Earth: Young or Old? Does It Matter?
People of various religious backgrounds entertain different ideas about the age of the universe and the earth. One point of view is that of the theistic evolutionist.
Theistic evolutionists believe that “scientific evidence” proves that God used evolutionary processes in the development of the earth over vast eons of time. These misguided people and their theological kin argue that the universe is perhaps up to 15 billion years old, while the earth is some 4.5 billion years of age.
Theistic evolutionists use two main interpretative manipulations to twist the biblical account into harmony with modern science. One of these methods is called the “gap theory.” This hypothesis proposes that billions of years are silently tucked away between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
The other popular idea among theistic evolutionists is the so-called “day-age view.” This idea asserts that the days of the creation week are not literal. Instead, they are poetic or figurative representations of eons of time.
Using one or both of these false interpretations of the sacred text, theistic evolutionists try to forcefully argue that the Bible should be interpreted in ways that accommodate the vast ages of time required for the evolutionary scheme.
Others (including this writer) affirm that the idea of a young earth is in harmony with both scientific and biblical evidence.
And many feel that the question of the earth’s age is just not very important. They contend that the Bible is silent regarding such matters. Hence, the universe may be “old” or “young” — the issue is irrelevant.
I affirm that the Bible does talk about the age of the earth and that there are chronological data in the Scriptures that suggest the earth is relatively young. If that is true, then this theme, as with any biblical subject, can never be irrelevant.
Why You Should Care Whether or Not the Bible Talks About the Age of the Earth?
If the Bible did not address this topic, it wouldn’t matter when the material universe began. An all-powerful God could have accomplished his creation billions of years ago or thousands of years ago.
But Christians should want to know the answer to this question. Does the divine narrative speak regarding the age of the earth? An honest person will humbly let the testimony of the Bible settle the issue.
On the other hand, those who feel that the earth’s present order is the result of evolutionary processes are forced to debate the issue, because evolution could not have happened if the earth’s lifespan is measured in thousands of years.
In other words, an ancient earth is required because long periods of time are essential for evolution to work. All evolutionists admit that without enough time, the process could never have occurred.
Dr. George Wald, an evolutionist, said: “time itself performs the miracles” (48).
Making Assumptions and Looking at Evidence
In view of the foregoing, every sincere student of the Holy Scriptures should consider the following facts.
Over the past 200 years of scientific investigation, there has been absolutely no scientific proof that the earth is billions of years old. That’s a bold statement, but it will stand to a close examination of the evidence.
The average layman thinks that geologists have infallibly established the antiquity of the earth. They have not, and their candid writers admit this.
Dr. Stephan Moorbath of the University of Oxford wrote:
“No terrestrial rocks closely approaching an age of 4.6 billion years have yet been discovered. The evidence for the age of the earth is circumstantial, being based upon ... indirect reasoning” (92).
Dr. John Eddy of the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colorado, declared: “There is no evidence based solely on solar observations that the Sun is 4.5 to 5 billion years old.” He went on to say:
“I suspect that the Sun is 4.5 billion years old. However, given some new and unexpected results to the contrary, and some time for frantic recalculation and theoretical readjustment, I suspect that we could live with Bishop Ussher’s value for the age of the Earth and Sun. I don’t think we have much in the way of observational evidence in astronomy to conflict with that” (18).
Though Ussher’s precise calculations are now considered to be imprecise, it is interesting to observe that an increasing number of scholars are gravitating back in that direction.
“Scientific” Dating Methods Rigged to Win
The techniques for dating the earth are based on uniformitarian assumptions. Uniformitarianism is an evolutionary concept that interprets all historical data in light of present observations. The present is the key to the past, according to this theory.
The radiometric methods for dating the earth’s rocks are based on the decay sequences of certain elements that scientists observe presently.
For example, uranium-238 (called a “parent” element) will, through a series of decomposition processes, ultimately produce lead-206 (called a “daughter” element). Scientists believe they know the present rate of decay. So if a sample rock is found to contain both uranium-238 and lead-206, the ratio of the two is used to calculate the age of the sample rock.
However, scientists admit that in order for this technique to be valid, certain assumptions about this decay rate must be granted.
First, it is assumed that there was no lead-206 present in the sample rock when the rock was formed. But what if lead·206 was a part of the original rock formation? If true, that fact alone invalidates the entire system! And how can a scientist prove no lead-206 was there in the beginning?
Second, it must also be assumed that neither the amounts of parent uranium nor the daughter lead has either decreased or increased since the rock was formed. However, there is an increasing body of evidence that indicates that both parent and daughter elements, under the proper conditions, can migrate in and out of the rocks, thus changing the ratio of elements.
Another assumption is made that decay rates have remained constant since the rock was formed. Again, recent research has shown that while these decay rates appear constant within narrow limits, under special circumstances like intense heat or volcanic activity, the decay rates may be altered considerably.
Evolutionist Frederic B. Jueneman wrote:
The age of our globe is presently thought to be some 4.6 billion years, based on radio-decay rates of uranium and thorium. Such ‘confirmation’ may be short-lived, as nature is not to be dis· covered quite so easily. There has been in recent years, the horrible realization that radio-decay rates are not as constant as previously thought, nor are they immune to environmental influences.
And this could mean that the atomic clocks are reset during some global disaster, and events that brought the Mesozoic to a close may not be 66 million years ago but, rather, within the age and memory of man (21).
Dating Techniques Are Inconsistent.
Numerous pieces of evidence reveal that evolutionary dating methods are not reliable. The following examples demonstrate the folly of giving unqualified endorsement to the different “clocks” that are reputed to prove the earth is ancient.
Studies on submarine basaltic rocks from Hawaii, known to have formed less than three hundred years ago, when dated by the potassium-argon method, revealed ages from 160 million to almost 3 billion years (Funkhouser and Naughton, 4601).
The shells of mollusks have been dated up to 2,300 years old! (Kieth and Anderson, 634). Talk about a Methuselah mollusk!
Freshly-killed seals have been dated at 1,300 years, and mummified seals, dead only some thirty years, yielded dates as high as 4,600 years (Dort, 210).
Rapid Stalactite Formation
According to the evolutionary dating scale, stalactites (mineral deposits formed by dripping water) grow at the rate of about one inch per century. Huge stalactites are used as “proof” of the ancient age of the earth.
However, in an unused underground wing of the Milwaukee Public Museum, stalactites formed that measured some six feet long. This would suggest, according to uniformitarian assumptions, that the museum was built 7,200 years ago, or 5,700 years before Columbus sailed to the new world! (Bible-Science Newsletter, 10). Many other examples, equally devastating, could be cited.
Is There Biblical Evidence for a Young Earth
There are biblical affirmations that suggest an earth that is relatively young.
If it can be biblically established that humanity and the earth are approximately the same age, and if it can be shown that man’s existence is to be measured in terms of thousands, not millions or billions, of years, such would demonstrate the relative youthfulness of our earth.
Accordingly, please consider the following clear, literal declarations of Scripture.
(a) Moses declared that all created things had their genesis in the same week (Gen. 1:31). This included both earth and man, and that “week” consisted of literal days such as Israel observed in keeping the Sabbath (Ex. 20:11).
(b) The prophets affirmed that Jehovah’s sovereignty had been evident to man “from the beginning,” even from “the foundations of the earth” (cf. Isa. 40:21).
(c) Christ stated that “male and female” (i.e., Adam and Eve) had been made “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10:6), and Christ should know for he was there (John 1:1ff)! That statement can never be harmonized with the notion that the earth existed billions of years before the creation of mankind.
(d) Paul argued that evidence of the invisible God has been perceived (obviously by man) “since the creation of the world” (Rom. 1:21).
Anyone who takes the plain testimony of the Scriptures seriously cannot but see the import of such passages.
Additionally, the Bible indicates that man’s years on the earth have been relatively few. In Luke, chapter 3, the historian lists the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam, who was the “first man” (1 Cor. 15:451.
Now from Christ back to Abraham, there are some fifty-five generations. Archaeology has demonstrated that these fifty-five generations span approximately two thousand years at the most (cf. Kitchen and Mitchell, 213).
Further, from Abraham on back to Adam there are but twenty additional generations (a number of which were renowned for longevity). Even if one granted a few possible omissions in the genealogy (as with some of the Old Testament genealogies (cf. Ezra 7:3,4; 1 Chron. 6:6-10), there is no reason to assume that those earlier generations of the Lord’s family tree are treated in a different manner than the later generations. Hence, they span only a few thousand years, certainly not millions! If that is not the case, then the genealogical records of the Bible are a meaningless waste of space!
The Scriptures are thus not silent concerning the relative ages of earth and man. The Bible affirms their “youthfulness.”
But Is There Scientific Evidence for a Young Earth?
The inspired Word of God is the final word on any subject which it addresses. Any time “science” is at odds with the clear testimony of the Bible, then “science” is in error.
In spite of evolutionary claims to the contrary, it is refreshing to know there are genuine scientific evidences which point to a young earth, and this is in harmony with Scripture. Of the many tests that might be discussed, only a few can be mentioned here.
Earth’s Magnetic Field
Dr. Thomas Barnes, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Texas, has done extensive research into the decay of the earth’s magnetic field. His findings indicate that the magnetic field was created only a few thousand years ago and is decaying toward extinction (Barnes 64).
Water and Oil Reservoirs Under Pressure
Deep under the crust of the earth, there are huge reservoirs of oil and water. Many of these reservoirs are characterized by extremely high fluid pressures. It is this high pressure that produces the “gushers” with which well-drillers are so familiar. Now scientists are aware of the fact that these underground pressures are gradually diminishing, much like air seeping from an automobile tire.
What intrigues them is this. If this seepage has been going on for millions of years (evolutionists assume these reservoirs are millions of years old), why hasn’t the pressure been completely diminished?
It is an acknowledged fact that the rock above these pressure pools is, even under the strictest conditions, porous enough to allow the pressure to escape in a matter of a few thousand years (cf. Cook 254-262).
Meteorites Missing in Lower Strata
Supposedly, meteorites have been falling from outer space to earth for billions of years. If the various strata of the earth required billions of years to build, meteorites should be found all the way down in each individual stratum.
But the fact is, meteorites have not been found in the so-called “older” strata. It would thus appear that the sedimentary strata (water laid) were laid down in a relatively short period of time. This would explain why the meteorites are found near the top.
This also fits well with the biblical narrative about the Flood (cf. Kofahl 123).
According to recognized population growth statistics, if man had been multiplying on earth for one million years, there would be more people than could be jammed into the entire known universe! And remember, evolutionists claim that man has been around two to three million years!
The Sun Is Shrinking
Astronomers claim that the sun is shrinking at the rate of 0.1 % per century (approximately 5 feet per hour). If this shrinkage has remained constant (as evolutionists would predict), 100,000 years ago the sun would have been twice as large as it now is.
Moreover, at 20 million B.C., the earth and sun would actually have been touching! For an excellent tract discussing these and other evidences for a young earth, see: The Young Earth available from Apologetics Press.
Is the earth therefore young or old? The evidence indicates that it is young.
Does it matter? Yes, because a young earth is consistent with the testimony of the Bible. Further, it is a valid argument against the essential ingredient of time required for the alleged process of evolution.
- Barnes. Origin and Destiny of the Earth’s Magnetic Field 1973.
- Bible-Science Newsletter, (1983 June).
- Cook, Melvin. Prehistory and Earth Models 1966.
- Dort, Wakefield “Mummified seals of southern Victoria Land” Antarctic Journal of the U.S. (1971. Vol. 6. No. 5).
- Eddy, John. Geotimes (1978, September).
- Jueneman, Frederic B. Industrial Research and Development (1982, June).
- Keith, M. L. and Anderson, G. M. Science, (1963 August 16)
- Kitchen and Mitchell, The New Bible Dictionary.
- Kofahl, Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter 1980.
- Moorbath, Stephen. Scientific American (1977, March).
- Wald, George. Scientific American (1954, August).
- Funkhouser, John G. and John J. Naughton. Journal of Geophysical Research (1968 July 15).