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Sean McDowell: Why Christians should not divide over age of Earth


  Here re Controversy of the Ages: Why Christians Should Not Divide Over the Age of the Earth:

Second, chapter 9 is worth the price of the whole book. Cabal notes that Christians need to have theological boundaries to protect the faith, but ought to draw them with charity and proper balance between inclusivity and restrictiveness. While he does have some criticisms for Reasons to Believe, the leading OEC organization, since they are committed to biblical inerrancy, he reserves his primary criticism for Answers in Genesis (AiG) and BioLogos.

As for AiG, Cabal is concerned that they draw doctrinal lines to narrowly—including such things as a young earth, a flood-shaped geology, Neanderthals, and details about taxonomy in the definition of inerrancy. He contends that they conflate interpretation with inspiration. And Cabal is deeply concerned at a certain attitude that often results from the sweeping, unsubstantiated claim that ineffective worldwide evangelism, the abandonment of the faith by young Christians, and sexual immorality are the result of the church embracing an old earth.

As for BioLogos, Cabal believes they draw theological boundaries too broad. BioLogos does not endorse biblical inerrancy (their website includes many articles arguing for errors in the Bible). Given that various key figures in BioLogos have abandoned the special creation of humans, the fall, the historical Adam, as well as original sin and also offered evolutionary accounts for the rise of belief in God and human morality, Cabal wonders how many more substantive theological reformulations are on the way. As a result, he cannot recommend BioLogos as a constructive resource for the church, even though that is what it seeks to be.

This book was no doubt hard for Cabal to write. For one, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2001, and quite obviously, has limited energy. More.

To some of us, in the age of the naturalist Meltdown, the quarrel sounds like forming a circular firing squad with nukes.

See also: How naturalism rots science from the head down

As for BioLogos . . . Cabal wonders how many more substantive theological reformulations are on the way. As a result, he cannot recommend BioLogos as a constructive resource for the church, even though that is what it seeks to be.
Setting aside the stance on Biblical inerrancy and other debatable issues (some of which I might even agree with), I think Cabal's general observation about BioLogos is well taken. I certainly would not recommend them generally as a voice of reason or objectivity. Eric Anderson
Adiaphora Heartlander
Hi Kmid, I disagree with you that all the data indicates the earth and humans have been around >6k years. I could list some observations and assumptions and we we would back and forth. But I've already done this for myself and with others throughout my life and I've concluded to put heavy weight on revelation. I could be proven an idiot, but I won't know that until I die. And if there is no afterlife I won't know anything anyway so who cares :) juwilker
EA, Yes, I would agree with you if one were to come to the conclusion "there is equal (or close) Biblical evidence for statement 1 and statement 2". That person should go to other sources to help pick between the two statements. And yes, I agree that faith should be informed by reason and evidence (like evidence for Jesus's Resurrection). In my case, however, I've looked at two statements and have concluded that one significantly outweighs the other. One of those cases is the Hebrew word YOM. People of goodwill have debated whether that means 1 day or 1 billion years (or somewhere between). Statement 1 "YOM means 1 day". Statement 2 "YOM means 1 billion years." One could conclude these are equally likely statements, so by all means they should look for extra-biblical evidence. In my case, I think the weight of evidence is much heavier for the "1 day" interpretation. So I am giving scripture heavy weight on the 6k conclusion. If I believe that YOM means 1 day, then Adam (yes another issue) was created around 6k years ago if I assume (yet another issue) the family records were mostly accurate. So what I mean "its like faith - its what you believe" is that I ultimately have to make a faith statement that YOM means "1 day" as we normally think of the term. juwilker
Seems like some data indicates >6k.
Actually, all of the data indicates that that the earth and humans have been around for >6K years. If you can find other explanations for why all of this data, much of it completely independent of each other, indicates a very old earth, I would love to hear it. kmidpuddle
Its kind of like faith, “what do you want to believe”
Well, maybe it is my lack of faith then . . . Yes, there is a role for faith. But I would want my faith to be informed by reason and the evidence, so that it isn't just a matter of believing whatever I want. If there are Biblical arguments on both sides, then that just means we can't resolve the issue by an appeal to the Bible. So maybe other lines of evidence (say, geology), might be worth considering? Eric Anderson
Kmid, You are right. Seems like some data indicates >6k. And I just don't understand that. Could be that earth is >6k and I'm wrong. But there could be other explanations. I'm going to give revelation the benefit of the doubt, even if the doubt is quite high. Maybe when I die and hit the pearly gates (another revelation/hope/faith), God will chastise me being such a rube. Or He may mot. We just don't know for sure. juwilker
Hi EA, Many want to think the age of the earth is separate from family timeline. And you can make arguments that they are separate ("easily divorceable"). There are also good arguments they are not. So just depends on which way you want to go. Its kind of like faith, "what do you want to believe" juwilker
Adam to Jesus to us ~ 6k yrs.
Even assuming that is true, the age of the Earth is a separate question, one easily divorceable from the human family timeline, is it not? Eric Anderson
In any case, Cosmology is a discipline that has Epistemology as a bad room mate, so we don’t know when it’s going to walk through a half-gallon puddle of milk in its socks while rushing to get ready for work.
The image this presents gave me quite a chuckle. Latemarch
I can easily believe that the universe is younger than the time it takes for light to travel its present day radius, as even the Big Bang, our best established theory, requires a massive expansion of space (and a necessary massive deformation of time as well, as we know they're related via GR). I can't say how much of a difference we can make out of it, though. 6000 years seems an incredible stretch (pun noted). In any case, Cosmology is a discipline that has Epistemology as a bad room mate, so we don't know when it's going to walk through a half-gallon puddle of milk in its socks while rushing to get ready for work. LocalMinimum
anthropic: Time is not a constant in a relativistic universe. Might be very old, might not. Depends on where you're standing. Latemarch
God has generally revealed His creation to all and has specially revealed His word to those who want to hear it. There's mystery regarding what makes someone wanting to hear it. The central message of the Christian scriptures is that we were created in Imago Dei to be good but chose instead to do everything our own way, kind of like in a famous Sinatra's song. But God provided the Way to True Life through saving faith in Christ's redemptive death at a cross and His resurrection. That's the bottom line. No age of earth or anything like that. The minor peripheral topics may be up for discussion for those who like to argue, but the central Gospel message is clear to anyone who wants to hear it: we are sinners in need of a Savior. God graciously offered Himself as the Savior in the person of Christ. Sing hallelujah and rejoice! Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Solus Christus Soli Deo Gloria That's all folks. Now, back to work. Dionisio
Not to mention light from stars hundreds of thousands and millions of light years away from Earth. Why God would create an utterly false picture of 99.9999999 percent of the Universe is a puzzle, particularly in view of how Psalms and Romans say God speaks truth through His creation. anthropic
Scripture seems to indicate 6k yrs. That’s why.
We have contiguous tree ring data that goes back much further that 6K. Independently supported by radio-isotope dating, ice core data, sedimentary strata, etc. kmidpuddle
Adam to Jesus to us ~ 6k yrs. Scripture seems to indicate 6k yrs. That's why. juwilker
Whether Christians should divide over the age of the earth is, I think, the wrong question to ask. No one can look at the earth and tell how old it is, and no one can read the Bible and tell how old the earth is. Why on earth should anyone believe the earth is 6000 years old? Mung

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