I am foolish. I admit it. I have no qualms about saying it, confessing it. You see, I am foolish enough to believe that there are moral absolutes. I am foolish enough to believe that there is a God that rules in heaven and on earth. I am foolish enough to believe that the marriage covenant is sacred and should be inviolate. And, yes, I am foolish enough to believe that the Bible is trustworthy and accurate… even when it comes to such matters as the age of the earth itself.
“The age of the earth? You’ve got to be kidding!” Yes, I can hear your exclamation of surprise. I hear your tone of incredulity. “How can anyone be so naïve as to believe that the Bible is to be taken literally true and valid as regards the age of the earth? Hasn’t modern science and reason demonstrated beyond a doubt that the earth is billions of years old?”
And my answer? Well, no, I really don’t think that either science or reason has adequately demonstrated that the earth is billions of years old. But, I will not attempt in this Trogo to refute all the supposedly scientific evidence in favor of an old earth. Instead, I want to present a brief argument in favor of a young earth. This argument will attack the matter on three fronts: theological, philosophical and scientific. First, the theological…
The Bible Tells Me So
Let’s understand our terms first of all. By “young” I mean an age for the earth of somewhere around 6,000 to 10,000 years. This is quite a bit different from the popular view that the earth is anywhere from 4 to 5 billion years old. Quite a bit of difference indeed. Yet, it is this picture of a young earth which is presented to us in the Bible.
I must confess that if there were no other evidence for a young earth than the Biblical account, then that would be enough warrant for me to accept this view. I have the utmost confidence in the Biblical record. It has been substantiated repeatedly by archaeologists. It has been validated over and over again by historians. But even beyond this, even more basic than this, I have personally seen and experienced the supernatural power, the divine energy that is contained in this Book of books.
But how does the Bible fix the age of the earth at 6-10 thousand years? I hear you ask the question. It does so most notably through the genealogical tables found in Genesis, in 1 Chronicles, and in Luke. These tables record the lineage of the Patriarchs, the family of Abraham, and the family tree of Christ. In Genesis the genealogies actually give the ages of the people listed, ages which can be used to calculate dates. Using these tables we can easily count backwards and determine that the creation is recorded as occurring about 4000 B.C. Now, some critics note that there may be gaps in these ancient records. And this may, admittedly, be true. However, even if there were large gaps, this would only add years, perhaps centuries to the dating. Furthermore, even if there were large enough gaps to add millennia, we are still talking about an earth that is no more than, say, 10,000 years old.
So, first of all, I believe the Biblical record… no, more than that, I am committed to and convinced of the truth of the Biblical record. And because I believe the Bible, I believe in a young earth.
There is a flip side to my theological argument. Most people probably think that the idea that the earth is very old is a newer, more modern concept. Their reasoning probably goes something like this: In ancient times, men believed that God (or the gods) created the earth in the very recent past. Now, through the advance of scientific thinking, we have come to realize that the earth is very, very old. Thus this is now the accepted, modern, scientific view.
I hate to burst your bubble, but the belief that the earth is very old is not a new idea at all. Indeed, many pagan and occult belief systems posit vast ages for the existence of nature. For example, in Hinduism, it is believed that the universe proceeds through huge periods of times, ages that last for many hundreds of thousands and even millions of years. We are presently in the dark age of Kali-Yuga, which has already lasted for 5000 years. Kali-Yuga has another 427,000 years to go. And this is only one age among many. Further, there are huge cycles of time called Brahma years, each of which lasts for millions and millions of years. Then, the cycle of time ends, and the entire scheme begins all over again. So you are talking about an earth that is billions and billions of years old.
The ancient Greeks also believed that time was essentially cyclical, that everything repeated itself over and over and over through tremendously long rounds of time. They thought that everything that now exists has existed before in the dim recesses of past ages, and will exist again in the recurring cycles of nature. For example, the Epicureans believed in an atomic view of reality. The basic building blocks of all reality, which they called “atoms” (not the same atoms as we believe in) form and reform themselves in many patterns. The possible combinations are vast in number, but still finite. As the atoms form, break apart, and reform, all possible existences come to be. We are now living in one possible combination of atoms. Some time in the future, this particular combination will dissolve and another formation will occur. Because there are a limited, though tremendously large, number of possible combinations of atoms, they will all occur over and over and over again. Everything exists in a continuous cycle of formation and reformation with no end to the recombinations.
And so it goes… the Theosophists believe in great ages that preceded the present time. Believers in Atlantis and Mu usually posit huge periods of time that preceded the current cycle of events. Buddhism asserts that we go through an almost endless series of rebirths stretched out over countless ages. Jainism says that there is no beginning or ending to existence, that all reality goes through countless cycles of birth, death, and rebirth over and over through millions of years.
Get the idea? The concept of a young earth, and existence itself being of recent origin, is not found in most religions or non-Christian belief systems. Actually, the very concept of linear time, in which time moves from a created beginning to a (purposeful) conclusion is of Biblical origin. It is in the Judeo-Christian heritage that we see this particular concept of time arise. Most pagan cultures accepted the concept of never ending cycles of existence that stretch out over millions of years.
My Mind Tells Me So
My second reason for believing in a young earth is basically philosophical in nature. I was pondering this whole young earth issue recently, and a thought came to me. (A frightening occurrence, indeed!) I remember a philosophic concept from ancient Greece. Aristotle—you know the guy: pupil of Plato and tutor of Alexander—well, he developed an idea that he called entelecheia, or entelechy, as we render it in English. The concept of entelechy involves the end product, the goal of something. Fundamentally, the idea is this. What something will become is contained in that thing from the beginning. The end goal of an acorn is an oak tree. So all that an acorn needs to become an oak tree is contained in the acorn, and the very make-up of the acorn is determined beforehand by the oak tree. You might say, the end determines the means. You also might say that the goal necessitates the process. What something has been, or is now, is wholly dependent on what it will become.
Now, this might seem a little strange to you, but actually the idea can dovetail with a Biblical worldview very nicely. If we accept the notion (as I do) of a Sovereign Omnipotence who runs the universe according to a divine plan and purpose, then we must accept that all that exists is working toward a goal. And we can further accept that the process, the “getting there” if you will, is determined by that end result. What exists, and what happens, is occurring because God is working all things out according to His plan and to achieve His purpose. (Consider the following verses: Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:28, Eph. 2:4-7, Isaiah 41:4, Isa. 48:3, Prov. 16:4)
Now, allow me to apply the concept of entelechy to our argument. To do this, I ask you to consider these questions: What is the end product of creation? What is the goal of reality? Where do we see everything headed… and by that “everything” we include the cosmos, history, nature, and mankind? The answer is pretty evident from Scripture. The goal of the universe is redeemed humanity living in a love relationship with the Triune God and existing to serve His glory. Basically it boils down to this: God and the church, Christ and His Bride. Now applying the principle of entelechy, we would have to conclude that all that exists, all history, all of the myriad and various workings of nature, all reality, all these together have this one purpose: Christ’s plan for His redeemed Bride. The goal (the Bride) determines the means (nature, history, the cosmos).
Now, let us take our argument a step further. If you consider the original creation of mankind, the divine mandate in the Garden, and then the Fall, and the plan of redemption… well, you can see how God has worked through all this to bring about His ultimate purpose. But, and this is the key point here, how would millions and billions of years of non-human existence serve this goal? If the entelechic process results in a redeemed Bride for the Savior, what purpose does eons of time without any humans serve? And what purpose is there in the process of evolution itself? All these prior ages, and all inorganic and organic processes that existed billions of years before mankind have no purpose in redemption! Therefore, they are meaningless. Would the Sovereign Lord of the universe waste His time like this? I think not. He even tells us that the earth was created for men (Isaiah 45:18-19)—not amoeba, trilobites, dinosaurs, mastodons, or lemurs. Indeed, the very idea of entelechy, and God’s purpose being behind the created order, is explicit in Scripture (e.g., see Isaiah 46:8-10). Thus, the idea that God has a purpose and plan for all history—whose end goal is redeemed humanity loving and serving the Creator—necessitates a cosmic history that does not exclude mankind from the bulk of that history itself.
Science Tells Me So
My third reason for believing in a young age of the earth is found in the halls and fields of scientific endeavor. Most people believe that science “proves” that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. They assume that it is a verifiable fact that things have been around for a long, long, long time. But is this so?
First of all, you need to understand that contemporary secular science posits the NEED for an old earth because evolution could not occur unless this is so. But this is more a philosophical stance, rather than a scientific one. Secondly, it is usually asserted that there are demonstrable scientific evidences for a universe that is eons old, e.g., radioactive dating methods. However, these dating methods are not without their own problems. They assume a lot, such as the amount of radioactive material present originally, the rate of decay being constant, etc. Also, they have been proven to be unreliable at times, and sometimes completely false. But, I won’t belabor this side of the issue. What I would like to do is to briefly consider just a few of the scientific reasons for believing in a young earth. These are sort of cosmic “clocks,” if you will.
Moon dust: There is tons of cosmic dust floating through space, and falling on planetary bodies continually. We can measure the amount of this dust fall very accurately. On earth, this dust is washed into the ocean beds. However, on the moon, without an atmosphere and no water cycle, it simply accumulates where it falls. When NASA sent the Apollo expeditions to the moon, they feared that the landing craft, as well as the astronauts, might sink into dozens of feet of dust that had piled up over the millions of years of the moon’s existence. But, lo and behold, there were only a few inches of dust on the moon. (Remember the famous photo of the astronaut’s footprint in the moon dust.) Indeed, there is only enough dust on the moon to account for less than 10,000 years worth of accumulation of the stuff.
Erosion: We can measure the rate at which erosion is wearing down the earth’s surface, especially mountains. Erosion actually occurs rather rapidly. This rate of erosion is much higher than the rate of any forces which tend to build up mountains. If the earth were billions of years old the mountains should not exist—for they should have all been worn down ages ago.
Magnetic Field: The earth’s magnetic field is decaying at a measurable rate. If the earth were billions of years old, by now we would have no magnetic field. Also, working backward in time, and using the known rate of decay, if the earth were even millions of years old, the magnetic field in the far past would have been so great that nothing could have evolved and lived. The current rate of decay indicates that a reasonable age for the earth must be measured in the 1000’s of years, not billions.
Human Population: At the current rate of population growth, we could have arrived at our present population in about 4000 years. This fits in well with the Flood account of Genesis. However, if the human population were many 10’s of thousands, or even millions or years old, then there wouldn’t be room to contain the many billions of people who would be living now.
Receding Moon: The moon is gradually moving away from the earth, at the rate of around 2 inches per year. At the current rate, 2 billion years ago the moon and the earth would have been touching. (Remember, the earth is supposed to be 4.5 billion years old.) Further, if the earth were 4-5 billion years old, then the moon should be so far away by now that you could not even see it. Bye-bye, man on the moon!
Oil Pressure: Ever seen one of those old movies where someone out West strikes oil and a gusher erupts. The gusher occurs because the oil is under great pressure. However, it has been demonstrated this is pressure is gradually dissipating, sort of like a slow leak in your car tire. If the earth were more than about 7000 years old then there would no pressure to force the oil to erupt as it does. It wouldn’t be a gusher, it would just be an oozer.
Comet disintegration: Evolutionists believe that comets were formed along with the solar system, about 4 to 5 billions years ago. However, every time a comet passes near the sun, some of it is swept away by solar forces. At the present rate, comets can not be more than 100 million years old. This is a far cry from 6,000 years… but it is even a farther cry from 5 billion!
Helium: All radioactive decay processes result in helium being released into the atmosphere. But consider this: There is no known way for helium to escape the earth’s atmosphere. However, there is only enough helium to account for about 10,000 years of radioactive decay, and that is assuming that all helium has resulted from such sources. Conclusion: the earth cannot be billions of years old.
And the evidences go on and on…
Indeed, I have only listed a few of the many evidences for a young earth. Want more? Check out Answers in Genesis at http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/young-age-evidence or the Creation Ministries at http://creation.com/age-of-the-earth .
And so, dear reader, you see that I am a fool, and I take a fool’s position on the age of the earth. But with the Bible, philosophy, and science on my side, I don’t think my position is such a bad place to be. What do you think?