There is an intensifying controversy in the church all over the world regarding the age of the earth. For the first 18 centuries of church history, the almost universal belief of Christians was that God created the world in six literal days, roughly 4,000 years before Christ, and destroyed the world with a global Flood at the time of Noah. But about 200 years ago some scientists developed new theories of earth history, which proposed that the earth and universe are millions of years old. Over the past 200 years Christian leaders have made various attempts to fit the millions of years into the Bible. These include the day-age view, gap theory, local flood view, framework hypothesis, theistic evolution, progressive creation, and so on.
A growing number of Christians (now called young-earth creationists), including many scientists, hold to the traditional view, believing it to be the only view that is truly faithful to Scripture and that fits the scientific evidence far better than the reigning old-earth evolutionary theory.
Many Christians say that the age of the earth is an unimportant and divisive side-issue that hinders the proclamation of the gospel. But is that really the case? AiG and many other creationist organizations think not.
In this short article, we want to introduce you to some of the reasons we think that Christians cannot accept the millions of years, without doing great damage to the church and her witness in the world. We hope that it will help you think more carefully about this subject and will motivate you to dig deeper into the excellent resources recommended at the end, which thoroughly defend the points made here.
1. The Bible clearly teaches that God created in six literal, 24-hour days a few thousand years ago.
The Hebrew word for day in Genesis 1 is yôm. In the vast majority of its uses in the Old Testament (OT), it means a literal day; and where it doesn't the context makes this clear.
Similarly, the context of Genesis 1 clearly shows that the days of creation were literal days. First, yôm is defined the first time it is used in the Bible (Genesis 1:4–5) in its two literal senses: the light portion of the light/dark cycle and the whole light/dark cycle. Second, yôm is used with "evening" and "morning." Everywhere these two words are used in the OT, either together or separately and with or without yôm in the context, they always mean a literal evening or morning of a literal day. Third, yôm is modified with a number: one day, second day, third day, and so on, which everywhere else in the Old Testament indicates literal days. Fourth, yôm is defined literally in Genesis 1:14 in relation to the heavenly bodies.