If you had to choose one of these for when the Universe began, which would it be?
(a) About 600 B.C.
(b) About 6000 to 10,000 B.C.
(c) Billions of years ago
If you answer as a Christian, as I will, what affected your response?
But you go first. Then, for MORE use the DOOR…
First, as a part of our philosophy/science/religion series we need to face 2 troublesome issues that often keep thinking people from ever begin to consider the relevance of Christian faith: These are the AGE OF THE UNIVERSE and EVOLUTION. This and the next post will address the “Age Issue.”
Most who have learned about The Big Bang, would say that the universe “began” about 13.7 billion years ago.
Non-Christians, then, would probably choose (c) as their response.
But what about Christians?
Here are my thoughts about what I chose:
1. I am a Christian, as I declare under the picture. I look now at (a). Since I believe in a supernatural God who can do miracles, He* could have compressed cosmic time and calendar time in the years before the fall of Jerusalem (in 586 B.C.) in ways we can’t understand. Consequently, almost all history that took place before then could have happened in days that are different from days as we now know them. After all, we weren’t there and we have to rely on historical records others before us have made as they see fit. Perhaps we’re under the “illusion” that historical time was longer than it really was. Perhaps, too, those stars now said to be trillions of miles away were created with some of their light already “on its way” to Earth so these stars are visible to us. Suppose we have some piece of “evidence” (and I know of none) that declares, or suggests, that the universe is no older that 600 B.C. And, perhaps, that longer-appearing historical time, as reported in the Bible (and elsewhere), is some sort of metaphor of something that God wants to tell us.
Possible…but why would God do it that way, and make both secular and Bible records look so deceptive?
2. Now I look at (b). As a Christian I realize the “time problem” is less extreme here. But it doesn’t go away. Especially in the first part of Genesis (as well as the Book of Revelation at the end). I realize too that some details in the Bible are sketchy, highly selective (spiders, for example, aren’t mentioned), and written in nonscientific language. However, with no more than 12,000 years available since the beginning, I would have to believe that God, as I said above, created the stars with their light already on its way to Earth in order for us to see them. Geology becomes especially problematic. In addition, (1) I would have to believe in “wild” waters (from Noah’s Flood) caused an “orderly” depositing of millions of fossils from dying plants and animals in hundreds of feet of layers of sand, silt, and mud. (2) I would also have to believe that these layers somehow got hardened into rock. And (3) I would have to believe the eroding, or cutting, of these rocks by running water making deep valleys (such as the Grand Canyon) would reveal a traceable fossil sequence “bottom upward” of simpler to increasingly more complex life. And, all of this in the single year of the Flood.** And with no “depositing” mistakes. No rabbit bones found in any bottom layers, no trilobites near the top.
Possible…but why would God do it that way, and make the fossil record look like it took place over millions of years, rather than (mostly) over just one year? ***
3. As I look at (c) as a Christian I realize that as to time from the beginning, I agree pretty much with the standard scientific interpretation as to length. Science seems to make that very clear. And, since the Bible gives no date for the beginning, and many who’ve carefully looked at what the Bible teaches about origins fits very well into an old-earth interpretation.
This, of course, is a big issue with many people–one which we will discuss in part later on.
With 3 quick comments, we end this post.
(1) Believing in a universe that’s billions of years old is NOT the same thing as believing in evolution (as commonly accepted). We’ll explain later.
(2) Notice that our dealing with age has nothing to do with the “cause” of life springing into being or the mechanism that causes differences in various forms of life.
(3) In our next post we’ll provide a list of prominent Christians and theologians who are (a) convinced that an “Old-Earth” interpretation of the Bible is the better way to look at Scripture, or (b) are open to either Old- or Young-Earth interpretations as being acceptable.
* We recognize that we’re using the traditional “gendered” pronoun for God, and we, of course, consider God far more than what we humans consider male.
** Some Young-Earth advocates, however, attribute all of the Grand Canyon’s carving to some massive (single) flooding after the time of Noah. But there is no standard accepted geological evidence for this.
*** Realize 5 things here: (1) This is a broad general statement. For example, some erosion has taken place since the time of the Flood, though comparatively, when all evidences of erosion are taken together, erosion that has taken place since Old Testament times is tiny compared to all erosion (think Grand canyon) viewed worldwide. Christians who are persuaded that the Earth is only thousands of years old are overwhelmingly convinced that nearly all sedimentary deposition occurred during a global flood at the time of Noah. If so, this would have been a Great Miracle that hasn’t left any geological evidence anywhere. Many who want to believe in the reliability of the Biblical accounts find this difficult to accept, and hence set the Bible aside as little more than an interesting myth and have “walked away” from Christian faith. We find this unwarranted and sad since many Biblical scholars and apologists–including Evangelicals and “serious Bible-believers”–find Old-Earth interpretations very compatible with what the Bible teaches. (2) Many other evidences from geology–for example layers of fossil trees which grew, fell, and were buried in volcanic material in several layers many feet apart (how could this happen in a year?)–suggest an Old-Earth interpretation. (3) Christians, of course, accept the occurrence of miracles, in fact they insist upon them–most notably the death and resurrection of Christ. And, of course, they have a responsibility to give “answers” to those who question this. The issue here, in short, is what is the best explanation to account for what we find in the Bible and in scientific evidence. (4) Aside from Age of Universe and Evolution issues, many, many Christians agree on many issues. (5) To flatly declare that a person who accepts an Old Earth interpretation is an “atheist” (as I’ve heard just recently from people who should know better) is uninformed, unfortunate, and sad. We’ll identify some recognizable Christians who are committed to an Old-Earth interpretation, or are “open” to it in our next post.