First some personal background: part of my secondary education was in a Baptist school, I’m a graduate of a Christian college, and hold a post graduate degree. I only mention that to make two points: One, the official position of the science department of the college I attended was evolutionary creationism, two I’ve struggled with this issue on a personal basis since 7th grade science class. What I’ve come to believe as an adult rejects most of what I was taught in my formative years.
If you don’t believe in God, or you doubt the validity of the Bible as God’s book, none of what follows will be convincing to you, nor is it intended to be. What follows is a philosophical or at least theological discussion. I don’t think I have the ability to convince any non-believer of anything by arguing creationism. I wouldn’t insult your intelligence by trying since even if creationism was proved beyond a reasonable doubt (a task for Vox if he likes), that fact would do little to prove that the Christian God was in fact the creative force. Apologetics is a post for some other time.
I believe in a literal 24 hours in a day, 7 day creation just like Genesis claims. I believe the actual age of the earth is less than 25,000 years.
The reason is very simple. I made a choice to accept that Christianity is true and that the Bible is God’s revelation to man. In my previous post I mentioned that neither creationism nor evolution is science. The reason is that both evolution and creationism require faith. I also insist that it’s impossible for man to know in his lifetime which belief is true. So far no one is arguing convincingly against those points.
In the comments I challenged anyone to provide an example of an Old Testament story that was used as a parable or allegory. No one has raised to that challenge either. Yes Noah was mentioned, but the argument was that the story couldn’t be true because it contradicted man’s understanding of the methods employed. Waterboy, an admitted agnostic, correctly pointed out the flaw in that thinking.
The Bible does contain allegories, they are called parables. They occur in four books in the New Testament. As far as I can recall the parables of Jesus are the only stories that claim to be allegorical, or understood as such from the text. Of the stories He told only one, found in Luke 16, was not clearly taught as such. It is possible that this story is a parable, but it is also possible Jesus was recounting something He had first hand knowledge of.
As a work of literature the Bible contains many literary forms, most all of which are recognizable to the average person. These forms are:
- History, the events are recorded as fact
- Poetry, this includes songs etc the information sometimes conveys facts as well as emotion
- Prophecy, future events are foretold, sometimes as dreams or visions, much of which has occurred and is verified as historical fact
- Apocalyptic, strange symbols and language is employed to convey a cryptic message, events may or may not literal or representative of something else
- Wise sayings ie Proverbs
The story of creation is found in Genesis. Which of the above literary forms does Genesis claim to be? Historical Fact.
The major criticism at this point, at least concerning the first two chapters of Genesis is that observable science seems to contradict the story we have. I don’t think that it does.
The criticism goes something like this:
"We observed in astronomy, geology, physics etc data that would indicate the world is older than 25,000 years. If the world is younger than the time it takes light to travel from a distant star system then god is using the material world to deceive man."
I don’t believe this is the case. First, our dating methods are suspect at best and largely unproven and unverifiable. Second, it is illogical to claim God is attempting to deceive anyone if He Himself told us he created things with the appearance of age.
14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.
Point one, God created the light first according to the text. There is no contradiction in our seeing a light that He said was there. Point two, in the rest of the text it would seem that the creatures came forth as fully grown adults capable of reproduction. To me this indicates age. If God created a world with full grown creatures and a fully functioning ecosystem, and He told us that was what He did, then what we observe in the natural world is not in contradiction with His methods as literally described.