Young Earth Controversy

UniverseThere are some godly men who believe in the young earth position. There are some godly men who do not accept its position of the earth being only 6,000 years old. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the young earth position is indefensible and presents a major hurdle in communicating to men who are versed in the sciences and are familiar with cosmology.

I get asked questions about the age of the universe, the earth, or man in many different settings. From small groups to Q & A with students and churches, this seems to be a topic of interest. Inquiry about this subject is important for anyone attempting to reach out and evangelize this generation. We cannot lift the draw bridge and hide in our small castles and expect to hide from the issue of geology or cosmology when standing upon the authority of Scriptures. A refresher course on how the Church dropped the ball in the Nicholaus Copernicus issue (ca. 1532 A.D.), when he proclaimed that the earth was not the center of our solar system but that the sun was, should be a quick reminder of our need for humility.

It is my opinion that young earth proponents are missing the mark. I do not believe the Bible tells us the age of the universe. In fact, it appears to go at great lengths to avoid the issue. Holding to the young earth position does not make a person more or less faithful to being a Christian. However, it will make a person less credible in the defense of the gospel to those outside a rigid fundamentalist view of Scripture.

Here are some elements (theological and natural) that the young earth proponents fail to answer that must be involved in any attempt to ‘date the universe.’

* When did Satan fall? All the “Sons of God” (angels, including Lucifer) sang and shouted when the foundation of the earth was laid. (Job 38:7) Therefore, between the earth’s formation and the garden, Satan led a rebellion and was expelled from heaven and was Adam’s enemy. Where does it fit into the young earth position?

* When did the dinosaurs roam the earth? When were they created? Why is there no mention of them in Scripture? When did they become extinct? Why are their fossils so old? The attempt to stretch Job’s statements to make them into dinosaurs are foolish at best and eisegesis at worst. 

* How long is a day in Genesis chapter 1? All six days are called “a day” in Genesis 2:4. Peter tells us a day can be 1,000 years to man. (1Pet. 3:8) Moses, who wrote Genesis, also wrote a prayer recorded in the Psalms. He said a day can be 8,000 years in man’s time. (Psa. 90:4, “watch” equals 3 hours, 8 watches per day.)

* How do you count an evening and morning (in our time) the first three days without a Sun and moon which was not created until the fourth day? Was God marking time with our idea of a clock?

* There are obvious gaps in the genealogy of man, and the Hebrew genealogical terms “Father/Son” are not limited to immediate descendants. Therefore any calculations, especially in the first eleven chapters of Genesis are open for major time adjustments. (Every man living today is a son of Adam and a son of Noah.)

* How can we refuse the archeological dating methods of scientists for rocks and formations while using them for things we agree with from historical digs and ancient manuscripts? (Cherry picking is always wrong.)

* I’ve heard well meaning people say, “God put the bones of dinosaurs in the ground to give modern man an excuse to reject the gospel.” This is foolish. The implications would mean that the God of creation is a deceiver and he implanted fossils into the earth to lead men astray. This position makes God culpable of dishonesty.

We must stand on what the Scriptures declare without forcing it to say something it does not proclaim. Let us never shrink back from its truth, but we must make sure we are interpreting it properly. I trust the truth of the Bible with my whole heart, I just don’t always trust my interpretation of it.

Answering questions which are not explicitly addressed in the Scriptures requires great humility and wisdom. Let us fall on our knees and seek both!

4 thoughts on “Young Earth Controversy

  1. Sean Rivers

    Terry, It seems from this writing that you seem to follow a gap theory perspective. To believe this wouldn’t we have to believe in death in the world before Adam? If so what about Paul saying in Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man[Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” How was their death of dinosaurs before Adam if death is a result of sin? thanks.

    1. Hey Sean (Zach), there are several viable options, all of which are attempts to answer coherently the full spectrum of cosmological evidence, including the existence and extinction of dinosaurs, the age of rocks, etc…. As far as the Rom. 5:12, it does not follow that it has to speak of any previous cosmological order which would have been destroyed if someone holds to the ‘gap theory.’ It would be death entering the ordered cosmos that is fashioned for Adam and his descendants. Therefore, not a contradiction.

      Also, say all of this is wrong and death entered the cosmos the first time with Adam, what happened when he ate fruit to sustain his life in the Garden before the fall? The food would have gone through a death process in the digestive tract. Interesting to think about.

      So, are you young earth? (6,000 years) If so, what do you do with the fossil records and the time period of the dinosaurs? Also, when was Satan’s rebellion in your cosmological paradigm? Always interesting to get others view on these things. Take care…

  2. Zach Riley

    I would hold to a more than 6,000 years since there are gaps in the genealogy maybe more like 10,000 years. Even while working on a doctorate and have studied much science, I would not hold that just because science says so since we do not know that carbon’s 1/2 life is constant. Just how when you take a tylenol and someone else takes one it’s half life may be different in each individual(depending on the environment). As far as fossil records, they do not give us dates that I know of. Carbon dating and radio spectrometry do to my knowledge. Plus even Ken Ham’s scientist at the creation museum have sent the same rocks to different laboratories and have gotten different dates for the same rock. Satan’s rebellion I would think happened before man’s fall. I don’t know really. As far as the decomposition of the apple, I have never heard that argument and do some studying on that. Scientifically, I would say if you are going to take carbon dating etc., you mightiest well take evolution and everything else, but man’s methods are always fallible in our reasoning since we are totally depraved(so why wouldn’t scientist be?). Thanks for answering…

    1. Hey Zach…and btw, congratulations on the soon coming baby! I pray everything goes well. I would agree with you on the genealogy of man seeming to be around 10-11,000 years. Carbon dating is sketchy and not precise for sure, and I lean more upon the cosmologists viewing of distant stars, speed of light, inflation of the universe, the speeding up of the universe etc for a very lengthy time frame of the cosmos and earth.

      Satan’s rebellion is one of the pieces we need to be sure to place into the time equation. Though we know very little about it, it does seem to include three important points in time. 1) All the ‘sons of God’ (Angels, including Satan) were rejoicing at the formation of the earth, 2) afterwards the fall of Satan, and 3) He was fallen and evil when Adam appeared. It can become mind-boggling when we have so little explanation.

      I pray your studies go well. Tell your better half I said hello!

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