How Old is Earth?


Old Earth Versus Young Earth Creation

Christians who espouse the Old Earth Creation (OEC) view frequently make the point that the word “day” (the Hebrew word yom) can have a variety of meanings such as, “in grandfather’s day” or “day of the Lord” or “daytime as opposed to nighttime”, or “a regular 24-hour day”. So how do we know what the word “day” in Genesis 1 means?  The key to understanding “day” is its context. In the Old Testament, whenever the word “day” is used with a number or with “morning” or “evening”, it always means a 24-hour day. This is what we have in Genesis 1. Each use of the word “day” is accompanied by a number and a reference to morning and evening. Therefore, the context of “day” in Genesis 1 points to a regular 24-hour day.

Used with permission from Answers in Genesis

Context helps us to interpret words that have multiple meanings. When God had Joshua march his army around Jericho for 6 days (Joshua 6:3) no one would ever consider that the 6 days were to be interpreted as 6,000 years. Likewise, the Bible says that Jonah was in the fish for 3 days and 3 nights (Jonah 1:17). But no one would consider it to mean 3,000 years or 3 ” long ages.” So does the word “day” Genesis 1 mean a regular day or a long period?

Too often people take 2 Peter 3:8 out of its context, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The latter half of the verse helps us understand that God is not confined by time. This verse is not defining a day as equaling a thousand years; it is saying God is outside of time. Interestingly, in verse 5 (of the same chapter) Peter speaks of the creation, “by the word of God . . . the Earth was formed” and in verse 6 he speaks of The Flood, “. . . the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” So while OEC Christians use 2 Peter 3:8 to suggest Earth is old, the verses just preceding this verse clearly refer to a world destructive flood (inferring worldwide) and God “speaking” the creation into existence (inferring a sudden creation).

Interpreting “day” in Genesis 1 as long periods of time or a thousand years also breaks down when we look at what was created on Day 3 & 4. On Day 3 God created seas, dry land and vegetation–plants and trees bearing fruit (Genesis 1:6-13). Then on the fourth day God created the sun, moon and stars (Genesis 1:14-19). If the days were to be interpreted as a thousand years or long ages of time, the vegetation would be without the sun and would simply not survive to the next long age. Day age theories don’t work. Another point to keep in mind here is that many people try to make Genesis 1 fit into the Big Bang theory — it does not. Notice that the sun, moon and stars appear on Day 4, which evolutionists would place well before the origin of Earth (Earth was created on Day 1, according to Genesis 1). That is a huge contradiction for Christians who try to harmonize the Big Bang with Genesis 1.

Many Christians take the stand that the scientific evidence is overwhelming for an old Earth, which therefore requires a nonliteral view of Genesis 1-11. However, I submit that these OEC Christians are fundamentally wrong about the scientific evidence favoring an old Earth. I have asked old Earth friends to identify their smoking gun–the evidence do that convinces them of an old Earth. In response I have been shown testimonies of Christians who have converted from YEC to OEC. But I am aware of even more testimonies of people who were once evolutionists (essentially OEC) who have become YEC. For example, read In Six Days a book about 50 Ph.D. scientists who believe in YEC, many of whom were once evolutionists.

Concerning evidence, the point about the distance of stars is made. However, Russell Humphreys, in his book Starlight and Time, has a theory of the cosmos that wonderfully explains the starlight problem in line with a 6-day creation. Another issue is the existence of millions of layers of varves (fine layers of alternating rock and sediment). Read Refuting Compromise to discover that ancient varves could not have been formed annually. Fossil fish are found in these thin layers that would have long disintegrated before many annual layers could have buried the fish. No, the layers formed rapidly rather rhythmically, as in waves. In every “smoking gun” case I discovered not only a reasonable YEC explanation, but a more plausible one than the OEC. In addition, the arguments in favor of YEC are-can I say it-overwhelming!

There is plenty of scientific evidence to support the YEC view of the Bible. Evidence in favor of a young Earth and catastrophic flood include: 1) Marine fossils, e.g. clams, trilobites & jellyfish, are found all over Earth (even mountaintops). 2) Noah’s flood and the receding flood waters providing the power for the ocean and continental plates to form the mountain ranges and to separate the continents. 3) After the Flood was a great climatic change that provides a mechanism for a single Ice Age. 4) Upper limits to many date-of-the-Earth clocks-dates that are far too short for evolution.  For detailed evidence check this AiG page. 5) The glaring issue of apparent design from the smallest to the largest creatures. 6) The Cambrian Layer as found in China with the strata revealing the major phyla (families of animals) at the bottom of the Cambrian layers, which is completely contrary to the uniformitarian view. The phyla of animal life are found suddenly and without transitional forms. I repeat–this is completely contrary to the evolutionary view of paleontology, but it is unmistakably in favor of YEC.

It is unsound to view the Earth as millions or billions of years old. Scientific discoveries truly favor YEC. Evidence in favor of rejecting a literal view of Genesis is unwarranted scientifically and biblically!

For understanding the basics on evolution versus creation I recommend you read the new book Evolution Shot Full of Holes by myself and Frank Sherwin of the Institute for Creation Research. In this book you will find frequent illustrations, definitions and understandable concepts for the main issues in evolution. The book refutes evolution in four powerful arguments.

© Jim Bendewald