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In The Bible, Rocks and Time (IVP Academic), geologists and Reformed Christians Davis Young and Ralph Stearley try to convince young-earth creationists (YECs) to abandon their position. First, they argue that the Creation account in Genesis 1 need not be understood as a historical narrative documenting the creation of the universe and its inhabitants in six normal (rotational) days. Second, they argue that the data from geology point unwaveringly to a planet of exceedingly ancient age.

I particularly appreciated Young and Stearley's historical overview of church beliefs on Genesis and Creation. Their careful documentation puts to rest the claims of other old-earth proponents that the church fathers held views compatible with an ancient earth. They likewise present the origins of modern geology well, particularly within the broader historical backdrop of Christian influences on scientific thought.

But BR&T is essentially a negative critique. Theologically, the authors seek to show that Genesis 1 need not be understood as describing six rotational days. But if so, which competing view should we adopt? They clearly dislike the "ruin-reconstruction theory" or "gap theory" (there was a large gap of time between the first and second verses of Genesis), and display reservations about the day-age view (the six days were much longer periods). The authors favor some kind of allegorical view (e.g., the "framework hypothesis"), but are steadfast that they will not make a positive case for any of these. The result is that the authors do not present their own views clearly enough for critical evaluation.

The authors' discussion of Noah's Flood is similarly vague. They argue strongly against the Flood as a global, geologically formative event ...

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April 2009

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