Does An “Ancient” Universe Prove Christianity Is False?
Do Christians Accept the Possibility That the Universe is Ancient?
The Debate Over Age
I will confess to you now that I am an “old earth” Christian. There, I feel better. As crazy as it sounds, I sometimes feel as though I have to justify this belief in an ancient universe due to the fact that so many of my Christian brothers and sisters have drawn a line in the sand over the issue. For many in evangelical Christianity, the age of the earth has become an essential Christian doctrine. If you are a young earth believer, you are ‘in’, if you are an ancient earth believer, you are ‘out’. So let’s take a minute to talk about the age of the earth and the length of God’s creation days for those of you out there who are atheists and for those of you who are ‘young earth’ Christians. Maybe it will clear up where I stand personally, and why I believe that this controversy shouldn’t divide Christians as it has in the past.
When I first became a believer, I didn’t really give the age of the earth much thought. I didn’t think that the Bible was explicit on the issue. And history actually agrees with me on this fact, because very few early believers ever gave the issue much thought. Up through the Middle Ages, only a few Jews or Christians attempted to date God’s creation, adding up and calculating the genealogies in Genesis Chapter 5 and Chapter 10 to arrive at ages that ranged from 6,300 to 7,500 years old. These believers would simply add up all the years of the generations that are listed there and work backwards toward Adam, the first man. But in 1642, thirty one years after the King James Bible was completed, Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor John Lightfoot actually took this kind of thinking one step further. He used the genealogies and other dates mentioned in the Bible to calculate an exact date for the creation of the universe! He determined the creation point to be September 17th, 3928BC! Lightfoot had a rival named James Ussher (Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland ) who made his own calculations in 1650, and subsequently stated that the date of creation was October 3rd, 4004BC. Debate raged between the two men, and each adjusted the other’s calculations, moving the creation date slightly within a small range in 4004BC. In the years that followed, later editions of the KJV Bible actually included Ussher’s chronology and age calculations in the footnotes, and it wasn’t long before the young earth view became the norm. The vast majority of Christians through the ages have accepted this young earth thinking without ever examining the dating for themselves…
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