Old-Earth Creationism (Creationism part 3)

Old-Earth

 Is there unity among those who hold to this view?

There is in regards to what has been spoken in the following questions; however, there is greater variance within this camp when compared to young-Earth. Some common names that appear include:

Progressive creationism

Gap theory

Day-age theory

Framework Hypothesis

Some would also try to include theistic evolution here which I addressed in part 1 of Creationism as to why it makes no sense. Day-age theory tends to have many of the same issues as theistic evolution. What’s more, not everyone uses all of these terms consistently which makes things all the more murky to understand &/or keep straight.

How is the creation week in Genesis 1 to be read?

In general, those who take an old-Earth view do not take the Genesis account of creation completely literal. Differing angles will go about this each in their own way. Even so, they often claim the text is to be taken as symbolic in some form or another and to varying extent.

What is the time-scale for all history in this position?

Irrespective of the particular variant subscribed, old-Earth views are called such because they have accepted the extensive amount of time commonly seen in secular science. There is no issue, in old-Earth positions, in accepting the evidence given that point to an ancient planet and even cosmos. This would include accepting Earth to be some 4.5 billion years old.

What is the time-frame for the creation week?

It is not composed of six literal, 24-hour days – at least not six days alone anyway. Progressive creationism and day-age theory treat the days as long periods of time. Gap theory still has days but puts in a gap of time between the first and second day. Framework has “days” that are considered “artistic literary devices” and thus are not literal, allowing for large amounts of time in the creation week.

Any other particular points of note?

Progressive creationism, gap theory, and framework hypothesis consistently treat human creation separate from the naturalistic development of other life.

Day-age theory often falls into the same trappings of theistic evolution because it is often used as an explanation to validate those who claim theistic evolution. Its overuse of naturalism makes most that would espouse it to even deny the specific creation of man – relegating man to being no different from the rest of creation (subject to a single-celled beginning, macro-evolutionary path).

Among all the variants commonly associated with the old-earth camp, the framework hypothesis is the only one that seems to truly deal with the text. The other variants tend to assume or force a more symbolic/figurative approach on the text whether it makes sense to or not. Framework actually allows for literal interpretation as it sees Genesis 1 as a combination of historical narrative and poetry. The result is more of a historical “drama” that can be taken literally at points and metaphorical at others.


That was part 3 in a mini-series on Creationism within the -ologies & Key Terms series. There is a 4th and final part to come in this mini-series next week.

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Young-Earth Creationism (Creationism part 2)

Note: This and the following article will be organized by questions which set the stage for a later post that will compare/contrast the two over-arching views side-by-side.


Young-Earth

Is there unity among those who hold to this view?

In a word, yes. There is some variance within this camp but it is largely from person to person and in regards to precise timings of specific events. Overall, those of this view commonly believe a strictly literal approach that puts the words of Scripture as they’re written above any other science or view.

How is the creation week in Genesis 1 to be read?

Genesis is looked at as historical narrative. Therefore, it is to be read and understood word-for-word or, in other words, literal. Word usage in Genesis has been shown to support that which is typically found in narrative – if you weren’t aware, words used in a given text typically vary from one type of literature to another (ex. poetry would have different word use from narrative).

What is the time-scale for all history in this position?

This position ages the earth around 6000 years old. Some allow for a little bit more time to as much as 10,000 years. Some theologians have even gone as far as to calculate out the exact days on the calendar for each day of the creation week. Nowhere does this view allow for hundreds of thousands of years or anything beyond.

What is the time-frame for the creation week?

With a literal interpretation, the creation week is thereby taken literally as well. Each day is a real-life literal day of day and night. As such, the creation week is a literal 6-day week with each day having its own sunrise and sunset. I do not mention the 7th day of the week as that was the day God rested from creating and is thereby not part of the creation debate (most would agree).  

Any other particular points of note?

ICR – Institute for Creation Research, CRI – Creation Research Institute, and Answers in Genesis are among the more common names of organizations who take Young-Earth Creationism quite seriously. These organizations regularly work to represent a literal understanding of Genesis as well as proliferate data and research that supports their position.

Young-Earth adherents are also the ones that most regularly stand against evolution, even in organisms not human. This is an area where they receive ridicule from those who disagree; however, not everyone who is young-earth denies evolution. Particularly among those adherents who are more science-minded, they would agree that evolution takes place but would say it does not go to the extent of everything having started from a single cell. They would subscribe to what is called micro-evolution which is a term commonly used to refer to changes within a species (not one species becoming another which would be macro). The changes observed within species are the area of evolutionary biology that has the most supporting evidence. As such, it is not accurate to say that a young-earth creationist is to be equated with an evolution denier despite the fact that certain young-earthers do in fact deny it (the deniers are an ever-shrinking group).


Next week’s post will be on Old-Earth Creationism – part 3 of this mini-series within the -ologies & Key Terms series.

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Creationism

Dictionary.com

noun
1. the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) the doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, especially in the first chapter of Genesis.
3. the doctrine that God immediately creates out of nothing a new human soul for each individual born.


Etymonline.com

“1847, originally a Christian theological position that God immediately created a soul for each person born; from creation + -ism. As a name for the religious reaction to Darwin, opposed to evolution, it is attested from 1880.

James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin was highly regarded in his day as a churchman and as a scholar. Of his many works, his treatise on chronology has proved the most durable. Based on an intricate correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and Holy writ, it was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701, and thus came to be regarded with almost as much unquestioning reverence as the Bible itself. Having established the first day of creation as Sunday 23 October 4004 B.C. … Ussher calculated the dates of other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on Monday 10 November 4004 BC, and that the ark touched down on Mt Ararat on 5 May 1491 BC “on a Wednesday”. [Craig, G.Y., and E.J. Jones, “A Geological Miscellany,” Princeton University Press, 1982.]”


Just by the above definitions and history alone, you can tell the term has a range of contexts but all, nevertheless, are focused on creation.

It is not my intent to address every item related to the term but I do want to address creationism in regards to the creation week seen in Genesis 1.

The creation week makes very clear that the Bible is communicating that God created all of existence. Of all creation, man was and is God’s top created being. Creationism does not allow for mankind to have arisen from cosmic chance. The entire human race was specifically and intentionally created as the image-bearers of the very being that created them, the everlasting Creator (God).

Biblical creationism is not theistic evolution nor is it truly compatible with the view – a view that attempts to hold to God’s involvement in creation’s making while trying to harmonize with the common naturalism (an inherently atheistic philosophy) found in evolutionary science today. I will admit that not everyone who calls themselves a “theistic evolutionist” is consistent with others who use the term – so their is some murkiness here (ex. I’ve seen some Old-Earth creationists refer to their position as theistic evolution) . 

There are, however, two overall camps or positions held today in Christian creationist circles. These are what are commonly called Young-Earth Creationists and Old-Earth Creationists. Both camps hold in common what has been defined so far but, as their names would imply, they do diverge when going beyond these points.

 

Because I want to give both camps adequate definition, I will stop the post here for today and continue in a part 2 that will begin to compare/contrast Young-Earth and Old-Earth Creationists more specifically. If there was anything in this post you’d like to read/know more about, please comment and let me know and I’ll add it to my future post plans.


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Epistles

Dictionary.com

noun
1. a letter, especially a formal or didactic one; written communication.
2. (usually initial capital letterone of the apostolic letters in the New Testament.
3. (often initial capital letteran extract, usually from one of the Epistles of the New
Testament, forming part of the Eucharistic service in certain churches.

Etymonline.com

partly from Old English epistol and in part directly from Old French epistleepistre (Modern French épitre), from Latin epistola “a letter,” from Greek epistole “message, letter, command, commission,” whether verbal or in writing, from epistellein “send to, send as a message or letter,” from epi “to” (see epi-) + stellein in its secondary sense of “to dispatch, send” from PIE *stel-yo-, suffixed form of root *stel- “to put, stand,” with derivatives referring to a standing object or place (see stall (n.1)). Also acquired in Old English directly from Latin as pistol. Specific sense of “letter from an apostle forming part of canonical scripture” is c. 1200.


In short, an epistle is a letter. Many of the New Testament (NT) books were originally sent as letters to provide instruction to a particular group of believers in the times after Christ. We have those letters (most, not all) collected into the NT portion of the Bible.

Books of the Bible that are also called “the Epistles” include:

Romans

1 & 2 Corinthians

Galatians

Ephesians

Philippians

Colossians

1 & 2 Thessalonians

1 & 2 Timothy

Titus

Philemon

Hebrews

James

1 & 2 Peter

1, 2, & 3 John

Jude

That leaves out the Gospels (Mark through John), Acts (which is effectively Luke 2), and Revelation (which is a prophetic work). In other words, almost all of the NT is made of epistles.

Most of these letters were written by Paul. Romans through Philemon are all clearly written by Paul – thereby called the “Pauline Epistles”. Hebrews through Jude are called the “General Epistles” as they are written by others, bearing the author’s name – with the exception of Hebrews.

Hebrews, to this day, is still debated as to who wrote it. There is sufficient evidence to believe that it was written by Paul but the text lacks the evidence to “hit the nail on the head” in regards to nailing down authorship definitively. Some of Paul’s contemporaries are argued for by some scholars and still others just leave the authorship as “unknown”. Regardless, it remains as one of the epistles that makes up the NT.

When next you read any of the Epistles, pay particular attention to the very beginning and end of that letter. You will find a wealth of information in these areas of the text as to who it was originally written for as well as surrounding contextual information.


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