Old Earth Creationism

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Old Earth Creationism is the belief that God created the universe and the world billions of years ago. Most forms of old earth creationism still believe in a literal reading of the Genesis creation account, though their interpretation differs from that of young earth creationists.


Old Earth Creationists hold to a view of the Biblical book of Genesis that allows for an old earth.[1] Dr. Norman Geisler wrote that "both young- and old-earthers who are evangelical hold to the historicity of the Genesis account: They believe that Adam and Eve were literal people, the progenitors of the entire human race." Dr. Geisler also wrote concerning young earth creationist and old earth creationist the following: "Both groups are also agreed in their opposition to naturalism, which they see as the philosophical presupposition of the theory of evolution." [2]

There are many forms of this position, differing mainly by where all this time fits into the creation story. One common place, is after the creation event of Gen 1:1, describing the creation of the universe. If this event preceded the first day, as most old earth creationists believe, then any age for the universe or the Earth is compatible with Genesis. This idea is a basic element in Gap theory, and often included in other forms of old earth creationism.

There are a wide number of views of old earth creationism starting from the Gap theory and Day age creationism and ending with Theistic evolution.

Old Earth creationists frequently, though not always, hold views which are more in keeping with those which are held by mainstream scientists. For example, believers in the Gap theory maintain that there was a gap of billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.

Another form of old earth creationism is the day-age position which postulates that the days in the creation week represent long ages in prehistory rather than 24 hour days. Reasons for this include:[3]

  • An alternate interpretation of "age" for the Hebrew word yom, commonly interpreted as day.
  • The use of metaphor in the creation week.
  • It's use as a simplification to make the story understandable to people of all generations.
  • God's perspective of time does not fit that of humans. This is seen throughout scripture, as God works on timescales that are beyond human comprehension. (A day to God is as a thousand years...)
  • Some of the events of the creation days seem to imply a long period of time, like the commands to "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas..." (Gen 1:22 NKJV)

Progressive Creationism takes this a step farther, making more specific correlations with each of the Genesis days and geological ages in prehistory.

The most liberal of old earth theories, Theistic evolution, views the Genesis creation account as allegory. This position focuses on spiritual meaning, claiming that the physical descriptions are more like parables. Obviously, this form of biblical interpretation is not accepted by most creationists.

There are some who believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis and also believe in some aspects of evolution. Often this may include only micro evolution, or evolution limited within various groups of animals, or evolution that is completely guided and controlled by God.

Old Earth Creationists do not all agree on the extent of the Noachian flood, although many maintain that it was a local flood.[4]

Some proponents of Old Earth Creationism include Hugh Ross, David Snoke, Greg Neyman, Francis Schaeffer, Norman Geisler, and many others.[5]


Meanwhile, Young-Earth creationists hold that belief in an old Earth is frequently based on extra-biblical sources, not on the Bible. For example:

If an old earth were really the teaching of Scripture, then one claim is glaringly conspicuous by its absence, that is, any claim in commentaries that the Bible unambiguously teaches long ages. Rather, the usual claim is that the biblical text appears on the surface to teach a young earth but may allow for an old earth.—Jonathan Sarfati[6]
It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of Genesis, without regard to the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created the heavens and the earth in six solar days, that man was created on the sixth day, and that death and chaos entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and that all fossils were the result of the catastrophic deluge that spared only Noah’s family and the animals therewith.—Pattle Pun[7]
From a superficial reading, the impression received is that the entire creative process took place in six twenty-four hour days. If this was the true intent of the Hebrew author (a questionable deduction, as will be presently shown), this seems to run counter to modern scientific research, which indicates that the planet Earth was created several billion years ago.—Gleason Archer[8]
It is of course admitted that, taking this account [Genesis] by itself, it would be most natural to understand the word [day] in its ordinary sense; but if that sense brings the Mosaic account into conflict with facts, [millions of years] and another sense avoids such conflict, then it is obligatory on us to adopt that other.—Charles Hodge[9]
[C]onfessedly, it would not have been as readily deduced from the Genesis text had it not been for the evidences advanced by secular science.—J. Barton Payne[10]
We have to admit here [concerning those who take the six days of Creation as literal days] that the exegetical basis [the arguments from the words of Scripture] of the creationists is strong. … In spite of the careful biblical and scientific research that has accumulated in support of the creationists’ view, there are problems that make the theory wrong to most (including many evangelical) scientists. … Data from various disciplines point to a very old earth and even older universe.’—James Montgomery Boice[11]

Atheists typically argue that the bible is not a valid source when determining the age of the earth, since they reject the bible.


  1. http://www.answersincreation.org/question.htm
  2. http://www.johnankerberg.org/Articles/science/SC0305W3.htm
  3. http://rareuniverse.org/old_earth_creationism/index.html Old Earth Creationism at RareUniverse.Org
  4. Ross, Hugh, Let Us Reason: The Waters of the Flood Facts & Faith, Volume 4, No. 4, Winter 1990.
  5. http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/notable_leaders/index.shtml
  6. Sarfati, Jonathan, Refuting Compromise, Master Books, March 2004, p.55. Emphasis in original.
  7. Pun, P.P.T., Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 39:14, 1987; quoted by Creation Ministries International [1].
  8. Archer, G.L., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Moody, Chicago, p. 187, 1985; quoted by Creation Ministries International [2].
  9. Hodge, C., Systematic Theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, pp. 570–571, 1997; quoted by Creation Ministries International [3] (their parenthetical insertions).
  10. J. B. Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 1972, p.136); quoted in Sarfati, Jonathan, "Refuting Compromise", Master Books, March 2004
  11. Montgomery Boice, J.L., Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Zondervan Publishing House, Michigan, 1:57–62, 1982; quoted by Ham, Ken, The big picture, Creation 23(2):16–18, March 2001 (their insertions in square parentheses).

See also

External links

Old Earth Creationism Ministries

Criticism of Old Earth Creationism by Young Earth Creationists

Evidence for an Old Earth