The story of creation is one of the most compelling and intriguing issues that has yet to be concluded. Public opinion is divided in resolving the age-long conflict of the young-earth old-earth dilemma. Even in the field of secular science, a consensus could not be reached. The age of the earth has remained a paradox that, until today, both biblical scholars and scientist are struggling to explain. Predating even the earliest human civilization, man can only speculate what may have happened billions or thousands of years ago. In order to explain man’s very own existence, creation theories have emerged. Among these theories, two have been the most widely accepted yet in stark contrast with each other. Before scientific thought emerged, religion was the basis of man’s theory of creation. One of the most popular theories of creation came from the Hebrews known as the ‘Six-Day Creation’. In a literal point of view, the book of Genesis provides a story of creation that spanned six days. With the conquest of Christianity over European and Western countries, the six-day creation became the prevailing thought of how the universe started. Apparently, not everyone accepted this theory. With the advancement of scientific knowledge in astrophysics, more people are finding it difficult to reconcile biblical teachings with science creating an even larger gap among those who held the new-earth theory and those that are opposed to it.
Six-Day Creation and the New-Earth Theory
The first chapter in the book of Genesis provides a narrative of the Christian view of the story of creation. In its literal sense, the six-day creation story implies that the earth is apparently new and not billions of years old as what most scientific theories suggests. For those who wish to reconcile secular science with the six-day creation model, proponents of the six-day creation argue that the six-day period is not intended for literal interpretation. They argue that the gap between science and the bible is due to the erroneous translation of the Hebrew bible suggesting that the creation days were 24-hour periods when it should be referring to a prolonged period. Biblical scholars point out to a verse in the bible, in 2 Peter 3:8–9 that states, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”. Considering the thousand man-years vs. one God-day view, the six-day creation model still leans towards the young-earth theory. However, it presents a chance that a new-earth view is possible. According to Greene, strict adherence to the literal interpretation of the six-day creation model would deem the Bible as a historical authority meaningless. The scientific community has also their share of apologetics. In defending the six-day creation and the young-earth view, several scientists have pointed out lapses in dating techniques whose results challenge the young-earth theory. In one of his literary works, Dr. Jay L. Wile, a Nuclear Chemistry professor presents a strong argument on the concept of time and space. According to him, “Our current understanding of time indicates it is intimately connected with space. If space doesn’t exist, time cannot”. If nothing existed before God created the universe as what the Bible suggest, it follows that time did not start until God created space.
Big Bang Theory and the Old-Earth View
The clash between the Catholic Church and secular science in the 15th century has contributed largely to the stigma that science could not co-exist with religion. Since then, there is a common notion that scientific discoveries would eventually debunk long-held religious beliefs especially on the nature of how the earth came to being. In a scientific standpoint, biblical teachings do not give much bearing unless proven by physical and tangible observations. This standpoint puts the scientific community in an epistemological level-zero; approaching their investigative study from scratch without the bias that religion suggests. The Big Bang theory proposed by Lemaitre in 1931 is the most accepted theory of the origins of the Universe. It holds that the earth existed as a result of a cosmic explosion that happened billions of years ago. This theory suggests that before the earth came to being, it was a fractional part of the mass that exploded. The evolutionary nature of how the earth came to being based on this theory indicates that the earth has been several billion years old starting from the very moment of the cosmic explosion. Though this theory has gained wide acceptance, several gray areas still exists. Even in the modern era of space exploration, proponents to the Big-Bang theory and the old-earth view could not reach a convincing remark of how the earth exactly started. In fact, the theory has been revised several times over making it one of the most unresolved issues of modern science.
Comparison Between the Six-Day Creation View and the Big-Bang Theory
The Six-Day Creation and the Big-Bang Theory evidently presents opposing views on whether the earth was old or young. While the Six-Day Creation view provides a simple yet conclusive stand on the emergence of the earth, the Big-Bang Theory is quite inconclusive. As observed by Alles, “The Big Bang scenario simply assumes that space, time, and energy already existed. But it tells us nothing about where they came from or why the universe was born hot and dense to begin with”. Despite the differences between these opposing views, there are also striking similarities. First, both theories suggest that the earth and the universe has a beginning. In fact, it is the search for the beginning that these divergent views have taken place. Second, both theories imply that nothing exists before creation began. Alan Guth, the theoretical physicist who proposed newest revision to the Big-Bang theory with his multiverse and inflationary universe ideas could not even come close to predicting what happened before the big-bang. Though the Big-Bang Theory is the closest and most convincing attempt to explain the genesis of the earth and the universe, there is still a big question of whether scientist would be able to fully determine the genesis of the earth in scientific terms. As observed by Lightman, “Thus, to explain what we see in the world and in our mental deductions, we must believe in what we cannot prove”.
The long standing debate between proponents of the six-day creation view and the Big-Bang theory is one of the most persistent issues, which until now has not been concluded. By believing in a creator and intelligent design, the Six-Day Creation view suggests a simplistic yet conclusive explanation to the question of how the earth started. By reconciling science and the biblical teachings, proponents of the Six-Day Creation view strengthens the theory of a young-earth. Opposed to this idea is the naturalistic view of the Big-Bang theory. This theory suggests that the world started from cosmic explosions billions of years ago, backing the idea of an old earth. The young-earth view implies reliance to things that could not be explained by scientific methods because of their belief in a creator whereas old-earth proponents struggles to debunk these belief using scientific methods. As both views present a plausible explanation of the beginning of the earth, the difficulty lies in proving these theories. Those who hold the six-day creation view approached the proof of their argument by reconciling biblical beliefs with science. On the other hand, proponents of the Big-Bang theory and the old-earth view remained skeptical even in their own findings. Even their recent discoveries has not helped to prove their argument either. In the end, it becomes apparent to old earth proponents that the limitations of man’s capability would deem him unable to fully explain and comprehend a thing as vast as the universe. On the other hand, Six-Day Creation proponents are more capable of laying this argument to rest on the basis of faith.
Alles, D. (2013, July). The Evolution of the Universe. Retrieved May 2014, from http://fire.biol.wwu.edu/: http://fire.biol.wwu.edu/trent/alles/Cosmic_Evolution.pdf
Bible Gateway. (n.d.). The Story of Creation. Retrieved May 2014, from http://www.biblegateway.com/: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1&version=GNT
Greene, W. (2006, September). The Days of Creation: A Closer Look at Scripture. Retrieved May 2014, from http://godandscience.org/: http://godandscience.org/youngearth/six_days_of_creation.html
Lightman, A. (2011, December). The Accidenta Universe. Harper's Magazine, pp. 35-40.
Sarfati, J. (2009, September). 2 Peter 3:8—‘one day is like a thousand years’. Retrieved May 2014, from http://creation.com/: http://creation.com/2-peter-38-one-day-is-like-a-thousand-years
Terr, D. (2013, April). The Big Bang Theory. Retrieved May 2014, from http://www.davidterr.com/: http://www.davidterr.com/Philosophy/BigBangTheory.pdf
Wile, J. (n.d.). Why I Believe in a Young Earth. Retrieved May 2014, from http://www.drwile.com/: http://www.drwile.com/why_young.pdf