Is Young Earth Essential Theology?


According to the claim of this BP article, Dr. Mohler has taken a dogmatic stand concerning the necessity of holding to a young earth view of creation.  Personally, I think that claim overstates the case which Dr. Mohler is making for the young earth.  His aim is much higher than the age of the earth.  He is, in fact, upholding the necessity of biblical authority in matters of science.  His concern is that if we begin merely with doctrinaire “science,” we will end without the doctrines of the gospel.  As the article points out, this vacating of doctrine is exactly what Dr. Mohler says is happening with BioLogos.

The age of the earth question actually arose from geology and not, specifically, from Darwinian evolution.  However, Darwinian evolution quickly picked up on the old age of the earth being posited by geologists. Evolutionists needed such long periods of time to explain how lower life forms (or non-living forms) could evolve into higher life forms.  So, the 19th Century saw a happy marriage between geologists and evolutionists (both operating on a naturalistic model of science).   According to this article, it wasn’t just the geologists and evolutionists who adopted the old earth theory.  Spurgeon, Hodge, and other influential (and otherwise evangelical) Christian leaders accepted an old age view of the earth based on what the scientists were saying.

What Dr. Mohler said in his response is that there are 3 ways to approach the age of the earth issue other than the way it is approached by evolutionists: (1) That creation occurred with the appearance of age, which is exactly what happened with Adam and Eve.

(2) That creation in its fallen state manifests the appearance of age; this would be like my dad’s friend, Cecil.  My father had not seen him in more than a couple of decades.  When he saw his friend Cecil again, my dad exclaimed, “Dang, Cecil, your face looks like it’s worn out 3 bodies!”  That was my father’s way of saying that Cecil looked much older than his age.  Something like this might be at work in creation.

(3) That the earth is actually much younger than evolutionists claim.

Dr. Mohler is, in fact, arguing for (3) because, as he says, it makes the most sense when reading through the biblical material.  On the plain reading of Scripture, most people would agree that this is what the text is saying (whether they trusted the text to be accurate or not).  Though this is the position for which Dr. Mohler argues, he is clear to say,

“The age of the earth is not the central question, though it is an unavoidable and important question.”

The reason he asserts that it is important and unavoidable is because of the references in the New Testament to an historical Adam.  In Romans 5, Adam is portrayed in a role of federal headship with regard to sin.  Sin entered through Adam.  We are all descended from Adam and Eve.  This descent seems to demand an historical Adam and Eve as progenitors, and an historical Adam as the head of the human race.  It isn’t impossible for Adam and Eve to have existed a very long time ago, but they certainly must have existed.  Evolutionists (to get from pond water to people) needed a really long time to pass before human beings appeared in order to make their theory of origin work. (For a view contrary to the young earth view, see here, where they offer 3 choices of their own).

Today, there are Christians arguing for a return to a catastrophic flood theory based both on the geological record and the fossil record (for a very interesting example, see here).

I personally have no trouble standing with Dr. Mohler on this and saying that I read the Bible as a 6 day, young earth creation.  But I don’t think we should–even for a second–lose sight of what is at stake: Truth.  The question is whether the Bible must be interpreted in light of Science.

Given the history of unreliability and immorality present in science, I’m not convinced that I need to abandon the Bible just yet.  Scientists still seem to revere Kinsey.  Scientists were responsible for the Tuskegee Experiments.  And scientists have been known to be wrong:  See here, here, here, or here.  Oh, and we can’t forget this recent “scientific” fiasco.