Does it really matter to you how old the earth is?

4158639307_b02ea5aa0f_bI’ve been talking about things that keep people from embracing the Father’s love. And I think our traditional view of the creation account is one of them.

In this regard, what amazes me about Christians is in how we like to argue endlessly about what words mean and scriptural interpretations that won’t set a heart free.

We call it defending the truth, but are we actually doing this, or just getting in the way of their knowing this Father who loves them so much He sent His Son to died for them?

Last year, I took our ministry students to Mall of America to just hang out and see where Jesus would lead us. We met up with a ministry friend of mine who lives in Minneapolis. I like going to this place because you’ll find just about every nation, tribe and tongue on the planet there. It’s a modern-day cultural crossroad.

When my friend and I were going through a food court we were led to approach a young man who turned out to be a biology student attending a local university. He was in the middle of what looked like a fine dinner but stopped when we walked up so we started a conversation with him. He seemed interested, so we continued.

Of course, like many young bright science majors, he was an atheist. So I was looking forward to a wonderful conversation because I know that God loves atheists.

As it turns out, his problem with the Bible was that he couldn’t believe the Genesis account, that the world was created in six days. I’ve found this to be a major issue for most skeptics in America. Probably elsewhere too. I was cool with that and wanted to continue the conversation. But my ministry friend started digging into this objection, trying to prove to him that it was a literal six 24-hour days. I could see the biology student shutting down. And this is the point of my post today.

Does it really matter if the world was created in six days or six billion years, as far as sharing the love of Christ? Really?

Does this person even have to believe that the world was created in six 24-hour days in order to be saved? To be filled with the Holy Spirit? To know the Father’s love?

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. The six-day thing was his objection. And if he can’t get past that, how is he ever going to believe in Jesus? I’ll get to that in a moment.

So I interrupted my friend as subtly as I could and said, “That’s great, Bob (don’t remember his real name). You would probably get a lot out of listening to Dr. Hugh Ross about the Genesis account, and then I moved on in our conversation.

The walls started to come down. As I talked he got more interested and asked questions.

His food was getting cold but he didn’t seem to mind.

We ended up talking for about 45 minutes (we usually only talk to people for 5-10 minutes), I shared the Father’s love, how He wants him to know Him, and actually got a word for him that he acknowledged to be true about himself (got him to smile too!). We blessed him and left him to finish his dinner. He said he would check out the Hugh Ross link I gave him.

Here’s my point.

Does it really matter, in light of an offer of a life in Christ filled with purpose, love and joy, that we win an argument over how old the earth is?

Really?

And how’s that been working for you?

Back to the objection. Now, I personally don’t have a problem with God creating the world in six 24-hour days. But this is my question.

Do we have to hold to this position in order to defend the truth of the Bible?

Actually, I don’t think we do. For even though God is God and He can do whatever He wants, I think He made the Universe within the physical laws He created. And this is good because that means we don’t have to throw away science in order to believe in Him.

While there are people like Ken Ham, from Answers in Genesis who do an excellent job defending the traditional “young earth” model, this line of argument isn’t going to convince our, otherwise open to Jesus, biology student that the world was created in six 24-hour days.

The good news is, you don’t have to throw away the Bible to agree with science here. And this is where people like Dr. Hugh Ross can help us. He’s an astrophysicist, former professor at Cal-Tech, pastor and founder of Reasons to Believe ministry. In other words, he’s really smart!

I have included a short video clip where he answers how the earth could actually be very old, while still embracing a literal view of the Genesis creation account (the Hebrew word for “day” can be literally interpreted four different ways).

You see, something wonderful has happened over the last couple of decades. Advancements in science are actually converging and confirming the crazy things we’ve even doubted or didn’t understand about what the Bible tells us (especially, in the area of quantum physics and microbiology.)

Science and Christianity don’t have to be opposed to one another. But we may need to re-think our traditional interpretations of Scripture to see if they are valid. But regardless, we need to stop obsessing on the minors and focus on the majors, like inviting people to experience the Father’s love and transforming fellowship in Christ (1 John 1:3-4).

And, by the way, God is pretty good at getting us to believe the details of the Bible…after we have believed in Him.

What do you think about this? Does this view stretch you too far from your traditions? Or could it be another resource to help you overcome these major objections to faith?

Here’s a couple other videos you might like from Dr.Hugh Ross…

Did God create the earth before the sun and moon?

For a longer video on “Why the Universe is the way it is” (makes some good points to go along with my last post)

Photo credit: MOA Food Court by Michael Ocampo used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.

 

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
This entry was posted in Father Heart of God, The Shift, Theology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Does it really matter to you how old the earth is?

  1. Great post, I need to check out those links when I get home tonight. I have never bought the young earth theory, but that has never got in the way of my relationship with the Father

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks. Definitely check out the links. Dr. Ross has a lot of credibility in in the science community and he explains things well without getting too technical. Blessings.

  2. Kylie says:

    I so agree with you, even apart from the Christian faith. Love is what matters…not silly details that have nothing to do with having a relationship with God. Well, certainly they can have something to do with the relationship, but you know what I mean. 🙂

  3. Great post Mel! This has been a popular debate among many people from my church recently (and my pastor brought it up in one of his sermons) because there are people with many different viewpoints on how/when earth was created and my stance on it is that if my belief about how the earth was formed doesn’t affect my relationship with Christ and my future in eternity with Him then it’s not going to be something that I’m going to spend too much time trying to figure out.

    At the end of the day all that will matter is whether I accept the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection, not the many theological and scientific theories of how the earth came to be. I think sometimes debating subjects like these that we’ll most likely never get real answers to end up hindering us instead of helping us in spreading the gospel. What people need most is less theories and more of Christ’s truth and love. Thank you for sharing this. Be blessed!!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, Anna. For us it shouldn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter for salvation either. But there are many that doubt God because of this particular issue. And that’s why I am thankful for ministries like Dr. Hugh Ross’s Reasons to Believe that can help people overcome the hurdle of the six 24-hour days of creation. He can help them reconcile science with faith and be free to receive the love of God without this issue getting in the way. Blessings to you also!

  4. Michael Snow says:

    It is sad that some mindlessly put stumbling blocks on the path of others by making claims that the Bible itself does not make. I was struck by coimments on several sites, following the Ham on Nyw ‘debate,’ by even young, struggling Christians who had grown up on Ham’s teaching and found it untenalbe. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/creation-young-earth-ham-nye-genesis-one/

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, I agree. We’re putting up unnecessary stumbling blocks to people struggling with faith by insisting that the Bible says the earth is 6,000 years old. The original language is not emphatic on this point. So we can only postulate a theory. And obviously, the Bible doesn’t deal with the creation of angels, Satan’s fall, etc. So why butt heads with science on this? Btw, as you probably know, Hugh Ross has been in a lot of debates with skeptics and Christians alike. Here’s one with Ken Ham you’ve probably seen. I thought he did very well in this one. http://youtu.be/jUHNz6bUSIU

      What’s interesting to me is how people will defend their traditional views by saying they’re defending the Bible, when both sides are using Scripture. The best we can say here is that we are defending our interpretation of the Bible.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated. I will check out your article. Blessings.

  5. TK says:

    One thing I do like about Catholicism is that they don’t deny science. They just work around it. They accept that people are born gay – that is their cross to bare. Being gay is not a problem, sleeping with someone of the same gender is. At least they aren’t denying science.

    My point is, growing up in the Catholic church, I was taught there is no time in heaven. That means six days could be anything. Maybe God did create the world in six days, but who knows how long those days were?

    I’ve been watching Cosmos and my mind is just blown with how much sense everything makes. Honestly, it make me more convinced in science AND divinity.They don’t seem to be opposing forces to me. The problem is, people fear asking questions of their faith. They fear asking God questions. Without that fear, I think religion and science would grow together in harmony.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, the Catholics have done well in that regard. Of course, before the enlightenment, most scientific discoveries were made under the authority of the Catholic Church. They have a long history of science and faith. We’ve had a big influence in our area from the Jesuits (Jesuit school was here years ago), and when I was a kid I used to love hearing some of Jesuit teachers talk about space at our church.

      I like Cosmos too. There are some awesome discoveries being made by science. I’m kind of a quantum physics geek but I know nothing of the technical aspects. Dr. Hugh Ross, on Reasons to Believe, puts out posts every two days on what science is discovering and how it relates to God and faith. He has a mobile app for geeks too. 🙂

  6. “Does this person even have to believe that the world was created in six 24-hour days in order to be saved? To be filled with the Holy Spirit? To know the Father’s love?” Amen to that, Mel. Just seems silly to me to put stumbling blocks in the way of someone receiving the best of what God has to offer. Thanks for the links, by the way. I’ve always felt that science is the study of God’s creation, and the two really go hand in hand. I’m excited to learn about what Dr. Ross has to say. Gosh – I might just turn into a science geek! Lovin’ it! 😀

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! Welcome to the supernatural quantum geek squad. 🙂 Seriously, definitely check out the Hugh Ross links. He’s got some great stuff on discovering the wonders of God’s creation in science.

  7. Ayanda says:

    Hi Mel, I just wanted to weigh in on this post. I thought about it and I think if we walked the gospel like Jesus walked it, preached the gospel with power like the apostles preached it, it would matter how old the earth is or all the other disputable stuff we fight and judge each other on.

    The second part is; God gave us minds that reason, He gave us a curiousity that searches, I always thought being childlike was accepting what you are told but the thing is as my children grow and when I come across children I discover that they are not afraid to ask and probe the world around them, they explore.

    When I was growing up I had a lot of questions and still do, as a child when we asked questions at some point the grown ups involved get tired of answering and may feel even insecure because they don’t know the answer. Well, God has all the answers and exploring and asking them doesn’t make God any less God or make Him feel insecure.

    Personally I wonder about all these questions and when I pretend they are not there they create a stumbling block but God is not withholding and I find that for me it is better to wrestle through these questions within my relationship with Elohim.
    I was a manager in a huge international co-operation and managing a team means managing different personalities and conflict so one of the training we had to attend as a manager was understanding team dynamics. In a team you would have a peace keeper( that one is obvious) the you would have a challenger ( this guy could be frustrating or an asset in the team because in all their challenging they force critical thinking within the team). Just to name a few.

    The body of Christ is comprised of many personalities and some of our brothers and sisters are stuck in atheisim perhaps because of the way we can’t sometimes accept that these differences amongst ourselves and try to bend people to see things the way we see them. (For people who are not supposed to be conformed to the image of this world we sure work hard to try and make one another conform.)

    There is however one thing that no one can resist and that is Love, Corintians 13 discribes it best. The Holy Spirit is bringing us into the unity of the Faith but that doesn’t mean that I stop being myself with all the color and nuances that pleasured God to create me with.

    So to answer your question, No it doesn’t matter how old the earth is but to for to those whom it matters thank God for the Hugh Ross’ that God has raised up. I sometimes see the Gospel preached with Power and sometimes also with Love but those are rare instances for now.

    A bit mouthy I know 🙂 yet a fun subject to explore. You are on a roll keep them coming.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Ayanda. On what you said here…
      “When I was growing up I had a lot of questions and still do, as a child when we asked questions at some point the grown ups involved get tired of answering and may feel even insecure because they don’t know the answer.”

      In another good Hugh Ross video, he talks about the importance of answering children’s questions when they have them so it won’t create issues later on. You can see it here…
      http://youtu.be/L7mVKgxkVio. So, yes, while this issue should not be important, God raises up people like Dr. Ross for those who stumble over these kinds of things.
      Blessings.

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