Why A Commitment To Inerrancy Does Not Demand A Strictly 6000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther’s Plea For Realism -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 18:1 (NA 2013)
Article: Why A Commitment To Inerrancy Does Not Demand A Strictly 6000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther’s Plea For Realism
Author: Mark A. Snoeberger


Why A Commitment To Inerrancy Does Not Demand A Strictly 6000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther’s
Plea For Realism

Mark A. Snoeberger1

The young-earth creationist community is in the midst of an identity crisis relative to the age of the earth. Some within the community aggressively defend a strict 6,000-year-old creation and chafe even at minimal deviation on this point. For these, a rigid terminus a quo for the age of the universe is the simplest and best arbiter for establishing one’s young-earth creationist credentials. Conceding even a slightly older universe is for this group equal to (1) discarding or at the very least compromising biblical inerrancy2 and (2) granting philosophical independence to the sciences, whether astronomy, geology, biology, or archeology.3

This rigidity has not always existed in the young-earth community. John Whitcomb, patriarch of young-earth creationism and co-author of the groundbreaking work The Genesis Flood, defended a span of 3,000 to 5,000 years between the Flood and Abraham, offering a probable date for the original creation of between 6,700 b.c. and 8,700 b.c.4

While Whitcomb and others of his generation held tenaciously to a young earth of thousands rather than billions of years,5 the sine qua non of their movement was not a rigid date, but adherence to other interpretive factors, including:

  • Belief in a recent and immediate creation of the universe in six literal, successive, 24-hour days.
  • Belief in a catastrophic global flood as the principal dynamic for explaining the geological and fossil records.
  • Belief in a literal, historical, and immediately created Adam, prior to whose fall death was absent in the universe.6

These factors, early young-earth creationists agreed, together insulated Genesis 1-11 from the philosophical threats of modernism and uniformitarianism that threatened biblical authority. Viewing the earth as young was important to these pioneering modern creationists, but an exact identification of the earth’s age was neither necessary nor even possible—the Bible simply did not supply this level of precision. And so, irrespective of whether they favored a 6,000-, 10,000-, or 25,000-year-old earth, proponents of this new movement readily set aside this minor quibble in the interest of a united f...

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