YECs Ask: Don’t biblical prophecies support young-earth theology?

"The Garden of Eden," by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Via Wikimedia Commons. "The Garden of Eden," by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Via Wikimedia Commons.

A central component of the worldview taught by young-earth creationism proponents like Ken Ham is the idea that physical death (for humans and animals), pain and suffering of all kinds did not exist in the world before Adam and Eve’s sin.

Although, admittedly, this view greatly simplifies the Bible (almost to the point that you don’t need it at all!) and the Christian faith, and provides a succint answer to the problem of natural evil, there is almost no scriptural support for the idea. In fact, most of the biblical evidence seems to go strongly against it.

So, those who nevertheless cling doggedly to the doctrine are forced to grasp at whatever straws they can find, and occasionally, they find them in highly questionable interpretations of a few biblical prophecies.

Recently, a GOE commenter presented three:

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I’ll respond to each in turn.

First of all, and I don’t know if I can say this strongly enough in print, but the Romans passage referenced here (Romans 8:18-30) is not about sin. It does not reference sin, the punishment for sin, the consequences of sin, or anything that is remotely connected to sin in even the most indirect, tangential way.

It is a passage that is leapt on by the Genesis literalists, not because it actually fits, but because it is one of the very few passages in the Bible that might fit, and they need something biblical to support their unscriptural theology.

What Romans 8 actually says was that creation was subject to a temporal, transitory existence, not as a punishment, but “in hope” that God would use it to reveal something even greater.

And, contrary to the YEC reading, the “he who subjected” creation to this existence is clearly not Adam, but God. That’s right: Even using a hermeneutic designed for no other purpose than to support their views, this passage does not support YECs’ views.

As to Isaiah 65:25, the vast majority of commentators agree that this passage is a metaphorical reference to people, not a literal representation of animals. As expositor John Gill notes, the “lambs” and “oxen” are the people of God, while the “wolves” and “lions” and “serpent” refer to the wicked.

Since, in its proper context, the entire chapter refers to people — particularly, the nation of Israel — it seems likely that the final verse would continue this trend, rather than doing a complete about-face and describing God’s future intentions for a handful of animal species.

And, I can’t help but mention, metaphor is kind of incredibly common in the prophetic books. To give one example, the same book also calls the Messiah a “shoot” and a “branch.”

I would ask any young-earther who would claim Isaiah 65 as support for their views, is Isaiah 11 meant to be read literally as well? Are we to believe Jesus wasn’t really God’s annointed one after all, since he was a man and not a plant?

And finally, Revelation. Yes, Revelation 21 says — and most Christians believe, trust in and eagerly hope for — that in the future, there will be no more death.

… So what? This seems almost too obvious to have to spell out, but well, here we are: Just because the text says something will be a certain way in the future in no way necessitates that it was that way in the past.

Revelation 21:1 says there will be no longer be seas in the new earth; does that mean there were no oceans in God’s original design? Because that makes this part of Genesis 1 awful confusing.

Revelation 21:4 simply says what it says: There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain in the future. That is surely enough. It says nothing about the past, and asserting that it does is exactly the kind of extrabiblical supplementation that Revelation later condemns.

Tyler Francke is founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached at tyler@godofevolution.com.

  • Shaun Epperson

    Just want to say that I enjoy your site and the information. I don’t know if you have addressed these questions in other post or not, if so forgive my laziness and feel free to direct me to them. In the interest of full disclosure I should say that I am agnostic to the question of “is there a god/deity?” Don’t know and probably never will. However I am a strong Christian Antitheist. In no way can the God of the old testament be a good and loving god. NT theology (Pauline Theology specifically) also has it’s share of problems but at the very least specific teaching of Jesus can be debated.

    So my question is How do you reconcile the OT with the NT. I ask this more skewed toward the scientific realities that we now know. An example would be how do you understand homosexuality in light of evolution?

    Ultimately I think the question comes down to sin. Can sin exist in a world where some people have no choice in how their brains are wired. i.e.. gay, sociopathy, brain disorders, brain injuries, etc… If sin is real how is God fair in punishing people for things that have no control over?

    Again thanks for the work you do to combat the evangelical agenda of ignorance.

    • Hey Shaun, thanks for your comment and your question, and for sharing some about your own beliefs and the reasoning behind them.

      The short answer is that I don’t believe God does punish people for things they truly have no control over. I believe we are punished and held accountable for our knowing, deliberate sin; this is why I think Jesus’ harshest words in the gospels were always directed at the religious teachers, and not at the prostitutes or tax collectors and the others the society of the day collectively viewed as “sinners.” Jesus’ words were harsher for the religious folks not because they were more or less sinful than the other, but because they knew better. So their sin was knowing and deliberate.

      That being said, and I’m not specifically addressing homosexuality or any of the other topics you mentioned here, but I do believe there are certain behaviors different people may be “wired” toward, but that does not necessarily excuse their acting on these behaviors. For example, there are those who are both genetically predisposed and socially conditioned toward violence, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be wrong for them to harm an innocent person.