How Old is the Earth?
“…for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” Ex 30:17
My first posting on the topic of God (Elohim) as Creator discusses why we should believe that YHVH is the Creator of everything in the universe. In my second posting on this topic, I talked about the vast storehouse of evidence that points to a super intelligent Designer for our universe. One of the most controversial and divisive topics in the creation-evolution debate, even within the Christian community, is the actual time-frame for the creation of the world.
The best place to begin our study is Genesis 1. It is significant that the Hebrew word for Genesis is bereshit, which means “beginnings”. Starting with Genesis 1:5, each passage that describes an element of God’s Creation uses the Hebrew word yom (day), plus a number (1,2,3..). The Hebrew word yom is used over 2300 times in the Tanach (Old Testament). Outside of Genesis 1, yom plus a number (used 410 times) always refers to an ordinary day, that is a 24-hour time period. The words “evening” (erev) and “morning” (boker) are used together 38 times in the scriptures, and always denote an ordinary day. Finally, when yom + “evening” or “morning” or yom + “night” (Hebrew lailah) are used in scripture, they also denote a 24-hour day.
Since yom is used in one of these ways every time it is stated in Genesis 1, it is evident that the author meant 24-hour periods. The references to “evening” and “morning” make no sense unless they refer to a literal 24-hour period. This literal translation of yom was the standard interpretation of the Creation passages in Genesis 1:5-2:2 until the mid-1800’s when a paradigm shift occurred within the scientific community (based on the theories of Sir Charles Lyell and others), and the earth’s sedimentary strata layers were reinterpreted to show long ages of time (millions instead of thousands of years). Whereas previously the rock layers were interpreted as evidence of Noah’s flood, the flood model was thrown out by the scientific community and the rock layers were reinterpreted as evidence for an excessively old earth. Some well-meaning but very misguided Christians then sought to reconcile this new anti-flood, anti-biblical interpretation with the Genesis account by reinterpreting yom to mean vast, unspecified periods of time.
Scientific research over the past 50 years reveals that the sedimentary rock layers in the crust of the earth formed very rapidly and under catastrophic conditions. This would be an expected result of a global, catastrophic flood (see Five Evidences for a Flood, Brad Forlow). A strong indication of the wide-spread scale of this catastrophe is the scope of the rock layers which, in some cases, cover an entire territory such as the Rocky Mountain, Midwest, and Ozark states of the US. Another strong piece of evidence for a global flood is the sedimentary rock layers and marine fossils found at the top of the highest mountain ranges in the world.
Dramatic geologic formations around the world, such as the Grand Canyon, also show evidence of catastrophic flooding. Although there are 5,000 feet of layered strata stacked on top of one another in the Canyon, the fact that they are sedimentary and twisted into very dramatic formations within a short space indicates that the rock layers were laid down underwater, with a large volume of water rushing through the area at a high velocity. A modern-day illustration of the power of water is the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Although this was a local catastrophe, the incredible earth reshaping damage was mostly water-related. When it was heated, the glacier on top rapidly liquefied, and the super-heated torrent of water raced down the mountain as a mighty flood, eroding soil rocks, trees and anything else in its path. When the eruption and ensuing floods were finished, up to 600 feet of sediments had been deposited, forming layers made up of plant and animal remains. The sediments have now hardened, forming a “mini Grand Canyon”.
In addition to rock layers, there are many other evidences for a young Earth and solar system, including (see Thousands…Not Billions, Dr. Don DeYoung): rapidly decaying magnetic field, number of years that the Sun could continue to burn intensely; lack of dust on the moon; lack of sediments and salts in the world’s oceans; soft tissue and DNA found in “ancient” fossils; helium in radioactive rocks; and Carbon-14 found in fossils, coal, and diamonds, to name a few. For many years, scientists have realized that Carbon-14 particles are found in places where they should not exist according to the evolutionary timeline. With a half-life of about 5,700 years, measurable levels of Carbon-14 should not be found within ancient fossils, coal or diamonds, which are supposedly millions of years old.
The evidence cited above for a young earth (thousands and not billions of years old) is amazing, but it is far more amazing when we think of a God who could create all of this in only six days. This amazingly creative God, who is our Father and Lord, loves us and wants to spend time with the humans He created to be in His image. Give it a try – spend time with YHVH – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!