Why I’m Still a Young-Earth Creationist, Even Though It’s Getting Increasingly Lonely over Here
Last time we demonstrated that the Creation account in Genesis 1 is Hebrew narrative, which means that we should read it straightforwardly. We then demonstrated that it speaks of a personal agent who created the cosmos from nothing over a period described as 6 “days.” Before we begin to evaluate the claims of the old-earth position, however, we need to answer a second question from the text: how long ago did these 6 “days” occur?
The text reports that on the sixth “day” Elohim created a man, named Adam (“man”) (Gen 1.27; 2.19) and his wife, named Eve (“living”) (Gen 2.22; 3.20). Later in the narrative we’re given the same Adam as the starting point of a genealogy, including lifespans and progeny dates for everyone involved. Genesis 5 gives the data for every generation from Adam to Noah and his sons, and Genesis 11 gives the same data for every generation from Noah’s sons to Abraham. The lifespans and progeny dates from Abraham through David, whose life dates are generally agreed upon, appear throughout the biblical text up to the book of Samuel.
Thus we have numbers that can be manipulated to yield a calendar year, or thereabouts, for the creation of Adam. There are variations in this date for several reasons, including some textual variants in the Hebrew manuscripts and some interpretational questions. (For a detailed analysis of the interpretative history of that question, see the dissertation of my former PhD student Ben Shaw [free registration required].) The most restrictive date would yield a creation somewhere around 4000 BC, as calculated by James Ussher in the 1600s, while textual variants might allow a date 1000 years or so earlier.
Some have noted that it was traditional in ancient genealogies to omit generations that were considered unimportant; some interpreters have suggested, for example, that the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1 has omitted some generations in order to yield 3 sets of 14 generations each (Mat 1.17), for easier memorization. It’s true that omitting generations did occur, but you’ll note that the Matthew list does not include the math; on the other hand, the Genesis genealogies include ages and sums that simply do not add up if generations are omitted. The omission suggestion introduces far more difficulties than it solves.
And of course, to get from 4000 or 5000 BC to 4.5 billion BC, you’d be omitting 1 million generations for every generation you mention. Some suggestions are just silly on their face.
So where does the text itself leave us? You have an earth and its contents created intentionally by a personal agent a few thousand years ago.
Given earlier evidence that the Bible exhibits characteristics of extraordinary origin, you’re going to need an extremely high level of proof to set that obvious declaration aside.
Does the old-earth view meet that level of evidence—something more substantial and logically compelling than “but everybody believes this!”?
On to that question next time.