Does the Bible really say that people will burn in hell forever?
How can that kind of God be loving and just?
Or does the Bible say something else?
The Bible didn't create Christianity.
Christianity (death and resurrection of Jesus) created the Bible.
The Bible came 30-70 years later.
The Bible is the record of what Jesus said and did.
For 45 years, Gallup Polls have been tracking what American's believe about age of the earth.
The most recent Gallup Poll shows that 68% of weekly church attenders believe that the earth was created less than 10,000 years ago.
The typical traditional belief – at least the stated belief – is that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago (per biblical genealogies), all in six 24-hour days.
In contrast, the entire scientific community believes that the universe is billions of years old, as has been taught in all public schools for decades.
The younger generations (Millennials and GenZ) have a much different view of the earth's origin and age than older generations. Listen to Street Interviews below to tap into their thinking.
Confirmed now by many different streams of modern measurement, it is considered settled science that the universe is 13.8 billion years old, and the earth is 4.5 billion. Virtually all well-educated doubters believe these dates.
Most traditional Christians are uninformed at best, or stupid at worst, to deny that the earth is billions of years old. It's like saying the earth is flat.
The Bible is just plain wrong in saying that the universe and everything in it was created only about 6,000 years ago.
[Actually, the Bible doesn't say that, as examined in Bible Study 1.2.1.]
Astronomers, biologists, archaeologists and virtually every other kind of scientist have proven within their own fields that the earth is billions of years old.
If the Bible is wrong about age of the earth, it is probably wrong about other things too.
[An erroneous interpretation of the ancient Hebrew word 'yom', studied here in Bible Study 1.2.1, is causing a monumental handicap for believing the Bible is true.]
Millions of doubters say they could never believe a book that is so wrong and out-of-date. Many think they would have to become young earth and unscientific to become a Bible-believing Christian.
With regard to age of the earth, most Christians just shrug off the question by saying, It doesn't matter to me whether the earth is young or old. It's not important.
But this response misses the real issue: It's not about me. It's about them!
Credibility is the issue. If the Bible is wrong about age of the earth, doubters can reasonably conclude that it is probably wrong about other things, too, and that the Bible cannot be trusted as a book of truth.
Similarly, a Christian's testimony is greatly diminished if others think he is uneducated, naive or brain-washed.
It's important to get it right about age of the earth in order to establish respect and influence. Maybe the subject will never come up in open conversation with a doubter, but every Christian should be ready if it does! And in some cases, the subject should be raised just to clear out hidden misunderstandings and to establish better rapport.
Until the 1960s, scientists held to the Steady State theory that the universe had no beginning or end in time, that the earth has always existed in one form or another. They scoffed at the Bible for saying that the earth had a beginning.
The first use of the term 'big bang' was by astronomer Fred Hoyle on a BBC broadcast in 1949 when he said that a new theory was being proposed 'based on the hypothesis that all matter in the universe was created in one big bang at a particular time in the remote past.' He argued against the theory and said it was 'irrational and outside science.'
However, as a result of better telescopes and instrumentation, by the 1980s the 'Big Bang' had become the dominant theory (explanation) of astronomers and astrophysicists.
Today, the Big Bang is generally regarded as settled science. The universe started with a 'singularity' (Christians say 'God'), then exploded, expanding and cooling over the next 13.8 billion years into the cosmos we know today – and it's still expanding!
NASA calculated that In the first second after the universe began the surrounding temperature was more than10 billion degrees Fahrenheit.
See quotation in yellow above. The Bible says that 'In the beginning' the earth was 'formless and empty:' Heat was so intense that everything was vaporized, just gasses.
There was 'darkness over the face of the deep:' Light cannot penetrate intense heat.
The 'spirit of God was hovering over the waters' (steam condensing): God was giving special attention to planet earth because he planned to do something special here, to create life.
The Big Bang is what science has been saying for about 60 years but what the Bible has been saying for more than 3,000 years!
There are no natural explanations for either the existence or the purpose of the universe.
If the Big Bang is the beginning of nature, then some intelligence and power outside of nature and greater than nature had to trigger the Big Bang, to start everything out of nothing, and to establish the predetermined laws of nuclear energy, physics and chemistry that enabled it to develop with orderly precision.
Christians believe that divine intelligence and power is the only reasonable explanation for an instant universe of such magnitude, majesty and precision.
The Bible does not tell when the Big Bang occurred, but scientists are now in agreement that it was approximately 13.8 billion years ago. See 1.2.1 for reasons from the Bible itself why 'day' in the creation account means more than a 24-hour period.
The solid earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Apparently it took about 9.3 billion years – the time between Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:6 – for the gasses to cool and form a crust. Then God began shaping the earth and putting life on it.
See 1.2 for summary of the stages of transformation.
The compiler/writer of Genesis could not have had this amazing scientific insight more than three thousand years ago without special revelation from God.
The earth is still cooling, a whirling glob of molten rock, 8,000 miles in diameter, with a 25-mile crust that supports life. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the known universe. The place we live is awesome and mostly incomprehensible!
There can be no difference between true science and true Christianity because both seek truth – and there is only one truth! Science inquires into the physical and Christianity inquires into the spiritual. They make different inquiries in different ways, but both are part of the same quest for truth.
Conflicts between science and the Bible have resulted from lack of knowledge at particular times in history but are eventually resolved. For example:
Science and the Bible are not enemies.
In fact, science is making the case for belief in a single almighty creator God – ONLY ONE GOD!
In ancient times, people believed in many gods. Even at time of Jesus, the prevailing understanding of deity was a pantheon of gods.
People believed that hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts and diseases were the wrath of angry gods. The gods had to be placated with offerings and rituals.
But the Bible message is that there is ONE GOD!
Science has been a great help to Christianity by revealing a single master design plan, leaving no doubt that the world is NOT run by a pantheon of gods and that natural disasters and illnesses are NOT caused by the wrath of the gods but by natural laws emanating from an intelligent and predictable master plan of life.
For most people today, the choice is not which spiritual deity to worship, but whether to acknowledge and obey the ONE GOD.
Genesis 1 and the scientific community are now in essential agreement about the beginning of our physical world.
But there's another part of our world which came later – the non-physical part, even more complex – which is the human soul (mind, will and emotion) and spirit (connection to God).
See 2.5 for discussion of how humans are made in the image of God: A human trinity (body, soul and spirit) that mirrors God's trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
Science investigates life in the physical world. Theology investigates life in the spiritual world.
It is rare that anyone asks for proof of God by rules of logic or asks who created God, but see 1.1.2 for answers to those questions.