Thursday, July 29, 2010

Age of the Earth - The Christian Worldview


James Ussher, born in 1581, is famous for calculating the day that God began creating the universe: October 23rd, 4004 BC (that's September 21st on our Gregorian calendar). While it certainly is not heretical to suggest that creation began on October 25th, it is important to realize that Scripture is not silent when it comes to the age of the universe. The Scriptures contain numerous genealogies and other time frames which can be pieced together in order to come up with an estimate creation date.

Scripture does not leave open genealogical gaps. In the earliest and most unknowable periods of history, from Adam to Noah (and Noah to Abraham to Joseph), Scripture traces a continuous genealogy and records when each person was born and when each person died.

After Joesph, Scripture records the number of years the Israelites were in bondage to the Egyptians, which leads into their 40 year wandering and ultimately leads into the book of Judges (which records the different lengths of Israel's captivity and peace). After the time period of the book of Judges, Israel begged God for an earthly king. God granted them their wish and from this point the length of each king's ruling is recorded (By this time period, other writings can be found which record additional historical events, of which, just as the Bible, the date can be known).

Clearly, Scripture is not silent concerning the age of the earth. While believing the earth to be around 6000 years old is not a popular belief today, it must be noted that Scripture is absolutely correct in all that it states. The God who made all of creation and who designed the laws of physics and all the materials in the universe, is surely intelligent enough to know when and how He created the universe.

7 comments:

  1. Nowhere does the bible say the earth is 6000 yr. old. We live on continents that have taken billions of years to form. We see light from stars that have taken billon of yr. to reach us. The moon alone records a time when the early solar system was bombarded by debris that is no longer circling the sun. The bible itself is recorded to say at Gen 2:4 “This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day that (יהוה) God mad the earth and heavens.” Are we then to conclude that the earth and heavens where created in one day?
    The vale shall remain no more!
    Do you not know, a day to God is not governed by the time it takes one planet to revolve on its axis? In fact God has created many planets and stars without number. In defense of the living God, it is written at 2pe 3:8 “that one day is with (יהוה) as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” The creative days were not 24 hr. long, but a distinctive period in the history of its formation. Those creative days could have been billions of years long. Furthermore, we the living are still in the 7th day! It is written in Gen 2:3 “And God proceeded to bless the seventh day and make it sacred, because on it he has been resting from all his work that god has created for the purpose of making.” So there remains a Sabbath resting for the people of God. The seventh day is blessed, and nothing can thwart Gods purpose as stated at Gen 1:28. When Gods purpose for the earth and mankind are realized then we will hear the words, “and there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a Seventh day.”

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    1. I agree that the Bible nowhere states that the earth is 6000 years old. If it did, then such a statement would only be true for a single year in all of history. The Bible does contain genealogies which allow us to make a reasonable estimate as to when the world was created.

      Second Peter 3:8 is a statement meant to encourage believers that the time of judgment will eventually come. The verse has no relevance to creation.

      Furthermore, the passage you quoted from Hebrews 4:9 about the Sabbath rest also has nothing to do with the creation discussion. The author of Hebrews is alluding to Genesis 2:3 as an example of what it means to rest from our works and enter God's rest. It is a rest that we must, paradoxically, strive to enter (Heb 4:11).

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  2. Is a day in the Bible always literally 24 hours in length? Genesis 2:4 speaks of “the day that (יהוה) God made earth and heaven.” This one day encompasses all six of the creative days of Genesis chapter 1. According to Bible usage, a day is a measured period of time and can be a thousand years or many thousands of years. The Bible’s creative days allow for thousands of years of time each. Further, the earth was already in existence before the creative days began. (Genesis 1:1) On this point, therefore, the Bible account is compatible with true science.—2 Peter 3:8.

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    1. No, a day is not always literally 24 hours in length in Scripture. Context determines the precise meaning of the word. Other passages in Scripture can also clarify the meaning of a word in another passage. Exodus 20:8-10, I believe, clarifies that the days in Genesis 1 are approximately 24 hour days.

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    2. Ex 20:8-10 is dealing with the Sabbath day not the creative days.
      Man’s situation does not compare with that of the Creator, who does not reside within our solar system and who is not affected by its various cycles and orbits. Of God, who is from time indefinite to time indefinite, the psalmist says: “For a thousand years are in your eyes but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch during the night.” (Ps 90:2, 4)For man, a 1,000-year period represents some 365,242 individual time units of day and night, but to the Creator it can be just one unbroken time period in which he begins the carrying out of some purposeful activity and brings it on to its successful conclusion, much as a man begins a task in the morning and concludes it by the day’s end.

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    3. I do not disagree that God is eternal and that, to Him, the entire history of this world would be but a blink of the eye.
      Ex 20:8-10 explains that the pattern God followed in creating the world, six days of work and one day of rest, is a pattern Israel should also follow. God made the world in six days, and so Israel should work six days and rest on the seventh (Ex 20:11). Obviously you disagree that the days Israel typically experienced were not the same length as the days at creation.

      If anything, Ex 20:8-11 is more relevant to the creation discussion than Ps 90:2,4, since Ex 20:8-11 directly references the creation week, whereas Ps 90:2 is making a statement concerning the eternality of God-- that God existed before all things.

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    4. It is rare to find someone so interested in spiritual matters. I commend you for your diligence and research, I hope we can reason together and come up with the truth of the matter. Remember our goal is to glorify God, and come to an accurate knowledge of his truth. Unfortunately tonight is my church night and I will have to continue this discussion tomorrow.
      Forgive me.
      Your brother in (יהוה) service

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