OLDER THAN DIRT


That’s neither a reference to my Dad – OR to me since my dughter got married on Oct. 15th. And yes, thank you so much for all the congrats. It really was a wonderful day – I’ll blog about it soon.

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No, this blog is about the age-of-the-earth-wars.

How old is the earth? One group says – 6-10,000 years max. Based upon the Biblical timelines, can’t go anywhere else. The other group says – “look at the physical evidence! Its obvious to anybody with eyes in their heads – ITS OLD!” In the words of Carl Sagan (who knows the truth now, though he ain’t tellin’), the universe is billions of billions of years old. Older than dirt.

Carl’s bigger problem is trying to explain to the Creator that in spite of the fact he was exposed to the Gospel and gave his life to studying God’s universe – he went ahead and told everybody “the universe is all there is, and all there ever will be.” I would NOT want to be him trying to dance my way out of that one. No sir.

Young Earthers scramble for data on how the flood and other possible global cataclysms changed the earth to give some appearances of what should have taken eons to create. The Old Earthers just say, take it at face value, if it looks like it took all that time to carve out the Grand Canyon, it took all that time.

Now what neither side discusses (for different reasons) is whether or not the universe was MEANT to look old on purpose. You see the nifty thing about being the Creator is – you can create anything in what might appear to be any stage of development. And I would contend that is exactly what God has done. The YE’s will still try to show empirical evidence for a young universe. So be it. I think it is the wrong approach. And the OE’s will continue to show that if it takes light 50,000 years to travel far enough to show up in our night sky, then you can’t possibly have a universe any younger than that.

Now lets get one thing straight right out of the gate. I am NO scientist. I’ve never even played one on TV. I’ve got one in my congregation and he cringes every time he even thinks I’m going to use some scientific principle to illustrate a point. Like most, my scientific knowledge is so popular, is has no right to be called science at all – except in anthropological circles. So I won’t even try.

My thoughts on this subject are not scientifically savvy from either side of the divide. They’re just how I think it works from the Biblical evidence. So here goes.

Whether or not you’re a YE’er or and OE’er, both have the identical problem which science cannot address. Man as he appears in human history, does so, fully mature. This is the Biblical record. Man is formed in some state of maturity, sufficient for adult fellowship with God, and self-sustaining interaction with creation. The OE’er evolutionist or not searches in vain for pre-man, not-quite-man, the missing link or whatever else he wants to call it. It isn’t there. And the YE’er has to concede that

Now there are two critical things to note. Two principles which must guide this discussion.

First: Psalms 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

God creates a universe, that to the man He created within it – due to being created in God’s image, is to allow man to figure out things about God by observation and reflection. God is infinite. The universe will appear to be in reflecting that information about God. God is eternal. Observation of the universe will keep pushing the clock further and further back. It is supposed to give us that impression. The universe is orderly. God is not a God chaos and confusion. The universe (to Sagan anyway) appears to be self-sustaining, and all there is. So our God. All these propositional truths about God we read in His Word are developed and represented before us graphically in His universe. We should see millions of such things. And when men go off the deep and worship the universe, nature, the material realm in which we live, they become pantheistic idolaters. But they HAVE noticed that the universe has god-like qualities. Because God made it show something of His own glory. Something of a self-portrait of the invisible God.

As such, God created it to appear billions of years old. No foolin’. Its infinitude, both in the expansiveness of outer space, and seemingly endlessness of inner space, leading us to smaller and smaller particles and substructures are intentionally designed to make us see God’s own infinitude. We just keep missing the Godhead for the quarks.

We could develop this whole aspect in numberless applications, but I will leave the reader to his or her own fertile imaginations to extrapolate the implications.

God made the universe to display something of Himself, and it displays ancient, sweeping, mind-blowing features all the way.

Second: Starting in Gen. 1:11 – The pattern of creation is to create plants etc., and even man eventually, in a mature state first. The chicken came before the egg. If you try the fool’s game of endless regression, you just plain miss the obvious. Adam had no womb to gestate in for nine months. No mother to nurse him, protect him, clean him or educate him. This would be the stuff of following generations, but not the first one. Neither for plants, nor animals nor anything else. It stands to reason the rest of the universe would be created in a mature state as well. It fits the pattern.

How is it then that light from starts billions of light years away has reached us? Because it was all created with those factors in play. Those features were already in place. The unbroken light stream from the furthest star we can see was beaming on this planet from the beginning. Some fully in place from the beginning, some in a half-way course, some more, some less. But that the universe might appear as mature and ancient as it is supposed to appear in revealing our God – and following the pattern of created maturity – it is so.

Will the Creation Scientists be able to answer all the Evolutionary Scientist’s questions based solely upon scientific means? Nope. I don’t think so Tim. It is “by faith” (by believing God’s record) “we understand that the universe was created by the word of God”. Not by empirical evidence, by revelation. Especially when the empirical evidence is being read wrongly apart from revelation. Apart from revelation – the universe HAS to appear to be eons old, because it was MADE to look eons old. And not in some inept attempt to make “fake” age – but in God’s creative ability to create age itself. One of the fun aspects of being both outside space and time – AND omnipotent.

You know what? When I look at a grown man, I know full well he was a zygote once. And for all but Adam and Eve – that is the unbroken testimony of the empirical evidence of nature. But in revelation I find it was not so for them. Like it is for the rest of us. And I yield to the Word of God. End of story.

When did God create the universe? Probably not that long ago. Does it matter? No. What matters is whether or not we believe God. Not whether or not we can prove it.

Stop trying to find evidence that the universe God created to look ageless is young. It is fruitless. Believe God. He’s older than dirt. Really. Even if dirt looks really, really old.

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6 thoughts on “OLDER THAN DIRT

  1. Reid,

    This topic came across my desk a few years back because of a popular home school science curriculum. The author of the series had been a YE’er, but through more study of the data, has switched his position to an OE’er.

    He published an open letter on his web site (http://www.sonlight.com/young_or_old_earth.html) addressing his change because he knew there were people who used Sonlight science because he was a YE’er. He was practically killed for changing his position.

    One thing I recall him saying was in response to this statement, “Now what neither side discusses (for different reasons) is whether or not the universe was MEANT to look old on purpose.” Actually, the OE’ers do address this and say that it would be dishonest for God to create the universe “old” (a kin to “lying”), so therefore it must truly be old.

    Just thought I’d throw that in.

    Great post!

  2. Great comments Scott. And the folks who you mention think God would be lying if He made the universe look old are wrong for two reasons.

    1. God would be lying if He was not using the universe as a means to communicate non-deceptive truth about Himself. His object is to use a graphic portrayal to give accurate – not inaccurate information. Object lessons aren’t lying. That is where their logic fails.

    2. To them, a soldier dressing up in camoflage may be lying – but we’d beter HOPE it is deceptive – even though it isn’t sin. Failure to make those kinds of necessary distinctions shows that they tend to buy a party line and not actually think through the implications.

    Gerstner in one of his lectures in hand-out theology notes that the Christian who ends up being the best spy or udercover agent He can to the glory of God, is the one who can lie and deceive the best – and does so to the glory of God.

    God creates the universe to reveal accurate information about Himself – not to deceive. But when we try to interpret His display apart from His propositional revelations in His Word, we try to understand Sky King’s messages without the decoder ring. Its a giant guessing game.

  3. Sir,
    So much food for thought here! I’ve never seen these ideas before (God creating things old to display other aspects of His glory). Wow!

  4. In my own personal evangelistic experiences the “Creation vs. Evolution” debate is constantly thrown up in an effort to divert attention away from the central truths of the gospel. And I’m not talking about having discussions with biochemists or molecular physicists here; it’s usually a liberal arts major or the guy making sandwiches at Subway. I’ve always felt that the whole debate is a trap, an effort to keep from talking about sin or Christ. It’s often an attempt to make sure that the conversation focuses on abstractions instead of concrete, personally-applicable gospel claims, like the responsiblity of humanity to God. I’ve even witnessed friends and family leaping zealously into the debate and I recognize that it stems from a sincere desire to contend for the truth of God’s Word, as they understand it. But I think that in the “verbal fencing” that generally accompanies evangelistic/apologetic endeavors that the “What about evolution?” question ought to be met with a “parry” or a “duck” in most circumstances, rather than a “full-frontal assault.” We would do better to “resolve to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

    I think what you have here is a very thoughtful way of magnifying God (instead of forcing him under our microscope), doing justice to God’s word (without bending it to our cultural or hermeneutical pre-conceptions) and allowing room for believers who live and work in the scientific community to study within the prevailing scientific paradigms of our time without forsaking God and His glory as proclaimed in His word.

    Also, I would wonder what Alister McGrath might think of something like this, since before he became a professor of historical theology he received his degree from Oxford in biochemistry.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with your initial thoughts BC. We get so side tracked on these sorts of things and they really do end up being jsut a smoke screen.

    I am convcined we have to get a lot more sophisitcated in how we plunge into these debates so that we don’t lose that central focus on Christ and Him crucified. Well said.

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