I consider myself a conservative Christian. I've been a Southern Baptist all my life, usually attend church 2-3 times a week, have been a church pianist in some form or another since high school, pray and read the Bible at home, and have always told people of my beliefs when the subject or opportunity arises. I believe God sent His only son Jesus to Earth to reveal Himself and to pay the penalty for our disobedience, providing a way for us to be with God forever. I believe that Jesus is the only way to God, and that no other belief or religion or being leads to the true God, or to truth in general. I do not believe in universalism, or that everyone will eventually go to heaven just because God is love. I believe the Bible is inspired by God, and even though written by men, I believe every word was given them by God to write down. I believe Noah actually lived and built an ark, and that the Flood did happen. I believe that Adam and Eve were two actual, real, individual people, from whom the rest of humanity came.
All this is just to explain why I think I have a right to consider myself a conservative Christian.
With that as background, I now want to say that as I started researching homeschool science and history curriculum, I found myself shocked to discover that nearly every Christian curriculum firmly espoused a "young Earth" belief - the belief that the Earth is only 6000-some-odd years old. Before, I had heard of this belief, but thought it was only held by a small fringe group. As you may surmise, I cannot agree with any certainty that the Earth is so young, due to the overwhelming amount of evidence from multiple fields of science (geology and astronomy especially) that the Earth is millions of years old (and the universe even older).
I do not find that an old Earth conflicts with my belief that God created the world and everything in it. I do not find that an old Earth conflicts with my belief that the book of Genesis is 100% accurate. Apparent inconsistencies, whether between different verses in the Bible or between the Bible and scientific theories, only lead us to improve on our interpretations, both of the Bible and of scientific observations. They go hand-in-hand.
I will not say with 100% certainty that the Earth is indeed millions of years old - God can do anything He wants to do, and scientific theories are just theories. But I will not say with any certainty that the Earth is only 6000+ years old. I don't believe the Bible is specific enough to make that claim. I think it is a “disputable matter” (see Romans 14). There are all sorts of arguments as to why the Bible "clearly requires" the Earth to be young, and there are all sorts of arguments as to why the Bible requires no such thing, and even some arguments as to how the Bible shows that the Earth is old! All of that with Genesis still being completely accurate.
I started writing out some of my thoughts, but it got to be really long (plus it needs a lot of editing), so I won't put it all in this blog. Someday, I may finish writing it up, and link to it from here, but for now, I found another website that has a lot of the same thoughts as me (though not all), so I'll just point you there if you're interested in reading more: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/day-age.html. I'm sure not all of the reasoning there is valid either, but perhaps much of it is. There are also dozens of links to other discussions on that site as well. Another really good article, written specifically to homeschoolers, can be found at the Sonlight website: http://www.sonlight.com/young_or_old_earth.html.
A friend also gave me some references to a couple of books that discuss the controversy. Links to them are here:
This is turning out to be a very long blog, so I’ve decided to split it into 3 parts. I’ll post them all soon, though, in case you’re eager to read my conclusions!
See Part 2.
See Part 2.