Q&A: Ending the Evolution Debate

Ending the Evolution Debate

Question

What is the age of our earth? If we believe it is only 2000-3000 years old, how do we explain carbon dating of dinosaur bones etc? The issue of evolution can be put to rest once and for all with the answer to this question. Here's your chance.

Answer

In my opinion, Scripture does not tell us how old the earth is. I am not convinced that Scripture teaches that a literal 6-day 24-hour creation is the obvious first choice. I don't think that the day-age theory has much merit, but the idea that Genesis 1 is a literary construction meant to be interpreted metaphorically, perhaps along the lines of a framework, is as compelling to me as the literal 24-day reading is. For me, the interpretation of Genesis 1 hinges in largely on what kind of literature we think it is: The more poetic we think it is, the better the argument that it's metaphorical. The more prosaic and less stylized it is, the better the argument that it's literal.

However we read Genesis 1, there is also a problem with calculating the time since creation. Specifically, most dates are set with the assumption that the genealogies in the Bible do not contain gaps, and with conservative estimates on the length of a "generation." But the truth is that the genealogies of the Bible do contain gaps (sometimes we find different genealogies for the same person where one is missing a generation included in the other), and perhaps many of them. Moreover, it is very hard to know precisely how we should estimate the length of a "generation."
The youngest age for the earth anyone has calculated is 6,000 years (creation in 4004 B.C.). In my opinion, general revelation seems to point to a significantly older date than this, although science is certainly fallible in this regard. Speaking from a skeptical viewpoint, science assumes facts not in evidence, namely that the laws of physics have not changed. If they have, or if our understanding of them is seriously deficient (as was the understanding of prior generations, by today's standards), then the scientific data may not be so sound.

You might be interested in looking at a book that has just been released. I haven't read it, but I am familiar with all the contributing authors and respect their work. It's called The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation. You can read more about it at the publisher's website: http://www.cruxpress.com/pages/books.html.

On another matter, I don't believe that solving the question of the date of the earth will solve the evolution issue. There are three major viewpoints involved here. One is Darwinistic evolution, which presupposes that God did not guide evolution, and that God did not create. Obviously this is wrong, but we will never convince any atheists that it's wrong since they will always reject any view that includes the actions of God. A second is theistic evolution, which states that macro-evolution (from one species to another species) took place, but that God sovereignly guided the macro-evolution. This view takes theistic evolution as a form of creation. The third view is creationism, which states that God created all species, and that macro-evolution did not take place.

Personally, I don't think the Bible provides sufficient information to determine whether or not any theistic evolution ever took place, though it is clear that at least some creation took place. On both these issues, I think the Bible allows a variety of views, and I think that Christian charity should prevent us from excluding any view the Bible does not exclude.


Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.