I recently had a book recommended to me, "Genesis and the Big Bang" by Gerald L.Schroeder. This did sound like something I would be interested in until I learned that the author's premise of the book was that fossil history proves the existence of the earth to be approximately 15 million years old as scientists claim. I could not feel that my time would be well spent reading a book that made such an assertion...
With that said, I have to admit that I would not allow myself to be burned at the stake over my convictions about the age of the earth. I consider this a "doubtful thing" (Romans 14:1) that is not worth splitting a church over. I know that what one believes about the age of the earth has no direct bearing on their salvation (thus making it a "doubtful thing"). However I believe that a wrong view of the creation account can indirectly lead to dangerous doctrines that do keep people from being saved (see my reference to Luke 16:31 below).
I feel strongly about this issue because it is something that concerned me a lot in the early months of my salvation. Like Schroeder is doing, I too attempted to reconcile the biblical account of the creation with the world's teaching about millions of years. When I was first saved, I rationalized that God brought about the creation using evolution. But I had a problem with this because it forced me to take an other than literal interpretation of Genesis. If you start "spiritualizing" Genesis, where do you stop? If Genesis 1 does not mean what it says, maybe John 3:16 doesn't really promise a substantive eternal life to believers. It was a great relief and drew me closer to God when I appropriated the counsel, "if the literal interpretation makes sense, seek no other sense."
I later learned that there is a term for the belief that God brought about the creation using evolution: theistic evolution. My digging for answers lead to both biblical and scientific reinforcement of the literal Genesis account of the creation. For me, the creation has become one of my favorite Bible subjects, almost up there with Bible prophecy. Along with the gospel, you can always get me talking about both "end things" as well as "beginning things". My wife Teresa has on more than one occasion counseled me to throttle my wild-eyed enthusiasm when discussing creation versus evolution (read: "literal Genesis account versus theistic evolution").
Along with each of the days of creation in Genesis 1, evening and morning are both mentioned. Why would this be necessary? If we were intended to interpret the "days" as epochs of time, why would Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have to mention the morning and evening? I can only conclude that this was added to emphasize the literal 24-hour period of time. This is reinforced in the Ten Commandments; Exodus 20:8-11 establishes a memorial for the seventh day of the week as God did on the original Sabbath. The Hebrew word for "days" in this passage is the same whether it is applied to the days of creation or our own work week.
When God created the world, it was perfect, complete. This is why He rested, no more work was required. In God's own words, "indeed it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). The implication here is that there was no death until the fall of man: "just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men" (Romans 5:12). Certainly all of creation anxiously awaits the redemption of mankind per Romans 8:19-22. So how can we have creatures dying to form fossils prior to the fall of Adam?
Another fundamental problem I have with taking other than a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation is related to the nature of God. Liberal interpreters of the Bible do not see God for who He really is. God is Almighty. He is in active control of all things in the universe (Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3). This understanding of God makes many people uncomfortable because they would like to find loop-holes in His Law or garner influence over Him or deny His personal interest in them.
If God is Almighty, why didn't He bring about the creation just as He said He did? Why would He encode the simple truth and subject people to dependency on interpretations from others? If God is Almighty, He is powerful enough to accurately bring us His word and preserve it even using His error-prone creation. In fact, the creation is a testimony to the omnipotent nature of God, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).
Due to my interest in the young earth debate I had spent some time monitoring an internet news group on this subject some years ago. Someone posted a question, "Why does it matter whether the earth is millions or only thousands of years old?" A simple profound reply really summed it up: "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead" (Luke 16:31). Well One has risen from the dead and most people have rejected His testimony. Likewise, those who spiritualize Genesis which was written by Moses are denying the Almighty nature of God and are in danger of failing to believe in Jesus.
My quest for truth regarding the literal Genesis account versus theistic evolution led me to the field of creation science. There are many experts in this field who have dedicated their lives to glorifying God. I have several books on this subject of which I would certainly recommend: "The Collapse of Evolution" - Scott M. Huse, "Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth" - Wayne Jackson, "A Scientific Analysis of Genesis" - Edward F. Blick, Ph.D., "Footprints and the Stones of Time" - Dr. Carl E. Baugh and Dr. Clifford Wilson, "Why Do Men Believe Evolution Against All Odds?" - Dr. Carl E. Baugh, "The Lie Evolution", Ken Ham, "Genesis and the Origin of Coal & Oil" - Trevor J. Major. These books are not as politically correct as "Genesis and the Big Bang" so I doubt if they could be found in the local Barnes & Noble but an internet search may turn them up.
There is a preponderance of scientific evidence supporting creation. I'll only summarize some representative points... The mere existence of fossils is proof of the world-wide flood described in Genesis. When organisms die they generally do not start forming future fossils, they rot. Only a catastrophic event such as the flood could have caused the right conditions for fossils to form. World geological view holds that each layer of sedimentary rock represents millions of years yet there are occurrences of single petrified trees spanning multiple sedimentary layers. If it took millions of years for each layer of sediment to form, the tree would have rotted away long before it could become petrified.
Evidence for the age of the earth causes problems for evolutionists. There are many "earth clocks" which give evidence as to the age of this planet. For example, the decay of the earth's magnetic field suggests that this steady process could not have been occurring longer than about 10,000 years. The formation of river deltas are only large enough to represent 5,000 years of soil erosion. Carbon-14 dates the oldest once-living matter within less than 10,000 years. This includes Neanderthal man bones, saber-tooth tigers, mammoths, coal, natural gas, crude oil, etc. The growth of the human population also indicates that this could not be occurring more than 4,000 years. There are at least 80 similar such points of evidence reinforcing the creation account of Genesis.
Techniques used to date rocks are not as reliable as Carbon-14 which is limited to once-living matter. Rock dating techniques use the decay of radioactive isotopes but assumptions must be made as to how much radioactive material was present in the rock from the beginning. These assumptions are easily skewed to give results for which researchers are looking. It is common practice for rock dating services to ask their customers what age they expect the rocks to be based on fossils and sedimentary layers around them so they can "calibrate" their instruments. Studies on volcanic rocks from Hawaii known to be less than 200 years old, yielded ages from 160 million to almost 3 billion years using common rock dating techniques.
While what a person believes about the age of the earth has no bearing on whether they are saved or not, their knowledge of Jesus Christ certainly does. A personal understanding of the good news about Jesus "is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).