Pat Robertson Causes GOOD Controversy: The Earth Isn’t 6000 Years Old… Don’t Fight Science

I’m going to do a first on this blog, report controversy caused by Pat Robertson that I actually agree with. According the the Huffington Post:

Robertson’s comments were made in response to a viewer who had written in to the show. The woman said that her “biggest fear is to not have my children and husband next to me in God’s Kingdom because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.”

I am sympathetic to anyone who has concerns about eternity because I believe that the evangelical church sets church-goers up for failure through our attempts to not clearly acknowledge that Genesis 1-3 do not present a “literal” account of “how” creation happened. I have written about this here (especially in regards to young adults).

The early chapters of Genesis declare that the Creator loves creation and that it was designed to operate as “very good.” God is the source of all things. Eventually, creation will be “very good” when the world is set right at the second coming of Christ when “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8). Genesis 1 presents a subversive script over against the Babylonian Empire during the Jews exile. It is not a literal timetable for the “how” of creation, it creatively presents the “Who” of creation. For a full examination of this issue from a biblical and pastoral perspective, see my series: “Evolving Evangelicalism: Refining our Approach to Scripture and Origins.”

Back to Pat Robertson. To the lady’s concern who wrote in, he had this to say (the source of the “good” controversy):

Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop [James] Ussher wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years. It just didn’t. You go back in time, you’ve got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things and you’ve got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas. They’re out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don’t try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That’s not the Bible.

He then added a comment which expresses why our reputation in the world as being a faith that discounts science is a missional problem by adding:

If you fight science you’re going to lose your children, and I believe in telling it the way it was.

I couldn’t agree with Pat Robertson on this issue more. Now, I’m not sure that he would go as far as holding evolutionary biology and biblical theology together (although, he might), but this is a step in the right direction by someone that is known for expounding fundamentalist dogma.

Again, here’s that series on the bible, culture, and evolution.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Lofton/100000422569879 John Lofton

    Robertson is a false prophet and a murderer having called for the murder of many people. He’s a bad man…

    Venezuela’s President Chavez Just One Of Several People Robertson Has Said Should Be Murdered

    By John Lofton, Editor

    Forgetting, evidently, that there is such a thing as video tape, all the world now knows that Pat Robertson recently called for the assassination, the murder, of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez — though he, at first, denied this, then apologized.

    But, the very next day after calling for the murder of Chavez, Robertson denounced murderous violence — by Muslims that is!

    Coming out of report showing big bomb going off in Iraq, Robertson says, with a straight face: ‘It does grieve us that every day you read the paper, every single day there is some incident where some jihadist, some fundamental Muslim, is trying to kill somebody, blow up somebody, undermine something. It happens over and over and over again.

    ‘You know, you go way back in the Bible and we understand that Abraham had a couple of sons, Isaac and Ishmael. And the Bible talks about Ishmael as being a wild ass; he’s just uncontrollable. It’s almost like that seed of rebellion and uncontrolled anger has filtered into these people. There’s an element of hatred and revenge that’s just extraordinary….At the heart of it all, it seems like to me, is just a spirit of violence, hatred and a spirit of murder. I don’t know how we cope with it unless there’s a worldwide revival, a spiritual revival. That’s the only answer I’ve got.’

    But, what has not been reported is that Robertson has called for the murder of several other people besides Hugo Chavez. More than a decade ago, on his ‘700 Club’ (2/5/1991), discussing what he called ‘the concept of assassination,’ Robertson said this is forbidden only because of an Executive Order, not a law of Congress. Thus, ‘this is illegal only because the President says it is illegal and he can reverse it.’ Interesting. I thought God said something about not committing murder, something like do not do this.

    On another ‘700 Club’ (3/4/1991), when it is reported that a poll showed that by a margin of 76 to 24 percent his viewers said they favor the lifting of the Presidential ban on assassinating foreign heads of state (and disobeying the Sixth Commandment which forbids murder), Robertson exclaims, ‘Good grief! Remarkable!’ He says he will send these poll results to the White House.

    SADDAM HUSSEIN Robertson said some suicide bomber should be paid to blow him upOn another ‘700 Club’ (2/27/1998), saying it is ‘nuts’ to publicly discuss a possible CIA covert plan to get rid of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Robertson says: ‘There’s one way that you do it…In the State Department they call them the ferrets. And you send the ferrets out, and if you’ve got somebody you can pay, or some suicide bomber that will go up to the maximum leader, embrace him and blow him up, maybe you can do something.’

    Then, amazingly, in the next segment of this same program, defending Kenneth Starr, Robertson notes that ‘what people are losing sight of is that there is a Federal statute that makes it a crime to obstruct the work of a prosecutor in a criminal case…that is Federal crime!…it is a crime! The U.S. Code has a section dealing with this very issue. It is against the law!’

    Robertson says that what had been alleged regarding President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky is ‘shocking’ and ‘horrible’ and ‘is not a good thing.’ He adds: ‘[The] American people have got to begin to say we must demand moral leadership in this country.’

    One day earlier on the ‘700 Club’, Robertson again called for the assassination of Saddam Hussein in a discussion with Paul Surgeon, the President of Robertson’s Regent University.Surgeon is a retired three-star general who fought in the Gulf War. When he says moving against Hussein would not be accepted by the people of the world or the U.S., Robertson notes that there is a Presidential Executive Order against the assassination of foreign leaders. But a Presidential Order can be changed by another Presidential Order.

    Robertson again suggests using the previously mentioned so-called ‘ferrets’ against Hussein to ‘try to take him out quietly.’ To which Surgon replies: Well, ‘when you talk about assassination, you really violate the principles for which we stand.’

    On another ‘700 Club’ (2/11/1998), noting that we now have bombs so smart they can target a window in a building, Robertson says he sees ‘no reason’ why we shouldn’t target one of Hussein’s palaces and ‘let him know he is hunted,’ that ‘we’re going after him personally’ because he’s a ‘war criminal.’

    An interesting aside. In Texas, Karla Faye Tucker was convicted of murdering two people with a pick axe, and was sentenced to death. In jail she became a Christian. But, Robertson repeatedly advocated that she not be executed — even though God’s Law requires the death penalty for murder. But, said Robertson on the ‘700 Club’ (2/4/1998), to put Tucker to death would be ‘almost an act of barbarism.’ She was executed.

    SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC Robertson said his murder would be ‘merciful’ for everybodyIn late February of 1998 on the ‘700 Club’, Robertson, again advocated the murder of Saddam Hussein and criticized the State Department for being against this. He said: ‘But I don’t run the State Department — thank the Lord.’ Well, ‘thank the Lord’ indeed, that Robertson doesn’t run the State Department. The last thing we need is for our government to be involved in the murder of foreign heads of state with whom we are not legitimately at war. On one more ‘700 Club’ (4/19/1999), Robertson, when asked by the co-host of his program, ‘why we don’t just go to Yugoslavia, arrest Slobodan Milosevic and try him as a war criminal?’ Robertson said because he has an army protecting him.

    ‘We can’t go in,’ Robertson said, ‘unless you have someone willing to assassinate him. If we have some person in there who could, essentially kill him in an assassination attempt, it would probably be more merciful to everybody.’ He added:

    ‘We allow these dictators to bring disaster upon an entire population because we have this stupid doctrine that we refuse to assassinate dictators. You say ‘try him for war crimes.’ We’ll never get him…We’ve got to get over this Executive Order that says we do not do that sort of thing. So, we’re willing to bomb railroad trestles with civilians on board a train.We’re willing to blow up a relief convoy with Albanian refugees and kill 70 or 80 of them. But we won’t do it to one man. And that’s what got to be done.’

    Since 1976, a Presidential Executive Order has outlawed our country killing any foreign head of state. It reads in part: ‘No person employed by, or acting on behalf of the United States government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination.’Congress has passed a law saying the same thing.

    And there are good reasons — apart from obeying God’s Law which is the best reason — for this Executive Order. As Jeffrey Smith, a former General Counsel for the CIA has observed: ‘First, assassination clearly invites a direct retaliation against not only the President, but other senior government officials and private Americans. Second, we have adequate authority to engage in military actions or covert actions involving the use of lethal force without targeting a particular individual for assassination.Third, it is just not in keeping with American values.’

    If Slobodan Milosovic has committed crimes deserving death, then he is entitled to a trial, witnesses and evidence proving this prior to his execution.To simply go into Yugoslavia, or anywhere, and assassinate him, is murder. To do this because supposedly, we all know he’s guilty, is the argument of the lynch mob.

    It should also be noted that Robertson’s allusion to our being ‘willing’ to bomb civilians in Yugoslavia is a lie.There is no evidence at all that we did this ‘willingly.’These deaths were accidental. They were not assassinations, which is what murdering Milosevic would be.

    On a subsequent ‘700 Club,’ Robertson said he wants to be ‘part of God’s plan, whatever that is. ‘Well, amen! All Christians should desire this. But, murder is never part of God’s plan.And it was none other than our Lord who warned: ‘For all they that take up the sword shall perish by the sword.’ (Matthew 26:52.)

    ‘THE MULLAHS’ in Iran must also be ‘taken down,’ said Robertson, because they threaten IsraelFinally, at the beginning of another ‘700 Club’ show (10/10/2002), Robertson read from what he said was a report in an Iranian newspaper calling for the killing of himself, Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham. To which his son, Gordon, replied, ‘How can they ever say Islam is a religion of peace?’ Said Daddy Robertson: ‘Well, they can’t because it’s a religion that has to do with trying to kill ministers.’

    What Robertson did not tell his audience was that the previous month, on the ‘700 Club,’ he called for the killing of Islamic ministers in Iran! On that show, Robertson said Iran was sending money to Hezbollah through Syria, and all kinds of weapons to attack Israel. So, he suggested, ‘we must take down the mullahs.’ With a chuckle he added, in part, ‘As [the Scottish missionary to Africa David] Livingstone said, ‘If you can’t reason with them the next best thing is to kill ‘em.”

    So, to quote Scripture (Galatians 6:7), by being threatened now with death himself, Robertson was reaping what he had sowed.No surprise here. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself Who says that all those who take the sword shall perish with the sword (Matthew 26:25.) Robertson also seems to have forgotten Proverbs 26:17 which says that those who ‘meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.’

    Pat Robertson is an embarrassment to the cause of Christ and to Christians everywhere.

    John Lofton, Recovering Republican

    Editor, JohnLofton.com

    Also: Archive.TheAmericanView.com

    Active Facebook Wall

    JLof@aol.com

    • Aaaaaaaaaaargh

      Mr. Lofton–this is a textbook example of preaching to the choir. Did you do any research on this blog and its demographics before you made this post? Pat Robertson fans/supporters are in short supply here.

  • http://ryanrobinson.ca/ Ryan Robinson

    Whooaaaaa. I agree with Pat Robertson on something. I’m not sure what to do with this information.

  • Jeremy Scott

    I think it’s good. Even though I believe in the literal Creation, I have always thought that the Earth must be older than 6000 years. To me, it’s only that we acknowledge who created everything, and not worry so much about when and how.

  • Michael Snow

    After so many foul balls, it was good to see Robertson hit one over the fence. I always cringe when something begins, “Pat Robertson said…”
    The Christian Post followed this up with a blurb on the wrath of Ken Hamm. It is always amazing to me that those who claim such a fidelity to the Bible, read it as if the first two verses do not exist.
    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/in-the-beginning/

  • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

    Kurt, I agree it seems really strange to find myself saying that Robertson said something sensible, but this is sensible. Thanks for having the consistency to name truth even when it comes from unlikely sources.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thanks Dan!

  • http://exemplar1.tumblr.com/ Jack Davis

    The gap theory has been around for quote a long time. For those who do not know what the gap theory is, it is a sound theory for how the Bible supports an old Earth view instead of a young Earth view.

    Here’s the essence of it:
    Gen 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
    Gen 1:2 – And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

    Point 1: The English does NOT read like the Hebrew in these two verses:
    Gen 1:1 should read “In the finite beginning of all things, God created the heavens (sky and space) and the earth.”

    Gen 1:2 should read “and the earth BECAME formless and void; and misery, destruction, death and wickedness was upon the face of the abyss (deep waters)…”

    Point 2: Referring to Gen 1:1, since all of it was created together, at once, one must logically conclude that the Earth is the same age as space. We can look into space and see things that are billions of years old, so the Earth has to be the same age.

    Point 3: God does not create anything halfway. This was the first, original, and complete creation in Gen 1:1.

    Point 4: Referring to Gen 1:2, the earth BECAME a place of great destruction, misery, death, and wickedness. Hmm, interesting. Sounds like the enemy (satan) fell to the earth and caused great destruction. Maybe something like a huge meteor strike? Could be. Just one possibility of many.

    So in the second half of Gen 1:2, God sets out to reclaim the destroyed earth. To do this, as explained in the rest of Gen 1, God creates a garden, plants, animals, and mankind. He places mankind in the garden and says “Take dominion and subdue it.” Subdue what? The enemy!

    So in summary, the gap theory is a proposed gap between Gen 1:1 and 1:2. It is a sound theory that fits the old earth view and what the Bible truly says in the original language of the Hebrew. I subscribe to this view of the Bible. It appears that Pat does too. I think it’s quite silly that people found their belief a certain way before doing any real investigation. It’s good to have a healthy skepticism.

    So how does that explain dinosaurs? We have no documented record of what existed on the Earth between Gen 1:1 and 1:2. I believe that dinosaurs and other unexplained animals, etc. all belong to this era before Gen 1:2.

    If you think that’s interesting, you should hear my thoughts on the book of Job in the Bible. That is for an entirely different (but related) post.

  • Bob Wheeler

    I think that Robertson’s answer is good, as far as it goes. But I think it is an oversimplification to pose the issue as science v. a literal reading of the Bible. On the one hand you have to make a distinction between experimental science, in which hypotheses can be tested in a laboratory, and historical science, such as evolutionary biology, which cannot be tested. The results of historical science are far less certain than experimental science.

    On the biblical side there have been a variety of ways to interpret Genesis 1 without violating the integrity of Scripture, and the Gap Theory is one. The day-age theory and the literary framework hypothesis are two others.
    As for myself, I hold to an old earth and young fossils. I think that the evidence for an old earth is persuasive, but so is the evidence for a catastrophic worldwide flood. My belief is that the dinosaurs perished in the flood, which was probably precipitated by the asteroid that struck the Yucatan Peninsula. But I must caution – that is only a hypothesis. It has the same problem that all historical science has: it cannot be observed directly nor can it be tested under controlled conditions.

  • Stephen

    …… well, great balls of fire, I actually agree with Pat Robertson on something science-related.

  • http://twitter.com/derekhmiller Derek Miller

    We need to move beyond the idea that if we question something in the Bible, or don’t see eye to eye on issues like the age of the earth, that it will determine our inheritance of the Kingdom! This woman stated that she is afraid that her family is walking away from God because they are seeking to understand how to reconcile faith/Bible and the world around them. When did this becoming walking away from God? This sounds a lot like trying to lean in! Saving faith in Jesus Christ. Not dinosaurs. Not age of the Earth. Not Answers in Genesis.

  • Brian Price

    The answer to this question is simple, and found in the bible. The Earth and all creation was created with the appearance of age, like Adam and Eve, who were made in a full grown state, or size, they appeared to be older then what they were, so was the animals, the trees and plants and all the earth. One of the first miracles Jesus preformed, was to turn water into wine at a wedding, wine gets its flavor over time by aging,but Jesus made it instantaneous with the appearance of age, we have learned to do this with diamonds, and crystals etc…


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