Does the Full-Grown Argument Negate Geology?

It is vital in our approach to those who oppose the concept that God created the earth and all we see, that we be fair and intelligent. If we ignore evidence, deal with it incompletely or dishonestly, or refuse to accept it because it violates our preconceived ideas, we have lost the battle before it starts. It is popular in some religious circles to brand anyone who continues to question traditional explanations of data as liberal or some equivalent term. To some a literal interpretation of Genesis means the willingness to discard all evidence that violates the traditionally accepted explanation of the passage, rather than a willingness to also look at one's interpretation and see if possibly that might be the source of conflict. The history of the Church shows this is not a new attitude. It was once a biblical position of a vast majority of Christians that the earth was flat. Accepting the idea that the earth was not the center of the creation was a long time in coming. Even in modern times, we have had people tell us that man would never fly or go to the moon for religious reasons. The attitude is still with us.

In Christian Evidences more than many areas of study, such an outlook can be disastrous. As science makes more advances and data accumulates in a field, the religionist who opposes the point in question finds himself in a position of constant retreat. He is constantly having to explain away new findings to defend his theological position. Those attempting to make a biblical fallibility test out of the age of the earth find themselves today in such a situation. In recent years, dozens of techniques have been advanced by science, all suggesting ages for the earth thousands of times greater than are acceptable by some creationists. It is not the purpose of this discussion to ascertain whether these methods are valid or not. That is a job for the scientists doing the research. The purpose of this article is to examine briefly the most common explanation given by those who feel the earth must be accepted as 6,000 to 15,000 years old, to be classified as believing literally in the word of God.

There have been two explanations offered by young earth proponents, as to how the various evidences for an old earth could have been produced in a very short time. The first of these suggests that all of the geological evidence was produced by the flood. Even a superficial knowledge of rock formation and other fundamental sciences makes such a suggestion academically unacceptable. We have discussed this in other issues of this journal. It is also discussed in various works of believers and non-believers alike, so we will not deal with it here.

The second explanation usually given is that since God created all things full-grown, he also created the earth full-grown. This is reinforced by such questions as "Did Adam have a navel?"; "Did trees have growth rings when they were in the garden?"; and such questions. The concept is that God created the earth in such a condition that it gave the appearance of age. Fossils were created in the ground, layers of rock were miraculously laid down, canyons carved, radioactive materials partially decayed, and all other appearances of age created instantly and miraculously by God several thousands of years ago.

Does this explanation not solve all of the problems? Can we not advance this explanation to the skeptic as a viable explanation of all the evidence science can muster, and thus remove all doubt from everyone's mind about whether the earth is young or old? It is my conviction that the answer to this question is "no" for the following reasons:

The Full-Grown Theory Assumes that Any Other Explanation Limits the Power of God. If 10 billion years were used by God to create the earth, many seem to feel God's power has been negated. It is my contention that God could have created the earth five seconds ago as it is. The evidence does not support this, but you could have been created in that chair, with the contact lens in your eye, reading this article, five seconds ago. God did not need six 24-hour days. He also is powerful and patient enough to have used billions of years.

The Full-Grown Theory Makes Assumptions about Genesis Which Are Unfounded. How long were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? How many gaps are there in the biblical genealogies beyond the ones we know about? How much time passed during the first verse? It is only by making the proper assumptions about these questions that the full-grown theory will work. It may be that these assumptions are valid, but they are just that--assumptions which theologians have argued for centuries. The best argument against the full-grown assumptions is that they fail to recognize that Genesis is not a detailed historical account of how God created each of the 20 million or more species of life on earth. It is a brief summary, saying only that God created all things and that he created man specially in his image.

The Full-Grown Theory Fails to Understand or Allow The Concept of Continuous "Creation." There are many things on this planet which have come into being as a consequence of God's initial creation, not directly by God's action. New strains of cattle, man's roads and buildings, the races of men, new bacteria, even surface features on the earth such as lakes, mountains, and the like, have come into being by natural processes. No one would be so irrational as to deny this fact. Most living things today are quite different than their ancestors 5,000 years ago, including man's physical make-up (size, etc.). Some rocks were present when God created the earth, but others just like animals are being formed today. The failure of the full-grown theory to allow students to believe the limestone in Indiana was formed in the same way identical rock is being formed in the Bahamas, weakens the argument in the eyes of students who study rock origins.

The Full-Grown Theory Tends to Make God's Creation Deceptive. On the south side of Chicago exists the world's largest stone quarry. Thornton Quarry is located in an old tropical reef. The rocks coming out of the quarry to build streets and cement products in Chicago are full of corals, clam shells, octopus chambers (nautilus), and other marine fossils. Under this 800 feet deposit exists sequential beds of more and more primitive forms of life. In Bozeman, Montana, in the Horseshoe Hills, I have seen over 20 sequential layers containing the remains of animals in carefully deposited layers. Why would God create a trilobite with compound eyes out of calcium carbonate and bury it 3,000 feet underground surrounded by corals? No man looking at it without prejudice could conclude that God placed it there. Any thinking person would conclude that this animal lived in an ocean at one time and was buried here along with the other ocean forms.

God is presented to us in the Bible as a God of love. He tempts no man, cannot lie or deceive, and tells us to look at his creation--the heavens, the firmament, and that which is around us (Romans 1:19). Such admonitions would be inconsistent with God's nature if the creation is not what it seems. A man who makes his living reading the rocks or stars to help men live more comfortably may feel more strongly about this than one who does not, but the Word of God tells us that God speaks to us through his creation. That speaking is as consistent as his written Word. We may not always understand it properly, but we can be assured of the steadfastness, consistency, and faithfulness of our Creator.

From a scientific standpoint, the preponderance of evidence points to the earth being of considerably greater age than even 20,000 years. In years to come, that picture may change. To invent an explanation designed to defend a traditional doctrinal position, and then to classify everyone who will not totally accept that invention as absolute truth, is a violation of the attitude and spirit of Christianity. If we speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent, we will have no problems with any discovery science makes.

                            --John N. Clayton

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