Can a Christian believe the earth is billions of years old?

For nearly sixty years now Young Earth Creationists have been trying to convince the world that the earth is only a few thousand years old and evolution never happened.

Science Confirms The Bible

The book which started it all.

The_Genesis_Flood

Most stop short of saying that if you accept deep time and evolution you cannot be a Christian. However, I’ve been told that many times.

The result is that Creationists, and especially Ken Ham have been successful in convincing both Christian and non-Christian that to be a Christian you must believe in a young earth.

Ham and other believe there were dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden.

Image result for ken ham image51gBlHMEfwL__SS500_

I prefer this!

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Recently Ken Ham has been asking this question and then answering it

Can a person believe in an old earth and an old universe (millions or billions of years in age) and be a Christian?

It’s was on Facebook on 28th September 2019, with the following introduction and a web reference.

https://www.facebook.com/BiblicalCreation/

and

https://answersingenesis.org/age-of-the-earth/does-the-gospel-depend-on-a-young-earth/?fbclid=IwAR0T1vGnkR6NLHSBl6aJrdjhJp23ow5ChqEAb6q7QG37Jy2reHIR2uM6FCY

 

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
~Romans 10:9

Numerous other passages could be cited, but not one of them states in any way that a person has to believe in a young earth or universe to be saved.

And the list of those who cannot enter God’s kingdom, as recorded in passages like Revelation 21:8, certainly does not include “old earthers.”

Even though it is not a salvation issue, the belief that earth history spans millions of years has very severe consequences. […] The point is, believing in a young earth won’t ultimately affect one’s salvation, but it sure does affect the beliefs of those that person influences concerning how to approach Scripture. We believe that such compromise in the Church with millions of years and Darwinian evolution has greatly contributed to the loss of the Christian foundation in the culture.

https://answersingenesis.org/…/does-the-gospel-depend-on-a…/

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https://answersingenesis.org/age-of-the-earth/does-the-gospel-depend-on-a-young-earth/?utm_source=articlesmedia&utm_medium=email&utm_content=1-banner-cta&utm_campaign=20190928&mc_cid=3778e71b84&mc_eid=e396ad77f1

So here it it in its full glory and unexpurgated.

I’ve included it all and put my comments in quotation form

like this. Anything in a grey background is yours truly.

Chapter 1

Does the Gospel Depend on a Young Earth?

by Ken Ham on September 28, 2019

 

Can a person believe in an old earth and an old universe (millions or billions of years in age) and be a Christian?

A typical Ham question where the answer is “yes” but really “no”.

First of all, let’s consider three verses that sum up the gospel and salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:17 says, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” Jesus said in John 3:3, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Romans 10:9 clearly explains, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Numerous other passages could be cited, but not one of them states in any way that a person has to believe in a young earth or universe to be saved.

I think I second him on this

And the list of those who cannot enter God’s kingdom, as recorded in passages like Revelation 21:8, certainly does not include “old earthers.”

 

Elsewhere we can find more as in Galatians 5 vs 20

Many great men of God who are now with the Lord have believed in an old earth.

This is rather patronising to say the least. In fact it is most since geologists started hammering the earth.

 

Some of these explained away the Bible’s clear teaching about a young earth by adopting the classic gap theory. Others accepted a day-age theory

What Ham doesn’t seem to realise is that these interpretations of Genesis weren’t “made up” to make geological time palatable , but go back hundreds of years earlier and right back to the early Fathers.

See my chapter in Myth and Geology, Geol soc Special Publications 273 2007.

sp273-39

 

or positions such as theistic evolution, the framework hypothesis, and progressive creation.

This is rather sweeping and dismissive of the many who have considered Genesis in the light of science

My chapter (in English from Streitfall Evolution

Evolution and religion in Britain from 1859 to

Scripture plainly teaches that salvation is conditioned upon faith in Christ, with no requirement for what one believes about the age of the earth or universe.

In many ways I agree with that, but Christians can put others off beleif in Christ by holding silly beliefs themselves or rejecting science. St Augustine sums it up

Augsutine

Now when I say this, people sometimes assume then that it does not matter what a Christian believes concerning the supposed millions-of-years age for the earth and universe.

 

Now we are getting to it! I disagree with Ham as rejecting “billions-of-years” makes the Gospel absurd. I find this rather duplicitous  as the diagram shows what Ham really thinks as his honest answer is that you cannot.

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Even though it is not a salvation issue, the belief that earth history spans millions of years has very severe consequences.

Having softened his readers up, he nows let rip.

Let me summarize some of these.

Authority Issue

The belief in millions of years does not come from Scripture, but from the fallible methods that secularists use to date the universe.

 

As the Bible was written some 2 to 3 thousand years ago, this is not surprising. Neither do the following come from Scripture; heliocentrism, genetics, DNA, periodic table, but according to Paul in I Corinthians 15 seeds actaully die before they germinate. That is simply untrue!!

To attempt to fit millions of years into the Bible, you have to invent a gap of time that almost all Bible scholars agree the text does not allow — at least from a hermeneutical perspective.

Here Ham is alluding to the Gap Theory, which suggests a gap of time between the initial creation in vs1 and the final re-ordering in vs2, which was the most common view of conservative evangelicals up to about 1970 to accommodate geological time. Here Ham implies it was invented/concocted as an adhoc response to deep time.

That is not the case. Some in the early church held it. In fact before 1800 most western Christians reckon God first created chaos and then later re-ordered it after a period of time. Before geology opinions differed on the duration of Chaos. Ussher nobly allowed a few hours, but others allowed much more. Thus in 1801 Thomas Chalmers took this “Chaos-Restitution” interpretation and allowed most geological time to be in this period of Chaos.

Hence it was not invented but an old interpretation modified. OK it was rejected by most in later years.

Or you have to reinterpret the days of creation as long periods of time (even though they are obviously ordinary days in the context of Genesis 1).

 

Again this is not another invention but a modification of an ancient interpretation which was held by some in the early church. It was not as widely held as the Chaos-Restitution

See my chapter in Myth and Geology and also this paper in The Evangelical Quarterly

Genesis of Ray

In other words, you have to add a concept (millions of years) from outside Scripture into God’s Word. This approach puts man’s fallible ideas in authority over God’s Word.

Sorry, Ken. You misrepresented this “alternative” views and failed to acknowledge they were common before any geologist wielded his hammer.

As soon as you surrender the Bible’s authority in one area, you unlock a door to do the same thing in other areas.

Ken would do well to read John Calvin on accommodation in his commentary on Genesis, on chapter one!! Here Calvin stresses the Bible is about God and not scientific detail. In other words

the Bible tells you how to get to heaven

Not how the heavens go.

Ancient-Hebrew-view-of-universe

Once the door of compromise is open, even if ajar just a little, subsequent generations push the door open wider. Ultimately, this compromise has been a major contributing factor in the loss of biblical authority in our Western world.

Ken loves the word compromise, possibly because it puts those he disagrees with in a bad light. It implies we all lack integrity, which is very offensive

It is not compromise, but striving to understand the world around us in the light of Scripture.

The Church should heed the warning of Proverbs 30:6: “Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”

Not a kindly remark. One should not weaponise the Word of God.

Contradiction Issue

A Christian’s belief in millions of years totally contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture. Here are just three examples:

Thorns. Fossil thorns are found in rock layers that secularists believe to be hundreds of millions of years old, so supposedly they existed millions of years before man. However, the Bible makes it clear that thorns came into existence after the Curse: “Then to Adam He said, ‘Because. . . you have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it”: Cursed is the ground for your sake. . . . Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you’ ” (Genesis 3:17–18).

Nope. Gen 3. 18 does not say thorns came into existence at the so-called Curse.

Disease. The fossil remains of animals, said by evolutionists to be millions of years old, show evidence of diseases (like cancer, brain tumors, and arthritis). Thus, such diseases supposedly existed millions of years before sin. Yet Scripture teaches that after God finished creating everything and placed man at the pinnacle of creation, He described the creation as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Certainly calling cancer and brain tumors “very good” does not fit with Scripture and the character of God.

It’s odd that Christians in previous centuries did not have this problem with “very good”. Why should “very good” mean the absence of death?

Diet. The Bible clearly teaches in Genesis 1:29–30 that Adam and Eve and the animals were all vegetarian before sin entered the world. However, we find fossils with lots of evidence showing that animals were eating each other — supposedly millions of years before man and thus before sin.

To be pedantic this does not preclude meat in one’s diet.

  Death Issue

Romans 8:22 makes it clear that the whole creation is groaning as a result of the Fall — the entrance of sin. One reason for this groaning is death — the death of living creatures, both animals and man. Death is described as an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), which will trouble creation until one day it is thrown into the lake of fire.

Th is is eisegesis on eisegesis. Paul is not clear at this point – hence the diversity of opinion among commentators. Paul neither says or implies “One reason for this groaning is death”.

Romans 5:12 and other passages make it obvious that physical death of man (and really, death in general) entered the once-perfect creation because of man’s sin. However, if a person believes that the fossil record arose over millions of years, then death, disease, suffering, carnivorous activity, and thorns existed millions of years before sin.

 

Again Ken his selecting his preferred interpretation.

The first death was in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal as the first blood sacrifice (Genesis 3:21) — a picture of what was to come in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of the world. Jesus Christ stepped into history to pay the penalty of sin — to conquer our enemy, death.

 

This depends how you consider Genesis 3, but nowhere does it say animals did not die before this point. Most importantly it does not say god offered a sacrifice to make those clothes. This is ingenuous.

By dying on a Cross and being raised from the dead, Jesus conquered death and paid the penalty for sin. Although millions of years of death before sin is not a salvation issue per se, I personally believe that it is really an attack on Jesus’ work on the Cross.

Well, this is not an argument, but what he personally believes! It is better to follow Scripture and look to all commentators to see how we should understand it. One person’s personal views do not count for much.

Recognizing that Christ’s work on the Cross defeated our enemy, death, is crucial to understanding the good news of the gospel: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Far more important is to see that through the cross Christ forgives us and that the resurrection opens the way for new life.  (Could write much more here.)

Rooted in Genesis

All biblical doctrines, including the gospel itself, are ultimately rooted in the first book of the Bible.

This is universal Christian belief.

  • Marriage consists of one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2:24).

I won’t challenge this as the ideal, but it is a pity many Creationists don’t follow it!!

.However you read Genesis, sin started with humans

  • From the beginning God promised a Messiah to save us (Genesis 3:15).

Not all Christians accept this “bruised heel” argument

Genesis 3 16-19 does not actually say this. It is a popular interpretation which owes to John Milton than the Bible

paradiselost

Not the best biblical passage on this!!

I think all Christians would agree, but prefer to look elsewhere in the Bible and especially Jesus’ teachings.

Agreed. I reject the views of Creationists in Apartheid South Africa and the Confederate States who used Genesis to support racism.

 

False Claims

The New York Times on November 25, 2007, published an article on the modern biblical creation movement. The Creation Museum/Answers in Genesis received a few mentions in the article. However, I wanted to deal with one statement in the article that the writer, Hanna Rosin, stated concerning the Creation Museum:

The museum sends the message that belief in a young earth is the only way to salvation. The failure to understand Genesis is literally “undermining the entire word of God,” Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, says in a video. The collapse of Christianity believed to result from that failure is drawn out in a series of exhibits: school shootings, gay marriage, drugs, porn, and pregnant teens. At the same time, it presents biblical literalism as perfectly defensible science.

“Note particularly the statement: “belief in a young earth is the only way to salvation.” Had the writer done just a little bit of homework, she would have found that not to be true! Even if Christians believe in an old earth (and even theistic evolution), they would know that such a statement is absolutely false.

 The Creation Museum avoids saying this explicitly, but it is implied in everything Ham, AIG and the Creation Museum say.

The Bible makes it clear that, concerning Jesus Christ, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). When the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30 asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas (in verse 31) replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

He’s on stronger ground here, but reflects standard Christian belief

In Ephesians 2:8–9 we are clearly told “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” And Jesus Christ stated “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ ” (John 14:6).

Creation Museum/Answers in Genesis Teachings

As one walks through the Creation Museum, nowhere does it even suggest that “belief in a young earth is the only way to salvation.”

Not so, Maybe it does not state it, but the whole approach of the Creation Musuem and AIG, not only suggests it, but makes it to be the only conclusion.

In fact, in the theater where the climax of the 7 C’s walk-through occurs, people watch a program called The Last Adam. This is one of the most powerful presentations of the gospel I have ever seen. This program clearly sets out the way of salvation — and it has nothing to do with believing in a young earth.

As I often tell people in my lectures, Romans 10:9 states “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” By confessing “Jesus is Lord,” one is confessing that Christ is to be Lord of one’s life — which means repenting of sin and acknowledging who Christ is. The Bible DOES NOT state, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead — AND BELIEVE IN A YOUNG EARTH — you will be saved”!

You protest too much!!

Concluding Remarks

So it should be obvious to anyone, even our opponents, that this statement in the New York Times is absolutely false. Sadly, I have seen similar statements in other press articles — and it seems no matter what we write in website articles, or how often we answer this outlandish accusation, many in the press continue to disseminate this false accusation, and one has to wonder if it is a deliberate attempt to alienate AiG from the mainstream church!

I was not aware that AIG was part of the mainstream churches !

I believe that one of the reasons writers such as Hanna Rosin make such statements is that AiG is very bold in presenting authoritatively what the Bible clearly states. People sometimes misconstrue such authority in the way Hanna Rosin has. It is also interesting that people who don’t agree with us often get very emotional about how authoritatively we present the biblical creation view — they dogmatically insist we can’t be so dogmatic in what we present! It’s okay for them to be dogmatic about what they believe, and dogmatic about what we shouldn’t believe, but we can’t be!

In my lectures, I explain to people that believing in an old earth won’t keep people out of heaven if they are truly “born again” as the Bible defines “born again.” Then I’m asked, “Then why does AiG make an issue of the age of the earth — particularly a young age?” The answer is that our emphasis is on the authority of Scripture. The idea of millions of years does NOT come from the Bible; it comes from man’s fallible, assumption-based dating methods.

Here we go again. The false questioning of anything connected to geological or cosmological dating.

That has been dealt with so many times.

 

If one uses such fallible dating methods to reinterpret Genesis (e.g., the days of creation), then one is unlocking a door, so to speak, to teach others that they don’t have to take the Bible as written (e.g., Genesis is historical narrative) at the beginning — so why should one take it as written elsewhere (e.g., the bodily Resurrection of Christ). If one has to accept what secular scientists

i.e atheistic scientists. Ken will not admit how many Christian scienitsts have been involved in all this old age stuff, whether those geologists like Sedgwick and Buckland

buckland

 

in the early 19th century or Fr leMaitre, the Belgian astrophysicist and priest who put forward the idea of a Big Bang.

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say about the age of the earth, evolution, etc., then why not reinterpret the Resurrection of Christ? After all, no secular scientist accepts that a human being can be raised from the dead, so maybe the Resurrection should be reinterpreted to mean just “spiritual resurrection.”

This is plain deceptive as he wishes to imply all non-creationist scientists are atheistic and deny the resurrection.

Perhaps he has not heard of Francis Collins,

250px-Francis_Collins_official_portrait

Sir John Polkinghorne and a whole galaxy of greater and lesser scientists throughout the world , who see no conflict between faith in the resurrection of Jesus and acceptance of the vast age of the universe, and those things which go along with it.

The point is, believing in a young earth won’t ultimately affect one’s salvation, but it sure does affect the beliefs of those that person influences concerning how to approach Scripture. We believe that such compromise in the Church with millions of years and Darwinian evolution has greatly contributed to the loss of the Christian foundation in the culture.

You have not proved your point!!

However you have shown  that you are prepared to misrepresent other Christians, history  and science to make your claim.

Your approach is deficient both in the Ninth Commandment and our Lord’s Second great commandment and rather replete with what Paul warns us about in Galatians 5 vs16-21

I think I prefer Adam Sedgwick’s ways two hundred years ago. We should do the same today . Here it is;

sedgwick

 

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