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Volume 17, Issue 1: Recipio

Creation Credibility

Ben Merkle

When debates rage between the six-day creation and the Old Earth camps, often the question comes up, "Why does it matter?" If we all affirm that God did the making, then why squabble about how many days it took for Him to do it? For the creationists the answer is usually a hermeneutical principle. The Bible says "six days," and we aren't given any reason in the text to think it is anything other than six days. To cave on the obvious meaning of the text in the face of unbelieving science is to sell out.

Although I believe this is an important point, and I am in thorough agreement with this answer, there is another element that needs to be considered. Scripture continually describes the creative work of God as a demonstration of God's nature, character, and authority. When Job questions God, the answer that comes back is a long discussion on God's creative work. That discussion truly answers Job's question, because it reveals to Job just who it is that he has attempted to interrogate. When the other men on Jonah's ship to Tarshish discover that Jonah has angered the God who made the sea, they know that they are in trouble because they are contending with the creator God. When Paul stands up to address the Areopagites, he tells them that he is preaching to them "God, who made the world and everything in it." Creation is one of God's favorite proof texts to justify His claims as supreme Lord of the earth. The argument is simple: of course He gets to rule the earth—He made it. But if we tinker with the story of God's creation, aren't we then tinkering with more than just a hermeneutic?
Take another example of a similar nature. Paul tells us that the resurrection of Christ was an authoritative declaration of who Christ was (Rom. 1:4). Not only that, but the resurrection of Christ is the proof of our salvation (1 Cor. 15:12-19). The resurrection is itself a proof of a claim. And it is an appropriate, unambiguous proof. It is difficult to have a conversation about the resurrection that does not immediately flush out your loyalties. You either buy who Jesus was and what He did, or you deny it and insist that the resurrection be repeated in a laboratory. But you cannot have an extended discussion about the resurrection without the claims of Christ coming to the front of the conversation.
This is the sort of proof that creation is supposed to be. And this is the sort of proof that six-day creation is. One cannot discuss six-day creation without immediately provoking either love or loathing of the Triune God. It forces our hand. Like Jesus' claim to be the bread of life, six-day creation sifts our faith. You cannot dilly-dally about the claims of Yahweh the creator God, when you are talking about His miraculous speaking into existence of all that is. But an old-earth creation story does not force this question. A man can sit in his laboratory for twenty years working on a study of "origins" without ever coming face to face with the claims of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Of course natural revelation shrieks out everywhere, so he remains without excuse. But there is a difference between the man who is confronted by the glory of creation while analyzing the mutations of fruit flies and the man who is attempting to digest the claims of creation in six days. In one story there is room for the hard-hearted to squirm and wiggle off of the point by getting absorbed in discussions about shifts in allele frequency. In the other story there is nowhere to hide; it was a miracle and you either believe it or reject it.
This is the glory of six-day creation; it forces the question. And this is why a strident affirmation of six-day creation is a necessary ingredient for any Christian academic venture. This doctrine is such a perfect antidote to the problem of the lust for academic respectability. It is difficult to mingle unnoticed within the hallowed halls of the University and peer-reviewed journals while asserting that God made Eve out of Adam's rib.
I remember hearing a piece of advice once, given to college students about to go home for the summer. If you are going to be working at a summer job, where nobody really knows you or where you come from, make sure that it is public knowledge that you are a Bible-believing Christian. The reason is that it is easy to slip into some sins when everyone around you has no idea that you are a Christian. But when your faith is public, the pressure is stronger for you to act faithfully. This is sound advice for academics as well. How many Christians write for academic journals as if they were complete pagans themselves, buying into all the paradigms that unbelief has provided? But it is difficult to slip through unnoticed when you publicly acknowledge that you believe in Noah's flood, all the way down to the flannel-graph picture of the ark with the giraffe heads sticking out the window.

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