If you've read this blog any length of time, or know me in person, you know I am pretty outspoken (hopefully in a gentle, but firm way) about my belief that the earth is young and that Genesis' account of Creation is literal and does not need to have any "hidden" eras (or elongated days) inserted into it. I also believe this issue is important; matters; and has deep significance for, and impact on, other areas of our faith. And, I also know others who love the Lord, follow Him, and don't agree and I don't question their walk or love for Him at all.
With that said (and leaving my other blog posts over the recent years to explain why I believe this issue is so important), one of the things I (and maybe you) hear a lot in these "debates" is a distinction made between special revelation and general revelation. This distinction says that God reveals Himself and gives us insight into Creation by both special revelation (Genesis) and by general revelation (nature). To this point, this is true. Romans makes it clear that because God is so evident in Creation no man has an excuse to deny Him or suppress His truth. And it says things like, "the heavens declare the glory of God." But, it is at this point that I feel the argument often strays into error or inconsistency and I want to share a couple thoughts on it for you in case you find yourself facing the argument, or considering it for your own.
First, there is this seeming presupposition/assumption that the two revelations (Genesis and nature) provide different interpretations. This is an error. There are many, many brilliant scientists who believe in Young Earth Creationism (YEC) and who believe that if science could simply look at the evidence in nature, absent of preassumptions and bias and trying to fit it into their assumed models, they would see that the evidence overwhelmingly supports Genesis' account. But, the media and secular science has so overwhelmed their voices that there is this assumed "reality" that science and Genesis don't mesh when, in fact, they do.
So, first off, we don't need to choose between God's revelation in Genesis and His revelation in nature. The two support each other and are in total harmony. But, having bought the argument that the two contradict, many Christians then feel natural revelation (as they interpret it) trumps Scripture and they then feel led to reinterpret Genesis to fit natural revelation (as they interpret it). We end up then with theories that there is a huge gap between one or more of the "days" of Creation, or that the "days" of Creation are in fact long, long periods of time. What happens is a very dangerous forcing of Genesis into secular science, making the Bible support it instead of the other way around.
Here is the big problem. If we believe, or teach, that "science" or natural revelation forces our interpretations of Scripture we have opened a door and on the other side of it is a slippery slope. Even if we are strong enough in our faith to only do this with Genesis 1 (which would still be wrong), others, especially youth, may not be and it may very likely lead to a slide that ends in writing the Bible off as simply a good book or a moral code.
The reason I say this is that natural laws and contemporary "science" (at least that which gets taught and reported on) goes in the face of much of the Bible, not just Genesis! If you let natural laws and modern "science" interpret Genesis and trump Genesis 1 then, to be consistent, you must do the same for other events in Scripture. I can guarantee you that the same "science" that embraces old earth and drives old earth Christian interpretations will not be able to accept a resurrection from the dead, a talking serpent, a rod turning into a snake, an ocean parting, a trumpet and shout collapsing a fortified city, a realm of demons and angels, miraculous healings, orbits being interrupted, people being taken up by the Spirit and moved to other places, etc. They will either say, at worst, that these are just fables or, at best, they will come up with a naturalistic explanation for them. Yet, my guess is that most Christians who are old earth believe each of these other things truly happened and are miraculous and out of the bounds of natural law and explanation. This is inconsistent and, for many, can lead to some serious doubts and issues in those seasons in life when all we have to hold on to are the promises and love of God as revealed in Scripture.
So, to sum it up and help equip you regarding this argument:
1. A literal reading of Genesis (Creation days and the global flood) and natural revelation are not in opposition. When studied without pre-bias or molds the natural evidence around us actually supports a literal reading of Genesis and there are, in fact, many, many scientists who believe it but who can't get their voice heard.
2. It is inconsistent to allow Scripture to trump secular "science" (natural revelation) in so many areas that secular "science" would not believe, and then to allow secular "science" to trump Scripture in the case of Genesis 1 (and the flood accounts).
I hope this helps, or at least gives food for thought. Wherever you stand on this, God bless you and thanks for reading!