By Elias Ayala (M.A.T. & Mdiv)
Young Earth Creationism holds to the position that the creation days in Genesis are to be taken at face value and understood within the context of God creating everything within the span of six 24 hour days. There are variations within the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) perspective, however, the position typically opposes interpretations of scripture that are antithetical to the plain reading of the text and illegitimately (some would argue) understand the days of creation in such a way as to warrant the time span of creation to be billions of years as opposed to thousands. Understanding scripture to be foundational in understanding God’s creation, YECs believe that it is the Word of God that should govern and guide our scientific assumptions and conclusions (This of course is also how an OEC would approach the issue as well). That is not to say that science is undermined or ignored, but rather, that when considering God’s acts of creation, the Word of God is adequate to tell us what happened since of course, human intellect can be fallible, and while man was not present at creation, God of course was.
In light of the fact that God has revealed to man what He has done in creation, and how long it took (Some may argue), believers should assume this revelation as we utilize science along with the correct biblical presuppositions which in turn will properly and consistently guide our conclusions. And what are the correct biblical assumptions that we should bring to the scientific investigation (argues the YEC)? That God created all things within the span of six 24 hour days, and rested on the 7th, and that the scientific data will be in accord with this revelatory information. Of course more can be said in regards to this position, since such a topic also encompasses issues of a global flood, repopulation of the earth, and distribution of humanity into various nations. Depending on one’s understanding of the current topic, explanations of the biblical data will differ.
First, I am not bothered one bit concerning the prospect of a young universe. If this is what the Bible teaches, then we should submit to the teaching of scripture, however, the very point under dispute is whether the Bible is in fact teaching what (YECs) say. Hence, the main difference between the (YEC) perspective and the Old Earth perspective is the differing interpretations concerning the creation account. Who is interpreting the biblical data correctly and consistently, and who is allowing all of scripture to speak on the matter. Contrary to popular belief, the issues surrounding this debate is not black and white. Without getting too much into the details, there are faithful Bible believing Christians on both sides of the issue. The important thing is to engage the issue with Christian conduct and patience, as we seek to provide clear explanations of our perspectives concerning these issues. While an important issue, we need not make it a matter of life and death. Unless essential doctrine is being violated, believers should proceed with caution, clarity, and understanding; for even the Apostle Paul made room for disagreements concerning non-essential issues (Romans 14:5).
Which Direction Does the Science Point?
If we were to count heads, then it would seem that the Old Earth Perspective is right in line with mainstream scientific findings, namely, that the universe is around 13.7 billion yrs old, while the earth is somewhere around 6.4 billion yrs old. However, truth is not determined by numbers. One needs to be able to check the data the best they can and examine their own assumptions that they bring to the table. It is vitally important to understand that evidence does not speak for itself. We all, Scientists included have assumptions and presuppositions that need to be examined and considered since depending on the nature of our assumptions, our conclusions will be affected and determined by our presuppositions. If our presuppositions are faulty, then our conclusions will be faulty. Because (YEC) hold to their presuppositions concerning what the biblical text seems to be teaching, this affects the conclusions that they arrive at. Hence the issue really involves biblical interpretation and interpretation of the scientific data in light of how one understands what the Bible is teaching. While I personally do not hold to the (YEC) perspective, I hesitate greatly to say that such a view is implausible since the plausibility and implausibility of a position will depend heavily on the validity of one’s assumption; Hence, I encourage folks to approach this topic with an open mind, and the willingness to submit to what they think the scriptures are teaching in this regard.