The Age of the Earth

A Conversation Among Bereans

by Jason G. Duesing April 26, 2015

Recently, Baptist Press asked me questions related to an article by Justin Taylor of Crossway on the age of the earth that has generated some discussion among evangelicals. Published at his blog at The Gospel Coalition, Taylor’s article is entitled, “Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods.”

The age of the earth is an important topic and thus I wanted to give BP a response that would be helpful to them and the ongoing discussion. The BP story by David Roach, posted today at “Length of creation days debated” also includes comments by Ken Keathley of Southeastern Seminary and Jim Hamilton of Southern Seminary.

Also, for those interested, below I include the full version of my comments that I gave to Baptist Press as they understandably could not use them all:

I appreciate Justin Taylor’s article for, as is typical of his work, it is helpful in the sense that he is seeking to enumerate reasons from within the Bible itself in support of an older age of the earth. This is helpful because it reframes a well-worn debate topic back to what the text actually says, and for those that have subsequently sought to engage him on that level in response, the dialogue has, for the most part, been constructive. Even though I am not persuaded by his conclusions, specifically with regard to his explanation of Moses’s reference to the days of creation in relation to the fourth commandment given in Exodus 20:8-11, I appreciate the spirit behind what Justin Taylor is attempting to do.

As the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 does not specifically address the age of the earth, much like the finer points of eschatology, it is a secondary matter to determine what SBC seminary professors believe about the issue. I do not mean to imply it is not important for under the BF&M, SBC faculty must affirm the creation and existence of a literal Adam and Eve and see no room for the affirmation of theistic evolution. Personally, I remain convinced that the young-earth view best accounts for the plain reading of the Bible, and while I have not polled the faculty at Midwestern on this topic, I suspect the majority of the faculty would as well. For those who hold to an old-earth view, I support the legitimacy of their doing so and enjoy the sharpening that comes from healthy dialogue, even as their conclusions and implications do cause me some good natured head-scratching. In the end, I see this as an intramural discussion among creationists and hope that such only serves to bind us closer together in refuting that which is clearly contrary to Scripture, the theory of evolution.    

Given that the roots of Midwestern’s theological history began with a controversy over what a faculty member believed about the validity of Genesis, I remain grateful for the recovery of the seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention to the degree that we are not, in 2015, among ourselves debating whether God created the earth or the truthfulness of Genesis 1-11, but joyfully, under the common banner of the affirmation of inerrancy, are examining the text to discern what it says even in more secondary matters like the age of the earth. I, and many Midwestern faculty may disagree with Justin Taylor on this issue, but appreciate the Berean spirit (Acts 17:11) of his article nonetheless.