This article is a response to a post by Kevin Nelstead on the GeoChristian blog called "Five Biblical Reasons I Am Not a Young Earth Creationist." Before we begin, I must commend the gracious tone that Mr. Nelstead employs throughout his post. I always appreciate it when someone critiques the opposing side of a contentious issue and voices their arguments while still maintaining a gentle and respectful attitude. In this post, I will respond to the arguments made by Mr. Nelstead, and I hope that all readers will construe this post as being a gracious and respectful critique of his arguments and ideas. So, without further ado, my responses to Mr. Nelstead's five objections are found below.
When reading through the GeoChristian article's discussion of genre, I was mildly confused as to what point exactly the author was trying to make. By the end of the section, the article attempts to bring its points home to cast doubt on young earth exegesis, but I must say that Mr. Nelstead is painting "YEC" with an extremely broad brush and he also comes across as somewhat unclear as to what genre categorization he thinks is really accurate. In the end, even if some young earth creationists are partially wrong about the genre of Genesis 1 (I would submit that many if not most theistic evolutionists and others who affirm an old earth are also wrong), I don't think that the truth about the genre of Genesis is much friendlier to old earth theology (in fact, I think it is less friendly to old earth theology).
2. The Meaning of "day" in Genesis
The author also brings up some interesting points regarding the length of the Genesis days. Mr. Nelstead writes about Psalm 90, and claims that young earth creationists care more about the literal nature of the days in Genesis 1 than Moses did (saying that, in context, this psalm is talking about creation). After examining Psalm 90, I am skeptical of this argument. The psalm appears to be discussing and contrasting God's infinite nature with mankind's (extremely) finite nature much more than it seems to be discussing creation. Besides, there are verses like Exodus 20:11 that cause more problems for old earth interpretations than anything in Psalm 90 can fix.
3. Animal Death Before The Fall
Furthermore, Mr. Nelstead's article bravely addresses the contentious issue known as "animal death before the fall." Most interestingly, the article makes the surprising concession that human death is indeed linked to Adam's sin. I will note here that the following thoughts may not be relevant to Mr. Nelstead's views (as I am unsure as to whether or not he affirms evolution), but his claim is particularly interesting to me as I have found the link between sin and death (physical death, that is) in theistic evolution to be rather broken. The damage to this link creates some very challenging theological questions, the most important one being "why did Christ have to physically die and rise if physical death is natural and not a result of human sin." To bring this line of reasoning back to the discussion of animal death, let's say (for the sake of the argument) that animal death before the Fall doesn't matter. However, I would follow up by asking the theistic evolutionists whether or not humans died before the fall. When I ask this question, a common result seems to be a scramble to redefine key theological concepts such as sin, death, human, or the Fall (or all four) in ways that appear to be only loosely based on Scripture. Alternatively, the theistic evolutionists could agree that human death occurred before the Fall, but I suspect that that would do much more damage to their argument (unless the terms were suitably redefined). In the end, before theistic evolutionists criticize creationists for what we think about animals, theistic evolutionists have to come up with a better theological treatment of humans and, ultimately, repair the link between human sin and death. To be fair, theistic evolutionists are working on this problem, but I still think that they have a very long way to go.
Concerning the author's discussion of genealogies, I will say that I am skeptical as to the accuracy of the "genealogical dating method" employed by many creationists (I think that it ultimately contains some potentially problematic assumptions). Now, I don't think that "gaps" in the genealogies (or elsewhere in early Genesis) could be large enough to make the earth ancient, but that is not to say that they can't (or don't) exist in the first place.
5. The New Testament and the Age of the Earth
Finally, the author addresses claims regarding the New Testament and the age of the Earth. The article points out that it is a stretch to argue that Jesus was a YEC based on verses like Mark 10:6. However, even if I, for the sake of the argument, agree that that argument is a stretch, I must ask what evidence theistic evolutionists and others who affirm an old earth possess for Jesus holding to their own particular view of origins. I suspect that the answer is either "none" or very close thereto. In the end, the theology of Creation, which has its foundations in Genesis, is found throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. However, there is not a theology of evolution (and if there is, I have yet to see it).
In the end, it is my contention that old earth and theistic evolutionary interpretations of Genesis are essentially driven by scientific concerns, not theological ones. I think that, if all scientific concerns were taken out of the equation, some interesting questions about the interpretation of Genesis would remain, but there would ultimately be little or no theological reason to reinterpret the timeline and events of the Creation as drastically as those who affirm an old earth and/or evolution do.
(Special thanks to Dr. Joshua Swamidass for bringing the GeoChristian article to my attention.)