A Case for Young Earth Creationism, Part 3

A strong theological argument for young earth creationism is that the first sin gave rise to the conditions of the earth as they are today, specifically with regard to those things that seem out of place in a world originally pronounced “very good.”  If you believe in an old earth, then I take it that you believe that the animal kingdom has always included carnivores.  Death has always been a part of the earth’s existence from the beginning.  Furthermore, I take it that all old earth views argue that things like natural disasters have been part of the earth’s existence from the beginning.  One would not necessarily have to argue that human death preceded sin (though some do), but certainly a number of things traditionally associated with the Fall of man would have had to precede the Fall if the earth is billions of years old instead of about 6,000 years old.  This is a theological problem because the Bible seems to link these things to the curse, which clearly came as a result of the Fall.

Take Romans 5:12, for instance: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world throughone man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–.”  I will admit that this verse is not an airtight case.  Paul clearly has in view human death because it is viewed as a judgment for sin.  Therefore, we must affirm that human death was no part of God’s creation prior to the Fall.  But could this also extend to animal death as well? 

I think animal death may well be an implication of this verse.  If we do not accept that implication, then we must conclude that God originally designed nature to be predatory, violent, and essentially Darwinian (not necessarily that we would have to accept the whole evolutionary scheme, but we would have to accept that God designed it so that the stronger would destroy the weaker).  I can’t say for sure that that’s not the case (who am I to say what God can or cannot do?), but it seems to me, given what Scripture teaches elsewhere, that God would not have done it this way.  Here is some additional scriptural evidence:

– In the Genesis account, the first mention of animal death comes after sin (Genesis 3:21); this is an argument from silence, but given the way creation is described in Genesis 1-2, it is precisely what we would expect in a world without any death, human or animal.

– In some passages that speak of the restoration of creation, we have images of animals living at peace with one another (Isaiah 11:6-9).  Whether this indicates a literal description of the new creation or not is beside the point.  The point is that by using these images, the prophet implies that the predatory violence of the animal kingdom is something that does not cohere with God’s ultimate redemptive purpose.  Just as war among nations will be no more one day (Isaiah 2:1-4), so will war among animals be no more.  If that is the case, then it strongly implies that animal violence was no part of God’s original design for this world and must be a result of the curse. 

– Romans 8:18-25 is perhaps the most important passage on this subject.  I will not quote it in full, but instead will focus on verses 20-22: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been graoning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”  When Paul writes of the creation being subjected to futility, he seems to have in mind the curse on the ground in Genesis 3:17-19.  Something changed dramatically in this world after mankind sinned.  The earth lost its ability to produce the same kind of abundance as before.  It is not too hard to see how this curse could be related to things like draught, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.  And could it be that Paul sees natural disasters as evidence that even the creation itself is “groaning” as it awaits its liberation from the curse when the Second Adam finally restores humanity to fulfill its proper role (see Genesis 1:27-28; Psalm 8)?  But the old earth view seems to downplay significantly the radical change that has occurred in this creation as a result of the Fall.  Only young earth creationism seems to preserve this biblical teaching faithfully.

There is one objection that I want to address here: what about plant life?  Even on the young earth view, wasn’t there “death” in God’s creation prior to the Fall because the plants were given to animals and man to be eaten?  By the standards of modern science, that is correct.  Plant life did indeed die prior to the Fall because it was available for food.  But the Bible must be allowed to speak on its own terms.  In Scripture, plants are never identified as living things.  Life in Scripture is associated with breath (Genesis 2:7) and blood (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11).  Plants do not have either breath or blood, so the “death” of plants is not a theological problem in Scripture.  If a plant or its fruit dies to nourish living things that have breath and blood, then it has served its God-ordained purpose.  This is confirmed by the image of the new creation in Revelation 22:2, where the tree of life produces fruit (clearly implying that the fruit is to be eaten).  In Scripture, there is a qualitative difference between plant life and animal/human life, and only the death of the latter strikes a note of discord in God’s good creation.

Young earth creationism’s greatest strength is that it upholds a strong view of the curse of sin and what it has done to this world.  No old earth view can compete with it on this issue.

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One Response to “A Case for Young Earth Creationism, Part 3”

  1. Pastor John Says:

    thanks for this entry on young earth creationism. i am always amazed at how many people ‘fold’ to so-called scientific evidence. even guys i admire a lot (like boice and keller) don’t see a week in genesis 1. anyway, thanks for the post!

    john

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