I’m scheduled to give an apologetics talk for our youth group next month, and my topic is Young Earth Creationism. So what is this view, and how does it settle on an age for the Earth of only 6,000 to 10,000 years old?
The short answer is that Young Earth Creationism is the view that God created everything that exists – including but not limited to the Earth – in six days and rested on the seventh according to a literal interpretation of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the very first book of our Old Testament and Bible.
Central to the argument by Young Earth Creationists is the fact that the Hebrew word ‘Yom’ translated into English as “day” in the Genesis account of Creation is used throughout the Old Testament. And every other time that word ‘Yom’ is used throughout the Hebrew Old Testament it is understood most plainly to mean a literal 24-hour period of time.
A literal reading of the days described in the Creation account consistently flows into a literal reading of the genealogies in Genesis. And by doing the math we can work our way forward to the present within a general range of 6-10,000 years ago.
And So-and-so Begat So-and-so
Critics will point out that 6-10,000 years is a wide range relative its scale, and that this is a problem for those who take the Bible as God’s infallible, inerrant Word. Depending on which manuscripts we look at, we may arrive at different totals from the genealogies.
Yet it is worth pointing out right back that a difference of 4,000 years at most is a much narrower margin of error on the whole than throwing out some impossibly long span of time like millions and billions which nothing so much as complex multi-generational conjecture, assumption, and a lot of spilt ink in the modern era affirms.
All the evidence considered comes to us without labels and tags telling us how old these things are unless someone preceding us filled them out in their own hand. Meanwhile, God’s Word gives us approximately 2,000 years between Adam and Abraham, another 2,000 years between Abraham and Jesus, and yet another 2,000 years between Jesus and the present.
And why shouldn’t our earliest forebears have lived for hundreds of years instead of tens of years if God’s Word says the one thing and not the other? Modern science thinks it far-fetched when we read as much in Genesis, but not so far-fetched when the same scientists seek reversals for aging in the field of genetics and modern medicine. The godless apparently think long lifespans are impossible for God to engineer, but not impossible for themselves.
The Longest Days
Another core argument Young Earth Creationists use is the explicit nature of the phrase “and there was morning and evening on the [such and such] day” used with each successive day of Creation described in Genesis.
In contrast, proponents of an Old Earth, poetic, symbolic, or figurative reading of Genesis are fond of pointing to 2 Peter 3:8 in the New Testament where we read that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” And by connecting that passage to a poetic interpretation of Genesis, they assert that the days being described in Genesis could really be any other length of time whatsoever besides a literal day – even millions or billions of years.
Never mind the context of what the Apostle Peter is talking about when he urges patience in his second epistle. Proponents of an Old Earth interpretation of Genesis use his statement there to justify accommodating modern, secular science in its claims that the universe and the earth are millions and billions of years old, and that all life on Earth arose by random, unguided, evolutionary processes which God could have initiated.
Young Earth Creationists typically oppose this accommodation in principle on the grounds that, for one thing, there is no need for it. There is no need to compromise with the mainstream of modern science and its secular humanism. But more than that, there is actually a great need to not compromise with secular science in this.
Modern science, after all, rejects as a rule all references to divine revelation like the Bible, and similarly rejects all supernatural explanations that would amount to giving God credit for Creation.
The Slippery Slope of Pure Naturalism
Accommodating modern secular science in its purely naturalistic insistences about our origins, or the origins and age of the Earth, opens the door to compromising on everything else God’s Word tells us God ever did to intervene or reveal Himself throughout history. And that includes but is not limited to the incarnation, the virgin birth, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But if we throw out the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ then we have nothing left of Christianity. Our entire faith is based on the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead after the only begotten Son lived a sinless life and atoned for our sins through his death on the cross.
If we disbelieve that, we’re not Christians. So how far do we compromise with modern science when the claims of modern science contradict what the Bible teaches? That’s really the central question, and Young Earth Creationists like myself have a simple answer. We don’t.
Fortunately, all of the physical evidence which evolutionary science claims in support of its claims is available to creationists as well. And it naturally follows that we interpret that evidence very differently. Not only are our starting positions in stark contrast to one another. So also are our conclusions.
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