Debate concerning the age of the earth rages in our modern day. At stake, as often is the case, is the integrity of scripture, more than anything else, because scientific discovery and methods have come to be accepted as normative. Since science purports the age of the universe to be billions of, which seemingly contradicts the several thousands of years in the literal biblical account, the fire for controversy remains fueled.
Let me share my presuppositions. I believe that the antecedents to the creation of Adam were God and the dust of the ground. Rather than cells combining in the expanse of the oceans and eventually crawling onto the land and developing into man through the apes, God reached down and fashioned man from the dust and then breathed into him the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). So, I am a literal biblical creationist.
The creation of Adam establishes a model, I believe, by which the age of the universe can be judged. My position, simply put, is that God created Adam mature, as He did the rest of the universe. This position is generally referred to as mature creationism.
The thesis of this article is that the view of mature creationism upholds the integrity of biblical creationism and reconciles it with scientific investigations concerning the age of the earth.
The Age of Adam when God Made Him
How old was Adam when God made him? Well, it is impossible to say, except that Adam was not an infant. Adam was old enough that after God made the garden of Eden and placed him there, he could tend it and perform all the other duties God had given him. Adam was strong, communicated with God, and exercised a measure of authority over the rest of creation. He could think, reason, and act. Therefore, Adam must have been created at a mature age, rather than having developed from infancy.
So, how old was Adam when God made him? For argument’s sake, let’s say Adam was 25 years old when God created him. We could make Adam 19, 23, 27, 32, or whatever. It doesn’t matter, but let’s say he was 25.
A Mature Creation
God not only created Adam with maturity but created everything with maturity. God created light in place. We haven’t had to wait 13 billion years for the light of the multitude of galaxies to reach us so that we could see them. We didn’t have to wait for the chemical reactions to evolve for water to come into existence. The earth arose from the water rather than being flung out and cooled and formed (Gen. 1:9). The seeds of the plants did not evolve all at the same time and sprout but were created by God at that stage of development.
As a mature creationist, I take the creation account at face value. By the time Adam was created on the sixth day, everything was in place, having been created that way, in time, in a completely finished and functional state. Additionally, creation was fully operable with all the laws of nature ripe for scientific investigation.
Mature Creation Criticisms
I understand that mature creationism isn’t without its problems, but, honestly, what account of creation doesn’t raise questions? Probably the most significant criticism is that a mature creation implies a story of history that did not take place. In other words, Adam at age 25 implies 25 years of life and growth that never really happened. An earth that has only been around for a few thousand years would imply a history that is millions or billions of years that never took place. Such would be deceptive on the part of God, so the criticism goes. For example, the presence of fossils implies a living creature that died at some time in the past, but the creature never lived or died. The fossils would be deceptive.
The criticism begs the point, however. If we are told that Adam was created with maturity, then the only real and true history is that he was created at a mature age. God has not deceived anyone, and the history is not implied. It is explicitly stated – God created Adam at age 25, end of story. That is the entire history, and it is given to us in transparent fashion.
What I mean by this is that the thought that God could not create an exploding star mid explosion is absurd, and to constrain God by saying He shouldn’t do that, because it will fool us humans when we examine the cosmos, is prideful. Who says that God could not do something like that if He wanted or it is somehow dishonest of God to do that?
When my children and I played Legos when they were growing up, we could create anything in any state or condition. That is the great thing about our imaginations. By building a wrecked car as part of my city street so that the police and fire rescue trucks could come to the rescue did not make me dishonest just because the Lego car never actually wrecked. If God created a mature universe, then He could create it at any point in time in any condition He wished. God is not disingenuous to do so.
The most amazing thing about what God has done is that the entire universe is completely intact, interconnected, and fully functional at this exact point in time. Mankind, then, has a huge playground for scientific inquiry, and it works just like it should, making science possible. Amazing!
Adam and the Scientist
The year is 2537 and a scientist has transformed his lab into a time machine. He decides to travel back in time and ends up 10 days after God created Adam. Using his all-purpose language translator, he and Adam engage in a conversation. Adam tells the scientist that God made him 10 days ago and the scientist asks if he could exam Adam, because he looks like he is 25 years old. Adam agrees.
The scientist runs all kinds of tests. He tests Adam inside and out. He communicates more with Adam, examining his rational and mental abilities. The scientist, with his hyper-advanced equipment and procedures, is completely thorough, leaving no stone unturned.
In the end, he shares with Adam his findings.
“Adam, you are the most amazing human being I have ever examined, and in every corner of your body, the results conclude that you are 25 years old.”
Adam replies, “Yes, of course. That is how God made me – 10 days ago.”
The Age of the Earth
Now, I do not know at what level of maturity Adam was created at, nor do I know how long ago God created the universe. Assuming mature creationism, though, I conclude with a caution and an encouragement for the Christian.
First, the Christian scientist must exercise caution in investigations concerning the age of the universe. Trying to prove that Adam is 10 days old when God made him a fully mature 25-year-old can lead to false conclusions. In the same way, trying to prove that the universe is thousands of years old when God made it a fully functional billion-year-old universe, could equally result in false conclusions.
This does not mean that Christian scientific investigation is futile. The Christian scientist and the atheistic scientist do not differ in the science itself, but in the presuppositions that lead to the formulation of theories and the direction of scientific investigation. After all, apes still never evolved into humans, those fossils remain a thorn in the side, and, as every child asks, “What about the dinosaurs, mommy?” Christian scientists still have many valuable pursuits.
Second, Christians need not fret over scientific evidences that point to an old earth. God created the universe with maturity, but that doesn’t mean He didn’t make it several thousand years ago.
In the end, the Christian need not fear what scientists might say. God created it all, including the laws of nature that scientists study. The same God gave us His word. What He says in His word and what He has done in this world line up perfectly. The Christian need not shy away from anything the Bible says. Let the Christian be vigilant, then, to stand for the truth in every corner of the universe.