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R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries explains how he approaches this question:
Posted by Amy Hall on May 16, 2012 at 03:30 AM in :Amy K. Hall, Apologetics, Science, Theology | Permalink
If the kind of radical uniformitarianism that underlies the theories of Evolution and The Big Bang is true, then the earth must be billions of years old. The conclusion is unavoidable.
Also unavoidable--if the radical uniformitarian assumption is correct--is that the resurrection of the dead and everlasting life are fairy tales.
But then, RU is an assumption. It is not something concluded from observation of the natural world. Nor can it be derived from Scripture.
Salvatore Mazzotta |
May 16, 2012 at 06:53 AM
What really is all of this worry about the age of the Earth, if not just another anxiety born of inerrantist scrupulosity? I see nothing here but another opportunity for inerrantists to get at each others’ throats in mutual suspicion that the other is not submitting faithfully to the firm foundation of the Word of God. If only they would have the courage to turn their suspicions against the very dogmas that engender these silly worries in the first place. How much longer shall the community of believers indulge their unreasonable members by pretending that this question of the age of the Earth is still up for discussion? When will the time come for leaders to say to the mistaken, “You, my friend, are simply wrong, as piles of data have shown. You may continue in your error if you please, but we shall not be held back by your stubbornness that you fondly look upon as pious fidelity to the Bible”?
The gentle and nurturing tone of R.C. Sproul on this issue is less impressive by far than declaring firmly, “Yes, fellow Christians, we now know the Earth to be old. We now know that death, pain, suffering, predation, and extinction were rampant on earth long before there were humans. Get with the program, toughen up your tender theological hearts, and have the courage to drop whatever you have believed that is rendered incredible by those facts.” We are to have integrity and strength in our beliefs. We are not to help ourselves to every stratagem and advantage of clever jugglery in order to find ways of continuing to believe what we ought to reject. As one very interesting German philosopher has put it, “a very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions!!!”
May 16, 2012 at 07:36 AM
We can "know the Earth to be old" only by interpreting "piles of data" through the lens of a radical uniformitarian presupposition.
Now, by what process of observation or what testing program do you arrive at that presupposition? If only we knew of someone--someone trustworthy--who was there at the beginning and could tell us whether RU is true. Only then could we know for sure.
Salvatore Mazzotta |
May 16, 2012 at 07:44 AM
>> "We now know that death, pain, suffering, predation, and extinction were rampant on earth long before there were humans"
they can just argue that only humans did not suffer before the fall of man.
though now that i think about it, this would create a problem for the Francis Collins-esque "Im a Christian and we came from mud" pro-evolution group...
because lots of generations need to die for evolution to happen.
so i guess he would say that, all these generations of almost-humans were not the people that the bible was talking about. and once the organisms evolved from almost-humans, to the full humans that god was going for, then god put a stop to the dying process--those resultant organisms--Adam and Eve.
May 16, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I probably don't agree with Sproul on a lot of things, but I agree with him on this. I don't know how old Earth is. I think it's probably very old.
I also believe that it's certainly a plausible interpretation in scripture (yom is not definitively a 24 day).
That being said, believing one way or the other isn't going to exclude me from salvation. I've yet to hear any version of our gospel that talks about how old the Earth is.
May 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Dave, or anyone else, I would recommend this audio from Dr. Joseph Pipa on this issue. It is a critique of non-literal views, but includes a positive case for a literal reading based upon an exegesis of the text. Some of the same material is presented in Dr. Pipa's Man and Sin class in seminary.
Jeff Downs |
May 17, 2012 at 06:07 AM
As a scientist I am familiar with the principle of uniformitarianism. Could you explain what you mean by radical uniformitarianism?
As I think about this principle, and ask myself if there is any reason I should hold to it, I am confronted with the fact that natural processes have proceeded uniformly for at least several thousand years, as recorded throughout written history.
From a biblical standpoint, it seems that physical laws and natural processes were in place and working as they do today. For example, in the 5th verse in the bible we read that there was evening and morning marking the first day. Well for this to happen we need gravity, light, and magnetism to function as it does today. So the Bible itself seems to point to uniform natural processes from the very beginning.
To me, it seems that the natural laws that govern this universe must themselves find their root in the Creator. Given that he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, it seems reasonable that the laws that spring from himself are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. This, it seems, is part of what God was getting at when, through Paul, he wrote that since the beginning of the world God's nature is made plain to human beings through our observation of His creation.
So it seems to me, uniformitarianism fits well within a Biblical framework regarding the account of creation and the nature of God, as well as our own experiences, and that of our ancestors.
May 17, 2012 at 08:52 AM
The answer to that question is 4,540,000,000 ± 500,000,000 years.
May 18, 2012 at 03:31 PM
A uniformitarian principle can be deduced from scriptures; for example, God ties the consistency of his providential control of "the fixed laws governing heaven and earth" to his sure covenantal promises: "But I, the LORD, make the following promise: I have made a covenant governing the coming of day and night. I have established the fixed laws governing heaven and earth. Just as surely as I have done this, so surely will I never reject the descendants of Jacob. Nor will I ever refuse to choose one of my servant David's descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed, I will restore them and show mercy to them." (Jer. 33:25-26)
David Smart |
May 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM
May 20, 2012 at 11:00 AM
The uniformity of the natural laws we observe is a very important principle, without which empirical science as we know it would not be possible. The passage that you and David cited points to this fact. Another important passage along the same lines is Genesis 8:22 (ESV), "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” This promise is part of the Noaic covenant. It has a beginning, which coincides with the giving of the covenant after the flood, and an end, which coincides with the end of the earth itself. It is a promise that has a timeline associated with it. It is not by nature either necessary or eternal.
I am not denying the uniformity of nature, the laws by which God has been governing the universe during fallen man's time on earth.
What I am denying is that these laws are in some sense necessary; that God governs the universe this way because He has to, or because He has promised that this is the way He always governed it and always will. That the laws have always been and must always be just as they are now. That they can never be changed.
It is this view I am calling "radical uniformitarianism." If RU is true, the miracles of the scripture—the parting of the red sea, the sun standing still in the sky, the axe-head floating, the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ—all are myths. If God cannot or will not ever change the laws of physics, then the resurrection and everlasting life, which Jesus has promised to His people, cannot happen. In that case, perhaps the gnostics were right...We should expect a spiritual, not a physical resurrection.
Salvatore Mazzotta |
May 23, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Hey, cool content, but WordPress breaks it up on my monitor. Maybe it's the plugin you have on the site. Have you considered a different CMS?
Niko Holmen |
May 26, 2012 at 08:29 PM
The bible says the earth is about 6,000-7,000 years old, but scientist believe it is 4.7 billion years old which is impossible. This is correct because of 6 reasons. You can see these 6 or more reasons at How old is the earth? – Answers in Genesis. I also did some research using a magazine of mine called Christ of the nations: special edition February 2011. It says that the earth can’t be 4.7 billion years old because Niagara falls recedes 2.5 feet a year. If the earth was 4.7 billion years old, Niagara falls would have reached the ocean. Also the moon is drifting away from the earth 2 inches a year. If the earth was 4.7 billion years old the moon would have started 148,358 miles closer to the earth. Therefor causing catastrophic global flooding twice a day. But, if the earth is 6,000 years old the moon only started .2 miles closer to the earth. This proves that the earth must be 6,000- 7,000 years old.
July 05, 2012 at 05:24 PM
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