As I was developing an answer to one of the comments (the original comment have sadly been lost) left for the Are You Evolutionized?… post, I realized that it had become to detailed to relegate to the lowly comments area. An excerpt from the original comments is as follows:
Isn’t the age of the earth really at the heart of this argument? of course if the earth is young evolution is out the window. and I’m not as comfortable as you are labeling the universe as ancient.
Without scientific information available to every Joe-Blow in 2007, one would never assume an old universe from literal scripture reading. My charge still stands completely unmolested to my mind, that this is not exegesis from the scripture but rather addition to the scripture to make it sync with other pieces of information, which are supposed to be subservient to the scripture. with the Genesis account using the 7 day time-line and using terms like morning and night, it is at loggerheads with an old universe. and I cant figure it out.
First of all, we have to be careful with making “literal reading” the only litmus test for proper exegesis. It is certainly a critical factor, but so are historical and cultural matters, and perhaps on equal footing with the “literal (simple)” reading of Scripture is genre. For instance, if the genre of Genesis were “science book” then I would have more concern with what the original audience were able to understand about the creation account versus what we can understand. After all, what it meant is what is means. But science is not the genre of Genesis, and the first two chapters of the book were not written to give us a detailed account of every aspect of creation. As mentioned above, the primary theological principles that should be gleaned from Genesis 1 and 2 are a) God created everything, and b) it was good.
Finally, it is very interesting to note that historically, the issue of old versus young earth was a non-issue until following WWI when Fundamentalist began to fear the effects of evolutionary teaching upon society. Note that they were not worried about an old earth, but rather their primary concern was thwarting the power of evolution. Their fears eventually led to a strict adherence to Young Earth Theology because this view basically removes the possibility of evolution. However, as Ratzsch points out, this was not the original position of the Fundamentalist.
“Thus none of the early fundamentalist leaders rejected science’s claims that the earth was vastly old, although they differed concerning the reconciliation of science with Scripture…Dixon, Torrey, C. I. Scofield (of Scofield Reference Bible fame) and…Harry Rimmer, all held gap theories. Virtually none of the early fundamentalist leaders took the flood to be geologically significant…”
My reason for bringing Fundamentalists into the discussion is simply because of their historical place as movers and shakers in outlining “orthodox” Christian beliefs in America. In other words, the conservatives conservative, were not concerned with the age of the Earth until they began to squirm under the influence of evolution, and needed to find a way to protect against it.
“I have no way of knowing how long the world was created before man was created. The Bible does not tell. It only says, ‘In the beginning’ and that afterwards He created the plants and animals, and last of all man. But it gives no intimation how long the earth was created before these other things were.”–David Lipscomb, 1921
“There is no statement in the Bible which indicates the age of the earth…If the scientist or pseudoscientist want to ascribe to the earth an age of a million, a billion, or three hundred billion years, I will not pause to argue…’In the beginning God.’ That is all the Bible affirms on the question.” Foy E. Wallace, 1946
There have been, and continue to be many possible ways to mesh a literal interpretation of Genesis’ seven days with an old earth. The problem is not that this cannot be conceived, but rather that in so doing we open the gates, as it were, to evolutionary possibility, and that is something we simply can’t afford to do!