home  >  articles  > How Dispensationalism Distorted Biblical Creationism

The Bible is emphatic that God is the Creator. It’s entire message of redemption is founded upon this truth. If God is not Creator then the Scriptures have no authority at all – let alone credibility. Similarly, if the entire human race is not descended from one man: Adam, then its revelation about man’s fallenness is without basis.

This opening account in the Bible of the Creation Story must be factual for Scripture, or Christianity for that matter, to have any credence. In the USA in the early part of the 20th century this issue became the basis for a court case where a High School Science teacher was charged with teaching something other than this (evolution) in what famously became known as the Scopes’ Monkey Trial. Curiously, Christians were called to defend their position rather than Mr Scopes his, and only one school of thought was presented during that trial – Dispensational Fundamentalism, which claims that the six creation days were consecutive 24 hour periods, and that all of this took place just 6,000 years ago. This court case was made into a Hollywood movie (Inherit The Wind) and presented Christians as bumbling, ignorant, bigotted, empty-heads. Although the movie was riddled with historical inaccuracies, the thrust of the actual ‘Christian’ presentation was not.

What Dispensational Fundamentalism Teaches About Creation

Dispensationalism is a method of Bible interpretation which was devised around 1830. (This is actually an important point to note –  that it is a very recent theological school of thought.) Its major premise is that God has a strict timetable in which He has divided time into seven dispensations (periods of time) each with a different mode of salvation. Intrinsic to this scheme is the theory that the original six days of Creation correspond to the six periods of time for each dispensation. Dispensationalist teachers appeal to the Bible to support this notion that the original days can be equated to periods of a thousand years each.

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
Psalm 90:4

But, beloved, be not ignorant — of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years , and a thousand years as one day.
Second Peter 3:8

They also base their calculations on the Genealogical research of Scripture by Bishop Usher who arrived at a date of 4004BC for the commencement of Creation. Therefore it was 4000 years from Creation to Christ (“4 days”) and it will be 2000 years (“2 days”) from Christ to His return to establish the Millennium (typified by the seventh “day” of rest), they claim. They often cite Hosea 6:2 to support this theory-

After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him
.
Hosea 6:2

 

Equating of Old Earth Theories With Evolutionary Theories

The major promoters of this Dispensational Young Earth Theory see no other reason for even entertaining the idea that the earth could be old except to attempt to justify evolutionary theory as an alternate explanation for explaining the origin of all life. Henry Morris, of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), says-

“The continued insistence on an ancient earth is purely because of the philosophic necessity to justify evolution and the pantheistic religion of eternal matter.”
“Recent Creation Is A Vital Doctrine,” impact, no. 132 (June 1984): iv

This appeal is based on two major premises. Firstly, Secular Science is totally unreliable and biased towards atheism, they claim, that’s why these secular scientists claim that the universe is ancient (between 12 – 15 billion years old). Secondly, theologically they say that if death existed before Adam then the basis of sin and redemption through Christ’s atonement on the Cross is pointless. These two arguments have given rise to the claim that evolutionary theory is at the heart of all society’s ills. For example, Ken Ham, the President of Answers In Genesis says this starts when Christians teach that the earth may be older than 10,000 years old-

If Christian leaders have told the next generation that one can accept the world’s teaching in geology, biology, astronomy, etc., and use these to (re)interpret God’s Word, then the door has been opened for this to happen in every area, including morality.”
Ken Ham, “A Young Earth–It’s Not The Issue!” AiG-USA Newsletter, January 1998, p.2

John Morris, the President of ICR, goes further than his father (Henry) when he equates any notion of an old earth (older than 10,000 years) directly with evolutionism and therefore-

…an unmitigated evil…[the philosophical root of] fascism, racism, Marxism, social Darwinism, imperialism…the modern ills of promiscuity, homosexuality, abortion, humanism, new-age pantheism, etc., etc., flower from the same evil root.”
John D. Morris, “How Can a Geology Professor Believe That The Earth is Young?” Back To Genesis, no. 29 (May 1991): d

 

Is Old Earth Science Atheistic?

With the discoveries made by the Human Genome Project several scientific and pseudo-theological pronouncements were shown to be false. By unlocking the Creator’s “language of life” (as they referred to it) we now know scientifically that the entire human race descended from one man and woman as a couple (which confirms the Bible story of Adam and Eve). Secondly, the myth that humanity can be regarded as containing races was dispelled (we are all human, there is but one race of man).

Theologically, Mormons pin the authenticity of divine inspiration on the Book of Mormon’s claim that the American Indians are the direct descendents of the Israelites. But DNA discoveries do not support these claims. No mind. Mormons simply state that “secular science” cannot be trusted. While the absurdity of this is immediately obvious, what is less obvious is the same reasoning by Young Earth Dispensational Creationists who find that science does not agree with their theories and therefore this science cannot be trusted.

There is a concerning problem with this approach. Young Earthers say that any credence given to old earth science fatally undermines the authority of Scriptures. But its worth noting that prior to Charles Darwin there were many (if not most) Biblical scholars who considered the days of Creation to be periods of time rather than 24 hour calendar days. This included, Charles Hodge and Benjamin Warfield. Today, such scholars as D.A. Carson, Gleason Archer, Norman Geisler, and Walter Kaiser espouse an Old Earth view. Some leading pastors have now come out from the pack and declared that they too are Old Earth in their Biblical understanding. These include Bill Hybels, Jack Hayford and Ron Wilson (past President of AOG Tasmania). These men see no undermining of Scriptural authority (sola scriptura) by regarding that the Creation days as periods of time rather than 24 hour periods. Rather than regarding science as the enemy of Scriptural revelation that see it as complementary to it.

 

Facts Always Eventually Align With The Truth

One Young Earth Advocate recently said to me that he predicts that one day all honest science will confirm that the earth is only a few thousand years old and that the conspiracy to cover up these facts will be exposed. If this was really the case, then those in the scientific community who relish in “uncovering” and “breakthroughs” would have broken ranks by now. But the opposite is true. All the scientific evidence is confirming that the universe is around 12-15 billion years old, earth is around 4.5 billion years old, first life on earth (vegetation) first appeared 3.8 billion years ago, animal life appeared suddenly around 530 million years ago (the “Cambrian Explosion”) and that the first man (whom we know to be Adam) appeared around 40,000 years ago. (Science is also increasingly undermining Darwinian Evolution and pointing to an Intelligent Designer.)

Science points to the geological sedimentary layers to support the age of the earth; the distance of stars and the time starlight takes to reach the earth as supporting their claims for the age of the universe; and, calculates the rate of the universe’s expansion to work back toward a date for the start of the universe (the “Big Bang” which was never actually a bang but confirms the Biblical account that the universe leapt into existence at the command of God, Heb. 11:3). Despite Young Earth claims that Carbon Dating is a flawed technique by citing that objects that are relatively young are shown to be ancient by the Carbon Dating method, they offer no actual examples as proofs of these claims or any viable alternatives that would satisfy them for geological dating. Other claims that starlight is not an accurate measurement of time because light is slowing down, or God could have created them immediately visible from earth are feebly offered to counter this science. But the speed of light has been examined by over 18 major scientific studies and found to be (as Einstein said) constant (causing many scientists to say that Einstein’s “Theory” of Relativity must now be regarded as a “Law”). Therefore, when we measure that some starlight takes several million years to reach earth Young Earthers have a major problem. To suggest that God created the universe with the appearance of age is to suggest that God deceives!

  

Theological Challenges

Was there death before Adam? Settle this question and the theological evidence either supports or counters the Young Earth theory. Romans 5:12 says that death entered the world through one man and his sin.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
Romans 5:12

Did Adam’s sin result in death being introduced to vegetation and animals? For Young Earthers, the answer is “Yes!”. But is that what Romans 5:12 actually says? When I pointed out to one advocate of Young Earth theory that God gives to lions their prey (Psalm 104:21) and therefore lions were created by God to eat meat he responded by saying that that created order was the result of the Fall of Man. When I asked what he thought lions would have eaten before the Fall he said grass. So I asked whether the grass would have died when the lion ate it, he admitted that he didn’t know about that one. And this becomes the problem when we adopt a view of death that it is when something ceases to exist. Biblically, human life is distinct from all other life forms. Only human life bears the image of God. Only human life has an immortal spirit. Only humans can know God relationally. When Adam sinned he put to death these qualities- the image of God in man became marred; the immortal spirit of man would now be eternally separated from God; and man could no longer know God, because of sin. This is the “death” that Adam introduced and it therefore magnifies Christ and His act of redemption rather than diminishes it! Christ did not come to die for grass! He came and gave His life for mankind!

When we consider that God made trees to reproduce after their own kind it demands that their seed would have to fall to the ground and “die” in order to propagate new trees. This was not because of the Fall, but was spoken by the Creator before the Fall of man. While its true that all of Creation groans it’s worth noting what the passage says it groans for-

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:22-23

 

A Simple Reading of Scripture

Young Earthers claim that “a simple reading” of Scripture would leave no-one doubting that the earth is young and that God did it all in six calendar days. This is an illogical statement worthy of swift dismantling and exposure.

We apply this Hermeneutic to no other part of Scripture without first employing some reasonable principles of interpretation. For example, the Scriptures declare that God has seven eyes (Zech. 4:10); seven horns on His head (Rev. 5:6); wings like a mother chicken (Psalm 91:4); and uses earth as His footstool (Isaiah 66:1). What impression would a “simple” reading give of God from these passages? When we read in Genesis 1 of six creation days the Hebrew word for “day” is “yom”. Despite claims by Young Earthers that this word is always translated in the Bible as a 24 hour day, this word can mean “a period of time”. Note the following Strong’s Concordance definition-

STRONGS #3117. yom; from an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figurative (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverb):—age, + always, + chronicals, continually(-ance), daily, ((birth-), each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, x end, + evening, + (for) ever(-lasting, -more), x full, life, as (so) long as (… live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently, + remaineth, x required, season, x since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), x whole (+ age), (full) year(-ly), + younger.

Note its Biblical use in these sample passages-

When he had been there a long time (Heb. “yom”), Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife.
Gen. 26:8

Like the cold of snow in the time (Heb. “yom”) of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
he refreshes the soul of his masters
.

Prov. 25:13

A study of this word in the original language shows that just like in our language, the word “day” is not restricted to a 24 hour period. “In my Grandfather’s day” is just one example of how the word day can be used to speak of an era. Even adding the expressions morning and evening changes nothing because the Hebrew for these words simply means beginning and end.

Trends In Science Confirm Rather Than Contradict Scripture

Christians have nothing to fear from scientific discoveries. Increasingly they are confirming Scripture not contradicting it. We have at the core of our Gospel the revelation of man’s problem: sin; and the solution: Jesus; and the means: His Spirit. We can boldly proclaim this Gospel and have a choir of scientists singing backup. Romans 1 makes it clear that God is known first through the power of the Gospel (vs 16) but can be observed in creation. Religion and Science do mix since they are both the study of God and His created world.

Andrew Corbett, 14th March 2006

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