Several months ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Could God Create (Ex Nihilo) On The First Day?” It appeared in the Warren Christian Apologetics Center periodical, Sufficient Evidence (Fall 2020). I did not know that anyone ever later attempted to respond to my article. But on January 25, 2022 a preacher friend of mine informed me that he had come across an article entitled, “God Was Not ‘Within Time’ When He Began Creation?” by a writer who works with Apologetics Press. The writer’s article was published on October 22, 2021. I am glad to know of the article to which I will now make a response.
As the title of our critic’s article indicates, he is quite willing to take the position that God was within time when He created. I am quite sure that my critic has no idea as to what he has implied in taking that position, but I will try to explain very carefully.
In my first article I pointed out that some of our brethren have for years tried to prove a young earth, thinking that such was necessary in order to meet the challenge of atheistic evolution. I pointed out, furthermore, that such is simply not the case. The notion of Darwinian evolution, even though it claims much time for its theory, is not based on time. As I suggested in my first article (as well as in my chapter in The Utterance Of God, a book published recently by the Warren Center), evolution cannot be established on the basis of time. It entails the idea of impossible chance. If we grant the evolutionist billions and billions of years for his theory, he still cannot prove it, for time is NOT the issue.
Furthermore, in my first article, I pointed out that three of our our most accomplished scholars in the church (Guy Woods, Roy Deaver, and Thomas Warren) took the position that no one can know how old the universe is. That is my view also.
But since Apologetics Press has invested so much effort over many years in the attempt to prove a young earth, it does not surprise me that some staff member should attempt to dismantle my evidence. Let us see if the staff member was successful in his recent effort.
Our critic refers to two different approaches at establishing an older earth, one of which he refers to as the “Gap Theory.” First of all, let me suggest that such language is prejudicial and dismissive. I could refer to his view as the “Non-Gap Theory.” Calling something a mere theory does not make it so. But my critic thinks that he can persuade the reader to dismiss my contention by referring to it as a mere theory.
Second, he suggests that every now and then someone comes along and tries to argue for an older universe even though he is sure that staff writers at Apologetics Press have already proved a young earth. Let me just here suggest to the reader that if the articles from these men offered no more proof for a young earth than our current critic offers in his current effort at answering my article, then neither those men nor he have proved a young earth. In fact, I firmly declare that my critic is assuming what he has not proved. I state categorically that no one at Apologetics Press or anywhere else has proved the age of the universe.
In my first article, I used six arguments. My critic refers to only two of them, and he does not falsify either one of these. He does not question the validity of the syllogisms, so that the only route to falsification is by disproving one of the premises in the arguments. This is what he tries to do, but he does not accomplish what he wishes the reader to believe that he has. The conclusion to the first argument of mine that he quotes is: “Therefore, He (God, MD) cannot be within the first day’s 24-hour period.” The conclusion to the second argument of mine that my reviewer quotes is: “Then, Exodus 20:11 excludes Genesis 1:1 in its reference to six days.”
My position, as stated, is that God cannot be in time at the initial point of creation, and since that is so, then Exodus 20:11 must exclude Genesis 1:1.
Now, what does my critic do? He writes, “Time begins at the exact point at which physical matter and space come into existence. The initial creative event is a simultaneous occurrence of both matter and time. All time starts with the first atom of matter that is created since time (as it relates to the physical Universe) is connected to the Universe.” I agree that time begins when matters first exists. However, I do not agree that “The initial creative event is a simultaneous occurrence of both matter and time.” In my first article I showed why such was impossible.
Now, please notice how my critic proceeds. “The simple response to the above argument is to recognize that, though the author of the argument focuses on the ‘location’ of God in relation to time, Genesis 1:1 and Exodus 20:11 are not addressing how God relates to the events before the creation of the physical Universe. These passages address the passing of time that is connected to the physical Universe.” Dear reader, please notice the expression “passing of time.” We’ll come back to that.
My friend continued, “God existed before time, is currently outside of time, and is from everlasting to everlasting, as Psalm 90:2 states. Thus, all of God’s activities before the creation of the physical world were ‘before’ time, but those activities would have no bearing on the time that has elapsed in the material Universe. They would not add billions of years to the age of the Universe. Time is an aspect of the physical creation and cannot be separated from it.” Notice, please, the words “time that has elapsed.”
My first article was not on the “passing of time” or the “elapsing” of time. It was all about the very INITIATION of time! My critic’s argumentation here is completely beside the point and quite inadequate to the two arguments of mine that he did quote. He quoted my final two arguments. I will now present again the first four arguments for the reader’s consideration to show what issue my antagonist is up against.
1. If God initiated creation within time, then time existed before the heavens and the Earth did.
2. But it is false that time existed before the heavens and the Earth did.
3. Therefore, it is false that God initiated creation within time.
1. If God was within time at the point of initial creation, then He was not inhabiting eternity.
2. But it is false that God was not inhabiting eternity at the point of initial creation (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15).
3. Therefore, it is false that God was within time at the point of initial creation.
1. If (1) God began creation from His habitation in eternity, and if (2) God made heavens and Earth for six days, and if (3) there is a conceptual pause between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3 at Genesis 1:2 dividing the chaotic condition of the formless and void Earth from the initial orderliness beginning in verse 3, then the making of heavens and Earth for six days per Exodus 20:11 begins with Genesis 1:3.
2. (1) God began creation from His habitation in eternity (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15), and (2) God made heavens and Earth for six days (Exodus 20:11), and (3) there is a conceptual pause between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3 at Genesis 1:2 dividing the chaotic condition of the formless and void Earth from the initial orderliness beginning in verse 3 (the text reveals this).
3. Then, the making of heavens and Earth for six days per Exodus 20:11 begins with Genesis 1:3.
1. If God creates time, then He is not within time at the initial point of time’s creation.
2. God created time (with the creation of heavens and Earth—Genesis 1:1).
3. Then, He is not within time at the initial point of time’s creation.
Now, dear reader, it is important to see that my opponent in this issue simply did not address these arguments except by way of redirecting the reader’s attention away from the initial point of creation to the “passing of time” and to the “elapsing” of time. But, this is no answer at all! I was not discussing the passing or elapsing of time. I was discussing the enormously important point of the initial moment of time (that is, when time began and what its relationship to God had to be at that initial making of the first moment).
Furthermore, my friend noted that I had admitted that time arrived simultaneously when matter first appeared. That is correct. But what I did not admit and what I do not and cannot believe is that the initial movement of God in creation was within time because time did not exist when that creative movement began. Again, my critic said, “The initial creative event is a simultaneous occurrence of both matter and time.” My response is: while matter and time must occur simultaneously, the initial creative movement must precede them. It cannot at all simply be simultaneous with them. Why not?
This is very, very important. I am sure that my critic did not mean to be doing this, but when he suggests that the initial creation event is completely simultaneous with matter and time (thus willingly placing God “within” time), he is eliminating the conceptual distinction between CAUSE and EFFECT. If “cause” takes place at the exact same moment as “effect,” then “cause” IS “effect,” and “effect” IS “cause”! Theologically that lands my critic in the position of pantheism. That is the view that God is the world, and the world is God. Furthermore, if pantheism is correct, creation is NOT an event at all. Creation simply does not occur. There is no creation! Now, as I said, I am quite sure that my critic was not trying to imply pantheism, but he did so in his futile effort to falsify my argumentation. If the young earth view implies pantheism, and if pantheism is false, then the young earth view is false since any doctrine that implies a false doctrine is itself false. I am not saying, however, that the young earth view does imply such, but I am saying that my critic’s argumentation regarding simultaneity does imply such.
Remember, I am not contending for a young earth or an old earth. I am contending for the position that we cannot know how old our universe is. Furthermore, if modern space exploration suggests or seems to suggest at the moment that an older earth is what we have, then when theists try to “prove” a young earth, these theists are rendered ridiculous in the eyes of informed scientists. Now, I know that the “scientific method” is based on an invalid logical procedure, and that because of that, science can present by that methodology no absolutely proved conclusion. However, scientists even with that invalid method continue to explore and suggest. And when their suggestion is based on their actual findings or discoveries, theists cannot simply dismiss discovered facts or alleged facts.
For example, Fred Heeren in his tremendous book, Show Me God, declares, “Looking at the discoveries of modern science, Robert Gange finds powerful evidence of a Supernatural Creator. But he doesn’t start his argument with the discovery that the universe must have had a beginning or with the evidence for design. He starts with the evidence that the universe is old (Fred Heeren, Show Me God, p. 318).
Now consider carefully this quotation from Robert Gange:
“The thing that argues for the existence of a Supernatural Creator is the fact that the universe has been in existence for between 14 and 17 billion years. Now that almost sounds contradictory. Most Christians who are trying to argue the Henry Morris line are trying to say that everything is very, very young. What they’re not realizing is the fact that scientists today accept ages of the order of 14 to 17 billion years is itself proof of a supernatural creation.” (Show Me God, p. 318)
If space exploration is, in fact, currently suggesting an older earth, so be it. If the information gathered is being wrongly reasoned about, so be it. It does not matter one bit as far as a Bible believer’s soul is concerned as to whether we have an old universe or a young one or a young one that looks like an old one. What we have is a magnificently created one!
God could have created the universe in an orderly fashion, but He chose not to do that. The initial condition of matter was originally chaotic (Gen. 1:2). The earth was without form, and it was void. Notice my father’s words in his commentary on Romans:
“In Isaiah 45:18 the record says, “For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited.” The King James Version says: “He created it not in vain.” The word translated “in vain” in Isaiah 45:18 is the same as that translated “without form” in Genesis 1:2. The Revised Standard translates it “waste” in both places. Hence, God created the earth “not in vain,” not a “waste.” Referring to the original condition of the earth Job tells us that when God first laid “the foundations of the earth” that conditions were such that “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:6-7), thus indicating the perfection and completeness of the work of creation. Many have called attention to the point that the original word for “create” (bara) implies perfect work, perfect and beautiful order.” (Roy Deaver, Romans, God’s Plan For Man’s Righteousness, p. 168)
So, if God created the earth not in vain, and if the creation of the heavens and the earth was in vain in Genesis 1:1-2, then the creation of the heavens and the earth of which Isaiah speaks in Isaiah 45:18 excludes Genesis 1:1-2 and begins at Genesis 1:3.
Finally, God could have initially created an ordered universe, but He chose not to do that. He did create matter in chaos out of which order was brought. When did the initial creation take place? We do not know. The Bible does not say, and no one should be considered uninformed on the issue who refuses to submit to someone’s claim that he has found out how old our universe actually is.
This article is a response to Kyle Butt (2021), “God Was Not ‘Within Time’ When He Began Creation?”, https://apologeticspress.org/god-was-not-within-time-when-he-began-creation/, published by Apologetics Press on October 22, 2021.