Controversy of the Ages: Why Christians Should Not Divide Over the Age of the Earth

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About the Author: 
Theodore J. Cabal

Theodore J. Cabal (Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the general editor of The Apologetics Study Bible and has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and professional papers. He has conducted research for more than a decade on the topic of this book.He has written and presented two papers on this subject for the national meeting of The Evangelical Theological Society (2001, 2002). He has also written the journal article, “Why Exporting the Age of the Earth Controversy Is a Bad Idea,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 20:4 (Winter 2003), pp.121-26. He has done radio interviews on the subject, including on Reasons to Believe with Hugh Ross.  

Peter J. Rasor II

Peter J. Rasor II (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a full-time faculty member at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ, where he teaches worldview, philosophy, apologetics, and ethics. His research interests include topics in the areas of philosophy of religion, science, and theology. He has spoken at churches on various worldview, apologetic, and theological issues. He also writes a blog, The Blade, which focuses upon various cultural and theological issues that face the church.

About the Book

The age of the earth and the doctrine of creation are heated topics within the church. Three evangelical camps have emerged to offer—young-earth creationists (e.g., Answers in Genesis), old-earth creationists (e.g., Reasons to Believe), and evolutionary creationists (e.g., BioLogos).

Controversy of the Ages carefully analyzes the debate by giving it perspective. Rather than offering arguments for or against a particular viewpoint on the age of the earth, the authors take a step back in order to put the debate in historical and theological context. The authors of this book demonstrate from the history of theology and science controversy that believers are entitled to differ over this issue, while still taking a stand against theistic evolution. But by carefully and constructively breaking down the controversy bit by bit, they show why the age issue is the wrong place to draw a line in the theological sand. 

Readers will find the content stimulating, the tone charitable, and the documentation impressive. The goal of this book is to shed more light than heat on a complicated but contentious debate.



1. Science and Theology at War

2. The Copernican Conflict:  How to Go to Heaven or How the Heavens Go?

3. Darwinism: A New Kind of Controversy Altogether

4. American Evangelical Responses to Darwinism: Setting the Stage

5. Flood, Fossils, and Strata: Geology and the Age of the Earth

6. Young Earth Creationism: Responding to Geology

7. Do Young Earth Creationists Practice Evolutionary Science?

8. Biblical Inerrancy and the Age of the Earth: Three Evangelical Approaches

9. Theological Triage: Drawing Doctrinal Boundaries

10. Patience and Peace


“In addition to a well-informed history of evangelical moves for relating Genesis to geology and then to Darwinism, the authors have given us much more. They have provided trenchant evaluation of the argumentative strategies—theological, scientific, and philosophical. They show that of the various groups known to us today—the young earth creationists, the (non-Darwinian) old earth creationists, and the evolutionary creationists—none can be exempted from critique, and none deserves the place of exclusive privilege. This book deserves a wide readership, for it is informative, fair, and incisive. I rejoice that God spared Dr. Cabal from a terminal cancer to help write this!”

—C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary

“The time is long past when we have needed a very careful, thoroughly documented analysis and response to the claims of young earth creationists. But with this book, I am delighted to say that that time has come. Its same thoughtful handling of evolutionary creationism makes Controversy of the Ages a critical read for evangelicals wending their way through the confusion. I am very enthusiastic about the scholarship, careful treatment, and irenic tone of this book and highly recommend it.”

—J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology

“When people ask for a good book to read about the age of the earth, I have a new favorite to recommend: Cabal and Rasor’s Controversy of the Ages. With remarkable clarity, this book provides historical and theological context to the young-earth/old-earth controversy. But Cabal and Rasor move beyond mere description and prescribe the way to move forward—the Galileo approach. This is an important book, and it needs to be read by pastors, college and seminary students, and all who care about science and faith issues.”

—Kenneth Keathley, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; coauthor of 40 Questions about Creation and Evolution

Controversy of the Ages is a welcomed addition to the issues swirling around the creation-evolution debate. The book is encyclopedic in scope, and the footnotes alone are a treasure trove of information. I appreciated the argument of the book; I appreciated even more the spirit of the book. I will be recommending this work for a long time.”
—Daniel L. Akin, President, Professor of Preaching and Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“If I had the power to require every Christian parent, pastor, and professor to read two books on creation and evolution—ideally alongside their mature children, parishioners, and students—it would be 40 Questions about Creation and Evolution (by Kenneth Keathley and Mark Rooker) along with the book you are now holding in your hands, Controversy of the Ages: Why Christians Should Not Divide Over the Age of the Earth. Neither book intends to answer all of the questions definitively, but together they are like maps for Christians in the complex and confusing intersection of the Bible and science. We cannot bury our head in the sand, or outsource study of these issues to others. Cabal and Rasor help us sort through the issues and the options, modeling for us how to use proportion and perspective in our rhetoric and strategies of disagreement within the body of Christ. We live in perplexing days, but clear and clarifying books like this are a tremendous gift to the church. If the arguments and tone of this book are taken to heart, we will all be sharper, wiser, and kinder. I pray it is widely read.”

—Justin Taylor, author, managing editor of the ESV Study Bible, blogger at The Gospel Coalition

“Controversy of the Ages provides a concise and carefully researched history of the tensions between science and theology through the years. While offering a helpful overview of matters related to Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin, among others, the book focuses on questions related to the age of the earth. With an informed understanding of young earth and old earth theories, as well as BioLogos and Intelligent Design proposals, Cabal and Rasor provide insightful analysis of these various perspectives based on an unapologetic commitment to the truthfulness of scripture. As indicated by the subtitle, pastors, church leaders, and students will find an exemplary model of how to evaluate differing approaches to this important subject, doing so with conviction, kindness, and conciliatory civility. It is a privilege to recommend this rewarding volume.

—David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University

“Ted Cabal and Peter Rasor have provided an extraordinarily lucid and winsome guide to traversing the creation vs. evolution, and old-earth vs. young earth debates of our day. The authors endeavor to be fair, honest, and forthright in their description of the various views, and they practice what they preach, i.e., they present a charitable approach to assessing the issues and positions involved in the complex web of these current debates. Readers will find this book enlightening, engaging, and greatly informative. But even more importantly, they will see a model for dealing with controversial issues in a way that honors Christ, seeks to know and uphold the truth, and shows charity toward others with whom we might differ. I’m deeply grateful for the wisdom this book puts forth and encourage all interested in these issues to consider carefully its weighty arguments and timely admonitions.”

—Bruce A. Ware, T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“In some circles young earth creationism is identified as orthodoxy, as if such a perspective is the only way a faithful Christian could interpret the early chapters of Genesis. Cabal and Rasor demonstrate conclusively that such a position reflects the dogmatism of its proponents and faces many significant objections. Here is a fair-minded and wise reflection on the age of the earth. I think pastors, students, and laypersons will learn much from this wise, mature, and reasoned approach.” 

—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Ted Cabal and Peter Rasor have thoughtfully and comprehensively outlined the complex history, theology, scientific foundations and philosophies surrounding the age of the earth controversy. While clearly stating their positions they masterfully suggest a paradigm for a theological triage system that could encourage fellow Christians to discover the importance of unity rather than division. They humbly warn the reader not to miss the significance that old earth and young earth believers must be cautious of the encroaching beliefs of evolution in general and specifically theistic evolution throughout the culture as well as in the church. Whether you agree with their conclusions, or not, everyone interested in this topic should appreciate the depth of their presentation and their attempts in calling for dialogue and for better understanding even in our differences.”

—Tom Bary, Pastor, Neptune Baptist Church, Neptune, FL 

 “Unfortunately, the topic of the age of the earth and the ‘days’ of Genesis seems to bring out the very worst in some professing Christians. So I very much appreciate the irenic tone of Cabal and Rasor’s Controversy of the Ages—an even-handed assessment of the debate.  These scholars have done careful work, and they make their case in a fair-minded way.  Even if one may disagree with their perspective, they truly set the standard for discussing this shockingly divisive topic.”  

—Paul Copan, Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida

“I am more than happy to see the publication of this volume, and to recommend that it be given serious consideration by the evangelical world. There is no biblical doctrine more important than creation; thus it is crucial that all Bible-believers speak with a unified voice on its main tenets. Even if we cannot agree on creation’s every detail, I believe this book can help us to come closer together on its most important elements.”

—Jack Cottrell, Professor of Theology, Cincinnati Christian University

“Listening to advocates on the age of the earth or human origins can be confusing because passionate believers in one viewpoint are not likely to present fairly opposing ideas, nor to point out the weaknesses of their own positions. After reading through Cabal’s and Rasor’s Controversy of the Ages, I have a much better handle on the differences, strengths, and weaknesses of old earth vs. young earth creationism. Thanks to Cabal and Rasor for their fair presentation of the evidence and irenic tone.”

—Robert L. Plummer, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“As a pastor and missionary engaged in cross-cultural ministry, I am so grateful for this book. Christians from many ethnic backgrounds must navigate each new wake of the intense Western debates over the age of the earth and human origins. The fresh insights in these pages may be just what they need to weed through the complexities of the controversy. Cabal’s and Rasor’s treatment of the issues is extensive, balanced, and passionate—yet they perform it with a demeanor that all Christians would do well to emulate.”

—Sean Ryan, Executive Director of Approach International