Is the universe millions of years old? Did God make the world in 6 days? Great questions! Christians have thought about this at least since Augustine in 400 AD. A healthy church will be a safe place to ask questions and explore meaning, even the meaning of important Bible stories.
Is the universe millions of years old or is it young and God made it to look old? What did the phrase “heavens and earth” mean to people thousands of years before Star Wars and NASA journeys to other planets? What exactly are the days of creation, since the sun and moon aren’t made until day 4? Was there animal death before Adam and Eve disobeyed God? These are all great question, and we’re barely touching the surface! The point is, these are not easy questions. Unfortunately, many Christians have been taught easy answers and told there’s only one way to understand the Genesis creation story. This has led to no small number of people leaving the church. This is so tragic because it’s so unnecessary.
When I (Pastor Adam) enrolled in seminary my very first class was Theology of the Pentateuch through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. (The Pentateuch is the first 5 books of the Bible). Naturally, the professor began with Genesis chapter 1. His approach to teaching the story of creation seems just right to me. He said something like this:
‘There are about seven different ways Bible-believing Christians interpret the six-day creation story. I have probably held each of the 7 views at one point in my life! Whatever your view is today, I suggest you hold it with a measure of humility.’
I appreciate and recommend the work of a group called BioLogos. It is a place where scientists and theologians who believe their two disciplines need not be at odds come together and ask big questions.
The Bible Project is a free resource I also enthusiastically recommend. Their “classroom” project allows you to take seminary-lite courses for free right from your own home. The course entitled “Heaven and Earth” is a great way to dive deeper into the worldview at play in the creation story in Genesis.
The Bible Project has a wonderful video series on Creation.
Pastor/Theologian Gavin Ortund explains there have always been a variety of ways Christians have thought about origins, creation and the age of the earth. He also demonstrates how to disagree well.