Why Do Seminary Professors Entertain Old Earth Ideas?
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
There is a trend in modern Christendom for Bible scholars to accommodate old-earth thinking and accept it as true. The "millions and billions of years" scenario has become the "politically correct" position, and knowledgable Christian leaders accept and even insist on it. This might be understandable in liberal circles, but unfortunately one finds few leading conservative, evangelical seminaries or Christian colleges which promote the young earth. Those "fundamentalists" who accept a literal Genesis are marginalized and rarely welcomed on a faculty.
Old-earth proponents will go to great lengths to claim that Augustine or some other "church father" or early Jewish rabbi were open to old-earth ideas thus lending credence to their compromise. Old-earthers might argue that the days of Genesis were long, or overlapping, or allegorical, but never to be understood at face value.
The one thing they are unable to do, however, is to show how Scripture, using standard methods of Scripture interpretation, directly points to an old earth. Instead, they must devise ways to escape the clear meaning of Genesis. Do they do this because they are convinced (wrongly) that science has "proven" an old earth?
But let's consider science. In principle, scientific claims and theories are self-correcting. What happens when a scientist misinterpretes or fudges the evidence to support an obviously erroneous conclusion? I can assure you that other scientists would quickly move to correct the error and would not mince words in doing so. I am convinced that if it weren't for the philosophical insistence on naturalism, even evolution would be abandoned. Already many secular scientists are pointing out that mutations are never beneficial, that natural selection is conservative, not innovative, that conditions have never been right for the origin of life from non-life, that fossils fall into separate, distinct categories, that catastrophism is the rule in geology, etc. If secularists had another view of origins that still denied the Creator, they would abandon evolution in a flash.
Compare this to Bible scholars who twist Scripture to make it say something it clearly does not say. If theologians, who so admire secular scientists and value their approval, applied "scientific" methods of critique and correction to pronouncements of their peers, old-earth ideas would not be tolerated. They would be recognized as a butchering of Scripture. If similar techniques were applied throughout the Bible, we would lose many primary doctrines.
I suspect that Bible scholars condone old-earth interpretations of Scripture because of their own wrong training and desire to gain the acceptance of their peers, both Christian and secular. How much better to gain the approval of the Author of Genesis instead!
Let me issue a call to theologians, pastors, and Christian leaders. Christianity is engaged in a worldview war and needs all her soldiers. Let us hear, once again, the wonderful words: "Thus saith the Lord!" from your lips and pen.
*Dr. John Morris is President of ICR.
Cite this article: John D. Morris, Ph.D. 1999. Why Do Seminary Professors Entertain Old Earth Ideas?. Acts & Facts. 28 (3).