A recent informal survey at the social networking website, Reddit.com, was conducted that asked atheistic young people who left the Christian faith, what were their reasons for leaving the faith. By far, the most common response from over 50% of the respondents was concerning “Christian teachings that conflict with [the] findings of modern science.” Though not a definitive be-all, end-all conclusion by any means, I find this to be an incredibly disturbing trend explaining what is draining people out of evangelical churches. In my view, the heart of the controversy centers on the debate over the age of the earth.
So, how old is the earth? Is it relatively young, say between 10,000 to 6,000 years old as many Young Earth Creationists would argue? Or is it really old, some 4.54 billions of years according to many Old Earth Creationists?
Evangelical Christians are deeply (and rightly) concerned about the erosion of biblical authority undercutting the proclamation of the Gospel. Yet for many, any departure away from a specifically Young Earth perspective is a compromise of biblical authority. This is a serious claim. For if adopting the modern scientific consensus of an Old Earth is against the clear teaching of the Bible, then surely every Bible-believing Christian should reject that scientific consensus and embrace creation science, based on a literal six 24-hour day understanding of God’s creative act in the first few chapters of Genesis.
But is this the only way to understand the timing of creation as taught in the Bible? The Old Earth Creationist, on the contrary, makes the claim that the teaching of modern science is instead compatible with a high view of the Bible’s divine inspiration. The Old Earth advocate argues that the Young Earth community is driving an unnecessary wedge between faith and science, thus harming the integrity of the evangelical witness of the church. Mmmm… Which perspective is the right one? How does a Christian navigate through these competing ideas regarding the age of the earth?