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I trust this finds you well and prospering. Forgive me for coming right to the point, but I feel an urgency to address your last question to me and to tell you why I am “so upset” over your rejection of traditional “six-day” Creation. I recognize that rejecting the traditional view of Genesis 1 is not as serious as rejecting the divinity of Christ. Good and gracious men have embraced the position you now hold. And I grant your contention that we cannot ignore extra-Biblical insights that might clarify our understanding of certain Scripture texts. Your admonition to me to “remember Galileo” is not forgotten. But Galileo’s observations on the existing universe strike me as being of quite a different nature than the speculations of modern science on the origins of the existing universe. There we are beyond the capabilities of scientific inquiry. Science is helpless to explain miracles (which is precisely what Genesis 1 presents to us), and we are under no obligation to take it seriously when it attempts to do so.
You have asked why God would create a world that looks so old if in fact it is as young as the Bible indicates (approximately 6,000 years old). “Wouldn’t that be deceptive?” you asked. Well, frankly, no. God tells us clearly that He created all things by His Word and created them “full grown” as it were. Obviously, Adam looked older than he actually was, the trees were created mature, etc. If God expected us to guess their age, one might consider His work deceptive, but when He tells us how He did it, where is the deception? Further, why is it considered “deceptive” for the world to appear old when it actually is young, but honest for the world to be old even though God clearly tells us that it is young? Why should we assume that scientific speculation about the age of the earth is more honest and accurate than the plain statements of Scripture?
But your view has other ramifications beyond Genesis 1. For example: What are we to do with the genealogies of Genesis 5? There we read that Adam was 930 years old when he died. But if the sixth day was of indeterminable length, how can we know that this statement is accurate? Indeed, what are we to make of this genealogy altogether? It clearly teaches that from the creation of Adam to the birth of Noah there were only 1,056 years. Now, you may say, “But this is not intended to be a complete genealogy, there are obvious gaps in it!” Well, surely it is not a complete genealogy, there are many sons (and daughters) left unmentioned. But even so, we are still told how old the “father” was when his “son” was born. Thus, even if the “son” was a great-great-great grandson, where are the “gaps”? And even if I grant your contention that there are gaps, can we imagine gaps large enough to make you (or our scientific friends) comfortable with the resulting length of time? (Remember, science now thinks the world is at least 4 billion years old; can we find that many gaps?)
If you protest that the age of the earth can be accounted for by the length of time prior to Adam’s creation, that only leads to more questions. Was the sixth day different from the first five days in its length? Did “normal calendar time” begin after Adam’s creation on the sixth day? On what basis can we assert these things? Your view appears to be an unwarranted accommodation to unprovable scientific claims.
Again, what shall we do with the Flood account? We are told precisely what day the Flood began (Gen. 7:6, 11), which was, according to the Biblical genealogies, in the 1,656th year of the world. And we are told how long the waters “prevailed” upon the earth and the extent of this terrible judgment. I bring this up not to switch subjects but to say that we have similar problems here as in the Creation account. Our scientists (some of them good and faithful evangelicals) tell us that there is absolutely no evidence of a universal flood. They assure us the flood could not have happened in the year 1,656 after the creation of Adam because the “geological evidence” makes this an impossibility. They say the Flood must have been a local disaster, confined to the Mesopotamian area.
Not to be disrespectful (and I am certainly no scientist), but I have a few questions: How can water “stand” (15 cubits “higher than the mountains”) for 150 days if the Flood was only “local”? And if the Flood was “local,” why did Noah have to build the ark to escape it? And why take all those animals on board? God told him the Flood was coming 120 years before the event, plenty of time to migrate to higher ground, it seems to me. If, however, we follow your assumptions regarding science and Genesis 1, are we not equally bound to re-interpret Genesis 6–9 in light of the scientific “evidence”?
Indeed, what is to prevent someone from doing this with the account of the Lord’s resurrection? Science says that’s impossible. I know you would not want to go so far, but my point is that the assumptions that call for a rejection of the traditional view of Genesis 1 can be taken that far. If the claims of Genesis 1 are not true, why are the claims of John 20 true?
It seems that rejecting the traditional reading of Genesis 1 leaves us with far more problems than we have taking the text as a straightforward historical account. Accepting scientific theories as authoritative seriously threatens the integrity of Scripture. If contradicting the observations of science places Biblical teachings in doubt, then most of the claims of historic Christianity must of necessity be classified as “doubtful.”
In the end, we must make a choice: Believe God’s Word and live with a few “scientific dilemmas” for the present or embrace the word of the scientists and spend our lives in the impossible task of reconciling their unprovable theories with the text of the Bible. I happily take the former position and promise to be stubbornly insistent that you rejoin me!
Please give my love to Meredith, Jack, and Bruce. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry for our Creator and Redeemer.