Orthodoxy prevails in age of the earth debate
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Whether arguing for a literal, six-day creation or defining “day” as a period of time, one must remain orthodox, Southwestern professors said during the “Grindstone: Young Earth or Old Earth?” event, Oct. 15.
Paige Patterson, seminary president and systematic theology professor, stressed the necessity of orthodoxy in the study of Genesis, even while engaging in spirited debate among peers about the particulars. He defined orthodoxy in regard to the “young earth, old earth” debate as holding the Bible as absolutely inerrant and God as the active, involved Creator of everything in existence.
An orthodox Christian, regardless of his convictions on the Genesis account, must aim to “understand the text with all the literary indications that are in the full context of the canon,” said Craig Blaising, provost and professor of theology. If a theory is supported by an exegetical rendering of the text “and the scientific evidence is arguing that that may be so, then we might say that it’s possible, or even probable,” Blaising said.
Joining Patterson and Blaising for discussion were Ishwaran Mudliar, assistant professor of Old Testament, and Mike Keas, professor of the history and philosophy of science for the College at Southwestern. Though the panelists differed in opinions, they are united in this expression of orthodoxy, which is why they are part of Southwestern faculty, says Patterson.
Patterson and Mudliar defended the young earth position, while Blaising took the moderate position. Keas was the lone defender of the old earth viewpoint for the evening.
“I think Christianity is very science- friendly,” Keas said. “We believe in a world that is intelligible, that is understandable, because God not only made humans in His image and gave us the ability to reason and to sift through evidence in a reasonable fashion, but He also made the world … [and] rigged this thing up to be discoverable.”
When questioned whether or not the old-earth position is better for evangelism, “That depends entirely on who your subject is,” says Patterson. “Obviously, I think a correct interpretation of Scripture is always better than an incorrect one, and I happen to think the correct one is the young-earth. … [Research professor] Bill Dembski, with his old-earth position, has gotten an opportunity to witness to and even win some lost people who wouldn’t have given me the time of day.”
Grindstone events are held periodically on campus at Southwestern Seminary, and are designed to foster intelligent discussion and debate among students and faculty. Audio is available at www.swbts.edu/mediaresources