The following question was posed to me on facebook by an agnostic friend. He posted it publicly on my page, so I encourage you to join the discussion if you'd like.
"How do Christians reconcile the stories of the Bible such as the Earth being 6000 years old versus the evidence saying that is certainly not the case? A friend asked me and I said I think its simply not taken literally. Is that right?"
Great question. I'll try to keep this short...er!
I think the first thing we need to do is to back up and find out what can really be believed as "certainly the case". Many times people want to set up "science" as all-knowing, when it is, in fact, certainly and absolutely not! From the beginning, science books have had to be written and rewritten, over and over, almost constantly... and this is just with the data that can be tested within the scientific method.
The biggest problem with the idea that even a bit of HISTORICAL science is "certainly the case" is that science cannot tell us even one CERTAIN fact about history itself. This is because (BY VERY DEFINITION) it does not deal with historical data, rather, it deals with data observable in the present. One cannot take a time machine and go back five billion years ago to test our theories about what was happening then. The best we can do is make assumptions based on OBSERVABLE data now. And, as you know, when we make assumptions, we cannot help but include our own worldviews and presuppositions on how things "ought to have been".
If one does not want to (**You will notice I keep coming back to this phrase with you**) find evidence for intelligent design, for example, one WILL NOT. On the other side, if one does not want to find billions of years in the scientific data, one WILL NOT. This is the crux of the issue. It is not that some really smart scientists hold the FACTUAL historical data while the stupid scientists are trying to hold on to a belief in God and the Bible... no, there are many brilliant scientists on both sides. The crux of the matter is that one scientist does not WANT to accept the supernatural, while the other is at least OPEN to it.
Now then, you may ask (as you most certainly should), then why are there so many scientists who believe without a doubt that the Earth is billions of years old? Well, I'm glad you asked!
There are several factors (which I can go into if you would like me to) but let's be real blunt about the main one. When you get right down to it, if one would want to kill one's own scientific career, just the passing mention "Intelligent Design" would be sufficient to do it. (And HAS been sufficient to do it on countless occasions.)
The scientific "community" is no bastion of free thought and speech. It is no open process of seeking the "truth" together while holding hands and singing "Kum Ba Ya". No, the majority of the scientific "community" is very comparable to a modern day witch hunt, or to a communist regime. Science is anything but free investigation, but very much has a political agenda driving it. (If you haven't watched the whole movie, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" I really recommend you watch it to see the facts behind what I am saying here.)
So, to answer your question shortly : ) I would say: Yes, many Bible believers try to reconcile the Bible with modern day "science" in innumerable ways - even in multiple ways that keep the literal reading as well as their belief in billions of years. Does the Bible NEED to be reconciled with historical science in this way? Definitely not. For me it is our fallible historical "science" that needs reconciling to the Bible. God is the only real empirical scientist who was there at the beginning.I welcome your thoughts.