Young Earth Creationism is Improbable
Debate Rounds (4)
Internal Evidence against YEC
Interpretations of Genesis 1-2
The literal interpretation of the supposed Inerrant Word of God is that God created the universe in 6 consecutive, 24-hour days. Which of course is a possible and legitimate interpretation, but it's not the only one.
There also exists a non-literal interpretation of Gen.1-2 wherein God created the universe, and the author of Genesis used allegorical language to convey God’s action in the world. This is another possible and legitimate interpretation. Even St. Augustine and Philo, centuries before Darwin, held this view. St. Augustine himself believed God created the universe with certain potencies that would later unfold as time progressed, in a sort of indirect creation of life through secondary causes.
Genesis 1 says that God created the universe and then we have a dramatic shift in focus to the earth (from vs 1 to 2), which is an uninhabitable waste at the time. What transcribes is then God's formation of this primordial world into a habitable biosphere, suitable for life and mind. But are we forced to adopt a literal interpretation over a non-literal one? There are at least 3 indications within the text itself, which suggest Genesis need not be taken literal:
-The Hebrew word for ‘day’ doesn’t always indicate a 24-hour period
-Genesis 2:4 summarizes the entire creation week, referring to it as one yom:
“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the [yom] that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”
-Genesis 2:4 (ESV)
2) Third Day
-The earth itself brought forth the vegetation
-If the Earth itself were to bring forth the vegetation, the process would naturally take a long time
“And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so.”
3) Seventh Day
-The day of which God rested is still going on
-We are still in the “day” of God’s Sabbath rest when God isn’t creating new things
-So at least the 7th day isn’t intended to mean a 24-hour duration of time
Hence given the evidence internal to the bible, we learn that there's more in the text then just a police-report of sorts. It simply doesn’t seem that the author is making it incumbent upon us to think that this is a literal read. It’s therefore good to recognize a variety of legitimate interpretations. And it seem the more plausible one is that the word 'day' can be used as literary metaphor- there's no apparent problem with this take on the matter and most scholars agree with this approach anyhow.
There is in fact no doctrine of the church that embraces a YEC view. The only doctrines that emerge from Genesis is the doctrine of Creatio ex Nihilo: Creation out of nothing. Six-day creationism was never included into this doctrine nor was old-earth creationism. The question of interpretation was therefore left open.
The structure of Genesis 1 is a twin creation scenario in which one scenario is a creation by God's word. The other is a creation by God's act, which is the author's commentary. So it's not word and action, but creation and commentary.
[Actual creation by God's word ("& God said let there be _ & it was so" = vs 3, 6, 9, 11)]
[Commentary on God's act ("& God did _" = vs 7, 12, 16, 21, etc)]
→Example, vs 11 God said let the earth bring forth vegetation, but vs 12 says the earth brought forth vegetation, it doesn't actually describe something God did, it says the earth did this upon its own.
→Nor is vs 12 meant to follow vs 11 chronologically since in vs 11 says "let the earth put forth vegetation... & it was so." Then follows in vs 12 the commentary.
→Vs 12 is simply the author's parenthetical report on what happens in vs 11 just like in vs 15's "& it was so" followed by the author's parenthetical comment, "God is the one who made the great light to rule the day, etc."
Canaanite myths & other pagan neighbors saw celestial bodies as deities. What the Genesis author does is "de-mythologize" these celestial bodies. He says they're not gods, God made them! They're just big lights, one big and one small!
for a quick history on the origins of modern day young earth creationism.
External Evidence Against YEC
Now that we've seen that no one is forced to adopt a literal interpretation over a non-literal one, we can ask then what can the study of "God's Works" tell us about the study of "God's Word"?
Here it seems that science has served to dis-confirm the literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2 leaving the only other live option of the non-literal interpretation. There exists much evidence of an old universe and earth, but for simplicity's sake only three cases will be more than sufficient.
I) Cosmological Observation
Light From Distant Galaxies: We know both the speed of light and the amount of red-shift required to judge various distances to extrapolate reasonable estimates regarding the information we receive from the 'edges of space.' And some of our best estimates well exceed a 6000 year period (~14Ga). Therefore, it's improbable that YEC is true given cosmological observation.
II) Geological Observation
Sedimentation layers of strata can give relative age estimates that allow one to extrapolate back in time from the basis of the amount of time it took the last layer to form. This will take into account known geomorphological processes and their rates, deposition rates, and an estimated interval of erosion and non-deposition. Now even with the most conservative estimates, geo-scientists were able to estimate an earth well over 6000 years old even before chemical dating techniques were developed in order to exact such estimates. Therefore, it's improbable that YEC is true given geological experience.
III) Biological Observation
Plants and trees, carbon based food for herbivores which are in turn food for meat-eaters, take a long time to grow and gestate. Just think about how long it takes a redwood tree to grow, the oldest one being 7000 years old in California. Now the idea of 6000 years as the age of the earth was the hallmark of Bishop Ussher, which of course is the best estimate of the age of the earth IF a literal interpretation is one's basis.
However if one abandons a literal interpretation (like most would when Jesus speaks in parables), then one isn't confronted with such problems stemming from both external and internal evidence.
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by qopel 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The Bible is just a book of fairy tales.
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