First of all you might be surprised to know that most (like me) who believe in the creation story as written have no problem with Science, for the most part. I believe in Science. My son is a Scientist but he's also a strong believer in God and the Scriptures and believes there is compatibility between the two. I believe Science backs scripture. Do I believe in the theory of evolution? Some of it. Not all of it and to be honest I don't understand much of the deeper workings of it because I'm not a Scientist nor do I tend to go in that direction easily.
Stephen Hawking who is recognized as having one of the greatest Scientific minds of all time even admits there has to be some outside force, or being that got this all started in the first place. He was on Discovery coming right to the threshold of admitting there must be a God, but stopped short before taking that position. He dares not. He was right there but won't let his mind exactly go thru that door. But he knows and rightly so that ex nihilo nil (out of nothing comes nothing) is a Scientific fact. He knows something outside of the Universe got the ball rolling in the first place. He just doesn't know what it is.
We all have bias. Either your bias is towards the Scientific explanation for origins or it's towards the biblical explanation. Then we look at the evidence thru that bias. We all have the same evidence but we interpret it differently according to our bias.
Now some of the answers he came up at the conference.
He gave alot of quotes by Darwin, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould and other evolutionists which I won't get into. He said there are three options as to why the Earth looks old.
1. Because it is old.
2. Not as old as it looks
3. I don't know.
He went thru Genesis 1 & 2 looking at the sequential pattern of the days. The created activity. He said there are four challenges the Christians must face.
1. Discovery of fossils in the 1800's and 1900's discovered with the moving about of people in new territories.
2. Darwin's theory of evolution (Darwin wasn't the first to come up with this)
3. Discovery of near East parallels to Genesis accounting documents meaning that Genesis is just one more creation account.
4. Develpment of higher criticism.
When you put the four together it is a brew for a massive shift of understanding. The more these challenges are examined the more expedientially the universe ages. It seems to get older and older. According to recent thought the earth is thought to be 4.5 million years old and the universe 13.5. The consensus of the church is the earth is much much younger than that by looking at history, archeology, geneologies and other factors.
This is not a slight difference. No small matter. He mentioned a name and all I caught was Charles. But he said the assumption made by this Charles and others in the early 1900's, based solely on assumption, is that things now have always been according to physical processes.
Unless we accept this we would be considered and marginalized as a theological and intellectual cult. The new mental environment is shaped by an intellectual assumption that the world is old and it comes at a significan cost. He spoke and gave a new term I'm not familiar with which is the "New Atheist." He said Richard Dawkins commented that "Dawin made me an intellectual fulfilled atheist."
It's like now we can be an Atheist without fear of retribution. Now it's turned around and anyone who denies Darwin's thinking should be scorned and mocked in similar fashion as Holocaust deniers are today. This was a quote by either Dawkins or another leading evolutionist.
He quoted a columnist who wrote (I think NY Times) about this subject. In his column he asked "Why do so many still reject the theory of evlution? Why do many more still believe the Virgin Birth than they do the theory of Evolution?" That's not a new question. It's been asked many times why our school children after years of what we belive is indoctrination still don't believe in the theory of evolution completely.
We have four major options when it comes to the theory of origins as written in the Genesis account.
1. Creation of man came about exactly as Genesis tells us. This is a 24 hour calendar day view. This would be six days of active creation. Straight forward reading of the text. There is a pattern of evening/morning. Common sense manner of reading any text.
2. Day-Age view. This means when it speaks of a day it means an age. Sort of like saying "back in my day" not denoting any particular day but an age.
3. Framework theory. Not consequential, just a way to tell a story and not be concerned with any length of time.
4. The first two chapters of Genesis or even the first 11 chapters of Genesis is a myth of the ancient Hebrews.
Only #1 necessitates a young earth. The rest imply a very old earth.
Evangelicals take any of these positions. We are all over the place here again, going to our bias. The framework theory is held by some pretty prominent evangelicals sayng sequence doesn't matter. But we have to ask ourselves why so much rich detail in the text? Seems to make most common sense to taking it at face value as it seems to quite clearly make historical and sequencial claims. The author intended us to take the 24 hour days literally. It's just the plain reading of the text.
The Doctrine of Creation is inseperable from the doctrine of redemption and therein lies the rub. Coming from a spiritual viewpoint I know that the evil one wants nothing more than for others NOT to belive in the whole redemption story.
God is known as both the creator and redeemer and there is accountability to this narrative. The fossils are telling us a story. They do not contradict scripture. Although some of these fossils over the years were made to be something they weren't and much later it dd come to the light as being hoaxes. But nobody seems to notice and it's usually a quiet going away with no fanfare made as when they were first discovered.
Many evangelicals are adding to scripture when they try to bring both together. Some say that God picked out of the vast evolving homosapiens naming them Adam and Eve (one called them farmers) and put His image into them before placing them into the garden. So does that mean the rest of the homosapiens are NOT made in the image of God?
Galileo spoke of two books. He said we have Scripture and Nature and we will be held accountable to it. God revealed himself in nature, even his invisible attributes are known to us. The universe is telling us a story. John Calvin wrote that this story is either being smothered by ignorance or malice. I absolutely agree. The old age theory comes with theological and exegetical complications. There are costly theological entanglements at stake and it's a great cost to the church. The young earth theory has far fewer logical complications and is the most straight forward reading of the text. We need to confront it without ignoring it (as most Christians do). The avoidence of this issue is of great cost to our own credibility.
Science and religion overlap all the time. They are not polar extremes many make them out to be. The confrontation between both viewpoints is similar to a head on collision.
The simple answer to the question "Why does the Universe look so old?" is The Universe looks old because the Creator created it whole.