Does young earth versus old earth matter?

Most of the Biblical creation organizations proclaim a young earth position as part of Biblical creation doctrine: Answers in GenesisThe Institute for Creation Research, and Creation Ministries International. Why? And, is this important?

  • Does Young-Earth Creation Matter? — If Christians doubt what at first appears to be insignificant details of Scripture, then others may begin to look at the whole Bible differently, eventually doubting the central tenets of the Christian faith, namely the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus the historicity of Scripture is quite important.
  • Is Belief in the Young Earth Necessary to Be a Christian? — The main reason for believing in the young earth is that the earth is young! The Bible tells us so, and the weight of the scientific evidence points to a young earth. While the Bible may not specify a precise date for creation, it does indicate that the earth is only a few thousand years old. Similarly, while the geologic and physical evidence cannot give a precise age, all the evidence is compatible with the young earth doctrine, with far greater evidence supporting a young earth than an old earth. There is much evidence incompatible with the old earth idea.
  • Evidence for young-earth creationism — Why believe in a young earth? In many ways it can be easier to argue against evolution and deep time than it can be to present evidence for biblical creation. And there are so many misconceptions of what biblical creation is, and there are so many spurious arguments floating around both for and against it, that it can be hard to know where to begin.

Unfortunately, most of these websites present this young earth doctrine with appeals to human reasoning. It seems like this undercuts the basic premise of Biblical creation.

What does the Bible say?

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep;  and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2 JPS Tanakh 1917)

waste and void] A.V. “without form and void.” The Heb. tôhû va-bhôhû is untranslateable. The LXX, ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος, “invisible and unformed,” fails to give the meaning. The Latin, inanis et vacua, is closer to the original. The alliteration of the Heb. words cannot be reproduced in English: “void and vacancy” would partially represent the sense and the sound. Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

“And the earth was (not became) waste and void.” The alliterative nouns tohu vabohu, the etymology of which is lost, signify waste and empty (barren), but not laying waste and desolating. Whenever they are used together in other places (Isaiah 34:11Jeremiah 4:23), they are taken from this passage; but tohu alone is frequently employed as synonymous with איך, non-existence, and הבל, nothingness (Isaiah 40:17Isaiah 40:23Isaiah 49:4). The coming earth was at first waste and desolate, a formless, lifeless mass, rudis indigestaque moles, ὕληἄμορφος (Wis. 11:17) or χάος. Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

Without form, and void.—Literally, tohu and bohu, which words are both substantives, and signify wasteness and emptiness. The similarity of their forms, joined with the harshness of their sound, made them pass almost into a proverb for everything that was dreary and desolate (Isaiah 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23). It expresses here the state of primæval matter immediately after creation, when as yet there was no cohesion between the separate particles. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

Why was the earth void and vacant?

The Bible does not say why the earth was waste, without form, and void so we can’t know why. The earth might have been made 6,000 years ago or it might have been made 6,000 billion-trillion-gazillion years ago. There might have been a gap between the formless empty chaos and the formed filled cosmos. It might have been during this time that the heavenly host were created (Nehemiah 9:6; Ezekiel 28:11-14), when Lucifer was lifted up in pride (Isaiah 14:12-14), was cast down to the earth (Ezekiel 28:15-19; Ephesians 2:2), there was war in heaven (Revelation 12:7), a third of the angels were cast down with him (Luke 10:18; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6), and hell was created as a punishment for them (Matthew 25:41). God had a purpose whether we understand it or not.

Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:
 “Who is this that questions my wisdom 
     with such ignorant words?
Brace yourself like a man,
     because I have some questions for you,
     and you must answer them.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
     Tell me, if you know so much.
Who determined its dimensions
     and stretched out the surveying line?
What supports its foundations,
     and who laid its cornerstone
as the morning stars sang together
      and all the angels shouted for joy?  (Job 38:1-7)

In the beginning the Word already existed.
     The Word was with God,
     and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
     and nothing was created except through him. (John 1:1-3)

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it;  he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!):  “I am the LORD, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:18)

Were the 6 days of creation literal?

Have you heard of the Big Bang Theory?
Yes, God said it, and “Bang!” it happened.

Yes, I absolutely completely believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis. There is no reason to assume these descriptions were intended to be allegorical, metaphorical, or poetic. And, the specific description of morning and evening marking each day absolutely determines the time period. These literal 6 days of creation are completely incompatible with any of the myriad theories of evolution.

The Structure of the Creation Account (New Living Translation (NLT) Study Bible Notes) Genesis 1:1
The Structure of the Creation Account (New Living Translation (NLT) Study Bible Notes) Genesis 1:1

The Structure of the Creation Account (1:1–2:3). God transformed chaos into the present cosmos. In the first three days, he transformed the formless void into the structured universe—the Heavens (outer space), the Water and Sky, and the Earth (cp. Exod 20:11; Ps 135:6). In the second three days, he populated each empty realm. The seventh day (2:1-3) stands apart: As God’s day of rest, it provides the weekly pattern for human activity (Exod 20:8-11; 31:12-17) and speaks of the rest that God promised to those who live by faith in him (see Heb 3:7–4:11). (New Living Translation (NLT) Study Bible Notes) Genesis 1:1

I don’t know of any reason that this creation described in Genesis 1:1-2 must have immediately preceded (or must have been a part of) the creation described in Genesis 1:3-2:3. Therefore, I think it is a waste of time and a diversion from the gospel to try to shoehorn something into the scriptures that is not plainly stated.

 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”
     And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. (NLT Genesis 1:3-5)

Do not get sidetracked by the anti-god of this world

It seems to me, a literal interpretation of the Genesis account does not require a young earth doctrine. The Bible never says when the earth was created or when the water was created; they were not part of the 6 days of creation that are marked by a morning and an evening. Furthermore, the Bible says the Spirit of God moved over the waters 2 days before the (young earth) sea and land were created. And, the Bible says light was created 3 days before the (young earth) sun, moon, and stars. Therefore, it bothers me that Creationism has been tied to a young earth doctrine. It sets off warning bells in my head. I am afraid it is part of Satan’s plan to obscure the gospel.

But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

in order that Satan should not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

And the Lord replied … Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me. (Acts 26:16-18)

They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he  brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.  Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed. (2 Peter 3:5-7 NLT)

For deeper study:

  • Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution Paperback – March 13, 2006 by Michael J. Behe — Darwin’s Black Box helped to launch the Intelligent Design movement: the argument that nature exhibits evidence of design, beyond Darwinian randomness. Today, with the movement stronger than ever, Michael J. Behe updates the book with an important new Afterword on the state of the debate.
  • Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design Revised ed. Edition by Stephen C. Meyer — When Charles Darwin finished The Origin of Species, he thought that he had explained every clue, but one. Though his theory could explain many facts, Darwin knew that there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory did not explain. During this event, the “Cambrian explosion,” many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record without apparent ancestors in earlier layers of rock.
  • Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed Reprint Edition by Douglas Axe — Throughout his distinguished and unconventional career, engineer-turned-molecular-biologist Douglas Axe has been asking the questions that much of the scientific community would rather silence. Now, he presents his conclusions in this brave and pioneering book. Axe argues that the key to understanding our origin is the “design intuition”—the innate belief held by all humans that tasks we would need knowledge to accomplish can only be accomplished by someone who has that knowledge. For the ingenious task of inventing life, this knower can only be God.

Featured image: Gap Theory by Clarence Larkin and The Structure of the Creation Account (New Living Translation (NLT) Study Bible Notes) Genesis 1:1

Related posts…

  • I was born this way (and God doesn’t make junk) Just because you were born this way does not mean that you should stay this way Everyone is born a natural person with a human nature. They have instinctive needs for food, water, […]
  • Movie: God’s Not Dead God's Not Dead is a great conversation starter. I'm not the target demographic, so I won't bore you with what I thought. The great thing about "God's not dead" is it can start a […]
  • News Flash! Ancient Earth was a barren waterworld I think it's just wonderful when modern science catches up with the Bible. First there was the Big Bang, which agrees with the first verse in the Bible, and now this discovery about […]
  • Scientists just proved the Noahic flood is scientifically possible After decades of theorizing and searching, scientists are reporting that they’ve finally found a massive reservoir of water in the Earth’s mantle — a reservoir so vast that could fill […]
  • In the beginning God… Do new Big Bang findings support the Bible? Dr. William Lane Craig says new discoveries are proof the scriptures are true. Here is what the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, […]
  • Physicists just proved evolution is impossible This is a very complicated article that I can't reprint here due to copyright issues. Please forgive this brief summary. I hope it encourages you to read the original article and think […]

Leave a Reply