The Creation Explanation
Some Christian including a number of scholars of the past and present have held that the language of the Bible permits the possibility that the earth may be millions or billions of years old. While we do not question the faith of those who espouse this view may, we nevertheless cannot accept it as a reasonable interpretation of the Scriptures. This question of time in the biblical history is a complex one tat really requires more space than is available in a brief appendix, but we will offer an outline of biblical reasons for believing the earth is young.
What the Scriptures Plainly Appear to Say
Anyone who simply picks up the Bible and reads the opening chapters without preconceptions will never get the idea that vast span of time was required for the creation. Neither does the subsequent history leading to the appearance of Abraham give the impression of millions of years rather a few thousands.
The Meaning of the Word "Day"
Many have assumed that the days of creation are actually enormous periods of time, or the initial days of long periods of time. Others have proposed that they were "revelational days" the times at which the writer received the original divinely inspired report of God's work of creation. There are, however, many reasons for understanding the days of the creation week in Genesis 1 to be six successive, normal solar days.
A "Gap" Between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?
Many Christian have held this view, probably for the most part because it has for many decades been promoted in the footnotes of the Scofield Reference Edition of the Bible. Once again we feel that we must disagree with many of our brethren whom we love and respect in the Lord, for we believe there are too many weighty reasons for rejecting this interpretation. Space permits listing only a few of these reasons.
Interpretation of the Biblical Genealogies
The construction of a biblical chronology depends upon the interpretation of the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. If these genealogies are assumed to be reporting direct father-son relationships, the resulting chronology places the creation at about 4000 B.C., as in the traditional chronology of Bishop Ussher first published in 1654. there is, however, evidence that the Hebrew expression translated "beget" does not always refer to a direct father-son relationship, but that it can also signify a more distant connection. This led some to propose that the listed patriarchs were heads of dynasties perhaps hundreds of thousands of years long. This, however, makes the genealogies like rubber and reduces biblical chronology to absurdity.
One unique contribution (Chapter 8, reference 1) adopts as the interpretive principle the idea that each successive named patriarch was born the same year as his predecessor and was of his blood line. the application of this assumption leads to a chronology that places the creation at about 11,000 B.C., the Flood at about 5000 B.C.
Another approach makes use of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. This is a translation from the ancient Hebrew into Greek dating to about two centuries before Christ, and it has somewhat different numerical data for the ages of the patriarchs. a chronology built primarily on the Septuagint information places creation at about 5650 B.C. and the flood at 4000 B.C. It is the present authors' opinion that further progress in biblical studies may well occur that will confirm one or the other of these lines of interpretation.
In any event, it is clear that the Bible teaches that the age of the earth is to be measured in thousands of years, not in millions. Probably the majority of informed students of the problems of relating creation to science would consider that a date for creation of around 10,000 B.C. is not out of line with the scriptural account, and that this would correlate satisfactorily with the essential data of the sciences interpreted in terms of biblical catastrophism.