SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
The Age of the Earth
Part 1: Introduction
By Steve Webb
Warm greetings to my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ! As a career geologist working in the science for 38-years, and still hard at it, I have a message for you. This message is: purely from a scientific perspective the Earth appears much older than 6000 years. This doesn't mean that it is necessarily true. There are philosophical and theological reasons that the earth may only be 6000 years old, but this does not obviate the fact that scientifically it appears much older. I say this as a person raised believing in the Bible as an inerrant inspired book, and I still believe it to be an inerrant inspired book. I more than keenly realize that I am opposed on this by many Christians, and even by GotQuestions, a ministry I love and respect. Why do I take this position?
The reason is that the evidence kept piling up over the years until I could no longer ignore it. I was not buffaloed by atheistic professors, nor would I hesitate in the slightest to buck my profession by supporting a young earth if I believed it. But I do not. The Earth simply looks a lot older than 6000 years. Having had hundreds of discussions on this subject over the years, some that turned into heated debates, I know the immediate comebacks that people make who disagree with me on this subject. They say, what about the dinosaur footprints with man footprints near Glen Rose, Texas? What about problems with radiometric age-dating? What about Noah's flood? What about erosion rates of the Grand Canyon? The list goes on and on. Then they question me as to why I don't accept the clear meaning of Genesis 1, and then how I can't really be a true believer.
I can address each of these subjects with a lot of technical firepower, but not in any kind of abbreviated format. How can I transplant my years of science observations into your brains? This is more than a book-length subject. It is almost a joke to raise the issue as a short blog article. What I might do in the future, as time and energy allow, and if I am permitted, is to try to bite off one piece of this at a time and see how it goes. For now I will only make one supporting point, and that is that during my entire career I have met many Bible believing geologists; I would estimate the number being around one-hundred, some of whom have participated in lunch hour Bible studies with me. The field is not at all overwhelmed by atheists, as one might suppose. Of this number, not one of them believes in a young Earth. Not one. It is for the same reason as me. The evidence against it is just too overwhelming.
I realize there are some geologists out there who do believe in a young earth, but please realize that they represent a very small fringe, and when their credentials are carefully examined they are often embarrassingly weak or even bogus (I have personally dug into the background of some of them). This small fringe, in my judgment, receives an undeservingly disproportionate amount of attention, publicity, and loyal followers.
But moving on beyond that discussion, for the sake of argument (and brevity), let's suppose that I am right and the Young Earth Christians are wrong. What does it matter? Clearly this is not a point of salvation, so what is the big deal? Well, here is why it matters, making it as brief as I know how:
1. This issue has turned into a barrier to faith for many unbelievers, particularly the college educated. It is yet another fence that unbelievers need to climb over before they are receptive to the Gospel.
2. When your children attend college they are going to be hit with evidence that strongly, and I mean very strongly, supports an old Earth. If your children have been raised with the inerrancy of the Bible depending on a young Earth, you have potentially shaken their faith. I have personally met young people who said they no longer believe in the Bible because of this specific reason.
3. This issue has become a divisive doctrine between Christians. It is even a point of fellowship in some churches. Division is sometimes necessary to separate ourselves from harmful doctrines, but if the division is based on faulty understanding, then it is wrong and very harmful to our cause.
4. Preaching a young earth has tremendously hurt our credibility in the public arena. It has hurt us in court cases. It has damaged the reputation of Christian schools and home-schoolers. We Christians can and should expect persecution, but we should not bring unjustified persecution upon ourselves.
5. We have increased our divide from the science community. My fellow unbelieving geologists typically think Christians are morons, creating a barrier for people like me who are trying to win them to Christ.
6. Last, and not least, I believe we are doing injustice to the Bible, making it say things that it does not say and teach what it does not teach (admittedly another book-length subject).
As ever, I realize I will have upset and offended some of you with these words, but I do it with a clean conscience and a strong conviction that I am telling you the truth. God bless all of you 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 | Science-Creation
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