I’ve heard the day-age theory and the gap theory, and neither is particularly convincing unless you are looking to reconcile the bible with something from outside it. I want to see if there are arguments from a biblical standpoint to why the earth must be older than 6000 years and how it promotes evolution.
I think the best course is to not treat the Bible like a science book at all. Technically, believing in a heliocentric solar system is also reconciling the Bible “with something from outside it,” and I haven’t had any problems with doing that. I simply don’t think the Bible speaks to the age of the earth and universe, any more than it speaks to nuclear fusion, cell division, or Newton’s laws of motion. Nowhere does anyone, in the Old or New Testament, make reference to any kind of age for the earth or universe, and neither Jesus nor Paul or other epistle writers devote a single word to upholding a “biblical” age of the earth. You will probably find that most participants here don’t subscribe to a concordist view.
Does any interpretation of Genesis speak to the gospel of universal salvation in Christ’s faithfulness?
As mentioned the Bible never lists an age. The only people really who try to use scripture to generate an age of the earth or universe are those that ignore the accommodation and literary techniques expressed in Genesis. Genesis 1-11 is wrote in a way that is not similar to the styles found from genesis 12+, throughout the story of Moses, the gospels or acts of the apostles. The literary style most closely matches revelation in my opinion which is a book that also uses lots of hyperbole and symbolism to create a end time myth that talks about some human experience.
So trying to use genesis 1-11 to generate a real timeline of real literal events is like trying to do the same thing with revelation.
Additionally the days are eras does not work with evolution either. That sometimes leaves people saying well what’s the purpose of it then. Well the purpose is to set up biblical patterns for future events.
The tree of life sets up the need of Jesus as the tree of life we get grafted into.
The seventh rest day sets up the sabbath.
The contention between Cain and Abel sets up the contention for so many brothers in the future where one is not blessed and one is.
The flood sets up the pattern for baptism where the water is what washes away the wickedness and the savior is the ark like Jesus is.
Humans trying to come together and create a city that reaches the heavens sets up for how it was Gods plan to ( metaphorically) have a city , the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth.
The scattering of many kind because they thought they were above God sets up a scattered body of believers coming together as one spiritual kingdom to serve God.
The chaotic waters ties into the restorative imagery of revelation where it says there is no sea in the new world.
Eve seeing that the fruit was good to her eyes undermining what God says sets up why what we see as good is not the same as is seeing what God calls good.
So genesis 1-11 is a fantastic section of the Bible with lots to teach us. But it’s not there to teach us literal history and science. It’s a mythology approach to explain a story of the Jewish people and the need of serpent crusher.
For the bible not to mention age, it goes into a lot of detail about time beginning with a 6 day creation and giving a very specifically dated father-son chronology from the first man created, Adam, right up to David, and from there to Yeshua.
Adam was not a story, but the original cause of sin and death according to 1 Corinthians 15:45 and Romans 5:12-14. Even Yeshua said that man and woman were created from the beginning, Mark 19:4-5.
Without the creation week and Genesis timeline, we have no map to time overall. The 6 days of creation and the first Sabbath correlate to the ~6000 years of history and the millennium of rest about to begin.
I’m familiar with the young-earth reading of Genesis – that used to be how I understood it as well. I now think it’s more likely that the days are simply a literary framework to organize the ways that God gave order and purpose to the world.
Is this in scripture anywhere?
Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
The first word of Genesis, Bereshit
For future reference:
Thanks, but I don’t have time to watch an hour-long video right now. Can you summarize briefly where in scripture it says that the 6 days of creation correlate to 6,000 years of history?
Only when you treat Genesis as literally true. But this is not what Genesis actually says about itself.
Genesis 17:7 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
So Abraham did not believe a 100 year old man could father a child or a woman at the young age of 90. Now how old was was Abraham’s father when Abraham was born? He was 130 years old based on Acts 7:4. And he had plenty of other relatives that had children at ages much greater than 100. This tells me that the ages are symbolic and are not meant to be taken literally.
Matthew 19: 4-6 and Jesus is not talking about Adam and Eve but the creation of marriage. I know it is not A&E because “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” wouldn’t apply to A&E.
This is what the early Church Fathers believed but it was based on an allegorical reading of the OT. Certainly not a literal reading.
@Patrick_S, do you think there is integrity in what God’s creation reveals about itself? Sure, some atheists use evidence from nature to say God doesn’t exist because a mechanism was discovered, but that mechanism can be what God created to make things work.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
I know this verse isn’t out to prove creation science, but it sounds like high regard for what God has created.
Greetings @Patrick_S. I appreciate your kind request to discuss things from a biblical point of view.
Some time, though, I’d appreciate knowing your background more. Where did you grow up? What are your primary interests? I was born in Africa, the son of missionaries from West Michigan. My dad was a surgeon with SIM in Galmi, a hospital far way from most other medical care. My mom told me there was such suffering that even putting his shoes on had meaning. I am a family doc in West Michigan, where I married another missionary kid from Togo. We have 3 children, and attend a local, YEC Baptist church, (though I am EC). We love our church family. I still would like to go to Africa periodically for a month every few years (was last there 4 y ago), and hope to do that more (though I could not do that with Covid restrictions this year).
For references regarding Biblical interpretation of the universe, “Four Views on the Historical Adam” is a Counterpoints series book exploring this from a biblical standpoint. Dr Denis Lamoureux @DOL is a Canadian professor/PhD in theology and biology (as well as dentistry) who lectures in the intersection of the Bible and science. He wrote a book, “Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes!” but you can also see his free lectures on line here Untitled Document (ualberta.ca). I have read and watched all these resources, but you certainly can pick and choose any (or none) if you like. I don’t want to overload things.
The question is a good one: Are we watering down the Bible by using science? Well, there are some good discussions about this in Biologos about how this has already happened in the last 2 millennia as science has changed, and we have changed our perceptions with it. From a 3 tier universe (hard sky, held up by pillars, with an underworld) to a geocentric one, images that God allowed in the Bible have changed in our understanding. One of the most contested was when Luther and the Catholic church both disagreed with the Sun being the center of our solar system. Both believed the Bible said that the Earth is the center. While passages like Psalm 104:5 and the time that Joshua told the Sun to stand still in the sky could imply that, it seems that God didn’t intend the Bible to teach either geocentrism or heliocentrism. It has always had more to do with HIs message of relationship to us. It’s the same, I think, of how I tell my kids (my youngest is now 7, so I’m no longer so simplistic) that the Sun rose today. Of course, it didn’t rise; we moved toward it. However, at the previous 6 years of my daughter’s life, it would have been useless and confusing for me to explain that to her.
Thank you. I look forward to learning more from you. Randy
Laura…I looked at the Is Genesis History site. I did see that movie when it was in the theatres. I thought the movie was beautiful in terms of production…I was not so sure, one way or the other, about some of its geological assertions…The site referred to by Patrick seems a bit more focused on asserting a set of views based upon its reading of the early chapters of Genesis. For example…
Or consider climate change/global warming: if God told Noah after the Flood He would never destroy the earth again with water, and that seasons (i.e., the climate) would remain the same for seedtime and harvest, then there’s no need to fear any future climate issues.
Along those lines, God blessed me with children, and I do not fear that he will love and care for them, but I still fed, clothed, trained and cared for them as God’s agent here on earth, as he entrusted them to me.
I’m not at all sure that that is a warranted inference. There will still be summer and winter, planting and harvest, but that says nothing about extremes or the success or yield of harvests. We are also told to expect famines and severe inflation, at least with respect to food prices.
But I agree with you with respect to fear. Many know, and I have mentioned it at BioLogos more than once, that “the most frequent mandate in the Bible is “Don’t be afraid” or one of its several variations – “Be anxious for nothing”, “Fret not”, …” What we pay attention to is a continuous choice that we make, and if we are focusing solely on problems, no matter how dire, we are forgetting that we have a Father who will protect us, even through the most severe trials.
Thanks Dale…that was a copy-and-paste job from the “Is Genesis History” website to which we were referred by another inquirer here…
Ah. Sorry, I didn’t read carefully enough.
I rather thought that might trip people up!! The site mentions BioLogos as well, so this is probably the message that the earlier inquirer wanted us to get.
Then you carry an interesting book, but one of fables. I don’t count on fables for salvation.
When you have time, I suggest starting at the beginning, even if you can’t watch it all at once.
For now, when you have about 5 minutes to spare, go from 18:23-22-44, then 46:38-51:44.
God said that he would never destroy the whole earth with water again. That has not stopped local floods from monsoons, typhoons, hurricanes and tidal waves due to earthquakes or other phenomena. The ultimate end of this earth will be by fire, and then a new heaven and new earth will come down.