Helping Old-Earth Creationists Face the Supernatural Question

SBC Open Forum

by Ken Hamrick

Instead of arguing for or against the scientific evidence, or arguing the merits of possible exegetical ways to reconcile Scripture with a billions-of-years chronology, I propose that—for the sake of argument-–we eliminate the evidence question all together. We can do this by accepting all the scientific claims at face value, and still insisting on a recent supernatural creation out of nothing. In other words, we would not posit a young earth, but an old earth that was recently created by divine fiat. When God creates out of nothing, He is not limited to creating things “new.” God created Adam and Eve as physically mature adults and not as infants. He created mature, fruit-bearing trees for immediate food. “He made the stars also”—and made a universe with mature light-trails already existing so that the stars were already visible. All of these imply a time-consuming natural process that was well under way at the first moment of creation. God chose to create not at the beginning of these natural processes, but somewhere in the middle—as if these processes had been going on long before the moment of creation.

Why would God create the world in such a way as to leave no scientific evidence whatsoever of His creating, but leave plenty of evidence that natural processes predated the recent creation found in the natural reading of the Biblical account? Quite simply, God created in such a way that He would not be found by scientific evidence, but only by faith. This is not to say that the created world does not point to God and reveal a Creator to those who are willing to believe, but only that God and His creating cannot be established by any materialistic evidence. There are no “miracle particles” that science can measure to determine that creation by fiat occurred. Any unbelievers who insist on scientific evidence for God’s existence or His creating will find only natural processes. God requires faith.

While many Old-Earth Creationists reject evolution, let’s accept for the sake of argument all the claims of secular science, including the evolutionary hypothesis (as far as it goes). It still remains consonant with the Biblical account of a recent creation that God would supernaturally create (without a trace of evidence) a world already in process—even if that process is evolution. Just as the immediate visibility of the stars at creation can be seen as evidence of a natural process already in progress, the existence of evolutionary processes that were apparently in progress at the moment of creation provides no threat to the recent-creation view. The idea that mankind evolved as the crowning achievement of a billions-of-years-long natural process, and that he was supernaturally created out of nothing around 6000 years ago, are perfectly compatible… if God “stepped into” that process right at the point where modern man would have evolved,* had God allowed everything to develop over billions of years, and created everything out of nothing at that point in the virtual chronology. In short, this proposes that God in creating the world also created a virtual past full of scientific processes that in themselves are capable of explaining all that physically exists—that indeed would have resulted in all that physically exists had God not chosen to miraculously create everything more recently.

Although the visibility of stars implies an ancient past, we trust God’s testimony that He recently created light by fiat. Just so, although the evidences for evolution imply an ancient past full of death, we trust God’s testimony that “through one man, sin entered into the world, and death through sin…” Therefore, while God supernaturally created Adam in what might have been the middle of a virtually ancient process of death and survival of the fittest, He suspended the principle of death in the reality of His created world on the sin of the man that He recently created. Again, God’s revealed truth must be accepted by faith and not proven by scientific evidence. “Cordially embracing all that God reveals” is a matter of conscience, and not a matter of evidence. Not one particle of scientific evidence can prove that God did not create, 6000 years ago, the entire world out of nothing, and with a virtual past already present. And since objections cannot be found among the evidence, then where can they be found?

With the Evidence Question Dismissed, the Supernatural Question Remains

This is not to say that I believe the outlandish claims of the evolutionists—I do not. But by accepting their claims for the sake of argument, the anti-supernatural skepticism hidden in the Old-Earth Creationist view is laid bare. The question begs to be answered: Now that the scientific evidence is accepted, what reason will you offer for not accepting the plain-as-day straightforward Biblical account of a miraculous creation approximately six thousand years ago? With the evidence question effectively dismissed by accepting it from the start, then this question of belief in the Scriptural testimony of the miraculous must be dealt with.

It will not do to object that God would be deceptive to create the world with an apparent age—with natural processes apparently in progress long before creation. If there were any weight to this objection, then God could not perform any miracles, since all miracles are inherently deceptive to those who do not believe. Was the water turned to wine, or did the host save the best wine for last? How many unbelievers would have guessed that Mary, when “great with child,” must still have been a virgin? Do you suppose that Lazarus walked out of the tomb looking like a “zombie,” so that all who met him in his latter days would immediately know by his appearance that he had once been dead for four days? Or, would you agree that he left death behind him and looked fully alive, just as if he had never died? But such a lively appearance would be deceptive, giving no indication to those who did not know that he had died that any miraculous raising from the dead had occurred. Supernatural miracles leave no trace of evidence—no “miracle particles” to be found. Every supernatural miracle is inherently deceptive to those who do not hold the truth about what happened. Thus, this objection fails.

How do we square the world’s scientific authority with the God of such supernatural actions? The unbelieving world stands on the ever-changing but tangible ground of “evidence,” and has only scorn and disgust for anyone who stands anywhere else. But the Christian stands solidly on faith, having the written word of God and the sure witness of the Spirit—and we will not budge! There can be no reconciliation between a faith-based perspective and an evidence-based perspective. Someone once said it well: “For those who believe, no evidence is needed; but for those who do not, no evidence would be enough.” It is the very fabric of the Christian faith to accept as incontrovertible the sole evidence of the written word of God and the witness of the Holy Spirit—even if no other supporting evidences are discovered and in spite of whatever supposed evidences to the contrary may be presented. Is this really the kind of faith you have? If not, then tell us why you’re willing to believe with certainty that Christ miraculously and physically rose from the dead after three days, in spite of the fact that there is no evidence strong enough to scientifically prove it, but yet, you falter when it comes to a miracle no greater but only larger in scale?

If the Lord is a God of supernatural actions, then believe Him; but if not, then in whom do you believe? For all of us who claim to believe in Christ, this issue should have been settled beyond all question at the empty tomb. If Christ did not physically rise from the dead, then you and I are still in our sins. But praise God! We know that He did physically rise from the dead, and that God is a God of supernatural actions. Those who would be saved by Jesus Christ, the only name by which a man may be saved, must believe that He physically rose from the dead (as well as believing that He was the eternal Son of God who became a man, lived a perfect life, and died to pay for our sins). We as believers are so familiar with all this as to lose our astonishment with it. A real man named Jesus walked around for three years healing people of all kinds of diseases and disabilities. He even literally raised some men from the dead—one of them was dead long enough to stink of decomposition. To top it off, He Himself literally and physically was resurrected to immortality and walked out of the tomb after being dead three days! Do you really believe this?

Scientists have observed millions upon millions of people and animals dying. Death is well known and understood. It is a scientific fact beyond dispute—a proven law of nature—that all living biological things die and then decompose. The claim that Jesus raised people from the dead and was even raised from the dead Himself is worthy of only scorn and perhaps pity from the scientific community. However, we grant them no credibility on this question because the Spirit of God has revealed to us, with utter certainty, that the Bible is the true and inspired word of God and that Christ was literally raised from the dead. And the Bible reveals that the unbelieving world hates God and hates the truth, seeking to hide from both in a fog of rationalistic demands for tangible evidence. So which are you? Are you a believer in the supernatural acts of God in spite of the world’s scorn, or does the world’s insistence on evidence have you in a fog?

The scientifically sophisticated Christian—one who is enlightened by an “open-minded acknowledgement of the authority and wisdom of science—can find an intelligent way out of this dilemma. He can find in his “hermeneutical toolbox” various ways to read the accounts of Christ’s resurrection in a less literal, less physical sense. After all, Christ did seem to walk right through walls, and we know scientifically that it is impossible for a real physical body to move through a wall in that way. As well, we are told in 1 Cor 15 that the kind of body we will have after the resurrection will be a “spiritual” body, so that whole resurrected Savior story can be creatively reinterpreted. Therefore, one could understand His resurrection to be spiritual and not really physical. But if you find the idea of reinterpreting Christ’s resurrection to remove the supernatural miraculous quality of it to be unthinkable, then why would you think it’s OK to use that same scientific hermeneutic to reinterpret the account of a miraculous, supernatural six-day creation?  Why do you waver between a faith-based perspective that has no problems with any evidence, and an evidence-based perspective that insists that evidence must be weighed and Biblical accounts of immediate supernatural events cannot be taken at face-value?

Since all the scientific evidence and theories can now be accounted for from the start, without having any bearing on the question of the recent, supernatural, miraculous creation that is plainly the revealed chronology of Scripture, then evidence is no longer an excuse for skepticism. In the face of the revealed truth of the written word of the supernatural God, the most that science can determine about origins is the condition of the world as God recently created it. Does science insist on billion-year-old rocks and fossils? Then God created billion-year-old rocks and fossils, about 6000 years ago. Does Scripture demand that the principle of death did not enter into the world until Adam sinned? Then not one creature in God’s creation died until Adam sinned. It makes little difference whether or not you accept evolution. The real question is whether you are willing to accept revealed truth in spite of the evidence or prefer to reinterpret revelation to make it accord with the evidence.

Ken Hamrick, 2014

* The spiritual nature of human beings could never evolve, but could only be supernaturally created. But neither does the spirit leave any trace of scientific evidence. Humanity in its current state is scientifically assumed to be in its most evolved state, and God needed only to step in and provide that spiritual part of man when he created everything supernaturally out of nothing, effectively bringing man into existence in his most evolved state in that point in the virtual chronology.