When did Adam come into existence? Evolutionists say Homo sapiens came into existence 200,000 to 400,000 years ago (depending on which evolutionist you consult, because they do not all agree on what a Homo sapiens is). Can we harmonize that with the teaching of God’s Word? Today, many Christians, including many leaders and scholars, think they can.
From my reading and interaction with old-earth creationists of all varieties in 25 countries over the last 35 years, I think one reason many of them think they can harmonize the two is that they have not paid very careful attention to the relevant biblical texts. They have just assumed that the scientists have proven the age of the creation to be billions of years and the age of mankind to be many tens or hundreds of thousands of years. They often recite the mantra that “the Bible is not a science textbook” (thereby confusing the vital difference between origin science and operation science, as discussed in this book’s introduction). Therefore, it is claimed, the Bible does not deal with the issue of the age of mankind or even how man came into existence.
Another reason that a great many Christians think that the age of man and the universe does not matter and that the scientific establishment’s view does not conflict with Scripture is because they or their teachers have been influenced by William Henry Green.1 The famous Old Testament professor at Princeton Theological Seminary wrote an article in 1890 in which he argued that “the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 were not intended to be used, and cannot properly be used, for the construction of a chronology.”2 He concluded that “the Scriptures furnish no data for a chronological computation prior to the life of Abraham; and that the Mosaic records do not fix and were not intended to fix the precise date either of the Flood or of the creation of the world.”3 In other words, Green contended, the Bible is silent about the age of man and also the age of the earth and universe, so scientists are free to determine these ages according to the scientific evidence, and Christians need not reject or fear any date so determined.