Albert Mohler is President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and I think that the following is a brilliant take down of his preposterous hypothesis that the earth is not old, but young. It’s offered by Peter Enns at BioLogos:
Dr. Mohler, you state that a strictly literal reading of Genesis finds overwhelming support in the history of the church. On one level, I agree with you. Until the rise of modern science, Christian interpreters did not have the options before them that we do today: literal, day-age, framework view, etc., all things you are well aware of. There was more unanimity because there were fewer choices. But you assume that this diversity is a problem that must be resisted. You seem to expect the church today to maintain vigorously a position on Genesis 1 that was formulated before the evidence for an old earth came to light, as far back as the 17th century (not the 19th century as you say in your presentation). Are you suggesting it is always wrong to adjust how we read portions of the Bible in view of scientific evidence? Many scholars have noted the similarity between the discussion over the age of the earth and heliocentricity in Galileo’s day. See, for example, Karl Giberson’s recent post. As scientific evidence became clear, it led the church to accept that the biblical geocentric model of the cosmos simply reflected their ancient point of view. This did not lead to an abandonment of the Bible as God’s Word, but only readjusting expectations of what we have the right to find there. I know you accept heliocentricity, but it is not clear to me what your reasoning process is. The biblical authors, along with all ancient peoples, assumed the earth was stationary and that the sun moved. Would that not require us to do likewise? I would be interested in hearing more about why you wouldn’t feel the same way about a Young Earth as you do about geocentricism. You do not accept the scientific data that points to an actual old earth but only an apparently old earth. But from what I can tell, you don’t argue for a solar system where the sun only appears to be at the center.
Peter Enns here has gotten to the very heart of the matter: is there to be any reality testing in the way one reads the Bible? If so, wherever new scientific theories come to the fore, can Christians lay out the available hypotheses and pick the most plausible one—even if it renders problematic familiar Bible passages?
Put another way: must science adjust to the Bible, or the Bible to science?
Are you with Albert Mohler or Peter Enns?