The Age of the Earth and Belief in the Existence of God

I found this interesting. I respect the work of one particular debater who goes all over the U.S. debating atheists on college campuses. But I noticed that in his debates with atheists, he doesn’t get into the issue of the age of the earth. That is, is the earth 6 billion years old or is it 6,000 years old. Many Christians debate and argue over that issue. They might even call each other false teachers. I am a “young earth” proponent (i.e. the earth is 6,000 years old), so I will throw in my arguments here.

First, the genealogies in Genesis 5, Genesis 11, and Matthew 1 are very specific and list about 6,000 years of human history from Adam to today. Genesis 5 and 11 cover the genealogies from Adam to Abraham and about 2,000 years. The years listed are very specific: Adam lived 130 years and became the father of Seth; Seth lived 105 years and became the father of Enosh, etc. Each person listed lived a lot longer (Adam lived 830 years total, etc.), but the genealogies can be added up based on how old they were when they had the next person in line. These specific years (130 or 105) don’t sound like some figurative numbers as used in the book of Revelation (the 144,000, etc.). Then in Matthew 1 we have the genealogies from Abraham to Jesus as being 42 generations all together. If a generation is about 40 or 50 years, that’s another 2,000 years from Abraham to Jesus. Of course, we are now living 2,000 years after Jesus. Thus the Bible genealogies specifically claim the time from Adam to today to be about 6,000 years. It is very difficult to deny this. If you don’t accept this, you almost just have to say that you don’t believe the Genesis and Matthew genealogies. You almost end up having to believe that the record in Genesis is some kind of a myth with figurative numbers, which I refuse to do. Once I accept the Bible claim of this 6,000 year old earth, I might have to try to answer the claims of science that say the earth is 6 billion years old (or some some similar figure).

For example, science uses radiometric dating to get their dating of the age of the earth based on the half-life of radioactive elements. The half-life of such elements is definitely true science, with the mother element decaying into the daughter element after a half-life, which could be very long periods of time. The half-like of Uranium 238 isotope is 4.5 billion years. A sample of pure Uranium 238 mother element will decay into its daughter element, losing half of its original mass over one half life. So, the idea is that we can measure the relative amounts of mother and daughter elements in a sample of Uranium 238 and determine how old the sample is. I am not a scientist, so I do hope my little summary of radioactive dating is accurate. So how do I reconcile my young earth views with radioactive dating methods that say that the earth is very old? My probably overly simplistic solution to this dilemma is this. If you came into my room and saw a sand hour glass on my desk and half of the sand was in the bottom and half on top. I might ask you how long it had been flowing down from top to bottom? You would probably say, “30 minutes”. But then I tell you that I had just started the hour glass flowing right before you came in, so it had only been flowing about 1 minute, not 30. What you did not know is that when I started it flowing that it was already almost 50% of the sand in the bottom and almost 50% in the top. My point? Why would we assume that when God created Uranium 238 in the beginning that He created it 100% mother element with no daughter element present? He could have made it with a mixture of mother-daughter element from the very beginning. Since we don’t know how it was created, we can’t assume that there was no daughter element in the beginning. So radioactive dating methods are based on certain assumptions that can’t be proved. Since those assumptions contradict the Bible claim that the earth is about 6,000 years old, then I choose to accept the Bible claims instead of the scientific assumptions that contradict the Bible claim to a young earth. Also, if God created the original Uranium 238 with a mixture of mother-daughter element, then radioactive dating doesn’t really contradict the Bible claim since we don’t know the original mixture. So I am not denying some scientific law, but instead I am disagreeing with some scientific false assumptions.

That brings us to “apparent age”. It might seem hard to believe that God would make the first radioactive elements with both mother and daughter elements present. But not if you read about the creation as Genesis 1-3 presents it. God could have made all life and creation over billions of years process, but Genesis claims that He created everything “full grown”. Trees, animals, and man were created full grown. Now, if you looked at Adam, one minute after he was created, you might think he is about 30 years old, a full grown man, but you would be mistaken. He would be one minute. We call that “apparent age”: i.e. he appears older than he really is. That would apply to all creation. Radioactive elements could appear older than they might look based on false assumptions about their half-lives. After all, God put all kind of jewels in the ground in the Garden for man to enjoy. Those jewels did not have to be formed by hundreds of thousands of years of organic matter under great pressure. So, you either accept that God created things full grown as the Bible claimed, or you reject the Genesis account. If we can’t believe the Genesis account to be reliable historical facts, then why would we accept anything else that Moses wrote (the Pentateuch). Why would we accept Jesus who said in Matthew 19 that God created man and woman in the Garden and joined them in marriage just like Genesis claims?

Secondly, I always look at the fourth day of creation when discussing the age of the earth. Genesis 1:14-19 says that on day four He created the sun and moon to govern or rule the day and night, for signs for seasons and days and years. Moses wrote this about 3,000 years after the creation during his life in Egypt. They knew how the sun governed a 24 hour day, and they knew what a year was. They would have clearly understood that Moses was saying that day 4 was a 24 hour day. If so, then days 4-7 were 24 hour days, and could assume that days 1-3 were also because Moses called them days with mornings and evenings. If so, all this leaves no room for the evolution of man and animals over millions of years. On day 6, God creates man full grown in a 24 hour period. We either accept that as true historical narrative or simply reject the Genesis account all together. I choose to believe the Biblical account! But what a bout all the proof for evolution over millions of years that science has claimed? Well, there is no proof. At least no proof of “macro-evolution”, i.e. the evolution of one species to another totally different species. There are no irrefutable missing links between species as there would be if evolution occurred. There might be instances of “micro-evolution”, i.e. minor changes within a species, but not macro-evolution. So, again, we are not rejecting scientific laws, but instead are rejecting the theory of evolution. BTW, many scientists have reject Darwin’s theory of evolution simply on the basis that it has no proof.

Oh, wait a minute. I started out this article saying the age of the earth doesn’t matter, that we should debate atheists without confusing the debate with our internal disagreement among believers in God over he age of earth. But now, after listening to my own arguments for a young age, I thing the age of the earth is a very critical issue. If atheists see that we don’t even believe our own Bible account of creation and the genealogies, then how can they expect us to argument that the Bible is the inspired word of God to be trusted in all matters of life and salvation??????????? BTW, pull up articles defending the belief in a young 6,000 year old earth. There is plenty of scientific evidence for a young earth. So don’t be afraid to stand up and express your belief in a young earth as the Bible claims. Most agnostics believe the earth is billions of years old and that macro- evolution occurred over millions of years, but can’t give a single illustration to prove their beliefs. They are simply accepting what scientists and teachers have told them. I hope this article stimulates your interest in this issue and will cause you to dig deeper into this study on the age of the earth. I do think that it is important!

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