Sources to explain apparent conflict between Jesus, Paul and Peter and Old Earth

I am looking for articles, books or videos dealing with the apparent issues related to the New Testament and an old earth, and not a literal world-wide flood. I accept the strong proof for an old earth, but some of my friends say that means I reject many statements by Jesus, Paul and Peter about Adam, sin, the flood, etc. I need to find sources to clarify these purported conflicts.

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If it helps, I would just point out the proof conflicts with their interpretation of the statements. Given interpretation is human and fallible I have no problem with adjusting my interpretation when it conflicts with God’s general revelation, i.e. nature.

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Don’t listen to them, don’t provoke them. Be polite, sure, listen, but silence is truly golden. Don’t hear them. They know nothing. Less than nothing. Jesus, Paul, Peter were enculturated. Historically, scientifically they knew nothing either. It doesn’t matter. Was Jesus God incarnate or not? All the rest is stuff we make up. All of it. And the truth of that cannot touch the conception, birth, life, death, resurrection of Christ. It’s about belief in Him and His faithfulness. Live in its light. "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do” I Timothy 1:4

You cannot tell them this. Just keep asking what you all can so do today. Who you can build up. Encourage. Walk naked with.

Sorry I can’t think of a book or article off the top of my head. The best responses, to me, are:

  1. When Jesus referred to creation or the flood, he was referring back to Scripture to make a theological point. He was not giving a lesson on or commenting on the genre of early Genesis. You or I or anyone can refer back to a story to make a point, without dealing with the issue of whether the story is literal or figurative. You can ask me an ethical question, and I can answer by referring to one of Jesus’ parables. Does that mean the events in the parable actually happened? Who knows, its not my point.
  2. The NT authors accepted the science of the day, which was a young earth. God accommodated to them by not teaching them about radiometric dating. An interesting, and controversial, offshoot of this is the question of how much Jesus knew. Did Jesus understand quantum physics? At age 3? What knowledge, if any, did he set aside in his incarnation?
  3. Paul and Adam is a challenge. I actually came to the forum today to hunt for info on that. My best answer there is that Paul, no matter what he thought of Adam’s historicity, used Adam as an archetype, and so the TEACHING of those passages like Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 was not about the age of the earth or the historicity of Adam, so Paul did not TEACH a young earth.
    Hope this helps. Sorry I couldn’t recall specific cites for you. Good luck.

The science of the day in NT times was not modern YEC - the available historical evidence did not point to a vast age, but it was a matter of history, not science.

Check the verses claimed to support a young earth/global flood and see what they actually say. The young earth interpretation is reading into the passage. Classic supposed young-earth NT proof texts include:
Matthew 19:8 - Jesus teaching against divorce says “from the beginning it was not so”. Young-earth arguments claim that this means that Jesus is claiming that Adam and Eve dated from close to the creation of the universe. But (as for all of these supposed proof texts) that is not what the passage is about, and trying to force a conclusion on some other issue is rather doubtful. Nor does the passage actually state that Adam and Eve were around close in time to the creation of the universe. God’s plans were around before the creation of the universe, which tells us nothing about the timing of the first humans. And there’s no reason to assume that “the beginning” can only possibly refer to a few days. In a way, we’re still in the beginning until the second coming. Conversely, the beginning of human marriage no doubt coincides relatively closely with the first humans, but again that does not give a timeline relative to creation of the universe.
Matthew 24:37-38. “Jesus compares the second coming to the flood, and the second coming is a global event, so the flood must have been global,” Some are careless enough to cite the parallel from Luke 17:26-30, which adds the comparison with the destruction of Sodom, definitely not a global event. The point is that it will take people by surprise [a point ignored in end-times speculation], and the passage says nothing about how global or not the flood was.
References to Adam, eg in Luke’s genealogy or in Paul - These seem to treat him as a historical individual. But they say nothing about the time of his existence relative to the creation of the earth, nor do they spell out if or how everyone might be related to him. The evolutionary origin of humans does imply that lots of historical individuals existed. Given how different the focus of the Bible on theology is from the data obtainable from DNA and archaeology on early humans, it is highly debatable just how Adam might fit into the general genealogy of humanity, besides the possibility of a figurative understanding.
References to the flood in I and II Peter: Given that major floods happen from time to time and are memorable, there is no reason to doubt that the accounts of Noah reflect an actual incident. But the geographic extent is not evident from II Peter 2:5 where the flood was on the world of the ungodly. “World” there is cosmos. I don’t think even the most enthusiastic YEC flood advocate thinks that the universe was flooded (though one YEC website did briefly attribute sedimentary deposits on Mars to Noah’s flood, and possible confusion could result from the fact that certain deposits on Mars are officially assigned to the Noachian time period - a name derived from an area on Mars named after Noah by earlier astronomers, not implying an interplanetary ark). “Cosmos” can refer to anything from the universe down to “stuff”. Unsurprisingly, the commonest NT usage refers to the “world” not in a geographic sense but in a bad spiritual sense. Thus, the passage geographically requires nothing more than Noah’s ungodly neighbors getting soggy. In fact, there are echoes of Plato’s account of Deucalion and the flood in Peter, not just Genesis.

Scot McKnight’s half of Adam and the Genome deals extensively with Adam and Paul.

Here is a talk he gave at a BioLogos conference on the topic:

And here is an article:

These are good answers. However, they might not be the right cup of tea for the folks who passionately follow the Chicago Statement on inerrancy. For them, a better approach might be found in Joshua Swamidass’ Genealogical Adam and Eve book. His basic thesis is that Adam and Eve could have been miraculously created humans who, after the fall, intermingled with an existing, much larger human population in such a way that, as of the first century AD, everyone on the planet could point to them as a genealogical ancestor.

I see value in all the hermeneutical approaches in this thread and do not claim to know which is best. There is more than one way to affirm both God’s revelation in the book of Scripture and God’s revelation in the book of nature.


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