Geology, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth

By Steve Webb

Greetings everyone! To introduce myself, my name is Steve Webb. I am a career geoscientist now on the verge of retiring after 40 years in the profession and a devout believer, committed to the Bible as the accurate inspired word of God. Geology, like all the sciences, has become highly specialized with around 40 distinct subdisciplines. My specialty is sedimentology, and more specifically, the subdiscipline of sequence stratigraphy. Sequence stratigraphy has to do with understanding the layering in sedimentary rocks: their vertical stacking and the controls of this layering combined with understanding their lateral changes. In some ways this science has rocked the world of geology in the past 30 years (no pun intended) providing for predictability in sedimentary patterns that had not been previously foreseen. It has been particularly important to the oil business, which needs to predict certain rock qualities in the subsurface before they drill. This is very big money involved where scientific theories that don't work are quickly out the door. Fortunately for me, sequence stratigraphy has provided an interesting career that has seen my wife and I live in seven countries outside the USA, being in high demand for special projects. I mention these things not to brag, but to try to explain that I am uniquely qualified to make judgments on certain issues that continue to be raised among Christians, in that I am deeply and directly involved in age-dating and fossil analysis. What I would like to particularly emphasize is that, while I keep up to date with technical literature out of necessity, I do not parrot the words of others on this subject simply because I do not need to. I have been hands-on looking at raw data my entire career; and it has been superb quality data because of the resources of the large companies (one huge one in particular) for which I have worked.

From my vantage point, there are some things that Christians need to unambiguously understand on this subject. The first thing is that purely from a scientific standpoint the earth looks much older than 6000 years. This does not mean that it is, in fact, older than 6000 years — there are theological / theoretical reasons why this might not be true — but the point is that it appears much older. There are simply far too many converging lines of evidence supporting it. I therefore plead with Christians who wish to argue the age of the earth with unbelievers to accept this premise. Those who wish to argue that the scientific evidence does not really point in that direction (Ken Ham and others), and that it is a bunch of hooey devised by atheistic scientists that are trying to discredit the Bible are simply wrong. I recognize that there are scientists out there who are anti-Bible but there are also pro-Bible scientists like myself, and we are both in agreement on the age of earth. In fact I have never personally met a Bible believing geologist who disagrees with what I am saying. Please take this seriously. We are harming our witness to the world and placing unnecessary barriers to belief by taking a wrong position on this subject. Scientifically, the earth appears old; it really does.

Secondly, we need to pointedly understand that our true enemy in this area of science is not age of the earth — it is evolution. These two subjects need to be firmly separated in our thinking. My specific training allows me to speak with authority on the fossil record and I can affirm that it does not support evolution. The theory of evolution exists for one, and only one reason: it is a necessary explanation if one refuses to believe in a special Creation. The theory of evolution would exist regardless of the amount of support for it simply because many refuse to accept the possibility of God being involved. Books by Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe and William Dempski, for example, are powerhouses in helping to break this monopoly in thinking, and they are being joined by many others. Evolution is a failed theory; it is like the Emperor's New Clothes where it is turning out to not have any substance. We do not need to pound the Bible in the faces of unbelievers. Evolution is failing purely on scientific grounds.

Now some Christians, even some friends of mine, prefer to believe in a 6000 year earth because they argue that it pulls the rug out from under evolution, but the irony is that this backfires. This is because if the earth is only 6000 years old it requires evolution to not only exist; but to exist with awesome power to generate the vast numbers of species that would have arisen since Noah's Flood. In other words, young earth Christians are forced into accepting a high degree of evolution whether or not they consciously realize they are supporting it.

But for most Christians, the battleground here is the integrity of Scripture, and I agree this is where it should lie. Yet in this regard many Christians refuse to accept the fact that there are multiple ways that the early chapters of Genesis can be interpreted and still be true to God's word. I have tried to point out these options in previous blogs that I have written. What some believe to be the clear interpretation of Scripture is less clear to others. Martin Luther was convinced that the sun rotated around the earth because of references in Scripture to the "sun rising" and "sun setting" and particularly to the sun being made to stand still in Joshua 10:13. Martin Luther was wrong in his interpretation of Scripture. Other Christians in the past have believed the earth was flat because the Bible cites "four corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12, Revelations 7:1). They were also wrong. Let's be humble in our interpretation of Scripture, realizing it is a complex book, and sometimes the most obvious interpretation is not the correct one. There is more at stake here than minor doctrinal quibbling.

Steve W

Please note, as a ministry, 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.

Image Credit: PDPhotos; "Title"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Controversial-Issues  | Science-Creation

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Published 3-25-15