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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Christian Geologists Write on Earth's Old Age

Davis Young and Ralph Stearley, both Christian geologists at Calvin College in Michigan, have written a new book they hope will “convince readers, on both biblical and geological grounds, of the vast antiquity of this amazing planet that is our God-given home.” The Bible, Rocks and Time is a revision of Young’s 1982 book Christianity and the Age of the Earth and it’s big—510 pages hoping “to persuade Christians to abandon any idea that the Bible demands belief in God’s creation of the world only a few thousand years ago but also to show non-Christians that acceptance of modern geological conclusions regarding an ancient Earth is by no means incompatible with biblical Christianity.” In the end, the authors encourage those who believe in a literal, six 24-hour-day account of creation to “take heart …. Don’t be overly distressed by a disjunction (although a huge one!) between your belief and the scientific consensus of an old Earth. Consider the disjunction an issue to be resolved, not an occasion for a crisis of your faith.” —Michele Calandra

Here are the book’s take-home messages (adapted by the authors from the book):

•Christians in the natural sciences, particularly Christian professional geologists, are overwhelmingly in agreement that the Earth is extremely old, and they accept the current determination of approximately 4.55 billion years as the most reliable value for the age of the Earth.

•Despite the facts that young-Earth creationism has become considerably more sophisticated and that some of its proponents are much more geologically knowledgeable than were earlier advocates… the claims advanced in favor of a young Earth or of Flood geology remain unacceptable to the scientific community. Thus their claims should also be unacceptable within the church, which of all places, ought to be committed to truth and reality—for the simple reason that the young-Earth creationist claims lack scientific credibility.

•Inasmuch as millions of Christians are led by their pastors to believe that the Bible teaches that the world was created in six literal days only a few thousand years ago, they have been conditioned to believe that the Bible unequivocally does teach that view.

•The Bible was not given as a handbook of facts of ancient history or of natural science but as the story of God’s saving work in a world full of fallen, sinful humans.

•Although a tiny fraction of geologic evidence might suggest a global Flood if considered in complete isolation from the wealth of other evidence, the overwhelming totality of evidence argues mightily against a global Deluge.

•We submit that persistent advocacy of young-Earth creationism and Flood geology by churches, Christian organizations and individual believers results in two extremely serious consequences that damage the cause of Christ: shipwrecking the faith of young, vulnerable unprepared Christian youth when confronted with the evidence of the geological record and hindering evangelism to unbelieving scientists.

•Christians need to relax and stop being afraid that some scientific evidence will disprove the Bible or undermine Christianity.


Neil Smith said...

The "church" accepted the science of the day when they persecuted Galileo; and both they and the science of the day were wrong. The Bible, on the other hand, has never been contradicted by either geological or archaeological discoveries (See Glueck). Science must continue its search for truth, which generally means it has to keep an open mind.