“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is …” (Exodus 20:11)
There is no argument that the age of the earth debate between evolutionists and creationists has no resolution because there can be no middle ground for compromise on either side. At issue is the question of origins: did all that exists come about by random chance over billions of years through natural causes, or did an omnipotent, omniscient Creator bring it all into being? It is one or the other, and the one who holds either view holds that view religiously and tenaciously. There is no “give.”
Lamentably, the real battle exists in the Christian camp (among “brothers”) where a variety of opinions persist. Is the earth 4.5 billion years old as the evolutionists claim, or is it only 6,000 years old as the Bible seems to indicate? Most Christians accept that God created all that exists, but beyond that opinions vary as to how God created. That God spoke everything into being as the Bible records is too simplistic an answer for some. There are basically two major divisions in this debate. The first group contends that God created everything in six 24-hour days around 6000 years ago. The second group comes in several flavors, but basically they agree with the evolutionists that God created everything over 13.7 billion years ago and used evolution in one form or another to create life. However, they will contend that man was a “special” creation of God and did not evolve from lower life forms. My intent here is to give a brief defense of the first group. The second group is indefensible in my opinion.
I wish to respond to three questions recently posed to me. (1) Where, exactly, does the Bible say that the earth is only six thousand years old? (2) How do we know that the creation spoken of in the Bible took place in six literal 24-hour days, as opposed to uncounted eons of time? (3) In 2 Peter 3:8, it says “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Is this passage pointing to God as being outside of time, or is it the basis for the 6-day/6-thousand years belief?
In answer to the first question, the Bible does not give an age for the earth per se. God did not exactly “date stamp” His creation. Archbishop James Ussher determined that the earth was created in the year 4004 BC by using the genealogies found in Genesis along with other sources. When one begins with the Genesis account of creation (Genesis 1) and counts the generations from Adam to the Flood, one gets about 1656 years. From the Flood to the birth of Abraham was 297 years for a total of about 1953 years. We can round that off to about 2000 years. Then we have about 2000 years to Jesus and from Jesus until now we have another 2000 years for a total of 6000 years – give or take a couple of hundred years.
Second, God created everything in six literal days. The Hebrew word used for “day” is yom, and it almost always means a normal 24-hour day. On those few occasions when it does not mean a literal 24-hour day, context lets us know that, as in the case of “the day of the Lord.” Furthermore, just in case it is not clear enough for us, God further specifies that “the evening and the morning was the first day, second day, third day,” etc., making it clear that God means a literal 24-hour day (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Later, in Exodus 20:11, as God gave the commandment concerning the keeping of the Sabbath, God says, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” In other words, God is saying, “I gave you the example by creating in six days and resting on the seventh, and I want you to follow My example.”
The third question deals with what a “day” means to God. When we look at 2 Peter 3:8 we need to keep the context in mind. Peter is talking about the Second Coming of Christ, and he is encouraging his readers, in the midst of persecution, not to lose heart in waiting for Christ’s return. In essence he says that God does not mark time the way we do; He is not bound by time as we are. Furthermore, Peter employs simile when he says “one day is with the Lord as [or “like”] a thousand years, and a thousand years as [or “like”] one day.” Notice what he DID NOT say: “one day is with the Lord a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day.” We need to take care when reading the Bible not to read into Scripture what is not there.
There is no scriptural reason not to believe in a young earth, nor is there any scientific reason to not to believe in a young earth; but I will let the scientists at the Institute for Creation Research argue those finer points of science. Trust what God says in His Word – ALL of it! Seriously, who would you rather believe? The words of fallible man or the Word of Infallible God?