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In the book God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God author John C. Lennox puts forward an unorthodox 'third view' of Christian origins.

He suggests that perhaps the Earth is 4 Billion years old, and that geology and evolution ran their course as the scientific evidence tells us. He then posits that God intervened in scientific history to insert human beings 5000 years ago.

Interestingly enough - this lines up with scientific evidence and Biblical Genealogies.

To me this idea should have a category so we can compare it to other ideas and critique it. But I can't find the name of this idea.

My question is: What is the name of the view that the Earth is 4 billion years old, but God inserted human beings 5000 years ago?

  • Does Richard Lennox have a name for it? I'm curious, though: how did he come up with the 4 bil number? I thought the scientists had it pegged at 15 bil because of the color shifts of the furthest stars. – Steve Sep 10 '16 at 2:09
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    "this lines up with scientific evidence ..." - the evidence that modern humans have been on earth for some 200,000 years? – Dick Harfield Sep 10 '16 at 3:02
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    @fredsbend Or that there were pre-existing human-like creatures, but made-in-the-image-of-god, spirit-possessing, moral humans were created specially. I've heard this idea before from John Stott. – curiousdannii Sep 10 '16 at 3:44
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    @Dick I'm not sure what point you're making, but Dawkins continually says in The God Delusion "there almost certainly is no God", and uses many ideas to support the position. It sounds like a strong position to me. – fredsbend Sep 10 '16 at 6:02
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    @hawkeye Did Lennox say 5000 years, or 6000? Whether they think they are reliable or not, almost everyone thinks the Biblical genealogies add up to Adam being created about 6000 years ago, not 5000. – curiousdannii Sep 10 '16 at 9:45
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The Gap Theory

The Gap Theory proposes that there was a long gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, and that the rest of Genesis 1 is effectively a re-creation story, after the creation and chaos of the gap. Most Gap Theory proponents interpret Genesis 1:2-1:31 as describing a six day creation, and would date it around six thousand years ago, as the following genealogies are thought to indicate.

Exegetically the theory is very poor, and is as incompatible with conventional science as young earth creationism, so its popularity is now greatly reduced.

Homo divinus

Some Christians believe in a historical Adam, who was the first 'real' human - the first made in the image of God, the first with a spirit (or soul), the first moral human etc. God specially created Adam and Eve, perhaps as a new creation, or perhaps by transforming one of the prior human-like creatures, and this took place around six thousand years ago. John Stott coined the name Homo divinus for the spiritual human made in the image of God:

But my acceptance of Adam and Eve as historical is not incompatible with my belief that several forms of pre-Adamic ‘hominid’ may have existed for thousands of years previously. These hominids began to advance culturally. They made their cave drawings and buried their dead. It is conceivable that God created Adam out of one of them. You may call them homo erectus. I think you may even call some of them homo sapiens, for these are arbitrary scientific names. But Adam was the first homo divinus, if I may coin a phrase, the first man to whom may be given the Biblical designation ‘made in the image of God’. Precisely what the divine likeness was, which was stamped upon him, we do not know, for Scripture nowhere tells us. But Scripture seems to suggest that it includes rational, moral, social, and spiritual faculties which make man unlike all other creatures and like God the creator, and on account of which he was given ‘dominion’ over the lower creation. (John Stott, Understanding the Bible: Expanded Edition; 54-56)

This kind of theory is better than the Gap Theory, and is not incompatible with conventional science (though in fact it would be completely scientifically non-falsifiable.) Theologically though it has major problems: if all conventional science is to be accepted, but Adam and Eve lived only so long ago, then does that mean that peoples such as Aboriginal Australians who migrated to Australia some forty thousand years ago and then were out of communication with most of the world are not Homo divinus, that they are not actually made in the image of God?

I don't have any references on this, but I'd imagine that some extend the Homo divinus theory to say that, rather than God making a single couple, Adam and Eve, God transformed all Homo sapiens into Homo divinus at the same time. This solves the problem I just raised, but then loses the main benefit of Stott's Homo divinus theory: having a historical Adam and a historical fall.

Progressive creationism

One view that has some similarities to the previous one is Progressive creationism, which says that through the ages God has directly and specially created each life form, including humans. This view accepts the conventional age of the earth and fossils dates, but rejects evolution. Instead each kind of creature was created as is by God, and has remained the same since that time. As with Homo divinus, progressive creationists would accept that there were homonids before modern Homo sapiens. Seeing as there appears to be evidence of Homo sapiens long before six thousand years ago, many progressive creationists would probably say that God created them before that time, but some might say that God created them when the Biblical genealogies would indicate.

  • I don't think that you are providing a base for this statement, which looks much like your own view: "is as incompatible with conventional science as young earth creationism". This doesn't even look like falsifiable. Also, this another statement looks like opinion-based: "This kind of theory is better than the Gap Theory". What do you mean with the phrase "is better than"? I don't see how that could be an objective view, but a personal opinion instead. Don't get me wrong: I'm not taking a side, I'm just trying to analyze this answer regarding its neutrality/objectiveness, or lack of it. – nbloqs Feb 11 '17 at 19:29
  • @nbloqs Yes I'm clearly giving my own personal evaluation of these options. That's not forbidden. – curiousdannii Feb 11 '17 at 23:06
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I have heard the description "old earth creationism" used to describe the schools of thought you describe, as distinct from the ideas known as "young earth creationism" which holds that nothing is older than five or six thousand years old.

  • Old earth creationism doesn't always say that humans are specially created - probably most of old earthers would disagree. – curiousdannii Sep 10 '16 at 5:04
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    @curiousdannii: The key tenant of Old Earth Creation, as opposed to Theistic Evolution, is that humans (and usually all other creatures) were special creations. – Flimzy Sep 10 '16 at 7:47
  • @Flimzy Theistic evolution is listed as one of the types of OEC on Wikipedia, which doesn't mean a lot because it is Wikipedia, but it does show the term is far from unambiguous. – curiousdannii Sep 10 '16 at 9:24
  • @curiousdannii: Fair enough. That article could be a basis for a much more thorough answer, then. "Gap creationism" (and maybe "Progressive Creationism") I guess is the most specific term answering the question. – Flimzy Sep 10 '16 at 9:36

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