What did God mean when he called the creation good? (2)

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

Question: Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and lengthy response to me! Now I understand that all the space debris out there plays a part in the formation of Earth instead of failed experiments, even though the mechanism is still incomprehensible. To be honest, in that debate with the atheist, he brought up a point that is hard to argue. He said that when we look up at a starry sky in the night, we are "gazing at millions of years past" because those stars are millions of lightyears away, it literally takes millions of years for the light they radiate to travel to earth, which means they have to be formed at least million years ago. That supports the Big Bang model in your old-universe perspective, but I always believe that the Earth is only 6000 plus years-old based on the genealogy of the messianic line… and I see carbon dating as too inaccurate and limited to tell us when the earth was created.

My only response is to say that your argument is irrelevant since the Bible puts the earth where there's already a heaven created... which accounts for the atmosphere, the key to preserving heat. My follow-up question is, these two views are actually not exclusive to each other. As you have explained, all the matters in the universe did not come into being concurrent. It is a long gradual process to form heavy elements with light elements. The universe could really be billion years old in preparation for the creation of the Earth. So, is it possible to have a 13.8 billion-year-old universe AND a 6000+-year-old Earth?

Answer: Hello again, friend. Thank you for this follow-up question about creation.

The forces that conspire to make the universe 13.8 billion years old also conspire to make the earth 4.6 billion years old… so it’s not possible for the earth to be only 6000 years old if the universe is 13.8 billion. Even something as low-tech as measuring limestone deposits puts the earth's creation at millions of years old… and not thousands. This joins with other measurements of God’s general revelation (Romans 1:18-20) like radiometric dating, astronomical observations and the fossil record to say that the earth cannot be merely thousands of years old.

You’d be surprised at the number of independent dating methods used to measure very old things… like the age of the earth. It’s not just radio-carbon dating (the most picked-on method by Christians). All these methods testify that the earth is not merely thousands of years old. Since even the man-on-the-street understands this about the creation of the earth, shouldn’t our question be, is the earth actually old? Or did God give it the appearance of age?

I for one would have some serious philosophical reservations about a God who suborned falsehood by going out of his way to plant misdirections in his general revelation… and I would feel the same about a God who could not keep his special revelation from contradicting his general revelation. But he didn’t lie… and it doesn’t contradict himself. The problem comes when humans apply a wooden hermeneutic when interpreting the Genesis creation account.

People have no choice but to support young-earth theory when they insist on interpreting the creation events in Genesis literalistically — which many Christians do… in spite of the fact that there’s no compelling reason to do so. Genesis chapters 1-11 are their own literary genre. It’s a different type of literature than we find in Genesis 12. There we meet Abraham, and starting there, Genesis is a historical narrative. But that’s not quite true of chapters one through eleven which contain the creation account.

What this means is that you can interpret the beginning of Genesis literally… and not have a problem squaring it with God’s general revelation. This is because the term “literally” means (among other things) according to the literary genre.

If you insist on interpreting these texts literalistically, however, then you are committing yourself to the surface meaning of the words. This is the death of understanding in any piece of literature… not just the Bible. And yes… the Bible is literature. Sure… it also happens to be God’s special revelation to humankind. But understanding how literature works is a prerequisite for understanding how the Bible works.

Now, I agree with you that if you that the Bible’s genealogies et al take us back about 6000 years to Adam… and I agree with all my young-earth brethren that it is within God’s power to have created an old-appearing universe merely 6000 years ago — so, what’s the problem? The problem is that it is not consistent with the God I know to do that.

Here’s the thing: when our transcendent God does something, it takes him no time, and when our omnipotent God does something, he expends no effort. So the first thing we should ask is, what motivation does God have to create everything in six twenty-four hour days? The second thing we should ask is, why would he give us humans the capacity for discovery… and then give us a universe where the rules have changed… one that only has the appearance of age?

I’ve heard Christians argue that God did things like put the fossils in the ground to test us — to see if we really believed his word! On a good day, that would be non-sensible. But on a bad day, that would be duplicitous… and my God doesn’t engage in either nonsense or deceit.

As you can see, I have plenty of reasons to believe that the earth is not merely thousands of years old… and this is what I believe. But there is another model which I don’t have the time to explain that I think you will benefit from exploring.

The Science of God is a book by Gerald L. Schroeder. Schroeder is a nuclear physicist and an observant Jew who reveres the Scripture. He shows us how six literal 24 hour days equal the 13.8 billion years that are apparent in the universe.

This is a tough read, though. If you don’t have a handle on relativity going into it, it will be a real slog. Fortunately, Christian astrophysicist, Dr. Sarah Salviander, has made Schroeder’s work a lot more accessible on her website called SixDay Science. She has a 141 slide presentation that will walk you through Schroeder’s theory. Find it at the following link.


Nice talking to you again. God bless you.

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