Think about it Thursday: A Young Earth?

Think about it ThursdayLast week, I posted a review of It Couldn’t Just Happen by Lawrence O. Richards. Richards raised a few issues in his chapter entitled, What the Bible Teaches about Creation.

Richards makes the statement that, “there is nothing in the Bible to suggest how long ago creation might have taken place! The Bible tells us that God did create. But the Bible does not state when.”

He goes on to mention the gap theory, the day age theory, and the revelatory-day theory.

Although I have received some good teaching that made me cautious about such a statement, I didn’t want to be adamant about the point without consulting an expert.

Fortunately, I have a friend named Ian Juby who is a creation scientist, and who is accustomed to defending the truth of creation. So I asked him:

Is there anything in the Bible or science to suggest how long ago the earth was created?

Yes! In fact we have a very specific timeline that can certainly get us within a few hundred years of the time of Creation. If we’re going to think, we should ask some questions like, “Why did God put the genealogies of Jesus in the gospels?”

There are several reasons God did this, including to show that Jesus was a descendant of King David (thus fulfilling one of the prophecies of Christ), but you’ll also notice the genealogies go right back to Adam and Eve.  Adam and Eve were created during the Creation week, so now we have a timeline of who was born to whom, and when, and we can add up all the years to get an approximate age of the earth.

There was an Anglican Archbishop named James Ussher who did precisely this addition, and concluded that creation was about 4004 BC, or roughly 6,000 years ago. There are a few people listed in the genealogies for which we are missing crucial information (like when they were born, or how old they were when they had their child also listed in the genealogies), but obviously we can get pretty close to the correct date – certainly within a few hundred years.

We can know the age of the earth based upon the Bible.  The problem is, many scientists claim that they can prove the earth is billions of years old. In fact, they cannot prove such a thing because science is based upon observation, repeatability and predictability. The only one who was there to observe the earth coming into existence was God, who testifies in His word that He made the earth about 6,000 years ago.

Richards mentions the geneologies. He says this:

“The genalogy lists kept by the Hebrew people do not list every ancestor. They often only list important ancestors. And the word ‘son’ in genealogies simply means descendant. The ‘son’ might be a grandson or even a great-great-great grandson! So there is really no way to calculate the date of creation from genealogy lists in the Bible.”

Is he suggesting then that humans have been around for billions of years and that there is billions of years of missing genealogy? Just how much time is he trying to add to the genealogy? And does he not think Ussher was aware of this? Ussher was well aware of this, being expert in multiple disciplines.

Several well-meaning people have tried to make billions of years of history fit into the Bible. Where could you put billions of years when the Bible leaves no room between the time of Adam and Eve, and Jesus? These people have come up with a couple of ideas, but let’s judge the Bible with the Bible, to see what ideas work and what ideas do not work.

Some think that because a day in the Bible can mean something other than a 24 hour period, that the days of the Creation week were not literal days. It’s quite true that the word “day” can mean something other than a literal day. However, I believe God went out of His way to emphasize to us that these were literal days.  For example, some people will quote from 2 Peter 3:8:

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (KJV)

So were the days of the Genesis Creation week perhaps 1,000 years each instead of one day?  No, because Adam was created on day six (Genesis 1:24-28), but He lived through day 7, and died only 930 years old (Genesis 5:5). If the days were thousand year long days, he should have been over a thousand years old.

So some have suggested that there is perhaps a “gap” of time in between verses 1 and 2 in the first book of Genesis.  While the language in verse 2 is very interesting (it seems to imply judgment), there is no room for a time gap of billions of years. First, let’s read the first three verses:

Genesis 1:1-3

1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

3And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

We are reading an English translation of the original Bible, which was written in Hebrew. Different languages have different contexts and tenses which give the words meaning. For example, the English word mean. Imagine trying to explain what the word “mean” means to someone who does not speak English! It can mean the understanding of a word, or it can mean mean like a bully, or it can mean an average!  You have to hear the word in context in order to understand its meaning.  :)

It’s the same with Hebrew – you must look at the original language to understand the words. Verse one is what is called a wow-consecutive (pronounced vov-consecutive), verse two is a wow-conjunctive, verse three is a wow-consecutive.

The context of the sentences shows that verse two actually connects verses 1 and 3.  To explain it, I will re-write the verse with context attached to it by the use of parentheses:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

There is no time gap between verses 1 and 2, because verse 2 connects verses 1 and 3!

So is it really important to believe in a young earth?

I must first say that I do not question somebody’s Christianity because they believe in an old earth. Most people have just never thought about the consequences of an old earth belief.  In fact, the old earth belief is a relatively new idea, concocted only in the past couple hundred years, specifically driven by people wanting to discredit the Biblical account of History and Creation.

So we should not then try and fit into the Bible, stories that were specifically designed to discredit the Bible.

It is important to believe in a young earth for one main reason: Jesus believed it.  Jesus spoke of Creation, and Adam and Eve as real people, at the beginning of time (Mark 10:6, Matthew 19:4).  If Jesus was wrong about Adam and Eve being at the beginning, then He was wrong, or a liar, and in either case, He could not be God. If He was just a man, then there is no point living your life for Him.  You would be just as well off to follow Buddha.

A second reason to believe in a young earth is because it is the truth. If Jesus was God, then He has given us some very important information about the age of the earth. Could He be right, 2,000 years ago, and the modern “scientists” of today be horribly, horribly wrong? Absolutely. I actually spent the first five parts of my Complete Creation video series just on the history of the idea of an old earth, an idea invented to explain away the overwhelming evidence for the world-wide flood of Noah. Instead of the rock layers and fossils around the world being profound evidence of God’s judgment, this evidence is explained away with billions of years of evolutionary time. Even the very methods used to give an age to a rock are based on untestable assumptions and circular reasoning.  When the dating methods are tested, they fail miserably!

Ian has two “CrEvo” Rants on the subject of dating methods, one on rock dating methods:

and one on Carbon 14 dating:

Thanks, Ian, for joining us. Ian will join us again in two weeks for another edition of Think about it Thursday. Feel free leave your comments or questions for our further discussion.

- Carey Clark

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  1. Andy Gulick says

    Ian Juby is one of my favorite creation presenters. I have a messianic couple that thinks that there is a gap between v. 1 and v. 2 that I have tried to convince that the gap theory was created by a preacher named Richard Chaulmers because he thought that it was proven by scientists that the earth was old and he had to somehow show that the Bible supported their findings. I even wrote a 3 – 4 page rebuttal of it and gave it to them. They acknowledged that I did a lot of work but, came back with but that’s not what the hebrew says … claiming that the word ‘was’ was put there in the place of, ‘became.’ I was told that I have been ‘too indoctrinated’ to accept that the Bible says that the earth was ‘flooded’ twice but that, we would have to ‘agree to disagree.’ I go to their house every Friday evening to read the torah, including New testament scripture since they are messianic. I believe that they are the ones that are ‘too indoctrinated’ to believe that there was one flood and the dinosaurs we find were buried in the flood of Noah and not from ‘Satan’s flood’ before man was created. To me, their beliefs about that seem really far fetched, but I don’t seem to be able to change their minds and they are Christians.


    • says

      I think for the sake of unity, it’s important to be able to agree on the essentials. Belief in a young earth is important, as Ian has said, but disagreement on this point shouldn’t mean we can’t fellowship on the basis of those points we do agree on.