Saturday, June 30, 2012
THE AGE OF THE EARTH - III
A Possible Solution
In our last blog post we discussed several different ways that have been proposed to reconcile the Genesis account with the apparent old age of the earth, including the Day-Age Theory and the Literary Framework interpretation, and found them wanting. As we suggested, however, there is another possibility.
Upon closer examination of the text there is one point of ambiguity. Verse 1 states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (NKJV). This evidently describes the initial act of creation. Then follows, in verse 2, three clauses that describe the condition of the earth after the initial creation: "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (A more literal rendering of the first clause would be "And the earth was waste and emptiness.") There is no indication in the text as to how long this condition prevailed. In other words, for an unspecified length of time, conceivably for untold ages, the earth was a dark, cold, barren rock drifting through space. The first of the six days of creation is not described until verse 3. Perceptive readers will recognize this as a variation of the "Gap Theory."
This would account for the problem of radiometric dating. The bare rocks might very well be billions of years old. The fossils, on the other hand, may be, and probably are, fairly recent (For the most part radiometric dating does not affect fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks.)
This still leaves the problem of the stars. According to verses 14-19, the sun, moon and stars were not created until the 4th day of creation. Interestingly, light was created on the 1st day. There are several possible solutions to this problem. First of all, light could have been created in transit. God created light first. He could have then concentrated the light into beams flowing from heavenly bodies. Secondly, the stars could have actually been created earlier, with the light timed to arrive on the 4th day. Finally, since most of the stars that are visible to the naked eye are anywhere from 4.3 to 800 light years away, they could have been created on the 4th day and simply did not become visible until several centuries later.
It must be remembered that the Bible generally describes nature from the standpoint of the ordinary observer standing on the ground, without the aid of modern scientific instruments. It should also be borne in mind that Genesis 1 describes the bare facts of creation, on successive days, but not the process of creation. The technical details are unimportant for the purpose of the text, which undoubtedly is to make a theological point.
Scripture is always the final authority, since it is nothing less that the Word of God Himself. But God has left us to use our own reason when it come to the investigation of nature. Ultimately there is no contradiction nature and Scripture: the same God is the Author of them both. But we must be care how we undertake science, and we must be sure that we understand Scripture aright.