A reader who previewed my Bible chronology book emailed me about my views on the Young Earth vs. Old Earth controversy. In his words, he wanted to know if I believe, as he framed the question, “the Bible’s version of creation or science’s version of creation.”
On this topic, I am fortunate to have a background in both science and Bible-believing Christianity. I was educated in physics and engineering in college after being raised Baptist in the American South, so I don’t have to choose one Creation account and exclude the other. I understand both and can answer “Yes, I agree” to both choices. I believe that both Creation accounts are truthful and compatible with one another when each is understood in its own context.
I also believe that, with all of the Young Earth vs. Old Earth controversy in recent years—a period during which many Christians have had their hearts hardened by unreasonable rhetoric into a view that belief in science somehow calls into question one’s faith in God and the Bible, or, among scientists, that any outward expression of faith in God and the Bible is prohibitive of serious academic credibility—both religion and science have been diminished.
Francis Collins, American physician-geneticist and former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, made the following observation, and I tend to agree with his sentiments: “Science is…a powerful way, indeed … to study the natural world. Science is not particularly effective … in making commentary about the supernatural world. Both worlds, for me, are quite real and quite important. They are investigated in different ways. They coexist. They illuminate each other.”
As a serious Bible researcher, I understand from Scripture that God does not ask us to abandon reason in order to have faith. Otherwise, why would the Bible say, “Come now, and let us reason together …” (Isaiah 1:18). Nor did Jesus expect us to abandon the evidence of things that we can see with our eyes and discern with our intellect. When John the Baptist sent messengers to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, Jesus told them to “Tell John what things you have seen and heard …” (Matthew 11:4). Faith based on things unseen and reason based on evidence that can be seen are quite compatible, as are science and religion if the rules that govern interpretation of each are not improperly mixed.
It is unfortunate that some Christian leaders with questionable scientific training and some atheist cosmologists with less-than-stellar theological credentials have chosen to create and/or perpetuate a faux controversy between the two areas of belief. It is a loss for both science and religion.
The following statement on the topic of Creation, and indirectly on the “conflict” between science and religion, is published in my books, and it is the guideline I use for doing my research into sacred chronology:
“The chronology in my books has been limited back in time to 2,162 BCE, back only to the birth of Abram. For your author, attempting to establish dates much further back in time using the Bible seems futile, since Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verse 11b, very clearly states, “He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end” (NASB). As for creation, your author accepts the biblical account as inspired and accurate, and he also accepts as credible the empirical evidence that supports the scientific theory of creation, which posits a universe originating with a Big Bang that is calculated to have occurred 13.75 ± 0.12 billion years ago [as seen from our perspective in the stream of time today]. He offers no apology for not attempting to reconcile the two seemingly disparate creation accounts. Over the years, he has heard more than a few scientists repeating distortions of sacred texts in an attempt to discredit the biblical account of creation, and he has heard just as many Young Earth creationists repeating what can best be described as pseudo-science to explain away the findings of their assumed scientific adversaries, and he wishes to do neither. From personal experience, your author can certify that the Bible has always proven dependable and true for him, and that, using his scientific-technical training and God-given intellect, he has examined and found the chronological conclusions of modern science to be deserving of respect as well.”
What about those Young Earth advocates who preach that the Earth is only 6,000 years old? The obvious answer is that they are exhibiting a lack of understanding of the techniques of and rules for compiling Bible chronology and an equal lack of appreciation for the laws that govern the physical Universe, profound natural laws that God the Creator of ALL things established with the same power and authority that He exercised when he revealed and established the Bible as His Word for understanding the spiritual realm.
As a Bible-believing follower of Jesus, I sometimes cringe at the bad witness the more aggressive Creationists give to the non-Christian world through the silly ideas they share in the media. If they want to remain ignorant of the laws that govern the physical world and thus ignore part of God’s glory, namely, the God-established laws of science that can be used to reveal the ancient age and vast extent of the heavens that declare God’s glory as affirmed in Psalm 19:1, that is their prerogative. They have free will to ignore the visible evidence of God’s handiwork if they so choose. And, if they are content to contemplate only 6,000 years of God’s glory, so be it. I prefer to contemplate the 13.7-billion years of God’s glory and more that we can discern from observing the heavens with our manmade telescopes and God-given intellect.
It is a core belief of your author that one day in the future, when both the words of the Bible and the observations of science are correctly interpreted and fully understood, any truth revealed by one will perfectly align with the truth revealed by the other since, ultimately, truth is an inherent attribute of the Creator God of Heaven and Earth, who is, by definition, One.