A recent creation is more than just a point of debate; it’s a barometer for where people place their trust. But what does recent creation really mean?
Recent creation refers to the biblical view of creation and earth history known as young-age creationism. The recent creation point of view accepts the historicity, authority, and inerrancy of the Bible. Recent creation also accepts the historical narratives of the Bible as describing real historical events and real people.
Many Christians have little interest in the controversy about the age of the earth. Some believers will say, “What matters to me is the Rock of Ages, not the ages of rocks.” This innocent sounding statement inadvertently opens the door to undermining the authority of Scripture. This statement about the “Rock of Ages” sounds reasonable in a sense because Christians would agree that the person and work of Jesus Christ is central in the Christian life. But accepting the scriptural time scale is an important part of the foundation of the Christian worldview—and the gospel.
Recent creation is the view that God not only created the world, but He did so recently—approximately 6,000 years for the age of the Earth and the universe, which is based on the chronology given in the Bible. This runs counter to the billions of years claimed by secular scientists and those who accept their teachings. Genesis 1 describes how God created everything in the universe in six ordinary days. Thus, the Earth and universe did not require long processes to come to be.
Genesis 5 and 11 list genealogical data documenting the father-son line from Adam to Abraham. This chronological information, combined with other historical information in the Bible, can be used to estimate the age of the Earth. James Ussher, well known for his scholarly work dating creation and the Flood, arrived at a date for creation in 4004 BC. Other Bible scholars over the years have made determinations similar to Ussher’s as well. Taking Scripture at face value clearly points to a young age, even if there is no specific verse in the Bible that explicitly tells the age of the Earth.
It is simply impossible to fit “deep time” into the Bible without raising something else up to have more authority than God’s Word.
There are many difficulties with interpreting the Bible in a way that allows for an old Earth and universe. Scripture emphasizes in Exodus 20:11 and other passages that God created all things in the Earth and the universe in a week by His word. It is simply impossible to fit “deep time” into the Bible without raising something else up to have more authority than God’s Word.
Indeed many scholars today do not believe that the Bible is historically accurate prior to the time of King David in ancient Israel, despite archeological evidence that confirms biblical information from the times of Abraham, Joseph, and the conquest of Canaan.1
Some Bible teachers do not believe that the entire Old Testament is historically accurate. The dates of various events in the Old Testament are often questioned by non-Christian scholars, and this way of thinking often creeps into the thinking of seminary professors and Christian pastors. Aside from the historical and chronological information in the Bible implying a young age, there is a philosophical conflict between Christianity and old-age beliefs. In the old-age view, the Creator is pushed far back in space and time—if he has any place at all. Contrast this with the view that the Bible puts the origin of the earth and the universe at the beginning of recorded history.
Why would an omnipotent and good God use millions of years of a violent, wasteful, inefficient process like evolution to create living things? God’s Word teaches that most things were spoken into existence immediately. The God of the Bible would not use a long process of death and struggle to create. The violence and struggle in nature is not normal from God’s perspective (it was introduced after the Fall of man) and is something God will eventually do away with in the future.
God’s Word speaks to us on historical events just as authoritatively as it speaks to us on how we should behave and think about God. Thus, a problem arises if we first allow arguments saying the world is old and then try to make the Word of God fit.
Each of us must choose which we will vest with ultimate authority: God’s Word or incomplete human knowledge. Many will argue that science and religion are different realms that do not relate to each other. But this way of dividing or compartmentalizing truth contradicts Scripture. There is one God who created all of reality, and His Word is equally authoritative in all that it reveals to us. If we treat evolutionary ideas as authoritative about the history of the world, this leads us to a distorted view of truth and a distorted view of God’s Word.
The Bible gives us objective truth about the past and about the world. The subjective experience of every Christian is based on objective facts of history that Scripture records. Science and history confirm what Scripture says. From a scientific perspective, Scripture gives only an outline of historical events. Science can help add details to the outline, but not if the basic outline is thrown out.
The significance of the Genesis Flood account to geology is a good example. Genesis 6–8 gives an outline of the major events of the Flood as Noah experienced the event, but it does not explain all the physical or geological processes that were taking place. Uniformitarian geology rejects the entire concept of a worldwide Flood. This leads to incorrect answers, as geologists try to explain how the earth came to be the way it is today without accepting the true history of the world. However, creationist geologists have made great progress in explaining the earth’s rocks and fossils because they start with the assumption that the biblical account is true history.
When scientists say that events and processes happened in a different time scale than the Bible records, some deal with this by putting scientific arguments and biblical information in different categories. We categorize because we are taught in categories while being educated. Subjects are often not integrated in traditional education. In the minds of young people in school, science, because it is considered authoritative about the real world, is what is trusted about history and about nature. Thus, science will be treated as objectively true, while biblical concepts become thought of as subjectively true. When biblical concepts are treated as subjective, they can be easily dismissed as unimportant. Good education from a Christian perspective prevents this “disconnect.”
If the Bible is not true to the facts about the real world, there is no reason for us to trust it to explain our day-to-day human experience.2 Atheists often realize that many Christians contradict their own beliefs by questioning teachings in the Bible such as Genesis. Some use this to attack the Christian faith. If Christians doubt what at first appears to be insignificant details of Scripture, then others, and even Christians, may begin to look at the whole Bible differently, eventually doubting the central tenets of the Christian faith, namely the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus the historicity of Scripture and its accuracy regarding time and events are quite important.
We benefit a great deal from experimental science, i.e., systematic scientific methods that are used to come to conclusions in matters like the design of automobiles or computers and in modern medicine. But what many people trained in the sciences do not realize is that the study of origins is very different from experimental science. You simply cannot do experiments in the past. Even if you set up an experiment today to simulate something that happened in the past, there is no way of knowing that what happens in the experiment accurately represents what happened in the past. This is true regardless of how careful your observations (made in the present) are.
Origins issues represent one-time unrepeatable events, and, so, normal scientific methods from experimental science just do not apply. This does not mean that scientists cannot or should not deal with origins. It means the process is different and scientists cannot speak as authoritatively about events of the past—unless they base their statements on the testimony of a reliable eyewitness. Many unprovable assumptions have to be made in developing theories about the events of the past.
There is often deep disagreement between evolutionists and creationists, but the disagreement is rarely over actual facts or experimental science, but rather over the conclusions of origins science. Young-age creationists believe that there is a written source (the Bible) recording events of the past from the Creator Himself, who was obviously there. They use that to shape their conclusions from origins science research. Evolutionists use a different starting point—one that arbitrarily doesn’t allow supernatural revelation or interaction—to shape their origins science.
Jesus affirms the historicity of Genesis when commenting on divorce. He said that “at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female’” (Mark 10:6). He quoted the teachings of Genesis 1, showing that He accepted that Adam and Eve were around “from the beginning”—not millions of years after the beginning.
Evolutionary science would say that human males and females didn’t exist until billions of years after the beginning. This would contradict Jesus because He said God made them male and female from the beginning.
This is just one example of how Scripture refers to creation as complete in the beginning; there was no long process of development of living things. This is emphasized in a number of places—such as in Psalm 33:6, 9: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made . . . . He spoke and it came to be.” These statements imply immediate action, not that things finally came about millions or billions of years later.
Good science does not conflict with Scripture; scientists biased against the God of the Bible do—those who refuse to accept their Creator or who do not regard His Word as it is written. We cannot, as Christians, give in to the pressure to accept an old age for the world. Because it is the written revelation of One who cannot lie, the biblical history is sound and is confirmed by strong scientific evidence—just as we would expect.
That said, we should exercise patience as we deal with others around us who take an old-age viewpoint. There is a need to make people aware of the evidence that confirms a young earth and that the Bible can be trusted wholly—but it must be done with grace and prayer.