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By: Larry Shaffer
The sunrise from my home office balcony
Genesis 1, Take Three
A few words on the ‘apparent contradiction’ of a young earth versus old earth. As mentioned yesterday, a simple and literal approach to Genesis leads to an historical conclusion of a young earth; no more than 10,000 years old. How do we resolve this issue? Many theologians and Bible students have abandoned the simple and literal approach to Genesis and have chosen to interpret Genesis with modern science as their guide. In other words, modern science guides or becomes the authority over how we interpret. So, they change the meaning of “day” to mean an “age” or a long period of time rather than a 24-hour time period. They depart from the simple, straightforward meaning of ‘day’ (Genesis says, ‘a morning and night, one day’ – simple and straightforward) and they say each day equals several millions of years. Why do they do that? Only because they feel they need to conform the Bible to the generally accepted scientific views of today. None of us want to be considered simple-minded and ignorant but stop and ponder the ramifications of this approach. What if we interpreted all the Bible according to the generally accepted views of today such as science, philosophy, morality, etc. Something other than the Bible becomes our accepted rule of authority.
Regarding Genesis 1 and the age of the earth, I resolve the issue in my simple mind with two considerations. First, I question the accuracy of the method of “time stamping”. I’m not a scientist and I haven’t studied this in depth, but I question the method in its simplest form. To compare the age of one artifact over another, one must make a judgement call on the age of one artifact in order to consider the age of the other being compared. Who determined the age of the original artifact that becomes the comparison of all the others? As it pertains to the age of the earth, people with a bias toward an old earth made the judgement.
How old are you?
Secondly, on day one, God created the earth formless and void. Then on the proceeding days he fashioned the earth. What impact did God’s fashioning of the formless creation have on the appearance of time? For example, on day two when “God made the expanse and separated the waters,” what did His immediate creative process do to the “appearance” of the world? It could be that what God did in one day may “appear” to be millions of years of evolution? On day three when God separated the waters and “let dry land appear”, it’s possible that in one 24-hour day, God pushed dry land up from the oceans in a process that could appear to be millions of years of evolution. At the end of the six days, it could appear that God’s created earth was old. But He did it in six 24-hour days.
The aging of good wine
Do you believe that Jesus turned water into wine as described in John 2? If you believe the Bible, you probably do without too much mental difficulty. When the wine was sipped for the first time it was only a few minutes old. The wedding attendant in the story proclaimed that it was very, very good wine. If a wine expert was to examine the wine and determine how long the wine had been aged, he/she would certainly claim that it had been aged a long time even though in reality, it was a few minutes old. God’s creative power transcends the typically aging process that we are used to.
You gotta have faith
Nevertheless, even if both of my premises are wrong, I am going to approach God’s Word simply, straightforward and with a belief toward its authority, veracity and inerrancy (without error). I will interpret the world in light of the Word. I will not interpret the Word in light of the beliefs of this world. This is not blind faith but faith with substance. It does take faith to believe in God and to believe in the authority and truthfulness of the Bible…and the perseverance of its truth and accuracy over the ages. But there is substance behind my faith in God’s Word. God has provided substantive proof to the uniqueness, consistency and inerrancy of the Bible. There is an entire body of historical and theological study related to the veracity of the Word. My devotional study is not the place to dig into it. I simply felt compelled to reaffirm my belief in the simple, straightforward authority of God’s Word under the attack on the straightforward truth of creation in Genesis 1. Unfortunately, many evangelicals have caved in to change the historical view of Genesis 1 to conform to current scientific views.
Lord, I believe Your Word is true. It is simple, but it is also immensely deep. Keep me from being distracted by this world to doubt Your Word, to ignore it or even worse, to disobey it. You are my light, my rock, my substance. You are my all-in-all. I rest in You. Amen!