Evangelicals, Let’s Call a Truce on the Age of the Universe

There’s an unseemly battle going on among evangelicals over the age of the universe. On one side there are the “YECs” — young-earth creationists. They take the “plain meaning” of Genesis 1 to mean God created everything described there in six days, 8,000 to 15,000 years ago. On the other side are the “OECs” — old-earth creationists (BioLogos) — who accept the scientific consensus that the universe began almost 14 billion years ago.

Both sides in this battle are Christians; both believe God is Creator. Typically both sides agree there was an original human couple created uniquely in God’s image. These two first humans were innocent before God until they fell into sin. Both sides agree that Christ came to restore us to the relationship with God that He intended for us. Yet Biologos believe with Adam and Eve were 10,000 other humans of which God chose only two.

The YEC side is led by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. OEC’s most prominent spokesman is Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe.  Both of them have a high regard for Christ and a high view of Scripture. They agree on that. Except there’s a lot of suspicion from the YEC side. “If you really believed what God says in the Bible, you’d forget this manmade science and side with us.”

Old Earth Creationists Have Biblical Responses, Too
OECs have Bible-based responses. Most of them have to do with the cultural and literary context in which Genesis was written. “We can’t interpret ancient texts as if they were written for 21st century Westerners,” they say, “because they weren’t written originally for us. We have to understand the language and cultures of the day, so we can know what the original readers would have read it to mean.”

Which, by the way, is the rule scholars and preachers follow for every passage in the Bible. It’s nothing special made up just for Genesis 1.

And since it’s certain to come up in discussion here: Yes, OECs also address the toughest question: What about all that animal death before the Fall?

BioLogos has death happening before Adam and Eve, and this requires Paul’s concept of the penalty of sin and death from Adam.

College Discoveries, Bad and Good
Meanwhile, young YECs go to college. They learn what their geology professor says, and they think, “This is making sense. They’re giving good arguments for an old creation. I guess that means I can’t be a Christian anymore.”

But Old Creationists, are involved in highly technical issues. They involve geology, cosmology, palaeontology, archaeology, biology, and Ancient Near East languages, literature, and culture.

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Author: Paul Allen

Pastor, teacher at Hope Church Australia

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