Did God create the universe only a few thousand years ago, or is the universe billions of years old? When we couple the Creation account in Genesis with biblical genealogies, we find that God created all things in six days a few thousand years ago. The universe is young. But you might be surprised to learn the Creation account also reveals that the universe is old. Let me explain how the Bible reveals the universe is both young and old.
One attempt to reconcile the evidence of an old universe with the biblical account of Creation is to assert that God created the universe with age. This agrees with certain biblical facts, including God creating Adam and Eve as adults, creating mature plants and animals, and the necessity of God’s creating soil (which is normally a result of weathering) for the plants to be rooted in and grow in. But there are many other evidences of age that we would not have even thought of if they did not exist. Among the most obvious of these are fossils, such as dinosaur fossils. No one would have thought, “Where are the dinosaur bones?” if they were not already here.
Of course, most young-Earth creationists would say that the fossils aren’t really that old—the things that became fossilized lived only thousands of years ago. But several different dating methods all indicate great age. While I never let science dictate to the Bible, I want to be careful that I don’t allow my zeal for what seems on the surface to be a biblical position to become a stubborn intransigence that stops me from seeing all of the biblical evidence. It’s simply intellectual honesty to reexamine Scripture to see if we’ve made a mistake in our understanding of what it’s telling us. Does the Bible explain why, if God really created the Earth only a few millennia ago, He would put fossils in it?
Did God use fossils to make up a fib? Of course not! God cannot lie. Which means either that, even though they are using several different dating methods, scientists are arriving at grossly wrong dates, or, the old age seen in the physical record God has given us and the young Creation He reveals in His Word are both true.
Let’s forget about science for now and do what we, as Christians, should do. Let’s use the Bible to find the answer.
God Created Adam so That He Was Old When He Was Young
Saying that the universe is truly old and truly young might seem like a contradiction. But think again about Adam. One day after God created Adam, was he one day old, or was he a mature man? A medical examination would reveal him to be a mature man. He didn’t have just an illusion of age. He truly was a mature man. But he was also truly one day old. Both are true. From a chronological point of view, Adam was one day old when from a physiological or anatomical point of view he was, perhaps, about thirty years old. So, the Bible reveals that something can be both young and old depending on how you look at it.
The Creation was a miracle. Adam’s creation was a part of that miracle. God created Him in a moment. But since Adam’s age wasn’t just an appearance of age, God created him with all of the characteristics of a mature man. For Adam to be a man of that mature age, he had to have the characteristics of a man that age. He and the characteristics were inseparable. The miracle of his creation included creating all of the characteristics that made him that age. If God did this with Adam, did He also do it with the entire universe?
Since God’s creation of Adam and His Creation of the universe were miracles, looking at some other miracles might help us better understand.
Creation Miracles Create Real Age and Other True Characteristics
The Bible tells us that Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). When the master of the feast tasted it, he found it to be high-quality wine.
So, the Bible says it was wine. It was not an illusion. It being wine, if you chemically analyzed it, you would have found it to have all of the chemical composition of wine. If you didn’t know Jesus made it with a miracle, you would have no reason not to deduce that it was made from grapes that had been grown, squeezed, fermented, and aged just the same as all other wine. In fact, since this is what wine is, the miracle of creating wine would have to include this background—including age.
I struggled to find the word that properly describes this background. After going through such words as blueprint, essence, and nature, I found the best meaning in the philosophical definition of quiddity. Quiddity has taken on other meanings, but in Latin it literally means “whatness.” In philosophy, it means the essence or essential nature that makes something what it is. Sometimes quiddity is used narrowly to refer to what makes something like others of its kind, and another word—haecceity (“thisness”)—is used to indicate what distinguishes something from anything else. But these seem to be just flip sides of the same coin, so I’ll simply use quiddity.
So, the quiddity of wine is its definition (the alcoholic, fermented, and aged juice of grapes that come from grapevines that have been growing in the soil for some years, and so forth) that includes the time necessary for it to be in that state. Since the quiddity of wine is what makes it what it is, the quiddity of the wine Jesus miraculously made at Cana is the same as the quiddity of all wine.
I want to emphasize that the quiddity isn’t a fiction or a lie. It is part and parcel with the thing itself.
In two other miracles, Jesus fed five thousand men, besides women and children using “five loaves of bread and two fish” (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14), and “four thousand men, besides women and children” with seven loaves and a few small fish (Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9). In both incidents, there were even a great many leftovers, leaving no doubt that the miracle was in Jesus’ producing a great amount of food, not merely in people feeling full.
When those people ate the bread and fish, did they find it to be anything other than bread and fish? No. If a scientist had the opportunity to examine the bread and fish with modern instruments, would the scientist find anything other than bread and fish? I highly doubt it.
I believe that a scientist who was unaware of the miracle would conclude from a structural, genetic, and chemical analysis that the bread was made from grain that had come from seed that had been sown in the soil, grown to maturity, harvested, threshed, ground to flour, made into loaves, and baked. DNA analysis would even reveal the species of the grain. Likewise, a scientist could determine the species of fish and how it was prepared. The quiddities of the bread and fish would include time factors—it takes time for wheat to go from seed sown in the soil to harvest and from harvest to baked loaves. Likewise, it takes time for fish eggs to develop, hatch, grow, be caught, and be prepared. The quiddities always include this time factor or age.
This quiddity information about the bread and fish isn’t a lie, just as the bread and fish are not lies. It is what defines bread and fish, and so it cannot be separated from them.
The Bible Reveals a Young Creation with Age
Now, let’s look at the Creation. The Bible tells us that God created everything in six days. From internal, biblical evidence (genealogies), this seems to have been only a few thousand years ago. Yet, the Bible gives us clear examples of things in the Creation that God created with age. God created the plants and animals mature. He created Adam and Eve as adults. Even geologically, God must have created the Earth with soil for the plants to grow in. Soil is the product of the erosion of rock. Plants also usually need organic matter in the soil. Organic matter comes from the decay of living organisms that have died. Ordinarily, it would signal an ecosystem that had been functioning for some time. All of these things are signs of age. So, when God created the Earth and the living creatures on it, He created them with age.
The evidences of age I’ve listed above are obvious from the Bible. It’s clear that God created the plants, the animals, and the first man and woman with age. It also must be that the plants were growing in soil.
God created the Earth with age, and He did it for good reasons. God is not frivolous, and He doesn’t lie. In Jesus’ miracles, the wedding wine and the bread and fish that fed the multitudes weren’t lies. In fact, to truly be wine, bread, and fish, they had to have the exact composition—the same look, feel, taste, molecular structure, genetics, and age—as naturally occurring wine, bread, and fish.
My Thesis of a Young and an Old Universe
So, my thesis is this: Just as Jesus created the wine, bread, and fish in His miracles to have all of the natural characteristics of those things, including age, so God miraculously created the Earth and all the universe in six days several thousand years ago with all the characteristics of age. God created the Earth and the rest of the universe with the look, feel, taste, molecular structure, genetics, and strata, fossils, radiometric decay, and all of the various indicators of age that scientists find because these things are the characteristics or quiddities of the components of the universe in which we live.
I also believe that, while these quiddities of the universe truly show all of the particulars of what a universe would need had it not been created relatively recently by miracle, scientists understand the quiddities of the universe only imperfectly. This is evident from their ever-changing and developing ideas. Without believing in the Creator God, they can never come to a perfect understanding of the universe and the origin it points to. For, while the internal (within the universe) origins of the state of the universe might be explained by the Big Bang or whatever, neither the Big Bang nor anything else within the universe can explain its first cause. Rationally, the origin of the universe cannot be part of the universe. It is irrational to suppose the origin of the universe could be something within the universe. The first cause must come from outside the universe in both space and time. So, even the quiddities of the universe point to the origin as being Eternal God (by definition without origins and outside time) in eternity (by definition, outside the universe and time).
I consider myself to be a young Earth creationist. Nevertheless, I’ve always been opposed to the fact that many young Earth creationists twist Scripture and/or science to fit their theories, and they waste time and resources debating scientists. A debate isn’t going to convince unbelievers to believe. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. So, I’m not writing this article to convince scientists. Instead, I’m trying to present a biblically based argument to Christian believers for why the Earth and the universe appear to be so immensely old. Age is part of their quiddities.
So, I am saying that God miraculously created the Earth and all the universe in six days several thousand years ago. But a billions-of-years-old universe is also true in that great age is an inseparable quiddity of our universe. That is, in six days, God created a billions-of-years-old universe. It is the state the Creation is truly in because God created it that way. He did that because the universe needs to be in an ancient state to have and support the life it has.
Many of you will have questions. I’ll answer a couple right now.
What about evolution?
What about it? The Christian objection to evolution has always been that it contradicted special creation only thousands of years ago. But if God created the creatures of the Earth, including man, a few thousand years ago with quiddities that include species evolving, the objection disappears.
Was there death before Adam?
Death is an obvious part of the quiddity of the Earth. That is, part of God’s creating the Earth with age was to create it with fossils that show that organisms have been living and dying for millions of years. But there was no death from the Creation to the Fall of man. This was likely only a short time. Considering that Eve did not give birth in the Garden, the Fall may have occurred within nine months of Eve’s creation.
I believe that what I’ve presented here removes the conflict between Bible-believing Christians and scientists over the origins of the universe. As Bible believers, we can believe the Creation as it is revealed in the Bible while also knowing from biblical evidence that when God creates something, it comes complete with its quiddity. As far as the details of the quiddity, we can let the scientists hash that out. All of the arguments presented in articles such as this one (“Young-Earth Creationist View Summarized And Defended”) become needless.
As Christians, we are free to stop debating scientists and concentrate on what’s important—Jesus Christ, the Gospel of His atoning death, and Christ’s love in our hearts spread abroad to each other, our neighbors, and our enemies.
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