SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
The Age of the Earth
Part 6: Scriptural Difficulties with Age of the Earth
By Steve Webb
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Continued from Page One
Perhaps, instead, these Scriptures are sending us a very different message. Perhaps they are intentionally telling us to look for meaning instead of scientific facts. The meaning of the early chapters of Genesis has to do with relationships (still another blog topic). It has nothing to do with science.
As a side comment, a YEC is likely to say that regardless of whether creation was done in 1 day or 6 days, it still makes for a 6000 year old earth. In contrast, an unbeliever is likely to respond by saying that all credibility has been lost if Scriptures contradict each other even from one chapter to the next. I suggest we cannot bypass this problem as quickly as we would like.
For those interested in Bible numerology there are interesting numbers to consider with respect to the age of the Earth. In I Chronicles 16:15, the verse refers to a 1000 generations. It reads, "Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations." A thousand generations is also specifically said in Psalms 105:8, Deuteronomy 7:9, and I Chronicles 16:15. As we know from Psalms 95:10 and from the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, a generation was 40 years. This means that Scriptures are indicating an Earth age of at least 40,000 years. As I explained in an earlier blog, 40,000 greatly exceeds the critical 6000 year threshold. The number 40,000 might just as well be 40 million or 4 billion from a Scriptural standpoint. I completely understand that the number 1000 could be a poetic device used to indicate a long passage of time, but why not use 100 instead? It would be just as poetic and would be much closer to a 6000 year old earth. A thousand generations simply does not sit well with a 6000 year old earth.
You have probably not heard the name Gerald Schroeder unless you have done some outside reading on this subject. Schroeder is a Jew with a PhD from MIT in physics. Schroeder reminds us that according to Einsteinian physics time is relative. A rocket ship sent at the speed of light would have people in it aging significantly slower than their counterparts back on Earth. Schroeder theorizes that the account of Genesis in the Bible was written from God's perspective rather than human perspective. When God created the Big Bang it sent matter, including primordial earth, flying away from the center at light speed. This would have created a huge time difference between the two locations. In fact the time difference according to Schroeder is that Earth would 'coincidentally' appear to have aged by 6000 years from one perspective and 15 billion by another. His point is that maybe Genesis was written from God's perspective rather than ours. I have not adopted this position but it is an interesting take on things.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that in reality the first day of creation was 50 million years, the second, 25 million years, the third 40 million years, the fifth 20,000 years and the sixth 1,000 years (I picked these numbers completely at random). Would the Scriptures have given us this information? I think definitely not. The reason is that the Scriptures would then be giving us this information solely for the purpose of science. In my studied opinion, the Bible gives us virtually no science information and it never gives us information solely for teaching us science. The reason for this is that of the many things that God is conveying to us in Scripture, science is so unimportant that it doesn't even register on the radar. The Bible wasn't given to teach us about science. I wish that weren't true because I would love for it to be full of scientific facts, but it is not. That was not God's intent. This is hard for us to accept in our factually oriented science based culture (the subject of a future blog) but we need to read our Bible, including Genesis 1, for other purposes.
So if the six days of Creation are not consecutive 24-hour days, then why are they presented as if they could be? I have no idea. Some theologians have suggested that it is purely to lay the groundwork for the Sabbath day, a concept so important that it became one of the Ten Commandments. Nor do I have a preferred theory as to how to rationalize the apparent age of the Earth with the days of Creation. I simply know that scientifically the Earth appears much older than 6000 years, and I see Scriptural grounds for doubting that the six days of Creation are consecutive 24-hour days.
So where does that leave us with options as to the age of the Earth? Here are the main possibilities.
• The earth is 6000 years old (the young earth theory)
• The pre- Day 1 creation gap: an unknown amount of time transpired prior to light being created
• The day gap theory: there was time in between days of creation
• The mature earth theory: the earth was intentionally created by God in a mature state as were Adam and Eve created in a mature state.
• The variable day theory: days of creation are used in variable senses, with the first 3 days prior to the creation of the sun being of unknown length.
• God had Genesis written from a different time perspective (ala Gerald Schroeder).
• The creation days are metaphorical imagery meant to support the concept of the Sabbath and have no direct connection to age dating. Some theologians have even suggested that Genesis 1 was a creation hymn meant to be sung in praise and thankfulness to God and was not intended to relay scientific information.
As said before, I do not have a strong personal position on this. I simply do not know. I am not trying to push a particular theory; I am just trying to describe what I see. My 38 years of geology have not only changed my original position (I was raised in a very conservative church), but have increasingly reinforced my view that the Earth appears much older than 6000 years. In combination with this, I think we do injustice to Scripture with simplistic answers regarding difficult text that can be interpreted in multiple ways.
Blessings and keep the faith!
Please note, as a ministry, GotQuestions.org officially holds to Young Earth Creationism. We truly and fully believe that Young Earth Creationism best fits with the biblical account of creation. However, we recognize that Old Earth Creationism is a valid viewpoint that a Christian can hold. In no sense is Old Earth Creationism heresy and in no sense should Old Earth Creationists be shunned as not being brothers and sisters in Christ. We thought it would be worthwhile to have some articles that positively present Old Earth Creationism, as it is always good for our viewpoints to be challenged, motivating us to further search the Scriptures to make sure our beliefs are biblically sound.
Age of the Earth: The SeriesPart 1: Introduction
Part 2: Radiometric Age-Dating
Part 3: Dinosaurs
Part 4: Tree Rings
Part 5: The Meaning of Yom
Part 6: Other Scriptural Difficulties
Part 7: Noah's Flood
Part 8: Hebrew-Judaeo Worldview
Part 9: Who were the Cavemen?
Part 10: The Garden of Eden
Part 11: Bible Genealogies
Tags: Controversial-Issues | Current-Issues | Science-Creation
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