Evidence for an old earth?
Published: 3 August 2014 (GMT+10)
SB, United States, writes in:
First, I want you to know that I do know in whom I have believed, and I know that Jesus IS the only Son of God, and is part of the Trinity. And I DON’T believe in even the possibility of evolution no matter how old the earth is! HOWEVER! There is more than ample evidence that the earth is NOT 6000 years old, besides that fact, that there is over 5000 yrs of written Chinese history! Primarily though, there is the existence of the petrified bones of dinosaurs along with their stomach contents; which clearly demonstrates that a Tyrannosaur never ate a hominid of ANY SORT. I can agree that God probably did create the universe with the appearance of great age to fool the foolish. HOWEVER, if I am also to believe that God is NOT a liar, then I CANNOT believe God created evidence like the bones of animals which clearly never existed alongside man without becoming a liar in the process. There just HAS to be some other way of interpreting the Bible when it comes to the age of the earth.
Lita Cosner, CMI–US, responds:
Thanks for writing in. First, before you even read farther in this response, I would ask you to read a couple articles that we have written on creation.com:
Now, if you read those articles, you know why we argue that 1) the Bible teaches that the earth is 6,000 years old, and 2) any view that holds to millions of years of history puts death before sin and thus cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.
But let me address your arguments, and I think after we look at them you’ll see that they are rather weak, and really no reason to doubt the biblical account.
First, you argue that there are over 5,000 years of written Chinese history. But the first Chinese writing is on oracle bones dated to 1200 BC. So by definition there can be no written history of China before that. So the writing itself is well within what would be allowable in a biblical worldview, and it was common to inflate dates to make the society seem more ancient than it really was. But there is evidence that the earliest Chinese characters actually reflect a knowledge of the same history that Genesis reveals. See Chinese characters and Genesis.
Second, you note that dinosaurs have been found with stomach contents preserved. Such preservation, by the way, indicates they were buried so rapidly that they could not be affected by predation or the normal decay process. Now, there is a logical fallacy involved in your argument. We don’t know whether dinosaurs ate humans–we just have never found one that had a human as its last meal that we can tell. And even if dinosaurs didn’t eat humans, that does not mean they did not live alongside them. But we do have written records and artwork depicting dragons, which sound a lot like what we call dinosaurs. See Bishop Bell’s brass behemoths and Dragons: animals not apparitions, for example. And blood vessels, blood cells, and even DNA in dinosaur fossils makes it clear that these cannot be millions of years old. See the relevant category at Dinosaur questions and answers.
I absolutely agree with you that God is not a liar. But if He created the earth with the appearance of great age [i.e. on the order of billions of years— not the same as God creating mature plants, animals, and ecosystems on earth during Creation week], then He would be a liar. And if He tells us the earth is 6,000 years old when it isn’t, then He would be a liar as well. So what is the alternative? I believe the best explanation is just as the Bible explains. God created everything in the universe during 6 normal-length days 6,000 years ago, as Scripture tells us. The Flood, a tremendously destructive global event that lasted about a year from start to finish, reshaped the earth’s surface. It picked up tons and tons of sediments as the floodwaters rapidly eroded the surface, and then it was laid down again rapidly, preserving whatever plants and animals happened to be laid down along with it. When the water drained off the continents, it caused canyons and other geological features that we see today. See Geology questions and answers for more information.
I hope this answer is helpful.
I understand how the calculation to reach 6000 years is made. But the first reference CMI makes for attempting the calculation is Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). It is not till the modern scientific age that the calculation has been attempted. It was clearly not an issue for Scripture's writers and we are risking abusing scripture by doing things that the Lord has not commanded.
Stephen, the following information comes from Dr Jonathan Sarfati's book Refuting Compromise (and sources are cited there):
Josephus (1st century AD) had a heading in Antiquities of the Jews saying "Containing the interval of three thousand eight hundred and thirty three years from the Creation to the Death of Isaac".
Origen (182-251) wrote: "After these statements, Celsus, from a secret desire to cast discredit upon the Mosaic account of creation, which teaches that the earth is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that, while concealing his wish, intimates his agreement with those who hold that the world is uncreated."
Augustine (354-430) wote: "Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race. ... They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed.
What risks abusing Scripture is subordinating it (inadvertently or otherwise) to the trends of modern science, or anything else, for that matter.
Debates about the age of the earth are based on modern scientific curiosity and are not part of biblical truth. Nowhere does the bible advise us on methods to calculate the age of the earth or instruct us to try, the Prophets never did such a calculation, Jesus didn't, neither did the Apostles. It is neither scriptural nor clever to take God's word and reconstruct it to satisfy our curiosity. I've even heard ministers suggest that believing in a 6000 year old earth was a sign of loyalty to God. How can the calculations of a Catholic Bishop without any "Thus saith the Lord" to support him get such prominence. The Bible does not instruct us to calculate the age of the earth and doing so risks the condemnation of Rev 22:18. If you want to obey God follow his word.
Stephen, if you read many of our articles on creation.com, you will see that the Bible does teach us that God created over 6 normal-length days, and other chronological details throughout Scripture show us that this was only around 6,000 years ago, and there is no way to fit a billions-of-years timeframe into Scripture see Did God create over billions of years?
Regarding 'age', I believe we mortals complicate issues so easily. Assume God created the Swiss Alps in a few seconds and a man in an hour, then looking back from our perspective, we judge the age of the Alps and the man on today's calculated time scales of events. Because the Alps are no longer being created, any observed growth today suggests they took eons to form. Wrong! Basically we have a preconceived idea of the time necessary for things to develop or mature. God is not bound by time, nor is He able to deceive us, as He is the TRUTH. He in fact created it in a deliberate time frame (6 days) that He chose. There was never any intention to deceive man, rather man's wisdom produced 'the ages' that suited an agenda; to disprove creation. We cannot fit God into a box made of materials that are limited to our own 'space time' dimension.
Naturalists/Evolutionists see an inhabited planet with a multitude of plant and animal kinds, in a solar system of other planets, in a universe full of galaxies. They have first accepted the proposition that it is possible for all these things to come into existence spontaneously through long ages of time and chance. Therefore, they say that the world has an appearance of great age. They do not consider that there is no good evidence, certainly no proof, that an inhabited planet can self-generate. They do not consider that God, who exists outside of time and space, could create time and space themselves, and a finished work within this frame, just as you or I could stretch a canvas and create a two dimensional painting from outside that canvas. If we were painting a man, we could paint him any age we liked, but it would not change the age of the painting. It seems to always come back to the matter of postulates, those things we initially decide to accept or reject as the basis for further thought. People rarely re-examine their accepted postulates, but instead are shaped by them.
The idea that the earth is very old doesn't bother me in my belief that God created the earth in 6 regular 24 hour days. My reasoning stems from the Bible account of creation. In the beginning God created the earth. No time line was attached to that statement. It says that the earth was void and without form. Note it says it "was". That indicates to me that He took a sphere out in space previously created and used it when He chose to began the 6 day process of creating the suitable environment that was needed to sustain human life that exists today. The earth with out form as a foundation for the creation period recorded in Genesis. I believe is the only timeline given to man for his understanding. It was given that way because that is all man needs to know and he is to live by faith. We must remember that time was created by God our creator who is everlasting. So simple if we just let go and let God. We confound ourselves by over analysis and let our human intellect get in the way of what should be an open and shut case if we truly believe. We need to listen when we are told to have a "childlike faith".
England - good comments and let me thank all for the efforts made to ensuring that people are aware of these things. I am a Christian and in the past believed in the 7 day creato on but now I no longer believe in that, please find below some reasons why I don't: Adam and Eve were made fully mature, able and presented to us as grown adults and it's hard to establish their age. The movement of tactonic plates.
The use of the Hebrew word for day and how it's used elsewhere in the bible. We have now many historical records dating hundreds of thousands of years not to mention millions for some. In conclusion: both theories have raise more questions as you study them further but We certainly wouldn't be where we are today if the earth is about 6000 which still contradicts the actual age of the hearth if one looks at the biblical timelines.
I think that each of these is an astonishingly weak reason to abandon belief in biblical creation. 1. It is not hard at all to establish Adam's age; he was created on Day 6, and lived for 930 years. 2. Some geological models of Noah's Flood include much faster tectonic movements. 3. The use of the word for 'day' is a problem for old-earth belief, not young-earth belief, because it clearly indicates a normal-length day. 4. We don't have a single reliable record dating back ten thousand years, let alone a million.
I invite you to search creation.com for the many articles we have on these topics.
Dear brother SB (let me call you like this as children of the same God-Father) I feel like you in your presentation of yourself, except for your conclusion of an old age earth. I believed like you in the past but I had to refute my belief after so much CMI reading. After all, could God allow that His word - which is God's revelation to us - would transmit us wrong information? We can build on the Bible's trueness; if only six days of God's activity are reported plus a day of rest, be it! How would our faith be called as such? (Hebr. 11:3). May God bless you.
Philip R wrote:
"....if God created an artificial appearance of age in a young Earth but told us it was young, He is not lying."
I feel that this whole issue, as expressed by several people here, all (as I agree with Lita Cosner) fall into the fallacy of confusing age with maturity. Philip's statement is, I'm afraid to say, not a solution to that problem, but only succeeds in turning God into a moral "India rubber man", tying Him in legalistic moral knots.
Surely trying to give God the room to create a world which only appears to be of great age, while allowing Him to not be tricking us into believing it's not because He tells us it is young, only fortifies the error of agreeing that it somehow truly DOES appear old, which gives undue verification to those who have adopted an Evolutionary view on the reason why it appears to them to be old, that very reason being contrary, & in fact often intensely hostile, to a Biblical Creationist view.
In short, this debate itself is only pandering to our opponents by giving tacit agreement to one of the most diametric disagreements in the wider Creation/Evolution debate.
If you think the world looks old, then you automatically allow the distinct possibility that it is.
Along with the concept of age vs maturity, I think some people are also arguing about the concept of liar vs misleading.
When the author is talking about 'age', I would put 'evolutionary age' - as that is what he means by the appearance of age, something that would lead us to think of evolutionary time instead of biblical time. I personally like "starlight and time" as a good explanation of why some things might appear older than they are.
I don't know if God would have created mature trees with rings or not... would a new tree having rings be misleading? Or are they essential to the proper functioning and structure of a tree? (So if God created without them, they would not be proper trees)... And if tree-rings was misleading, is that the same as lying?... Or do we only rely on what God says "This tree was made four days ago", or what we see in the tree-rings (oh look 20 "years" of tree rings)... are the tree rings a lie, or simply misleading, and a false interpretation and we should rely on what God actually said?
So far, I have seen nothing in the "evolutionary evidences" that cause me to interpret the world in any other way than what God has said... It is funny, if the Bible got one detail wrong, it would be called a lie and forgotten about.... but if Evolutionary theory gets anything wrong it is adapted, adjusted and believed to be stronger for it! Talk about a double standard on truth! For me God's word still stands, and anything coming from man has to fit within what it says or it is not truth. By doing this, I have kept a firm foundation and understanding of the world.
At the time of the flood "The fountains of the deep were opened up". With the included volcanic eruptions, how much might this have affected the present appearance of age. In any case can anyone say what a young earth would look like.
What we can do is look at the world today and see if it matches what we would expect from a billions-of-years-old world, or a relatively young world. See for instance The age of the earth.
On the discussion about age vs. maturity, I agree that they are two different concepts, although not ones that we are used to separating. I have been making this distinction for years, and it's a distinction that I don't think CMI has talked about enough.
However, although I fully agree with Lita's main points, I am going to quibble with Lita's comment that if God "created the earth with the appearance of great age ... then He would be a liar." If God created the Earth only 6,000 years ago and did, hypothetically, include an appearance of things having aged (scars, degeneration, etc.), that didn't actually occur, but told us that He created only 6,000 years ago, then, in my opinion, He has not lied. Lita's statement is correct if He didn't tell us the age (even implicitly). To put it another way, if the Earth is young and He told us it is young, He is not a liar even if He included some indications that it was older.
This may seem a bit contrived, and in God's case it probably is, as I can't think of a good reason for God doing what I've described. But here is an analogy. In recent decades old wooden furniture has become so popular that some people have taken to artificially "aging" brand-new furniture. If this is deceptively sold as old furniture, the sellers are lying. But if it's sold as new-but-artificially-aged furniture (so there is no deception), then there is no lie.
Similarly, if God created an artificial appearance of age in a young Earth but told us it was young, He is not lying.
As Jim G. points out, there is confusion here over 'age' vs 'maturity'. The following may be helpful for some. A 'mature' creation is a functioning creation, that's all it means. Whether we, today, typically find that level of functionality after some years of existence is not the point. Adam was a fully functioning man (i.e. 'mature'), but because he was not also 'aged' his body would not bear any physical signs that it had EXISTED for years besides being mature. Similarly, in the garden of Eden, a mature but un-aged tree would be a tree producing fruit, but without tree rings (i.e. mature, but without signs that it had physically existed for years). 'Age' and 'maturity' are two different things. We need not confuse Adam being a grown man with insisting that Adam was therefore, say, 30 years old, or that God is a liar. 'Created mature' does not make God a liar, but signs of existence for billions of years would.
Since the time of creation, we find that maturity comes with age (e.g. all trees have tree rings). Because God formed a mature creation WITHOUT age, nature as we see it should be distinctly MISSING all the physical signs as if it has existed for billions of years, even though it does show signs of being fully functioning 6,000 years ago. This is what we mean by mature but not aged, and it is strong evidence for biblical history.
- Short-period comets can't have 'aged' billions of years
- Thermal activity in solar system bodies shows a lack of age of planets
- Continental erosion rates shows earth's land isn't aged billions of years
- Moon recession rate from the earth shows the earth-moon system has not aged billions of years
For evidences that we're told imply billions of years (e.g. radiometric dating), see other articles on this site.
What does an old Earth look like? I'm not sure that I ever looked @ things as taking millions of years (maybe thousands) but what I do know is now I look @ them and think wow this must have been a major catastrophic event & piece it together, I remember seeing a lot of big rocks on the beach once, well worn from the waves, I looked up & the cliff was still shiny from where these rocks had broken off, obviously it wasn't that long ago but it's typical of a scene tv would say took millions of years, understanding & perspective definitely come into it. Keep up the great work CMI
This will probably not meet your publishing guidelines, but I would like your author to seriously consider what I have written.
Again I disagree with you, especially your statement in your answer which says, "And so in many ways the creation was already mature on Day 6, but that's different from saying that it looks old." It may be different in the words used, but it is not different in fact; only in degree. The two terms are not synonymous; but they also are not disconnected. Fact; Adam appeared to be mature. Fact; all people who appear mature have the appearance of age. Therefore a mature Adam had the appearance of age.
Two things are wrong with your answer. The attempt to distinguish between age and maturity is a red herring here, and the statement that God would be a liar if creation showed the appearance of age is not true and is a restriction that you place on scripture that is neither required nor implied by what is written. Of course, the creation showed the appearance of age on Day 7. That is a fact. A fruit tree does not produce fruit as soon as the a seed is planted and a human does not walk, talk, and garden, until they are several years old. We can debate about how old, but whether 5, 10, or 40 years; Adam had the appearance of age, and so did Eve, so did every living thing that was created. All mature humans have the appearance of age, including Adam and Eve. I doubt you could find anyone who would look at a mature human and say they do not have the appearance of age. Why introduce concepts and statements that the Bible does not require and which any reasoning person will reject? The Bible mentions neither age nor maturity with respect to Adam. Why should we? And then try to differentiate between them?
George, I think you are mixing up the two terms. It normally takes people a certain amount of years to mature. However, God creating a mature Adam doesn't mean that He was creating him with an appearance of age (i.e. his mature body would not have any signs implying that it had existed for 20 years). The same for mature trees bearing fruit, etc.
But in regard to the age of the earth, we aren't talking about an appearance of decades or even hundreds of years, but the appearance of billions of years, complete with fossilized creatures in the rocks that were supposedly laid down during long epochs of geological history. Surely you can see the problem if that were the case!
Great article! From reading the comments, the common theme seems to be the confusion over 'age' and 'maturity'. I think an in-depth article on this topic would be very beneficial for a couple of reasons. First, the argument that God would be a liar if he had made the universe to look like it was billions of years old evoked strong negative emotions from readers due to a lack of understanding of the difference between 'age' and 'maturity.' Because of that misunderstanding, you were essentially, in their minds anyway, calling God a liar. The second reason is that if you don't understand this difference, you will probably have a hard time refuting those who believe in an old earth because you aren't sure of your foundation, i.e. you're not sure what the world "looked like" before the fall based on what the Bible does tell us. Obviously, we can't grasp what the perfect work was like before sin, but we can know some things. For example, canyons/valleys and sedimentary layers are hailed by old earth believers as evidence of great age. So would there have been canyons/valleys and sediment layers pre-Fall? I think there would have been from when the land rose out of the waters on day 3. As another example, what are the ramifications if God created starlight in transit with information about stars that don't really exist. What would that say about God? We can't know for sure what the world looked like, but we can make some deductions based on what the Bible tells us and what we can observe from science. I think exploring these topics would be beneficial.
I thank God for the work of CMI. Q: Is it a logical fallacy to assert God "would be a liar" if He created the earth with an appearance of age? God created Adam and Eve as fully grown when one day old. Wine (aged or not) was created in an instant by Jesus. If something is created "aged" instantly that does not mean deception is involved. Instead, could Divine acceleration account for some (not all) of what we see in earth's foundations? (I totally agree about the FLood's resurfacing, btw done in real time.) When we say earth was created in 6 days, aren't we assuming this "aging" process was compacted? I am uncomfortable with God being called a "liar" if such and such is not done a certain way to suit our perceptions.
Thank you again for all your work, Lita and that of CMI. I cannot tell you how often and how much I have been blessed by this ministry.
Sincerely, Rose McGinty
BUT, it seems that God did create Adam and Eve to appear at least mature--when they were not even a day old! Adam could already name the animals. No baby could do that! So there had to be an appearance of age in every living thing that God created; everything had to be created able to look after themselves. God is not a liar--in fact, He cannot lie, Titus 1:2. But the Bible only tells us how old Adam was when he died--it does not tell us how old he appeared to be when he was created. So--to that extent--God cannot be called a liar, even if living things appeared older than they were.
Age and maturity are distinct concepts. On Day 6, Adam was an adult (maturity) but only hours old (age). See The parable of the candle.
Statements like "..........but if He created the earth with the appearance of great age, then He would be a liar." What does it mean to say "created the earth with the appearance of great age".? (Not a rhetorical question.) Wasn't Adam created with the " appearance of age"? He might not have had callouses on day 7 from working in the garden; but I am pretty sure that if had seen him we would not have said he appears to have been born yesterday.
What I meant was, if God had created the world with geological layers that look like they've been laid down over billions of years, and if God made it look like humans evolved from hominid ancestors, etc., that would make God a liar. What you are talking about is the idea that God created a mature, fully functioning world. Adam was a full-grown man on Day 6, walking in a garden with trees that were already producing fruit. And so in many ways the creation was already mature on Day 6, but that's different from saying that it looks old. See Did God create over billions of years? and The parable of the candle.
I believe in a young earth and commend the excellent work at CMI. A small point: you say, "But if He created the earth with the appearance of great age, then He would be a liar." What then the miracle of water to mature wine? Indeed any miracle. Miracles, it appears, affect natural data, irrespective. However, as you then go on to say, the Bible then gives the age of earth from Adam. What should be irrefutable, is the Genesis Sabbath Commandment. But if we elasticate one commandment beyond its limits, the rest become equally erroneous. Sadly too many Christians dismiss Sinai to follow Darwin, a person who did not in the end believe in the Judaeo-Christian God, who said that creation and the Flood were "erroneous": "a damnable religion." Too many Christians need to wakeup to the fact, they serve two masters, and one, the pied piper of a powerful delusion.
Like many people who wrote in, you seem to be confusing the concepts of 'age' and 'maturity'. See See Did God create over billions of years? and The parable of the candle for some reasons why a mature, fully-functioning creation on Day 6 is not a problem, but a creation that looks like it existed for billions of years on Day 6 would be a huge problem.
"I absolutely agree with you that God is not a liar. But if He created the earth with the appearance of great age, then He would be a liar."..................... I don't think if something is created with the appearances of age in any way shape or form makes anyone a liar. It takes intention to lie and God had no intention to lie for we know this He gave us His Word so there would be no confusion. So you could say "ah I see what you did there" Many of things are created with appearances of different things but they still are what they are.
Adam and eve were not infants in the beginning of their creation but still were only age zero does that make God a liar , Lord forbid. I could make an replica of a 1957 Chevy but that wouldn't be a lie either. I think what has happened here is our definition of the terns "appearance of great age" and would agree like also said in the article that the flood has effected the way we perceive the earth and the fall of man as well.
Dear SB USA, I agree on that there is a lot of so-"called "evidence" which "proves" that "evolution is A FACT" and therefore there is "no God".The text books are full of this, but they are very careful not to mention any evidence that might point towards Creation.
I am a Bible believing Christian and a Creationist. Is there any evidence to support Creation? Yes, I believe there is - but you find it in the "approved" text books. Please read through the articles on this website and you will find a great deal of evidence. Can I also suggest you try reading books by Henry Morris. I believe that The LORD has left a lot of evidence of His Hand at work in Creation.
I pray that this is of some help to you.
In Christ, Steve T.
Steve, some good thoughts here, but it is not about who has what evidence, but how the evidence is interpreted. See The knockout punch syndrome.
Indeed the only explanation for the fossils is the massive year long global catastrophe known as Noah's Flood (described in Genesis Chapters 6 to 8), and its aftermath. Such a catastrophe with the waters of the great deep sprouting up, massive rain, volcanism, unheard of tsunamis spreading across the planet at massive speeds, the breakup of the supercontinent to those we have today, all trace of antidiluvian civilisation wiped out-that's the explanation of the fossils. But there are those who are unwilling to contemplate this because it is a reminder of God's judgement on out of control sin,violence and wickedness-we are accountable to our Creator.
Just ask him for evidence that it is old. The assumptions will quickly surface.
I would like to ask 'S': If today, we were to check the stomach contents of all the Crocodiles in Australia & found none contained human remains, would that prove that crocodiles have never eaten humans?