This series has covered eight significant differences between YEC and OEC beliefs:
- The YEC and OEC views of Bible interpretation
- The YEC and OEC views of revelation
- The YEC and OEC views of evidence
- The YEC and OEC views and church history
- The YEC and OEC views of science
- The YEC and OEC views of the world
- The YEC and OEC views of Adam
- The YEC and OEC views of Ancient Near East (ANE) texts.
These eight differences are interrelated. Perhaps the best way to tie them together is through Church history. The Westminster Confession of Faith, Article 25, states that “The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error…” This is certainly the Biblical record of the church in both the Old Testament and early New Testament times. It is also the historical record of the church since the end of the apostolic age.
Error recorded in both the Old Testament and New Testament was introduced when the believers started to mix Scripture with worldly ideas. In Old Testament church worldliness was represented by idol worship. In the early New Testament church, worldliness was represented by Greek and Roman philosophy.
By the 1800’s science became the dominant world view in the west. The root of Old Earth Creationism (OEC) is a desire of some Christians to accommodate Scripture to the scientific consensus.
Understanding Science and the Scientific Consensus
The OEC community appears to have never understood the difference between science and the scientific consensus. The scientific consensus is based on a presupposition of naturalism – there is no need for a god and certainly no need for the God of the Bible. No Christian view the of science, including theistic evolution (Evolutionary Creation) will ever be acceptable to the scientific consensus. However, the scientific consensus is not science; it is simply the current majority opinion of the scientific community and is subject to change.
The scientific community is much larger than the scientific consensus. It is composed of qualified scientists who have a wide range of religious views as well as a wide range of professional views. The ways of God are far greater than either the scientific consensus or the scientific community (see the illustration in Difference #5, Science, of this series).
Public disagreement with the scientific consensus was rare until relatively recently. The best challenges are made by qualified scientists from the scientific community. In contrast to the OEC community, the YEC community is unafraid to challenge the scientific consensus.
OEC Bible Reinterpretations to Fit the Scientific Consensus
Since the 1830’s the OEC community has sought to be acceptable to the scientific consensus. The quest for acceptance has led the church through a whole series of different ways to reinterpret the plain reading of the creation account. All OEC Bible interpretation is based on a new understanding of the relationship between general revelation and special revelation. The reformed understanding of revelation was replaced by a new presupposition: “natural revelation (the position of the scientific consensus) is truth” and “God’s word is truth.” Therefore, God’s word can never conflict with the scientific consensus. This is the guiding presupposition of all the OEC views of Scripture.
Application of this new guiding presupposition began with the Day-Age and Ruin-Restoration interpretations in the 1830’s. These views accommodated long ages but not evolution. They are now fading into obscurity.
Later OEC efforts to reinterpret the Bible to fit the scientific consensus resulted in the Analogical Day (1890’s) and Framework (1920’s) views. These views could accommodate evolution. However, both views are highly complex and difficult to understand for most Christians. The Framework view flourished from the late 1950’s until early in the new century. The Framework view is still referred to, however, the OEC community appears to have moved on. The Analogical Day view is not well known or widely held.
The most recent addition to OEC Bible reinterpretation tools has been a new hermeneutic based Ancient Near East (ANE) texts; this hermeneutic is termed (ANEH). The popularity of ANEH is due to its simplicity, flexibility and power. Any conflict between the Bible and science can be easily dismissed. This is the exemplified by the new OEC position on the historicity of Adam.
The Road to Recovery
Below are first steps that the Christian Church do on the road from recovery from the devastation of OEC views of science and Bible reinterpretation:
- Recognize that there will always be a conflict between the scientific consensus and Christianity. There can be no agreement between a God being the first cause and naturalism being the first cause.
- Recognize that even theistic evolution (Evolutionary Creation) will never be considered scientific by the scientific consensus.
- Recognize that the scientific community is much larger than the scientific consensus.
- Recognize that the scientific consensus can change but it changes slowly. Therefore, be patient and wait in faith for answers.
- Recognize that God operates far beyond the realm of science and human reasoning. God is under no obligation to make His thoughts and ways understandable to humankind. His ways cannot be limited by science or human reason.
- Reestablish the proper understanding of general revelation and special revelation.
- Become conversant in science. Understand the positions of the scientific consensus and the positions of the scientific community.
The current creation discussion has been going on now for nearly 200 years. In this time frame the positions of the participants has become clearly established.
On the Old Earth Creation (OEC) position is that the Bible must be constantly reinterpreted to accommodate the scientific consensus. Most in the OEC community now supports theistic evolution.
In contrast, the Young Earth Creation (YEC) position is that of the historic church and particularly that of the reformation. This position is unchanging. Science is appreciated and efforts are made to answer questions posed by the world. The YEC community understands that the scientific community is simply the majority opinion of the scientific community and is not necessarily truth.