At our seminars and in our books, we at the Institute for Creation Research take a strong stand on the young earth. We certainly don't do this to win a popularity contest, for this position is ridiculed by the secularists and many Christians alike. Nevertheless, we teach this without compromise and without apology.
The main reason for believing in the young earth is that the earth is young! The Bible tells us so, and the weight of the scientific evidence points to a young earth. While the Bible may not specify a precise date for creation, it does indicate that the earth is only a few thousand years old. Similarly, while the geologic and physical evidence cannot give a precise age, all the evidence is compatible with the young earth doctrine, with far greater evidence supporting a young earth than an old earth. There is much evidence incompatible with the old earth idea.
Furthermore, many Biblical doctrines are based on the recency of creation and the corollary doctrine, the global flood. One cannot hold the old earth position and believe that the flood was global, for if the flood was global, then the entire earth's surface was altered. The flood would leave in its wake the rock and fossil record which now is misinterpreted by geologists as evidence for an old earth. All Christians who knowledgeably advocate an old earth believe that the flood was only local. (A few still hold the bizarre notion that the flood was tranquil and did little geologic work. Imagine—a tranquil, world-wide flood!)
The doctrinal absurdities which result from a local flood and old earth are well documented in creationist literature. The most serious fallacy involves the death of the vast majority of earth's inhabitants before man appeared, and before he sinned and incurred the wages of sin. Astronomer Hugh Ross even proposes human-like animals, who buried their dead, practiced religious ceremonies, painted pictures on cave walls, etc., but did not yet possess an eternal spirit. Death before sin implies that death is natural, not the penalty for sin. But if so, what good did the death of Jesus Christ accomplish? And what was the world like before the fall? Old earth advocates believe it was no different from our world—with death, bloodshed, carnivorous activity, fossils.
Because of ICR's stand on this all-important issue, some have suggested that ICR teaches that belief in the young earth is necessary for salvation. This is not the case! Salvation does not imply perfect understanding of doctrine, for then no one could be saved. God grants salvation when one repents of his sin and asks for forgiveness based on Christ's death for his sin. A sinner doesn't have to know anything about the age of the earth.
Nor does one have to believe in the young earth to be a Christian leader. Many Christian leaders believe and do a lot of things they shouldn't. But belief in the old earth, with the implied concepts of death before sin, the world before Adam not really "very good," an inconsequential fall and curse, a local flood, etc., destroys the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some Christians do believe in both Christianity and the old earth, but this is inconsistent with their professed belief in the Bible.
*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.