Recent three-year and five-year reports from a NASA program (WMAP) indicate the universe is 13.7 billion years old. Many Christians dismiss those findings, claiming a “young earth” of about 6,000 years. Who is right?
Some try to reconcile both views using theistic evolution — the idea God created the universe, and then let it go it’s own way. These people point to Genesis 1 and note the word for “day” could really mean “age”, and thus billions of years could be indicated in Genesis 1.
But they have two problems with that view. First, the garden of Eden was perfect — no entropy, decay or death — whether billions of years went by or only a few days would make no difference. No decay, no aging, and no way to tell how long Adam and Eve were in the garden.
But the bigger problem with the “days-as-ages” view isn’t found in Genesis, but Exodus.
Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:9-11 KJV)
In those verses comparing the Sabbath with the creation the context is clearly six 24-hour periods — creation in 6 days as we know them. You can’t get out of this problem by the days-as-age claim, nor the gap theory (which holds an indeterminate gap exists between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, which also could have been billions of years).
No, the real solution to this problem is three-fold. First, what is time? You may think of time as absolute, but it’s not. Einstein said time varies for various reasons (relativity). So 15 billion years in one frame can easily be just a few days in another. Time is not absolute.
Second, any attempt at dating anything for billions of years must make some assumptions — that conditions can be more or less known over those vast periods. Science must assume some things or it won’t get very far, but to assume we know conditions billions of years ago with certainty is absurd.
Finally, new studies are questioning if the speed of light has actually been constant. This is quite controversial right now, but if it turns out light has been slowing down, all of physics will be in chaos. Just think, how many equations does “c” pop up in?
For the Christian, it isn’t really profitable to argue with the evolutionist over the issue. Just use 15 billion years and be done with it.