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The Age of the Earth

 

Most of the scientific community believes that the universe began approximately 15 billion years and the earth about 4.5 billion year ago.  The Christian community is divided into two camps, one believes that the Bible does not specify an age for the earth or universe (old earth creationist) and the other who believe the universe and earth were created about 6, 000 years ago in six literal day (young earth creationist).

 

What do the Scriptures tell us about the age of the earth?

Genesis 1: 1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning, an unspecified time apparently prior to the “first day.”  The earth is not assigned an age in the Bible.  If this view is correct, then obviously more than six literal, 24 hour days is involved in the creation and refurbishing of the heavens and the earth

 

What fact confirms this view?

Please note that the Scriptures do not tell us on which of the six creation “days” the earth was created.  This fact confirms the view that the earth was created prior to the six creation “days”.  Those that can approach this question with an open mind will see the truth of this statement.  On which creation day was the earth created?  This is the question.  I have asked this question to several young earth creationist.  They usually reply the Scriptures state that the earth was created on the first day; but they do not.  The Scriptures say, Then God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.  And God said that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night  And there was evening and there was morning, one day.  There is nothing about the creation of the earth on the first day or any other day.  The earth was created in the beginning, prior to the first day.

 

What was the condition of the earth?

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the face of the earth.  The earth was unsuitable for habitation by man at that time.

 

What are the “six creation days.”?

In “six days” God transformed the formless, void and dark earth into a suitable habit for the plants, animals and man.  Genesis 1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning and transformed it into a suitable habitat in “six days”.

 

How are the “days” defined?

The writer of Genesis begins each day with the phrase, “then God said” (NAS) and closes with statement, “and there was evening and there was morning, the X day”. .The first “day” has to do with light not the creation of the universe and earth.

 

Are these “six days” literal, 24-hour days?

This is the great debate.  Those who claim that the heavens and the earth were created in six literal, 24-hour days are factually incorrect.  The Scriptures never make such a statement.  This view is a conclusion.  Those who hold this view are entitled to do so but they are not entitled to make radical unwarranted statements.  I hold the view that the “days” are not literal, 24 hours days but definite period of time with a beginning and end.  This view is also a conclusion.  The question is, which view is more consistent with the Scriptures?

Plain Talk holds that the heavens and earth were created in the beginning, an unspecified time in the past.  At some point God refashioned the heavens and the earth in six stages, making it a suitable habitat for man who was also created by God.  God then rested from His creation work but not His work of benevolence and redemption.  Plain Talks also holds that the creation account does not necessarily give all the details of the history of the earth.

 

Where do the “literal, 24 hour day” adherents go for support?

Many go to Exodus 20: 11.  The arguments seems to be that since the Sabbath kept by the Jews is a literal, 24 hour day then the Sabbath rest of God must be a 24 hour day also.  They seem to be arguing from the lesser to the greater.  I take the opposite position that the greater is not determined by the lesser; the greater stands on its own. 

Evangelical Hebrew scholar, Gleason Archer,  responds to this argument as follows, “By no means does this demonstrate that 24-hour intervals were involved in the first six “days,” any more than the eight-day celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles proves that the wilderness Wanderings under Moses occupied only eight days.”

The statement, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth”  (Exodus 20: 11) refers to what He did in the six days, not what he did prior to the six days.  If you hold that this phrase represents the totality of the creation time then ask yourself on which of the six days was the earth created.

 

What is the support for the ”long period of time” view?

First: the immediate context of the question is Genesis 1, 2 not Exodus 20, 11.  We need to look at Genesis before we speculate on Exodus 20: 11.  A straightforward reading of Genesis 1 indicates that the six days do not give us the whole of the story.

Second: Genesis 1 and 2 is not locked into one view of :”day”.  In Genesis 2: 4, “day” is used in reference to an unspecified time and at times “day” refers to daylight.

Third: the Scriptures state that in the sight of God, a thousand years are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night. (Psalms 90: 4)  God is not bound by time or space.  Whether the earth was created in one day or one thousand years is inconsequential to God.  God’s ways and thoughts are above our ways and thoughts.  (Isaiah 55: 8, 9)

Fourth: the seventh day, however, is the key to understanding the meaning of “day”.  The seventh day is parallel to the other creation days.  God ceased from His creation work and continues to cease from this work even to the present according to Psalm 95 and Hebrews 4.  The writer of Genesis departed from the pattern he had established in regard to the six days.  The seventh day is not closed out with the statement, “and there was evening and there was morning, the seventh day.”  The seventh day is a long period of time; we conclude that the sixth days were also long but definite period of times.  Each had a beginning and an end.

Fifth: if you would like to read more about the length of the creation day:

Creation and Time. Ch 5 and 6 Dr. Hugh Ross

 

What do you say to those who claim the Scriptures state the heavens and earth was created in six literal, 24-hour day?

To state that the Scriptures teach the heavens and the earth were created in six literal, 24 hours day is factually incorrect and unwarranted.  The people who hold this view have every right to do so, but that view is a conclusion just as the view I support is a conclusion.  The purpose of this article is to ask is it a reasonable which conclusion

But don’t the Scriptures state that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day?

Yes they do, and they also say. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their host, and by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” Genesis 2: 1. 3; Exodus 20: 10

 

On which of the six creation days was the earth created?

If you read Genesis 1 carefully, you will find that the Scriptures do not state on which of the six creation days the earth was created.  The heavens and the earth were created “in the beginning”. Because the Scriptures specifically say that the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep.

 

Prior to the last century what was the general scientific theory about the age of the universe and time?

Prior to the last century most scientist believed that the universe was infinite in regard to space and time and that the universe was unchanging.

 

What does current scientific theory and the Scriptures share in common?

They both posit a “Beginning.”  This is a tremendous statement.  As a result some scientist have rethought their position in regard to a creator,

 

Why is this of such significance?

Everything we know of that has a beginning, has a cause.  This very strongly suggests that the universe was caused.  The creationist says of course, and that cause is God.

 

What mistake have many creationist made in regard to the creation account?

Many have assumed that the purpose of the Genesis is to give a detailed account of the creation with all particulars and details.  This would probably be the least likely reason for the account.  The purpose is to show that God is the creator of all that exists.  Who knows the complete history of the earth?  There is not necessarily any conflict between religion and science.  We simply do not know what transpired prior to the six creation day.

 

What theory was proposed by some in the scientific community to counter the “big bang” theory?

Some, who found the concept of a beginning contrary to their personal desires proposed a “steady state” model.  This debate is still going on even though the science seems to clearly support the big bang.

 

What does the lack of “age setting” in the Scriptures mean?

Another obstacle to faith is removed for many.  Some will now give the message of the Scriptures a second look.

 

Where can you find information about “old earth creationist” position?

Hugh Ross-  Reasons to Believe

John Clayton-  Does God Exist?

 

Conclusion:

Don’t be afraid.  We do not loose anything when we adopt an “old-earth view,” on the contrary we gain.  It is more consistent with the Scriptures.  It allows us to have an inroad with the scientific community.  Keep reading Genesis 1; it is truth.

God bless, 

Arland Pafford

 

 

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Plain Talk 

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e-mail: arland_pafford@yahoo.com

Last Update   09/26/12