The Bible provides us with a timescale for history. Although not measured by means of atomic clocks, the following dates and facts underlay a proper understanding of the Bible:
- The timescale cannot be extended indefinitely into the past, nor into the future. There is a well-defined beginning in Genesis 1:1, as well as a moment (Rev. 10:6) when physical time will end (discussed more fully in [G5, p. 23–31]).
- The earth and all other astronomical bodies are of the same age, except for the three-day difference reported in creation week.
- The total duration of creation was six days (Exod. 20:11).
- The age of the universe may be estimated in terms of the genealogies recorded in the Bible (note that it cannot be calculated exactly). It is of the order of a few thousand years, and not at all in a range of millions or even thousands of millions of years.
- Galatians 4:4 points out the most outstanding event in the
world’s history: “
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” The first coming of Jesus happened nearly 2,000 years ago.
- The last phase of the present world’s history which will end at the second coming of Jesus, began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17).
- The coming of Christ in power and glory is the greatest expected
event lying ahead. The exact date is unknown, because “
the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2). Jesus has, however, mentioned certain definite signs (Matt. 24) which will precede His second coming. From these we know that this time is near—much closer than ever before.
The long time periods in the past and in the future, as seen by evolutionists (compare OB10 and OB11), differ widely from the biblical timescale. They also ignore the events prophesied for the time of the end. While the Bible draws our attention to the coming of the Lord and to the temporal limits of this world (its impermanence), evolutionists believe in an evolving completion. Hoimar von Ditfurth sees this completion as being “the beyond” [D3, p. 300–301].
The assurance given by theologians that the kingdom of God lies “beyond” this world seems to refer to a land that cannot find a place for itself. In an evolving world developing towards its completion, something quite different is expected. The fact of evolution has opened our eyes to realize that reality cannot end there where our familiar reality ends. Neither philosophy nor science theory could compel us to recognize the “transcendental immanence” which will far surpass our present stage of development—it was evolution that opened our eyes.
The long evolutionary time spans have even infiltrated into evangelical circles. How else is it to be understood when a theologian like Hansjörg Bräumer states his position clearly as follows [B6, p. 32]: “For anybody who chooses to practice science with God, the basic thought patterns are fixed.” Then, a few pages later, he writes [p. 44]: “It detracts nothing from the creation account to see it happening in a cyclic framework of millions of years.”
Supporters of theistic evolution corrupt the biblically given measures of time. It is noteworthy, but sad, that such authors invariably quote the Irish bishop J. Ussher, who calculated that the earth was created in the year 4004 B.C. To ensure that the reader will really be convinced of the ridiculousness of such a procedure, the clinching comment of his contemporary, J. Lightfoot, usually follows, namely that it happened at 9 o’clock in the morning of October 23. In this way they attempt to divest themselves completely of the biblical timescale. Ussher was correct in basing his calculations on the biblical genealogies, but he went beyond the actual biblical time frame when he arrived at an exact date. On the other hand, the evolutionist timescales for which there are no physical grounds (discussed fully in [S5]), can lead to two delusions:
- Not all statements of the Bible are to be taken seriously. If so, then we deny God the trust on which the relationship between believers and God is based (Heb. 10:35). It is probably not a prerequisite for salvation to believe that God created everything in six days, but when one accepts this pronouncement together with all the others, it leads to a true understanding of Scripture.
- The required vigilance in our vision of the second coming of Jesus
may be lost. The Bible warns us against people who ask, directly
or indirectly, “
Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” and who make us believe that “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:4).