File it under “things I don’t understand” right next to complementarianism, but I just don’t get the idea that Young Earth Creationism is necessary to the Christian story of redemption. Now, don’t get me wrong: I understand a belief in Young Earth Creationism. It fits the “plain meaning” of Genesis 1 better than any other interpretation, even if it is out of step with current scientific understanding. My point here isn’t to debate a young versus an old Earth (though I’ll probably get to that one in time), but to address this one puzzling concept.
For those who aren’t familiar with the idea, you can watch this video and also this one and see Ken Ham, a leading Young Earth Creationist, debate Dr. Walter Kaiser, a professor of Old Testament studies. If you don’t want to watch forty minutes worth of videos, you can read this article, which explains the position, and, if you’d like, this article that both further illuminates the position and argues against it.
To sum it up: Death is the consequence of sin [Romans 6:23, Romans 5:12]. If there was death before Adam’s sin, or if there was no literal Adam, then death is not really a consequence of sin, and there was no point in Jesus’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.
And that is what I don’t understand. How can anyone who lives in this world question, for even one instant, the existence of sin? America’s violent crime rate has been falling for 20 years, but we still have roughly 15,000 murders per year, and millions of violent crimes. War rages across the world, between nations, cartels, and terrorist organizations. Practically every government on the planet is corrupt to one degree or another (some legalize graft and call it “campaign finance reform,” but that doesn’t make them any less corrupt), and many still kill and torture to protect their “interests.”
Evil even permeates our daily lives. Most of the chocolate we buy is produced by child labor, including widespread slave labor. We so often treat the people around us horribly. We turn away people in need. We get so sure that we’re right that we trample on anyone who disagrees. We lie, we gossip, we scheme, and we live so utterly, terribly selfishly.
How can anyone look out this window and wonder whether we need a savior? We surely haven’t saved ourselves, not in five thousand years of recorded history, and not in all the long years before. And there simply is no way that God’s power is limited by something Adam did or didn’t do.
That’s why I don’t understand the belief that “no death before Adam” is absolutely necessary for the effectiveness of Jesus’s incarnation, death, and resurrection. It just seems like looking at things backward. But maybe that’s just me.