Saturday, 20 September 2014

YEC is a marked deviation from original Christadelphian teaching

Christadelphians who assert that the Earth is only 6000 years old and that the creation of the entire universe took place in six literal consecutive days are advancing a view that not only is flatly against an overwhelming volume of evidence from the natural world, but one that was comprehensively rejected by the early generation of Christadelphians who had the intellectual honesty to accept the evidence for an ancient universe, and recognise that a hyper-literal reading of the creation narratives was theologically unsustainable. C.C. Walker argued persuasively against creation in six literal days:
‘The term “day” obviously signifies an indefinite period in Gen. 2:4. “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” Truly there is no mention of evening and morning in this case; but for the reasons given in the notes above-named we do not feel shut up to the conclusion that the Lord God occupied only twenty-four hours in making the firmament. It has been thought that the law of the Sabbath necessitates six literal days in creation; but on second thoughts this does not seem conclusive, since the millennium is a “Sabbath” of a thousand years duration, and “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:9).’, Walker C.C., 'Genesis', The Christadelphian (1910) 47:361
‘Yet it does not seem necessary to confine the allusions of this first chapter of Genesis to six literal days on the last of which man appeared. We may take that view (the literal) and yet admit an allusion to six periods of great length preceding the appearance of man, just as we do in the other direction when we speak of “The Great Mediatoria Millennary Week of Seven Thousand Years,” the last “day” of which is God’s Sabbath of Rest for a tired world.’, ibid., p. 362
Furthermore, he pointed out what was undeniable well over a century ago, namely the Earth was far older than 6000 years:
‘Ten years ago the average scientist would have asserted that our habitable globe had not existed for more than a hundred million years. Now it would be hard to find a competent physical specialist who would fix a definite maximum below a thousand million years:’, Walker C.C.,, ‘The Age of the Earth’, The Christadelphian (1911) 48:450
Walker was not alone in rejecting YEC or the belief that the entire known universe was created in six consecutive days 6000 years ago.

Robert Roberts recognised what was common knowledge in 19th century educated Christian circles when he accepted the great antiquity of the Earth:
'It is a demonstrable fact that the earth has existed for ages. To adopt a view that appears to make it begin only 6,000 years ago would create a difficulty. There is no need for adopting such a view. The Genesis account itself admits of these antecedent times and states which science has proved. It begins by recognising the earth’s actual existence in a chaotic state before the work of the six days began. Why should we refuse this manifest concession to everything that can be discovered as to the age of the earth?’ Roberts R., ‘In the Beginning’, The Christadelphian (1885) 32:141
L.B. Welch showed both a comprehensive understanding of the late 19th century geology, and the intellectual honest to accept the witness of creation in accepting both the great age of the Earth, and the progressive appearance of life through geological time:
I have not the slightest doubt concerning the truths revealed in the strata of the earth’s crust. There can be no reasonable doubt that long ages have passed away since the matter of the earth first took existences by the fiat of its Almighty Creator. There can be no reasonable doubt that when the non-fossiliferous rocks were first formed the heat of the earth’s matter was too intense for vegetable and animal life to exist. There can be no reasonable doubt that it was only in a later age that the lower forms of plant and animal life could exist. And there can be no reasonable doubt that the succeeding ages allowed the creation of still higher and more perfect forms, till we reach the age called the “Tertiary,” and the “Post-pliocene” period of that age, when we are told remains of man are found for the first time. All of this, I say, I do not doubt. The facts of old mother earth’s storehouse are too convincingly inscribed upon her crust to allow me to doubt. At the same time, and amid it all, I have the most implicit faith and unbounded trust in God and His sacred word. Welch L.B., 'Knowledge.- No., 12 Geology', The Christadelphian (1891) 28:416
Likewise, Walker's recognition of the considerable geological and fossil evidence led him to reject YEC, a position which has been strengthened immeasurably in the intervening 114 years since he advanced it:
‘We can only legitimately glean from the very brief allusion of Moses that at some time anterior to the creation he is about to describe, the world was in existence, but in a waste and void condition by comparison with what it afterwards became under the creative energy of the Almighty. The conclusions of geology, and the undoubted existence of fossil remains of incalculable antiquity are quite in harmony with this view, whereas the view that the earth itself was created some 6,000 years ago is hopelessly irreconcilable with facts.’ Walker, ‘Genesis’, The Christadelphian (1910) 47:223 
Henry Sulley likewise argued against creation in six literal days:
"As to the period occupied in the six days of the work of creation, we have no means of knowing how long a “day” is from the Divine point of view. In one place it is said to be as a thousand years; in another place the term is used for a much more extended period. “To-day, if ye will hear his voice” (Psalm 95:7), an expression covering a very long period from the time that God has spoken. The point for us to note is that the development of the earth from its chaotic state to its beautiful adornment of the present time was divided into six periods, and that after the end of the sixth period no further change took place in the ordinances of the heaven and the earth until the Flood. According to the records this was a day rather longer than a thousand years.", Sulley H., "Creation", The Christadelphian (1926) 63:472
Alfred Norris expressed both his sympathy for the idea that creation was revealed in six days, as well as his acceptance of the fact of an ancient Earth:
"My own inclinations, for what they are worth, have been set out before, and still seem to me the most likely, assuming that the length of the geological ages must be accepted. The view has since, with some variations, received wider publicity in the writings of Wiseman. In brief, it is this: the days of the Genesis record look like literal days; it is hard to think of a clearer way of defining a day than to say “there was evening and there was morning, one day”. But the words do not precisely say, “God made so-and-so on the third day”, or the like. They say that God said that so-and-so was to be made, and that it was so; or that God made so-and-so. And then they add the formula about “there was evening and morning”. 
This is perfectly consistent with the view that the writer, Moses, is putting down what he heard, even describing what he saw, and announcing the end of each period of revelation as that day’s disclosure comes to its end. In other words, it seems to be very likely that God enacted the work of creation before the eyes of the seer, giving him the substance of His activity in six daily revelations.", Norris, "Where Science and Religion Meet", The Christadelphian (1965) 102:18
Any Christadelphian who pushes YEC is sadly advancing an idea that was rejected well over a century ago by our community because the evidence was absolutely against it. It is tragic to see our community forget its heritage, slide into obscurantism, uncritically endorse a view whose roots lie in Seventh Day Adventist theology (those who claim to have independently arrived at YEC almost certainly have nor, despite what they may tell themselves and others), and lay a stumbling block for an educated generation who like Christadelphians of the late 19th and early 20th century respected both Bible and Science, and were unwilling to sacrifice either on the altar of fundamentalism.


One of the side-effects of our community's slide into fundamentalism over the last fifty years is that those who argue for a young Earth are doing so from a position of complete ignorance of the evidence for an ancient Earth. The following is offered in order to remediate this unfortunate lacunae in their knowledge. (Courtesy of the excellent BioLogos, one of the resources to which I refer every Christadelphian for first-rate scientific exposition on the age of the Earth):

  • White, Bob. “The Age of the Earth.” Faraday Papers, no. 8, 2007. (PDF).
  • Wiens, Roger C. 2002. Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective. (web article) (PDF)
  • Wolgemuth, Ken and Davidson, Gregg. Solid Rock Lectures: Earth as God’s Creation. These Christian geologists frequently speak in churches on geologic evidence for age. (website)
  • Young, Davis A. ”How Old Is It? How Do We Know? A Review of Dating Methods – Part One: Relative Dating, Absolute Dating, and Non-radiometric Dating” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol 58 No 4, p.259-265, December 2006. (PDF)
  • Young, Davis A. ”How Old Is It? How Do We Know? A Review of Dating Methods—Part Two: Radiometric Dating: Mineral, Isochron and Concordia Methods” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol 59, No 1, p.28-36, March 2007. (PDF)
  • Young, Davis A. ”How Old Is It? How Do We Know? A Review of Dating Methods — Part Three: Thermochronometry, Cosmogenic Isotopes, and Theological Implications” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol 59, No 2, p.136-142, June 2007. (PDF)

NB. Any YEC who disputes any of this material will need to get his objection published in the mainstream scientific literature and positively reviewed by experts in the field before those objections are taken seriously.