I recently received a copy of an intriguing book (due out next week) courtesy the publisher. Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design brings together leading proponents of Young Earth Creationism (Ken Ham), Old Earth Creationism (Hugh Ross), Evolutionary Creationism (Deborah Haarsma) and Intelligent Design (Stephen Meyer). Each is given the opportunity to express their own view and to respond to the essays provided by the others. Within the necessary length constraints each contributor was encouraged to put forth the strongest argument for their position. If you are interested in this issue – either personally or pastorally – this book can be an excellent resource.
The book begins with Ken Ham and his description and defense of young earth creationism (YEC). I would summarize his argument as four-fold.
(1) A young earth (ca. 6000 years old) is the straightforward and clear teaching of Scripture. He provides a number of scripture references to demonstrate his point. It is an interesting exercise to look at the context of each of these references and consider how they support Ken Ham’s argument. It was the nearly universal teaching of the church until very recently.
(2) Death before the Fall runs counter to Scripture, theology, and the doctrine of atonement. Ken Ham rightly notes that many Christians have failed to consider this seriously. There are several prongs to this portion of his argument. One is rooted in a specific interpretation of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. A good or very good creation would not have included death or any form of natural evil. Tsunamis and earthquakes are a result of the fall. Old earth views acknowledge major extinction events prior to the existence of human beings. Cancer and other diseases in supposedly ancient fossils indicate pain and suffering before the fall. “To accept millions of years of animal death … requires a conscious or unconscious rejection or ignoring of (…) the Bible’s clear teaching about the “very good” pre-fall creation, the cosmic impact of the fall on the whole creation (not just mankind), and Christ’s full redemptive work in the cosmos.” (p. 27)
Later Ham suggests blood sacrifice, starting with the killing of animals to cloth Adam and Eve as they were expelled from the garden and culminating in the crucifixion, is required for atonement of sin. “If all that supposed death before the fall was declared by God to be “very good,” how can animal sacrifice after the fall be associated with forgiveness of sin? Any old-earth scenario makes nonsense of the doctrine of atonement. … Why would God require death as a sacrifice for sin if He were the one responsible for death and bloodshed, having created a world with these bad things in place?” (p. 43)
(3) The scientific consensus for an old earth is rooted in materialist, naturalist, and most often atheistic, worldviews. He does acknowledge that there are genuine Christians holding old earth views – although mistaken or misguided. If science, especially historical science (i.e. interpreting past events), is done with acceptance of Holy Scripture, then the evidence for a young earth will fall into place. “While Genesis 1-11 is not a science text (regarding experimental science), it is inerrant history by the eyewitness Creator, whose existence and attributes are revealed in what He made and the book He inspired[.]” (p. 33) He runs through a number of examples he suggests support this point as well as anecdotes from non-Christian scientists that make a point of explicit rejection of a Creator.
(4) The decline of Christian influence in society, especially in areas of moral behavior, and the exodus of youth from the church are a direct consequence of our failure to hold firm on a young earth interpretation of Scripture. “[W]e have documented that a major reason for the mass exodus of young people from the church is that the church had no answers to the claims of evolutionists, so young people concluded that the Bible is not trustworthy. In contrast, … kids who have been well taught in creationist apologetics have generally stood strong in that conviction.” (p. 19) The slippery slope leads to our current mess.
In the next post on this book I will look at some of the responses provided by Hugh Ross, Deborah Haarsma and Stephen Meyer and some of my own thoughts on Ken Ham’s argument for his position.
Which of these arguments do you find worth more discussion?
How would you respond?
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