For a bit more background, see PART 1.
In summary, both theistic evolution and old earth creationism bring significant theological ramifications to the Christian faith. Even though theistic evolutionists and old earth creationist insist they should be distinguished from one another philosophically, they hold enough similarities that they share the same criticisms, thus I address both groups together.
They present a new perspective on Genesis. Just like N.T. Wright teaches a new perspective on Paul, many proponents of theistic evolution and OEC insist upon a new perspective of Genesis. They claim certain external factors exist in the natural world that demands Genesis must be interpreted differently than being a literal, historical document. Yet, the historic, Jewish and Christian understanding of the opening chapters of Genesis is that it records the creation of the world by divine fiat in the space of six, ordinary days. This is confirmed in Exodus 20:11, for example, when God told Moses to pattern the Jewish work week after His week of creation in Genesis 1. The people of Israel were to work six days and then rest the seventh day in the same manner God worked six days at creating and then rested the seventh.
The literal, historical interpretative understanding of creation was acknowledged by both the majority of Jewish and Christian commentators until the mid-18th century. But Christians ditched it after they were convinced by so-called scientific “authorities” who insisted the evidence we see in the world contradicts the historical record of Genesis. Thus, the rise of multiple hermeneutical systems developed among both liberal and evangelicals for interpreting the creation week of Genesis is unique in Church history. That is not to say all of these particular hermeneutics are heretical, but it is to say they are suspicious, especially in light of the fact they are wildly inconsistent with the grammatical nuances found in the Genesis text.
Genesis cannot be understood properly until the modern, scientific age. A repeating assertion I read from a number of the theistic evolutionists is Genesis represents a primitive record written by a pre-scientific people. Genesis isn’t meant to be taken scientifically at all, and modern discoveries in the various scientific fields within the last 200 years now show us that Genesis must be interpreted in a figurative fashion. In a manner of speaking, it is as if Genesis was a misunderstood book for the nearly four thousand years after it had been composed by Moses. It wasn’t until the late 1700s with the development of modern scientific disciplines that we finally had a “key” to interpret the book properly.
However, what is being missed with this claim against Moses and the post Exodus Jews is that Genesis was never meant to be a “scientific” book. The Israelites never saw it as a science book. Genesis is a historical book, written to provide the historical background from where all of mankind, and eventually the people of Israel, came. Moses didn’t seek to establish scientific theories or challenge the scientific establishment in the 21st century. He was given a revelation of Earth’s history by the very Creator who created the Earth. But, when Genesis records events that cross scientific inquiries, the history will be “scientifically” accurate. I understand that pretty much all of the history recorded in Genesis cuts against the “history” formulated by the so-called scientific academic establishment, but this only marks a clear dividing line. I either believe the history of the origin of the world as revealed by my Creator or I don’t.
Parallel-a-mania. Another clever way deep time creationists try to get around the historical-grammatical ramifications of what Genesis proclaims is to say Genesis chapter 1 and 2 is a theological polemic against ancient Near Eastern religions. They argue that when Moses wrote Genesis, the children of Israel would soon be crossing into the Promised Land to engage the heathen nations that occupied it. Israel would be tempted to adapt their false religions to their own worship of YHWH, thus it was necessary for God to provide a theological grounding for Israel’s national worship. The first week of creation as recorded in Genesis chapter 1 parallels many of the ANE myths regarding the creation, for example the separation of the light from the darkness and the description of the firmament as a solid, metal dome over the earth.
Though this polemical parallel view is becoming more accepted among those who want to accommodate modern, deep time assumptions with the account of Genesis 1 and 2, there are genuine problems with it. The most glaring is the fact the parallels between the Genesis creation account and the ANE creation accounts are for the most part contrived. In fact, it is almost the same as when atheists claim the Gospel writers borrowed from the stories of Mithras, or any other number of pagan myths, to fabricate the life of Jesus.
Honestly, when one reads the ANE creation myths like Enuma Elish or the Egyptian creation texts, there really is very little similarity between those accounts with the Genesis narrative. Of those points that may appear to overlap, any resemblance to what Genesis records is either a mere coincidence or quite possibly a corruption of the true account of God’s creation that had been passed down until recorded officially in the Genesis narrative.
A severe lack of discernment. I was a bit disturbed by how easy it was for my old earth and theistic evolutionary proponents to quote approvingly from some known atheist defender of evolution or reference an unorthodox theologian who teaches profound heresy. For example, toward the beginning of our GTY series on Genesis, the Biologos website posted a video of Gregory Boyd, a notorious heretic who denies the omniscience of God, speaking as a “theologian” who had no problem reconciling evolution with the biblical record of Genesis. It was as if a profound disconnect existed. One particular old earth advocate would personally email me articles explaining how “literalist” Christians are misrepresenting the book of Genesis. When I looked at the website where these articles originated, without fail the author held to a whole host of unbiblical positions like gay marriage, women preachers, and one article I was sent was written by a guy who claimed elsewhere on his website that the Bible is okay with public displays of nudity and nudist communities.
Within the last few months, old earth proponents have teamed up with Catholics, apostates, and other Scriptural deniers to participate in a major conference and in one recent news item, the folks over at Biologos have won the approving sympathies of the atheists at the National Center for Science Education.
When I considered how easily it was for individuals who insisted they were Bible believing Christian to quote favorably from writers who hold to ungodly perspectives of Scripture and the Christian faith, I am left wondering about their discernment. Why are they so comfortable fellowshipping with heretics? Rather than seeing a defender of truth, I see a person being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.