A reading of Genesis 1 begs the question, “how old is the earth”? The geological record seems to indicate that our world is billions of years old yet many contend that the Bible teaches that the planet is only 6000 to 10000 years old. Those who adhere to this view hold a very literal reading of Genesis 1 and are known as “young earthers.” They argue that the Bible speaks of dinosaurs (i.e., “the Leviathan”) and that our system of dating the earth is radically flawed. Maybe they are right.
There are Christians, however, who hold to a position known as “old earth creationism.” Such a view encompasses arguments as diverse as “the six days represent many ages” and “the Bible does not contain a complete list of genealogies” or that Genesis 1 is simply poetry and not intended to be taken literally. Maybe they are right.
Some “old earth creationists” argue for the “Gap Theory.” Those who hold to such a view believe that Genesis 1:1 is a complete thought and that there is a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. In other words, they argue that God made the universe and then, some time much later, He re-made the earth in six days to make it inhabitable for human life.
Some, like Dr. John Sailhamer, argue that the six days focuses wholly on Israel, the promised land, where he believes the Garden of Eden was once located. This may not seem to cohere with your English translations but that is because the translations proceed from the belief that there is a seemless flow between Genesis 1:1 and the rest of the chapter. For example, on the fourth day, most translations read that God made the sun and the moon but the Hebrew phrase could just as easily be translated as “ordered” rather than made. In other words, God remade the atmosphere and caused the light to shine on an area once covered by sea water (which coheres with the geological record). Sailhamer also notes that this solves the problem that there was already light before God “made” the sun.
I hold this view. I believe that God made the universe and that it included dinosaurs but then, perhaps after a great catastrophe billions of years later, God remade the earth, specifically the Promised Land, to accommodate human life, which is only 10,000 to 30,000 years old.
You may disagree with me and this is the great thing about Revolution, in my opinion anyway, that we don’t care if you disagree. Issues like these are fun to debate but must never divide us. You may hold to a young earth position and feel like I need to take a trip to the Creation Museum to get my stuff together! You may be right. You may hold the position that Walter Brueggemann holds and is taught by Rob Bell, which is that Genesis 1 is simply poetry affirming God as creator and the goodness of His creation. So be it. Or you may be smart enough to agree with me! Just kidding. Sort of.
More about Creation tomorrow. Until then, God bless!
By Matt Rawlings, Revolution Leadership Team.