A Question of Time: Old or Young Earth? -- By: Austin Robbins

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 15:2 (Spring 2002)
Article: A Question of Time: Old or Young Earth?
Author: Austin Robbins


A Question of Time:
Old or Young Earth?

Austin Robbins

Biblical scholars today are divided into two camps by their views on the age of the earth: those who believe the earth to be relatively young, and those holding to a very long history of the earth.

Definitions

Young Earth View

This theory accepts the account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 at face value. It views the age of the earth as implied by Genesis to be about 7000 to 9000 years, perhaps less but not more. It repudiates the whole time scale of evolutionary theories.

Old Earth Views

Day/Age Theory

This theory sees each day of the creation account as an epoch of undetermined length. It expands the creation week to include enough time for the vast geologic ages of evolution to have occurred. (It is sometimes called the Concordist theory since it tries to see a concord between the stages of evolution and the days of Genesis 1, albeit with much overlapping of those days.)

Gap Theory

This theory postulates an undetermined period of time (a gap) between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, or possibly before Genesis 1:1. During this gap Satan is supposed to have fallen (along with his angels) thus causing God to judge the previously created earth producing conditions of chaos and emptiness (waste and void). Afterward God recommenced His work and the rest of the creation narrative explains this. It is also known as the Ruin/Reconstruction Theory.

Advocates of Old Earth Views

Those who hold these views do so from a sincere desire to defend the inerrancy and integrity of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Their motives are not to tear down the Bible but to harmonize it with what they the age of the universe.

Popularization of old earth views was greatly enhanced by the publication of the late Bernard Ramm’s book The Christian View of Science and Scripture in 1954. It has since been used almost continuously as a text in many Christian colleges and universities. No wonder many Christians are confused about the issue, especially since the New Scofield Reference Bible, the Pilgrim Study Bible, Haley s Bible Handbook and Unger’s Bible Handbook all uphold one or both of these old earth views. (The Ryrie Study Bible and the MacArthur Study Bible, however, oppose all old earth theories.)

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