March 6, 2019
The age of the earth was the topic of today's Apologia chapel for the Rhetoric School (9th-12th grade). Some of Trinity's science faculty was on hand to present the case for various views. It was not a debate but rather a presentation for students to consider various theories and to learn the science behind the theories.
Mr. Evan Freeman was up first. He shared how science progresses in knowledge and makes corrections as knowledge and clarity increase. He also discussed the difference between primary theological issues, such as salvation through Christ, and secondary issues, such as the age of the earth. The most important conclusion is that science does a pretty good job of investigating all aspects of God’s creation, though it must correct its own conclusions as need be. Mr. Freeman also explained that today’s presentation was not a debate; but it is intended to show that both positions are biblical positions that honor God as Creator of everything, including the special creation of all life.
Mr. Eric Margrave came next. He explained the Scriptural and scientific strengths of the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) view and also discussed one of the biggest challenges often posed to the YEC position. The Young Earth Creationist view believes that the earth may be as young as 6,000 years, though some may believe it is as old as 50,000 years. With a humorous gist, he referred to people who hold this view as "Yeckers", - because he didn't want to keep saying Young Earth Creationists. So if your student talks about Yeckers, you'll know it's not some new slang that teenagers are using.
Mr. Margrave addressed the problem known as the distant starlight problem, which goes like this: If we can see galaxies that are billions of light years away, how could the universe and the earth be so young while allowing us to see these galaxies whose light took billions of years to arrive at earth for our viewing? Through models and certain propositions, he showed how it can be possible for these galaxies to be that far and yet still be seen on earth in a young universe.
Dr. Mark Phillips, Trinity's Chair of Theology and Science, rounded out the lesson with the Scriptural and scientific strengths of the Old Earth Creationist view. OEC states the earth is around 4.5 billion years old and the universe is just under 14 billion years old. He referred to this as actually more of a Middle Earth age position. That is because the difference between the YEC age and the OEC age is very minimal when you consider that neither model allows time for life to randomly occur and develop into complex forms like fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, especially complex cognizant Imago Dei humans!
More importantly, he made sure the students understood that it's not so much the age of the earth that matters to our Christian faith, but rather the fact that the view we hold as Christians is a Creationist view. WHEN God created the earth is not as important as THAT He created it. He discussed the fact that the theory of evolution (which all Rhetoric School students have studied by now) is falling out of favor even in the scientific community. Many college professors have signed a document saying that they find that the neo-Darwinian model of macroevolution (species radically changing into another species) should be seriously questioned. Many other college professors are simply waiting until they achieve tenure before signing the document, as they fear their jobs would be in jeopardy if they signed before earning tenure status.
The Theology and Science Department knows these students are going to head off to college soon and they will hear scientific arguments against creation; they will hear people say that they don't believe the Bible because it contradicts science. Trinity's theology and science faculty want students to know that the Bible does NOT contradict science, but in fact, as scientists discover more, the Bible is supported more and more by God's "second book", which is nature. Trying to explain the creation of the earth by naturalism or by macroevolution simply doesn't work. There is not enough support for those theories. A study of the complexity of DNA is enough to demonstrate that there must be a Creator. Dr. Phillips showed a quote from Bill Gates, who wrote in The Road Ahead, “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” A complex program like DNA points definitively to the need for a "Programmer" for such design and complexity at this level of nano-engineering.
CONCLUSION: There are two basic Christian views of the age of the earth and universe: Young Earth Creationists (YEC) and Old Earth Creationists (OEC). Both believe in the supreme authority of Scripture. Both believe in God’s special instantaneous creation. All special creationists (YEC or OEC) deny Darwinian macroevolution and believe in special creation as described in the Bible. They may disagree on some of the timeline details, but not the biblical essentials that God is Creator of everything and He instantaneously created all kinds of life. Science supports this.
The chapel ended with a brief time for students to discuss with their neighbor something new they had just learned and then about 15 minutes of Q & A, led by Dr. Dixon. Students asked thoughtful questions and the panel of teachers was very knowledgable and helpful to shed light on the complex subject matter.
ICYMI, here is a link to YouTube to view the chapel talk.