I just read an excellent article by Kevin Bauder about an unfortunate trend among some who, like me, hold to a Young Earth Cosmology. His article is based in part on a paper written by Mark A. Snoeberger. Both are well worth reading, especially so if you are a part of the Young Earth Creation discussion. I have been interested in this discussion since high school, when I was a proponent of the Gap Theory. Or, as I confidently called it the "Gap Fact." These articles confirmed some of my thoughts about the evolution of the creationist movement.
I was beginning to think that maybe I remembered how things had developed wrongly. I was privileged to be in a gathering, in the late 60s where the late Henry Morris shared his views on Creation and the Flood. I read the seminal volume that he and John Whitcomb wrote, The Genesis Flood. More recently I went through a time when I periodically read materials from Answers in Genesis. I've heard Ken Hamm, and a couple of others from AIG speak and have read some of their materials. As a pastor who spent his career ministering in the formerly segregated South I found their work on race to be very helpful. I have referred people to articles like this one a number of times.
Over the years, though, two observations about the kind of Young Earth Cosmology presented by AIG and those who follow their lead, have caused me concern.
- As I listened to some of their presentations I heard them using a flat-footed literalism in their hermeneutics. I believe there are good interpretive reasons to conclude that the earth was created in six 24-hour days, and to accept that the entire world was flooded in the days of Noah. However, to simply bluster that anyone who says anything different is not holding a high-view of Scripture is simply wrong. If the same hermeneutical principles were applied to other passages of Scripture that these Young-Earthers were applying to the creation and flood accounts, one would end up concluding that Solomon married a monstrosity, and would be forced to teach that when Christ returns His kingdom will come in the form of a rock rolling down a mountain. A literal interpretation of any document is to understand that document as it is it written, and that must include the author's intent--in the case of the Bible "authors' intent." It is a principle that we often have to apply to conversation. If wife interprets her husbands joke as a literal statement he is liable to spend the night on the couch. On the other hand if he takes his wife request to go shopping as anything less than a clear cut statement of what ought to be done. He'll also end up on the sofa. Maybe I'll write another article about staying off the living room furniture, but for now, I'll get back to the point. I know there are scholarly presentations about the genre of the first 11 chapters of Genesis, but this willingness to wrestle with these issues needs to filter down to popular presentations, or as a friend of mine says, "Rhetoric matters."
One of the keys to good preaching--I've been trying to get there all my life--is to make something as simple as it can be made. But, as Einstein warned us, it should not be made one bit simpler.
- Related to my first concern is the second. It is the one that Buader and Snoeberger deal with. Many Young-Earthers have chosen an unfortunate hill to die on. I'll call it Mount Ussher. I'll let you read the articles, but it is unfortunate that those who speak the loudest about Young Earth Cosmology insist on an absolute adherence to the view that the Genealogies of the early chapters of Genesis exist to give the earth's age.
I don't think they do.