1. What does the Bible say about the age of the universe (earth)?
2. How was the universe (earth) created?
These questions are so deeply woven into the fabric of our culture that it is literally too much to ask most people to consider that we are asking the wrong questions.
The assumption those questions take for granted, as if it’s not even open to question, is that the Bible answers those questions and therefore we turn to science as a means to either prove or disprove the Bible.
So the debate quickly centres on science, especially if we read Genesis 1 as a literal and straightforward historical account of creation. We will either accept mainstream science and assume the Bible is wrong, or we will make every effort to poke holes in accepted science by clinging to every theory that might offer a glimmer of hope in favour of Genesis.
From the mainstream side, there is a complete dismissal of young earth scientists. They are generally not seen as being credible, even if they are accredited. The reason is not out of some spiteful persecution of Christian ideas. It’s because young earth scientists readily admit that they reinterpret the science in light of what they believe Genesis 1 teaches. In other words, the issue is not that they are bias, the issue is that they make no attempt to be objective.
From the young earth side, they defend their bias by claiming that both sides operate with biases. As true as that is, one side attempts to look at the evidence objectively (mainstream science) while the other side makes no effort to be objective (YEC). It also doesn’t do justice to the Christians who share a biblical worldview with the young earth side (i.e. they have a Christian bias), yet they have become convinced that mainstream science is correct.
But what if I said this whole discussion is moot?
Historians and Bible scholars who have studied Genesis 1 in its historical context know that Genesis 1 has nothing to do with how God created the material universe, much less when.
The insistence of reading Genesis 1 as a literal straightforward scientific account of creation does lead to a young earth view in the same way that the insistence of reading Eccl. 1:5 as a literal straightforward scientific account of our solar system leads to the view that the sun circles the earth, just as the church in the fifteenth century thought before Galileo showed them that the earth circles the sun as we know it today. It is called, after all, a solar system.
But if Bible scholars and historians who have studied Genesis 1 in its context are right, then the question of science in relation to Genesis 1 has no bearing on the Bible or our faith. The entire enterprise of young earth creationism is built on quicksand. The very act of reinterpreting science to “fit the Bible” is a fool’s errand. And we are under no obligation to react to mainstream science. No obligation to defend an “alternative” science. No obligation to find loopholes or to cling to unsubstantiated or evidentially impoverished theories.
In fact, we can shrug our shoulders at the sciences if we wish, and turn our attention to matters of the faith and theology. Because debating science from a biblical perspective is quite moot.