How old is the earth really?

4.5 billion years? 10,000 years? 6,000 years? These figures (and others) have been tossed around as the ‘real’ age of the earth. So, since they can’t all be true, how can we know how old the earth really is?

After all, none of us has been around since the beginning of time in order to know how long ago it was. So, we can only guess at what happened, and when—unless, of course, there was a record written down for us by someone who was there at the very beginning. Then we could study that record, and figure out how long ago ‘the beginning’ was.

Actually, we do have such a record (the 66 books of the Bible) which was given to us by someone who was there in the beginning—God. Now, the Bible doesn’t say, ‘God created the earth … years ago.’ But it does give us some clues. To figure out the age of the earth, you’ll need your Bible, a sheet of paper and a pencil (and a little help from us).

First, make 3 columns on your paper, labelled ‘Verse’, ‘Event’ and ‘Age of Earth (in years)’.

We’ll give you the first one:

Verse Event Age of Earth (in years)
Genesis 1:1–2:4a Creation (in six days) 0

Genesis 5 gives a list of men. From this, fill in your paper, adding to the earth’s age as you go:

Verse Event Age of Earth (in years)
Genesis 1:1–2:4a Creation (in six days) 0
Genesis 5:3 Adam 130, Seth born 130
Genesis 5:6 Seth 105, Enos born 235 [=130 + 105]

Now do the same for the list beginning in Genesis 11:10 (hint: Noah was 502 when Shem was born).

Genesis 11:10 Noah 502, Shem born 1558

This list finishes with Abraham, but be a bit careful here:

Genesis 11:26, 32; 12:4 Terah 130 (=205-75; not 70), Abraham born 2008

The next event is when Abraham leaves his homeland, Haran, and journeys to Canaan:

Genesis 12:4 Abraham leaves Haran (age 75) 2083

Abraham’s descendants (the Israelites) stayed in Canaan and Egypt until they were delivered from the Pharaoh by Moses:

Genesis 12:10, Exodus 12:40, Galatians 3:17 Israelites live in Egypt for 430 years 2513

The Israelites return to the Promised Land with Moses. They continued to live there, under the rule of Joshua, then the judges, then the kings. From the time they left Egypt until Solomon began to build the temple was 479 full years:

1 Kings 6:1 Solomon builds the Temple after reigning 3 full years 2992

King Solomon ruled for another 37 (40–3) years, and then the kingdom was divided between his sons:

1 Kings 11:42 Solomon dies 3029

The time from the kingdom’s division to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians was 388 years:

Ezekiel 4:4–6 Ruled by kings, Jerusalem destroyed 3417

This event is known to have occurred around 588 BC. Our current calendar assumes that Jesus was born in AD 1—2002 years ago (although He was probably born about 6 BC). Also, since the calendar system has no year zero, we can add the numbers to get the rough date of creation. That is, the age of the earth is: 2,002 + 588 + 3,417 = 6,007 (give or take a few years). Since the stars, our solar system, and all the other galaxies were created a few days after the earth, they’re around 6,007 years old, too!

Since God always tells the truth, we can trust His account of history (in His Word) to give us an accurate idea of how old the earth (and universe!) is.