HOW OLD? Age of Earth debated among SBC scholars
Oct 20, 2010
WITNESS Correspondent

FORT WORTH (FBW)—The age of the earth has generated discussion recently among several Southern Baptist scholars.

It began with a 2009 book by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor William Dembski but includes a broader dialogue about evolution and the boundaries of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

Dembski’s book, The End of Christianity (B&H Academic), argued that the universe is billions of years old—rather than thousands, as young-earth creations contend—and that God brought death, decay and natural disasters to earth long before Adam and Eve sinned. That natural evil, he said, was a retroactive punishment for their disobedience. In a similar manner to God’s application of the effects of Christ’s death to humans who lived prior to it, He also applied the Fall to a creation that existed prior to it, according to Dembski.

“The young earth-solution to reconciling the order of creation with natural history makes good exegetical and theological sense,” wrote Dembski, who holds Ph.D. degrees in both philosophy and mathematics and is a leading proponent of the Intelligent Design movement. “Indeed, the overwhelming consensus of theologians up through the Reformation held to this view. I myself would adopt it in a heartbeat except that nature seems to present such strong evidence against it.”

He went on to argue that “there never was a chronological moment when the world we inhabit was without natural evil (or a disposition toward it; it is, for instance, not apparent how, at the moment of the Big Bang, the universe could have exhibited natural evil).” Dembski, research professor of philosophy at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary, speculated that the Garden of Eden could have been merely a pocket of unfallen creation amid a world already afflicted by natural evil.

He also argued that Noah’s flood likely was limited to the Middle East rather than being global in scope. However, he later retracted that claim in a statement released by Southwestern.

Dembski declined an interview request by Florida Baptist Witness, saying by email that he has already expressed his opinions through his writings. But he emphasized that he is not an evolutionist and has a forthcoming book countering theistic evolution.


In response to The End of Christianity, Tom Nettles, professor of historical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., wrote a review in which he critiqued Dembski for allegedly letting scientific commitments to trump the most natural reading of the Bible. The review appeared in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (Vol. 13.4, 2009), Southern Seminary’s official theological journal.

“One thing that’s not driving [Dembski’s interpretation of Genesis] is just a straightforward exegesis of the text,” Nettles told the Witness. “And he admits that if the text were to stand as it is, then the traditional view would be there. And he also is committed to a tremendously old earth. So these things, one theological idea and one scientific idea, drive his interpretation.”

ronqueen (10/22/2010)
It is sad that a professor (Dr. Dembski, PH.D.) who teachs at a prestigious [Conservative] Southern Baptist Seminary (responsible for the teaching and mentoring of so many present and future pastors and teachers) would even entertain the old earth concept. I applaud Dr. Molher who so succinctly brings this to the point... The entire inerrancy of Scripture. "Mohler worries that most Christians who hold to an old earth are not thinking through all the logical implications of their position." Also thankyou Dr. Wise........... “Believing in a young creation is in no way a requirement for salvation,” Wise told the Witness in an email. “I do believe, however, that it is impossible to consistently believe in both an old earth and inerrant Scripture.” I believe Dr. Dembski should stay with mathmatics and leave Theology alone......... My prayer is that the new young minds attending seminary now, (our leaders for tomorrow) would not be confused by this type of discussions but would dig deep into the facts without the prejudice of social agendas.......Thankyou.......RQ
markriser1 (12/8/2010)
Why would it be "sad" to consider the old earth concept. The old earth view is a valid interpretation of Scripture. The Reasons To Believe ( Testable Creation Model upholds Biblical inerrancy and does not allow for universal common descent (evolution). Despite what Dr. Mohler and Dr. Wise seem to believe, it is possible to believe in an old earth, and to consider the logical implications of that position, and to believe in inerrancy.

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