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How old is the earth?

by Stephen Davey

The popular humorist Mark Twain once wrote, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” 

When it comes to creation, and the age of the earth, it’s time to reflect on the majority cultural opinion. Not only is the creation viewpoint in the minority, it has been effectively erased from the public square. Biology textbooks have removed references to a young earth or creation; the mainstream world has completely embraced the theory of evolution. 

But as Christians, we know that the majority opinion of culture is not the standard for morality or truth— God’s Word is. 

Even if the only evidence we had for creation were passages in Scripture, shouldn’t that be sufficient? When human understanding and God’s revealed Word differ, I choose to take God’s Word over man’s word every single time. 

But let me encourage you: the creation worldview is not blindly following God in spite of the evidence. The evidence for creation is quite literally carved into the foundation of the earth. 

The key question evolutionists ask as they try to discredit the biblical account of creation is simply this: “If the earth is so young, why does it look so old?” 

While that sounds like a solid question, it assumes another theory called “uniformitarianism.” This long word essentially means that different measurements for determining age are consistent over long periods of time, say, billions of years! In other words, methods like carbon dating depend on the assumption that carbon increases or decreases at exactly the same rate every year. 

Scientists use uniformitarianism to measure fossils and rocks through this process called carbon dating; they also use it to measure the rate of water erosion of rocks. For instance, the normal rate of water erosion causes them to assume it took six million years for the Colorado River to carve out the Grand Canyon. 

As Christians, it’s helpful to understand some very simple answers to these evolutionary assumptions. This will help you answer the tough questions your children bring home from school, and not so quickly believe the latest television documentary that constantly refers to “billions of years ago…” 

Answer #1: God created a fully mature earth. 

When God made Adam and Eve, He didn’t create embryos, or infants, but fully developed human beings. When God fashioned Eve from Adam’s rib and presented her to him, Adam didn’t ask how to feed a newborn baby. No, he knew that she was his wife—a fully matured woman. 

Just as God created humans as grown-ups, so He created the rest of the animals, plants, and the universe at large. When God made the sun and stars on day four, their light immediately reached earth, no matter how many lightyears away they were. Rather than begin as infant stars, needing years for their light to travel far enough to reach earth, He created their starlight to immediately reach earth. 

Similarly, God didn’t make plants and trees on day five as seeds or acorns, but fully formed plants and apple trees. In fact, if the Lord had created seeds instead of fruit-bearing trees, Adam, and Eve, and all the animals would have starved long before anything bore fruit. God clearly tells us in Genesis 1:12 that He created “fruit trees bearing fruit.” God created trees and plants offering mature, ripe vegetation immediately. 

On day six, when God created Adam and Eve, they looked very different than you did on your first birthday. The universe and planet earth, and all it contained, were created immediately functioning, in order to sustain life. 

The mainstream scientific process to date the earth assumes the earth started as an infant planet and developed and decayed at a standard rate. But if the earth originated as a mature planet, uniformitarianism would fail to accurately date the earth. 

Answer #2: Uniformitarianism cannot account for natural disasters. 

One of the sharpest rebukes of the evolutionary theory came as scientists researched the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington. The catastrophic volcanic eruption devastated 230 square miles of forest with a blast the size of several nuclear bombs. 

It instantaneously carved out canyons, gullies, and lakes in the surrounding area. Only five years after the eruption, scientists discovered a layer of coal formation in the bottom of Spirit Lake more than 3 feet deep. The uniformitarian view was that it took 1,000 years to form a single inch of coal, but the volcanic eruption created 3 feet in less than than five years! 

In other words, a volcanic eruption and the mass of trees, heat, lava, and pressure in nearby Spirit Lake created conditions that accelerated the typical method of dating the earth. 

The evolutionary theory was even further repudiated by an attempt to date rock samples from the eruption. Using the widely-accepted radioactive dating method, the rock samples should’ve been 350,000 years old, but they had been formed in the eruption just five years earlier! 

But it happened again, a second eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1982 created another marvel; a mudslide that carved a canyon one-fortieth the size of the Grand Canyon. Based on the scientifically accepted rate of erosion for the Grand Canyon, the “Little Grand Canyon of Mount Saint Helens” should have taken 150,000 years to erode; instead, it happened in just a few short months! 

All these numbers are making me dizzy; what do they ultimately mean for believers? Two volcanic eruptions over the course of two years created an effect on the earth that should have taken hundreds of thousands, even millions of years to be caused. 

And if all that could happen with just a couple volcanos, imagine the seismic changes to the earth that could have come from a global flood. The Bible describes the explosion of the flood with these words: 

“All the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:11-12). 

Here was a flood in which God released every underwater reservoir and with volcanic explosions, it all erupted simultaneously, while rain poured from above for 960 consecutive hours! 

Imagine the devastation; imagine the rapid rate of erosion, sediment layering, and coal formation. The uniformitarian viewpoint cannot account for even local or regional natural disasters, like hurricanes, floods, or tornados, let alone a global flood on the scale of Genesis chapter 7. 

Beloved, you have every reason to be confident in the biblical account in Genesis 1-11. God’s record of origins isn’t impossible; it isn’t unscientific; it isn’t blind faith in the Bible. It is the eyewitness account of our Creator God, verified by the old look of a very young earth. The Grand Canyon isn’t evidence of six million years of slow erosion; it is evidence of a rushing torrent in a global flood. 

Let me offer one more example from Mount Saint Helens. 

A man named Harry lived a mile from the volcano before it erupted. In the hours before, he was warned repeatedly to evacuate—but Harry ignored the warnings and ended up being buried alive by an avalanche of volcanic debris. 

Just as Harry ignored the warning, so did the people in Noah's day who refused the shelter of the ark. Our world today is ignoring the safety of the Ark—Jesus Christ—and they blindly follow the scientific mainstream that rejects the Creator and the evidence of His work. 

God is the only shelter who can save them, and we have the truth! So, let’s warn them. There’s another judgment coming—the apostle Peter writes—and this future, final judgment will be of fire. The only way to escape is to find refuge in the Person of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Add a Comment


Rita says:
It’s like saying “what came first, the chicken or the egg.” Silly question isn’t it? Also, in the second paragraph to answer #2, I think the word “lesson” should read “less than.”
Candace says:
This is a fantastic article and I am super grateful you wrote on this topic. I am constantly trying to eloquently back up our faith with “proof” and “science” so that my child understands the truth. Thank you so much! You are an amazing teacher. Brilliant!
Fred says:
Your answers assume things that the scriptures do not say. You leave no room for an alternative Christian old earth creation view. Genesis 1 is our story, not about the how the universe and earth began. God tells us that he restored the earth to a livable condition and restored the life forms in 6 days, but he doesn't tell us how old the earth is. You are assuming that the earth was created just before Adam. That doesn't stand up to the evidence from physics, geology, and astronomy. Ps. 19 and Romans 1 hold us responsible for the evidence of nature.
Doug says:
Initially I thought the article might be long and involved but it only took a few minutes to read and presented some good points to bolster my faith and to counter evolutionary dogma. Thank you for the stimulating food for thought!
Justin says:
Where do dinosaurs fit in? Serious question. It is fascinating to see people literally dig fossils from the ground in MT, WY, ND etc. Thank you and God Bless
Ed Jones says:
I have always wondered why people that believe in evolution can't accept creation. It says in the bible that a thousand years to us is like a day to god.When you start doing the math it explains the possible age of the earth.
Louella says:
Fantastic article. I loved it. Thank you so much , I feel better equipped to answer the questions presented to me as I mock evolution and it's theory. Common sense prevails over scientific understanding every time It is the Holy Spirit that gives us common sense. I am afraid man enters a dark age as his knowledge increases and replaces the God given common sense . God tells us in His word that this will happen as they forsake Him and His knowledge which He gives to all mankind if they would just acknowledge Him. Thank you , you are a blessing
John says:
Amen on your biblical take on creation vs the world’s take on evolution. In my study of the Bible, by using the biblical records of various genealogies contained in the Bible, I find that the universe is between 6000-7000yrs old since the Genesis account
Dee Lee says:
This was a great article to read following our viewing of an IMAX film called Deep Sky yesterday at the Kennedy Space center. It told about the fascinating technology of the Webb telescope and the beautiful pictures captured from deep space. Unfortunately the only viewpoint included was humanistic, evolutionary, with a billions of years explanation. Thanks for this!
Janice says:
Wow Thank yoi
Daniel says:
My comments are in no way intended to disrespect Dr. Davey. He is one of my favorite "go to" resources for Biblical teaching. I do have a few comments I would like to make.

1. It is disheartening to hear Christians equate belief in an old earth with belief in the neo-Darwinian theory of macro-evolution. When anyone uniformly refers to those who believe in an old-earth as "evolutionists," one is making a category error. There are many believers who reject evolution as a failed scientific theory that does not explain the initial beginnings of life from non-living matter, specified complexity in biological systems, or the source of the information content contained in DNA. When Christians attempt to promote a Biblical worldview by making straw-man arguments this weakens our position unnecessarily. Belief in an Old Earth does not equal belief in Evolution. Please stop making this mistake.

2. This article makes that claim that Genesis 1-2 are an "eyewitness account." It assumes that what the author intended to convey is a modern chronological recording of historical events in the way we have come to expect modern news-reporting and historical reports to be written. This isn't the only legitimate way to interpret or understand Genesis 1-2 on the basis of the language involved, and we cannot dictate to God how we think he "ought to have" communicated his Word to us.

3. We have to accept God's Word the way it was given and strive to understand its original context and intent. It is the "graphe," the text of Scripture that is inspired, not our interpretations. In some instances, Scripture is 100% without any ambiguity or question, such as "I am the way, the truth, and life. No one comes to the Father except by me," and "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." In other cases, the text of Scripture is not as clear and can have multiple meanings. The young-earth view is a relatively recent phenomenon and was not uniformly ascribed to by either Jewish Rabbis or the early Church Fathers. There is more than one legitimate way to understand and interpret Genesis 1-2, on the basis of the language of the text. To insist that our preferred interpretation is the only one is to make the same mistake that the Roman Church did with Galileo when they declared that his theory of heliocentricity was contrary to the Gospel. It was neither Scripture nor the Science that was wrong. It was the faulty interpretation of Scripture that was at stake.

4. God could have created a universe with the appearance of age, but God calls us in Romans to look not only at the revealed Word of God in the Scripture, but also to the Book of Nature - God's revelation in His Creation. For me it is a challenge for someone to claim that God would lie to humans in giving us visual and scientific data about historical physical events such as galaxy formation, supernovae, etc., *that never actually occurred* if the light that recorded those events was created in-flight, and then tell us that this account of God's creation is sufficient to hold man accountable for knowing God but to have that knowledge based on a lie.

5. My biggest concern with this article is that it implies that belief in an Old Earth is contrary to the Gospel and prevents people from hearing the Word of Christ and coming to salvation. On the contrary, a slavish adherence to Young Earth Creationism is a stumbling block that causes many to reject the Bible entirely. In making Young Earth Creationism "central" to acceptance of the Gospel, we do a disservice to the lost world that needs to come to saving faith in Christ Jesus. Whether or not God created in 6 days of 24 hours duration according to modern measure is not the central fact of Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is that central fact, and we promote confusion when we put the focus on any other less central doctrine.

Christ is Risen and Christianity is true, regardless of how and when God created the heavens and the earth. I highly recommend the book "Seven Days that Divide the World" by John Lennox as a good reference for anyone who would like to investigate further.

From Wisdom International: Even though you disagree with our position, we’re thankful that you engaged us and presented a respectful critique.
Jean says:
All so true
Joseph Webb says:
Since my computer seems to tire of me writing long messages, I'll just mention that years ago I learned about "Apparent age" and "Uniformitarianism". Thank the Lord!
David Sommer says:
Excellent! I'd like to add a comment about millions or billions of years. That would be impossilbe! What consitutes a year? The earth going around the sun for 365 days. How could years be counted when there was no earth nor sun, only a glob, or whatever evolutionists say?! Also Genesis 1:2 says that the earth was without form and void. God could have spoken one word and all six days of creation coulld have been done in that one instant! Rather creation shows us that He is the God of order! Also, without form and void reminds me of Jesus' miracles. Correct me if I'm wrong on this, but all of his miracle that He did (to those who were sick or had died) were done in an instant, except one. Mar 8:22  "Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him.  23  So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. 24  And he looked up and said, "I see men like trees, walking."  25  Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly." God took what was "without form and void" and in 6 days He made a perfect creation!
Warren says:
Point about distant starlight arriving immediately creates problem in that we would be seeing celestial events (e.g. supernovae) which never really happened... seems inconsistent with God's nature. Alternate explanations from Answers in Genesis
Georgia says:
Very enlightening article. Keep them coming.
Hugh says:
I really appreciate this article. Just over the recent months I have seen several supposed ministers of God try to reconcile the Bible to the “big bang” or so-called scientific world view and say the earth is 13 billion years old or that range and practically laugh at the young earth view. I will not listen to such men because if I can’t trust them in this how can I trust anything else they may teach.
Kirk says:
Of course from a mature creation standpoint, birds came before their eggs! Yet, if you plug in the fossil record, there were no chickens on the Ark. Their ancestor, the jungle fowl, had not come along yet. So, even though chicken DNA can be found on 6 continents and there's 4 times more chickens on the earth than humans, the egg that produced the first chicken ancestor came before the chicken. Now, let's go to Chick-Fil-A & celebrate!
Donald Davis says:
Great review summary. Have been reading, Hugh Ross, on the age of the earth, etc. You have very good short help for helping us. Thanks.
Charles Adams says:
Interesting analysis. As an engineer I have always been more fascinated with how it was accomplished than how long it took. The New Testament gives many examples of Jesus speaking things into existence. Rather short construction. time. He also created the laws of sciences that govern his creation and left those for us to discover.
Joe says:
As Daniel kindly noted, belief in an old earth in no way implies a belief in evolution or removes a Creator God from the picture. Please study Bible-believing scientists who have dedicated their career to this topic. I love Wisdom's theological stance on everything but this one topic, as it can a stumbling block to the Gospel. Conservative denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) studied this issue in depth and do not hold a six-literal-day earth as a test of faith [ see ]. Quoting Daniel above "In making Young Earth Creationism "central" to acceptance of the Gospel, we do a disservice to the lost world that needs to come to saving faith in Christ Jesus. Whether or not God created in 6 days of 24 hours duration according to modern measure is not the central fact of Christianity."
Lisa says:
Thank you so much for the article and the encouragement. I agree with you. This will help me in knowing how to respond to those who ask questions.
Robert H. says:
For me, the indicators for a relatively young earth outweigh, even far outweigh, indicators of an old, old earth. Look at the billions of fossils…that indicates mass burial…which accords with the flood of the Bible (and stories of practically all peoples around the world) which by reliable chronology of the scriptures was about 2500 years BC. The academic and popular science teachers say those fossils are 100,000s and millions, even hundreds of millions of years old. Even soft tissues are found in remains of “millions-years-old” animals. The timeframe of earth is shorter than mainstream science claims. (P.s., mainstream science cannot examine idea of young earth honestly, for a young earth would be a contradiction to hypothesis of macro evolution.). We have sharp peaking mountains… if earth were so old, these would be crumbled and eroded. Elements in ocean sediment… if rivers had been flowing there and water cycle processes ongoing, the amounts of sediment and various elements would be greater. Spiral galaxies…if billions of years old, they’d be spun out. Carbon 14 in diamonds. Surely someone has tabulated the indications of young vs. old, old earth. The weight of it all favors young earth. Not to mention, in my case I’m inclined to take the genealogies of scripture as nominally complete; thus I am persuaded that totaling those ages and dates gives good calculation of earth’s age. Remember, Jesus spoke of “the beginning,” and that from the beginning, God made male and female. So to me the biblical record indicates an age of earth within the genealogical record. I’m skeptical of so-called science that is committed to an old universe and earth. Absent a revival of Bible and spiritual truth in the US, most those scientists would lose their jobs and grants if they were to propose young earth. The system will hardly allow that idea; practically it won’t allow that idea.
Jim L. says:
Where do dinosaurs fit? They were created on Day 6 with the other animals and man. As for the "Thousand years is one day", that biblical statement is about God's viewpoint on time. It has nothing to do with the days of creation. A thousand years does not have "and the evening and the morning were Day 1, 2, etc. Great article Stephen. Agree 100%.
Rob Tuttle says:
Totally agree! (And so does AIG)
Jim says:
Excellent article and faithful to the Genesis 1 text. To Daniel who had some respectful comments in disagreement I would say: John Lennox's book "Seven Days that Divide the World". John Lennox, who evidently is a very learned scholar and an effective debater with atheists/evolutionists, his interpretation of the days of Genesis 1 is to me an example of interpretive gymnastics. In his view, the idea of long periods of time between each creation day defies logic. For example, all plants and trees were created on day 3, while the sun was not put into place until day 4. My question is: How did they survive without the sun for a long period of time? Also, if we are not to believe the Genesis 1 account as written, why should we believe the accounts of the birth, sinless life, death and resurrection of Jesus? Or, the promises of God to the believers in Jesus.
Kay Reynolds says:
Thank for this message about creation. It will help me when I speak to someone who believes in evolution. We know this is just an excuse to not believe in God, and feel good about it. Thank for your life of service for our Savior Jesus Christ and your witness, you have really helped me in my journey of faith.
Roxanne Rideout says:
Thank you so much for that explanation! I appreciate you and all you do to help illuminate the Truth.