Creationism is a term with many meanings. This science/faith blog has often connected that word with a time scale. We have used terms like old earth, young earth, ancient, or recent, as modifiers in connection with beliefs about when creation events occurred. Sometimes discussions about these matters obscure or detract from other important issues. Secular observers tend to take sides, even celebrating the fact that creationists cannot agree on any fundamental reality in their respective belief frameworks.
A different focus on the more central message of Genesis may be appropriate. One main creation view which rests in the shadow of the two main positions is the “framework” interpretation of Genesis. In the framework view the Genesis 1-2 passage “functions as a literary structure in which the creative works of God have been narrated in a topical order” according to Lee Irons and Meredith G. Kline in The Genesis Debate. The literary structure uses a “framework” of a seven-day week. Events described are historical but not necessarily described in sequential order or in rigid, literal time frames.
Framework creationists are not bound to a particular time scale. Belief in long time frames is permitted, but not necessitated. Authors Irons and Kline argue that the central meaning of the early chapters of Genesis is the theological message that the chief end of creation is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. They would not bind the conscience of the church to only one view of the age of the universe.
In Genesis 3:15 Eve’s descendent (Christ) is mentioned as the eventual victor over Satan. It is the Bible’s first indication of man’s future redemption. The Genesis creation account is not intended to provide factual information for developing a scientific account of how the physical universe unfolded. Those details would be revealed by scientific discoveries many centuries after the book of Genesis was originally penned. In our day we are living in these exciting days of discovery.
Genesis 1-2 was written for an audience of Israelites surrounded by cultures saturated with pagan polytheism. God’s chosen people needed instruction in the divine character and purpose of Jehovah, not the answers to scientific questions we are just now able to discover after three millennia. They needed to know who the Creator was, and there was additional benefit in having that knowledge expressed in language using their own frame of reference.
Holy Scripture does not reveal plain, simple, and literal truth with respect to modern astronomy, geology, physics, archaeology, and other science disciplines. Scripture is not a textbook of science, but scientists reveal new facts regularly. Biblical historical and linguistic scholarship uncovers new truths. Careful research and discovery in these areas provide an increasingly accurate picture of past and present reality.