvation.com/Resources%20English/Christian%20Ebooks/RA%20Torrey%20Difficulties%20in%20the%20Bible%20Alleged%20Errors%20and%20Contradictions.pdf.
  25. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 1994), 290.
  26. John Millam, “The Genesis Genealogies,” www.reasons.org/articles/the-genesis-genealogies.Also see C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary (2006), 204-206.
  27. John Millam, “The Genesis Genealogies.”
  28. Grudem, 290-291.
  29. R.A. Torrey Difficulties in the Bible: Alleged Errors and Contradictions, Chapter 5, http://isom.vnsalvation.com/Resources%20English/Christian%20Ebooks/RA%20Torrey%20Difficulties%20in%20the%20Bible%20Alleged%20Errors%20and%20Contradictions.pdf.
  30. John Sailhamer, Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account (Multnomah Books, 1996). (Note: Sailhamer is an Old Testament scholar and was President of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2000. He holds an MA in Semitic Languages and a Ph.D. in Ancient Near East languages and literature.) He also holds a Master of Theology in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary.)
  31. R. Whitefield, 18-19.
  32. Collins, 21, 42-43, 51.
  33. Laird Harris, Gleason Archer, Bruce Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (1980).
  34. W.E. Vine, M.F. Unger, W. White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (1996), 54-55.
  35. Bruce Waltke, “The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3, “Bibliotheca Sacra 32 (1975), cited in Collins, 54.
  36. William Lane Craig, “Cosmos and Creator,” www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od172/cosmos172.htm.
  37. Biblical Hebrew verbs do not have tenses or express when an event occurs. Unlike English verbs, Hebrew verbs indicate complete finished action (perfect “tense”) or incomplete unfinished action (imperfect “tense”). A completed action may have been completed in the near past (24 hours ago) or the distant past (eons ago).
  38. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (1982), 61. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (1994), 300. Harris, Archer, Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.
  39. James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-11, (1998), 75.
  40. Rodney Whitefield, Ph.D., “The Fourth Creative ‘Day’ of Genesis: Answers to questions about the Sun, Moon, and Stars,” www.creationingenesis.com/TheFourthCreativeDay.pdf.
  41. C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary (2006), 57; Rodney Whitefield, Reading Genesis One: Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation (2003), 102-103.
  42. “Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective,” Roger C. Wiens, http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/wiens.html ; C. John Collins, Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? (2003), 249-250; “Reliability of Radiometric Dating” , Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy (2004), 175-184; William Newman, Geologic Time (U.S. Geological Survey, 1997), http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/contents.html ; Jeff Zweerink, “Ice Cores Reveal History,” www.reasons.org/ice-cores-reveal-history.“Geology and Creation Science,” www.answersincreation.org/geology.htm ; God’s Word, God’s World, Patti Townley-Covert (Editor), RTB (2009), 32-26; “The Age of Coral Reefs,” www.asa3.org/asa/education/origins/coralreefs.htm ; Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearly, The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth (2008), 310.
  43. St. Augustine, Vol. 1: The Literal Meaning of Genesis (Ancient Christian Writers), John Hammond Taylor, Editor, (New York: Newman Press, 1982), 41.
  44. Ellen G. White (1827-1915), prophetess and founder of the Seventh Day Adventist movement was the earliest proponent of “flood geology,” which came to her in “divine visions.” White’s disciple, George McCready Price (1870-1963), a scientifically self-taught armchair geologist, dedicated his life to the defense of White’s vision and was first to coin the term “flood geology.” Flood geology was rejected until the 1960s, when the mantle of flood geology was passed from Price to Henry Morris and John Whitcomb, neither of whom had professional degrees in geology. In 1961 they published The Genesis Flood, which turned innumerable Christians toward YEC. For additional information, see Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism (1992), and J. Greene, “A Brief History of Flood Geology,” www.reasons.org/files/chapters/seattle/200409.pdf.
  45. Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 2, Merrill C. Tenney, Editor (1976), 563.
  46. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (1994), 273, 290-291.
  47. John MacArthur, The Battle for the Beginning, (W Publishing Group, 2001), 54-55.
  48. Whitefield 71-72, 95. Whitefield notes that the same consonantal phrase, “and it was so,” also appears in 2 Kings 15:12, Judges 6:37-38, and Amos 5:14. In all cases, completion of the action does not take place immediately, but takes place over extended periods of time.
  49. Francis Crick quoted in Richard William Nelson, Darwin, Then and Now: The Most Amazing Story in the History of Science (2009).
  50. C. John Collins, “Adam and Eve as Historical People and Why It Matters,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Volume 62, Number 3, September 2010.
  51. Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross, Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of ManWho Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man, (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), 60-67.
  52. Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off (2004).
  53. George Gaylord Simpson, The Major Features of Evolution, (1965), 360.
  54. Granville Sewell, In the Beginning: And Other Essays on Intelligent Design , (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2010), 115.
  55. Hubert P Yockey, “Self Organization Origin of Life Scenarios and Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 91 (1981), 14-97, cited in “New Astronomical Proofs for the Existence of God,” www.reasons.org/new-astronomical-proofs-existence-god.
  56. John MacArthur, The Battle for the Beginning (2001), 217. Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (1982), 72-73.
  57. www.searchgodsword.org (Romans 5:12)
  58. Anthropos: “A human being. All human individuals. To distinguish man from beings of a different order” www.searchgodsword.org.
  59. Louis Berkof, Systematic Theology (1941), 669-670.
  60. James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-11 (1998), 77.
  61. Mark Whorton, Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth, (Waynesbo, GA: Authentic Media, 2005), 186.
  62. St. Augustine, Vol. 1: The Literal Meaning of Genesis (Ancient Christian Writers), John Hammond Taylor, Editor (1982), 92.
  63. Gleason Archer, quoted from Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible: [papers from ICBI Summit II], International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, Summit II (1982), Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Prues, Editors (1984), 329, 333-334.

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