12 years. I've been an old-earth creationist for twelve years. More precisely, I've held what is often called a Day-Age View of creation. While refusing to believe in evolution, I have often scoffed at the idea of being a young earth creationist. And so, I have stood by Hugh Ross and his interpretation of Genesis since as long as I can remember.
This began ages ago. I was once an atheist. While I was in high school, I defaulted to atheism because I did not like my parents' religion, and frankly, I didn't like the idea of God and was embarrassed by the tongues-speaking, word-of-knowledge loving, 700 Club watching Christianity of my father. When I was 17, however, I had a change of heart. It was the Spirit of God changing me and making me into a new person, though I just thought it was my own great idea at the time. One of the tools God used was Hugh Ross' books The Fingerprint of God and The Creator and the Cosmos. These books not only affected the way I looked at the universe, but they opened me up to the truth that I was created by someone and that I could not live my life as a rebel against Him and expect to escape unscathed. I will never forget Hugh Ross, and I hope someday to meet him and thank him for his ministry at Reasons to Believe. I know that many young-earthers demonize his ministry, but he was used of God to change my life.
In becoming a Christian, I was never asked to put away my old presuppositions about the universe (especially the age of it). In fact, the beauty of Ross' approach to apologetics was that it met me where I was at and showed me that, in my view of the universe, I still had to acknowledge a creator. It disarmed me without my permission, yet never asked me to lay down my arms. For me, it was never a question of science vs. revelation. I always saw them as complementary.
Early on in my life, and even after coming to faith, I was exposed to the ministry of Kent Hovind. I remember bits and pieces, but what I do remember was embarassing. I saw a wild-eyed guy who, in my mind, took some facts that he learned from reading Stephen Hawking, put a Christian twist on them, and then spent most of his time arguing that old-earthers like me were wrong. He followed up his presentation by claiming that the Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) was real, that there may still be dinosaurs alive today, and even showing slides of people and dinosaurs living side-by-side. I also remember a suggestion on his part that at one point men may have domesticated dinosaurs (complete with a slide of a man riding on a saddled triceratops).
Ludicrous. Just ludicrous. I was an intelligent, thoughtful, scientific person, and I knew a crackpot when I saw one. In truth, I remember little of Hovind's ministry. I only remember the crazy parts that I recalled here. The point of this is not that I want to defame a godly man like Kent Hovind. The point here is to explain that my old-earth views which I have held for a dozen years were a combination of unabandoned presuppositions and reaction against a brand of fundamentalism which I found ugly and embarrassing.
My exposure to young-earth ministries since meeting Hovind's has not faired much better. Earlier this year our church hosted a speaking engagement with Jonathan Sarfati which I found to be far less than compelling. Like most creationist ministries, Sarfati's ministry seemed to be more focused on showing old-earth Christians that they were wrong than with meeting evolutionists in battle. This is still my perception of most creationist-focused ministries.
In the last couple of years I decided to revisit my assumptions about the book of Genesis, and one thing which I came to believe was that the Day-Age view of Genesis which I held did not stand up to the reading I was giving to it. For one thing, my interpretation of Genesis required the creation of stars (including the sun) on day one, while on day four I merely understood God's "making" the sun to be a revealing of the sun through some sort of primordeal mist. To my mind, this did not do the text justice because pulling back a mist is not the same thing as "making" the sun.
I did not hold to any sort of de-chronologized reading of Genesis, and so generally the order of the events in the text began to bother me, from my old-earth perspective. Perhaps my project to make science and scripture comport could not stand up to the scrutiny. Within the last year I turned towards the Framework view of Genesis and for a time was pleasantly surprised that many of my problems seemed to disappear with the Framework view. After all, the Framework view is not about science. It does not claim to know how old the earth is because the Framework view of Scripture does not understand the Bible as even speaking to the age of the universe. I found the chiastic structure between day 2 and day 5 to be quite compelling. I found the dual triadic structure of days 1-3 (creation kingdoms) and days 4-6 (creation kings) to be very insightful. I found Meredith Kline's argument that Genesis 2:5-6 establishes that creation happened through normal providence to be devastatingly helpful. In the end, I was ready to hold and defend the Framework view. The only thing is, I realized that I could appreciate the chiastic structure of the days of creation without actually de-chronologizing Genesis. I also knew that there were ways of reading Gen. 2:5-6 from a young-earth perspective that seemed perfectly acceptable, exegetically speaking. To make it simple, I realized that I wasn't being dragged kicking and screaming by the text towards the Day-Age view or the Framework view. It was the Young-Earth view which I was being dragged kicking and screaming towards.
In a conversation with my pastor, he asked me a pointed question. Though I don't remember the exact wording, he asked me essentially whether there was something prideful or stubborn that was keeping me from accepting the plain reading of the text. Although I have never found the argument that the plain meaning of the text is the right meaning compelling (it isn't) his question cut through a lot of the issues and got to the state of my heart, which is what I needed. The truth is, I was resisting a young-earth reading of Genesis because I was too proud to be a part of the Kent Hovind crowd. I was so judgmental and proud all these years against Kent Hovind's weirdness that I kept myself from what I now believe is the most sensible and accurate reading of the words of Genesis.
I have come to believe, after all of these years, that God did, in fact, create in six literal 24-hour days. I resisted holding this view for negative, rather than positive reasons. I was sinning these many years by judging my fellow Christians who I deemed to be less sophisticated than me because they held to a literal, 24-hour view of creation, and I suppose this blog is as good a place as any for me to repent of my sinful attitude.
Let me add a postscript here and just say that I do not believe that day-agers or frameworkers hold to the views they do because of the reasons I did. I am not interested in imputing any motives to those with whom I used to agree on this issue. The truth is, we are all complex creatures, and if it took 12 years for God to root this single strand of pride out of my heart, I would not presume that the issue is the same with others.