What Do Evangelicals Think About Creation?

Som people believe that if you are an evangelical, then you must believe that God created the earth and the entire universe in a six day period of time, about 6,000 – 10,000 years ago.  In addition, you must believe that the entire universe was also created 6,000 – 10,000 years ago.  This view is known as young-earth creation, and it is certainly popular with many evangelicals.

However, it is not true that this is the only position that evangelicals take.  There are several other positions, such as the literary-framework view, revelatory-day view, alternate-day-age view, and gap theory.

Perhaps the leading contender to the young-earth view, among evangelicals,  is the old-earth or progressive creation view.  Proponents of old-earth creation view the events in Genesis 1 and 2 as real, historical occurrences, but they interpret the “days” in Genesis as long periods of time.  They endorse the findings of geology, astronomy, and physics, which date the earth at about 4.5 billion years old and the entire universe at about 13.8 billion years old.

Some evangelicals dismiss old-earth creation (truth be told, many aren’t even aware of it) because they believe it does not interpret Genesis literally, but that is not the case.  A literal interpretation simply means that a person interprets the meaning of a writing as the original author intended, taking into account the literary style and structure of the writing.

For example, almost all evangelical scholars believe that the events depicted in Genesis were written in the form of historical narrative, and not in the form of mythology or allegory.  Writers of mythology and allegory often provide clear textual queues that indicate those genres.   The text of Genesis, however, reads like a historical narrative.

Many well-known evangelical scholars, who believe that the creation events of Genesis are part of a historical narrative, have interpreted the “days” in Genesis as long periods of time, and not 24-hour days.   It is simply not true to claim that young-earth creationists are the only ones interpreting Genesis literally.  There are several possible literal interpretations of Genesis 1-2, and young-earth creation represents one of those possible interpretations.

There is a further point that needs making.  The age of the earth is not an issue that divides Christian from non-Christian.  It does not determine anyone’s salvation.  All of the views mentioned above assert that God created the universe in a supernatural way and that He created the first human beings in a supernatural way.  So let’s keep these disagreements in perspective.

  • “The issue of the age of the earth is not an issue that divides Christian from non-Christian. ”

    That is right. At the same time, the age-question does lead to implications that are clear from the history of the church.

    Dr. Johnson C. Philip
    India

  • Rza

    I agree that this is an in-house debate!
    I’d love to hear the other literal Genesis 1/2 interpretations
    together with their Biblical interpretation difficulties….

  • geochristian

    Reasons to Believe has a good list of Christian Leaders who are open to old-Earth interpretations. The list contains leading evangelical apologists such as C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Mark Noll, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, and J.P. Moreland.

    http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/notable_leaders/index.shtml

    My own position, as a Christian geologist, is that young-Earth creationism is not necessary Biblically, not necessary for a proper understanding of sin and salvation, and an unfortunate obstacle to apologetics and evangelism among scientists.

  • Susan

    Can I add another resource for this discussion?
    The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) is a group of Christians who mostly work in the secular science arena and uphold a biblical Christian worldview.

    The intellectual integrity of the journal and presentations at the annual meeting are, in my opinion, unsurpassed. A variety of issues like creation, neuroscience, multiple-universe, particle physics,etc. are frequently explored.

    http://www.asa3.org/

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to reading more.

  • Pingback: My Views On the Age of the Earth « Tough Questions Answered()

  • #John1453

    The old earth/ young earth discussion at http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/05/six-views-on-the-creationevolution-debate/comment-page-23/#comment-28933 is going strong, as we top 1,100 posts. We’ve covered a lot of topics and provided many off site links. I’m one of the major commenters and I invite you to read and lurk, or comment as well.

    Regards,
    #John1453

  • Krishnam

    Dr. Johnshon, are you on twitter or facebook? I would like to connect with you. Thanks.

  • Pingback: What Is the Age of the Earth? | Max Doubt()