|In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth Gen.1:1|
Supporting a Young Earth; Joshua Gurtler Phoenixville, PA email@example.com Originally published in Biblical Insights magazine, April, 2012.
Introduction Scientifically speaking, a “young earth” includes any period of time that would invalidate current theoretical models designed to explain the inorganic evolution of the planet and life thereon ( viz., 4.5 and 3.8 billion years, respectively). Technically, ages of 100,000, 100 million, or even one billion years are descriptive of a young earth. Although I hold to a more traditional young earth age, the thrust of this article is not to date the earth, but to provide Biblical arguments in favor of the young earth position.
Why Reject the “Old Earth” View? I do not believe the Bible suggests that the earth inorganically evolved for billions of years prior to the creation of man ( per pro., gap hypotheses, day-age hypotheses, framework hypothesis, revelatory day view, etc .). I am convinced that the word “day” in the Genesis creation account refers to a normal 24-hour period, not countless ages of time.
Ten Biblically-Based Arguments Favoring the “Young Earth” Position
Genesis 1 and 2 state that God created the world in six days.
The word “day” in Genesis 1 and 2 (yom, in Hebrew), is used 1,284 times in the Old Testament. Although yom, in rare instances, refers to a period of time ( e.g., “during the day of your father”), this is always contextually manifest and not typically preceded by a numerical reference (see Gen. 2:4, Ps. 95:8-11, and Jer. 46:10). However, whenever yom follows a numeral in non-prophetic writings in the Old Testament ( e.g., in Genesis, forty days, seventh day, etc. ), it is always a 24-hour day. One biblical scholar noted, “We have failed to find a single example of the use of the word ‘day’ in the entire scripture where it means other than a period of 24 hours when modified by the use of the numerical adjective” (6).
A survey of Hebrew scholars from nine universities asked, “Do you understand the Hebrew yom , as used in Genesis 1, accompanied by a numeral, to be properly translated as (a) a day as commonly understood, or (b) an age, or (c) an age or a day without preference for either?” Seven professors responded and all affirmed that yom in Genesis 1 refers to a normal 24- hour day (5).
Regarding “day” supposedly being an age of incalculable length, notice Genesis 1:14: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.’” If the days in Genesis 1 are ages, then what are the seasons and years? Longer ages? If day in verse 14 means an age, then what does the word night mean? In reference to this, Marcus Dods in the Expositor’s Bible says, “If the word ‘day’ in this chapter does not mean a period of 24 hours, the interpretation of Scripture is hopeless” (1).
Moses affirmed the 24-hour days in Exodus 20:11: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.” And, again in Exodus 31:17, “for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”
Moses used the Hebrew word yamin for days. Yamin appears over 700 times in the Old Testament and in each instance, in non-prophetic literature (such as in Genesis ), clearly refers to a 24-hour period.
Yom, in Genesis 1 and 2, are 24-hour days because they are accompanied by the phrase, “morning and evening” in Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31. Dr. Henry Morris stated, “The Hebrew words for ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ occur over 100 times each in the Old Testament and always in a literal sense” (3).
How could God have made the 24-hour days of creation any clearer? What else could He have said? “Six days and on the seventh he rested. . . morning and evening. . . the second day. . . the third day. . . the fourth day,” and so on.
If the Holy Spirit meant “ages” instead of 24-hour days in Genesis 1, He could have used a Hebrew word for long periods of time (viz., olam or qedem ).
Our Lord affirms the young earth view in Mark 10:6, saying, “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.” However, if the earth is 4.54 billion years old, then man was created 4.5 billion years too late to be considered present at the beginning of creation. Paul corroborates the Lord’s teaching in Romans 1:20-21, declaring that mankind has been able to witness the power of God since, “ the creation of the world.”
Why a Literal Interpretation of Genesis is Important If one does not correctly understand and interpret the first two chapters of the Bible (i.e. , a literal creation week with 24-hour days, a literal first man and first woman, and a literal serpent that tempted the woman), what would restrain him from hermeneutically disregarding other biblical accounts targeted by critics (e.g ., the great flood, Babel, parting the Red Sea, Moses writing the Pentateuch, the virgin birth, the resurrection of the christ, etc. )?
Dr. John MacArthur sums this up as well as I’ve seen as follows: “In other words, if you reject the creation account in Genesis, you have no basis for believing the Bible at all. If you doubt or explain away the Bible’s account of the six days of creation, where do you put the reins on your skepticism? Do you start with Genesis 3, which explains the origin of sin . . . ? Or maybe you don’t sign on until sometime after chapter 6, because the Flood is invariably questioned by scientists, too. Or perhaps you find the Tower of Babel too hard to reconcile with the linguists’ theories about how languages originated and evolved. So maybe you start taking the Bible as literal history beginning with the life of Abraham. But when you get to Moses’ plagues against Egypt, will you deny those, too? What about the miracles of the New Testament? Is there any
reason to regard any of the supernatural elements of biblical history as anything other than poetic symbolism?. . . If we’re worried about appearing ‘unscientific’ in the eyes of naturalists, we’re going to have to reject a lot more than Genesis 1-3” (2).
For further reading, I highly recommend Dr. Terry Mortenson’s scholarly manuscript, “Systematic Theology Texts and the Age of the Earth: A Response to the Views of Erickson, Grudem, and Lewis and Demarest” available online (4).
Acknowledgments Thanks go out to Bubba Garner, Joe Hamm and Greg Whipple for reviewing this manuscript and providing helpful feedback.
Dods, Marcus. “Genesis,” in The Expositor’s Bible, Vol. 1, ed. W.R. Nicoll. 1948. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, pp. 4, 5.
MacArthur, John. The Battle for the Beginning: The Bible on the Creation and the Fall of Adam. 2000. Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group, a division of Thomas Nelson Inc., p. 44. Emphasis in the original.
Morris, Henry. Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science. 1970. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, p. 58. Emphasis in the original.
Mortenson, Terry. 2009. “Systematic Theology Texts and the Age of the Earth: A Response to the Views of Erickson, Grudem, and Lewis and Demarest.” Answers Research Journal. 2:175-200. Accessed online on 25 February 2012. Available online at http://www.answersingenesis.org/contents/379/arj/v2/Systematic_theology_Erickson_Grudem_L ewis.pdf (Note: Read with caution re: Calvinism and millennialism).
As quoted in, Surburg, R.R. “In the Beginning God Created,” in Darwin, Evolution, and Creation , ed. P.A. Zimmerman. 1959. St. Louis, MO: Concordia, p. 61.
Williams, Arthur F. In: Creation Research Annual. 1965. Ann Arbor, MI: Creation Research Society, p. 10.