Part 1: The Age of the Earth: An Appraisal of Some Current Evangelical Positions -- By: Frederic R. Howe

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 142:565 (Jan 1985)
Article: Part 1: The Age of the Earth: An Appraisal of Some Current Evangelical Positions
Author: Frederic R. Howe

Part 1:
The Age of the Earth:
An Appraisal of Some Current Evangelical Positions

Frederic R. Howe

[Frederic R. Howe, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary]

The question of the age of the earth has always intrigued man. With the advent of Darwinian evolution and a macroevolutionary framework of the earth has come the demand for a scientific construct or model in cosmogony that posits millions and millions of years for earth history. On the other hand with the rise of the highly articulate statements of creation science in recent years has come a re-emphasis on a young earth model or framework. For evangelical Christians the issue comes to a focal point when careful scientists who place explicit confidence in the inerrant Word of God differ very pointedly about this question.1 Who is right in such differences of opinion? For what reasons do some evangelical scholars postulate long aeons of time for earth history? And what reasons lead other evangelical scholars to advocate a relatively recent creation and thus a young age for the earth?

The purpose of this series of two articles is to survey and analyze some current evangelical thought on the question of the age of the earth. Many issues are closely interrelated. Crucial questions about interpreting biblical statements that refer to the realm of nature and the whole matter of careful hermeneutical procedure arise. All the positions, whether they reflect an old earth or a young earth model, must deal definitively and carefully with the inerrant Word of God, particularly in such a passage as Genesis 1.

Theology and Science

One might question the right of the present writer, whose training and work is in theology and not science, to discuss this issue. Is this not a question of simply ascertaining the best methods of discovering the age of rocks and other realms of creation? Why not leave the matter entirely with the scientists? The problem is not so simple, however. All believers, of whatever training or background, are obligated to strive for coherence and correlation in the study of all truth. Scripture, the veritable handbook for all believers, has specific statements about the creation of the earth. These statements are vitally and integrally linked to historical data. As Mommsen once said, when speaking about the responsibility of any person to search for truth:

Every one of you gentlemen, every thinking man generally, is always searching for sources and is, in practice, an historian. There is no other way to understand the events that take place before your eyes. Every bus...

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