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Arguments against progressive creationism

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Arguments against progressive creationism are the theological and scientific criticisms derived from Biblical exegesis. They address the main beliefs of Progressive creationism (also known as day-age creationism), which are:

  1. The days of Creation were extensive and not literal 24 periods of time.
  2. Noah's flood was not global, but a local flood.
  3. The Earth was created over 15 billion years ago.
  4. There was blood, disease, and suffering before Adam & Eve.
  5. There were Pre-Adamites that roamed the Earth-a different human race without a spirit.

The Days of creation

Progressive creationists hold the belief that the 6 days of creation in Genesis 1 occurred over vast ages of time. The word 'yom' means 'day' in Hebrew, but since it doesn't always have a specific 24 hour limit, they believe that they can take a non-literal meaning of 'yom' in Genesis 1. However, the meaning of the word day is made clear by the authors repetitive use of the phrase "evening and morning", which clarifies that the period of time was equivalent to the solar day.

The most obvious problem with the day-age perspective is the order of events in the Biblical creation week. In Genesis 1 the Bible clearly describes the creation of plants on day 3, but the sun was not created until day 4. This poses a conundrum as plants can obviously not survive for prolonged periods of time without the sun, and the description seems to provide an obvious testament to a creation over a very short period of time.

A repeating theme of this and other non-literalist views is that certain parts of the account are cherry-picked to prove a narrow point, ignoring the other portions of the account that contradict the narrow point. Thus a person who is unfamiliar with the overall account, especially in particular details, may be led to believe that the narrow point (e.g. progressive creation) is viable. The following discussion will reveal this fallacy in its many facets.

Creation Days 3 & 4

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day." - Genesis 1:11-19 (KJV)

Noah's Flood Was Local

Main Article: Local flood

Progressive Creationists believe that the flood of Noah was only a local event because the population of the earth was so sparse that it was not expanded over the entire globe. Instead, they claim upon that theory that it simply would not be necessary to wipe out the entire earth if there was no civilization around the globe.

Dr. Ross professes in the following statement that because of the fact that humans were not inhabited throughout the world, that it would not be necessary for God to destroy that portion of the earth.

But here are some reasons why, physical reasons why, the flood cannot be global. Number one is the limited extent of sin. Given that human beings had not yet civilized and inhabited Antarctica, there'd be no need for God to flood Antarctica because there'd be no sin there in Antarctica. Dr. Hugh Ross's Quote

Dr. Ross is "presenting facts not in evidence". How can he possibly know that there were no humans in Antarctica at the time of the Flood? The evidence suggests that the entire world had a temperate climate with no extremes, including the extreme conditions of the polar caps. Ground-penetrating radar has discovered vast forests under the Antarctic ice[1].

Something Dr. Ross has also failed to consider, that as the Floodwaters rose, sentient creatures would seek high ground, and would do so in desperate survival, even to places as remote as Antarctica. If high ground was available anywhere, people would seek it, so some sinners would survive.

Another fallacy of Dr. Ross is the presumption that the Flood's purpose was to destroy sin. This is not the case. The wickedness of humanity was the result of a larger physical problem - the corruption of the flesh - requiring a larger physical solution. When Noah stepped off the Ark, God declared that mankind's imagination is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21), so if the Flood's purpose was to eliminate sin, it failed.

Dr. Ross could have a feeble stab at proving this statement to be true--but if we are looking at the original Hebrew text, the word kol is used, which translates to mean all/every. The English example of using the language "all" is found in these next passages where God is putting it into our language for us to understand today that it was a global flood.

"And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered." - Genesis 7:19 (KJV)

"And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died." - Genesis 7:21-22 (KJV)

So, why then would Noah need an ark to be built? Why would it be necessary for all the animals to come there? Why not God just instruct them to gather somewhere else where the local flood would not be? Ross claims that the ark was the platform on which he was to prophesy to the people about what was about to happen. Every prophet needs a platform. (Okay, then why so big?)

There are particular passages that Dr. Ross believes that "the whole world" are used in a reference that doesn't necessarily mean global.

The Earth Was Created Over 15 billion Years Ago

Dr. Ross comments on the age of the earth:

It only works in a cosmos of a hundred-billion trillion stars that’s precisely sixteen-billion-years old. This is the narrow window of time in which life is possible.

Therefore it allows me to make an interesting paraphrase of John 3:16, if you’ll permit—For God so loved the human race that he went to the expense of building a hundred-billion trillion-stars and carefully shaped and crafted them for sixteen-billion years so that at this brief moment in time we could all have a nice place to live.’ (Dallas Theological Seminary Chapel Service, September 13, 1996). [1]

One can not claim that "It only works in a cosmos of hundred-billion trillion stars that's precisely sixteen-billion-years old." Or "Life is only possible when the universe is between 12 and 17 billion years.’ (Toocoa Falls Christian College, Staley Lecture Series, March 1997) [2]

If he was to secure his faith in Christianity, he would be limiting God, which cannot be done because as Christians, we believe in God being all-powerful. We can not put limits on His works. Moreover, the claim that "life is only possible" in terms of long-ages is an evolutionary assertion based on evolutionary bias, not a scientific assertion. In Biblical terms, God made life and according to him didn't take long at all.

"But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?" - 2_Chronicles 2:6 (KJV)

God is majestic and not to be bound by time. Moreover, the assertions of scientists as to the age of the earth and cosmos have been strongly questioned by contradictory evidence. One must consider that any determination of "age" is always a product of human reason. Age is not an intrinsic property of matter. It is an effect of time, and as of today, only humans are time-aware enough to care about the meaning of age. God's word in Eccl. 3 is a dissertation on "time" and what it means to God, and to mankind, and that mankind is "aware" of the passing of time because God has placed this awareness in the human heart (Eccl 3:11).

Suffering Before Adam and Eve

Progressive Creationists believe that there is no way around death, disease and blood before Adam and Eve committed the original sin. Even in the most stable and fool-proof environment, there would be ways to be scratched and poked. Progressive Creationists believe that it is never specified that there was no meat to be eaten - They were given grass and vegetation, but it never ruled out meat. Therefore, there were predators and prey... But we see in Genesis 9:3 that God specifies that in that point in time, he gave them "permission" to eat more than just grass.

"Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." - Genesis 9:3 (KJV)

They believe that physical death did not originate with the fall of man; only spiritual death did.

"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." - Genesis 3:16-19 (KJV)

Adam's life began at the dust where the hands of God created Him, and God was saying, to the dust will he returns when he dies...physically.

This view does not consider that Jesus had to physically die, not simply spiritually die, to satisfy the wrath of God. When progressive creationists speak of "spiritual death" they mean a separation from God because of sin. However, the Bible claims that the entire creation is under the same curse as humanity (Romans 8:22) and that the death of Christ is the very foundation of the Creation itself (Revelation 13:8). Jesus gave his life as a ransom for the entire creation, and alluded to this very fact in the parable of the treasure (Mark 13:44) where a man buys an entire field to gain the treasure in the field.


A key point is the Biblical description of death, which has been blurred by the scientific description. There are several levels of living things as described in Scripture. The naturalist discounts all but one, because they only believe in the natural, physical aspect of life, not the supernatural aspects. In brief, the Bible describes lower living things such as plants with "chay" life, the basic living process. For breathing animals, such as those specifically designated for preservation in the Flood, have "ruwach" life. The human has another level called the "neshamah" in Hebrew and "pneuma" in Greek. This non-physical aspect of humans is the living, eternal soul that God breathed into the first human Adam.

An important aspect of all this, is that the life of the flesh is in the blood (Genesis 9:4). Blood-borne animals carry Biblical life. As such, only blood-borne animals actually "die". There is even separate terminology for plants, they "wither" or "fade" (Isaiah 40:7-8) but are not claimed to die. Neither are the insects or spiders etc. imbued with Biblical life.

In this regard, if God wanted to give Adam a good example of "ye shall surely die" all he had to do was step on a bug and crush it. The bug does not "die" in Biblical terms because it has no blood (spider blood does not have hemoglobin to affect cellular respiration - it does not drive the life of the creature).

Finally, the New Testament makes direct claims about Adam's connection to the crucifixion, sin and death.

Rom 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned"

We see in the above verse that sin preceded death, which passed on to all men. The Greek word for "death" in this verse is "thanatos" which means physical death.

1Co 15:21-22 "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

We see in the above verse that death (thanatos- physical death) came after the arrival of mankind, and was caused by man, and places this responsibility directly on Adam's shoulders so there is no doubt as to the meaning, reference or the entities involved.

The implications of this message are profound. If as Christians we presume that death came before mankind, then death is not connected to sin at all. If this is true, why did Jesus have to physically die for sin? Why did God require Christ's blood to atone for sin? By removing the connection between sin and death, this undermines the Cross of Jesus Christ.

When God encountered Adam and Eve after they had sinned, he had promised them that "ye shall surely die". And since they didn't die physically, some are led to believe that God meant something else, like "spiritual death". However, in that confrontation God covered them with coats of skins, meaning he had to slay animals in order to do this. We may presume that God instituted sacrificial death, or subtitutionary death for Adam and Eve in this manner, because in the very next chapter we see Cain and Abel offering ritual sacrifices. Later we read that Abel's sacrifice was more acceptable (Heb 11:4). This is because Abel offered a blood-sacrifice of an animal, and only blood can offer remission of sin (Heb 9:22).

We can now see that since Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) that Jesus's death is part of the Master Architecture of the Creation, and that substitutionary death through blood, over many millennia, would foreshadow Christ's sacrifice of himself. Anyone who misses this theme will likely fall into the false doctrines such as progressive creationism, which attempts to "mechanically" explain scope in evolutionary terms, while missing the bigger prophetic picture entirely.

Pre-Adamites Roamed the Earth

An advocate for the Progressive Creationist faith is Dr. Ross.

Starting about 2 to 4 million years ago, God began creating man-like mammals or ‘hominids.’ These creatures stood on two feet, had large brains, and used tools. Some even buried their dead and painted on cave walls.

However, they were different from us. They did not worship God or establish religious practices. In time, all these man-like creatures went extinct. Then, about 10 to 25 thousand years ago, God replaced them with Adam and Eve.’ (Reasons To Believe Web Site, updated July 8, 1997) [3]

God never mentions these 'hominids' in the Bible. They believe Adam and Eve were created 4,000 years later (BC). But Mark 10:6 says

"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." - Mark 10:6 (KJV)

Humans were created at Creation - that was Adam and Eve, not years and years later after hominids had roamed the earth. Ross is exercising pure imagination, a hallmark of the evolutionary worldview. We can see how he is manufacturing another history entirely, from thin air, and using it to re-explain the Scripture.

This is simply an example of someone (Ross) who does not believe the plain text of the Scripture. He then manufactures another story entirely, not so he can believe Scripture more, but so he can believe it less.

God's Sovereignty Over "Time"

Main Article: Time

Creationists who believe in long-ages for the Earth and Cosmos, also implicitly reject God's sovereignty over "time". The Bible says "in the beginning" Genesis 1:1 and also says that time had a beginning Titus 1:2 .

Interestingly, secularists claim that the concepts of space, matter and time are said to have started simultaneously by the Big Bang[2]. So while Long-Age creationists accept long ages because the secularists claim that they have to, they may not understand that the secularists also assert that Time had a beginning.

Ecclesiastes provides a detailed description of God's perspective on time, and claims that God has sealed history and that what we encounter even today has "already happened" Ecclesiastes 3:15 .

God declares for his own name that he is the great "I Am" Exodus 3:14 which is a name that cannot change in any age.

Jesus used a surprising verbose mode when he told his audience, "Before Abraham was born, I am" John 8:58 .[3]

We measure change using time. In our existence, anything affected by or subject to time will slowly change. yet Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever Hebrews 13:8 . God never changes Malachi 3:6 and in him is no variableness nor shadow of turning James 1:7 .

The above verses reveal that God is not subject to time, but is in fact sovereign over it, and that God created time for his own uses.

Claims of long-ages are also a direct indictment of God's character. God uses time to express his very greatest qualities. Without time:

  • Justice is instantaneous
  • Mercy is nonexistent
  • Human faith requires time to grow
  • Humans are saved through the foolishness of preaching, which requires time to execute
  • Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, which requires time for the hearer to understand and respond
  • God's loyalty and faithfulness are expressed over time
  • God's patience and longsuffering are expressed over time
  • God delivered his words through prophets over time
  • Godliness is often something developed over a long period of time
  • Wisdom is acquired over time, foolishness is in-the-moment
  • Admiration is earned over time, attention is in-the-moment
  • Sin is always in-the-moment and eschews the constraints of time
  • The worst characteristics of mankind are exhibited when time is set aside for immediate gratification - including impatience, iniquity, gluttony, murder, adultery, avarice, willfulness, anger, railing, lust, sexual immorality, lying and deceit, defrauding, theft etc.

God has leveraged time itself to express His greatest qualities to mankind, and has required mankind to use time in building the best qualities mankind can have. God adjures mankind to Ephesians 5:18 redeem the time because evil will ruin it.

Lastly, perhaps more importantly, God's very nature compels him to judge sin. It is an active revulsion of sin, expressed as what the Bible calls wrath. An omniscient, loving God recognizes this characteristic of his nature, and knows that whatever he creates, if it goes bad, his active holiness will instantly annihilate it. For this reason, God created Time as a means to constrain his own wrath, in essence to give his creation a fighting chance to survive his holiness without being destroyed. The mechanics of Time are profound in this regard. A man may sin all of his life and come to repentance in Christ in later years. God constrained his wrath, through time, to lovingly provide this man with a means to survive his wrath.

Progressive Creationists typically view God as an entity that is bound by "Time". In essence, God is progressing forward on the "river of time" at the same rate as the rest of us. God may regard one day as a thousand years 2 Peter 3:8 , but this time dilation does not mean that God "travels time" or somehow "gets ahead of us". As such, they believe that God can "see into the future" and "show this future" to prophets, and thus "orchestrate" things in the here-and-now to eventually bring future things to pass.

They imagine the creation as a giant chessboard with many permutations happening at every split second, but God is able to master it all and make things happen. For example, in this viewpoint, God shaped history so that all things would converge at Bethlehem for the birth of Christ. One secularist called this view the "frantic director", where the director of a play is watching the play unfold in real time, and chaos ensues with him attempting to get the play back on course in real time. This view of "Time" presumes that God is not sovereign over Time, but that Time is sovereign over God.

The appropriate way to regard the relationship between God and Time, using the "river" analogy, is that mankind is sitting on a river with a dense fog downriver and a light fog upriver. God is present on each end of the river and all points in between. There is no part of the river where God is not.

God's omnipresence in this regard, is elevated from being merely "everywhere" to additionally "everywhen"[4].

With the above view of God and Time, God has already seen the end of time, which is why he could show this to the Apostle John, who was clearly transported in time to be physically present to measure the city of God, among other things he claimed to personally experience in real time, even though it was in the future for everyone else. This view of Time is anathema to a progressive creationist, who must embrace a notion of God frantically attempting to fix things as they break.

One thought: If Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) can we then see how God could know the very specific details of Christ's birth, death and resurrection? This was not because he 'foresaw' what was about to happen, but because he was actually standing at "ground zero" and reported what was happening there in real time. Caesar Augustus had passed a law for taxation, requiring all people to go to the city of their lineage. Mary and Joseph did exactly that. Are we to believe that God orchestrated Augustus to make the decree so that Mary and Joseph would travel, or had this already happened and God was reporting the circumstances happening in real time? Clearly God has the power to orchestrate, but an omnipresent God has the power to transcend time.

No Profit in Progressive Creationism

Finally, Progressive Creationists, in taking sides with the secular assertions of long ages, have taken an expedient position. Expedience requires no effort and as noted above, aligns with temporal priorities rather than eternal ones. The Progressive Creationist does not want to be seen by secularists as foolish, even though God has placed a premium on the things the secular world calls foolish 1 Corinthians 1:27 and the weak to show his strength 2 Corinthians 12:9 . What the Progressive Creationist does not understand, is that secularists such as Richard Dawkins show their scorn for people who believe in God and the Bible, calling them delusional. The Progressive Creationist has already lost. They have rejected the truth of Scripture thinking it would endear them to secularists, but the secularists despise them all-the-more for fence-sitting.

See Also


  3. Dembski, William A.; Witt, Jonathan (2010). Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-8308-3742-7. 

Further Reading