There is an intensifying controversy
in the church all over the world regarding the age of the earth. For the first 18 centuries of church history, the almost
universal belief of Christians was that God created the world in six literal days roughly 4,000 years before Christ and destroyed
the world with a global Flood at the time of Noah.
about 200 years ago some scientists developed new theories of earth history, which proposed that the earth and universe are
millions of years old. Over the past 200 years Christian leaders have made various attempts to fit the millions of years into
the Bible. These include the day-age view, gap theory, local flood view, framework hypothesis, theistic evolution, and progressive
A growing number of Christians (now called young-earth
creationists), including many scientists, hold to the traditional view, believing it to be the only view that is truly faithful
to Scripture and that fits the scientific evidence far better than the reigning old-earth evolutionary theory.
Many Christians say that the age of the earth is an unimportant and divisive side
issue that hinders the proclamation of the gospel. But is that really the case? Answers in Genesis and many other creationist
organizations think not.
I want to introduce you to some
of the reasons we think that Christians cannot accept the millions of years without doing great damage to the church and her
witness in the world.
1. The Bible clearly teaches that God created in six literal,
24-hour days a few thousand years ago. The Hebrew word for day in Genesis
1 is yom. In the vast majority of its uses in the Old Testament it means a literal day; and where it doesn’t,
the context makes this clear.
2. The context of Genesis 1 clearly shows that the days of creation were literal days.
First, yom is defined the first time it is used in the Bible (Genesis 1:4–5)
in its two literal senses: the light portion of the light/dark cycle and the whole light/dark cycle. Second, yom
is used with “evening” and “morning.” Everywhere these two words are used in the Old Testament, either
together or separately and with or without yom in the context, they always mean a literal evening or morning of a
literal day. Third, yom is modified with a number: one day, second day, third day, etc., which everywhere else in
the Old Testament indicates literal days. Fourth, yom is defined literally in Genesis 1:14
in relation to the heavenly bodies.
3. The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 make it clear that the creation days happened
only about 6,000 years ago. It is transparent from the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 (which give very detailed
chronological information, unlike the clearly abbreviated genealogy in Matthew 1 and other chronological information in the
Bible that the Creation Week took place only about 6,000 years ago.
4. Exodus 20:9–11 blocks all attempts to fit millions of years into Genesis 1.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD
your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle
or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in
them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus
gives the reason for God’s command to Israel to work six days and then take a sabbath rest. Yom is used in
both parts of the commandment. If God meant that the Jews were to work six days because He created over six long periods of
time, He could have said that using one of three indefinite Hebrew time words. He chose the only word that means a literal
day, and the Jews understood it literally (until the idea of millions of years developed in the early nineteenth century).
For this reason, the day-age view or framework hypothesis must be rejected. The gap theory or any other attempt to put millions
of years before the six days are also false because God says that in six days He made the heaven and the earth and the sea
and all that is in them. So He made everything in those six literal days and nothing before the first day.
5. Noah’s Flood washes away millions
of years. The evidence in Genesis 6–9 for a
global catastrophic flood is overwhelming. For example, the Flood was intended to destroy not only all sinful people but also
all land animals and birds and the surface of the earth, which only a global flood could accomplish. The Ark’s purpose
was to save two of every kind of land animal and bird (and seven of some) to repopulate the earth after the Flood. The Ark
was totally unnecessary if the Flood was only local. People, animals, and birds could have migrated out of the flood zone
before it occurred, or the zone could have been populated from creatures outside the area after the Flood. The catastrophic
nature of the Flood is seen in the nonstop rain for at least 40 days, which would have produced massive erosion, mud slides,
hurricanes, etc. The Hebrew words translated “the fountains of the great deep burst open”
(Genesis 7:11) clearly point to tectonic rupturing of the earth’s surface in many places
for 150 days, resulting in volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Noah’s Flood would produce exactly the kind of complex
geological record we see worldwide today: thousands of feet of sediments clearly deposited by water and later hardened into
rock and containing billions of fossils. If the year-long Flood is responsible for most of the rock layers and fossils, then
those rocks and fossils cannot represent the history of the earth over millions of years, as evolutionists claim.
6. Jesus was a young-earth creationist.
Jesus consistently treated the miracle accounts of the Old Testament as straightforward, truthful, historical accounts
(e.g., creation of Adam, Noah and the Flood, Lot and his wife in Sodom, Moses and the manna, and Jonah in the fish). He continually
affirmed the authority of Scripture over men’s ideas and traditions (Matthew 15:1–9).
In Mark 10:6 we have the clearest (but not the only) statement showing that Jesus was a young-earth
creationist. He teaches that Adam and Eve were made at the “beginning of creation,” not billions of years
after the beginning, as would be the case if the universe were really billions of years old. So, if Jesus was a young-earth
creationist, then how can His faithful followers have any other view?
7. Belief in millions of years undermines the Bible’s teaching on death and on
the character of God. Genesis 1 says six times that God called the creation “good,” and when He
finished creation on Day 6, He called everything “very good.” Man and animals and birds were originally vegetarian
(Gen. 1:29–30, plants are not “living creatures,” as people and animals are,
according to Scripture). But Adam and Eve sinned, resulting in the judgment of God on the whole creation. Instantly Adam and
Eve died spiritually, and after God’s curse they began to die physically. The serpent and Eve were changed physically
and the ground itself was cursed (Genesis 3:14–19). The whole creation now groans in bondage
to corruption, waiting for the final redemption of Christians (Romans 8:19–25) when we
will see the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21, Colossians 1:20) to a state similar to the
pre-Fall world, when there will be no more carnivorous behavior (Isaiah11:6–9) and no
disease, suffering, or death (Revelation 21:3–5) because there will be no more Curse (Revelation 22:3). To accept millions of years of animal death before the creation and Fall of man
contradicts and destroys the Bible’s teaching on death and the full redemptive work of Christ. It also makes God into
a bumbling, cruel creator who uses (or can’t prevent) disease, natural disasters, and extinctions to mar His creative
work, without any moral cause, but still calls it all “very good.”
8. The idea of millions of years did not come
from the scientific facts. This idea of long ages was developed by deistic and atheistic geologists in the
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These men used antibiblical philosophical and religious assumptions to interpret
the geological observations in a way that plainly contradicted the biblical account of creation, the Flood, and the age of
the earth. Most church leaders and scholars quickly compromised using the gap theory, day-age view, local flood view, etc.
to try to fit “deep time” into the Bible. But they did not understand the geological arguments, and they did not
defend their views by careful Bible study. The “deep time” idea flows out of naturalistic assumptions, not scientific
9. Radiometric dating methods do not prove millions of years. Radiometric dating was not developed
until the early twentieth century, by which time virtually the whole world had already accepted the millions of years. For
many years creation scientists have cited numerous examples in the published scientific literature of these dating methods
clearly giving erroneous dates (e.g., a date of millions of years for lava flows that occurred in the past few hundred years
or even decades). In recent years creationists in the RATE project have done experimental, theoretical, and field research
to uncover more such evidence (e.g., diamonds and coal, which the evolutionists say are millions of years old, were dated
by carbon-14 to be only thousands of years old) and to show that decay rates were orders of magnitude faster in the past,
which shrinks the millions of years to thousands of years, confirming the Bible.
These are just some of the reasons why we believe that the Bible is giving us the true history of the world. God’s
Word must be the final authority on all matters about which it speaks—not just the moral and spiritual matters, but
also its teachings that bear on history, archaeology, and science.
is at stake here is the authority of Scripture, the character of God, the doctrine of death, and the very foundation of the
gospel. If the early chapters of Genesis are not true literal history, then faith in the rest of the Bible is undermined,
including its teaching about salvation and morality. The health of the church, the effectiveness of her mission to a lost
world, and the glory of God are at stake.