A friend of mine (who is a follower of Christ) and I have been debating the old earth vs young earth positions. He holds to a young earth and I hold to an old earth (and universe). Neither of us are experts or even scientifically minded. In our debates we find ourselves simply pulling out arguments from others in our respective camps. We have agreed that this issue is NOT a salvation issue.Here's my response...
Do you think there is any value in these types of discussions?
Sometimes it feels like we are dealing with a 'recess' issue and we should get to work strategizing and carrying out how we can better serve those in need and share our faith. On these issues we agree.
You're absolutely right, it is not a salvation issue. That is, God redeems people through Christ's atoning death on the Cross when they recognize their need of a Savior and accept God's provision of forgiveness. Nothing in there depends upon how old the universe is, much less on how old the sinner in question believes it to be. Many will enter eternity with misunderstandings about the age question (and about a whole lot of other tangential issues).
That said, let me give a few reasons why there is value in mature, teachable Christians discussing (examining) the issue of when God created the universe and Earth. (I'll make the points without taking the time to support each. That will allow the reader to question the validity of each and may allow me to post support for each as necessary.)
1) Scripture makes it clear that God cares a good deal about truth.
2) The two opposing views on the age of the universe (6-10 thousand years or 13.7 billion years) cannot both be true. There is a right answer.
3) Christian theology deals not only with God, but also with the world. Christianity claims to be the accurate understanding of the real world, the one in which we actually live.
4) Although acceptance of the central truth claim of Christianity does not depend upon rightly understanding the age of the world, proclaiming (as Christian belief) falsehood about the age of creation can create an artificial barrier to even considering the central Christian claim.
Taken together, these points suggest that those Christians who would answer the call (of II Cor. 5:18-21) to be ambassadors for God--and that would include, at a minimum, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and apologists--should seek to know the truth about the age of creation. And here, Scripture itself offers a very relevant caution...
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)Of course, those who are called by God to teach--whether as preacher, evangelist, teacher, or apologist--should be all the more careful to teach only truth. And that realization raises the question, "how does one go about discovering truth about the age of the universe and Earth?"
Let's look at that question in the next post.