How Old Is the Earth?

Posted: May 14, 2012 by Amy Hall in Etcetera, Intelligently Designed

R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries explains how he approaches this question:

  1. I am old Earth and I like it when they have a discussion with good guys like Stephen C. Meyer.

  2. Jeremy Conway says:

    Thanks for posting! Where can I see Meyer’s answer?

  3. richmahn says:

    I’m a young earth creationist, but glad to hear the discussion

  4. 6,000-10,000 years, as the “young” earthers adhere to, sounds pretty old to me. Therefore, I think it should be renamed from “young earth vs. old earth” to “old earth vs. older earth”.

  5. Ron says:

    Notice that RC is talking young earth until he brings in opinions from outside of the bible. That’s because the bible doesn’t even hint at an old earth in of itself. He tries to justify this by referring to natural revelation as also being testimony from God. Well, yeah… but… it ain’t scripture RC, and therefore it shouldn’t trump scripture. Furthermore, he makes it sound like it was only the church that was wrong about the earth being at the center of things, but that was the common belief going all the way back to Aristotle. In fact, one could argue that the church got in trouble on the issue because IT did listen so much to those talking outside of scripture in the first place.

    Furthermore, Day (Yom) almost always equals 24-hour day as defined in first use in the bible, very detailed genealogies in Gen 5 and 11 add up to a young earth, Exodus 20:9-10 talking about six days you shall labor, Noah’s global flood explains how the world looks without millions of years, God calling the earth good multiple times and then very good doesn’t make sense if evolution was taking place, and finally, Jesus himself said in Mark 10:6, “male and female were there from the beginning of creation”.

    I don’t believe that a person’s salvation is at stake because of old earth beliefs, but I do believe they undermine the authority of scripture, and that is not only a shame, but simply unnecessary.

    • @Ron: I understand your point as I was once a young earth creationist myself. However, even if you reject the old earth view, I believe it is misguided to say that the bible doesn’t even hint at an old earth. It’s true that in English it is difficult to come to the conclusion that the bible teaches that the earth is old. However, the bible does not actually say anything about exactly how old the earth is. In light of other passages regarding creation (such as in Job) and study of the original Hebrew text, the old earth view turns out to be a plausible interpretation. That’s not to say, I can say with 100% certainty that the view is correct. I just think the view is plausible. Therefore, in light of scientific evidence (revealed truth) we can rule out alternative explanations.

      I don’t think we are just catering to science either. Many people suggested alternate explanations long before scientists commonly held that the earth is billions of years old:

      Philo (10 BC-50 AD) believed that Genesis had more to do with principles of order and arrangement than with the length of time involved.

      Justin Martyr (103-165) and Irenaeus (late 2nd century AD) were early church fathers who both suggested that the days may have been long epochs.

      Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), like Philo, believed that creation could not take place in time at all since “time was born along with things which exist.” He understood the days to communicate the priority of created things, not their timing.

      Origen (185-254 AD) thought it was unreasonable to suggest that the first three days could have been counted without the moon and stars which weren’t created until the 4th day.

      Augustine (354-430 AD) thought that what was plainly obvious was that we could not know, or explain in words, what the “days” meant but that “at least we know that [the Genesis day] is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar.

      As I said, you might be right, but I don’t think you can say that the old earth view is totally incompatible with the bible. You may want to check out some of the following sources:

      • Ron says:

        Hi Spencer,

        You took issue with my saying the bible doesn’t even hint at an old earth but other than a general reference to Job you didn’t provide any specifics. My point is a simple one, and one that I believe Sproul stumbles into in the video. That point being, that any desire or need or pressure (pick whatever word you like) to believe in an old earth IS NOT coming from the bible and if one is not careful they end up allowing this outside “thing” to trump the bible. I think Hugh Ross, who you linked to, is a perfect example of this.

        You then say something that I think you really need to think about:

        “Therefore, in light of scientific evidence (revealed truth)…”.

        You, like Sproul?, have put “scientific evidence” on the same level as “revealed truth”. That is hugely problematic. The “evidence” is interpreted based on people’s presuppositions. An old earther looks at the Grand Canyon and says if things have always been the way they are it must have taken millions of years for this to have happened. The YEC says that there was a flood that caused most of this and then thousands of years of erosion after. Same evidence, interpreted differently, because of different presuppositions.

        So where do we find the “truth” in what is revealed? God’s word!!! And lo and behold, there really isn’t any conflict between “science” and the bible in the first place:

  6. Matt B says:

    Just to be upfront, I’m a YEC.
    It is interesting that RC talks about a young earth and the Bible. The idea of an old earth doesn’t come up until he talks about stuff outside the Bible (as Ron pointed out). I think I would take issue tho with the way RC portrays scripture and nature as both being revelations. While I agree that God reveals himself through nature, I think it is in a very limited way. I think that verse refers more to a general idea of God (ie his power, intelligence, etc). Afterall, we can’t really learn much about God just by studying a lion tear apart a zebra. We would assume that God is cruel! So nature can only tell us so much, and nature must be interpretted in light of scripture (which RC seems to agree that it implies a young earth).

    Another important point when it comes to God’s revelation thru nature is that nature is cursed. We live in a fallen world. Therefore, we shouldn’t put this cursed creation on the same level playing field as God’s Holy and inspired word which will last forever and is unchanging.

    Another point is that the Bible gives us propositional statements, whereas nature does not. When it comes to “natural revelation”, we are left with fallible human beings CREATING propositions about a cursed creation. So again, I don’t think it’s a fair statement to say that we should reconcile natural revelation with scriptural revelation. One is God’s word created for us to understand him, and the other is simply a cursed creation which fallen and sinful man attempts to create propositions about.

    Again, I’m not saying that God does not reveal himself in nature – I’m just saying that his revelation in nature is limited and not very detailed. We can see his power and intelligence, but we won’t learn about where death comes from or that Jesus died, simply by looking at nature.

    Anyway, this is really interesting stuff so thanks for the discussion 🙂

    God bless

  7. Matt B says:

    By the way, you can see the rest of the video ligonier website linked above and watch Stephen Meyers response!

  8. Reblogged this on Kalpesh Thakar and commented:
    How Old Is The EARTH ?

  9. Jayden says:

    how old is earth really? It is a bit older than 4,000,542,012 years old
    from 10 year old kid