Photo Cred: (1)| Updated: 3/7/2019
When talking about the Flood, the Fall, or really anything from the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis, the topic of the age of the Earth eventually comes into the discussion. When the age of the Earth is discussed, so too the age of the Universe must be discussed because of their direct correlation in the Creation Account in Scripture. But when speaking on such matters there always will remain an aura of controversy and tension among theistic circles, especially within Christianity.
For when it comes to this debate, there are some very strong sides etched out by Christians from various branches within Christianity. These various stances include, but are not limited to old-earth creationists (i.e. C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig)(2), young-earth creationists (i.e. Ken Ham, Henry Morris, R.C. Sproul?), theistic-evolutionists (i.e. Francis Collins, Alister McGrath, N.T. Wright), and so on. Now the issue goes even deeper when considering different interpretations of the days within the Creation Account like the 24-hour view (seven literal days of a single earth week), the day-age view (seven time periods of unspecified length), the framework view (a logical, rather than chronological framework to perceive Creation), etc. In short, there are a lot of people with a lot of views regarding the Creation Account.
In recent years, the friction between differing stances has only grown stronger as the issue has been a hot-button topic for most Christians and has resulted in a lot of harm. More so than the help that Christianity claims to offer to the world through the message of the Gospel, yet lacks among its own adherents and followers. Talk about hypocrisy. This tension can be seen from Ken Ham’s mentality of the “us vs. them” philosophy plastered throughout Answers In Genesis materials to the not so subtle statements of analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga who, on the subject of widespread doubt in the existence of God (3), accounts as the following:
“In this connection [on cognitive consequences of sin and doubt concerning God’s existence], consider the despised [young-earth] creationists, who believe that the world is only ten thousand years old: they are ignorant, pitifully ignorant about when God created the world. From the point of view of the model [the Aquinas/Calvin Model, i.e. the A/C Model], this ignorance pales into utter insignificance compared with that of many of their cultured detractors, who foolishly believe that there is no God and thus (naturally enough) are ignorant of the vastly more important fact that the world was, indeed, created by God.”
There is also the esteemed apologist William Lane Craig who agrees with Plantinga as he refers to “young-earthers” as an “embarrassment” to theistic thought and Christianity in particular within the academic community (4). Yet the question remains: why is there so much bitter antagonism within Christianity concerning the timing of the Creation Account among its most prominent leaders? Since when did pastors, scholars, and theologians become so confrontational towards one another on this specific issue?
I would argue that this is because they have raised up the -logy (logic) of theology while diminishing the very theos (God) that inspired their theology to begin with and in my mind, this is spiritually immature to say the least. It’s foolish to build up such matters as bearing more weight than other more important things like the Essentials (5). Not to say these figures within the faith do not know what they are talking about or are uninformed on the subject, rather the way they express their sentiments in a demeaning fashion to other Christians is childish.
In fact, William Lane Craig has helped me, through his debates and literary work, in some of the spiritually roughest times of my high school years. All the people mentioned above are not fools or lack logic concerning the truths of the Christian message, rather they lack the love that is grounded within our belief system when it comes to this particular issue. In my mind, we must be open to differing viewpoints on this touchy, non-essential subject since, in all honesty, all hold at least a little water when all things are considered.
I find that John C. Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University, agrees with me on this point when he states that:
“We also need to be prepared to distinguish between what Scripture actually says and what we think it means. It is Scripture that has the final authority, not our understanding of it. It is a sad spectacle, and one that brings discredit on the Christian message, when those who profess to believe that message belie their profession by fighting among themselves or caricaturing others, rather than engaging in respectful discussion through which all sides might just learn something (6).”
You see it is not an “us vs. them” issue or an issue of blind ignorance either, as every view and stance has set out to accomplish the same goal. To answer how the Universe and everything within it came to be according to the Bible’s Creation Account and in light of new discoveries. The truth of the matter is that every viewpoint and stance does share a few commonalities under the Christian banner.
For instance, we believe God caused everything into existence from nothing and into something. This is commonly referred to within theological circles as ex nihilo creation where no pre-existing materials were present before the Creation Account to build the Universe and all within it. God simply spoke to construct the Universe as written famously in the first few chapters of Genesis.
We then must believe, as it is an Essential, in the inspiration of the Bible (whatever the Bible affirms to be true is true). That what is written about Creation in Genesis is true regardless of the interpretation of what is written. That any interpretation that tries to mishandle the text is in direct contradiction with that Christian Essential.
The problem lies not within what is written in Genesis, but the way it played out in reality because no one was there to witness Creation. Presumably, God told Adam and Eve who must have passed this information of our origins down through the generations by way of oral tradition until Moses was able to write about it in Genesis or God directly told Moses the Creation Account through whatever means God could reveal that information.
Lastly, there is the simple truth that Scripture interprets Scripture. So the parameters are set even higher and tighter as other books within the Bible narrow down what may or may not be a plausible interpretation of the Creation Account. Such as Jesus affirming the model for marriage displayed between Adam and Eve (7), Jesus causing the Universe into existence (8) the structure of the days of the Creation Account ending with a Sabbath like day of rest for God (9), the origin of sin’s expansion into the hearts of every human (10), and taking the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) as completely true (11) are just a few examples of when Scripture correctly interprets Scripture to guide us to the mysterious truths regarding the Creation Account.
Now this little backdrop to the current debate concerning the Creation Account may not do justice to the various sides of the argument, but hopefully we can move forward with charity as we continue this discussion in Part 2 of this blog series. Next time, we will read my particular view of the Creation Account. Starting with interpreting the days of the Creation Account, next the Standard Model for the Big Bang Theory in relation to Creation, and then end with how the Fall’s aftermath ends in death. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!
- Warranted Christian Belief (P. 217, fn. 25); bracketed sections are mine for context sake.
- 2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9-11 *All Biblical references are used with the NASB translation, unless otherwise noted in the footnotes below.*
- Seven Days That Divide The World (P. 32)
- Matthew 19:3-6, Mark 10:3-6
- John 1:1-5, Acts 17:24-31, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:10
- Exodus 20:11, Hebrews 4:3-5, 9-11
- Romans 5:12-14
- John 5:45-47