It is easy to get into debates on the age of the earth. Old Earth creationists (OEC) will say that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old, and that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. A Young Earth creationist (YEC) believes that God created everything in six consecutive 24-hour days about 6,000-10,000 years ago.
I frequently hear OEC critique YEC for not being scientific. They sometimes completely ignore scientific discoveries in order to keep their YE perspective. But also, YEC criticize OEC for compromising scripture. It is said that only YEC preserve biblical authority. It is also believed by some that if you accept an old universe then you also accept darwinian evolution. For that reason, we should stick to YEC. What about death before the fall? What about radiometric dating? There seem to be so many objections and points of disagreement between the two sides.
Instead of looking at the details of each of those objections in this post, I want to look at common ground. I think the common points are often ignored or overlooked because we just want to find something to argue about. My school doesn’t take a position on this issue and so I have to refer students to their pastors on this question and other debated topics. For that reason, I tend to look more at the common ground as I present both sides in my class and let students make up their mind. So, what are the points of agreement?
- God is the source of all things – physical and non-physical.
- God created the universe out of nothing.
- God is both transcendent and immanent.
- God is eternal and stands outside of matter and time.
- Time and matter have a beginning.
- God created the universe to be a theater for His glory.
- Christians should worship the Creator, not the creation.
- God takes delight in what He has made.
- Adam and Eve were created in the image of God.
- Theories that deny God as Creator are incompatible with Scripture.
I wanted to keep this post short but also show you the amount of agreement between the two sides. Both OEC and YEC believe that God is the creator of all things, there was no pre-existing material, Adam and Eve were historical figures, and Darwinian evolution doesn’t account for advanced life (Each species was created in its present form). This can remain a friendly debate and we can have fun talking about it, but don’t forget that both sides believe in the same God who created all things and will one day restore us into right relationship with him.
What do you think about these common points? Do you think this is a salvific issue? Leave your comments below.
I have responded to the comments below in my podcast here.
*These 10 points were taken from a lecture by Krista Bontrager. This lecture was part of the Creation and the Bible course through the Reasons Institute.
May 17, 2017 at 2:08 am
I like your points. Arguing over the age of the Earth, can prevent Christians from living their true purpose. How can we have an impact on the world around us, when we are busy arguing with each other?
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May 31, 2017 at 10:08 am
As a young earth creationist, I agree with the points we have in common. I would state with Ken Ham and other YEC’s that the age of the earth is not a salvific issue. I would, however, ask old earth creationists – why do you believe in an old earth? Because “scientists” say so?
Scientists also once believed in spontaneous creation – mice came from piles of dirty rags. Some scientists today believe in invisible “dark” aliens living in invisible dark worlds that we can’t see or detect. Do you believe that to? Many scientists will tell you God doesn’t exist. Do you believe that too?
My point simply being you need to think through your faith further than “science says so.” The only reason for accepting an old earth is to allow for the failed theories of science (Big bang, Darwinian evolution) to be somewhat plausible. And if you accept those, how do you reconcile scripture? Evolution says there was no first man Adam, (nor eve) therefore no fall, therefore no original sin, therefore no need of a savior or a “last Adam” (Christ – 1 Cor 15.45.) In other words, if you believe in the Big Bang and Darwinian evolution, your cosmology is inconsistent
with the salvation described by the Bible. So why believe that at all?
Jesus said “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12.32) If evolution is true, and there was no Adam and Eve, where do “hominids” (pre-human creatures) end and “humans” that Jesus can save begin? And what does God do with those “soul-less” (according to some Old earth believers) hominids?
So if you believe in an old earth, you probably don’t realize it, but your faith is inconsistent with a biblical view of salvation, cosmic and world history, the distinction between humans and animals, and the saving work of Christ.
You may want to think through whether you really want to stand before God and say, “I didn’t believe you when you said you created the heavens and the earth in 6 days.” (Ex 20.11)
May 31, 2017 at 8:28 pm
Thanks for the comment! It is interesting that you begin by saying that you agree with the points in common, but then state multiple times that an old earth view believes in evolution and doesn’t believe in a literal Adam and Eve. The points in common clearly state that God created Adam and Eve in His image, and that denying God as Creator (Darwinian Evolution) is incompatible with Scripture. So, why do you agree with the common points and then immediately say that OEC reject those points?
June 1, 2017 at 8:28 am
Before I answer, Let me ask do you believe in an old earth? If so , why in the face of both scripture and all the evidence for a young earth? If you want to see some of the evidence, see the category Young Earth on my site Rational Faith.
June 1, 2017 at 7:33 pm
To be clear, this blog wasn’t arguing for a young earth or an old earth, so my opinion on the topic is irrelevant. Instead, my point was to show that there is much more common ground than many think. The reason people think there isn’t common ground is for the reasons you mentioned in your post. Quite often I hear young earth creationists make the exact same comments you made. They talk about how old earth creationists believe in evolution and don’t believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. A person’s view on the age of the earth is completely separate from their view on the origin of life. Accepting an old earth does not mean accepting evolution at all! To say that it does would be a straw man fallacy. So, do you agree with the points of agreement or do you think old earth creationists reject them? I’m trying to understand your original post.
June 3, 2017 at 10:04 pm
It is my contention that Christians who believe in an old earth either:
1. Outright support evolution, and therefore support an old earth to allow for the billions of years that evolution requires.
2. They are ignorant about the consequences of believing in evolution and so believe in an old earth because “science/scientists” tell them so. Yet they are unaware that such a belief is inconsistent with what scripture teaches. And typically, unaware that the reason science insists on billions of years is so the secular, anti-God theories of the Big Bang and Darwinian evolution can be maintained.
I have yet to have any Christian explain to me, why based on the scriptures, they believe in an old earth. They claim it’s not because of science and they claim they don’t believe in evolution, yet they can’t give me a scriptural reason why they believe in an old earth.
Can you explain that?
Lacking a coherent explanation for billions of years not dependent on junk science, my conclusion: such believers fall into one of the two cases above.
You state “A person’s view on the age of the earth is completely separate from their view on the origin of life.” Is it? Big Bang / Darwinian evolutionists believe the earth is about 4.3 billion years old, and man has only be around for 200,000 years. (Here’s a graphic of the secular time line which OEC’s typically espouse: http://rationalfaith.com/img/Timeline_evolution_of_life-904.png)
What, according to a Christian old earth belief, was happening in between the origin of the earth some 4.3 billion years ago, and the origin of man some 200,000 years ago? Was God sitting around twiddling his thumbs for billions of years waiting for the appropriate day to create Adam and Eve on? Because if you want to be scriptural, you can’t say Darwinian evolution was happening, because evolution evolves death and dying, and death did not enter the world until Adam and Eve sinned. (Rom 5.12)
So are we to believe God created the earth 4.3 billion years ago. waited 4.1 billions years, then created man? Does that really make sense of Gen 1 that speaks of God creating everything in 6 days numbered as an “evening and day”? Does that sound like billions of years? Does that sound like ages? Or does that sound like a week with days comprised of of a day and an evening?
If there are any old earth believers out there who can explain to me why they believe in an old earth according to scripture without invoking science, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise I remain convinced that such OEC either knowingly, or unknowingly have been persuaded by Big Bang/Evolutionary secular scientists/theorists who require billions of years. Such believers have not yet realized such science is 1. contradicted by much evidence and 2. inconsistent with their Christian faith.
So do I believe in the points of agreement?
If Old earth creationists claim to believe in billions and years and Adam and Eve, I’d have to say they are either ignorant of their faith, science or both. It’s like asking me if I believe some people believe in a square circle. Do they? Maybe, but I would be insistent that they are ignorant of the fact that the concepts are mutually exclusive, and they are believing in an impossible object. Likewise I would have to insist that Christians who claim to believe in both an old earth (billions of years) and a literal Adam and Eve are either ignorant of, or in denial about the consequences of their belief.
October 3, 2017 at 6:47 am
I mostly agree with the things believed in common, but there is one point I would disagree with. Most YECs do not believe the current species were created separately. Rather, KINDS were created separately, and these kinds have, in many cases, divided into many species as they spread out over the earth. This did not happen by evolutionary mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection, but by in-built variations created by God within the various kinds. Organisms were designed to diversify and adapt to their environment and to fill the earth. As that happened, subsets of the original variation have become dominant in different groups, and some of that variation has been lost within some groups, leaving them distinct from one another even though they came from the same ancestral population. Thus, speciation occurs by division of the original variation into separate groups, not addition of new information by random processes. Yet common ancestry of all life is false. Only organisms from the same created kind share common ancestry.
It was once believed that the species was the basic unit God created, but we now know that speciation does occur and that many cases of hybridization do occur between different species within the same genus, and sometimes even between different genera in the same family, indicating that these organisms belong to the same kind even though they are different species. Thus, it is now believed that the family level of taxonomy is generally equivalent to the created kind (though it may vary for different groups of organisms since the man-made classification may not always have the division between kinds at the same level).
Many people are not aware of this difference between OECs and YECs, but it is worth mentioning. The old assumption that the species are fixed and were the unit God created is flawed.
October 3, 2017 at 3:04 pm
Lindsay, thank you for your comment. I am not sure exactly why I wrote “species” there. Whenever I present this material to groups I use “kinds” instead of “species.” So, I would completely agree with you on that point.
November 18, 2017 at 11:27 pm
Thank you Ryan for your work. This is a great article, we need to put differences like these into perspective, especially when it comes to non-slavation issues like this one. It’s sad when we see Christian’s Straw man another Christian’s positions, and steamroll each other. This topic in particular seems to have a disproportional amount of steamrolling and disinformation going on within certain circles.
November 21, 2017 at 9:28 pm
I believe the earth was “created ” millions of years ago but then ” formed and fashioned ” within six days. I believe in the ” Pre- Adamite
teaching .The Pre_Adamites were judged with a flood ( not Noah’s flood ) .Early creatures ( dino’s etc ) lived in this pre creation . See Watchman Nee on Mystery of creation
June 5, 2018 at 11:56 pm
Former YEC. Went to a YEC undergrad studying biology. I have since become OEC. As a scientist I have the objective, harmonic and congruent evidence for the Earth’s age being at least greater than 50000 years to be sufficient to reject the YEC paradigm. Hermeneutically, Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 doesn’t necessitate the rigid, presumptuous constructs which the YEC burden upon the text.