Summary: There are three ways for a Christian to accept the creation story in light of the archeological evidence stacked against us.
Question: I want to believe the Bible but with so much science out there concerning evolution/creation, the Bible has become suspect at best. What about dinosaurs, dating back millions of years ago if the Bible says the earth is only about 6-8 thousand years old?
For the Christian who hates being on the defensive and wants to accept true science and the Bible, there are basically three positions that are taken.
I. Creation Allegory Approach.
The Bible says that in Psalms 90:4 "For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night."
Peter summarized this Psalms in 2 Peter 3:8: "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
Many Christians believe this gives them a "way out" concerning the assault of science on Christianity. They believe that God created the world, just like He said, but used evolution and accomplished it over millions, perhaps billions, of years. They say, the term for "day" in Genesis might be understood as a 24 hour day to us, but to God, it could have meant very much longer than that. Therefore, all the science about the dinosaurs and the age of the earth could both be true.
This approach to Genesis has become very popular in our Christian schools and seminaries. It's strength is that this keeps Christians from being on the defensive and allows us to be open to science and discoveries that scholars accept. It keeps Christians from looking like neanderthal thinking, backwards, ignorant buffoons like the ones who used to swear that the earth was flat. We can teach the love of Jesus with this approach and the salvation of Jesus Christ. This is what makes this so desirable to many Christians, pastors and teachers.
Along with that strong upside, however, is a downside.
First, the use of Hebrew language in Genesis seems to prohibit this.
Gen 1:5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Gen 1:8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
The same measure of days in the six days of creation is used in verses 13, 19, 23 and 31. The Hebrew word for "evening" means "end of day". The word for "morning" means "beginning of day". Tied with verse 14-18, the phrase "day" obviously means a 24 hour day.
Gen 1:14-18 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
In this description of the creation of the marks of time, time appears to be reflect a literal 24 hour day.
The second problem is that it is too cryptic and confusing.
There are two ways to study the Bible: one that the Bible is a book of codes and secrets that have to be decoded, such as when God said a day when He meant millions of years. The other is that God communicated in the Bible for the purpose of revealing Himself to us.
To believe that God had Genesis written in such allegorical language teaches the wrong message about God. Genesis itself is written so man, as God's prime creation, can begin to understand Him and have a relationship with Him.
Psa 9:16 The LORD has made himself known;
Rom 16:25-27 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith-- to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
God began to call a people to Himself in Genesis, to prepare to send a Savior so He could make Himself known to the world. To question the language of Genesis brings all that into question.