Matt Walsh's Five Bible-Based Arguments Against Young-Earth Creationism
On Thursday, popular conservative Christian blogger Matt Walsh took to Facebook Live to explain why he does not believe in young-Earth creationism (YEC), the idea that God made the universe and the Earth in 6 24-hour days. Walsh explained why the Bible, and Genesis specifically, does not necessarily teach YEC and why Christians should reject this view in favor of more scientifically grounded alternatives.
Before arguing against YEC, Walsh admitted that many good Christians believe in a young Earth, and he suggested that "there's no reason" for this debate to "be a source of division within Christians." That said, he suggested that the young-Earth reading of Genesis is based on a shaky foundation and should be rejected.
1. Genre and taking the Bible "literally."
Walsh addressed the strongest argument for a young Earth head-on. If a young-Earth creationist asks, "Do you take the whole Bible literally?" Walsh would respond, "I always find that to be a confusing question."
"As for literalism, nobody take the whole Bible literally," the blogger argued. "We all agree that there are parts of the Bible that cannot be taken literally."
He referenced Jesus' parables, in which He told stories in order to make key points. Turning to Matthew 16:18-19, Walsh quipped, "Is Peter an actual rock? No, he's not."
"Even in the Old Testament, there's agreement that some of it is non-literal," he suggested. The figurative language in Psalms and Song of Solomon particularly sticks out. Walsh quoted Song of Solomon 6:8, "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death." This is not an encouragement for lovers to rip open their chests and put a seal on their hearts — "we're not talking about self-mutilation, here."
When interpreting the Bible, Christians "first have to determine what genre each of the books belong to, because they don't all belong to the same genre. The Bible contains what we might call non-literal genres. It also contains literal genres, such as the gospels."
"What genre is Genesis? Is it meant to be read, is it a science textbook?" Walsh asked. "Is it meant to be read as a precise scientific text of the origins of the universe?"
"A historian will certainly consult the gospels," because they are firsthand accounts of the life of Jesus. But "Genesis is not a cosmological resource, it is a theological resource."
Walsh argued that Genesis "is a theological work, not a scientific one. Which is not to say that it is false. It is true, but you have to know how to read it."
2. The word "day."
If Christians should take into account the genre of different books of the Bible when interpreting them, why do young-Earth creationists insist that "day" ("yom" in Hebrew can also mean "age," as "day" can in English) be understood as a 24-hour period in Genesis 1? Walsh argued that there is excellent reason to doubt this interpretation.
First, many of the great teachers of Christianity — from Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and St. Augustine to C.S. Lewis and John Henry Newman — rejected young-Earth creationism, interpreting Genesis 1 in different ways.
There are good biblical reasons — older than modern science — to suggest that the days in Genesis 1 do not have to mean 24-hour periods.
Walsh noted that God did not create the sun, moon, and stars until day 4, three days after He created light. "He said, 'Let there be light' before there was any source of physical light."
"Does it make sense to assume that we're talking about a 24-hour Earth day when the Earth is void and there is no sun?" Walsh asked. "It could be a 24-hour period, I guess, but there's no reason at all to assume that."
Indeed, there are reasons to assume that it does not have that meaning. A modern day on Earth is 24 hours because it takes 24 hours for the Earth to rotate on its axis. But the Earth of today is very different from the Earth of Genesis 1:2.
"Explain to me what a formless Earth looks like, how it has water on it, and how the spirit of the Lord hovers over it," he said, citing Genesis 1:2. "Draw me a picture of what a water-logged, formless, massless Earth suspended in a starless, sunless, moonless void looks like. ... We're dealing with something that is not simple at all."
"Was the formless Earth — suspended in a void without a sun — spinning on an axis?" Walsh asked. "The answer, of course, is that you have no idea, not the faintest clue."
Furthermore, he cited Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, in which the Bible says that "a day for God is like a thousand years for man. If you take the Bible literally, then you would have to take that verse into account."
Even in Genesis, the word "day" has different meanings. In Genesis 3, God warns Adam and Eve that "on the day you eat" of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "you will surely die." While Adam and Eve spiritually died on that day, they physically died centuries later.
"You cannot approach Genesis with one definition of day in mind," Walsh argued. "The text does not support it."
The blogger explained, "We're dealing with things that are beyond us. When God is communicating to us something that is beyond our grasp, He has to use a metaphor."
3. Time before the first day of creation.
Walsh had another powerful reason for doubting the young Earth, besides the meaning of the word "day." While God uses six "days" to create in Genesis 1, the first two verses of the chapter are not part of the first day.
"The first two lines don't take place on the first day," the blogger argued. "God created the heavens and the Earth at some point in the beginning. Then — at some time later, maybe billions of years — the first day began and there was light, et cetera."
Since light travels at a certain speed, and since astronomers have determined that some of the stars humans see are billions of lightyears away, it is far more feasible to accept billions of years between Genesis 1:1-2 and Genesis 1:3 than to insist that the Earth and the universe are merely 10,000 years old, Walsh argued.
He noted that Psalm 104 declares that God "set the Earth on its foundation, it cannot be moved." Yet scientists discovered that the Earth is revolving around the sun. Many Christians refused to accept the moving Earth, arguing that their interpretation of scripture "should not change one bit to accommodate scientific fact."
Eventually, however, "Christians realized that their interpretation of these verses had to be wrong. The Earth is moving. It cannot be disputed."
"If we can take those verses metaphorically, why can't we take 'day' metaphorically," or at least alter the reading of Genesis to accommodate to scientific fact?
"Young-Earth creationists, they look at this text that people have been studying for thousands of years, and they say, 'I know exactly what it means,'" the blogger argued. Passages like Genesis are not entirely clear, however.
4. Science and evangelism.
While Christians must consider the Bible the Word of God, and every passage has important meaning, the Bible explains why things happen, not how they happened. If Christians want to understand how creation occurred, they should turn to science, Walsh explained.
"When we look at the science, certain interpretations of Genesis become less tenable," he said. That does not mean the Bible is wrong, only that Christians had wrongly interpreted it.
"Science tells us that the Earth is around 4 billion years old," Walsh noted. "In order to defend the six-day creationist view, we must essentially reject the fields of modern astronomy, cosmology, geology, and biology. We must basically wage an all-out war on modern science."
He asked "what's more likely? That entire fields of modern science are wrong, illegitimate, and falsified, or that young-Earth creationists are misinterpreting the Bible?"
Some scientists accept a young Earth, but they do not reach that conclusion thanks to scientific discoveries, but by bending the science to match their preconceived reading of Genesis. "You've got to do all these twirls and handstands to make this work, when you don't need to."
"According to this view, modern science isn't just wrong, it is useless," he explained. "You have set up science and faith as two competing things. This is a huge stumbling block for people." Many choose science over faith, and view Christianity as "another primitive, anti-science, anti-knowledge superstition."
Faith and science can work together, however. Indeed, many of the great pioneers in science weren't just Christian, they used their scientific endeavors as a way to glorify God, thinking the thoughts of the Creator after Him.
"Rather than treating science as some sort of black magic, we can see science as some kind of revelation," Walsh said.
5. The character of God.
Perhaps the most effective argument against young-Earth creationism involves the character of God Himself. Young-Earth creationism turns God into a liar, Walsh argued.
"I've heard from some young Earthers that God put dinosaur bones in the Earth to test our faith ... or that there were tyrannosaurs on Noah's ark," he recalled. "God made the Earth and the universe to look old, and He put fossils in the ground that look old."
"God, by this view, is deceiving us ... science becomes a method by which God confounds and obscures," Walsh explained. This view "degrades God because it gives us a God who deceives and who doesn't want us to know things and who tricks us. It gives us this bizarre, petty, pagan god, not the true God, the God of Truth."
The Christian view of God actually enabled the birth of science, since Christians saw God as the rational Creator who is also free. While Aristotle explained the natural world in rational terms, a free God could have created the universe however He liked, so Christians had to experiment in order to understand it. This view pushed science from mere logic into a pioneering kind of experimental learning.
If Christians return to the primitive view of God as a trickster, they not only are rejecting the idea of the God of Truth as revealed in the Bible, but are also rejecting the Christian view of God that inspired science in the first place.
Watch Walsh's video below.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.