Phillip Johnson has once again “clarified” his position on the age of the Earth. You can read my previous comments about this issue here.
On the comments page of Touchstone magazine, we’re treated to an email that Johnson sent to his list. (Note: this is not a permanent link, it will eventually be archived.) Johnson is apparently touring the U.K. with Andrew Snelling from the Institute for Creation Research, a fervently YEC outfit. So does this mean Johnson is showing his true colors as a YEC? This is what he has to say:
I received the message below, forwarded from from [sic] a theistic evolutionist Christian College professor (the explanations in brackets are mine, not Phil’s):
The following paragraph comes from a post on the ASA list, citing information in a publication from ICR. This would tend to support John Wilson’s implicit suggestion in his Christianity Today article, that Phil is moving toward a YEC [young earth creationist] position. If Phil has any comments, I’m all ears. The latest issue of ACTS AND FACTS arrived today. I see that Phillip Johnson and Andrew Snelling (of ICR [the Institute of Creation Research, I think]) will be making a joint speaking tour in England from 10/26 to 11/13. The tour is being underwritten by Elim Churches and several “evangelical alliances.”
I have consistently said that I take no position on the age of the earth, and that I regard the issue as not ripe for debate yet. I have also rejected all suggestions that I should denounce the YECs and instead have said that I regard high-quality YECs like Andrew Snelling as respected allies.
I am not upset when YECs criticize me for not embracing their position, nor am I upset when theistic evolutionists or progressive creationists criticize me for being overly friendly with YECs. For now I am standing right where I want to stand. When developments make it appropriate for me to clarify or adjust my position, I will not hesitate to do so.
One wonders just what developments could possibly make Johnson make up his mind about the age of the Earth. Is he holding out for some new and improved radiometric dating technique? Waiting for new ice core results? I somehow doubt it. He’s probably referring to political, not scientific, developments. The scientific case for an old Earth is quite overwhelming, as can be seen by any open-minded person willing to invest some time researching it. But Johnson’s “Big Tent” strategy requires him to do the exact opposite of what he pretentiously claims to be doing, which is following the evidence wherever it leads. Instead, he has to sweep the evidence under the rug when it’s politically incorrect to do otherwise.
It’s funny that ID advocates have been known to deride evolutionary theory as “19th century science”, even though the modern synthesis was developed in the 20th century. Perhaps, previously, I didn’t appreciate what they meant by that. Maybe instead of insinuating that evolutionary theory is old and stale, they meant that it’s futuristic and scary. Because anyone who thinks that the age of the Earth is “not ripe for debate yet” is living in a bygone era, well before Darwin.