No, Pat Robertson Did Not Renounce Creationism

A bunch of people have emailed me and messaged me on Facebook about Pat Robertson saying that the earth is older than 6,000 years, though this is not a new statement by him. He’s said it before. But can we please not have the kinds of distortions found in this article with the headline “Pat Robertson admits Biblical creationism is false”?

Televangelist Pat Robertson surprised many yesterday when he admitted that the earth is much older than Biblical creationists are willing to admit.

On Tuesday’s 700 Club Robertson denied that the earth is only 6,000 years old, as many Biblical or ‘young earth’ creationists claim.

Yes, but young earth creationism is not the only type of “Biblical” creationism. Old earth creationists, like those at Reason to Believe, are also Biblical creationists, they just have a different interpretation of the Bible than the young earthers have. He didn’t “admit Biblical creationism is false,” he offered a different type of Biblical creationism. He is as much a Biblical creationist as Ken Ham.

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  • Wes

    I remember seeing an article on this at CNN a couple weeks ago, and thinking the same thing. Nowhere in the article did he renounce creationism. He just said that he’s okay with the earth being billions of years old. Do journalists really believe that there’s nothing to the theory of evolution other than the age of the earth? This kind of shit is why I think reputable news outlets shouldn’t let anyone report on a scientific topic unless they have some education in science. I’m not saying that science reporters need to be full on scientists (Carl Zimmer’s not a scientist, yet I think he’s really good at science writing). But they should know at least a little science before going in.

  • TCC

    I think it’s simply that creationism is conflated with young-earth creationism, perhaps because it’s easier to go after the most egregiously science-denying variant of creationism.

    I also am willing to be a little bit lenient in how people use the “Biblical” label, since it’s vague enough that it could be disputed. (Does it mean “compatible with the Bible” or “derived wholly from the Bible”? If the former, both would be Biblical; if the latter, only YEC would qualify. It doesn’t help that plenty of young-earthers would want to claim that only their position is Biblical.)

  • matty1

    I’m not convinced YEC really meets the derived wholly from the Bible criteria better than OEC. Both use extra-biblical guesses to fill in the gaps in the narrative or answer questions that aren’t addressed. You won’t find mutations being caused by the fall or the flood laying down sedimentary rocks in Genesis and saying that literalism over the six days is automatically more Biblical is granting one side a win before considering the other.

  • dingojack

    TCC – “Does it mean “compatible with the Bible” or “derived wholly from the Bible”? If the former, both would be Biblical; if the latter, only YEC would qualify.”

    I would dispute this. If the later is the case then neither would qualify since the bible does not actual quantify the timing of events.

    The 6000 year figure is based on Ussher’s minimum guesstimate, which in turn is based of several hefty assumptions that are his and not in the text of the bible.


  • ph041985

    You would think we would hear more about old earth creationism because it’s more compatible with scientific fact than YEC. However, I think the main point has always been to find a way to push religion into schools, and YEC accomplishes that better than old earth creationism.

    I wrote about this in a recent blog post,

  • chuck

    Yes, but he did renounce young-earth creationism. Old Earth creationism, like the official Catholic position, while still mythological, is far more reasonable than young earth creationism that is such disregard of basic scientific facts.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Pat is a religious nut, but his rejection of young-earth theory is refreshing just the same.

  • gshelley

    He implied at the least that the established scientific view is correct (“If you fight revealed science, you are going to lose your children”). The idea that he thinks his God had no part seems pretty unlikely, but unless he has stated his actual views (rather than just that YEC is wrong), we don’t really have a lot to go on. So he might be a day age creationist, or he might be a creationist in the same sense as Kenneth Miller.

  • Jim

    ph041985, old earth creationism was, at least in the 30s and 40s, predominantly the domain of the American Anglicans and Episcopalians, at least hear in the Northeast. I believe fundamentalist Christianity took the YEC position as much to differentiate themselves from the “liberals” as anything else.

    And I’m impressed by anyone who can interpret Robertson’s word salad as saying anythign coherent. It certainly casts doubt on whether he’s a young earth creationist and, given the babble about dinosaurs, whether he’s a seven-day creationist as all.

  • billyeager

    Awwww, you mean we can’t be bullshitters and outright liars . . . like they are?

    Damn you and your intellectual honesty! Damn you all to Heck!

  • DaveL

    “If you fight revealed science, you are going to lose your children”

    That’s funny – he thinks science works by revelation.

  • chuck

    Also, while he may have denounced young-earth theory on the air, CBN still sells Young Earth Creationist material… I posted on this as well:

  • Michael Heath

    Pat Robertson:

    “If you fight revealed science, you are going to lose your children”

    What it would take to get Mr. Robertson out of his epistemic bubble and to consider the presence and patterns of ERVS in humans and other mammals as convincing evidence of common descent?

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