In the mid to late twentieth century, Christians sought to establish the young earth creationist (YEC) view against what they perceived as an unbiblical intrusion of modern science. Evangelical Christians galvanized many around YEC, but in recent times YEC’s influence has begun to wane: “For some time now,” Tim Challies wrote, “the weight of conviction within the Evangelical world has swung toward views that demand an old earth.”
The Age of the Earth in Academics
The doctrine of YEC has today become a third-tier doctrine while 50 years it might been a second or maybe even a first-tier doctrine for certain groups. Evidence of this is the recent debate at Trinity International University. The title of the event was Genesis and the Age of the Earth and Drs. Albert Mohler (YEC) and John Collins (Old Age Creationist / OEC) discussed the issue.
Mohler opened his talk by clarifying how the age of the earth is not a central issue to the faith (watch the talk here). He objected to the term “debate” in that setting because he felt the issue did not merit winning an argument at all costs. Mohler was simply discussing an important issue among friends. There seems to be widespread agreement that the age of the earth is tertiary or non-central point of doctrine among Christians. The impulse to press the doctrine of YEC in the 1950s-1980s has become gentle hum, with Answers in Genesis being an exception to the rule.