When you read the words of atheist evolutionist Richard Dawkins "Biology is the study of complicated things which give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose," how do you react? Do you say "Of course they appear designed; they are designed." When you hear the argument that Christ did not really die on the cross, He only appeared to have died, how do you react? If someone came into your church teaching the Gnostic doctrine that Christ did not really have a physical body but only appeared to have one, how would you react? When presented with the popular Christian doctrine that the earth and universe are not really billions of years old but only appear to be old, how do you react?
Perhaps both old earth creationists and young earth creationists can agree on this: there is some irony associated with the appearance of age doctrine. There is irony in the fact that the appearance of age arguments parallel those of doctrines almost all Christians oppose. There is irony because those who embrace the appearance of age still embrace the truth that the heavens declare the glory of the God of truth. But, if the universe only appears old, then those heavens must be giving a false report and objects more than, say, 10,000 light years never really existed as we see them.
Still, many Christians have embraced some version of "Appearance of Age" related to the age of the earth and universe. This position states that God created the earth and universe with an appearance of age. Some hold Adam and Eve up as an analogy because he created them as adults. There was some necessity that God create Adam and Eve as adults so they would survive. Analogously, there was a need to create the earth with coal deposits, limestone deposits and the many other features that suggest long periods of time. Others take the tack that God is an artist or craftsman. A craftsman could make a table and give it a distressed finish so that it looked weathered. The craftsman is not lying. He is simply doing with his art as he wishes.
This whole issue raises many questions. And, at each point Christians should ask, "what does the Bible say?"
- What is the Bible's expectation about the trustworthiness of experience - sight, touch, etc.
- What does the Bible say about how we can know?
- What weight does the Bible give to evidence in general and historical events in particular?
- Does the Bible give any suggestion that the world, including the heavenly bodies are not real?
- If evidence contradicts verbal testimony or prophesy, which should we believe?
- Can I distinguish between an inspired message and my understanding of it?
- In the Bible, how did men of faith know things?
- What do the words of God or Jesus say about what should persuade us of the truth of a claim?
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