Creation, young and old

Creation, or young-earth creation, is not the only position to contradict atheistic evolution. Old-earth creation offers an alternative. Any Biblical apologist must deal with it. That means recognizing what its adherents are trying to say, and knowing how to answer them back.

Almost three years ago, the editors of the God and Science site published a thirty-minute lecture. In it, Mr. Rich Deem accuses young-earth creation advocates of contradicting the Bible. Mr. Deem identifies several areas of legitimate controversy in Bible scholarship and in creation science. But he deliberately conflates those with his central complaint. Old-earth creation advocates begin by accepting the central premise of atheistic evolution, which is deep time. In fact, identifying possible errors of scholarship does not and cannot validate deep time. Furthermore, Mr. Deem exaggerates his complaint and accuses young-earth advocates, without warrant, of deliberate misconstruction of the Bible.

Young earth or old earth: the difference

Yes, young-earth advocates have a problem with deep time—a serious one. Deep time means measuring the history of the earth in millions of years, or billions, instead of thousands. Four years ago, the Assemblies of God Enrichment Journal called Answers in Genesis “intolerant” for refusing to accept deep time. Ken Ham, head of AiG, wrote back:

And we must as God’s people stand against the compromise of reinterpreting Genesis to fit in evolution and millions of years, which undermines biblical authority.

Well, ex-cu-u-use us, says Rich Deem in effect. Earlier than that, a reader of Ken Ham’s answer protested that old-earth creation does not equate to atheistic evolution. But as Tim Chaffey answered, one has no solid ground to accept one class of miracles – the passion and resurrection of Christ – and reject others, like the literal six-day creation. In fact, once one accepts any part of the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm, he shakes the ground he stands on for rejecting the other parts.

What is the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm?

It is a trident of inherently anti-biblical doctrines. They are:

  • Uniformitarianism: processes at work today, have always been at work since time immemorial.
  • Abiogenesis: life arose from non-life, inevitably and without God. (God creating life out of nothing does not equate to life arising by itself without Divine aid.)
  • Common descent: all life descends from one species, in however many populations one cares to name.

Uniformitarianism, as one defines it above, includes deep time. It is how secular origins scientists arrive at a great age for the earth. Yet Rich Deem dares suggest the Bible supports uniformitarianism, with the same authority as It supports the Resurrection. And when he does that, he makes a grave mistake.

Pharisees and Sadducees

Deem compounds his mistake when he calls Ham and those who agree with him, Pharisees. The Pharisees added to the Bible, especially from their own traditions. But Deem has his own problem. He behaves like a Sadducee, one who snips words or sentences out of the Bible to suit himself. Jesus rarely bothered with the Sadducees. But that does not make their error any less grave.

It is the avowed “Bible believers” that are leading their followers down a broad road of compromise with philosophical amalgams like “The Progressive Creation Theory” or “The Framework Hypothesis.”

So said Henry Morris III. Again, Rich Deem takes exception. But not only does he miss the point Morris made, but he also misses the context. Morris also said the Christians were the only ones compromising their beliefs. Old-earth “creation” advocates give away the store to advocates for the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm. And they get nothing in return. Nothing, that is, but scorn. As the elder Henry Morris said:

The slippery slope of compromise finally ends in the dark chasm of atheism, at least for those who travel to its logical termination.

And what is that “logical termination”? That God is unnecessary! Admit deep time, and one has little reason to invoke God.

Not that the “God and Science” crew doesn’t try to keep God necessary to creation. Their site abounds with article after article arguing another point. Even four and a half billion years, they insist, would not be enough time for life to arise from non-life and produce the incredible diversity we see today. That, Mr. Deem, is a matter of opinion. Those gibing, non-compromising atheistic evolution advocates would beg to differ—no, insist on differing.

Science, true and false

On the other hand, Henry Morris and his son conceded one minor, but significant, point too many. “Science now supersedes Scripture when [they] conflict,” the younger Morris complained. In truth, whatever the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm is, it is not science. It is a travesty of science. Worse, it is whatever the atheists mean when they utter the word science. To them, science exists to obviate God. What they really mean by science is philosophical materialism and methodological naturalism. The first insists that matter is all that “matters.” The second says nature, with nothing to guide her, inevitably produced life as we know it. And if we don’t “yet” know how life arose from non-life, methodological naturalism says, “Wait and see.”

True science tries to find the most likely explanation of facts and events. Furthermore, true science does not deliberately ignore evidence for a particular event. Yet evolutionary “science” does this all the time.

Science of origins and operations

The atheists insist the same science that builds computers and automobiles, also insists the earth is very old and so on. The old-earth creation compromisers let them get away with it. The latter make a mistake; the former are telling a lie.

For in fact two kinds of science exist. Operational science (from the Latin opus, operis a work) tells us how things work. Operational science almost always corrects itself. The simplest principles of operational science, like gravity, kinematics, and dynamics, are beyond dispute. Sadly, more complex subjects do lend themselves to dispute, even with a political charge. Climate science provides the most obvious modern example. Nutritional science gives another. Parties to a dispute can derive great profit, in money or power, from “settling” it their way. So fraud, and charges and countercharges of fraud, abound. But at least some standard of proof remains.

Origins science treats how the universe, the earth, and life came to exist. And origins science can have no objective standard apart from direct testimony or any operational principles it involves. And ever since Anaximander, origins science has been in irreconcilable dispute. An arbiter of “Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia” sardonically wished he could back-step into time to settle the dispute, and other disputes ancillary to this. No one can. Worse yet, the witnesses to some of the key events, especially the Global Flood, died thousands of years ago. So the atheists impugn their honesty and dismiss their testimony as allegory. They then make up a story of their own as they go along. No one, who accepts any part of that account, should call himself a creation advocate.

Death before the Fall?

Did death happen before the Fall of Man? Rich Deem correctly observes that the death that came with the Fall, was human death. See Romans 5:121 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. Furthermore, some creation advocates do advocate vegetarianism, or even veganism, for Christians. Genesis 1:29-30 certainly implies the first human diet, and maybe the first animal diets, were vegetarian diets. And true enough, in Genesis 9:3, God seems to have rescinded that edict.1 (Deem cites the Flood in this instance, though he will later allege the Flood was merely local in scope. More on that later.)

But Deem forgets: the Fall of Man happened within days, not weeks and certainly not years, of creation. We cannot know what sort of non-violent coexistence God would have made possible, but for the Fall. This applies equally to “between man and man”, “between man and beast”, and “between beast and beast”. Deem doggedly persists in assuming deep time. Without deep time, he has no ground to scorn the temporary veganism of Eden. And every other verse he quotes, clearly describes life after the Fall. (And some verses, that compare plant and animal or human death, clearly stretch the meaning of “analogy”.)

We may assume God made carnivorous animals to begin with. As Deem correctly shows, the Hebrew names of these animals come from roots showing ways to kill.2 But that gives no warrant to suppose animals ate other animals in the Garden of Eden. The kind of non-violent man-beast society God might have set up, never happened. What happened instead? The Fall of Man happened—within days.

The Biblical Chronology Dispute

Deem then turns to a long-simmering dispute on Biblical chronology. He must do this to allege billions of years instead of thousands. So he turns to attack the chronological system of James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh. Why does he attack James Ussher, and not Edwin R. Thiele or William Albright? He has two likely reasons. First, the system of Ussher found its way into the center margins of the Authorized or “King James” Version. Neither Thiele nor Albright can make such a claim. Second, if anything, Thiele and Albright plump for an even more recent creation than does Ussher. Thiele, for instance, telescopes out 45 years of the history of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

In considering Ussher, Deem declares Ussher did not set his date from continuous genealogical records. He did not have to. He had two direct “event intervals” to work with:

  1. The Sojourn of Israel in Egypt, and
  2. The interval between the Exodus and the groundbreaking for the Temple.

Floyd Nolan Jones (The Chronology of the Old Testament) would refine Ussher’s system in modern times.

More to the point, Ussher used the death of Nebuchadnezzar the Great in 562 BC to synchronize with secular or “profane” history. Jones used a different date: the destruction of the Temple in 586 BC. Those dates have enough evidence for them that none need dispute them.

Deem makes one valid point against Ussher. Ussher seems to have used the Septuagint whenever it suited him. He used the Masoretic Text most of the time. Ussher’s choice between the two seems not to have followed a consistent scheme. He likely assumed that the Birth of Christ took place precisely 4000 years after creation. And he had no clear Scriptural warrant so to assume.

Numbers of the Hebrew Kings

But Deem asserts, and does not show, that the lists of the Kings of Israel and Judah were incomplete. He forgets: those king lists interlocked. Deem never mentions this formula, that repeats itself with almost every listed king:

In year X of King A of {Israel|Judah} began King B of {Judah|Israel} to reign. {Y number of years old was King B when he began to reign, and} he reigned for Z number of years.

And at the end of the account of the life of each King B, we read:

And at length King B died, and King C reigned in his stead.

Jones observed, with good reason, that the Kingdom of Israel used non-accession dating, and Judah used accession dating. Non-accession dating counts the year a king accedes to the throne as “year one.” Accession dating counts that as “year zero.” Jones applied this rule consistently to produce a self-consistent interlocking chronology.

At that, Edwin R. Thiele makes an even less warrantable error. He assumes without warrant that no interregna happened in the history of the Kingdom of Israel. The Books of the Kings testify to two such periods. Thiele did not leave out any particular Hebrew king. But he did count up to twenty-four years as periods of co-regency or vice-regency between two kings. (In the most absurd case, Thiele implied King Uzziah of Judah became viceroy under his father Amaziah eight years before his birth.) He did this to try to synchronize the Kings of Israel with the Kings of Assyria. But everyone had by then forgotten that Tiglath-Pileser III had cut at least 45 years out of the Eponym Canon.

The Sojourn of Israel in Egypt

Ussher made his own mistakes. He assumed without warrant that the 430 years of Israel in Egypt began with the Abrahamic Covenant. They didn’t. Those years began with Jacob’s entry into Egypt. Correcting that error pushes back creation 215 years. Ussher also would have done better to use the Septuagint for the account of the genealogy from Shem to Terach. This adds another 780 years.

This would date creation at the autumn of 5000 BC. Ancient calendars commonly started the year with the autumnal equinox. So we have a good warrant to assume creation began with the autumnal equinox. The testimony of Noah and his sons obviously had its influence.

Forty thousand years? Huh?!?

Here Rich Deem tells a whopper. He cites a few references to “a thousand generations” to assert the Bible speaks of forty thousand years of human history. He makes such a short shrift of that, one almost misses it. The verses he cites are:

  • 1 Chronicles 16:15
  • Psalm 105:8
  • Exodus 20:6
  • Deuteronomy 5:10
  • Deuteronomy 7:9

In fact, those verses speak of a thousand generations encompassing past, present and future. Nor can he assume that one generation has a forty-year time span. (Any woman knows forty years is too old today. Does the term menopause mean anything to Mr. Deem?) Yet on such a flimsy basis he says the Bible speaks of forty thousand years of history.

Of course, Mr. Deem totally ignores the evidence from other disciplines, that validates the chronology of the Bible. Archaeologists have found coins with King David’s likeness and name on them, and potsherds with Goliath’s name on them. More to the point, we now know, to within two hundred years, when the Great Flood happened. It happened 5300 years ago, give or take a hundred. That accords well with the Ussher/Jones chronology of the Hebrew Kings, the “Long Sojourn” in Egypt, the “Late Birth” of Abraham, and using Septuagint numbers for the ancestry of Terach after the Flood.

Pre-Flood patriarchs

Mr. Deem will likely claim that the Bible does not give a complete ancestry for Noah, either. He will try to insert an arbitrary number of generations, merely by claiming the verb “to beget” means merely “to become an ancestor of”. That is worse than specious. The Annals of Noah, like the Annals of Terach and the Books of the Kings, specify the generations clearly enough. They all use this formula:

When Patriarch A had lived X number of years, he became the father of Patriarch B. And after he became the father of Patriarch B, he lived for Y more years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether the days of Patriarch A were X + Y years, and then he died.

That formula continues without a break for ten generations.3 So that leaves no warrant for those “forty thousand years.” And even if it did, it cannot lay a foundation for billions of years. Either God created Adam within days of creating the heavens and the earth, or He did not. God said He did. So the history of the earth, and the history of humankind, parallel one another. Let Mr. Deem “deem” that, one way or the other, if he will.

How long were the days of creation?

Mr. Deem has to get around the parallel between the histories of earth and humanity. So he assumes the creation “days” were “ages” instead. For the record: Genesis chapter one uses the Hebrew word yom. A simple word study will confirm that yom means day as we live it. To emphasize the point, Genesis 1 speaks six times of “evening and morning.”

Deem tries to negate that with a typical “methodologically naturalistic” argument. Genesis 1:9-13 described Creation Day 3. During it, God formed the dry land, then planted it. Deem says God could never have formed the continents (actually, continent) in so short a time. Nor could He then have planted that mass so richly.

First, Deem puts God into the methodologically naturalistic box when he says this. God invented time. He sets the rules, and He can break them when it suits His purpose. That plants could not spread so far in one day, absent Divine intervention, is of no moment. Deem answers that the text says “the earth brought forth vegetation.” From this verse he makes the specious argument that God did not make the process run faster than today.4

Second, Deem creates a bigger problem. How could the atmosphere of earth sustain plants without animals to breathe the oxygen plants expel, and produce the carbon dioxide plants breathe? Two days (between Days 3 and 5) would not suffocate the plants. Billions of years would. Besides, the Geological Column does not show layers of plants lying deep to all layers of animals.

Activities of Creation Day 6

Deem compounds his problem by trying to allege a key event in the Annals of Adam (Genesis 2:4b-5:1a) had to occur on Creation Day 6. Adam names all the animals. That’s the source of the Hebrew and Hebraic names we use today. But the Bible does not say Adam named those animals all on Creation Day 6. Later, Deem cites Adam crying out, “Now, at length!” meaning “Now, at last!” when Eve greets him. Obviously Adam waited a long time for Eve. But who says Adam did all that waiting during Creation Day 6? Rich Deem says that. The Bible does not.5

Last of all, Deem quickly asserts, and does not prove, that Creation Day 7 continues today. That negates Exodus 20:11, in which God explains His Fifth Commandment.

Where did the Garden of Eden lie?

The Bible does locate the Garden of Eden at the confluence of four great rivers. Rivers having those same names exist today. But Mr. Deem assumes without warrant that the modern named rivers, and the rivers of Eden, are the same rivers. People who move, commonly name rivers they discover after rivers they once knew.

He also assumes without warrant that the Flood did not change the geography or topography of the earth. Only one having no concept of the extreme violence of the Global Flood would make that claim.

And Deem gives good reason to suppose he does not know how violent the Flood was. “The sedimentary rock and petroleum deposits…lie six miles below sea level,” he says. So what? That attests, again, to the violence of the Flood. And citing that to object to “Flood geology” betrays a lack of imagination about that violence.

A local flood?

Deem cites Psalm 104:5-9 as a story of creation. That text reads like a story of the Flood, not of creation. Again, Deem assumes the Flood changed nothing, including the tallest height of any mountain chain. So perhaps he cannot conceive of continental plates crashing to the floor of a subcrustal chamber, and “wrinkling” to form mountain chains. Nor can he conceive of three continental plates crashing into one another to form the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. (Indeed that collision produced a land mass heavy enough to roll the earth and relocate the geographical poles!)

Pre-Global Flood globe showing the direction the equator took. This stands as additional evidence for a young creation.He also commits the tired old fallacy of argumentum ab auctoritate (or perhaps argumentum ab auctoritatibus). “Everybody else disputes you!” is not enough to say one is wrong. Furthermore, commentaries are not Scripture.

Furthermore: if the Flood were local, then the evil men whom God sought to destroy could have walked away from it.

Even that matters little or not at all. No local flood buried the bedrock of earth under so many layers of sedimentary rock. No local flood ejected four percent of the mass of the earth into outer space. (The total masses of the meteoroids, comets, asteroids, and trans-Neptunian objects add up to this.) The citations Deem makes to insist the Flood was local are worse than specious. They make zero sense.


Rich Deem assert those who teach a young earth and a recent creation “get the Bible wrong.” But he gets the Bible wrong. Not only that, but he also gets the physical evidence wrong. He concedes, with no warrant whatever, the conclusions of “deep time” advocates. Perhaps he assumes without warrant that they are telling the truth. But none of those “deep timers” has ever shown the courage to debate the merits of the most comprehensive theory of the Global Flood. That theory predicts every conclusion about the Flood and its scope and effects on which Deem heaps such scorn. “Deep time” clearly did not pass. If Mr. Deem doubts that, let him accept the challenge of one who clearly showed that.

Reprint from Conservative News and Views

For further details, see this discussion of the secular consequences of a young earth.


1George Malkmus, founder of Hallelujah Acres, vehemently disagrees. He regards Genesis 9:3 as a temporary concession. He also maintains eating meat produces functional acidosis in all who eat it.

2Anyone alleging Adam did not speak anything like the Hebrew of today, does so without warrant. All other languages do derive from Hebrew.

3Mr. Victor McAllister also tries to compromise with great ages. He insists the text speaks of the “aeons” of the Patriarchs. In this and other contexts, he creates a chronology and a cosmology one simply cannot test. What one cannot test, one cannot falsify.

4In fact, Deem here suggests God had to take life through all the steps from its beginnings in “primordial soup”! He does not say this explicitly. But his words lend themselves to no other inference.

5Tim Chaffey at Answers in Genesis does try to “fit” all those activities into Creation Day 6. I find his arguments specious and unnecessary. Nor can Deem show that Chaffey, or AiG, speaks for all young-earth creation advocates. They cannot, or else Creation Ministries International would never have split from them.