This article is from
Creation 10(3):47–49, June 1988

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Twelve tent pegs for creation
The Age of the Earth is the Age of Mankind

by David C.C. Watson

The doctrine of a six-day creation of the universe is stated in three crystal-clear passages, which may be likened to the ridge-poles (Genesis 1:1–2:4) and support poles (Exodus 20:11 and 31:17) of a marquee. If we accept these passages as historical fact, we find they make sense of a number of other verses where creation is mentioned incidentally. Contrariwise, if the evolution model is accepted, it makes these verses very hard to understand.

There are 12 Scripture verses which call the ‘Twelve Tent Pegs of Creation’. One or two of them alone may not carry much weight; but when all point in one direction, and no verses point in the opposite direction, they do strongly support the literal interpretation of Genesis.

Peg 1

Matthew 13:35: ‘I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.’

Comment: If man did not exist at the foundation of the world, this phrase would be meaningless. You don’t need to ‘hide’ things on a desert island where there are no people! This verse assumes that Adam and Eve were alive at the time, but God did not choose to reveal to them the truths of the Gospel.

Peg 2

Luke 11:50,51: ‘… . that the blood all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world. may be required of this generation … from the blood of Abel .’

Comment: If 4.5 billion years intervened between the foundation of the world and the creation of Adam, why did Christ not say ‘… from the beginning of the human race … ?’ Also, is it possible to believe that there were no murders on this planet for 100,000 years (or much longer, if you believe Leakey and Co.) with man as selfish, jealous and cruel as we know he has always been throughout recorded history? Clearly Christ affirmed that Abel was the first man to he murdered, and that not long after the foundation of the world.

Peg 3

Hebrews 9:26 ‘… else must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world …’

Comment: Much the same as for peg 2 above. The writer assumes that sin began practically at the same time as the foundation of the world - an idea utterly impossible to fit on to the evolution scenario. And we might well ask: what kind of God would He be who was willing to look on with benign complacency while men slaughtered and tortured, raped and robbed, for tens of thousands of years? Such were the gods of Epicurus, but not the God of the Bible. Once again, the short time-span makes sense.

Peg 4

Hebrews 4:3: ‘… the works were finished from the foundation of the world …’

Comment: If the work of creation was completed in six literal days, this verse fits the facts. But if, for example, birds were not created until 50 million years Before Present, and man not until one million BP, it would be nonsense to say that God’s work was ‘finished’ 4.5 billion years ago. On the evolutionary time-scale, when God founded the earth, His work had only just begun. Note also that in the next verse we are told that God rested (past tense) on day seven. This refutes the idea that day seven was of infinite length … continuing into the present era.

Peg 5

Mark 10:6: ‘… from the beginning of creation, He made them male and female.’

Comment: Same argument as in peg No.1, but even stronger. The words clearly imply that the beginning of the human race was contemporary with the beginning of all things. And of course the Lord’s whole argument against divorce rests on the assumption that the Genesis account is literally true—Eve being formed out of Adam’s side. ‘For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother …’ Incidentally, the oft-repeated error that Genesis chapter 1 contradicts Genesis chapter 2 is here refuted by Christ himself, since He quotes both chapters together.

Peg 6

Mark 13:19: ‘For in those days shall be tribulation such as there has not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now…’

Comment: In the Bible the word ‘tribulation’ is used only in connection with human suffering. Therefore this verse cannot refer to those ‘natural’ disasters such as volcanic eruption, floods, etc., which are alleged to have occurred on this planet millions of years before the arrival of man. Once again, the assumption is that human history began at the same time as world history, and that all human suffering (including the cold of winter, verse 18) ultimately is due to human sin, which brought God’s curse upon nature.

Peg 7

Romans 1:20: ‘Ever since the world began, God’s invisible attributes have been visible to the eye of reason’ (New English Bible).

Comment: Where was the eye of reason before man appeared? In the dinosaur or trilobite? If Adam was created on day six, only two days after the sun, moon and stars, Paul’s words are easily intelligible. But according to evolution there were no eyes of any kind for billions of years after the universe ‘began’. The simple and obvious meaning is that man’s eye of reason appeared simultaneously with the rest of the kosmos; that man’s perception of God’s power and glory has been a fact ever since the sixth day.

Peg 8

Luke 1:70: ‘… as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began …’

Peg 9

Acts 3:21: ‘… the restoration of all things, of which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets who have been since the world began.’

Comment: The emphasized phrase is translated ‘long ago’ by the New International Version, but probably the older translators were right because the Greek word aion is certainly used of eternity forwards (eternal life, eternal punishment, etc.), so it is reasonable to expect it to be used of the totality of measured time backwards too. The word ‘prophet’ is used of Abraham (Genesis 20:7) and Enoch (Jude 14), so we may infer that Adam was the first prophet and Genesis 5 and 11 record the names of his spiritual successors. The same word aion is used in Hebrews 1:2 for ‘worlds’ or ‘universe’.

Peg 10

John 9:32: Since the world began it was never heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.’

Comment: Once again, the Authorized Version and Revised Version are much closer to the Greek than the New International Version (simply ‘never’), and imply that human history was short enough for that miracle to have been ‘heard of’ if such a thing had ever happened.

Peg 11

Deuteronomy 4:32,33: ‘For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there has been any such thing as this great thing is, or has been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of fire, as you have heard …?’

Comment: This rhetorical question of Moses does not determine the age of the earth, but it gives a very good clue as to the shortness of man’s history upon it.

Consider: suppose God created man 100,000 years ago (the lowest figure allowed by anthropologists), and suppose he had spread all over the globe by the time of Moses (1400 BC), how could the Israelites possibly know what had happened tens of thousands of years before and tens of thousands of miles away? The whole point of this great chapter is to impress upon the Jews their unique privilege in being chosen by God for His revelation . but, for all they knew, He might have done far greater wonders for the Australian Aborigines in earlier ages, unless the Bible narrative is correct in placing the Flood not more than 2000 years before Moses, and the spread of mankind from Babel around 2500 BC.

Moses, you will remember, had received the best education available in the world of his day, and must have known thousands more facts than we do about ancient history. He would never have asked such a question unless he knew very well that the answer was a resounding NO! The gist of his argument is: ‘I have studied the history of the whole human race since Adam, and I know that no nation has had a parallel experience of God …’. It fits the young earth model; it would be nonsensical if evolution were true.

Peg 12

Proverbs 8:29-31: ‘… when He marked out the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him . rejoicing in His habitable earth; and my delight was with the sons of men.’

Comment: As we learn in grammar, a ‘when … then’ clause is used to denote exact contemporaneity (‘when the clock strikes, then it will be precisely midnight’). So in this passage the writer clearly sees two events happening together: that is, the founding of the earth, and wisdom’s (or perhaps the Messiah’s) fellowship with people. Not the slightest hint of a millions-of-years gap, or ever a few. The whole passage chimes in with Genesis One.


In the 1600s the greatest English theologian was John Pearson, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. In his renowned Exposition of the Creed he wrote:

‘It remaineth, then, that we stedfastly believe not only that "the heavens and the earth and all the host of them" were made … but also that all things were created by the hand of God in the same manner and at the same time as are delivered unto us in the books of Moses by the Spirit of God, and so acknowledge no long existence of the creature … not more than six, or at farthest seven, thousand years.’ 1

This is echoed today by James Barr, Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University: ‘… the Old Testament is clear in placing the date of creation somewhere within the period 5000- 4000 BC.’ 2

In the light of these expert opinions we may safely disregard the devious attempts of other writers to ‘torture texts to make them confess the creed of science’ (T.H. Huxley). Only the traditional interpretation makes sense of the Bible.


  1. Quoted by S.R. Driver. Commentary on Genesis (1907), p. xxviii. Return to text
  2. Escaping from Fundamentalism (1984) p.131. Return to text