The New Creationism
Evangelical Press 2009
This book is an overview of the latest theories and teaching on Young Earth Creationism (YEC). It deals very little with the theology of it and almost entirely on the so-called creation science. In so far as it communicates YEC's quasi-scientific theories - and is abreast of current creationist thinking - it is a useful book and an interesting explanation. Whether it actually succeeds in convincing anyone outside those already convinced of the YEC position is much less clear. In fact, to be honest, if this is the best that YEC thinking has to offer against orthodox scientific findings, then the reviewer at least finds himself drawn to Old Earth Creationism far more. At every point, Garner seems to start with his conclusion - that the universe was made within 144 hours no more than 10,000 years ago - and then every piece of evidence that points to a much older earth and universe is somehow re-interpreted to fit in with the predetermined conclusion.
The first chapter is an outline of the orthodox doctrine of creation. Some of this chapter would not be controversial to any conservative Bible-believing Christian. Garner also explains what science tells us about the age and size of the universe accurately and fairly while pointing to evidence that is harder to explain in terms of the Big Bang theory. While Russell Humphreys' work on how time is relative and how in accordance with Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, there are conditions in which six days' might pass on earth clocks while billions of years happen in outer space. But then if time is as relative as that, one may wonder what the difference really is between this view and the analogical interpretation of Genesis One: God's days of creation are analogous but not identical to our days. Indeed, Einstein has shown that the very concept of 144 hours is relative depending on where and "when" you are in the universe to record or measure it. Why six days "here" and billions of years "there" is considered acceptable to YECs but billions of years "here" and six days "there" is not acceptable I cannot begin to fathom.
The second chapter is a discussion of the sun, moon and stars. Again it is a curious mixture of orthodox science and creation science "spin" on the facts. The third chapter does the same with the planets and the earth. Much of the material here is uncontentious to all Christians.
Chapter 4 is a brief treatment of the YEC interpretation of Genesis One and a rather brief dismissal of Old Earth interpretations and objections to YEC. He concludes that the universe was created 6000 years ago, in approximately 4000 BC. In my opinion, Garner singularly fails to argue in any way convincingly that all scientific evidence from fields as diverse as physics, geology and archaeology are spectacularly wrong in their dating of events. The fact that a number of civilisations including Ancient Egypt and China are manifestly older than this date is dismissed in a brief paragraph. More time is spent trying to counter natural science's findings that the universe is about 14 billion years old. The difference between 6000 years and 14 billion years is so massive that it is frankly difficult to see how mere mistakes - in dozens of different fields - can account for the difference. To put it in understandable human perspective, if each year was a second, then 6000 years would be about 1 hour and 40 minutes while 14 billion years would be 444 years! That's not just a little bit of miscalculation!
Garner's next few chapters try to show that there is some doubt about scientific dating. Indeed that is so, and he can show how estimates vary in terms of billions of years either way. What he fails to explain is how if the universe is actually 5 or 10 billion years old instead of 14 billion years, this in any way helps prove that it is merely 6000 years old. It simply doesn't. By Garner's biblical interpretation, there is no room even for an earth of 50,000 years of age, which is but a fraction of the actual age science has recorded.
The book continues in this same way as Garner discusses the life sciences.
In the end, I was more unconvinced by Young Earth Creationism than I was before and found I have take what I think are convinced steps towards an Old Earth Creation position. Technically, that would still leave room for the "appearance of age" argument. Although that view has some merit (I can see how God would create Adam full grown and that he would appear older than he really was), but I cannot see how God would deliberately create stars that appear to be older than we should be able to see from earth or bury fossils of animals that never lived in the earth.
Garner's book will probably be loved by those who already accept his interpretation of Genesis, but it will do nothing to convince anyone who rejects that interpretation either for exegetical, theological or scientific reasons.