July 05, 2011

BCOE: Other Bible Passages Alluding to an Old Earth

The old-earth interpretation makes sense of the missing “morning and evening” for the Seventh Day of creation.  For all of the first six days, the phrase, “there was morning and there was evening,” is used, but for the seventh day this phrase is conspicuously absent.  The young-earth interpretation cannot account for that, but the old-earth view can.  The seventh day is an ongoing time period that began right after Adam and Eve were made, according to the old-earth view.  (We address the issue of the Sabbath later on.)

Another interesting thing found in the Old Testament is several references to certain features of the earth being really, really old.  “Everlasting hills” is used in Genesis 49:26, which would give the idea of the mountains being ancient.  Indeed, mainstream scientists will tell you that many of the mountains are very old.  “Ancient mountains” and “everlasting hills” is also used in Deuteronomy 33:15 and Habakkuk 3:6.  YEC cannot adequately account for the Bible calling the mountains or hills ancient.  The Bible, I believe, is interpreting itself and pointing to the fact that the earth is ancient by telling us that the hills and mountains are ancient.  If the YEC view is correct, then there would be no little or no point in calling the mountains and hills ancient, since they are very close to the same age as everything else—and that age is quite young.

Psalm 89:36-37 says, “His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before Me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies. . . .”  This could easily be understood as saying that the sun and moon are ancient heavenly bodies that have continued for countless long ages.  How much more full of meaning these verses become when you believe that the sun and moon have existed for billions of years!  It puts the faithfulness into the “faithful witness” phrase that refers to the moon.

Perhaps the best passage for seeing the ancientness of the world is Psalm 90, which was penned by Moses, who, of course, also was inspired to write Genesis 1.  Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the land and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”  The YEC position diminishes the full effect of this verse.  Here is the beauty of the verse when viewed from an old-earth perspective: “Before the mountains were brought forth [some tens or hundreds of million years ago], or ever you had formed the land [some one to three billion years ago] and the world [some four and a half billion years ago], even from everlasting [eternity past] to everlasting You are God.”  The verse appears to be going back farther and father in time to show the eternality of God.  It makes perfect sense to be reversing in time like that, as we have previously noted concerning the Proverbs 8 passage.

Psalm 146:6 says, “Blessed is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose help is in Jehovah his God, who made the heavens and earth, the sea and all that is in it; who keeps truth forever . . .”  The YEC position seems to interpret the creation of the heavens and earth and the sea as something that happened all in one moment—or, at least in one 24-hour day.  The old-earth view, however, sees the heavens being made first, then the earth, and then the sea.  This order is significant as we’ve seen earlier, and makes sense of the order of creation listed in Psalm 146:6.  The order is not trivial but highly meaningful.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in His time; also He has set eternity in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.”  If you read this verse without bias, I think you can see how it might be more fittingly referring to an ancient world than a relatively young world.  “No man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning . . .”  With billions of years of history of the universe, how true this becomes!  If the earth is only about six thousand years old, then the Bible records the “work” of God in some detail, and we are left wondering what is unable to be discovered about history.  Notice also the phrase that says that God “made everything beautiful in His time.”  Was “His time” a week or vast ages of time?

Genesis 2:3 says, “. . . He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”  Why does this verse use the word “created” and also “made”?  In the Hebrew, one word speaks of making from scratch, and the other word means forming through use of already existing materials.  The six days of creation involved both creating supernaturally and also forming things from preexisting materials.  Why is this important?  The old earth view proposes that several things happened through “natural” processes, like the formation of the water cycle and atmosphere, and the land.  Other created things were clearly supernatural, like the making of the initial universe and a spiritual human being.  The young earth view, however, would generally tend to propose that everything was supernaturally formed from nothing—the universe, the stars, the earth, the land, and all of life.  Therefore, the old earth view more naturally interprets Gen. 2:3 as indicating two basic types of creation: supernatural and natural.

If the earth is only six thousand years old, would you feel comfortable saying that the world was made “of old”?  The apostle Peter doesn’t shy away from saying that: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old . . .” (2 Peter 3:5).  It’s all relative, we could suppose, but this verse clearly says that the universe is “old,” whether we’re saying that is relative or not.  The idea of an “old earth” is biblical, then, at least in a relative sense.  To be literal, the Greek word for “of old” (ekpalai, “ἔκπαλαι”) means, “long ago.”

No comments:

Post a Comment