Among creationist Bible believers there are lively disagreements about how and when God created the universe and the living things which inhabit it. Each time Dr. Ankerberg presents scientists and theologians discussing creation-related issues, the ATRI ministry receives a significant number of queries and comments from listeners who feel old earth views are unfaithful to correct biblical interpretation. The current series is no exception. A number of listeners have expressed disappointment, even chagrin, that any theologian of orthodox stripe would promote the view that our earth is not 6,000 to 10,000 years old, but rather, billions of years old.
Personally, I have exchanged hundreds of pages of letters in the last ten years with friends and relatives on this weighty issue, not counting the letter exchanges with listeners in the past few weeks. I have attempted to discuss and clarify the positions of Dr. Ankerberg, Dr. Ross, and other program guests patiently and thoroughly. Almost everyone agrees that it is not a matter of doctrine. One might ask, then, what really is at stake. Is truth at stake? All participants would agree that it is. Our responsibility to grasp truth is vital, along with our responsibility to embrace traditional, orthodox doctrine.
Christians who espouse young earth concepts have strong presuppositional leanings. That means, primarily, that they accept the supernatural revelation of the Bible as pre-eminent and foundational. For them, that is a “given,” a starting point for all other theological discussion, and needs no proof. Such starting points are known by philosophers as “properly basic beliefs.” We must quickly and emphatically state that this belief standard concerning scripture is, indeed, pre-eminent and foundational. However, it is a standard over which agnostics and doubters stumble. In my many conversations with agnostics, the objection to a presuppositional approach to the reliability of scripture surfaces frequently. My responses to them flow toward presenting evidence supporting scripture as a reliable witness to truth and reality. This testimony includes rational evidence that the scripture canon should be accepted as God-inspired, and that the events described in the canon should be accepted as true. Scientifically, we present plentiful evidence for a very ancient cosmos with the Big Bang as the initial event. We also reveal evidence for periodic, sudden creations of new life forms on this earth, ending with the creation of man. The use of such evidential apologetics is encouraged in scripture (I Thes. 5:21, Heb. 11:1). It is a common-sense approach as well.
If we agree that both old earth and young earth creationist believers accept the inspiration and authority of scripture in matters of origins events described in Genesis, what, then, is the source of difficulty? Briefly, the disagreement centers on (1) whether interpretation of Hebrew “yom” (day) is a 24-hour day or a long period of time; and (2) “No death before Adam’s fall,” a scriptural interpretation necessary to preserve the young earth paradigm. Blog readers may wish to check out my outline of the issues relevant to this discussion elsewhere on the homepage of this ATRI website, under the title “Earth and the Cosmos.” For believers in a young earth and universe, the 24-hour day interpretation becomes a pillar of their apologetic approach.
Creationists seeking the truth about the Big Bang, the time scale, creation events, and death before Adam’s fall need to turn to the scientific evidence—for, or against. Scientific evidence in these areas is abundant. The literature teems with evidence for an ancient cosmos starting with the Big Bang, as this blog has often stated. Believers and unbelievers alike have the choice to accept or reject such evidence, even when truth is at stake. But when the secular world searches for truth, we must remember that they will be more impacted by evidence than by presuppositions.