John Piper on „old earth” age and evolution

Old Earth vs. Youung Earth (Biblical account) chart from Answers in Genesis Click on photo to read more on this comparison between the two beliefs.

Glad to know John Piper’s view:

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Do you accept „old earth” and evolution?

If by „accept” you mean, „Are there people on our counsel of elders who hold to the old earth theory?” then, Yes.

If by „accept” you mean, „Is that my view?” here is what I said the other day when the church staff was talking about this. We spent about an hour, talking about how we as a church should orient ourselves in the conversation about old earth and young earth, and I said that there seem to be two viable, biblical views for me. (This is going to offend a lot of people.)

One is young earth, because it seems to me that the natural reading of Genesis 1 is 24-hour days, not Day-Age.

And two, the view that John Sailhamer wrote in Genesis Unbound or in his other books, which says that all of creation happened in verses 1 and 2. It may be as old as 4 trillion years, as far as he is concerned, and what was happening in Genesis 1 each day was not the bringing into being of the earth and its various forms, but rather the ordering, managing and structuring of things. This allows for 24 hour days but also allows for an old earth.

I lean that way. I don’t believe in evolution as the way that Adam came to be a human. I think God created Adam from the dust of the ground. I think he was unique and that he is the father of all humanity—Adam and Eve—and that he is not the product of a long evolutionary process. I can’t make that jive with the way the text reads.

And I think that it’s very important that Adam be a historical figure, because that’s the way he is treated by the other biblical writers. The heart passage in Romans 5 collapses, and the whole nature of God’s making with Adam a covenant and then him failing and then Christ being a second Adam comes to naught, if he’s not a historical person.

© Desiring God

10 comentarii (+add yours?)

  1. Blue Django
    apr. 17, 2012 @ 11:39:01

    Both views seem to be more a denial of the facts and an inability to accept that the people who wrote Genesis were not geologists and spoke out of their own naivete. It’s not a night that believers find easy to go into for it means they’re going to have to start re-examining their view about the Christian sacred texts. I’m sure he’ll come around in time. Peace.

    • rodi
      apr. 17, 2012 @ 11:49:06

      You miss the point which is this: For most christian believers, our belief is that the the Bible is inspired, that God inspired earthly men to write exactly what they wrote in the books of the Old and New Testament. Genesis is but one small part of the picture. When you consider that there are hundreds of prophecies, written hundreds of years before Christ, which were fulfilled in Christ you can not miss that the narrative of the Bible is supernaturally written.

      For those folks who would desperately like the Bible to not be true, I wonder why that is. Why not leave the rest of us in what they call „delusion”? Maybe because there is some unsettling in their own souls that it just may be true? Yes, a whole lot hangs on the veracity and reality of the Word of God!

      • Blue Django
        apr. 18, 2012 @ 03:34:38

        You say: ‘…..most christian believers, our belief is that the the Bible is inspired, that God inspired earthly men to write exactly what they wrote in the books of the Old and New Testament’ Here’s a problem with that idea. If one applies such an idea too strictly, namely „God inspired men to write exactly what they wrote” with the emphasis on the word „exactly” ; what do you say when it is discovered that what was written does not match the facts? If we don’t hold to this idea too strictly to this idea we can blame it on the transmission of data by ‘earthly men’ ; however if we insist upon such an idea they we have to conclude that God got the facts wrong. I’m of the opinion that the Christian sacred texts (OT & NT) have sections which are non narrative / storyteller stanzas which have been added to fill in the gaps and are based upon the mindset of the writers at the time and secondly that the transmission of idea from God to man has never been as exacting a process as we’d like to imagine and therefore what we are looking at is more along the lines of looking through a glass darkly. One day we shall know the way it began but right now we are trusting texts, learning from the sciences and not thumping our fists on the table. Peace, Eric.

        • rodi
          apr. 18, 2012 @ 09:42:29

          Let me back up a bit. I believe in a sovereign and omniscient God who knows everything before it happens and who orchestrates (one day we will know how) everything. I have a big God and if He wants us to be confused and have these debates, then He must have a purpose in it. In the same way, atheists want to know why God doesn’t make Himself visible so all can believe? Well, God chose to reveal Himself however He Himself wanted to do it. To you it may sound like ignorance that I can reconcile anything and perhaps you think I (and others like myself) gloss over (your perceived) inconsistencies. However, that is not where I am coming from. If my God is sovereign, then He actively does some things and He actively allows some things to happen. Both actions are active and although I do watch the evolution/creation/ID debate closely, my belief in God’s sovereignty will not let me walk away from the belief that the Bible is all TRUTH and if God seems like He is hidden, maybe he in fact is hidden so that people don’t just believe in Him out of fear, but that they discover Him out of love of what He has done for us, in redeeming us and planning this redemption even before He created us.

          That is the wonder my friend, that God knew we would sin and fall, and yet He still created us because He also knew that many of us will worship and glorify Him when He is revealed to us through scriptures. Have you ever read from the Bible and felt completely overwhelmed and in awe of God? God’s spirit does the inner working on us and if God’s spirit abides in us then we are focused on telling people about God and Jesus and leaving these debates as secondary functions of our christian life. I haven’t had time too look over your blog too much, but I hope your main priority is not just to debate but to also proclaim God and Christ and I say this in gentleness and humility because as the word says: to whom much is given, much is expected (and blogging is a big responsibility)

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  3. Blue Django
    apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:01:33

    ‘Let me back up a bit. I believe in a sovereign and omniscient God who knows everything before it happens and who orchestrates (one day we will know how) everything.’

    Hi Rodi,
    You certainly have backed things up and presented me with too many thoughts to respond to without going right off-topic. However, I agree with you that ‘one day we will know’ but our knowledge of God, ourselves and this planet are progressive and the further back on goes the more problematic that record becomes.
    Each of us deals with the facts differently and I’m certainly not going to be one to pound anyone on the head the way that some of the anti-theists do. ( i.e. the four horseman of atheism – refer. Alvin Plantinga’s new book ‘Where The Conflict Really Lies) – I’m covering a discussion at Theology Web Campus (a bit old) where they tangle with a number of the points raised in his book) = ( I have three blogs – a personal one for my music and art stuff = ) and then I have the one I linked to and one other which used to monitor events on Forum Discuss – which has gone to the dogs) =
    I have a very open heart approach to what I’m doing, though sometimes I let people get to me.
    God bless you.

    • rodi
      apr. 19, 2012 @ 13:14:22

      Thanks for your response. I intend to look over your sites this weekend when I have a bit more free time because I think engaging in dialogue is beneficial for all parties involved. We all learn something through courteous, honest debate.

      All of my premises stem from this verse that Paul wrote to Timothy. This is the same Paul, the man that encountered the resurrected Christ personally in the midst of his flagrant persecution and killing of christians. The verse states: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,(2 Timothy 3:16) Now, this doesn’t mean that the Bible (God’s word) answers every single question, scientific or otherwise). When people point to the erroneous beliefs in the past such as the Church thinking the earth is flat, that error did not come out of the Bible it came from man. So, yes man does change his way of thinking as new evidence comes along.

      Maybe you feel that you have definitive evidence for evolution, but apparently a lot of scientists feel otherwise. So why disregard the Bible and come up with all kinds of assumptions faulting the accuracy and veracity of the Bible over the newest scientific finding that will itself be fine-tuned and many times changed as newer evidence becomes available through yet newer technology?

      I don’t feel the need to reconcile every detail that comes up – ex „earth is flat”, that was not something the Bible states; it was man’s (read church) error of belief not a matter of biblical interpretation. Same with evolution, if we can’t find the missing links that definitively prove evolution then what are we contradicting? How can we reconcile something like evolution, which has not been proven anyways?

      In the end, why is the creation/evolution debate important? Because the aim of atheists is to deconstruct God by slowly taking apart the main revelation that God has made to man – His Bible. Even if men who are faulty, non learned or non expert wrote the Bible, if I believe in God’s sovereignty, then I presuppose that it was intentional that He inspired men to write a literal, 6 day creation narrative. Maybe that is His way to put a barrier in our way, a huge barrier at that for an atheist/evolutionist that he would have to cross in order to have faith in God.

      The evolution way to the cross will not work because it slowly deconstructs everything from a literal Adam, to the second Adam which is Christ and Christ quoting the actual existence of Adam. Was the Son of God lying? If Adam didn’t exist, God the Father couldn’t whisper into Jesus mind not to mention an Adam that never existed?

      In the end, would God use a path like evolution that takes people away from the cross and into atheism? (Although the debate is certainly helping a lot of folks to lose their faith)
      The full blown evolution premise either makes the Bible false or it makes God a liar. God is holy. He does not lie, therefore He did not lie when He inspired simple men to write down exactly what He Himself inspired. Those are my only choices. I choose the Holy, sovereign and omniscient God who does not lie.

      Sorry, I did not intend to make it this long, again 🙂 but just trying to answer in a hurry.

  4. Blue Django
    apr. 23, 2012 @ 12:09:28

    You say:

    ‘In the end, would God use a path like evolution that takes people away from the cross and into atheism? (Although the debate is certainly helping a lot of folks to lose their faith)
    The full blown evolution premise either makes the Bible false or it makes God a liar.’

    Evolution is not a path. I know that many people use the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection as an excuse for not following Jesus. It’s just lazy thinking. Evolution does not make the Bible false or God a liar. This too is just simply lazy thinking and if folks were prepared to face up to the facts and ask some basic questions about the Bible and then listen carefully and prayerfully they’d be able to step forward boldly and actually understand that so much of what we believe about the Bible and our world is lazy thinking. We all do it.
    I’ve spoken with Christians over the years who actually hold beliefs about the Bible and Evolution that are both based on lazy thinking and they’ve been conditioned by what others think about both these instead of making a careful study of both. I did and have found that there are many like myself who have actually enjoy studying both and find that they actually harmonize beautifully.
    If you go over to Faraday Institute of Science and Religion (1) you’ll find many who do and have for many years. It’s not something new. It’s just that for so many years Christian fundamental beliefs have dominated and with it extremely insipid beliefs and fear of things that are not fearful but truthful and on that basis should be encouraged.
    May the Lord guide you as you seek Him.

    (1) The Faraday Institute of Science and Religion –

    • rodi
      apr. 23, 2012 @ 13:46:42

      I am sorry I haven’t been able to visit your blogs, but I was dependent on wi-fi over the weekend and you know how that can go. More down than up.

      Believing in creation vs. evolution is not being a fundamentalist nor is it based on lazy or faulty thinking. Not at all. It is based on believing that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, sent to us through the instruments God chose: men. Just because man is faulty does not mean God allowed error to inject itself into his Bible.

      Think about it. Until the printing press was invented and the Bible finally got into people’s hands God relied on man’s simple understanding and interpretation of His word based on whom and what? Based on faulty people, the Pope, paid clergy? No He relied on Himself through the person of the Holy Spirit! Does the Holy Spirit work in such a way as to ultimately have people spend their lives debating Chapter 1 of Genesis? That is idolatry, to spend a lifetime preaching evolution, or even creation at that if one is not preaching the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it relates to our redemption from God. It is one thing to defend one’s faith and quite another to preach it as a Gospel.

      The Gospel is God’s salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. That is the only Gospel I proclaim. Yes, I study many doctrines and can really get engrossed in them to the point that I have to stop and remember to keep „the main thing” the main thing. So, unless there is some earth shattering new discovery that evolution is true I have no reason to chase rabbit trails such as Darwin’s, who theorizes against the Word of God. In God’s economy of salvation, evolution is not important at all.

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