What is your opinion on Dr. Hugh Ross, an OEC [editor: old earth creationist] who has written books such as ‘Matter of Days’, etc. and that of John Lennox, who has written the book ‘Seven Days that Divide the World.’? Within Christian circle, we often say it doesn’t matter for our faith whether we believe in the antiquity of the earth and we can hold to any one of the common approaches to the age of the earth, but what about with Gentiles? What do we say if Gentiles ask? In my own study on this, my conclusion so far is that Bible is not concerned with antiquity of earth and the time frame of 6 days are not clear whether to say it as 24 hours or merely long periods. This deductive point is from my study on many different approaches and videos of Frank Turek, William Craig, Geisler, etc. So, what can we say to Gentiles? As even Hindu scripture such as the Vedas show an old universe and earth. Similar case is with the Qu’ran as one of many Muslim apologists such as Dr. Zakir Naik argue.
I am a fan of Hugh Ross and have read a couple of his books. I do not agree with him on everything. He is what is called an Intelligent Design guy, which means he is more skeptical about evolution that I am, but generally I think he does a good job of balancing science and the Bible. Like I said, I cannot endorse all of his positions, but generally I think he does a good job of defending the Christian faith. I have Lennox’ book but have not read it yet! Sorry. I know less about Lennox, obviously, but he is more thoroughly educated and more of a scholar than Hugh Ross. From what I can see, I will probably be more in line with Lennox than Ross by inclination, but until I read significant material by Lennox, I had better be cautious about saying too much.
Does it “matter” whether we believe in OEC or YEC (old earth or young earth creationistm)? The answer is yes and no. It is more no than yes. What I mean is that one’s relationship with God is not affected by how old one believe the earth or the universe are. God does not really care, I am sure, if we have the proper opinion about the age of the earth. It is not a “salvation issue.” Not only is it not an essential doctrine, I would argue that it is not even an important doctrine of Christianity.
However, for a few reasons, at least for some people, despite the fact that this is not a salvation issue, it has great significance to their faith. For example there are some people who are dyed-in-the-wool young earth creationists who have decided that to reject the young-earth interpretation is to reject the authority of the Bible. I strongly disagree with this perspective, but I will have to say that some people are quite sincere about this opinion. If I held to this view that the authority of Scripture depended on this doctrine, then I would have to also agree that it would be a very important doctrine!!! I will not go into the reasons I disagree, both with the young-earth view and with the opinion that our view of biblical authority rests on this doctrine. However, I understand why the age of the earth is so important to many young-earth creationists.
Another reason that this is a very important question is that for the vast majority of non-Christians (the ones you are calling Gentiles) and for many believers as well, the claim that science agrees that the earth and the universe are only a few thousands of years old is ludicrous. It flies in the face of what we know from science. It requires that we simply refuse to see what we can see (to paraphrase Galileo in his discussions about the geocentric model) If we say that a Christian must believe that the earth is young, then this will be a massive impediment to educated people coming to Christ. For this reason, although the age of the earth is not an essential or even an important doctrine of Christianity, for educated people, when believers defend the young earth view publicly, it makes it harder for people to come into the kingdom of God. This is especially true because YEC people tend to be aggressive about their views. For this reason, it is a very important question to get right. Again, although the age of the earth is not an essential of Christianity, those who publicly argue for the young earth can be a stumbling block for many who know the relevant science, and, by definition, for them this is an important doctrine.
By the way, the Vedas do point to an old earth. In fact, the cosmology of Hinduism is an eternal universe which is re-created again and again. This cosmology is not consistent with science, which seems to point to a creation-from-nothing (as the Bible tells us in Heb 11:3). I have read the Qur’an and from my recollection its cosmology is similar to biblical cosmology. Like the Bible, a literal understanding of the Qur’an would point to a young-earth, not an old-earth, but like the Bible, the age of the earth is not a significant doctrine in Islam.