I am not going to make this posting very long because it is way too involved to go into much depth but since I opened the can of worms, I will highlight it a bit. Never one to run from a good controversy, I plunge ahead LOL. ONLY read on if this is interesting to you. It doesn’t make a bit of difference to your salvation:)
I was laughing at BSF when our teaching leader said that she came from a family that believed dinosaurs and the fossil record were a conspiracy theory intended to filter “God” out of the equation of life. LOL. My background wasn’t drastically different. During the 80’s, the Institute of Christian Research was heavily indoctrinating the churches in anti evolution material. This was the easy part . There is plenty to pick on with evolutionary theory and the fact that it gets sold as a viable option is astounding to me. There are so many insane holes in the theory it should be an embarrassment to science. Darwinism has given over 100 years now to find proof in the fossil record. What was missing then is still missing. Yikes for evolution supporters.
While evolution was under fire, the age of the universe and earth also were put under the gun. While it is very fair to look at all angles, it is entirely inaccurate to throw both of these theories in the same pot. Those that believe in an old universe and earth do NOT necessarily support evolution. If you have been following any of the recent ID arguments lately (Intelligent Design) you know what I am talking about. ID is storming across the college campuses. These supporters do believe in an old universe and completely reject evolution.
How did I get roped into this discussion? Well…it all started over 20 years ago when I was studying Genesis in my childhood. I came out of my bedroom and sat down at the table with my dad and said “Some things here don’t make sense to me. First, how was light present in the Genesis account before the sun was made? Second, how did Adam name that many animals on the same day? Third, why does the text say “evening” and “morning” on the first few days before he apparently created the sun?” Dad and I discussed various theories. My family adhered strongly to a literal 24 hour Genesis day and shortly after our discussion we had Institute of Christian Research teaching about the science of a young earth. I loved the study and by 7th grade was writing science papers on age of the earth, sun expansion, lunar dust, erosion, etc. I was sold. I was a very solid young earth supporter. I also had the misconceived notion that the vast majority of Christians supported young earth. I thought if you supported an old earth, you would also be supporting evolution (which I also studied and wrote papers on :).
Fast forwarding nearly 20 years. This summer I bought the book “Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. Why did I buy this one? Two reasons. First, he wrote “Case for Christ” that my MIL loved. Second, I love apologetics and these types of studies. Science isn’t my strong point but I enjoy certain aspects of it just the same.
As I was reading, I was astounded that there was this huge elephant in the middle of the room and no one seemed to notice. Lee kept referencing an old universe and an old earth. It referenced how the “big bang” theory violates evolution and supports intelligent design (which we believe of course is the God of the bible). The book was so compelling – I just loved it. I was very bothered by the whole age thing though and I didn’t get why it was never addressed it as a sticky point. Hmmmmm….apparently I am missing something. So I logged onto bulletin boards and started researching. I managed to get in touch with a staff member from the idea center. We had discussions back and forth and in a very kind way he let me know that my world was very small if I believed that most christians believe only in a young earth. He set the bait and I was effectively hooked. I researched several websites and read more books. I purchased a debate and made both my dad and Jim watch it with me.
In my heart, one point was (and is paramount)…scripture reigns supreme. If what man interprets in nature violates scripture, man has it wrong. Period. It was tough for me to weed through all the scientific arguments (thought they made GOOD ones) because I am not that intelligent but I paid very close attention to the scriptural arguments. From a scriptural perspective, I could find no defense that forces a 24 hour literal day from scripture. Many people say that the plain reading of the text gives way to a literal 24 hour day. I disagree. When I studied it myself at a very young age I sat my dad down at the table and interrogated him because 24 hours did NOT make sense to me.
There is way more information on this subject than I can give or do justice to but I will highlight just a teeny tiny bit of this.
First, 24 hour supporters adhere strongly to this defense based on some of the following:
The text reads “and there was evening and there was morning” on the first day…etc. That seems to say that evening and morning came, thus a literal 24 hour day.
Here is my issue with this. Day seven had no evening/morning reference. If the point of “evening and morning” was to defend a literal time frame, than why did Day 7 purposefully omit this? My opinion? Day 7 isn’t over. God rested from creation and he is still resting. There have been no NEW species added to the fossil record since the existence of man. He created man and then his era of creation rested. His creation era will begin again with the creation of the new heaven and earth though in the future.
If day 7 wasn’t necessarily 24 hours, why do we insist that 1 through 6 had to be? Exodus 20:11 is another sticky point. The text say’s “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. ” Does this mean that all those days were 24 hours periods and therefore our 7th day of rest is a 24 hour period? Throughout scripture God uses numbers and ratios frequently. It seems to me that this was a 1 in 7 ratio, not a defense of a 24 hour day. In other words, God had 6 periods of work and than 1 period of rest. By example, we have 6 periods of work and 1 of rest.
The Hebrew word for day is “Yom”. What does yom mean? The ancient Hebrew language only had 6000 to 7000 words therefore each word had and was used with multiple meanings. For this reason, context is paramount to understanding word usage. Gleason Archer, one of the worlds foremost ancient Hebrew scholars – the man who has been known to CORRECT the lexicon, is an old earth supporter. This said something to me. If the man that teaches our seminary students what the ancient Hebrew says, believes there is room for yom to represent a period of days as opposed to necessarily 24 hour literal days, I think his opinion is worth considering. While many of the “yom” references in the OT do support a 24 hour day in the obvious text…there are also references that do not. The 8 day feast of tabernacles were not literal days as one example. Scripture also say’s a day is like a thousand years to God. God is outside of time. His day’s do not mirror ours according to Scripture.
Then there is the issue of death before the fall. This is the stickiest point of all. Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinithinas 15:21 say that death entered our world as a result of sin. Animals didn’t sin – people did. I believe this verse was very likely applying to human death – not animal, or plant death. Plants died when Adam and Eve ate them so at least some basic laws of entropy were in order it appears prior to the fall.
The belief of many old earthers and intelligent design supporters (who embrace the biblical God of the bible) believe the following:
1. The universe is 14.9 billion years old
2. The earth is 4.56 billion years old
3. There was an explosion of animal species during the Cambrian period 500 million years ago. They weren’t in the fossil record and then walllahhh…there they are. Exactly as Genesis declared. Is there evidence of their evolution? No. God spoke them into existence and then they suddenly appear on the fossil record. Accords with Genesis perfectly.
4. Humans appeared between 30,000 to 60,000 years ago. Recent DNA studies are so exciting on this topic tracking both to Eve and Noah – a single DNA male and female source originated from their proper biblical locations too. Fascinating study. (Hugh Ross just released a book on this in Sept and I am anxious to read it “Who Was Adam?” One thing that he addresses is that recent DNA studies have shown that the fossils of “neandrathals” were NOT human – they were bipedal primates).
The old earther’s build a compelling and in my opinion biblically accurate reconciliation between God’s word and His nature. We all know that both records will testify to Him interpretted accurately. When I first started studying this I was concerened that well meaning christian scientists were trying to force scripture into science. The more I read and studied though, I came to believe that there is simply compelling evidence for the creation account in nature and it reflects what Genesis said – beautifully and harmoniously. The fact that Yom can be interpretted as “days” as opposed to “day” just makes much more sense to me considering the totality of the evidence.
I realize that many of you will be about to fall off your chair reading this! I would have too! That is what prompted me to study study on this subject because it was driving me crazy reading that people I loved and appreciated were “buying into” an old earth theory that I beleived ran contrary to scripture.
When I engaged my family in this convesation I met with resistance. (My mom is still slowly plunging through her study and she hates studying this LOL – she much prefers to stick to a 24 hour day defense). I told my dad though that we couldn’t have a fair conversation about it unless he held the same information that I did. That bait worked like a charm . I asked him to read some books and then watch a debate and then we would talk.
So where do both dad, Jim and I stand now? If you ask us point blank “Were the Genesis day’s literally 24 hour periods or were they longer – as in epochs of time?” We would all answer “I don’t know”. That is the OFFICIAL answer. The big step for us though is in saying that we no longer believe that a young earth position is the most scripturally accurate. We believe there is room in scripture to allow for long days and that christians should not be labeled as heretics if they beleive this. As a point of fact, we are leaning towards an old earth position and have enjoyed researching Intelligent Design. Is our potential change of camp based on science? No. The science is compelling but still man could have it wrong. God speaks to us both through His word, His son, and His world (nature). Nature is suggesting to modern man that God created in epochs. I have read the young earthers positions on nature and a young earth and I find old earth positions much more detailed, thorough, and solid. I have studied the apparent age of maturity argument and while that is a theoretical possibility, I no longer think it is the best arguement (though I once did).
There is MUCH to uncover on this topic and this little posting should only be viewed as bait to intrigue you into studying this. It by no means covers the topic. Not even a little bit. If you are interested in studying this more, here are some resources for you:
1. Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel
2. Matter of Day’s, Hugh Ross
3. The Genesis Debate, Hugh Ross
4. The Genesis Question, Hugh Ross
5. The John Ankelberg Debate on DVD between Kent Hovind and Hugh Ross (This was an eye opener for me. While some would say follow the money, my dad would say follow the grace. Where grace was and where it was NOT was quite apparent).
6. Stand to Reason
7. Idea Center
To study some from the Young Earth position, you can get material from:
1. Institute of Christian Research
I would give you more references here out of fairness, but the majority of my young earth defenses came from ICR so that is who I would refer to for the young earth argument.
All in all…it matters not. Whether you believe that God created in 24 hour literal days or in 6 epochs of time…the point is HE CREATED.