When we ask questions of origins in Christian circles, one question has been conspicuously absent. The familiar questions have been dealt with from hermeneutical perspectives ranging from “Jesus Seminar” types to real believers using the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. Hopefully a fresh look at what has by now become an old argument about a relatively new earth will prove to bring life to a somewhat stale debate. The best arguments argue for a young earth both from science and scripture. We will deal with that low hanging fruit at a later time. For now I hope to address an idea that has as far as I can tell been left untouched.
When old earth Christians approach the age debate, they seem to most often rely on the secular scientific community more than arguments from scripture. Some of these theologians are men by whom I have personally been greatly edified. Astonishingly, they hedge their bets on a band of reprobates while ignoring their own hermeneutical norms as they interpret the book of Genesis. To question their motives would be folly inasmuch as they could not be monolithic. Whatever the case may be, it seems that no one has addressed this issue based on the character and nature of God. To that we must now turn our attention.
Has God ever done anything without any apparent reason? What I mean is this. What purpose would God have had in creating and sustaining earth without man for millions of years? We know that everything is for the glory of God. Maybe it was so the angels would give glory to God for what He had created. Or maybe God was enjoying the planet like a terrarium. Would it have had to go on for millions or billions of years for the angels to sufficiently praise God for it? Frivolity does not describe our God. He has done nothing in time and space in which we do not see man intricately involved. Obviously man is not the point of it all, but neither is he trivial. This argument is only pointed at those who believe that God would have spent vast ages blessing life forms that had no idea of His existence. Every animal that was created or born before Adam would have been alive for millions of years because they would have predated sin. Nothing died before the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Is it possible that God would have done something in the vast majority of time past for which he couldn’t or didn’t give us a reason? Maybe God couldn’t come up with a good reason to give us for vast ages without any apparent purpose. This presupposes that He couldn’t create a material universe that harmonizes with His revelation to His elect. All of this is absurd. The character and nature of our God cannot be reconciled with vast ages without purpose. Neither would our God fail to make those ages clear enough in scripture. Otherwise those who trust His word would be made actual fools for doing so. I am blessed to be a fool for Christ but not in the sense that vast ages would demand of me.
Those who agree with Sailhammer or other old age views at this point may think that my argument is that they aren’t trusting God’s word. To the contrary I believe that they are being inconsistent, not unfaithful. A minister friend of mine broke down Sailhammer’s hypothesis in layman’s terms for me. My friend is a wise, God fearing, brilliant Hebrew scholar who can read the original texts fluently. This description of him is a great argument against his view. There have been brilliant Hebrew scholars throughout church history, but vast ages weren’t discovered in Scripture until men like Charles Lyell developed old earth geology. How would the original hearers of Genesis understood it? We conservative theologians are well aware that doctrines that haven’t existed anywhere in church history are dubious at best. How is this any different? Would a sovereign God allow 1,800 years of Hebrew scholars to be fools for believing that the first 3 chapters of Genesis are a face value historical narrative with nothing of cosmological origins left out? Why would God “hide” this truth so that only brilliant Hebrew scholars could discover it and truly understand it almost 2000 years after the canon was closed? To accept Sailhammer’s view is to deny the clarity of scripture. It relegates all matters of faith and doctrine to a new magisterium of Greek and Hebrew scholars who aren’t bound by only a straightforward historical-grammatical reading of the texts. The ordinary faithful layperson would never come to Sailhammer’s view by just diligently studying their bible. Does it make sense that God would make fools of His faithful followers throughout church history by hiding this truth so well that today’s God hating scientific establishment could scoff at our folly? The hermeneutical hoops that get espoused by Sailhammer’s adherants are not used when they study any other portion of scripture.
Finally, let us go to the words of Christ on the matter. When Jesus said that from the beginning He made them male and female, was He being imprecise by billions of years? Or was He unaware that His bride would be confused as to the meaning of the word “beginning” for two millennia? Again I must argue the clarity of scripture. Something as important as origins can’t be so high up on the tree that the simple things of the world (i.e., me) can’t grasp it. Confound the wise. Take a fresh look at the hermeneutical and scientific arguments put forth by us simple folks. Visit answersingenesis.org and see some of the best evidence for the validity of a young earth view from brilliant, faithful, scientist-theologians. If you do, I’m convinced that you will see that old earth cosmology is as foreign to biblical Christianity as some new perspective on Paul.