Originally published in Creation 16, no 4 (September 1994): 48-49.
As a Christian, do you clearly understand why young-earth creationists believe that a billions-of-years-old earth is incompatible with the Bible? Most Christians do not. Yet, there are major theological problems with positions that reject the literal six-day creation week of Genesis 1-2.
Old-earth theories such as evolutionism, theistic evolutionism, and progressive creationism all reject the existence of an original paradise — a world in which all beasts of the earth and all birds of the air lived peaceably together as plant-eaters. Rather, old-earthers teach that death has ruled our planet from the beginning.
It is well known that billions of dead animals are preserved in water-laid strata across our planet. Yet, most old-earthers deny the existence of a global Flood catastrophe. At best, they accept a local flood with little geological significance. They claim the fossils are evidence of many separate deaths over hundreds of millions of years.
If this view of history was true, the Gospel would be cut off at its roots. Why?
The Bible teaches that God created a paradise. Adam and Eve soon corrupted paradise with sin. Death was the penalty. As a result, sin, suffering, and death came upon Adam and upon all the world he ruled (Romans 5:12-17). The first bloodshed took place when God killed animals to provide a skin covering for Adam and Eve. This was symbolic of His plan to later die as a sin offering Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, to cover our sins forever and conquer death forever.
If the billions-of-years scenarios were true, then death, disease, and suffering would be nothing new or special resulting from Adam and Eve's sin.The Bible teaches that God will ultimately restore paradise (the New Heavens and New Earth). There will be no more death and no more tears. Lambs will once again lie down in peace with lions.
However, if the billions-of-years scenarios were true, then death, disease, and suffering would be nothing new or special resulting from Adam and Eve's sin. They would be merely the natural order of things since the beginning of time. In other words, most of our natural world's relatively miserable present-day condition would not have truly resulted from events subsequent to Adam's sin. Disease, death, and tragedy would have been designed into the natural order of things from the start.
Does the Bible support this thinking? Certainly not! The whole purpose of Christ's life and death is based on the original existence of a literal sinless paradise with a real Adam and Eve who disobeyed God and reaped a judgment of pain, sorrow, and death. Without that original sin and those literal circumstances, the logical purpose for the Redeemer falls apart.
Starting with the 'big bang', progressive creationists weave a tale that pictures God using billions of years to create the universe and develop new varieties of animals. Instead of forming a paradise planet for them, He inexplicably makes a world full of fuming, exploding volcanoes, exploding stars, and horrific impacts from asteroids and meteorites which sometimes wipe out whole populations. Rather than being peaceful vegetarians, the animals aggressively seek out and kill other living flesh for food. Before man's creation, earth's animal world is subjected to violent earthquakes, lethal floods, deadly hurricanes, massive extinctions, vicious predators, and pestilence.
In this 'progressive creation' view, the Creator does not choose to make this brutal and sickening scene as short as possible; rather, it is supposedly extended for millions or even billions of years prior to man's creation. One might rightly wonder, for what purpose is all of this? Old-earthers have never offered a satisfactory explanation.
What a horrible thing some Christians are wrongly accusing God of doing! What a cruel, sadistic, ugly way to produce the animal world for Adam.
Dear Christian, it is vital to understand that our Creator's true nature is absolutely incompatible with such theories. He sees even the sparrow fall. Christ wept at the sorrow Lazarus' death brought. Our world suffers because it is 'broken' due to sin, not because it was created this way.
The Creator's existence and His Word are wonderfully supported by good science and accurate theology.
(Copyright Films for Christ, 2628 West Birchwood Circle, Mesa, Arizona 85202, USA. Used with permission.)