Old vs Young-Earth Creationism (Creationism part 4)

Summation Chart – Young vs. Old Earth

Young-Earth Old-Earth
Thousands of years Millions even billions of years
A literal reading of Genesis 1-2 An at least partially symbolic reading of Genesis 1-2
A largely unified position Unified in old planetary/universe age and in symbolic reading. Varied on just about everything else.
 The creation story is historical narrative. The creation story is allegory, metaphorical, etc. At most, it is only partly narrative.
The fall of man brought death into the world (though there are those who do allow some form of death before the fall). Death was part of the creation from very early and definitely before man’s fall.
Accepts science but rejects anything that appears to clash with the literal interpretation Accepts much of what has been found by modern science as fact

Young and Old-Earth creationists hold mankind to be a special creation of God.

I hope this mini-series has serviced to help shed light on the subject of creationism. If any of this has peaked your interest, I recommend you use the material here as a starting point. To follow, you will find additional information that will help you in such an endeavor.

For further reading:

If you have yet to read the previous Creationism articles, use the following links to take you to each. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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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.

Have any questions? Need something clarified? Please leave a comment!

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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.]”


Discussion/Explanation

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 there 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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