A pastor at a large church in Vancouver asked me just recently, “How would you articulate your position regarding the creation account in Genesis?” I asked him if it was okay to take time to sit down and write my response in an email, since I needed the time to think through my response. Often when people find out I believe God created the Universe approximately 6000 years ago, as the biblical record indicates, they get this sort of try-not-to-look-too-shocked look on their faces: (I’m talking with someone who believes in little green men, fairies and unicorns… how do I extricate myself from this conversation before he tries to sell me a tinfoil hat???) So in the spirit of giving a reasonable answer for why I believe what I believe about this, let me share with you what I shared with my friend in Vancouver.
My Position on the Creation Account in Genesis
In short, I trust the authority of Scripture over and above all other authorities, since I trust the character and omniscience of God above all other sources.
That leads me to decide this issue first on the basis of biblical exegesis. The style and genre of Genesis is historical narrative with poetic elements not unlike Exodus. And the author is the same.
In Genesis 1 Moses writes of the days in which God created the Universe. This passage appears to be written primarily to demonstrate the superiority of Yahweh over all other deities, as a polemic including derisive parody into which Moses borrows phrasing and wording from contemporary paganism. But though he does not intend to “give us a scientific textbook on how God created the Universe”, he does nonetheless give a true account of the details he bothers to mention in his polemic.
Six days is given as the time frame, just as in Exodus 20 (the “ten commandments”) he bases his argument for the Sabbath rest on the length of time God took to create. He obviously appears to understand the creation week to be a week of days of normal length, not allegorical (otherwise his argument in Ex 20 makes little sense: God worked for six billion years and rested for the seventh, so you too should work for six billion years before taking your rest?). There is no evidence that his use of six days in either passage is anthropomorphic.
Jesus likewise understood Adam and Eve to be historical people who lived at the beginning of the world. In his statement against divorce Jesus places the origin of marriage at “the beginning of creation”. This does not allow room for millions of years of evolution before the institution of marriage.
Paul bases his argument of federal redemption on the reality that death entered the world through sin and sin through one man, Adam (Rom 5). Both the comparison with Christ’s redemption and the foundation of Adam’s curse make no sense if death was in the world for millions of generations prior to Adam.
So the exegesis is pretty clear. The Bible presents a narrative that has God creating the Universe ex nihilo in a period of six normal days.
The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 do not allow for massive gaps, nor are they stylistic generations. They give specifics of each man’s age at birth and at death. Right down to Abraham. The genealogies after Abraham cannot allow for more than a mere matter of hundreds of years of “gaps”. Thus the Bible must be understood to allow for no more than approximately 6000 +/- years from Creation until now.
That places the burden for Christian thinkers not on how we interpret the Bible, which is authoritative and trustworthy, but on how we interpret consensus within the communities of publishing scientists and mass media. These sources of knowledge are far from objective and very suspect in terms of absolute authority. Moreover, they are not unanimous on hardly anything, and they have been known to continue to perpetuate frauds as evidence for the humanistic, uniformitarian evolutionary party line, long after the evidence they claimed was falsified. (see http://creation.com/what-biology-textbooks-never-told-you-about-evolution )
With that in mind, I have found over the last couple of decades that credentialled scientists in every major relevant discipline include men and women who trust the Bible’s authority and hold a position we would call “young earth creationism”. Groups like CMI (creation.com) have thousands of helpful articles on almost any related topic that explain how scientific evidence fits the biblical accounts of creation and the global flood. So it is not hard to believe the Bible and love science. One just has to be willing to believe some things that are not popular.