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10 Creation Essentials: Old Earth or Young Earth?

It is easy to get into debates on the age of the earth. Old Earth creationists (OEC) will say that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old, and that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. A Young Earth creationist (YEC) believes that God created everything in six consecutive 24-hour days about 6,000-10,000 years ago.

I frequently hear OEC critique YEC for not being scientific. They sometimes completely ignore scientific discoveries in order to keep their YE perspective. But also, YEC criticize OEC for compromising scripture. It is said that only YEC preserve biblical authority. It is also believed by some that if you accept an old universe then you also accept darwinian evolution. For that reason, we should stick to YEC. What about death before the fall? What about radiometric dating? There seem to be so many objections and points of disagreement between the two sides.

Instead of looking at the details of each of those objections in this post, I want to look at common ground. I think the common points are often ignored or overlooked because we just want to find something to argue about. My school doesn’t take a position on this issue and so I have to refer students to their pastors on this question and other debated topics. For that reason, I tend to look more at the common ground as I present both sides in my class and let students make up their mind. So, what are the points of agreement?

  1. God is the source of all things – physical and non-physical.
  2. God created the universe out of nothing.
  3. God is both transcendent and immanent.
  4. God is eternal and stands outside of matter and time.
  5. Time and matter have a beginning.
  6. God created the universe to be a theater for His glory.
  7. Christians should worship the Creator, not the creation.
  8. God takes delight in what He has made.
  9. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God.
  10. Theories that deny God as Creator are incompatible with Scripture.

I wanted to keep this post short but also show you the amount of agreement between the two sides. Both OEC and YEC believe that God is the creator of all things, there was no pre-existing material, Adam and Eve were historical figures, and Darwinian evolution doesn’t account for advanced life (Each species was created in its present form). This can remain a friendly debate and we can have fun talking about it, but don’t forget that both sides believe in the same God who created all things and will one day restore us into right relationship with him.

What do you think about these common points? Do you think this is a salvific issue? Leave your comments below.

*These 10 points were taken from a lecture by Krista Bontrager. This lecture was part of the Creation and the Bible course through the Reasons Institute.

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Evangelism and the Big Bang with Dr. Jeff Zweerink

Dr. Jeff Zweerink, an astrophysicist and research scholar at Reasons to Believe, joined me to talk about what Christians need to know about Big Bang cosmology. It was interesting that he was able to show how the Big Bang can be useful when it comes to Evangelism. Listen and see how he connected the two!

You can find last week’s interview on the integration of science and faith here.

What are your thoughts on the Big Bang? Make sure to leave a comment below!

Are you a student who is interested in studying science in college? Or may you’re a parent who has a student who is interested in science. If so, you should check out this promo for The Lab, where their goal is to equip students for careers in different scientific disciplines.

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Listen to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show on Active Reliance Radio every Wednesday from 4:30-5 PM PT.

Like the Facebook page, watch live, and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number only for questions).

Is it wrong to reinterpret Scripture?

How should we interpret Scripture and what should we use to do it? Should we use science to help better understand the Bible or should theology help us better understand science?

I think it is necessary to start with a very important point. There is a difference between data and interpretations. God has revealed two “books” to us. He has given us the book of nature and the book of the Bible. The words of the Bible and the record of nature is the data. This data does not change. However, our interpretation of this data, which is theology and science, might change and may be wrong.

So I want to suggest that it is possible to reinterpret Scripture without changing the words of the Bible. Instead of reinterpretation changing the Bible, it is us correcting our theology and something we misunderstood about Scripture.

But isn’t science man’s knowledge and the Bible is God’s word? Doesn’t this mean that God’s word is always right and science is the one that is wrong?

It is common for people to raise objections to the record of nature and the words of the Bible being in agreement. They say that these two records are contradictory because at the surface we see two different messages. Two reasons are generally given as to why these two records seem to contradict. First is the fact that Genesis 3:17-19 and Romans 8:20-22 teach that the ground has been cursed. Since the fall of man in Genesis 3, the world has been broken, groaning, and corrupted. The second reason is that man is fallen. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful and wicked. We also see in Ecclesiastes 7:20 that there is no righteous man who never sins and always does good. So, the argument is made that sinful, deceitful, and fallen men cannot correctly understand a broken world. The Bible is the uncorrupted, true, and eternal word of God. Therefore, the record of nature cannot compare to the perfect, inspired word of God.

3 Ways Science and Theology Relate

The first view called compartmentalism. This view teaches that science and theology are completely different areas of knowledge and that they need to stay separate.

A second view is called Biblicism. This view teaches that the only source of reliable knowledge is the Bible. This is usually argued for based on what I mentioned before about the world being broken and man being corrupt. In this view, we have to study the world through the lens of the Bible.

The third view is dual revelationsim. This view teaches that both God’s word and God’s world are consistent and complementary revelations when properly interpreted. These two revelations are also referred to as general and special revelation.

Image result for dual revelationWhen we recognize that both nature and the Bible are revelations from God, then we need to understand that each one should be taken with equal weight. By equal I mean
that we have to recognize that the two revelations are different and that we have to understand each one the best that we can. Both revelations are used to understand God more because they are two different ways that God has revealed himself to us.

There are many things about nature that the Bible doesn’t speak about and there are theological issues that we could never discover in nature. We will never learn that Jesus is the Messiah or the doctrine of sanctification from nature. Also, the Bible doesn’t speak about other planets or scientific discoveries like atoms. God didn’t reveal everything to us in the Bible. Therefore, it is important to understand where each revelations is limited.  So if general revelation gives us insight into special revelation, then it should be considered and inform our interpretation Scripture. The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about how creation took place. So if we know things from general revelation that align with Scripture, then we should be able to us it to correct our interpretation.

Understand that we are not changing God’s word with general revelation but only our interpretation of God’s word. If fallen man can get correct interpretations of Scripture, then we should be able to get correct interpretations of nature.

Which view do you hold to when it comes to God’s revelations and our interpretations?

The Integration of Science and Faith with Dr. Jeff Zweerink

Dr. Jeff Zweerink, a research scholar at Reasons to Believe, joined me this week to talk about the integration of science and faith. He is an astrophysicist studying the multiverse theory, dark energy and dark matter, and exoplanets. In this episode he talks about what it is like being a Christian scientist, why the church should care about the scientific disciplines, and how students can stay strong in their faith while studying science.

Are you a student who is interested in studying science in college? Or may you’re a parent who has a student who is interested in science. If so, you should check out this promo for The Lab, where their goal is to equip students for careers in different scientific disciplines.

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Listen to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show on Active Reliance Radio every Wednesday from 4:30-5 PM PT.

Like the Facebook page, watch live, and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. Send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number only for questions).

Why the “Out of Africa” Theory Doesn’t Undermine the Literal Garden of Eden

I recently wrote the blog “Were Adam and Eve Historical Figures?” where I argued that the Bible speaks of them as being historical. It isn’t figurative language used to make a point or anything like that. Instead, both Jesus and Paul point to Adam and Eve as being historical. If Jesus believed it, then I am convinced.

This blog was met with two objections in the comments that I wanted to respond to in this post. 1) The DNA evidence pointing to the “Out of Africa” theory seems to undermine the literal Garden of Eden. 2) Evidence shows early man being hunters and gathers, not farmers and herders like Cain and Abel. So let’s look at both of these objections.

Does the “Out of Africa” theory undermine a literal Garden of Eden?

The “Out of Africa” theory states that humans originated in Africa instead of earlier theories that proposed we evolved from different areas of the globe. If this is true, then how could the Garden of Eden also be true? Well, I want to propose that the evidence for the “Out of Africa” theory actually makes the biblical view stronger. At the same time, I think this theory challenges the evolutionary model of needing many different points of evolution.

First, before this theory, it was believed that humans evolved from different species living in different parts of the world. This would be very difficult to reconcile with a Genesis account. It wouldn’t match a single location and it would discredit humanity coming from a single man and woman. However, the theory that humans originated in eastern Africa lines up closer with the biblical model.

There is also DNA evidence is showing that humanity came from a single man and a single woman which also points to a biblical view. Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, the first man and first woman, were believed to live thousands of years apart. However, new studies suggest that they lived around the same time. Again, strengthening the biblical account.

Second, the exact location for the Garden of Eden is unknown. Different locations have been proposed, and even some have the garden stretching down into Africa. These two locations are closer now based on the evidence than they were with different theories. It is possible then for the Garden of Eden to overlap with the origin of humans in the “Out of Africa” theory. For that reason, I don’t see any immediate reason to think that this theory undermines the literal Garden of Eden.

What about evidence for early humans being hunters and gatherers instead of farmers and herders?

It seems like this idea is starting to change with new evidence. Dr. Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe has written this article giving evidence that first humans were likely farmers (Check it out here). We also have to understand that the first humans lived for many years. To think that they didn’t learn over their life span stretching hundreds of years would be crazy.

What do you all think about the “Out of Africa” theory? What about evidence from Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Do science and faith contradict?

The reason I started studying science apologetics is because I saw many students having trouble reconciling the two. The debate between faith and science seems to always be one that troubles many believers. Instead of allowing science to cause doubts, I felt like when properly understood, we can actually use science to point to God. As I have studied the sciences, I have found that they have strengthened my faith rather than weakened it.

It is for this reason that it saddens me when I hear of someone leaving Christianity because they started studying science. For my final test in my Creation vs. Evolution class, we had to watch a video advocating for evolution and then respond. In this video, there was a college student who grew up in a Christian home but then began to doubt his faith when he learned about evolution in college.

The biggest problem I see is that many videos showing the difference between creation and evolution only present one view of creation. It seems like people from both sides of the debate are not properly representing the other side. Ask most Christians if they believe in evolution and they will say no. Then ask them to define evolution and many will have trouble. Does it seem reasonable to reject something that you don’t even know how to define? The same is true for many on the side of evolution. The thing I see in video after video advocating for evolution is that they only present the young-earth view, and then they find the craziest person explaining it so it just sounds ridiculous.

This video I watched for my final presented the debate between creation and evolution and really only gave two possibilities; young-earth or evolution. There creationists interviewed admitted to only being taught young-earth creationism and that it is the only correct view. If anything was presented other than a literal six days, then it was looked at as heresy. Even bringing up the Big Bang made the father question, “Which day did that happen?” At one point a creationist was speaking to a church and taught them to say, “Where you there?” whenever a person mentions millions of years. The problem is that he wasn’t there even if the earth is only 6,000 years old, so he has the same issue. Claiming that you have to be at an event in order to know it happened would destroy every single history department.

I think it is arguments like these that make Christians seem unreasonable. Is that really the best we have to offer? Can we only ask what day something happened or ask them if they were there? I don’t think so. I think that Christians need to be engaged in this discussion and that we need to do it reasonably and informed. If we can do this, then I think we will see a difference in students questioning their faith when it comes to this issue.

It is presented that the Bible and science cannot go together and therefore you either do bad science if you’re a creationist or you do bad theology if you believe in evolution. The problem is that this attitude only allows for one interpretation of the sciences and one interpretation of theology. This however creates a false dichotomy. There aren’t only two options, and we have to be willing to look at the evidence and see where it leads us.

There are many scientific discoveries that seem to point to evolution. There are similarities in DNA, homology of bone structures, and even examples of micro-evolution. Fossils have been found that seem to be transitional species. If not understood properly, this can cause Christians to have serious doubts. Instead of dismissing these things as not important the same way evolutionists sometimes dismiss creationists and being unreasonable, lets get a better understanding of the data so that we can have an intelligent discussion.

Christians are able to explain the beginning of the universe, the origin of life, and the scientific evidence without just saying, “God did it.” This is what the students in the video were looking for. They wanted to use science to better understand God instead of having to throw out science and say “God did it.” The great we can use science to point to God.

Therefore, I am convinced that if we begin to teach a better understanding of science to students from a younger age, then there is a less chance of students doubting thier faith in college. The reason I am taking these classes is because I think there is a big disconnect between science and faith among Christian youth. We do not need to be afraid of science like the students in the video were. We also don’t need to throw faith out the window in order to accept science. God is the creator of both the natural world and His Word. It is for this reason that I believe we are able to look at both science and faith and come to a better understanding of how the world works without having them contradict

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