The Age of Creation
By Pastor Josh Wamble
How old is the earth? When did God create people? Did God create the universe directly micro-managing each particular aspect of creation or did he do it indirectly using one or more natural forces such as evolution? These are big questions, and they are questions that sincere God-loving, Christ-following, Bible-believing Christians have genuine, and sometimes heated, disagreements over. One reason is because the Bible does not speak directly to this question. While God has given us lots of information about who created, what was created, how it was created, and why it was created, he does not definitively answer the question of when creation took place. However, the scriptures do give some very clear guidelines.
If we are to be a bible-believing and bible-committed people then we must stay within the boundaries of the scriptures even on questions that are not directly spoken to. Even in those situations, we still must make judgments and take positions that are consistent with what the bible does say and in no way contradict it. We absolutely can disagree over the age of the earth and remain united to one another, but we can only do so if the positions we take honor and affirm everything the bible says. I believe there are at least four of these non-negotiable positions that every follower of Christ must affirm whether we end up concluding the earth is very old (several million years old) or relatively young (several thousand years old).
1. God Created the World. The universe we see around us did not come about by chance or by natural processes alone. It is the result of a supernatural direct act of God. Several passages of scripture say this outright. In Genesis 1:1, we read, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” And as Genesis 1 and 2 continue, we are told in more detail exactly how he did it; he spoke it into existence. If we are to believe what the Bible says, one non-negotiable truth that we cannot deviate from is God created everything that exists outside of himself.
2. God Did it Without any Pre-Existing Materials. The Bible teaches that God is the only eternal being that there is—nothing else is eternal. Some say that God and matter are both eternal and God used the matter that was already here and formed it into the world that we see around us. The Bible is clear that God alone is eternal, and if we are to believe what it says, then we must believe that God created the world without using any pre-existent material.
3. Adam and Eve were Real Historical People. If we are going to believe what the Bible says about creation, then we must believe that Adam and Eve were real historical people. We cannot write them off as mythological or figurative in any way. If we read the creation account in Genesis 2 (where Moses tells us how God created Adam and built Eve out of his rib) in a straightforward way, it seems like God literally took dirt and formed it into a man and breathed life into him then took one of his ribs and formed it into a woman.
And, Genesis 2 is not the only place in the bible that leads to this conclusion. There are also several places in the New Testament that either explicitly assert or assume that Adam and Eve were real historical people who really existed in history. In Luke 3:38, Luke asserts that Jesus’ genealogy can be traced all the way back to a real human being named Adam who was created directly by God. In Romans 5:12-14, Paul traces the origins of sin to one man—Adam. He says that death reigned “from Adam to Moses.” It seems like if we are consistent we must either believe that both Adam and Moses were real historical people or they were both figurative/mythological people. It seems clear, that Paul believed they were both historical. Further, just a few verses later in Romans 5:15-17, Paul makes an argument that places Adam and Jesus in parallel positions (Adam brings death; Jesus brings life). Again, if we are consistent then either both Adam and Jesus are figurative/mythological, or they are both historical. Paul presents them both as historical.
Finally, in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, Paul is making an argument about men and women being created to fulfill different (co-equal) roles in the world and, specifically, in the church. Here he makes a reference to both creation and the fall as an illustration to prove his point. It is interesting that here he doesn’t argue that Adam and Ever were real historical people, he simply assumes it as if it were a fact not in question.
If we are going to believe the Bible (Both Old and New Testaments) is God’s word and that Jesus is a real historical person, and that Jesus has a real historical family tree, it seems that we have no choice but to also believe that Adam and Eve were both real historical people.
4. Adam and Eve were the First Humans Directly Created by God. Not only were Adam and Eve real historical people, but the bible is clear that they were the first real historical people who were created directly by God. Again, beyond Genesis 2, Paul makes this point in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49. He calls Adam the “first man” two different times in those short five verses. This seems to exclude any notion that God began creation at some point several million or billion years ago, and left evolution to take its course gradually, through trillions and trillions of minute mutations over millions and millions of years indirectly producing what we now describe as Homo Sapiens some 200,000 to 3 million years ago.
While the age of creation is definitely not an issue worth dividing over, and while faithful, bible-believing, Jesus-following, God-loving believers can disagree over whether the earth is a few thousand years old or several million years old, it does seem clear that there are some boundaries beyond which we are not free to travel.
If we are going to be people who take the bible seriously and believe what it says, we must at least affirm these four non-negotiable beliefs about creation: (1) God did it. (2) He did not use any pre-existing material. (3) Adam and Eve were real historical people who lived at a specific time in a specific place, had specific descendants, etc. And (4) Adam and Eve were the first real historical people created directly by God the way described in Genesis 2:7 and 21-23.