So, the universe is HUGE. It takes light from distant galaxies billions of years to reach earth. That alone indicates the universe is billions of years old. It is certainly possible for God to have created the universe with photons (light) in motion, just as it would be if they originated from the various galaxies stretching across the universe. But there are so many things that fit with an old universe that it would take volumes to list. If the universe actually was created mere thousands of years ago, the conditions we see of the universe all around us then perfectly simulate a universe that is 13 to 14 billion years old.
For Christians, we must make a judgment call on the evidence. For many, the perfect simulation of the old universe is not a problem. Certainly an omnipotent God described in the Bible can do that -- create a universe thousands of years ago that looks so consistently billions of years old. But the Bible also uses language and descriptions that put the earth at the center of the universe and we dismiss that today without even a thought In my mind, it is more easy to believe that we live in an earth centered universe that simulates the earth going around the sun than to believe that the universe is only a few thousand years old -- that is how strong the evidence is for an old universe. I know there are Christians who will say I put science ahead of the Bible. By that same reasoning, they put science ahead of the Bible when they adopt a sun centered solar system. These Christians part company with John Calvin and Martin Luther, who firmly believed the earth was the center of the universe because the Bible said so. But, those who are convinced that anyone who factors in and is convinced of the evidence for an old universe is selling out on biblical authority -- I would strongly urge them to stay the course and hold to an young universe. It is if first importance not to sell out on biblical authority.In fact, if these blog posts are troubling, by all means stop reading them.
I believe the Bible is inerrant. How can that be? Genesis uses the word days -- six days to describe the creation of the heavens and the earth -- occurring thousands of years ago. Is it possible that the language of creation, the days of creation, can be understood in a way outside of six consecutive 24-hour days, just as we understand the language describing the earth at the center of the universe is not to be taken "literally"? I think so, and I will mention a couple of plausible approaches that theologians I respect have discussed, but concentrate on one approach that makes the most sense to me.
The first approach I mention is the day-age theory. This is probably the one I am exposed to the most simply because I enjoy listening to the podcasts of Reasons to Believe, a ministry of Christian astrophysicist Hugh Ross and others. They have a variety of podcast series you can get from iTunes, searching for Reasons to Believe. They observe that the Hebrew word for "day" in Genesis has other uses than simply a 24-hour day, just as "day" does in the English language. How I used "day" in the title of this post is an example of using "day" in other than a 24-hour sense. Reasons to Believe propose that days in Genesis refers to long epochs of time in God's creative activity.
Personally, I have reservations in how Reasons to Believe interpret Genesis, reading in a whole lot of detailed scientific theory in the Genesis narration of creation that just doesn't make sense to me in that I don't think late twentieth/twenty-first century scientific theory was purposely inspired by God into the Bible. Read some of Reasons to Believe books or listen to their podcasts and you decide if it makes sense.
However, I find Reasons to Believe (RTB) podcasts useful because I enjoy reading and listening to perspectives different from my own (I also listen to young earth creationists), and RTB discusses all sorts of science and theological issues that illuminate in so many ways -- without the agenda of a young earth creationist which, I'm sorry to say, often skews the science and doesn't present the whole picture. RTB topics range from radiometric dating, multiple parallel universes, the philosophical and theological problems of evolution, and the list goes on and on.
The next post I will examine another approach to Genesis days.