Just How Old is the Earth Anyway?

The age of planet earth is perhaps one of the most well-known disagreements between science and theology and one that traces its roots back to the 1700s. It has been the catalyst for many heated debates where science asserts the earth to be billions of years old, while theology maintains it to be only thousands of years old. Why is knowing the age of the planet so important? One obvious answer is that if science is correct, it puts the concept of creationism and God into question, or does it? What if both claims by science and theology are correct?

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Scientists use a radiometric dating technique or process to determine an object’s age by its radioactive isotopes’ decay rate. According to nationalgeographic.org, Scientists have dated rock formations from Canada and minerals from Australia to be between 4.03 and 4.3 billion years old. Even more compelling are the rocks from the moon and meteors that have fallen to the earth that date to be about 4.5 billion years old. Now we could claim that radiometric dating is flawed, but let us assume that science is correct that the earth is 4.54 billion years old.1

Some Bible scholars and chronologists have used the Masoretic text to walk back the generations from Abraham to Adam. Based on their critical research of the Bible, they ascertained the earth to be about 6,000 years old, according to answersingenesis.org. They calculated that the number of years between Adam’s lifetime and Abraham’s lifetime to be 2,000 years, and the time between Abraham and the birth of Christ to be another 2,000 years. When we add the 2,020 years since the birth of Christ, we arrive at the age of 6,020 years for the earth.2

The difference between the two claims is quite vast, and because of this, we can see how it has sparked systemic contemptuous debates from one generation to the next with neither side giving any ground to the other. Is there any other possibility? Is it possible that both science and theology have it correct? In my opinion, the answer to that question is yes; both sides could be right in their conclusions. Allow me to explain. To do so, we must turn back the pages of Scripture to the book of Genesis.

God’s Creation (Photo by Darryl Orrell)

Scripture records that God said, “Let Us make man in Our image” and “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen. 1:26; 2:7). The Bible states that God created a man, not a child, a teenager, or even a young adult; He created a man in His image and likeness. For the sake of argument, let us say that Adam’s physical appearance was that of a 30-year-old man.

If scientists were able to date Adam using radiometric dating when he became a living being, they would conclude that he was at or around age 30. In other words, Adam would have all the physical characteristics of a man who has lived for 30-years, even though in actuality, he was less than 1-day old. Therefore, this same line of reasoning can apply to the earth’s age, whereby even though the earth was less than 1-day old at the time of its creation, God gave it all the physical attributes of a planet that has lived for billions of years.

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Still, no matter how plausible that line of reasoning may seem, science will come to a dead stop because it requires people to subscribe to the understanding that God created the heavens and the earth. It requires one to have faith in God and His word. Why? Because God desires that people come to know Him by their faith, not by their fear, not by subversion, but by a genuine desire to know and love Him. Faith is the key to our salvation and spiritual growth, and since science cannot apply faith to its methods, many scientists are dismissive of faith and the answers given in Scripture.

For those who place their faith in God’s word and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to take away the sins of the world, and rose again on the third day, Scripture states: “From [their] innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Believers understand and know this all too well, but the world considers such people as weak-minded and foolish. Well, I would rather be a fool for Jesus, as apostle Paul pointed out to the Corinthian church than part of the world’s foolishness.


Author’s Note: Based on commentator feedback, paragraph seven was revised on October 2, 2020 to state “since science cannot apply faith to its methods, many scientists are dismissive of faith and the answers given in Scripture,” as opposed to the original text, “science struggles with the concept of spiritual faith; therefore, it often, if not always, dismisses it as viable.”

References

1 National Geographic. (n.d.). Age of the Earth. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/topics/resource-library-age-earth/?q=&page=1&per_page=25
2 Hodge, B. (2007, May 30). How Old Is the Earth?. Retrieved from https://answersingenesis .org/age-of-the-earth/how-old-is-the-earth/


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12 thoughts on “Just How Old is the Earth Anyway?

  1. RJ Dawson October 2, 2020 / 10:39 AM

    Thanks Darryl. There has been much progress between the two camps over the last few decades or so, in that the truth of Scripture has agreed with established scientific fact and vice versa. One individual that has allowed for much of this bridging of the gap is Hugh Ross, who is both a dedicated Christian and highly knowledgeable scientist. Whatever our beliefs may be in this regard, it is always good to attempt to see things from the other’s perspective. Blessings to you brother.

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    • Darryl Orrell October 2, 2020 / 11:11 AM

      I am not fully familiar with Hugh Ross, but I will look into his work on the subject. When people step back, they can easily see that science does not dispute theology, but in many ways, it affirms what the Bible says. Thank you for commenting and for the tip about Ross. Blessings to you as well, my brother. Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kcchief1 October 2, 2020 / 11:36 AM

    What would be so wrong to say God created the Earth 4.5 billion years ago just like Science has provided compelling evidence for ? I’m surprised you’ve never heard of Hugh Ross since you’re writing about this subject.

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    • Darryl Orrell October 2, 2020 / 12:43 PM

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. The article does not advocate that one figure is correct, and the other is wrong; instead, it draws a conclusion from Scripture that suggests both science and theology could be correct. To answer your question, I would say whether a person believes God created the earth billions or thousands of years ago is unimportant in the big picture, the fact that a person believes God created the heavens and the earth is. That said, science is not perfect, nor does it have all the answers, and God, by His wisdom, has chosen not to reveal certain things to us. Therefore, topics such as this make for fascinating study and conjecture. I have come across some of Ross’ work before, but have not studied his ideas at great length. I do plan to revisit that thanks to brother RJ Dawson. Thanks for an engaging question! God bless and have a wonderful weekend!

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  3. tildeb October 2, 2020 / 11:47 AM

    “science struggles with the concept of spiritual faith…”

    Umm, no. Science as a method cannot use faith as a means to produce knowledge because faith as a method does not now, never has, and probably never shall produce one jot or tittle of knowledge about reality.

    So claims about reality – like creationism for humanity – made by faith are empty of any knowledge value even if it may sometimes align with knowledge. In this particular case – creationism – ever scrap of evidence from every line of inquiry followed using reality rather than faith indicates a natural unguided physical process. Faith in creationism at some historical moment has zero evidence from reality to support this claim. Therefore, such a faith-based claim stands diametrically opposed to and incompatible with reality… as revealed to us by the method of science.

    Anyone who proposes this to not be the case but tries to tell you that there is some middle ground available adduced from reality is not being truthful or honest or they would produce the evidence from reality. That evidence has yet to be produced. To date, there is none from across the broad spectrum of all avenues of scientific inquiry. Also and importantly, the evidence that SHOULD be there if creationism were true is completely lacking. That’s how all of us know that belief in creationism is fully faith-based. Furthermore, those who go along with this claim about creationism in reality, but do not allow reality to arbitrate it and reject evidence it is incorrect, tells us the power of faith is not benign but in direct competition with and the reason for rejecting reality’s role to back up such faith-based claims. Such faith is not a struggle for science but a means for believers to deny reality and think well of themselves for doing so.

    I have little doubt that this comment of mine will be likewise rejected here not because it isn’t true but because it reveals why religious faith often struggles with respecting reality. When the two are in conflict, reality must be rejected. To maintain trust in such a faith while pretending reality is compatible with it, therefore, means the method of science must be must be paid lip service because it works in every other area of human endeavor but waved away, moderated into oblivion, or outright censored when it comes to the religious claims about reality that are in conflict with reality itself.

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    • Darryl Orrell October 2, 2020 / 1:40 PM

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Your point is well-taken that science, as a method, cannot consider faith. Therefore, one might say that where science stops, faith carries on. Nonetheless, I will agree that perhaps the term ”cannot” would have better served the article than ”struggles.” Thank you for an engaging comment. Blessings to you and have a wonderful weekend.

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      • tildeb October 2, 2020 / 3:31 PM

        Well, I have to say I am impressed, Darryl. Not many religious sites like yours would allow this kind of critical comment to appear. Thank you for having the courage to do so and the willingness to read. It speaks highly of your character.

        My best wishes to you and yours and please stay safe during this difficult time. We really are all in this together regardless of such differences of opinion and thoughts and will need people of character and integrity to step up and get back to work making this a better world for all. And there’s a lot of work to do!

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        • Darryl Orrell October 2, 2020 / 3:52 PM

          You are quite welcome. Your comment was well-stated, non-contentious, and conveyed your point of view. All of which speaks highly of your character. People can agree to disagree or find common ground and move forward in a civil productive dialogue, as we have proven here today.

          All the best to you and yours as well, and yes, by all means, stay safe. I agree we are all in this world together, and we need to work together. Our knowledge and understanding of things begin with a question. If we never ask those questions and seek the answer either through science or theology or both, knowledge, understanding, and faith suffer. Therefore, let us get to work and make this a better world for all, as you well-state.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Nan October 3, 2020 / 12:26 PM

    You wrote: Why is knowing the age of the planet so important?

    Taken at face value, that’s a very good question since I think most of us are more interested in simply living our daily lives — especially during this difficult time — than we are in “knowing the age of the planet.”

    But I suppose it makes for a good blog discussion … 🙂

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    • Darryl Orrell October 3, 2020 / 12:59 PM

      Thank you for taking the time to read and leave a comment. It has provided some interesting conversation I must say, but I agree, knowing the earth’s age is far less relevant to everyday life, but I would be remiss if I failed to add that knowing its creator is most relevant to everyday life, especially in this difficult time. Blessings to you and have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous October 4, 2020 / 12:07 PM

    Thank you for this! I like how it speaks to the power and authority of God and how science points to and affirms God as our divine creator. It’s a shame people try to use science to disprove what’s in the bible and God’s existence. God bless and thank you for the work you do for God’s glory.

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    • Darryl Orrell October 4, 2020 / 12:09 PM

      Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to read and comment. To God be the glory!

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