(Taken from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and his teaching on the Doctrine of Creation and Reasons.org)
Important reminders for Christians when engaging the relationship between Scripture and the findings of modern science.
- When all the facts are rightly understood, there will be “no final conflict” between Scripture and natural science.
- We should not fear to investigate scientifically the facts of the created world but should do so eagerly and with complete honesty, confident that when facts are rightly understood, they will always turn out to be consistent with God’s inerrant words in Scripture.
- It is important to maintain a high view of both Scripture and science—because the words of the Bible and the facts of nature come from the same Source, from God himself, who chose to make himself known.
- Keep a constructive integration of God’s revelation (in Scripture and nature)—because truth will always be consistent, wherever it’s found.
Essential beliefs about creation from the Bible:
- God created the entire universe out of nothing; it was originally very good; and he created it to glorify himself.
- God created time (the succession of moments one after another) and existed before it.
- Creation is distinct from God yet always dependent upon God.
- God is transcendent, far “above” creation in the sense that he is greater than creation and independent of it.
- God is immanent. He is very much involved in creation, for it is continually dependent upon him for its existence and functioning.
- The Scriptural account of God’s relation to his creation is also different from pantheism, which says that the whole universe is God or is part of God.
- The Scriptural account also rules out dualism, that God and the universe have eternally existed side by side.
- God created the universe to show His glory.
- Even though sin is now in the world, the material creation is still good in God’s sight and should be seen as “good” by us as well.
- Though the material creation can be misused, we must not let the danger of abusing God’s creation keep us from positive, thankful, joyful use of it.
The age of the earth.
Two pre-dominant views held by Christians are the “old earth” and “young earth” theories.
- Both “old earth” and “young earth” theories are valid options for Christians who believe the Bible today.
- This is an issue over which Bible-believing Christians differ.
- Throughout history, many church fathers, scholars and theologians have viewed the “days” of Genesis as not being ordinary calendar days and the age of the earth has never been a test of orthodoxy in the church.
- There is a danger of spending too much time arguing over the age of the earth an neglect to focus on the much more important and much clearer aspects of the overall teaching of the Bible on creation.
- The Bible also tells us God created the heavens and the earth “in the beginning” but does not specify how it occurred. Therefore, it is entirely possible that God created the heavens and the Earth through a series of events consistent with big bang cosmology.
Young earth view. (10,000 to 20,000 years old)
- Each day of creation is a literal 24 hour day.
- Dinosaurs and humans lived on earth together.
- The original creation must have had an “appearance of age” (e.g., Adam and Eve were created as mature adults, and the light they saw the first evening from most star would take thousands or even millions of years to reach the earth).
- One significant problem with the appearance of age: fossils. Responsible Christians do not want to say that God scattered fossils of dead creatures throughout the earth to give it the appearance of age.
- Tremendous natural forces unleashed by the flood at the time of Noah (Gen. 6-9) significantly altered the face of the earth. This cause the creation of coal and diamonds, for example, within the space of a year rather than hundreds of millions of years, because of the extremely high pressure exerted by water on the earth.
Old earth view. (4.5 billion year old earth; 13-14 billion year old universe)
- Each day of creation is a long period of time not a literal 24 hour day. Days were long periods of time, millions of years, during which God created the earth.
- Some would say dinosaurs became extinct before the end of Day 6 of creation and others that they were alive with Adam and Eve and named in Genesis 2:19-20.
- Avoids conflicts with modern science
- Christians have nothing to fear when it comes to old-earth science. Since God is truth, we can be confident the facts of nature will always agree with the facts of the Bible. When we take the time to properly understand the two, we can see the revelation of God’s world agrees perfectly with the revelation of God’s word.
Conclusions on the age of the earth
- Several scientific arguments for an old earth seem persuasive.
- Earth: fossil-bearing rocks, coral reefs, continental drift, and the similarity of results from different kinds of radiometric dating.
- Astronomy: stars appear to have been shining for about 13 billion years.
- The age of rocks, minerals, meteorites, and the moon all appear to have an age of 4.5 billion years old.
- The weight of evidence is increasing yearly.
- If the earth is only 10,000 years old, why didn’t God make it look like it is 10,000 years old?
- And why did he make the universe give abundant evidence that makes it look like it is 13.7 billion years old?
It is much easier to read Genesis 1 as 24 hour days. This is still possibly correct.
But the observable facts of creation seem increasingly to favor an old earth view.
- The age of the earth is not directly taught in Scripture. We can think about it only by drawing more or less probable inferences from Scripture.
I recommend two great websites and resources for further study.