In asking the Church to accept an old earth, David Campbell and his colleagues suggest that by insisting that the earth is young, Christian leaders will alienate millions who seek answers that the Christian faith might provide, by asking them to believe a lie. In fact, by insisting that the earth is old, Campbell and others like him produce the very alienation they decry.
Any inference from young-earth or old-earth models must begin with the Only Historical Record now available for the period under study: the Bible. That Document declares:
- God created the universe, the earth, and life on it, in a span of six days in the usual sense that the word “day” connotes. Those days were probably longer than the modern day, but not by much–in fact, by less than half a modern hour. (This Examiner will present later on the argument that the original solar day was 1/360th of a year.)
- After He did this, He declared that His creation was absolutely excellent and flawless.
- 1,656 years later, the earth suffered the greatest disaster–uniquely named cataclysm–that it has ever known.
- The Creation event occurred 6,014 years ago, give or take 45.
On the other hand, the 4.6-billion-year history in which Campbell and his fellows would have their fellow churchmen believe is a history of “struggle, death, catastrophe, and suffering,” according to John K. Reed, who wrote this answer. (That the Campbell team would believe in catastrophe is ironic, since uniformitarianism precludes catastrophe.) The problem: if death and suffering were part of Creation since the beginning, then the Fall of Man was essentially of no moment. And if the Flood did not occur, then modern readers must reject as lies not only three chapters of Genesis but also certain clear references to the Flood event that Jesus Christ Himself made.
An old-earth model will never be superior to a young-earth model for the finding of, say, fossil-fuel deposits. In fact, a young-earth, or rather a young-solar-system, model might be superior to an old-system model by predicting that prospecting for profitable lodes of radioactive minerals–or magnetic monopoles–on the Moon and on other planets and their satellites will come to nothing. (The asteroid belt might be a different matter, since asteroids are probably of earth origin.) On the other hand, an old-system model predicts that radioactive minerals, magnetic monopoles, and even large quantities of extractable antimatter should be not merely present in outer space, but abundant. Yet no one has ever tried to raise venture capital for the establishment of an extraterrestrial mining colony.
Campbell believes that death and suffering have always been part of God’s creation. This begs the question of what they have left to believe in, and by what standard do they judge the Bible. For if the Bible is not Fact, then the most important facts to which It attests–the Mission, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ–become unreliable. That scarcely matters today to an atheist. (It will matter a great deal to that atheist when he dies, but by then it will be far too late.) But it matters a great deal, or should, to anyone who calls himself a Christian, or wants to be one, or is remotely curious.
Campbell also makes an appeal to “seeker friendship”–an attempt to present the Bible in a “small dose” that will not “scare people away.” Such a presentation always leaves vital matters unsaid. Obvious lifestyle questions are for someone else to examine. The relevant question here is the practical consequence of failing to make a forthright presentation of the actual physical evidence, the distinction between evidence and worldview-driven interpretation, and a practical model that shows the earth to be young. The Campbell position is that “seekers” will not receive such a presentation well, because an old earth is, in their opinion, incontrovertible. In fact, the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky–the institution most dedicated to making just such a forthright presentation–has drawn attendance far exceeding the most optimistic estimates of its builders and curators. Furthermore, the churches that neglect this area of teaching are the ones losing members, and sometimes losing them to the churches that do champion young-earth creationism.
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