Recently the world witnessed the “Great debate” between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. The debate was to focus on the origin of life and whether or not creationism is a viable option and model for how life began. I personally was not very impress with either side. I think, however, both men, Ken Ham and Bill Nye, brought out a few descent points. Ken Ham’s primary point focused on the fact that creationism is more than a viable option for the beginning of origins, but is the most logical view based on modern science. Bill Nye on the other hand, though not able to stay on the subject very well, did bring out an interesting point which does give many Christians a headache: How can one say the earth is only 6,000 years old in light of data of the opposite in science today? After this debate the ole debate of young earth creationism verses old earth creationism was refueled. Does the bible tell us how old the earth is? Does it really matter? Should Christians be splitting hairs over it? Let’s deal with these three questions in detail.
First question: Does the bible tell us how old the earth is? The answer: No. There is not a hint in the book of Genesis whatsoever that clearly tells us or even indicates to us how old the earth is. Young earth creationist would want us to believe the earth is only about 6,000 years old. Young earth creationists interpret creation to have taken place in six literal days over a literal twenty-four hour period of time. Also young earth creationist attempt to use the first genealogical records in Genesis to tell us we have been here for only 6,000 years. Lastly they pull the event of The Flood into play to attempt to further solidify their position. I find the reasons giving by young earth creationists to be lacking and begging many questions.
The first issue is how young earth creationists seem to automatically assume “Yom”, the Hebrew word for “day”, means a literal twenty-four hour day in Genesis chapter one. Yom can also mean “over a period of time” like it does in Joel 2:31 where the “Day of the LORD” will be longer than a twenty-four hour period. So to randomly pick Yom to mean a literal twenty-four period without further biblical reasons is unjustifiable.
The second issue is using the first genealogical records in Genesis to attempt to show that we have only been here for 6,000 years. There is only one huge problem with this: What does our length of time on earth have to do with the age of the earth? There seems to be a categorical mistake here. The issue of debate and discussion is not how long humanity have been here, but how long the earth have been here! This is about whether the earth is a young planet or a old planet, not whether or not humanity is young or old. Therefore attempting to prove how long humanity has been in existence is completely irrelevant to the present discussion.
So then, is the earth a old earth according to the bible? As I stated earlier the answer would be no. An old earth creationist position primarily depends on the scientific data in geology. Geologists estimate the age of earth to be at 4.5 billion years old. Secular and many Christian scientists agree on this age estimate. Old earth creationists find their age estimate to be far most accurate and scientific than the young earth position which has little to no scientific evidence to support their age estimate of the earth. Ultimately the bible is silent on the age of the earth. Christians must therefore rely on science to give us the best estimate of the age of the earth. Please do remember that good science do in fact exist and has been a tremendous blessing to the Christian Church in the past in affirming the scientific truths which are in the bible such as the universe and earth having a beginning (Cosmology) and both being enriched in design (Teleology), just to name a few.
The second question: Does it really matter whether the earth is young or old? No it does not. We must first recognize that the debate of young earth creationism verses old earth creationism is a non-essential issue for the Christian Church. A Christian’s salvation does not depend upon believing in either view regarding the earth’s age. What is essential for the Church and the Christian individually is believing the biblical record in Genesis 1:1, ” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” While such a debate can be intellectually healthy and stimulating, the debate is in no way a matter of spiritual life and spiritual death. Those who would treat the issue as such are part of the hair splitting problem which leads now to our final question.
The final question: Should Christians be splitting hairs over this issue? Absolutely not! Only immature Christians and Christians who are unnecessarily and unjustifiably dogmatic about this debatable issue split hairs and cause unwarranted divisions in the Christian Church. There is no biblical reason for dividing over the age of the earth. If the issue was whether or not God is the Creator of the earth and universe, then it would be a serious issue if a professing Christian denied God as the Author of creation and gave that title to macro-evolution. The bible is replete with verses which declare God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all which are in them (Gen.1:1, Ecc. 12:1, Isaiah 40:28, Romans 1:25, etc.). It is heart-breaking when Christians divide over such non-essential issues such as the age of the earth. I recently experienced that pain and hurt when a dear brother in Christ unlike this ministry page because of this issue. He strongly holds to the young earth view and I lean toward the old earth view. Just because I had sound reasons for not agreeing with young earth creationism, he unlike the ministry page. Even more sad was that his reasons for his position was word for word from a YouTube video making the case for young earth creationism. Little to none of his reasons for believing in young earth creationism was his own; which is a huge no no when doing apologetics. You must make the position your own and have YOUR own reasons why you hold to your view. Otherwise you become nothing more than a parrot apologist: Simply repeating what you heard from someone else.
In conclusion we must be mature Christians when we are dealing with this non-essential issue and any other non-essential issue which are regularly debated in Christian circles. In the debate of young earth creationism verses old earth creationism, the bible does not give us a definite answer or any indications as to if the earth is young or old. Instead of being dogmatic on this issue and splitting hairs, we must humbly choose to agree to disagree with the person we disagree with. We must be united in Christ in the one biblical proof we have on this subject: God is the Author and Creator of all which is in the heavens and in the earth. Let us unite with the Psalmist in saying, ” The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork (Psalm 19:1).” Let us grow up in maturity in Jesus Christ our Lord.