I had a limited online “conversation” the other day on a blog discussing old earth/universe vs. young earth/universe viewpoints. It didn’t go as I would have expected. For background, I presently believe in an old earth/universe approach to creation, agreeing with the mainstream scientific community in affirming the age of the universe to be roughly 13.7 ± 0.13 billion years. As you might imagine, this creates some theological problems when reading Genesis 1-3, some of which I honestly haven’t worked out (but I’m working on it!). Most posters on the blog in question believe in a young earth/universe, roughly 6,000 years old, give or take. Many of these believe that scripture gives them no choice but to believe in six literal 24 hour days of creation. While this allows for maximum theological consistency, it does this at the expense of estrangement from the scientific community.
Now, if you think the purpose of this post is to criticize my young earth brethren for their position, you’d be mistaken… I believe that God gives to each of us a measure of faith to search the scriptures and hold fast to the good we find. The issue of young vs. old earth is not central to our faith and is something which we should be able to discuss civilly while “keep(ing) the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:3 TNIV)
All faith systems have “difficulties” – areas in which certain theological beliefs are at odds with contemporary secular thinking. For evangelical Christianity, the age of the universe, the morality of homosexuality and the sanctity of human life are but a few. The point of this post is to challenge us to think of ways we hide behind our faith and thus fail to engage the secular world around us. “Engage” is such a great word! It requires us to be relevant; in the world but not of it; to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Tim 3:15 TNIV)
So let me encourage you. Do you have difficulties with aspects of your faith? Do you suffer from “cognitive dissonance”? Do you dread interaction with people that don’t share your belief system (this applies equally well to people of faith as well as people of no faith)? Don’t be satisfied to walk on egg shells when you find yourselves in a challenging environment. Ask questions. Offer your reasoning. Practice humility. Scripture encourages us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12 TNIV) And sometimes it is much easier to do with someone holding an opposing viewpoint.
Do you agree or disagree? Do you have any topics you’d like to discuss? I welcome your comments!