Often, people challenge biblical creationists with comments along the lines of, “I believe God created, and I don’t believe in evolution, but He could have taken billions of years, so what’s the big deal about the age of the earth?” Some claim that an emphasis on ‘6 literal days, 6,000 years ago’ even keeps people away from the faith, so “Why be so dogmatic? Why emphasize something so strongly that’s not a salvation issue?”

It might come as a surprise that we agree—to a point. The timescale in and of itself  is not the important issue. So why does CMI emphasize it? It’s important because the issue ultimately comes down to, “Does the Bible actually mean what it plainly says?” It therefore goes to the heart of the trustworthiness of Scripture. As such, compromising with long ages also severely undermines the whole gospel message, thus creating crises of faith for many as well as huge problems with evangelism.

The implications of a long-age timescale

First, we need to understand where the concept of an old earth came from. The idea of millions or billions of years simply is not found anywhere in Scripture; it is a concept derived from outside of the Bible. In 1830, Charles Lyell, a Scottish lawyer, released his book Principles of Geology. He stated that one of his aims was “To free the science [of geology] from Moses.”1 He built his ideas upon those of another geologist, James Hutton, who advocated a uniformitarian interpretation of the world’s geology. Lyell argued that the thousands of feet of sedimentary layers (laid down by water or some other moving fluid) all over the earth were the result of long, slow, gradual processes over millions or billions of years (instead of the processes of Noah’s Flood)….

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