“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:2-3-4)
There are folks who say that whether you believe in an old creation or a young creation should make no difference to your faith. But the reason so many people insist on an old age for the creation is not because that is what the Bible teaches. Nowhere does it even intimate that. On the contrary, the biblical genealogies argue for a very young creation. The real reason so many people insist on an old age for the creation is because they want to reconcile the teachings of the Bible with modern secular science, which does not allow God a role in the origins of the universe.
So what difference does it make whether you believe the earth is billions of years old or just 6000 years old? In order to find out, let us imagine a hypothetical meeting between Father, Son and Holy Spirit as they laid the plans for creation.
“I would like to discuss a matter with you two that has been on my heart for a long time. You both know I love you as much as I love myself and you both love me and each other in the same way. But we are all one. We have the same mind so we think the same thoughts. We always have the same purpose. We never disagree. Therefore, it is easy for us to love one another.
But, as you know, I have an even greater love that I cannot express to you because you are just like Me. The only way I can express this love is to offer it to someone with a will of his own, a will separate from ours, one who can either choose to accept it or reject it. The love that I show this one would be different from the love I show you because you never reject my love and I never reject yours. I would extend this love even to those who reject Me. I would call this love ‘Grace’ and ‘Mercy’ because it is totally unrequited. In this way I can express a part of Myself that otherwise would never be known. And I want my nature to be known in all its glory, as you well know.
So, I would like each of you to devise a world that will allow Me to express this grace and mercy in all its fullness. This time try to think independently from one another so that your plans reflect different perspectives. Then together we will decide what is the best plan. I know this is a very tall order because you have never done it before. But for Us, nothing is impossible.”
So the Holy Spirit and the Son, though they had never been apart, each sought a quiet place away from one another where they would not be influenced by each other’s thoughts. Some time later the Father summoned them to report on their plans:
“So let us begin with you, Holy Spirit. Tell me, what is your plan?”
“Well, at first it was very difficult for me to pry my thoughts away from those of the Son, but after much time I was able to succeed. So here are my ideas:
First, you must create a space where you can display your glory for these creatures to see. I will call it ‘the heavens’ after ‘Heaven,’ our eternal dwelling place. You will distribute your glory across this entire space in the form of brilliant lights called ‘stars.’ There will be stars of all sizes, large and small. You will do so gradually over a very long period of what I will call ‘time.’ Your creatures will not be able to live in this space. It will separate their dwelling place from your dwelling place because they are unworthy to come anywhere near their Creator.
Then you will make a dwelling place for this creature, whom I will call ‘Man.’ This place will be in some remote corner of the heavens, far from the stars and Your Throne. It will be so far removed that it will take the light from your stars almost endless time to reach them. When Man first arrives, there will be no starlight for a very, very long time. Then gradually the lights will come on one by one from the nearest to the farthest until a host of them become visible.
Then You will begin to fill this dwelling place, which I will call ‘earth,’ with everything for man to enjoy. There will be other creatures. Some will live in the ‘sky,’ a space above the earth where they can soar on wings like the Cherubim. Others will live on the earth where they will either walk on legs like the angels or crawl on the surface. Still others will glide through liquid spaces called ‘seas’ in a motion I call ‘swimming.’ They will have neither legs nor wings, but something I call ‘fins’ to propel them. There will also be things that grow in the earth called ‘plants’ for man to eat.
This earth will not be perfectly suited for life like Heaven since man will inevitably reject Your love and lose his life (Rom 1:18-20). It will be a harsh environment that only the strongest can survive. Those who die will be buried in the earth where their remains will be preserved as a reminder that life is a gift from the Creator and not to be taken lightly. However, those who do not reject You will survive these harsh conditions. You will display Your marvelous ‘Grace and Mercy’ by letting them honor and worship You forever on this earth. In short, that is my plan.
Very well. Now Son, tell me your plan.
Many of the details of my plan are the same. The creatures are all the same. But the order of creation would be different and it would not take a very long time to complete the work. It could easily be done in a moment by Divine command . You would do this one thing at a time, beginning with alternating periods of light and darkness. These I would call ‘days.’ You would use one day to create the heavens, one to create the earth, one to create the seas, and one each to fill these spaces with their living things (Gen 1:2-31). You would stretch out the heavens like a tent to cover an almost endless expanse of space in just an instant with a single word. (Ps 104:2)
Because your primary goal is to display your ‘Grace and Mercy’ by loving the unlovable, You would make the dwelling place of man the very centerpiece of your creation, not some remote part of the heavens. You would create it before the stars, because the glory of the stars cannot compare to the glory of the ‘Grace and Mercy’ you will show to man (Gen 1:14-19). You would make man in your very own image, the epitome of your creation, with an ability to create as You do (Gen 1:26). You would make the earth with everything he needs to survive and thrive, as ideal an environment as Heaven itself. And when the man rejects your love at some point, as you and I both know he will, he will forfeit his life, as he must. But this is where you will show the depth of your great ‘Grace and Mercy,’ for in response to man’s betrayal, I will give up my glory to suffer your wrath in his place (Phil 2:6-8). By sacrificing One who is most precious to you, you will show your ‘Grace and Mercy’ in all its fullness.
I find merit in both plans. I like the idea of a heavens that display my glory and separate my dwelling place from the dwelling place of man. I like the idea of a vast variety of creatures that are suited to different types of dwelling places. That shows my majesty. I think I will give man dominion over these creatures just as I will have dominion over man (Gen 1:26). I can test his loyalty by vesting him with this great trust. I am not so keen on the idea of taking such a long time to do this work, though. This will not be so great a challenge for me. It is like the work of my finger (Ps 8:3-4). As the Son said, I can do it instantly with just a spoken word. (Gen 1:3-26) My only concern is that man might not attribute my work to me, despite its glory (Rom 1:21-25). But that, too will be a test of his devotion to me.
I definitely don’t like the idea of making the creation anything less than perfect even though man will reject my love. That would not reflect my glory (Gen 1:31).Nor do I like the thought of letting the survivors live forever in such a harsh environment. No man should have the ability to preserve his own life forever. That would not glorify me, but exalt man, defeating the whole purpose of creation.
As for the order of creation, I agree with the Son that the stars should not appear one at a time but all at once since I will use them to mark the passage of time (Gen 1:14). As for the order of creation, I will make the day first and after that the heavens, then the earth, then plants on the earth, then stars in the heavens, then creatures to fill the seas, earth and sky. I will create man last, since everything else will be preparation for his pleasure (Gen 1:3-26, Ps 8:3-8).
As regards the treatment of man should he fail in the trust I have bestowed in him, I much prefer the generous offer of the Son to substitute Himself as a sacrifice to satisfy my wrath. So I choose to accept the offer of my only beloved Son to give his own life as a ransom for the lives of mankind (1 Tim 2:5-6). What better way could there be to show the full extent of my boundless ‘Grace and Mercy’ (Rom 5:8-9)?
So What Does it Matter to You?
Between the young earth and old earth scenarios, which agrees more closely with what we know about the character of God from scripture? Which more faithfully represents His power, His glory, His grace and His mercy? And which is more consistent with the Word of God?
Jesus himself demonstrated his ability to create something from nothing in an instant when he multiplied a few fish to feed a multitude of people and when he filled the disciples’ nets to overflowing with a single cast. The principle of “survival of the fittest” upon which long age creation depends teaches us that death occurred before man sinned. That directly contradicts the account of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis and would make God the author of death.
The Bible places the creation of earth and plants before the stars because the earth is the centerpiece of God’s plan of redemption. Long age creation places the birth of stars billions of years before earth. If the stars really were billions of years old, the night sky would have been black in the beginning and stars would have appeared one-by-one very gradually. So there would have been no way for man to determine times and seasons. Furthermore, new stars would still be appearing today.
Finally, the brutal place filled with death and destruction described by long age creation does not reflect God’s glory and looks nothing like the paradise described throughout the Bible (Job 38-39).
So young earth creation is not just one alternative explanation of origins. It is the only explanation that dignifies the biblical record and glorifies the Creator. To deny it is to deny man’s responsibility for the ravages of sin and raise the question why Christ had to die to free man from a death that was not his doing. It also shows a lack of trust in the Word of God.
When Job had the temerity to question God’s treatment of him, God said,
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:2-3-4).
Those same words apply to those who do not take the biblical account of creation at face value.