There are two groups of Christians who believe that the universe was created by God. The group that believes He did it in 6 actual days just a few thousand years ago, and the group that believes God did it billions of years ago. Both groups often claim to interpret the Bible straightforwardly because the Bible never specifically says how old the earth is. Thus it becomes a question over who has the proper interpretation. An argument usually ensues over the Hebrew word “yom,” possible gaps of time, how long the seventh day actually lasted, and more.
I am currently a believer in a young earth. Pretty crazy for a pastor I know, but it’s fun being radical and besides that, I just happen to think those models and theories work pretty well. Yet if I (or you for that matter) want to hold to a young earth position, we’re going to be faced with a few thought-provoking theological questions. Like this one: Did God Lie to Us?
See, if God really did create the universe around 10,000 years ago, then why do all the measurements keeping coming up with old ages? Why does everything look old? We look at the stars and find the remnants of a super nova (when a star explodes) that seems to have happened millions of years ago since that’s how long it would have taken the light from these remnants to reach us. Or we find ourselves looking at stars that are billions of light years away, which of course means the light is billions of years old, which then means we shouldn’t even see them if the universe has only been here for 10,000 years or so.
Some will say God created the universe with apparent age, so it only looks old. That would mean God must have created what appears to be the left-overs of a super nova, but the star never existed and never exploded. If so, was God lying to us?
A theory I find really interesting says the universe was born in such a way that time passed more quickly for the outer edges of the universe, than it did for the earth, which is near the center. Thus, parts of the universe are old, and parts are young because time is relative. Even so, by creating the universe so that it looks old, and yet really isn’t, did God lie to us?
See how it works? I’m not trying in this post to get you to believe in a young earth or an old earth. You might have recognized the “apparent age” idea, and you might know that Russell Humphries wrote a book called “Starlight and Time” where he uses the relative properties of time to create a model where the earth is very young, while the outer edges of the universe are very old. I’m sure you might have your own opinion, good or bad – harsh or polite, on all this. But I’m not trying to argue for Humphries here, or argue for “apparent age.”
I’d just like to ask the question: Does God allow things to look a certain way which then leads people to jump to the wrong conclusion? Does God always make things clear? If the universe is young, did God lie through at least some appearances?
The obvious answer (again we like to jump for the obvious don’t we?) is that God would never allow us to be deceived by appearances. But theologically, is that true?
In Genesis 3, God allowed Satan -in the form of a serpent- to lie to Eve. He questioned whether God had really told her not to eat the forbidden fruit. He impugned God’s motives, telling Eve that God was holding back information. He caused her to doubt God, and so, she looked at the forbidden fruit in a new way. Suddenly, it seemed to look different. It looked good.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. -Genesis 3:6
I wonder if the same logic that says if God created a universe that “looks” old, it means God was perpetuating a lie, would also ask why God would create a fruit to look good for food, and seem desirable for gaining wisdom, when He knew it would kill anyone who ate it? Wasn’t the look of the fruit also a lie then?
Or was it just a test?
I think it’s worth considering, whichever view you hold on the age of the earth, that God may have created a deadly fruit that looked good, because He was testing Adam and Eve to believe His word above all else.
Theologically speaking, did God allow the universe to look old, at least in many ways, to test whether we would believe His word above all else?
It’s probably a question that deserves a lot of caffeine.