Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Recurrent Theme

By Joe Erwin

The biggest difficulty I have with discussions on Adventist Today, Online, is the recurrent theme of Young Earth Creation. The creation part does not bug me as much as the young earth part. I am not tied down to some specific time for the Big Bang or the origin of life. I do not really care much (if at all) about 13.8 billion years ago or 4.5 billion years ago. I do not see those as precise estimates. My sense of them is that they are probably less precise than currently accepted evidence suggests. So, it would not surprise me or change my view of the world much if those estimates were off by 50% either direction.

I am a lot more interested in what has apparently happened in the last 100 million years than what happened before that. But, of course, that is because I am much more interested in mammals and primates and apes and humans than in other life forms. So, I find 60 million (or so) years of primate natural history does not fit very well into 6000 years. Six million years since the divergence that led to humans and chimpanzees is hard to fit into 6000 years. Even the most recent 600,000 years of genus Homo does not fit into 6000 years. And it looks like humans have even been in Australia for about 60,000 years. That doesn't fit into 6000 years.

Even though the events described in scripture do come pretty close to fitting the 6000 year model, that is only about the amount of time humans seem to have possessed written language. Hmmmm. "In the beginning was the word...." Could there be some connection here? Did God speak life into existence 6000 years ago? There is something intriguing about the notion that speaking, language, the word, was the beginning of "life as we know it." A life with the spoken and written word. A life during which the possibility of written scripture emerged and the propagation of mythical tradition became possible.

So, even if one accepted that life on earth had existed for 4.5 billion years (plus or minus a couple of billion years), or that primates have existed for 60 million years plus or minus ten million years, or that humans (genus Homo) have existed for a million years (plus or minus a couple of hundred thousand years), and that even in Australia, humans have been present for 50,000 years (plus or minus 10,000 years), even with all that flexibility, 6000 years is just not anywhere close to the amount of time humans have been on earth.

Would it be hopelessly disappointing to Adventists if the Genesis story did not really mean what it seems to mean? Would that be worse than Jesus not showing up in 1844? Maybe there is something to learn from the Great Disappointment--perhaps, that things are not always as they seem.


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