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Why Should Christians Care About Creation vs. Evolution or the Age of the Earth?

Does it really matter if the beginning of time, space, and matter came about through evolution or the miraculous creative power of an eternal God? What about the length of time involved--millions of years or six literal 24-hour days? Can someone still be saved by God's grace and believe in millions of years? You've come to the right place to get these questions answered, and Carl Kerby will help you understand what's really at stake when our interpretation of the origins of the universe, as recounted in Genesis 1 and 2, are not aligned with the character of God.

An Ongoing Disagreement

The battle over origins―creation versus evolution and the age of the earth―has been fought for almost three centuries.It will not be settled within this paper as the many perspectives on these issues are deeply embedded in worldviews. Many believers of the Christian faith, in fact, avoid this topic as it is considered non-essential to the doctrine of salvation, which could be argued to a point. Namely, what we believe about the “beginning” and the age of the Earth or if God used evolution to create it may be a stumbling block to someone putting their trust in Christ. 

This disagreement in positions is, first and foremost, an issue of consistency in interpreting Scripture.

Those who disagree with this statement have maintained that believing in a young earth or that God created the heavens and the earth in six approximate 24-hour days also keeps some from believing in Christ. Our arguments do not bring people to Christ; it is the wooing of the Holy Spirit and Word of God (the crux of the matter for this discussion).
This disagreement in positions is, first and foremost, an issue of consistency in interpreting Scripture. Christians must speak the truth and reveal who God is as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. If the message of God’s Word is twisted in an attempt to make it easier for them to come to Christ, then it seems the focus is in the wrong place.

Exegesis Defined

Scripture should be used to interpret Scripture. This is exegesis. Genesis is clearly written as a historical narrative and an actual historical account. Even Oxford Hebrew Scholar James Barr, who does not believe in a young earth or that the days of Genesis were approximately 24 hours, acknowledged this position in his writings.
So far as I know, there is probably no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that . . .
  1. creation took place in a series of six days, which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience.
  2. the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies are provided by the simple addition of a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story.
  3. Noah’s flood was understood to be worldwide and extinguish all human and animal life except those in the ark.2
Those who reject God and His Word because they can’t believe God would use evolution or the process of millions of years of death and suffering to get to man are correct to do so because that is NOT how God revealed Himself in the Bible.

Eisegesis Revealed

That scenario is only possible if man uses his “wisdom” to interpret God’s Word and twists what it says. It’s almost like someone saying: “God, I know what you wrote, but let me tell you what you meant because you don’t quite understand science. You see, God, science teaches that the earth is millions of years old, so the days in Genesis were prolonged periods, or there was a gap in Genesis 1 between verse 1 and verse 2.”  That’s eisegesis (the interpretation of a text by reading into it one's own ideas), and it is a flawed approach.

What Difference Does It Make?

This is such a critical issue that we, as biblical Christians, need to know where we stand and why we take the position we do―what we believe about the past can absolutely impact our future. All believers should consider the following points when deciding what to believe about the creation versus evolution issue.
  • The belief in a Creator is fundamental to the Christian Worldview. One could argue that it is just as important is HOW that Creator created!
For example, IF said Creator recorded in His history book (in this case, the Bible) that He created in a particular way, but He didn’t do it that way, that would be a significant problem. That would mean He lied, which would be inconsistent with His character and His Word, for we know that the God revealed in the Bible cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18)!
When God said in Genesis 1 that He created in six days and rested on the seventh, He either meant it, or He didn’t. The fact that the days were approximately 24 hours as we observe today is reinforced by Exodus 20:11, where He wrote, with His finger, in stone:

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.”

This statement makes it abundantly clear that the creation account did not extend over millions of years. On an important side note, the idea that the earth is millions of years old did not originate from “scientific facts.”  Terry Mortenson, a PhD in the History of Geology from the University of Coventry in England, explains that the idea of millions of years,
[W]as developed by deistic and atheistic geologists in the late 18th and early 19th century. These men used anti-biblical philosophical and religious assumptions to interpret the geological observations in a way that contradicted the biblical account of Creation, the Flood, and the age of the Earth. Most church leaders and scholars quickly compromised using the gap theory, day-age view, local flood view, and so on. to try to fit “deep time” into the Bible. But they did not understand the geological arguments, nor did they defend their views by careful Bible study. The “deep time” idea flows from naturalistic assumptions, not scientific observations.3
  • To say that God used the evolutionary process to create the world we see today is   an attack on God's character and a tool that undermines the gospel! Not only would taking this position make  God a liar, but giving credence to the evolutionary process does not fit even remotely with what Scripture teaches.
At the end of creation, God said it wasn’t just “good” but was, as stated in Genesis 1:31, “very good.”   If observed with an evolutionary mindset, the fossil record does NOT show “very good” in the past! It shows millions of years of death, suffering, cancer, cannibalism, and almost every sick thing we can imagine.
If that were the process God used before man came into the picture after millions of years, it would mean death preceded sin, and we cannot believe Romans 6:23, where God says,

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

According to Genesis 2:17, death (both spiritual and physical) entered the world on the day that Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil:  
“you shall surely die.”
Consequently, that is what happened: Man immediately died spiritually, and the physical process of death began, which led to eventual physical death. Today, we continue to carry the curse of sin—death—as we experience our own bodies “breaking down”! Confirmation that physical death was part of the curse was stated in Genesis 3:19 when God said to Adam and Eve: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
It is important to note that not just man was affected by Adam and Eve’s sin; it was the “whole of creation.” Romans 8:18–25 makes that clear, especially verse 22, which says: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Additionally, Romans 5:12 says, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
Since this account is from the inerrant Word of God, there is no conceivable way that animals were killing and eating each other or suffering from cancer before Adam's fall. Sadly, one famous apologist goes as far as to teach about a race of pre-Adamite hominids that were not created in God’s image. According to him, they walked upright and created basic tools. They lived and died for thousands of years, which he believes explains why we find “ancient” hominid bones. They died out, and God replaced them with Adam and Eve only a few thousand years ago. Nowhere in Scripture is this narrative supported.

The Bible makes no sense if there were millions of years of death before Adam sinned.

Instead, the Bible clarifies that we live in a broken world today because of “man’s sin.” Adam rejected what God offered—a perfect environment and a perfect relationship with Him—and man is still suffering the consequences today. But it is not just Adam’s fault; we’ve ALL sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23).
When man tries to fit millions of years or the evolutionary process into God’s design, God is responsible for all the ugliness observed in the world. That’s just not in His character (Habakkuk 1:13a). It was sin that caused all the damage, so it’s our fault, and we should not do as Adam did in the Garden of Eden and try to pass the blame to God (Genesis 3:12).

How we interpret the age of the earth can impact the Gospel!

I myself was saved believing that God used the evolutionary process to reach man and that the earth was millions of years old. That’s what my Sunday School teacher taught me, and I believed it. Thus, I DO NOT believe this issue is necessarily salvific. But as I grew in my faith, I understood that such a belief was inconsistent with what Scripture teaches. Furthermore, believing in young earth creationism is NOT what salvation is based on. The Scriptures are clear: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved!
The importance of this topic cannot be understated since it involves the character of God and the reliability of the Bible. While there is some room for disagreement, and this is not a salvation issue, any position that―in the name of science―negates what the text of Genesis clearly states, regardless of the proponent’s intention, can seriously undermine the Christian worldview.
The most crucial question then isn’t what science says but what the Word of God says. There is no mystery there. The Scriptures clearly speak of a Creator God who created every creature according to its kind and created man in His image. Evolution is notoriously absent from the events of the creation week, as detailed in Genesis 1–2.
Sources:
1Terry Mortenson, The Great Turning Point: the Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology—before Darwin (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2004), 40–45. Some followed the Genesis chronology of the Septuagint rather than the Massoretic text, and so calculated creation at about 5400 BC. See also, The Works of Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1987), 29–33.

2“Oxford Hebrew scholar, Professor James Barr, on the meaning of Genesis,” Answersingenesis.org. Accessed October 5, 2023. https://answersingenesis.org/genesis/oxford-hebrew-scholar-professor-james-barr-meaning-of-genesis/

3Terry Mortenson, “Seven Reasons Why We Should Not Accept Millions of Years,” Answersingenesis.org. Accessed October 5, 2023. https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/millions-of-years/seven-reasons-why-we-should-not-accept-millions-of-years/. If one is interested in studying the history of this specific issue more in depth, Dr. Mortenson’s book, The Great Turning Point, comes highly recommended.
Author Bio:
Carl Kerby, President and Founder of Reasons for Hope, was first introduced to apologetics by two pilots after he’d told them evolution was compatible with the Bible, which he’d been taught in Sunday school. These men pulled out their Bible and showed him that what the WORLD taught wasn’t the same as what the WORD taught. With 50% to 88% of the younger generation raised in the church leaving the church by 18, Carl’s desire is for them to KNOW what they’re walking away from. This can only happen if they can think critically and evaluate arguments to determine the truth.

Carl would say he doesn’t enjoy speaking; at times, he’s terrified of it. However, seeing people get excited because they realize they can trust the Word of God inspires him to continue. Carl loves being with his family and friends when he's not speaking. He also enjoys the ocean -- snorkeling, boogie boarding, or fishing. Carl has two honorary Doctorates and a degree in Biblical Studies. However, his most important credentials would be SSBGTFIC (Sinner Saved By Grace Through Faith In Christ) and husband/father and grandfather.


Click HERE to learn more about Carl Kerby or book him as a speaker.

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