How is it that the bible explains the earth to be 6,000 to 8,000 years old when we know that dinosaur bones are at least 65 million years old? This isn’t the only example of our planet’s age by any means, either.
This is one of those ‘in house’ discussions that even educated and intelligent Christians do not agree on. Pucket is also guilty of a strawman fallacy, by misrepresenting or fabricating someone’s position on an issue, so it is easier to attack.
Pucket, who asked the above question, and 49 other questions, lump all Christians as ‘Young Earthers, when many Christians do not hold to a young earth view. I personally do not hold to a young earth, but anyone who spends just a few minutes researching a young and old earth view will find scholars on both sides of this issue.
For example, many have heard of Ken Ham and his life long work at answersingenesis which publishes books, video’s, and other materials in support of a young earth view. Also, his recent debate with Bill Nye the Science Guy brought this issue to some headlines. Both sides, science and religion, claim victory. I spent a few minutes looking at online magazines and popular blogging sites, and without fail, the secular science sites give Bill Nye the win, and the Christian oriented sites said Ken Ham won. Reminds me of the demographics when you look at the percent of whites vs blacks who voted for President Obama.
It is interesting that many who are troubled with an old earth view have no problem with verses concerning the earth not moving. For example: 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 104:5, and 1Samuel 2:8. John Lennonx points out in his book, Seven Day’s that Divide The World, that the Bible even has passages about the sun moving. Psalm 19:4-6 and Ecclesiastes 1:5. Lennox also wrote, “Why do Christians accept this ‘new’ interpretation, and not still insist on a ‘literal’ understanding of the pillars of the earth? Why are we not still split up into fixed-earthers and moving-earthers? Is it really because we have all compromised, and made Scripture subservient to science?” 1
Of course not! We now know that Copernicus in the 1500’s was correct; the earth is revolving around the sun. Its path takes a year at the speed of 67,000 mph. No one doubts this, well, no one I know of does. No one that I know of still insists the earth is unmoved, with the starry heavens revolving around the earth. Yet when Copernicus first suggested this, and then Galileo in the 1600’s attempted to confirm it, the Church made it clear Galileo was to keep quiet about it. Galileo was not tortured or beaten, as many liberal historians would suggest, but he was slapped on the hand and put under house arrest in a luxurious mansion. This was the beginning of the science vs. religion mentality that continues today.
Read the question again. Pucket is right. Dinosaur bones are not the only way we can date the age of the earth. Although carbon dating is relatively accurate, it is not without its hiccups. Fossils are also dated by their location in the sedimentary layers, yet this also can have suspect assumptions. If sediments laid down in same rate over thousands or millions of years it would be easy to date, but any laymen knows this is not the case. Couple that with the plate tectonics, dating by sedimentary layers can be troubling to say the least. In my recent post about Noah’s ark and the account of the flood, I touched on the possibility of a massive flood in the past 5000 years. Robert Ballard and his team have found evidence of that possibility with a shoreline in the Mediterranean 400′ below the surface of the sea.
Yet we do have evidence beyond carbon dating, beyond the depth of fossils in sedimentary layers, and plate tectonics. Evidence that does point to an old earth. The two that come to mind are the ice cores and distant galaxies.
The Christian Apologetics Research Ministry has an article on ice cores. “Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent on Earth. That’s right – the driest ! Antarctica is a desert. The annual precipitation of snow, averaged across the continent, is about 30 centimeters, which is equivalent to about 10 centimeters of water. In some locations as little as 2 centimeters, [about ¾ of an inch] (water equivalent) is recorded. Because of the low temperatures, however, there is little or no melt. Thus the snow has accumulated year after year for thousands of years and, with time, is compressed to ice to form the Antarctic ice sheet. 2
Ice cores are tubes of ice that are drilled out of large ice sheets or glaciers. Greenland has produced some with dates beyond 120,000 years old, and cores from Antarctica well over 500,000 years old. 3 Ice cores give information about past climates trapped in the tiny bubbles of air, but they can also give us dates by the layers that can be counted, much like you would count the rings of a tree to determine how old it is.
Yes, the rings compress the further down you drill for the core, and there are other climate factors that could make some dating of the ice cores problematic, but like the carbon dating, the accuracy is widely accepted in the scientific community.
By and large, the scientific community accepts the Big Bang theory. The theory that the universe began billions of years ago from some unimaginably small, yet inconceivable bright flash of energy. Could the universe have somehow caused itself? Nothing in our experience of science even remotely suggests that something could be the cause of its own existence.
Tim Keller wrote in his book, The Reason For God, “Everything we know in this world is ‘contingent’, has a cause outside of itself. Therefore the universe, which is just a huge pile of such contingent entities, would itself have to be dependent on some cause outside of itself. Something had to make the Big Bang happen – but what?” 4 As Christians, as Believers, we know just what that is.
If the Big Bang is true and we have other galaxies millions of light years away, then how could we possibly see the light from them if the speed limit of light is set at 186,000 miles per second? Yes, that is fast, but even at that speed the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is just over 4.3 light years away. That is the nearest star in our own Milky Way galaxy. We have over 200 billion stars in our own galaxy, and beyond that, estimations of 200 to 500 billion galaxies outside our own. The light from some of those distant galaxies have taken millions of years to reach us.
Bible scholars do not agree on the age of the earth or how to interpret time-spans in the early chapters of Genesis. With that in mind, the question above, asked by Pucket, implies and makes the assumption that all Christians are young-earthers, and that is certainly not the case. Nor is it the case that Genesis 1 and science conflict with each other.
Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe wrote a large volume titled, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, addressing this very issue, “There is no demonstrated contradiction of fact between Genesis 1 and science. There is only a conflict of interpretation. Either, most modern scientists are wrong in insisting the world is billions of years old, or else some Bible interpreters are wrong in insisting on only 144 hours of creation some several thousand years before Christ with no gaps allowing millions of years. But, in either case it is not a question of inspiration of Scripture, but of the interpretation of Scripture (and of the scientific data).”5
1. Lennox, John. Seven Days That Divided The World. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011, Print.
2. “Ice Core Dating.” Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. CARM.org 1998. Web. 10 September 2014
3. “Ice cores and climate change” British Antarctic Survey. Antarctica.ac.uk/bas 2014. Web 12 September 2014
4. Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Print.
5. Geisler, Norman. Howe, Thomas. The Big Book Of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992, Print.
43 Questions Christians can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.knowingforsure.com/.