Monday, April 27, 2009

Old Earth Creationist?

In Fossil Hunter, the various "sides" of the evolution debate are depicted as being old earth or young earth. Old earthers, of course, accept the natural record and the view of "science" that the earth is billions of years old and has reached its present state over a long period of successive changes. It is a view allegedly supported by the natural record. Young earthers claim that the earth was created in the six days of Genesis 1, and that many of the means of dating it much older than the few thousands of years since then, are suspect in terms of accuracy.

Fossil Hunter's Christian protagonist, Katie James, believes that the earth is old, that things evolved but that God directed them. This can be called directed or theistic evolution.

As I have previously blogged here, I believe that a gap of time exists between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth...

The verb for created is bara, which means to create absolutely. It is used in the Bible exclusively with God as the subject and means "to create or to bring into existence by divine commnand." Twice it's used specifically to create out of nothing (the universe and the human soul).

Col 1:16 echoes this in, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth... all things have been created by Him and for Him..."

Again the verb forms indicate this creative act was instantaneous.

God is perfect and everything He does is perfect (Deut 32:4). He has purpose and meaning in all that He does. So the heavens and earth that He created must have been perfectly formed and useful from the get-go in Genesis 1:1.

But then Gen 1:2 says, And (or But) the earth was (or had become) formless and void.

In the Hebrew formless and void is tohu wa bohu which means "waste, desolation, a disorderly muddle."

If God's works are perfect, how could He have created the universe as a disorderly muddle?

Is 45:18 says He did not: For thus says the LORD, who created (bara) the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited)...

"Waste place" is the Hebrew tohu tohu, which means really, really empty, meaningless, vain, useless

So clearly between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1, something happened. What?

Well, as I said in that blog I did last year, this same term "formless and void" (tohu wa bohu) occurs only one other time in the scriptures, where Jeremiah describes his vision of the past:

Jer 4:23-26 I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; And to the heavens, and they had no light. (and of course the earth in Gen 1:2 has no light)

I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, And all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and behold, there was no man, (no men indicates pre-human history)

And all the birds of the heavens had fled. I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness, And all its cities (angelic cities, not human) were pulled down
Before the LORD, before His fierce anger.

What could have made the Lord so angry that He pulled down angelic cites, laid waste to the earth and made the heavens dark? The logical conclusion is that it was Satan's rebellion referenced in Is 14, Ez 28, and Rev 12)

Is 24:1-3 seems to echo this: Behold, the LORD lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface and scatters its inhabitants. And the people will be like the priest, the servant like his master, the maid like her mistress, the buyer like the seller, the lender like the borrower, the creditor like the debtor. (that is, all are equally destroyed; no one can hide or survive) The earth will be completely laid waste and completely despoiled, for the LORD has spoken this word.

The earth will be completely laid waste... At what other time in history has the entire earth been laid completely waste with no light and no life? The only time that is mentioned is Genesis 1:2.

Also note that in Genesis 1:3 the first thing God said was, "Let there be light"; and there was light -- indicating there was no light in the formless and void earth of verse two, also referenced in Jer 4:23 ("the heavens will be dark")

The Hebrew for "moving over" the surface of the waters carries the connotation of brooding like a hen on her eggs -- ie, providing heat. I John tells us that God is light and in Him is no darkness, so obviously this act in verse 3 is not the beginning of light, but the return of it. The earth must have been flooded and frozen...

In addition, the use of the word "deep" (tehom or abyss) is frequently used throughout scripture in association with the judgment of angels. Both "darkness" and "deep" convey sinister events throughout the word; darkness especially connotes evil and spiritual darkness.

All of this and more have convinced me that the earth was here long before God made man, and could in prehistoric/angelic times have had different sorts of flora and fauna such as we've discovered in fossils. Personally, I think the huge plants and dinosaurs make a good fit for an angelic Garden of Eden (referenced in Ezekiel 28:13 in the description of Satan who had possessed the King of Tyre). It seems logical to me that the creatures on the earth could have changed in conjunction with the angelic fall in a way similar to the earth's fall along with Adam and the woman, so that the prehistoric animals of the angelic times changed from plant eaters to flesh eaters, as well -- though the Bible says nothing about this. Still it's fun to speculate)

How long all this was in existence I have no idea. I do think it's a show of hubris on the part of creatures who can't even leave the planet and live at most a century to go about claiming with absolute certainty that anything is a billion years old. Maybe it is, but to be certain about something so astronomically beyond all our ability to measure or validate seems ridiculous.

On the other hand, I don't think the Bible precludes an earth that is older than six thousand years, either. To me the six day account in Genesis seems pretty clearly an account of the restoration or renovation of the formerly trashed earth for its new occupants.

More on that tomorrow.