How old do you think the earth is?
“The beginning of time, according to our chronology, happened at the start of the evening preceding the 23rd day of October, 4004 BC.” Boldly asserts James Ussher in his famed history, The Annals of the World, published in 1658. I don’t know if I would be that confident. For me the age of the earth is not a hill to die on, I know many Christians who believe the earth is young, about 6000 years old, and many others who believe the earth is 4.5 billion of years old. I don’t have a problem with people holding either viewpoint because I am not qualified to make such assertions, nor do I believe that anyone but God truly knows the answer to the earth’s exact age.
I tend to lean toward the young earth viewpoint for the same reasons that James Ussher held it and that is simply because the Bible itself doesn’t seem to talk about the earth being old. My biggest problem with old earth theories is that often you have to take the word of God to be figurative, or understand things that the text does not plainly affirm in order to draw those conclusions. To me it seems like a reactionary belief system. Scientists say the earth is billions of years old, and therefore some feel they have to reconcile that with the Bible. Many have done the same with evolution; because scientists believe that evolution is fact, Christians have invented theories like Theistic evolution (God created evolution) to try to reconcile their beliefs with current scientific discoveries. I think this is a bad way to interpret the Bible.
Plainly reading the Bible you wouldn’t get the impression that millions or billions of years had passed from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 1:31. In fact, I suppose if you asked a child how much time had passed they might boldly say “six days.” Jesus seemed to consider the Genesis account as literal when he argued that Adam and Eve were made in the beginning of creation Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6. Paul also references Genesis 3 and builds his argument on a literal Adam and Eve in 1Timmothy 2:13&14.
The Bible has always had it right, even when current science did not. It seems to me that people accept things as fact just because they are printed in books and prominent scientists or professors teach them but when scientists are completely honest they will often admit that they could be wrong. One example of this is a quote by the famous Atheist Robert Jastrow. He said, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Science always seems to be catching up with the Bible. For instance in the 15th century the prominent view by scientists was that the world was flat and was sitting on top of something. The Bible said that the earth was round, Isaiah 40:22 and that it sits in open space Job 26:7. The Bible also presupposes relativity and that time is a dimension, 2 Peter 3:8. These discoveries have only made it to the scientific world in the last few centuries, thus the quote by Robert Jastrow.
The thing that we must remember is that time itself is a created thing. According to the Bible, God created time for this specific creation and more specifically for man, Isaiah 45:18. The idea that things are old or young is really a nebulous concept in terms of relativity and divine forces that we do not understand. What type of force, pressure, heat and mass acceleration took place when God said, “Let there be light?” What seemed like a day on earth could have been million, even billions of years in comparison to a universe that was being stretched out many times the speed of light.
We want to limit the understanding of this to the size of our own intellect but this is foolish; Romans 11:33, Isaiah 55:8 & 9. The Bible tells us that God does not live inside of time as we do but rather lives outside of time observing the beginning from the end; Isaiah 57:15, Revelation 22:13. So I can't put an age on the earth nor do I know that it’s actually age doesn’t conflict with its relative age. I do not know how the earth needed to be created in order for it to sustain life but I suspect that that is what God has done. I am sure when we are standing before Jesus with front row seats to see the old earth has pass away and we have the privilege of observing Jesus creating a new heaven and a new earth, it will all make much more sense to us.
“Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
Job 38:3-7 NKJV