One of the many things that I observe in the debate between young-earth and old-earth creationists, is the constant appeal to the works of past theologians. People are constantly appealing to this church father, or that medieval theologian, in the hopes that they will justify their belief in an old or young earth.
Old-earth creationists have pointed to Justin Martyr, Origin, Augustine, and others from the first four centuries after Christ, as believing in an old earth. At the same time, young-earth creationists have defended these past Christians as believing in a young-earth. Both cases look strong, leading me to believe that these men were seeking the truth, and may not have reached a conclusion.
Why Does it Matter?
Why do people seek out the beliefs of Christian that have gone before us? A Christian who is struggling with these issues may need the support, so that they can make up their minds one-way or the other. Or, a person may simply be trying to be as thorough as possible before committing to a choice.
People today have been conditioned to fully research their beliefs. This is good. But in many cases, I get the distinct impression that people will not commit to a belief, unless they can find a crutch to lean on…fellow Christians, past and present, who believe the same thing. We must move beyond this “crutch” mentality, and decide issues for ourselves.
But there eventually comes a time when the believer must make a choice of their own. How important is this search for support from the Christians that have gone before us? Not important at all. In the end, we must rely upon our own conclusions, based on the evidence that we have. In fact, with advances in science, and new archeological discoveries, we are in a better position to decide this issue than any of the church fathers that have gone before us.
Geology as a science did not really get going until the 1800’s, therefore none of this scientific data was available to these past theologians. What would Justin Martyr have decided, if he had the evidence we have today?
I’m not saying to ignore the church leaders of the past, but I am saying that we have much more evidence than they ever had, and can reach our own conclusions. Don’t be afraid to come to your own conclusions about creation and the Bible.
I have concluded that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. If you believe that the earth was created in six 24-hour days, great! Hold fast to that belief. If you have evidence and believe that the days of creation are each 3.76 seconds each, great!
Each of us has the evidence in the Bible and God’s creation. We don’t need to appeal to the theologians of the past to support our belief…they didn’t have the same evidence that we have, due to scientific and archaeological discoveries…why then are we seeking to trust in their views which were based on limited evidence?
You have the evidence yourself, and it’s up to you to come to your own conclusions.