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Pat Robertson not a Creationist? That Depends Upon How You Define the Word

Up in Richmond, they’re aghast at this latest oracle from the Tidewater:

Televangelist Pat Robertson challenged the idea that Earth is 6,000 years old this week, saying the man who many credit with conceiving the idea, former Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher, “wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years.”

The statement was in response to a question Robertson fielded Tuesday from a viewer on his Christian Broadcasting Network show “The 700 Club.” In a submitted question, the viewer wrote that one of her biggest fears was that her children and husband would not go to heaven “because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.”

This is only news to those who have not been paying attention.

I can’t remember the date, but one day the 700 Club ran a story on Patrick Henry University.  One of the things they brought up about this institution was that it required its faculty to sign a statement affirming their belief that the Creation took place in six (Earth) days.  When the piece was done, Pat turned to his co-hostess Terry Meeuwsen and asked her whether she could sign such a statement.  She relied she could not, to which he answered he couldn’t either.  That’s not the only time he has gone on record saying in effect that he is an “old earth creationist” but Richmond, like other capitals, doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on in the “provinces” unless it’s pretty sensational.

Whether Pat is “challenging creationism”, as the article’s title states, depends upon your definition of the word “creationist”.  My definition of the word is simple: a creationist is someone who believes that the universe was brought into existence by an external creator (God) ex nihilo, i.e., out of nothing.  (That’s because, strictly speaking, the definition of creation is bringing things into existence without pre-existent matter).  This is opposed to those who believe that the universe is eternal.  This debate has gone on since Aristotle (as readers of Moses Maimonides know) and is current in modern physics.  By this definition I am a creationist, and so (I’m pretty sure) is Pat.

However, these days a “creationist” is someone who believes in the six literal days and all that goes with it.  By that definition neither one of us is a creationist, and Pat’s disclaimer is certainly true:

Before answering the question, Robertson acknowledged the statement was controversial by saying, “I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this.”

Another inaccuracy the article perpetuates is that young-earth creationism’s greatest challenge was Darwin’s work on evolution.  This is not the case because the strongest challenge to a young earth is not biological but geological.  As is the case with the Biblical account, dirt (and rocks) came first, and carbon based life later.

The biologists need to come off their high horse on this matter, and the sooner the better.


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