This is a great place to start this series on understanding Genesis. The age of the earth takes us to Page 1, to “the beginning.” I would guess the first chapter of the first book of the Bible is the most controversial within the church itself and has certainly provoked debate beyond the walls of Christianity. The creation text is accepted literally, outright denied and custom molded for every belief between these two extremes. Ask a handful of random people how old our planet is and you get a handful of answers. It’s the same among professing Christians and between denominations.
Does it matter that there is no consensus? Can we agree to disagree? Is this a question that we can even answer? We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let me define the most prominent categories of thought on the matter. The terminology comes from books/articles I’ve read. You can Google these terms for more extensive information.
1. Evolution. Theory that life spontaneously developed from non-life, a purely natural chemical process with no involvement from an outside source (such as God). Also believe that simplistic life forms evolve into more complex ones. This has occurred over millions of years.
2. Intelligent Design. Belief that life and the universe can not have arisen by chance. Everything was designed and created by an intelligent entity. This concept overlaps theories 3-6 in varying degrees.
3. Theistic Evolution. Belief that evolution occurred, but a Creator formed the initial matter and set the laws of nature in place for life to generate. In other words, God used evolution as His method of creation.
4. Gap Theory. Proposes that there is an infinite time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The initial earth was ruined, perhaps at the fall of Satan, then was restored millions of years later in six 24 hour days. The ‘geologic ages’ of the earth occurred during the gap.
5. Progressive Creation. Theory that the word “day” in the Biblical creation account is not a 24 hour period but one of indefinite length. God created the species in steps, no evolutionary progression. There are millions of years between the steps.
6. Literal Interpretation. The universe and all life was designed and created by God in six 24 hour days approximately 6,000 years ago as determined by the Biblical record. (Young Earth theory)
What do you believe? Why? Would you bet your life on it or is the area gray and confusing? Back to the original question: Does it matter what you believe?
It isn’t Creation vs. Evolution, Young Earth vs. Old Earth, or religion vs. science. It’s deeper than that. The real question is: Do believe God or do you believe man? Is God’s Word the Authority or are man’s theories your authority?
For me, God is Real or He isn’t. No middle ground. The same with the Bible, His Word. It’s all true and it all matters or none of it does. There is no pick and choose what I want to accept as relevant. If I can’t take Him at His word in Genesis then why would I believe in the flood of Noah, or the Exodus? Or the Resurrection?
I believe in a literal six day creation. This isn’t the easy path. It is the path of no compromise, the path of ridicule. It is the position that makes me foolish in the eyes of man.
But not in the eyes of my God. Truth is truth.
How can I believe in a young earth, you may ask, when the evidence is so overwhelming otherwise? From what I’ve read so far, the evidence isn’t at all what has been presented as fact. God left evidence of His own, and we will look into it over the next few months.
It is not my intent to convince you of anything. That work belongs to the Holy Spirit. My purpose is to share what the literature out there says, to clarify points of contention and review what is fact and what is theory only.
I look forward to the research this series will entail. I hope you’ll join me on this journey as we dig deep together.
Coming next: When is a ‘day’ 24 hours and when is it not? Understanding the Hebrew terminology.