Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | June 2, 2008

1. How Old Is the Earth?

(1 Minute Read)

Earth

How old are you? How do you know for sure?

Only eyewitness testimony (such as parents) or records of eyewitness testimony (such as birth certificates) can provide accurate information.

People in cultures that do not emphasize birthdays often do not know how old they are, because records have not been kept, and the relevant eyewitness testimony has been lost or forgotten.

How Old Is the Earth?

Answers to this question are usually based on interpretations of physical evidence, not on direct observation. Interpretations are driven by worldviews. Dependable answers to age questions require either eyewitness testimony or records of such.

The only record of eyewitness testimony for the creation of the earth is Genesis. The Bible specifies heaven and earth were created about 6,000 years ago. Evolutionists, however, claim earth is 4.6 billion years old, and they claim the heavens are 15 billion years old.

The difference between 6,000 years and 15,000,000,000 years is mind-boggling! If we represent a year by the thickness of a sheet of paper, then 6,000 years corresponds to a 2-foot-high stack of paper. Fifteen billion years corresponds to a stack 947 miles high. This is like comparing one human step with the distance from Detroit to Tallahassee. Somebody is seriously in error about the age of the universe.

This begins a series of blog posts on the age of the earth. First I’ll consider the Biblical testimony and explain how it clearly teaches the earth is 6,000 years old. This will include an investigation of what Jesus thought, a survey of the historic teaching of the church, and an analysis of the Genesis genealogies.

Subsequently I’ll discuss scientific evidence on the age of the earth. I’ll explain fallacies of radiometric dating methods which yield long ages and give examples of scientific methods which yield short ages.

I’ll begin with the Biblical evidence because the evidence from nature should be interpreted and understood in the light of clear Biblical truth.

The Bible and science are in harmony when properly understood. Disagreements arise from faulty interpretations of either the physical evidence or the Biblical text, not from actual contradictions between nature and Scripture.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the first in a series of blog posts on the Age of the Earth.
Read the sequel:
2. Why Is the Age of the Earth Important?

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Monday June 2, 2008 A.D.

Thou alone art the LORD. Thou hast made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. Thou dost give life to all of them, and the heavenly host bows down before Thee. (Nehemiah 9:6)

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Responses

  1. Eye witness testimony is notoriously bad evidence. Ask the many people wrongly incarcerated based on it until DNA evidence exonerated them. Besides, who are the eye witnesses? The author of genesis is unknown and even Adam wasn’t there at the time.

    Even the example you gave us about knowing someone’s age – we don’t need to have seen their birth to fairly accurately estimate someone’s age based on their appearance. I can see an old lady and know with 100% certainty that she isn’t a three month old baby

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I disagree that “eyewitness testimony is notoriously bad.” It is generally regarded as the best testimony in court.

      Genesis is a record of eyewitness testimony, starting with the Creator who undoubtedly told Adam about the Six Days of Creation. Moses was the author/compiler of Genesis. His sources were the records of the patriarchs, beginning with Adam. See the “Records Behind Genesis” section in my article Rivers of Eden for more on Moses’ authorship process for Genesis.

      The only reason you can estimate people’s ages based on appearance is because of experience. Yet it is often difficult to guess within 10 years of an adult’s age because of great differences in the way people age. The only way to be sure of someone’s age is eyewitness testimony or records of such. But for the earth, nobody has the experience necessary to estimate the earth’s age based on appearance. Nobody has seen earths of different ages.

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      • Genesis is allegedly written by Moses, thousands of years after creation, based on what he has heard/read from others, not eye witness testimony. Unless you hear it from the mouth of God himself, you can’t claim to have eye witness testimony. You don’t have the testimony from Adam let alone any other patriarch.

        There have been plenty of studies on the unreliability of eye witness testimony. Google “Assessing Eyewitness Identification” for a bit of balance in your article. The Innocence Project counts 336 people exonerated by DNA evidence, who had spent a total of 4,595 years imprisoned, with 70% of them there based on eye witness testimony. We have no idea how many more innocent people are in the same situation.

        There have also been plenty of religious miracles witnessed by thousands of people. I assume you are not Catholic so surely you don’t believe the eye witnesses to the Marian apparitions? Or the witnesses in the book of Mormon? Or those who saw Muhammed’s splitting the moon? Not to mention the people who are adamant they were abducted by aliens.

        We don’t have experience estimating the age of other Earths but we have plenty of experience estimating the age different rocks, fossils, living tissue and genetic markers. I didn’t need to see the sunrise this morning to know that at midday it’s been up for approximately four hours. Science tells me that.

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        • Yes, Genesis was compiled by Moses using source materials from the patriarchs who were eyewitnesses. Moses took records handed down from Adam, Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, Terah (Abraham’s father), Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, and Jacob and put them together, likely with some editing, to form what we know as Genesis.

          There are many indications of this in Genesis where Moses gives “credit” for the records he used to compile his historical narrative (Genesis 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10,27; 25:12,19; 36:1,9; 37:2).
          For example, the first is “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1). Adam wrote from his own first-hand knowledge as well as recording what Yahweh told him of the Days of Creation. The Creator was there and can testify to His own work. If the power of Creator means anything, it certainly includes the power to preserve His own testimony in whatever way He chooses regarding what happened.

          Sure, eyewitness testimony is sometimes fallible. Of course it has to be evaluated for reliability. But listing its failures without comparing with its innumerable successes does not establish unreliability for eyewitness testimony. As a general rule, it is the most preferred evidence in courtrooms.

          Actually, no one has “experience estimating the age of different rocks, fossils,” because in general, people weren’t there when they were formed. Estimates are driven by worldviews, either creationist or evolutionist. Evolutionists’ estimates of rock and fossil ages are conjectures based on evolutionary assumptions. Likewise for genetic markers. Conjectures are not assured facts, so I do not agree that mankind has valid experience estimating rock, fossil, and genetic marker ages. Knowing the age of living tissue or how long the sun has been up on a given day is of no help in estimating the age of the earth. For that we need testimony from the beginning, and that’s what Genesis provides.

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  2. Had a young man ask me about the possibility of alien life. I responded that the God I worship created everything that exists, so He is God over everything, even aliens, if they exist. He said he had never thought of that.

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  3. Not really disagreeing with the possibility that God ‘could have’ created the earth 6,000 years ago. However, the Bible doesn’t specifically say that. 6,000 years is derived from the lineage of mankind spelled-out in Scripture.

    Notice that mankind was not created until God’s FIFTH day of creation — and the conditions by which humans measure time were created on God’s FOURTH day of creation. If we assume that God was not creating ‘time’ for His own benefit, we really don’t know that the first four days of creation were literal or ‘God’s time.’ (Could they have been the “one day is like a thousand years” reference?) — Just something to think about.

    I have no problem with a literal interpretation of Scripture (and am more prone to that, than the alternative), but, not every metaphor, allegory or parable in Scripture is literal.

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, the 6,000-year estimate for the age of the earth is derived from the chronological information in the Genesis genealogies and the Old Testament history books.

      Mankind was created on Creation Day Six, and there’s no reason to think any of the Creation Days differed in length from each other. I believe the historical record in Genesis supplies compelling reasons proving the Creation Days were regular days, not thousand-year periods or long ages. See my article Are the Six Days of Creation Regular Days or Long Ages? for some of the reasons.

      I don’t agree with lifting the “one day is like a thousand years” comparison out of 2 Peter 3:8 and forcing it on the Creation events of Genesis. Each passage must be understood in its own context.

      In Genesis 1 the entire flow is that of a historical record, and every detail is presented in a straightforward timeline. The days of creation are simply days, as Exodus 20:9-11 makes crystal clear in paralleling man’s days with Yahweh’s days of creation. Observing God’s command to keep the Sabbath rest meant that 52 times a year, His people would ponder the ordinary six-days-then-rest structure of Yahweh’s creative work.

      In 2 Peter 3:3-9 the topic of concern is the early Christians’ discontent over God’s apparent delay in bringing history to culmination, delivering His believers and judging the wicked. God’s judgment is not tardy; His perspective on how quickly time passes is different from ours. But this cannot be used to distort Scripture’s record of ordinary events, such as Jesus’ words that He would be in the grave three days and three nights. We cannot use 2 Peter to say He was buried for three thousand years, or that the Six Days of Creation lasted thousands of years.

      In any case, making the Seven Days of Creation Week 1000-year periods helps no one. That would only give an age for the earth of 13,000 years, and that is nowhere near old enough for the evolutionists.

      Finally, Genesis is not “metaphor, allegory, or parable.” It is a straightforward historical account. Every genre of writing should be interpreted appropriately: metaphor as metaphor, parable as parable, and history as history. If one tries to interpret history as, for example, metaphor, one will miss the author’s intended meaning.

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  4. The Hebrew word used in Genesis is “yom”. It is used 2301 times in the Old Testament. It always means a 24 hour day. [The New Answers Book 1, Copyright 2006 by Answers in Genesis]

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    • I agree with your reasoning and certainly believe God has the power to have’ created the earth in six literal 24-hour days. However, there is no reason to believe that God was operating in heaven/eternity, prior to creation, with literal 24-hour day. While the literal interpretation of Scripture is certainly valid, not everything in Scripture is intended to be taken literally (for example, the 1000-years as one day illustration in 2 Peter).

      This is not a challenge to either God’s power or the truth of inspired Scripture, (which I fully acknowledge and am even writing a book about). It is about our tendency to sometimes try to ‘force fit’ God ‘inside’ the natural laws and constraints of His creation — to give US a frame-of-reference WE are comfortable with. This sometimes ‘binds God’, when there is no reason to do so. It also suggests to non-believers, that believers are dogmatic about heavenly things, which are not really fully described in Scripture, or understood by mankind.

      Scripture says, God created the time condition on the Fourth day of His creation of the heavens and earth. If time already existed, it would not have been necessary for God to ‘re-create’ seasons, days and years for man’s benefit. But, clearly, they did not previously exist in eternity. For example, Revelation 22:5 reveals there is no night or darkness (or need for the sun) in heaven.

      My point is that Scripture does not insist the earth is only 6,000-years old. That is only a human construct designed around the 6,000-years since the creation of mankind — and I don’t think we should insist that it must, likewise, be applied to the heavens and earth.

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      • Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad we agree on the truth and inspiration of Scripture.

        It is true that Scripture does not explicitly say the earth is 6,000 years old. But that is a logical deduction from the chronogenealogies in Genesis 5 & 11 and chronological data in other OT history books.

        Exodus 20:11 says the heavens and earth were all created in the Six Days of Creation:
        For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
        According to this verse and Genesis 1, mankind and the entire universe were created in the Six Days of Creation — which were about 6,000 years ago. I hold and proclaim this because I believe Scripture clearly teaches it.

        I disagree with your statement,
        “Scripture says, God created the time condition on the Fourth day of His creation of the heavens and earth.”
        Time existed during the first three days of Creation Week. Genesis 1 mentions numbered days, night, evening, morning. The first three words of the chapter are “In the beginning.” That statement implies the existence of time. We live in a space-time universe. God created time when He created matter.

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