Scott Ferguson, in his excellent comment on the original “Older than Dirt” raised a question that was resurrected by a friend of mine, Brad Hansen. I was hoping to find time to go back and address what Scott said when I HAD time. Then Brad sent me some pages from Hugh Ross’s books, “Creation in Time” and it forced my hand. In that book, Ross addresses the “False Age Theory” first penned by Philip Gosse, a British biologist and preacher. Ross raises some objections to the view that might be worth walking through.
Brad and I have bounced the creation theories around for a couple of years now – and he always adds interesting things to consider. Makes for good discussion.
From “Reasons.org” –
“Philip Gosse (a YEC) specifically wrote that the Earth was created with an “appearance of age”
“Many mention this but fail to give the story proper context and background. In 1844 a pamphlet entitled Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, espousing an evolutionary viewpoint, was published. In response Philip Gosse, a minister in the Fundamentalist group called the Plymouth Brethren, wrote Omphalos, published in 1857. In it Gosse made the first written argument that creation only looks old. In it, Gosse even argued that Adam and Eve had navels because that is what one would expect in God-created creatures — Omphalos is indeed Greek for navel.
“Gosse expected Omphalos to be attacked by scientists. What he did not expect was the denunciation by the religious community. Asked to write a review of Omphalos, his friend Charles Kinglsey, [their misspelling] a minister and author of Westward Ho! refused and wrote the following letter to Gosse.
“You have given the ‘vestiges of creation theory’ [the pamphlet discussed above] the best shove forward which it has ever had. I have a special dislike for that book; but, honestly, I felt my heart melting towards it as I read Omphalos. Shall I tell you the truth? It is best. Your book is the first that ever made me doubt the doctrine of absolute creation, and I fear it will make hundreds do so. Your book tends to prove this – that if we accept the fact of absolute creation, God becomes God-the-Sometime-Deceiver. I do not mean merely in the case of fossils which pretend to be the bones of dead animals; but in …your newly created Adam’s navel, you make God tell a lie. It is not my reason, but my conscience which revolts here … I cannot …believe that God has written on the rocks one enormous and superfluous lie for all mankind. To this painful dilemma you have brought me, and will, I fear, bring hundreds. It will not make me throw away my Bible. I trust and hope. I know in whom I have believed, and can trust Him to bring my faith safe through this puzzle, as He has through others; but for the young I do fear. I would not for a thousand pounds put your book into my children’s hands.”
So ends the excerpt from the article.
This idea that if God created the earth with the appearance of age (in fact, I would say with actual age – since time itself is a creation and under God’s sovereign control) He is somehow being deceptive or dishonest, is bogus. Kingsley up above, says that in Gosse’s book (if not the theory itself) “God becomes God-the-Sometime-Deceiver. ” I think, Lane Coffee & Darrick Dean (who wrote the article cited above on Ross’s site) and Kingsley err in a few very critical places.
First, If God created the world in a fully mature state in order to REVEAL things about Himself, He cannot be charged with deception, lying or anything of the sort. Did Christ lie when He used parables to communicate truth? Of course not. The use of another medium to display concepts and truths not readily available – or even simply to clarify and reinforce what is available cannot be construed as falsehood. The charge here is specious. He wasn’t hiding anything, by His own declaration He was revealing it.
Second, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Ps. 19:1). Creation is supposed to be revealing information about GOD, the Creator, NOT about the Creation proper. The Psalm DOES NOT say, “the heavens declare the glory of the heavens.” Words on a type written page are not placed there to reveal things about ink, type faces and paper manufacturing. You may be able to ascertain something of those things I imagine, but that is to overlook the fact that they are not the subject of the investigation – the information being communicated is. Here, the medium is perfectly suited to relate the truth about the Creator, without getting in the way of the communication. But when men insist upon focusing upon the medium, they lose the message entirely. This is a grave error. The problem here isn’t that the medium doesn’t do the right work, or that the Author used the wrong medium, it is that the observers are more fascinated with canvass than the message the Painter was creating. Parsing the verbs in the Greek New Testament is not the same as listening to the message.
Old Earthers (in my humble opinion) can’t tell the Creator for the trees. Study bark all you want to get information about trees, and all you’ll end up with is a brain full of bark facts. Study it to find out about God, and maybe you’ll get somewhere.
Third, man cannot know anything absolutely except God reveals it. This, God does in propositional truth. Hence, His written Word. A fallen man can look at creation and postulate “a” god, but little more. The saving God of the Bible cannot be savingly known that way. Creation was never given for that purpose. There is enough in creation to make a man know he doesn’t know God, but not enough to come to know Him. That requires special revelation – with propositional truth. However – the saved man DOES draw from creation more about the God who made it than any mere deist could ever hope for. Now remember, man was not made in the lost state. He was upright and righteous and in communion with God. Given the propositional truth he would get from God, he could now apply that to creation accurately. Adam did not suffer from the disconnect the fallen mind does today. Without the Fall, man can look at the universe as school about his God without confusing the school with the God. We do not. We make that mistake all the time. Unsaved men will naturally confuse the two. Christians shouldn’t.
Fourth, do not forget that God CAN and DOES hide truth at times – judicially. Christ Himself cites Isa. 6 in response to why He taught the people in parables: Matt. 13:10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “’You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
So what if God, in His eternal justice uses the “parables” of creation to explicate His glory to some, while using it to mete out justice upon others by darkening their understanding? There is nothing amiss here. He can do so justly, righteously and very capably. “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Will Ross, Coffee, Dean & Kingsley charge God with wrong doing here?
You see, they overstate their case to defend their position. Something I’ve been know to do myself from time to time – no condemnation being passed out here – just disagreement.
All in all, the effort to dismiss the “appearance of age” theory on the basis of deception just doesn’t hold water. Creation is not the purpose of creation. God is. Look for Him in it, you’ll see how He is represented. Look for creation information, and you’ll lose Him in the process. The heavens declare the glory of GOD, not the glory of the material universe. Coffee & Dean wrote their article to explicate a theo-scientific position – but I suppose you can learn something about internet publication by examining the mechanisms and technologies with which they communicated the article. You can read John 3:16 and get the message, or you can focus on fonts, paper production, punctuation, book distribution, binding techniques, legibility studies and ink formulations. But I think you’re better off getting the message.