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Old Earth creationism

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Old Earth creationism

Old Earth creationism is an umbrella term for a number of types of creationism, including gap creationism, progressive creationism, and evolutionary creationism.[1] Old Earth creationism is typically more compatible with mainstream scientific thought on the issues of physics, chemistry, geology and the age of the Earth, in comparison to young Earth creationism.[2]


  • Types 1
    • Gap creationism 1.1
    • Progressive creationism 1.2
    • Theistic evolution 1.3
    • Hindu creationism 1.4
  • Approaches to Genesis 1 2
    • The Framework interpretation 2.1
    • Day-age creationism 2.2
    • Cosmic Time 2.3
  • The Biblical flood according to old Earth creationism 3
  • Old Earth creationist organizations 4
  • Criticism 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


Gap creationism

Gap creationism states that life was immediately and recently created on a pre-existing old Earth. One variant rests on a rendering of Genesis 1:1-2 as:

In the beginning ... the earth was formless and void."

This is taken by Gap creationists to imply that the earth already existed, but had passed into decay during an earlier age of existence, and was now being "shaped anew". This view is more consistent with mainstream science with respect to the age of the Earth, but still often resembles Young Earth creationism in many respects (often seeing the "days" of Genesis 1 as 24-hour days). This view was popularized in 1909 by the Scofield Reference Bible.

Progressive creationism

Progressive creationism is the religious belief that God allows certain natural process (such as gene mutation and natural selection) to affect the development of life, but has also directly intervened at key moments in life’s history to guide those processes or, in some views, create new species altogether (often to replenish the earth).

This view of creationism allows for and accepts fluctuation within defined species but rejects transitional evolution as a viable mechanism to create a gradual ascent from unicellular organisms to advanced life. Progressive creationists point to multiple destructive events in the Earth's history (such as meteoric impacts and large-scale global volcanic activity) and geological evidence for rapid subsequent speciation as evidence for distinct, typically limited intervention by a Creator. This view can be applied (as it often is) to virtually any of the other old Earth views.

Theistic evolution

Evolutionary creationism, or theistic evolution, asserts that "the personal God of the Bible created the universe and life through evolutionary processes."[3] According to the American Scientific Affiliation:

A theory of theistic evolution (TE) — also called evolutionary creation — proposes that God's method of creation was to cleverly design a universe in which everything would naturally evolve. Usually the "evolution" in "theistic evolution" means Total Evolution — astronomical evolution (to form galaxies, solar systems,...) and geological evolution (to form the earth's geology) plus chemical evolution (to form the first life) and biological evolution (for the development of life) — but it can refer only to biological evolution.[4]

Hindu creationism

According to Hindu creationism, all species on earth, including humans, have "devolved" from a state of pure consciousness. Hindu creationists claim that species of plants and animals are material forms adopted by pure consciousness which live an endless cycle of births and rebirths.[5] Ronald Numbers says that: "Hindu Creationists have insisted on the antiquity of humans, who they believe appeared fully formed as long, perhaps, as trillions of years ago."[6] Hindu creationism is a form of old earth creationism. According to Hindu creationists the universe may even be older than billions of years. These views are based on the Vedas, which depict an extreme antiquity of the universe and history of the Earth.[7][8]

Approaches to Genesis 1

Old Earth Christian creationists may approach the creation accounts of Genesis in a number of different ways.

The Framework interpretation

Summary of the Genesis 6-day creation account, showing the pattern according to the framework hypothesis.
Days of creation Days of creation
Day 1: Light; day and night Day 4: Sun, moon and stars
Day 2: Sea and Heavens Day 5: Sea creatures; birds
Day 3: Land and vegetation Day 6: Land creatures; man

The framework interpretation (or framework hypothesis) notes that there is a pattern or "framework" present in the Genesis account and that, because of this, the account may not have been intended as a strict chronological record of creation. Instead, the creative events may be presented in a topical order. This view is broad enough that proponents of other old earth views (such as many Day-Age creationists) have no problem with many of the key points put forward by the hypothesis, though they might believe that there is a certain degree of chronology present.

Day-age creationism

Day-age creationism is an effort to reconcile the literal Genesis account of creation with modern scientific theories on the age of the universe, the Earth, life, and humans. It holds that the six days referred to in the Genesis account of creation are not ordinary 24-hour days, but rather are much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years). The Genesis account is then interpreted as an account of the process of cosmic evolution, providing a broad base on which any number of theories and interpretations are built. Proponents of the day-age theory can be found among theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists.

The day-age theory tries to reconcile these views by arguing that the creation "days" were not ordinary 24-hour days, but actually lasted for long periods of time—or as the theory's name implies: the "days" each lasted an age. Most advocates of old Earth creationism hold that the six days referred to in the creation account given in Genesis are not ordinary 24-hour days, as the Hebrew word for "day" (yom) can be interpreted in this context to mean a long period of time (thousands or millions of years) rather than a 24-hour day.[9] According to this view, the sequence and duration of the creation "days" is representative or symbolic of the sequence and duration of events that scientists theorize to have happened, such that Genesis can be read as a summary of modern science, simplified for the benefit of pre-scientific humans.

Cosmic Time

Gerald Schroeder puts forth a view which reconciles 24-hour creation days with an age of billions of years for the universe by noting, as creationist Phillip E. Johnson summarizes in his article What Would Newton Do?: "the Bible speaks of time from the viewpoint of the universe as a whole, which Schroeder interprets to mean at the moment of 'quark confinement,' when stable matter formed from energy early in the first second of the big bang."[10] Schroeder calculates that a period of six days under the conditions of quark confinement, when the universe was approximately a trillion times smaller and hotter than it is today is equal to fifteen billion years of earth time today. This is all due to space expansion after quark confinement.[11] Thus Genesis and modern physics are reconciled.[12] Schroeder, though, states in an earlier book, Genesis and the Big Bang, that the Earth and solar system is some "4.5 to 5 billion years" old[13] and also states in a later book, The Science of God, that the Sun is 4.6 billion years old.[14]

The Biblical flood according to old Earth creationism

Some old Earth creationists reject flood geology,[15][16] a position which leaves them open to accusations that they thereby reject the infallibility of scripture (which states that the Genesis flood covered the whole of the earth).[17] In response, old Earth creationists cite verses in the Bible where the words "whole" and "all" clearly require a contextual interpretation.[18][19] Old Earth creationists generally believe that the human race was localised around the Middle East at the time of the Genesis flood,[20] a position which is in conflict with the Out of Africa theory.

Old Earth creationist organizations


Old Earth creationism has received criticism from some secular communities and proponents of theistic evolution for rejecting evolution, as well as criticism from young Earth creationists for not taking a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative and for believing in death and suffering before the fall.

See also


  1. ^ Neyman, Greg (2011). "Theistic Evolution". Old Earth Ministries. Retrieved 24 April 2012. Theistic Evolution is the old earth creationist belief that God used the process of evolution to create life on earth. The modern scientific understanding of biological evolution is considered to be compatible with the Bible. 
  2. ^ The Creation/Evolution Continuum, Eugenie Scott, NCSE Reports, v. 19, n. 4, p. 16-17, 23-25, July/August, 1999.
  3. ^ Feist, Richard; Sweet, William (2007). Religion and the Challenges of Science. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.  
  4. ^ Craig Rusbult, Ph.D. (1998). "Evolutionary Creation". American Scientific Affiliation. A theory of theistic evolution (TE) — also called evolutionary creation * — proposes that God's method of creation was to cleverly design a universe in which everything would naturally evolve. Usually the "evolution" in "theistic evolution" means Total Evolution — astronomical evolution (to form galaxies, solar systems,...) and geological evolution (to form the earth's geology) plus chemical evolution (to form the first life) and biological evolution (for the development of life) — but it can refer only to biological evolution. 
  5. ^ Science & Religion: A New Introduction, Alister E. McGrath, 2009, p. 140
  6. ^ The creationists: from scientific creationism to intelligent design, Ronald L. Numbers, 2006, p. 420
  7. ^ James C. Carper, Thomas C. Hunt, The Praeger Handbook of Religion and Education in the United States: A-L, 2009, p. 167
  8. ^ A history of Indian philosophy, Volume 1, Surendranath Dasgupta, 1992, p. 10
  9. ^ Old Earth Creation Science Word Study: Yom, Greg Neyman © 2007, Answers In Creation, Published 16 March 2005
  10. ^ What Would Newton Do?, Phillip E. Johnson, Access Research Network
  11. ^ Age of the Universe, Gerald Schroeder
  12. ^ Response to Genesis and the Big Bang: A book authored by Gerald Schroeder, Hugh Ross and Miguel Endara
  13. ^ Genesis and the Big Bang, Gerald Schroeder, p. 116
  14. ^ The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom, p. 68, Broadway Books, Gerald Schroeder 1998, ISBN 0-7679-0303-X
  15. ^ Deluge Geology, J. Laurence Kulp, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 2, 1(1950): 1-15.
  16. ^ The Geologic Column and its Implications for the Flood, Copyright © 2001 by Glenn Morton, TalkOrigins website, Last Update: February 17, 2001
  17. ^ Did Noah’s Flood cover the whole earth?, John D. Morris, Creation 12(2):48–50, March 1990
  18. ^ Noah's Flood: Global or Local?, Donald Hochner
  19. ^ The Noachian Flood: Universal or Local?, Carol A. Hill, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, p. 170-183, Volume 54, Number 3, September 2002
  20. ^ The Mediterranean Flood, Glenn R. Morton, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49 (December 1997): 238, American Scientific Affiliation website
  21. ^ "About Old Earth Ministries?". Old Earth Ministries?. 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  22. ^ "Old Earth Ministries and Answers in Genesis - What's the Difference?". Old Earth Ministries?. 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 

Further reading

  • Schroeder, Gerald, Genesis and the Big Bang Theory: The Discovery of Harmony Between Modern Science and the Bible, 1991, ISBN 0-553-35413-2 (articulates old Earth creationism)
  • A comprehensive critique of Genesis & the Big Bang by Yoram Bogacz, entitled Genesis & the Big Bluff, can be found at the Torah Explorer website [1].
  • Ross, Hugh, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy, 2004, ISBN 1-57683-375-5 (Details why old Earth creationism is the literal Biblical view)
  • Ross, Hugh, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis, 2001, ISBN 1-57683-230-9 (Details the agreement of science with old Earth creationism)
  • Elder, Samuel A., The God Who Makes Things Happen: Physical Reality and the Word of God, iUniverse, 2007, ISBN 0-595-42236-5 (Harmonization of the Biblical six 24-hour days of creation and the estimated 13.8 billion years observed in nature; quantum mechanics theory demonstrates God's sovereignty over chance; law of entropy identifies Jesus Christ as "anchor of time" bringing salvation "once for all").
  • David G. Hagopian, editor, The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation, 2000, ISBN 0-9702245-0-8 (Three pairs of scholars present and debate the three most widespread evangelical interpretations of the creation days)
  • Refuting Compromise (ISBN 0-89051-411-9) 2004 (critique of old-earth creationism, in particular that of Ross, Hugh)
  • Alan Hayward, Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence from Science and the Bible, 1995, ISBN 1-55661-679-1 (by a Christadelphian old-earth creationist)

External links

  • Reasons to Believe An Old-Earth, Day-Age site with a number of resources
  • Answers In Creation An old Earth site purporting to demonstrate the flaws in young earth creationism
  • Answers in Genesis (AiG) from Answers in Genesis, A Young-Earth site purporting to demonstrate the theological flaws in old-earth creationism
  • Does God Exist?
  • The Age of the Universe, by Dr. Gerald Schroeder
  • An Old-Earth, Progressive Creationist site with a number of resources and a discussion forum. Site is maintained by Richard Deem, a Research/Specialist with an MS in Microbiology.
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