The age of the earth—and why it matters
Are we adopting a Bible-first approach or a secular one?
Published: 23 June 2020 (GMT+10)
Previously published in a CMI newsletter, October 2019
“Why are you so dogmatic about the age of the earth? Just deal with evolution and leave the age of the earth out of it.” We sometimes receive comments like this from well-meaning but, sadly, ambivalent Christians when dealing with the origins issue. It’s often said that raising this issue will also be a stumbling block to evangelism. Nothing could be further from the truth. A 4.5 billion-years-old Earth is actually an icon of evolutionism, a cause of unbelief and a wholesale undermining of the authority of God’s Word.
What’s our authority?
Many theologians and lay Christians try to add ‘deep time’ to the Bible because they were educated in the public realm—where we’ve all been taught an ancient Earth, billions of years in age. It’s virtually impossible to escape the millions of years (MOY) mantra. It’s everywhere—in nature documentaries, TV news, movies, books, magazines, and even in children’s cartoons. We are indoctrinated in it. The idea of MOYs is so strong that even when we present strong biblical and scientific arguments against it, it seems we are talking past each other.
On one occasion I was highlighting the theological problems of gap theory with a gentleman. When he was shown the correct grammar and context of Genesis, plus what the New Testament authors believed, he had no answers except to say, “I just believe the Bible!” The problem was he really didn’t! One does not get the idea of deep time from Scripture. There is nothing in the text to indicate a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, or a Lucifer’s Flood, and nowhere will you see the slightest hint of MOYs in Scripture.
Do you know where the MOY comes from?
Most of us have heard theological teaching that adds deep time to the Scriptures such as gap theory, day-age, framework hypothesis, or local flood theory. It might even have come from a respected pastor. It can then be difficult to think it might be wrong when one has accepted a certain interpretation for most of one’s Christian walk. And the massive discord of MOYs compared to a few thousand years adds to the difficulty. So, I usually start by asking, “Do you know where the idea of MOYs comes from?”
A key point that most—even Bible scholars—don’t know
If an answer to defend deep time is offered, it is usually radiometric dating, because it is assumed that scientists can do tests to establish the age of things.1 This is simply not the case, as there is no scientific test that can prove the age of anything that existed in the past!
The millions of years belief comes from … ?
There are rock strata seen all over the earth, which often-contain millions of fine sedimentary layers. Before Darwin, Hutton and Lyell had decreed that we must explain the past by what’s happening today. And because a flood like Noah’s is not happening today, they decreed (not proved!) that it was inadmissible as an explanation. They asserted that these rock layers must have taken millions of years to slowly accumulate. Darwin avidly absorbed this view because he thought it gave him enough time (MOYs) for his slow and gradual concept of biological evolution to have taken place.
Same facts, different story
Creationists and evolutionists have different concepts of history that influence the way we interpret the facts that exist in the present. Yes, there are sedimentary layers that contain fossils all over the earth. But this oft-cited supposed evidence for deep time is one of the easiest for us to explain if we truly believe the Bible as an historical record. Eyewitnesses lived through the globe-reshaping Flood of Genesis 6–8. And Jesus and the New Testament authors affirmed it was a real historical event. 2 Peter 3: 1–6 declares that “scoffers” will ignore the evidence for a global Flood, and this is exactly what is happening today—because the implications are devastating for evolution theory.
The Genesis Flood washes away the millions of years
The Bible says the Flood lasted 12 months. So, if most of the geologic layers were laid down in one year, then simply there are no MOYs! Thus:
- There is no time for the alleged trillions of ‘experiments’ that supposedly organized random chemicals into the first living cell.
- There is no time for the amazing diversity of life to have developed from that supposed first primordial cell.
- There is no time for slow genetic mutations to turn apes into humans.
- There is no ‘age of dinosaurs’ 243 to 66 MOY ago.
In short, there is no time for evolution to happen!
And this list could go on and on. But here’s the point. The Genesis 6 Flood not only washes away the idea of MOYs but everything that evolution has to offer gets washed away with it. Adding MOYs to the Bible actually imposes a secular (‘non-Christian’) idea upon the biblical texts. And even if one does not believe in evolution, but tries to add MOYs to the Bible, it creates a massive theological problem:
The MOYs come from the rock layers; there are fossils in those rock layers (dead things). So, adding MOYs into Genesis 1 necessarily puts death and disease before Adam’s sin (contra Gen. 3).
This undermines the very Gospel itself.
So the age of the earth is an important issue for all Christians, and it’s a lot easier to simply accept the Bible’s plain teaching on the issue, rather than attempting all sorts of theological chicanery to insert MOYs into Scripture. If you are not familiar with the various attempts to add deep time into Scripture and why they fail, please read Did God create over billions of years? before commenting.
References and notes
- Radiometric dating can actually be used to falsify long ages. It has been used on rocks and fossils that we actually know the date of, and dating tests give the wrong dates. See articles under creation.com/dating. Return to text.