Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dr. John Piper Okay With "Old Earth?"

Posted by Christine Pack

The following is a partial transcript of a response Dr. John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church gave in answer to the question "What should we teach about creation?"
"When it comes to the more controversial issues, such as how to construe Genesis 1 and 2, about how God did it, and how long it took him to do it, there I'm totally sympathetic with a pastor who is gonna lay his view down, having studied it, and is gonna say to his people, "Here's my understanding of those chapters, these six days, there can't be any other understanding of 6 literal days, and so that's how long God took to do it, and this earth is about ten or fifteen thousand years old, or this universe is. And though it looks old, that's the way God made it, He made it to look old, or something like that."  Or, he might take another view that these days are "ages."  Or he might take Sailhammer's view, which is where I feel at home, namely, that all of creation happened to prepare the land for man in verse 1. (In the) beginning, he made the heavens and the earth, that's everything, and then you go day by day and He's preparing the land. He's not bringing new things into existence, He's preparing the land and causing new things to grow, separating out water and earth, and then when it's all set and prepared, He creates and puts man there.  And so that has the advantage of saying that the earth is billions of years old, if it wants to be, and whatever science says it is, it is. But, man is young, and he was good, and he sinned, and he was a real historical person because Romans 5 says so, and so does the rest of the Bible.  And so that's where I am, and I think every pastor ought to go ahead and say what he believes......But I could be wrong about that, I'm 63 years old and I've never preached through Genesis yet.  I'd like to. We're gonna finish (the Gospel of) John, and maybe the next thing I'll turn to, if the elders let me stay around that long, would be Genesis. I really think it would......we need to give our people help in this." (my emphasis)

With all due respect to Dr. Piper, who strikes me as genuinely sincere and humble when he talks about not having preached through Genesis (and by implication, meaning he doesn't have deeply felt convictions on the issue of young earth/old earth), I think it would be good for him to avail himself of some of the very scholarly resources on young earth creation that have come around only in the last few years: chiefly, Answers in Genesis and Institute for Creation Research.

Both of these relatively new ministries are chock full of scientific data in support of a young earth, which not coincidentally, supports the common sense reading of Genesis.  From the interview above, it sounds as if Dr. Piper is unaware of these ministries, and so I would urge Dr. Piper to check into these resources.  We don't have to "buy" old earth and find a way to make it make sense, just because, as Dr. Piper said, "whatever science says it is, it is."  These ministries are filled with scientists who have studied the evidences for and against young earth within their particular fields of expertise - archaeology, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, etc. - and have come away with the conviction that young earth is the most plausible explanation for the state of the earth today.  It's very exciting to me to have access to great articles, books and DVDs on the subject of young earth.  No longer do Christians have to just smile feebly and plead "Just have faith in Jesus!" when the secular Darwinian humanist mocks him with "scientific" data; we now have data of our own, and trust me, there are no village idiots at either of the Creationism ministries linked above.

But putting aside the science for a moment, and coming at this from a strictly biblical angle, how would an "old earther" account for all the evidence of death contained in the fossil record - which presumably would have pre-dated the death that came as a result of Adam's sin in the Garden?  For the Bible tells us that it was by this sin (in the Garden) that death and suffering came into the world.  So what do you do with Romans 5:12 if you're an evolutionary Darwinian Christian? It doesn't work.  Why? Because the fossil record is filled - loaded - with evidence of death that, from the Christian point of view, would be a contradiction to Scripture, which plainly tells us that death came into the world as a result of Adam's sin. 

Hmmm, it's almost as if God intentionally placed a great big spotlight on the very first death recorded in Scripture......but why? Well, the first death that came as a result of Adam's sin was the death of the animal God used to cover Adam and Eve's shame.  Now, it's hard to imagine what Adam might have felt as he watched this animal die.  He loved all the animals, he was their caretaker, he had given them their names.  And now, he was watching one of them die as a result of HIS sin.  I wonder if he even had an understanding of what he was seeing, as this beloved animal gasped its last, the life draining from its eyes while Adam watched.  He had never seen death before.  I wonder if he even knew the finality of what was happening in front of him.  Perhaps it was at this point that he began to grasp the seriousness of his sin....

Now think of this in the context of the evolutionary Darwinian view: how big of a deal would the death of the animal used to clothe Adam and Eve have been?  It would have had very little importance, it would have been just another death among the millions of deaths that came before it, attested to by the fossil record.  But I would submit that God placed a great big spotlight on this first death because its spiritual significance was staggering: the first death was but a dim shadow of the salvation that was to come through Christ, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world," whose death would make propitiation for wicked men, and would "cover" their sins, making all who would repent and believe righteous in the eyes of God.

Thankfully, because of the ministries of Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research, we no longer have to shut down our critical thinking faculties on this topic ....we now have science, genuine science, confirming for us what we have had to take on faith for many years while the scientific community berated us as being village idiots for daring to entertain the idea of young earth creationism.

My hope and prayer is that, by availing himself of the resources linked above, Dr. Piper will rethink his position on old earth and the contradictory nature of the fossil record.  Many eyes are on him, and as a leader, his teaching is held to a higher standard.

 Additional Resources