Feedback archiveFeedback 2015

Defending young earth is not biblical?

Published: 21 February 2015 (GMT+10)

A New Zealand correspondent who supports our ministry has expressed doubts about whether the Bible teaches a young earth and Dr Carl Wieland responds.

NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring 9988-earth

I am an evangelist … and really endorse your ministry. You give me the tools I need to counter the evolutionary arguments I face.

I just wanted to say that I don’t believe the Bible says the earth is young. It may be young, and I have read your many articles on scientific evidences supporting this argument as well as your articles on interpreting scripture as saying it is young.

However, I do not believe scripture says this and am concerned that you are trying to defend a position which is not necessary to defend. All your other work is so wonderful that I would not want you to try to defend a position which is not biblical and then maybe lose that argument or have the whole ministry discredited.

You don’t need to reply to this—it is just a concern of mine that we don’t get tied up trying to defend what the bible doesn’t explicitly say. 

Brett W

Dear Mr W/Dear Brett

I have carefully read your email, and note that you are an evangelist, a very significant calling and task at any time. You may wonder why I am responding, considering you have said it is unnecessary. Perhaps it will help you to understand if you put yourself in the position of just having received an email from someone who says, e.g.: “The Bible doesn’t teach that God is a Trinity. I’ve looked and looked but the word ‘trinity’ doesn’t even appear in the Bible.” I’m sure you would find it difficult to resist pointing out to that person at least some of the many ways in which the teaching (as a deduction from combining various threads of separate teaching) is not only a very, very important one, but a blindingly obvious one. I’m sure you would also want that person to have the opportunity to at least consider things they likely have not done to date. Including not just Bible passages, but also [theological] implications from the evidence of the real world.

Do you really want to be on the side of the scoffers in 2 Peter 3:3–6, even if only partly?

For example, the implications of having bloodshed, disease and suffering before the Fall, which is what long-agism must imply (since fossils show these things, then if they are millions of years old, it means they predated Adam and hence the Fall/Curse).

And it then also means rejecting the clear teaching of the global nature of the Flood. [There are long-age creation ‘ministries’ that push the idea that the earth is old. Consistently, they all deny the global nature of the Flood—but one only needs to read Genesis to see if that is even remotely possible from the language.] Do you really want to be on the side of the scoffers in 2 Peter 3:3–6, even if only partly? Do you really want to say with your stance that the overwhelming majority of great Christian scholars and thinkers were wrong in deducing from the Bible that the Bible teaches a perfect world before sin, ruined by sin, to be restored in the future to a sinless deathlessness? Do you really want to say that Jesus got it wrong about man’s relative position in the history of creation, as in the article below on Jesus and the age of the earth?

I submit for your careful and prayerful consideration just three articles, below, and invite your followup comments. May I suggest first the one featuring Jesus’ teaching. I know you are not advocating theistic evolution, but the implications of a long-age position are exactly the same when it comes to the particular statement by Jesus.

Kind regards in Christ,

Dr Carl Wieland 

Helpful Resources

Evolution's Achilles' Heels
by Nine Ph.D. scientists
US $11.00

Reader’s comments

Cade W.
I've been studying the Day-Age Theory. I realize that the translation meant literal days. However, I also take 2 Peter 3:8 into account. Where it says, “A day is like a thousand years, and a Thousand years is like a day.” This is compatible with Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Using his formula, 24 hours at the speed of light equals 1000 years on Earth. Back to God's Creation, if each creation day was 24 hours and God works at the speed of light, the conclusion that Creation week could have been 7,000 years is viable. I don't believe this per se, but I believe it could be viable based on the math/science. What do you think?

[Web link deleted as per feedback rules]
Jonathan Sarfati
Any study of a viewpoint should include the strongest case against it. At CMI, we address the strongest cases for evolution and millions of years. This includes addressing the leading advocate of the Day Age Theory, Hugh Ross, in the book Refuting Compromise. Similarly, anyone who wishes to defend the Day Age Theory has an intellectual duty to address the arguments in that book, which Hugh Ross refuses to do.

The book even discusses the passage you mention, which actually hardly helps those looking for millions and billions of years. And even before that book, we addressed this in an article on our site in 2 Peter 3:8—‘one day is like a thousand years’.

A good rule of thumb: the search button is your friend ;) With about 10,000 articles on the site, there is almost certainly something that addresses just about any relevant query you could have. (As proof, you could check on the bottom of this page and see that its article number is 9988.)
Gennaro C.

Jason C. United States
‘So long-agers and theistic evolutionists, etc., need to ask themselves: Do I believe that God is incompetent? Do I believe that God is a deceiver? To me, the answer is a clear and emphatic, "No, God is neither," and the implications of that answer are also clear: God is powerful enough to not only create us, but to create us as intelligent beings capable of understanding truth in a straightforward manner, from the very beginning of our existence; and He loves us enough to not deceive us, and to not mislead us and make fools of us.’

Very good,very good indeed Jason. And I would add that: because our God is such an Awesome God, we need to have more respect toward Him and His Word the Bible. And, if by any chance we are missing some ‘evidences’ - His awesome plan of salvation which includes such an atrocious experience of Jesus on the cross, His, beyond any understanding, desperation from feeling ‘abandoned’ by the Father – DEMANDS some FAITH from our sides … and some HUMILITY by our human spirit to accept the ‘fact’ that our ‘logic’ sometimes is no logic at all on the light of some further knowledge. Until late 1800, human flight was considered impossible, if not illogic by the ‘EXPERTS’! We do have nowadays airplanes that can carry hundreds of passengers IN ONE SINGLE FLIGHT! Think about that; God could have created everything in a sec, but, as a Great psychologist as He is, He chose the - six plus one day - unit to teach us the importance of the week’s time span. Thank you Father God and thank you CMI for your great job-mission.
Claire P.
Thank you so much for your site. I am a student in environmental science and biological science, and your site put to rest alot of conflicts within myself. It's funny that I never saw my old earth thinking as ruining my faith in God, but in reality it undermined how I read the bible. I mean, if God didn't mean 6 days of creating the universe, what else is in the bible that doesn't mean what it says it does. I have looked into all of the biological and environmental information and I only find further proof that the bible is a true account of what happened. I am so glad this site caused me to question my belief; my faith and awe in God and his abilities has only grown as a result.
Mel P.
Creation and old earth both true. In the beginning
God created... It was good...... War in heaven
Satan cast down. Screwed up everything..... God intervenes. Result is Genesis 1: 2 Darkness and water covered the face of the earth. The Holy Spirit was there and then comes the clean up. It sounded like this. LIGHT BE !
The scriptures are all in there. Get a Dakes Annotated Reference Bible and stop wasting time. We don't have a lot of time left and a lot of people out there that need to hear about Jesus. Let's go get them. Mel
Carl Wieland
O, my, Dake was one of those who pushed the thoroughly discredited (though well-meant by those who dreamed it up prior to him) classical 'Gap' theory. More than a century ago this idea, not derived from the Bible but read into it to try to solve an apparent contradiction, made many Christians think they had solved the 'age' problem and later the 'evolution' problem. Except that when their kids went to uni, it didn't. And it never did. Plus it involves nearly as many gross contradictions with the Bible than the problems it was meant to solve. (Death and violence before sin and the Curse is just one of them. Seriously--as you will see in this chapter of The Creation Answers Book. Please study it carefully with an open Bible and I'm sure it will be blindingly obvious that this particular 'theory' simply doesn't work.
Peter M.
How odd that I just came across this article. I was just talking to my next-door neighbor for an hour about the age of the Earth. He thinks that the Flood was 6,000 years ago, but, the Earth is eons old. I went into the house and brought out to show him 2 seashells, one flat and wide, and the other the size of a walnut. Both shells were filled with petrified dirt, and both are intact. I got one from my yard in Cincinnati in 1962.
I showed it to a geologist, and he said that it was from the Ordovician period, which was about 350 million years ago.
If one studies geological formations, easy ones in the Grand Canyon, one can see that it took millions of years for these formations to occur.
The scientists study all those things, and are able to draw quite obvious conclusions on how things came about. They are not exactly stupid, you know. The Colorado River took more than a few centuries to cut a mile deep, and through solid rock. Wake up.
Much of the Earth has had huge bodies of water standing independently, such as a monster lake that went from Utah or close, to Southern California. Do you think that something like that could evaporate in a few thousand years?
The glacier that went almost to Oklahoma or so, and then receded, and formed the Great Lakes, took a long time to go down and back. Did you ever hear that things move glacially? There is a reason for that term.
There is the Atlantic Ridge. When you look at the design, it seems quite plain that Africa and South America were one once. How long did it take them to separate? Quite some time, I imagine. Some people just refuse to look at the obvious clues, which are everywhere.
CMI editor
Actually, I would urge you to study the geological Q and A section of our site, accessible from the front page under 'topics'. We agree that the continents were likely once connected, and in fact one of the leading creationist geologists in the world today is also acknowledged to be a world expert on plate tectonics (Dr John Baumgardner). And creationists in fact hold trips to the Grand Canyon, and have written books and DVDs on it, since it is actually a massive testament to the catastrophe of the Flood and exhibits huge problems for the millions of years theories. For example, the problem of so-called 'flat gaps' (see this article by a Ph.D. scientist on the issue. I really hope that I can stimulate you to think independently of the 'herd' and research this topic from the biblical perspective. I have just not long ago had a PhD geomorphologist in my office who was (while an unbeliever) so confronted by the contradictions in his field when one tried to fit landforms into a 'slow and gradual' framework that it led to his conversion to Christ and his now total trust in the framework of history provided in the Bible. He now wonders how he could have been so blind. Hint: the global Flood is the key that unlocks the puzzle.
Lou N.
And in Romans 1:20, the Apostle Paul says of God:
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

In reply to your using this passage from Romans as evidence that the earth was created not long ago: Is not the Lord also speaking to you and me in this passage. But we were not there at the beginning. But we can see the evidence from the very beginning of creation. Also, what about this scripture: Revelation 13:8
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

So by the same reasoning you are using, Jesus was crucified the same week that the universe was created.
Jonathan Sarfati
As explained in The Incarnation: Why did God become Man?, the phrase “from the creation of the world” refers to the writing of the names in the Lamb’s Book of Life, not to the crucifixion; cf. Revelation 17:8. Biblical doctrine must be derived from the original languages of Scripture, not from a particular English translation.
Paul F.
I have always dismissed the "Young earth theory" because, I can't find in the Bible anywhere that tells us how long God permitted Adam & Eve to live in the Garden before the fall of man. (That could have been millions and millions of years, where they may even had things like dinosaurs.) The time table that can be tracked through the Bible mostly follows after the fall of man.
CMI editor
A 'young' earth is not a 'theory' but rather a deduction from the Bible which the vast majority of the church understood to be so for nearly two millennia. The idea that the 'millions of years' idea can be harmonised through the simple device of extending the time in the Garden won't work for many reasons, the most obvious one being that we are told the total number of years that Adam had lived on earth at the time of his death. Consider, too, that the idea of dinosaurs living millions of years ago comes from the idea that their fossils are millions of years old. Yet those very same fossils show evidence of massive carnivory, violence, suffering, disease (lots of cancers in those fossil bones) and more. See also How does the Bible teach 6,000 years?
Jason C.
It is true that a young earth can be easily deduced from the text of Scripture.

It is also true that most Christian scholars and thinkers through the centuries affirmed the Scriptural support for a young earth.

Something else, however, that people need to consider but usually don't: What does it say about God if the opening chapters of Genesis are merely symbolic or allegorical but God nonetheless let his people carry on for thousands of years thinking that they were literal? And what does it say about God if He used long ages and evolutionary processes to create, yet let his people believe, for thousands of years, that the opposite was true?

It would mean one of two things: God is incompetent, or He's a deceiver. If God created us using long ages and evolution, but couldn't create us in such a way that we could understand those truths from the very beginning of our existence—straightforwardly and without symbolism—He's not the all-powerful God the Bible says He is. And if God created us using long ages and evolution and WAS able to make us understand those truths from the beginning but simply didn't—instead letting us go on blathering about 6 days and special creation and looking like fools—then He's a deceiver and not very nice.

So long-agers and theistic evolutionists, etc., need to ask themselves: Do I believe that God is incompetent? Do I believe that God is a deceiver? To me, the answer is a clear and emphatic, "No, God is neither," and the implications of that answer are also clear: God is powerful enough to not only create us, but to create us as intelligent beings capable of understanding truth in a straightforward manner, from the very beginning of our existence; and He loves us enough to not deceive us, and to not mislead us and make fools of us.
CMI editor
Indeed. One could add, that if it really was old, He let His beloved Son and the great Apostle Paul teach and believe error (see Jesus and the age of the earth, referenced at the bottom of the article). Far from creation ministries being dogmatic about an age issue for its own sake, it is insistence on biblical inerrancy, consistency and credibility that leads to the unavoidable deduction that the Bible teaches that the fossils cannot be billions of years old (otherwise death and suffering of sentient creatures, bloodshed and cruelty, would be part of the way He made the world all along, and not the consequence of Adam's sin).
Alf C.
The long age science narrative is so ingrained into the culture that many Christians have swallowed it. I see too many Christian apologists mock YEC's without engaging the science. In the process they compromise the texts. And what are we seeing now? Another battle to redefine innerancy.
Matthew C.
I have heard a similar comment from a pastor at the church I go to when I mentioned some creation materials I had. He said that we can't know how old the world is and it could have been created in days or it could involve long ages and that although creation organizations have good material about creation they can be too dogmatic about a young earth. *Sigh* I was disappointed to hear that line of reasoning.
john P.
The Bible says the earth will wax old in one of the Old Testament verses- I can't remember which one, but what Brett does not seem to realise 6000years is old-60 centuries. The only reason we call it a young earth is to contrast it with the mythology of millions and billions of non existent years. We could reclaim the title old but with the saturation point of the modern myth we would confuse people more than likely. If God leads Brett to find a way of teaching the world is 60 centuries and is old by biblical revelation, then all well and good. The Holy Spirit uses whatever gifts and talents God has given us.
If Brett still does not think the Bible suggests 6000 years, he can calculate this age by adding up the ages the patriarchs, prophets and others in the Old Testament were when their first son was born and he will most likely come up with the same answer as Bishop Ussher did.
A lot of history has happened in those 60 centuries, just think what's occurred in Australia in the past two centuries alone let alone the rest of the world
CMI editor
Good point that 60 centuries really is old; ancient, in fact and vastly so.

See also The earth: how old does it look? which addresses the common idea that the earth 'looks old'.
Eileen T.
I have a friend who believes this way too. For the life of me I can't understand why they do not want to believe in a young earth, especially when your ministry presents such excellent evidence for it. My personal thoughts are that when somebody is unwilling ( for whatever reason) to believe what is plainly stated in God's word, then the Lord lets us go down our chosen road, so that it then becomes a 'blindness' and we cannot see it! But when we accept and believe, because it is God's word, the Lord begins to further confirm that truth to us in all sorts of ways. That happened to me when I turned from my atheism fifty years ago ..... Eileen

Article comments are only available for 14 days from publication.