I was listening to a podcast today, when I heard a short clip arguing in defense of Young-Earth Creationism.
The argument went something like this:
1. Old–Earth Creationism is influenced by recent scientific discoveries.
2. Young–Earth Creationism is based on a literal interpretation of the word day in the Genesis creation account.
3. We should take God at His word.
4. Therefore, Young-Earth Creationism is true.
This argument is simply rediculous.
As for the first premise: We have sound biblical reasons to take science seriously. Science is based on observation of the natural world, and the Apostle Paul tells us For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20, ESV)
If God’s invisible attributes are clearly percieved in His creation, then when we observe nature we can learn about God. Science is a reliable method of observing nature, so it would behoove the Christian believer (and everyone else) to understand science in order to learn about the Creator. God revealing Himself through the natural world is known as General Revelation. It is also called by some the Book of Nature.
While the Book of Nature does not have the same authority as the Book of Scripture, it can give us insights to interpret the Bible correctly. The Bible is God’s written Word, and we know by faith that the universe was created by the word of God (Hebrews 11:3). If Scripture and nature come from the same source, they do not contradict each other. Good science illuminates Scripture, and does not contradict it.
Moving on to the second premise: Do we have any good reason to assume that the days of creation are literal 24 hour periods? The seventh day of creation had no end; in fact, we are presently in the seventh day of creation. Clearly, we have days in Scripture that are not literal 24 hour periods. We can take the Bible at face value and still be comfortable with interpreting days in Genesis 1 as ages lasting millions of years. When we look to science to aid biblical interpretation, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support the Young-Earth view. DNA evidence traces our human lineage back to one man and one woman living about 100,000 years in east Africa.
Rather than holding to a Young-Earth perspective in spite of the scientific evidence, we ought to assess our interpretion of the Bible in light of scientific discovery. The Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture do not contradict.
We should take God at His word, but this does not require us to take a fundamentalist anti-intellectual attitude.