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procrustean-bed“Apparent age” means that God created the cosmos to look billions of years old when in fact it is only a few 1000 years old. This is seen by some* as a solution to why the earth looks so old when the Bible says it is so young.

“Apparent age” has the convenient benefit of allowing one to accept the observations of science while rejecting the interpretation of those observations by scientists. The interpretation of those observations remains securely with Scripture itself, not with scientists or others who refuse to accept the Scripture’s “clear” teaching.

In other words, one can “accept” the scientific data while also remaining a biblical literalist. Science only studies what God appeared to have done, and scientists are free to have at it. Scripture, however, tells us, without fear of contradiction, what God actually did.

This kind of thinking may appear to be a tidy solution the problem, but in fact it creates many more.

The overarching problem—not only here but at any point wherever science/faith issues are engaged by fundamentalists—is the assertion that Genesis is prepared to tell us how old the earth is. Little if any serious consideration is given to seeing Genesis as ancient literature, which can’t be sidestepped quite so easily.

But even if we accept “apparent age” for the sake of discussion, the theory loses traction quickly, for 3 reasons.

1.“Apparent age” is an arbitrary claim that makes the “facts fit the theory.”

It is surely obvious that the theory of “apparent age” is generated to make the observations of science fit the assertion of literalist readers of Genesis. Unless one were precommitted to a literal reading of Genesis, one would never think of making this sort of claim.

Making facts fit a theory is an unfortunately common, yet to some still unacceptable, method of establishing one’s point. It is particularly common in theological debates, where one assumes that one’s own theological pre-commitments are the sure and unassailable point of departure.

One’s theology is to be defended, never examined. Counterarguments are either molded to fit the theory or ignored altogether.

This is why true discussion—an exchange of ideas—never really gets off the ground. The issues at stake are bound up with ideological self-preservation. When fear of losing one’s “all-encompassing narrative” is at stake, reasonable assessment of contrary evidence is an early casualty, which leaves us with “explanations” like “apparent age.”

Such explanations demonstrate that the theology driving them is a barrier to truth more than its guardian.

Many—might I say, most—Christian thinkers trained in these matters (science, biblical studies, theology, philosophy) are deeply invested in working through how Genesis is to be read not only in view of evolution, but of our growing understanding of how “origins stories” worked in the ancient Near Eastern world (a whole other topic). I do not think the church is helped by insisting we cut ourselves off from these potential conversation partners and retreat to an ad hoc explanation like “apparent age.”

2. The world shows evidence of age and evolutionary development.

The world does not just show evidence of age. It also shows evidence of millions upon millions upon millions of years of evolution, judging by the wealth of evidence at hand (e.g., fossils, geological records, human genome).

The theory of “apparent age” needs to account for why the cosmos—including the earth and life on it—looks like it evolved.

Of course, one could simply add another ad hoc explaination: God created ont only with apparent age but with “apparent evolutionary process.”

But how many ad hoc theories would one need to advance in order to preserve biblical literalism? At what point do the ad hoc explanations begin to seem more like a stubborn defense rather than a true explanation of things?

It also raises some serious questions about God. Why would God do such a thing? Why would God load the cosmos with all this evidence and then expect us to stop short of drawing some conclusions from that evidence?

I think this is a very serious issue. “Apparent age” gives us a God who makes the world look one way, but then expects us to hold all that at bay in favor of a literalistic reading of Genesis that, according to biblical literalists, God requires of us.

Is God—like a touchy tyrant—testing our allegiance to see if we will hold fast to his word? I think the Christian God is better than that.

3. “Apparent age” is arbitrary about what portions of Scripture are to be read “plainly.”

Biblical literalists reject evolution and the age of the earth because their literal reading of the Bible demands it.

But they can’t stop there.

They must follow that same own logic in explaining other biblical statements about the physical world that don’t line up with modern science. After all, if the Bible must be given the last word, then it must be given the last word consistently.

The biblical writers thought the earth was a flat disk. since Scripture has the final word, must we not conclude that the world only looks round—that God created the earth with “apparent roundness?”

Likewise, Genesis 1 speaks of the sky overhead as a dome (Hebrew raqia). Therefore, it can only appear that we have broken free of our atmosphere and orbited the earth, landed on the moon, and are moving further to the outer limits of our solar system daily. God created the cosmos with “apparent outer space.”

The Bible speaks of the earth as the stable, motionless, center of the cosmos. Therefore, it can only appear that the earth rotates on it axis, thus giving us day and night, or that the earth revolves around the sun, along with the other planets, on its yearly course. God created the solar system with “apparently heliocentricity.”

I don’t mean to be unfair. I am sure that biblical literalists believe in none of these things. My point is that they should—if they mean what they say about the Bible’s role in adjudicating matters of science.

Why place Genesis 1 on the “must read literally” side of the line and not on the “this is an ancient idiom” side (as literalists routinely do with a flat, stationary, domed earth)?

Decisions about what should and should not be read literally seems arbitrary, indeed—which is the very accusation literalists like to hoist upon others.

Some speak of “apparent age” with calm assurance, as if nothing could be more obvious and logical. But it is a explanation that creates many more problems than it tries to solve. Those problems are rooted in an unexamined precommitment that Christians have no choice but to read Genesis literally.

51pbY5KhyEL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_But they do have a choice. Just ask around.

[I explore the relationship between science and faith in The Evolution of Adam (Baker 2012) and the nature of the Bible in Inspiration and Incarnation (Baker 2nd ed. 2010), and The Bible Tells Me So (HarperOne, 2014)]

*Today’s post is a slightly abbreviated version of 2 posts that appeared on my old blog in October 2011. My focus then was on Al Mohler, who seemed quite animated about all this, but the problem is much bigger. It remains an attractive option among those who insist that the Bible must be read “literally” and are oblivious to the problems literalism causes.

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

63 Comments

  • Gary says:

    A plea is made to believe something differently, yet it seems to be absent a broader framework for how consensus can be formed. Instead, “Just ask around;” it seems to be a la carte.

    Perhaps this is related to what evokes the fear of relativism.

    If theology is to be examined, it is to be examined based upon what? If I examine my theology (and yours) and you example your theology (and mine), where do we then go next in the dialogue? What happens is we stretch even further from ego-centric and heirarchical epistemologies and consider even more participants than two in a dialogue?

    • Dean says:

      Gary, I’m not exactly sure what your point is, but I will take a stab at your last two questions, I personally think the answer is that nothing happens. If people can’t be convinced that something is true or false based on evidence and good arguments, then that’s the end of the dialogue. Over time, however, the number of people that believe the nonsense espoused by YECs will just get fewer and fewer. I’m not saying that the Internet is a panacea when it comes to the investigation of truth claims, but one thing that ubiquity of information does provide is a platform for bad ideas to be criticized and discarded. YEC won’t survive another 20 years. It doesn’t have any “value” for society and very very limited value for Christian theology, and ideas with no value or function will eventually be discarded.

      • Gary says:

        I wasn’t referring to YEC but more Christianity and metaphysical claims in general (I wasn’t referring to consensus building in a limited community but with much broader scope of interaction). Also, I think not just YEC but much of what’s been retained and emphasized of Christian theology is of limited societal value. Anecdotally, I’ve witnessed a lot of how Christians talk about and treat others. Hopefully much of this will be discarded too.

        The world can be made better. But it seems not so quick. Many “ideas with no value or function” seem to continual for a very long time.

        • Dean says:

          I have an amateur level interest in Christian theology. The more I read about it, however, the more I think it’s just a complete waste of time. For anyone who purports to be a Christian, at some point you have to admit that this kind of stuff could not have been further from what Jesus was trying to get across to his followers, regardless of what you think about him or the Bible or whatever.

  • Gary says:

    A plea is made to believe something differently, yet it seems to be absent a broader framework for how consensus can be formed. Instead, “Just ask around;” it seems to be a la carte.

    Perhaps this is related to what evokes the fear of relativism.

    If theology is to be examined, it is to be examined based upon what? If I examine my theology (and yours) and you examine your theology (and mine), where do we then go next in the dialogue? What happens is we stretch even further from ego-centric and heirarchical epistemologies and consider even more participants than two in a dialogue?

    • Dean says:

      Gary, I’m not exactly sure what your point is, but I will take a stab at your last two questions, I personally think the answer is that nothing happens. If people can’t be convinced that something is true or false based on evidence and good arguments, then that’s the end of the dialogue. Over time, however, the number of people that believe the nonsense espoused by YECs will just get fewer and fewer. I’m not saying that the Internet is a panacea when it comes to the investigation of truth claims, but one thing that ubiquity of information does provide is a platform for bad ideas to be criticized and discarded. YEC won’t survive another 20 years. It doesn’t have any “value” for society and very very limited value for Christian theology, and ideas with no value or function will eventually be discarded.

      • Gary says:

        I wasn’t referring to YEC but more Christianity and metaphysical claims in general (I wasn’t referring to consensus building in a limited community but with much broader scope of interaction). Also, I think not just YEC but much of what’s been retained and emphasized of Christian theology is of limited societal value. Anecdotally, I’ve witnessed a lot of how Christians talk about and treat each other and others. Hopefully much of this will be discarded too.

        The world can be made better. But it seems not so quick. Many “ideas with no value or function” seem to continue for a very long time.

        • Dean says:

          I have an amateur level interest in Christian theology. The more I read about it, however, the more I think it’s just a complete waste of time. For anyone who purports to be a Christian, at some point you have to admit that this kind of stuff could not have been further from what Jesus was trying to get across to his followers, regardless of what you think about him or the Bible or whatever.

  • I think you did an excellent job on this issue, Pete.

  • I think you did an excellent job on this issue, Pete.

  • some guy says:

    do you like the functional ontology theory from John Walton?

  • some guy says:

    do you like the functional ontology theory from John Walton?

  • Darrin Hunter says:

    Don’t forget the orchid seed only appears to be smaller than the mustard seed….cuz Jesus was teaching science when he said that the mustard seed is the smallest in the earth.

    • Paul D. says:

      The NIV used to read “the smallest of all *your* seeds” so that literalists could argue Jesus secretly knew about smaller seeds but didn’t want to confuse the disciples.

  • Skeptical Christian says:

    Don’t forget the orchid seed only appears to be smaller than the mustard seed….cuz Jesus was teaching science when he said that the mustard seed is the smallest in the earth.

    • Paul D. says:

      The NIV used to read “the smallest of all *your* seeds” so that literalists could argue Jesus secretly knew about smaller seeds but didn’t want to confuse the disciples.

  • Derek says:

    Phenomenological language is used to defend a literal reading of the bible. However, when it comes to the age of the earth, it seems like phenomenological is used backwards to defend an interpretation that isn’t all that clear and cannot be gleaned simply from reading the text in a matter-of-fact fashion.

    I think those who read genesis “literally”, or in a matter-of-fact manner, are doing so in light of how they see Jesus and the apostle’s handling genesis. I think those who remain skeptical of certain scientific theories do so on the basis of worldview and meta-narrative considerations. They are guarding against a purely naturalistic narrative that often seems to be an indisputable, unquestionable basis in the formation of certain mainstream scientific theories.

  • Derek says:

    Phenomenological language is used to defend a literal reading of the bible. However, when it comes to the age of the earth, it seems like phenomenological is used backwards to defend an interpretation that isn’t all that clear and cannot be gleaned simply from reading the text in a matter-of-fact fashion.

    I think those who read genesis “literally”, or in a matter-of-fact manner, are doing so in light of how they see Jesus and the apostle’s handling genesis. I think those who remain skeptical of certain scientific theories do so on the basis of worldview and meta-narrative considerations. They are guarding against a purely naturalistic narrative that often seems to be an indisputable, unquestionable basis in the formation of certain mainstream scientific theories.

  • Donald Johnson says:

    Great article.

    On the flat earth, I think you mean “apparent sphericity”. The reason is that the flat earth was usually thought of as being a round circle with Jerusalem at the center.

    Another consistent claim based on Scripture would be about the weather being controlled by God.

  • Donald Johnson says:

    Great article.

    On the flat earth, I think you mean “apparent sphericity”. The reason is that the flat earth was usually thought of as being a round circle with Jerusalem at the center.

    Another consistent claim based on Scripture would be about the weather being controlled by God.

  • AHH says:

    Yes, yes, yes on #2. It isn’t just appearance of “age” — a matter of things being created “mature” — those who make this argument really have to advocate appearance of history. Things not only appear mature, but they show every sign of having gone through many years of history.

    The analogy used by those who advocate the position is God creating Adam fully mature, but that doesn’t capture the actual evidence in nature. For the analogy to be accurate, we would have to have God not only creating Adam mature, but creating Adam with with his stomach full of food he never ate, dirt under his fingernails, several fillings and years worth of plaque on his teeth, a scar on his knee from a fall in his nonexistent childhood, and a picture of his nonexistent parents in his wallet.

    • Hill Roberts says:

      Yes AHH. I’ve always wondered why my YEC fellow fundamentalists who rightly would NEVER tolerate any suggestion that God would ever fake an event like the Son’s resurrection, yet be totally good with God completely faking the apparent history of all the creation that the Son is credited with in John 1. Not just totally good with the idea, but actually promote and to some degree shore up their faith upon such a sandy foundation regarding the nature of God. I just don’t get it. Indeed, it is at least not unreasonable to believe that people could lie about such things (though I do not think the resurrection is at all a lie), but it is pretty unreasonable to think that plain ordinary rocks lie. As a geologist friend of mine says, ” People can lie, rocks just lie there – they can’t lie.” Which is why he happens to have more faith in his rocks than in people who tell him to not listen to the story the rocks tell.

    • Darrin Hunter says:

      And don’t forget some Endogenous Retroviruses that makes it appear he had inherited genetic damage from an imaginary ancestor. And a chromosome 2 that only appears to be fused.

    • JRW says:

      Don’t forget a navel for his abdomen!

  • AHH says:

    Yes, yes, yes on #2. It isn’t just appearance of “age” — a matter of things being created “mature” — those who make this argument really have to advocate appearance of history. Things not only appear mature, but they show every sign of having gone through many years of history.

    The analogy used by those who advocate the position is God creating Adam fully mature, but that doesn’t capture the actual evidence in nature. For the analogy to be accurate, we would have to have God not only creating Adam mature, but creating Adam with with his stomach full of food he never ate, dirt under his fingernails, several fillings and years worth of plaque on his teeth, a scar on his knee from a fall in his nonexistent childhood, and a picture of his nonexistent parents in his wallet.

    • Hill Roberts says:

      Yes AHH. I’ve always wondered why my YEC fellow fundamentalists who rightly would NEVER tolerate any suggestion that God would ever fake an event like the Son’s resurrection, yet be totally good with God completely faking the apparent history of all the creation that the Son is credited with in John 1. Not just totally good with the idea, but actually promote and to some degree shore up their faith upon such a sandy foundation regarding the nature of God. I just don’t get it. Indeed, it is at least not unreasonable to believe that people could lie about such things (though I do not think the resurrection is at all a lie), but it is pretty unreasonable to think that plain ordinary rocks lie. As a geologist friend of mine says, ” People can lie, rocks just lie there – they can’t lie.” Which is why he happens to have more faith in his rocks than in people who tell him to not listen to the story the rocks tell.

    • Skeptical Christian says:

      And don’t forget some Endogenous Retroviruses that makes it appear he had inherited genetic damage from an imaginary ancestor. And a chromosome 2 that only appears to be fused.

    • JRW says:

      Don’t forget a navel for his abdomen!

  • HW says:

    How do you come to the conclusion that bible writers thought the earth was flat?
    In his book “the Science od God” Dr.. Gerald Schroeder brings old age and young age creationist together by showing both are right simultaneously, since Enstein showed that time is relative. You can find some of this stuff on YouTube

  • HW says:

    How do you come to the conclusion that bible writers thought the earth was flat?
    In his book “the Science od God” Dr.. Gerald Schroeder brings old age and young age creationist together by showing both are right simultaneously, since Enstein showed that time is relative. You can find some of this stuff on YouTube

  • Bevin Breitkreuz says:

    Re the Biblical writers believed in a flat earth? What about this: Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.Seems it describes exactly a round earth, like photos we see from outer space today.

  • Bevin Breitkreuz says:

    Re the Biblical writers believed in a flat earth? What about this: Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.Seems it describes exactly a round earth, like photos we see from outer space today.

  • Veritas says:

    The literalist thinking concerning creation is exactly the kind of irrational thinking that gives ammunition to those who promote atheism. Belief in a creator of the universe is NOT an irrational conclusion, but it sure doesn’t help the argument when literalists propose so many irrational theories to describe how it occurred.

    • Gary says:

      Personally I’m not a big fan of guns-and-ammo metaphors at the present cultural moment.

      Also, from what I’ve seen it isn’t really as much about some sort of movement promoting atheism and literalists proposing this or that in the public square.

      From what I see, it’s much more about family, and friends too.

      About who can love whom. Consider Christianity’s wane may be as much as how believers make outsiders of loved ones as it is about the convincibility of the God claims directly.

      It’s less that the atheist’s dad/mother/brother/etc. is a YEC. It’s more that the YEC’s beliefs aren’t in him fostering a differentiated way of being.

      Perhaps both your ammo and rationality can be trumped by Love.

  • Veritas says:

    The literalist thinking concerning creation is exactly the kind of irrational thinking that gives ammunition to those who promote atheism. Belief in a creator of the universe is NOT an irrational conclusion, but it sure doesn’t help the argument when literalists propose so many irrational theories to describe how it occurred.

    • Gary says:

      Personally I’m not a big fan of guns-and-ammo metaphors at the present cultural moment.

      Also, from what I’ve seen it isn’t really as much about some sort of movement promoting atheism and literalists proposing this or that in the public square.

      From what I see, it’s much more about family, and friends too.

      About who can love whom. Consider Christianity’s wane may be as much as how believers make outsiders of loved ones as it is about the convincibility of the God claims directly.

      It’s less that the atheist’s dad/mother/brother/etc. is a YEC. It’s more that the YEC’s beliefs aren’t in him fostering a differentiated way of being.

      Perhaps both your ammo and rationality can be trumped by Love.

  • JRW says:

    It seems to me remarkable that God, in his creation, has left us a veritable trail of bread crumbs to discover how the physical universe was brought into existence, and ultimately how each of us became a reality. The fact that dinosaur bones have been preserved for millions of years for us to find and analyze, or insects that have been preserved in amber for eons to enable us to examine and compare with existing species to better understand evolution, is a sign that He wants us to know, and marvel at, the incredible majesty and scope of his creativity. The science of cosmology has revealed to us a universe that was thought to consist only of our solar system as recently as a few hundred years ago, and to consist only of our galaxy as recently as less than one hundred years ago, to todays understanding that there are billions of more galaxies in the universe each consisting of billions of stars. How small are the minds of those who want to worship a prankster God who did all this just to test our faith.

  • JRW says:

    It seems to me remarkable that God, in his creation, has left us a veritable trail of bread crumbs to discover how the physical universe was brought into existence, and ultimately how each of us became a reality. The fact that dinosaur bones have been preserved for millions of years for us to find and analyze, or insects that have been preserved in amber for eons to enable us to examine and compare with existing species to better understand evolution, is a sign that He wants us to know, and marvel at, the incredible majesty and scope of his creativity. The science of cosmology has revealed to us a universe that was thought to consist only of our solar system as recently as a few hundred years ago, and to consist only of our galaxy as recently as less than one hundred years ago, to todays understanding that there are billions of more galaxies in the universe each consisting of billions of stars. How small are the minds of those who want to worship a prankster God who did all this just to test our faith.

  • Ross Warnell says:

    Maybe God is sort of like a shady antiquities dealer who can make new objects appear ancient. You know, like the folks responsible for Piltdown Man ?

  • Ross Warnell says:

    Maybe God is sort of like a shady antiquities dealer who can make new objects appear ancient. You know, like the folks responsible for Piltdown Man ?

  • Daniel Fisher says:

    If God is free to do miracles, including anything in the category of instantaneous creation, then de facto, some things will have an apparent age. This is axiomatic, not (necessarily) any kind of special pleading.

    The wine that was drunk at Cana, for instance, would have had the appearance of at least a few days age if not more, given the normal means of creating wine. The same might be presumed about the bread and fish eaten by the multitudes. Any scientific study of the leftovers would presumably determine that the bread was at minimum several hours old, and the fish at least several days.

    Now whether this applies to the creation can be discussed, but I wonder if we might all agree that apparent age is not (necessarily) some sort of special pleading…. But a simple logical necessity when we are dealing with a God that can create things immediately. If God ever does create such things instantaneously and immediately, there simply will be “apparent age.” This is simply an indisputable fact.

    • Pete E. says:

      This argument does’t apply to creation, Daniel. Creation has left a footprint of evolutionary development, and so WHEN THE TOPIC IS CREATION, which is the topic of this post, finding an analogy with miracles, though interesting for there reasons, is irrelevant.

      • Daniel Fisher says:

        Sir,

        The argument doesn’t apply to creation only if we start with absolute certainty that God did not in fact bring anything instantaneously (miraculously?) into existence during the entire creation process (in a similar fashion as the aforementioned bread or wine). I recognize and respect that you have come to a place of certainty about God’s lack of such direct involvement, and about cosmic history and evolution, but please recognize that I am comfortable embracing a certain level of uncertainty regarding many aspects of origins – I find no basis for dismissing outright the possibility that God may have intervened directly, immediately (i.e., miraculously) in at least some aspects of the creation, and as such, i cannot categorically rule out the possibility of apparent age in at least some aspects of creation. i say this simply as a logical necessity, not because i have embraced a stereotypical 6-day creation model.

        • Pete E. says:

          That’s fine, though I wouldnt call it a logical necessity but simply an opinion concerning not ruling something out as impossible. Others argue thrust as easily that one cannot rule out as impossible that the cosmos is 3 seconds old and God created apparent time/history, and on and on.

  • Daniel Fisher says:

    If God is free to do miracles, including anything in the category of instantaneous creation, then de facto, some things will have an apparent age. This is axiomatic, not (necessarily) any kind of special pleading.

    The wine that was drunk at Cana, for instance, would have had the appearance of at least a few days age if not more, given the normal means of creating wine. The same might be presumed about the bread and fish eaten by the multitudes. Any scientific study of the leftovers would presumably determine that the bread was at minimum several hours old, and the fish at least several days.

    Now whether this applies to the creation can be discussed, but I wonder if we might all agree that apparent age is not (necessarily) some sort of special pleading…. But a simple logical necessity when we are dealing with a God that can create things immediately. If God ever does create such things instantaneously and immediately, there simply will be “apparent age.” This is simply an indisputable fact.

    • Pete E. says:

      This argument does’t apply to creation, Daniel. Creation has left a footprint of evolutionary development, and so WHEN THE TOPIC IS CREATION, which is the topic of this post, finding an analogy with miracles, though interesting for there reasons, is irrelevant.

  • Zoe_Brain says:

    The Bible speaks of the earth as the stable, motionless, center of the cosmos. Therefore, it can only appear that the earth rotates on it axis, thus giving us day and night, or that the earth revolves around the sun, along with the other planets, on its yearly course. God created the solar system with “apparently heliocentricity.”

    I don’t mean to be unfair. I am sure that biblical literalists believe in none of these things.

    Don’t be too sure of that. See http://galileowaswrong.com/ Some do believe exactly that, and that belief is growing along with Young Earth Creationism. It requires less stretching of the facts.

    Platygeanism – Flat Earth Theory – is still unfashionable, but that may change too.

  • Zoe_Brain says:

    The Bible speaks of the earth as the stable, motionless, center of the cosmos. Therefore, it can only appear that the earth rotates on it axis, thus giving us day and night, or that the earth revolves around the sun, along with the other planets, on its yearly course. God created the solar system with “apparently heliocentricity.”

    I don’t mean to be unfair. I am sure that biblical literalists believe in none of these things.

    Don’t be too sure of that. See http://galileowaswrong.com/ Some do believe exactly that, and that belief is growing along with Young Earth Creationism. It requires less stretching of the facts.

    Platygeanism – Flat Earth Theory – is still unfashionable, but that may change too.

  • Pete E. says:

    That’s fine, though I wouldnt call it a logical necessity but simply an opinion concerning not ruling something out as impossible. Others argue thrust as easily that one cannot rule out as impossible that the cosmos is 3 seconds old and God created apparent time/history, and on and on.

  • Chuck L says:

    Hello there, Pete.

    For me, the biggest issue here is the integrity of the Almighty. Is he trustworthy? Are his communications dependable, in a basic sort of way? A cosmos that is only “apparently old” would not lead us to think so.

    The Almighty, we are told, speaks in “many and various ways” (Hebrews 1:1). We are told that he speaks in nature, too: the “firmament” itself “proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). By this voice, it seems very plain indeed, we are presented with an old, evolving earth. And it is God’s own voice that presents the earth in this way, if we may take some bearing from the Psalms. The firmament itself is speaking.

    So if his clear voice here is only “apparent” — if his communication here is purposefully misleading and untrustworthy — what does this say about his character? It would be very difficult indeed, in my view, to trust anything that came from such a god. Maybe the humanity of Christ was only apparent, too? Maybe his work at Calvary was only apparent, somehow? How should we ever trust a god that shows himself untrustworthy in fundamental ways? Like “proclaiming his handiwork” in an old and evolving earth — as a trick, or a trap, or some purposeful deception?

    An “apparently old” cosmos, in my view, impugns the integrity of our wonderfully creative Creator God.

    Thanks for what you do, Pete.

    Chuck

    P.S. I have just finished “The Sin of Certainty” and really appreciate your perspective. I look forward to reading “The Bible Tells Me So,” too — and in particular your presentation in Chapter Two concerning the issues discussed in this post.

  • Chuck L says:

    Hello there, Pete.

    For me, the biggest issue here is the integrity of the Almighty. Is he trustworthy? Are his communications dependable, in a basic sort of way? A cosmos that is only “apparently old” would not lead us to think so.

    The Almighty, we are told, speaks in “many and various ways” (Hebrews 1:1). We are told that he speaks in nature, too: the “firmament” itself “proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). By this voice, it seems very plain indeed, we are presented with an old, evolving earth. And it is God’s own voice that presents the earth in this way, if we may take some bearing from the Psalms. The firmament itself is speaking.

    So if his clear voice here is only “apparent” — if his communication here is purposefully misleading and untrustworthy — what does this say about his character? It would be very difficult indeed, in my view, to trust anything that came from such a god. Maybe the humanity of Christ was only apparent, too? Maybe his work at Calvary was only apparent, somehow? How should we ever trust a god that shows himself untrustworthy in fundamental ways? Like “proclaiming his handiwork” in an old and evolving earth — as a trick, or a trap, or some purposeful deception?

    An “apparently old” cosmos, in my view, impugns the integrity of our wonderfully creative Creator God.

    Thanks for what you do, Pete.

    Chuck

    P.S. I have just finished “The Sin of Certainty” and really appreciate your perspective. I look forward to reading “The Bible Tells Me So,” too — and in particular your presentation in Chapter Two concerning the issues discussed in this post.

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