Recently, Senator Marco Rubio has come under fire for avoiding a question on the age of the earth. Some liberals argue that he didn’t want to offend the left by openly championing young-earth creationism, and they also argue that he didn’t want to offend Evangelical Christians by adhering to an old-earth position. However, while some Evangelicals adhere to a young-earth creationist position, most educated Christians hold to an old-earth creationist position. Intelligent design Ph.D. scientists, who are largely born-again Christians, are old-earth creationists. Categorically, the Bible is not inconsistent with an old-earth creationist position. In fact, the Bible supports the idea that the earth is old. I personally hold to the scientific position of the earth being 4.5 billion years old—and I also hold to the doctrine of biblical infallibility. The two are not incompatible.
While I don’t believe in using the Bible as a science book, I believe the Bible is accurate, and thus it also makes accurate scientific statements. Granted, statements in the Bible can be used to develop scientific hypotheses (as they have been throughout history), but the Bible itself is not a science book. To use it as such is profoundly unscientific and spiritually naïve. The Bible was written for lifestyle guidance, not to be a science encyclopedia. As 2nd Timothy 3:16 points out, the Bible was written for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” 
People who are interested in interpreting the Bible literally must note that there is no date delineated in Genesis 1. Genesis 1:1 simply states, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” That is the most fundamental and important message that Christians must take away from the text. If God felt the date that He created the heaven and the earth was of importance, I’m pretty sure He would have inspired Moses to put it in the text. But He didn’t. That should be acceptable to people interested in following the text of the Bible without an agenda. The only people it’s not acceptable to is those who want to shoehorn man-made theological doctrines into the Bible, when it is clear that these doctrines have no textual basis.
The main reason young-earth creationists believe the earth is 6,000 years old—and not 4.5 billion years old, as science has determined—is that they preposterously believe that the days in which God created the world were literal 24-hour periods. If the text is followed carefully, the idea of the days discussed in Genesis 1 being literal 24-hour periods falls to pieces by verse 14. Manifestly, it is on DAY FOUR that God makes the lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide day and night (and regulate the 24-hour period). The three days previous to the fourth day couldn’t have been 24-hour periods, inasmuch as the text says that the concept of the 24-hour period came into existence on the fourth day. This is the clearest evidence for the idea that the days in which God created the world were indefinite periods of time—not literal 24-hour periods.
The emotional argument that young-earth creationists make when they are called out for blatantly ignoring the text of the Bible is that we old-earth creationists are trying to cheapen the miraculous nature of God’s creation of the earth. This logic is silly inasmuch as it presupposes that the creation of the earth over a longer period is less miraculous than creating the earth quickly. I reject this logic. Who are finite human beings to pontificate how God should do things? Who are we to judge His miracles? Using this silly young-earth creationist logic, why didn’t God create the earth in six hours? Surely, by their logic, creating the earth in six hours would have been “more miraculous” than doing so in six days, inasmuch as six hours is a shorter period of time than six days. Heck, why didn’t God make the world in six minutes? The fact that there are quicker ways God could have made the world doesn’t make the way He chose any less miraculous. God does what He wants to do when and how He wants to do it—and He doesn’t check with the opinions of humans before deciding how He works His miracles.
To be clear, I grew up as a preacher’s child in Pentecostalism. There was never a point in my household where I was told that the earth was 6,000 years old. It just never came up. The debate is manifestly peripheral to the discussion of Christian doctrine. Belief in an old earth or a young earth doesn’t send anyone to heaven. Belief in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary is the key to salvation.
Back to Marco Rubio.
Senator Rubio should have definitely given a stronger answer on the age of the earth. Obviously, Rubio is an intelligent man, but now this has been identified as an area of questioning that he wants to avoid, liberals will keep hammering this issue. Rubio should hurry up and state a clear position on this issue, as well as do some serious reading on the topic. While I wouldn’t begrudge him if he holds a young-earth creationist position, I would be slightly disappointed. Christians all over the world need to be aware of the fact that the Bible absolutely supports the old-earth position. Christians have driven science and scientific discoveries for centuries. There is no reason for Christians to be hostile to science, especially when scientific discoveries continue to confirm theistic principles. Science, however, is often hostile to man-made theology that is shoehorned into the Bible. That’s why young-earth creationists who ignore, omit, and preposterously misinterpret unfavorable verses in their “literal” reading of the Bible also thumb their noses at science. Scientific facts and young-earth creationists are not friends.
While I vociferously disagree with young-earth creationists, I wouldn’t say they aren’t Christians or anything that absurd. Again, this is a debate on the periphery of Christian doctrine. It is non-essential for salvation. It’s not like they’re worshiping an imaginary Jesus from an imaginary planet like some alleged “Christian” sects do…
RECOMMENDED READING ON THIS TOPIC:
A Biblical Case for an Old Earth by David Snoke. Buy here on Amazon.
- Quote from the 1984 New International Version of the Bible.↵
- I use the adverb “preposterously” here not because I believe creating the world in six 24-hour periods is too hard for God to do. I believe God could have done it in a twinkling of an eye. I use that word because the “six 24-hour periods” interpretation literally has no textual basis.↵