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How Old is Our Earth? – A Look From Historical & Genealogical Perspectives
How old is our earth? How old can the planets be? How old can the other galaxies in our universe be? How long ago did the dinosaurs walk the earth, or did they at all? We all have questions that we don’t understand, but hear about or see shows about on TV, so we listen to them and try to believe what they tell us because we certainly do not have the time, nor the expertise to chase down all of the answers for ourselves… or do we?
Now here is something to think about… IF there is a Master Designer out there, a God that was able to create all things, isn’t it just possible that He may have made things already matured, aged, or old? Isn’t it possible that He would also have the power to create things one way, then change how they work? Or maybe advance the timelines a bit by using certain physical and/or divine interventions? After all, according to Genesis, He created a man, then a woman… not a baby boy and a baby girl, right? And He made birds, not chicks; fish, not guppies; and trees, not planting seeds. It would only be logical to assume that with the maturity of all of these other things that He also made other geological formations in a mature state as well. Maybe it takes gazillions (my own word) of years for our world to make coal, or oil, or diamonds, etc., but if a Creator could breathe the stars into existence and form the world, separating land from water by speaking it into existence and order, then why would we question whether He could have or would have created the rest of the world into a mature livable state? Scientists, some with their limited man-made philosophies and theories, would have us believe that the world has been here for millions of years and that our universe is perhaps billions of years old. I have a few problems with that logic.
First, consider the damage that we have already done in the briefly documented history of mankind. We have used innumerable resources, depleting some to critical low levels or completely. We have damaged our ozone layer. We have done countless things to contaminate our water, our air, and our land. If our earth is millions of years old, I truly believe that we would have destroyed it by now ourselves, or at the very least made it uninhabitable. Now, yes, I believe that if God exists, and I firmly believe that He does, He could have enlightened us to new energy sources, etc. to keep us going, as He does always provide. So, that’s fine, assume I’m completely wrong here if you want.
Where is there any account of history that enables you to completely understand and account for the number of years the earth has been in existence? The ONLY place I know of is the Bible itself. If you don’t believe in the Bible as a divine writing or instruction from God, then consider this from a historical perspective, because the Bible has proven to be very accurate concerning historical evidences.
There are actually a couple of ways of determining the age of our earth by using historical means in the Bible, and both result in the same timeframe. One is through historical events, and the other is through the documented genealogy.
Using Historical Events
Beginning with 0 (zero) A.D., and counting back to the archeological landmark event of the fall of Jerusalem, which has now been corrected to 588 B.C., instead of 586-587 B.C., then counting backwards the number of years prophesied between this event and the division of Solomon’s kingdom (390 yrs. + 40 yrs., according to Ezekiel 4:4-7), would bring us to 1018 B.C. Going from the end of Solomon’s 40-year reign to the start of the Temple in the 4th year of his reign takes us back another 37 years to 1055 B.C. Then, from the start of Solomon’s Temple “in the 480th year”, according to 1 Kings 6:1, back to the Exodus from Egypt (hence 479 years previous) brings us to about 1534 B.C. The Exodus out of Egypt to Abraham’s entering Canaan from Haran was exactly 430 years to the day, as we can gather from Genesis 12:10, Exodus 12:40, & Galatians 3:17, thus bringing us to around 1964 B.C. Since Abraham entered Canaan at age 75, according to Genesis 12:4, he was born approximately 2039 B.C. From Abraham’s birth to Noah’s grandson (Shem’s son), Arpachshad’s birth, 2 years after the Flood started, was 290 years, as we read in Genesis 11:11-26. This places the onset of the Flood at around 2331 B.C. Definitely in the range of 4,300-4,400 years ago. The genealogy of Genesis 5:3-32 precludes any gaps due to its tightly structured chronology, thus giving us 1,656 years between Creation and the Flood, and bringing Creation Week back to near 3987 B.C., or approximately 4000 B.C.
Therefore, the biblical age of the Earth (using Scripture itself as a guide) is only about 6,000 years old!! According to this historically documented account, mankind did not evolve 4 million years ago on an Earth which is 4.5 billion years old in a universe which was “big-banged” into existence 18-20 billion years ago in the distant past. Jesus Christ, the Creator Incarnate, said He made mankind male and female in the beginning, in Mark 10:6, and that when the heavens and the earth were commanded into being, as read in Genesis 1:1, they “stood up together” (Isaiah 48:13) not billions of years apart !!
While we will discuss the genealogical method at length here, we will not delve into the individual “begets” that are listed in the Biblical Scriptures, but rather on the subject more from a whole context and deeper logical level. As every student of the Sacred Scriptures is aware, the Bible contains lengthy genealogies. These records play a vital role in biblical literature, which is clear from the amount of space devoted to them in God’s Word. Furthermore, they also provide a tremendous protection of the text via the message they tell. That message is this: man has been on the Earth since the beginning, and that beginning was not very long ago. While genealogies and chronologies serve various functions in the literature of Scripture, one of their main purposes is to show the historical connection of great men to the unfolding of Jehovah’s redemptive plan. These lists, therefore, form a connecting link from the earliest days of humanity to the completion of God’s salvation system. In order for them to have any evidential value, the lists must be substantially complete. An article on the subject from Apologetics Press continued with the following: Yet some Bible believers-determined to incorporate evolutionary dating schemes into God’s Word-have complained that the biblical genealogies may not be used for chronological purposes because they allegedly contain huge “gaps” that render them ineffective for that purpose.
Donald England has suggested, for example: “Furthermore, it is a misuse of Biblical genealogies to attempt to date the origin of man by genealogy” (1983). John Clayton advocated the same view when he wrote: “Any attempt to ascribe a specific or even a general age to either man or the Earth from a Biblical standpoint is a grievous error”. Clayton also stated: “The time of man’s beginning is not even hinted at in the Bible. There is no possible way of determining when Adam was created”. In so commenting, most writers reference (as does Clayton) the nineteenth-century author, William H. Green (1890), whose writings on the genealogies usually are accepted uncritically-and acclaimed unjustifiably-by those whose intent is to insert “gaps” (of whatever size) into the biblical genealogies. Thus, we are asked to believe that the biblical genealogies are relatively useless in matters of chronology. However, these same writers conspicuously avoid any examination of more recent material which has shown that certain portions of Green’s work either were incomplete or inaccurate. And while references to the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 are commonplace, discussions of material from chapter 3 of Luke’s Gospel appear to be quite rare.
Two important points bear mentioning in regard to genealogical listings. First, to use the words of Custance: “We are told again and again that some of these genealogies contain gaps: but what is never pointed out by those who lay the emphasis on these gaps, is that they only know of the existence of these gaps because the Bible elsewhere fills them in. How otherwise could one know of them? But if they are filled in, they are not gaps at all! Thus, in the final analysis the argument is completely without foundation.” If anyone wanted to find gaps in the biblical genealogies, it was Dr. Custance, who spent his entire adult life searching for a way to accommodate the Bible to an old-Earth scenario. Yet even he admitted that arguments alleging that the genealogies contain sizable gaps are unfounded. Second, even if there were gaps in the genealogies, there would not necessarily be gaps in the chronologies therein recorded. The question of chronology is not the same as that of genealogy. This is a critical point that has been overlooked by those who suggest that the genealogies are useless in matters of chronology.
The “more recent work” alluded to above as documenting the accuracy of the genealogies is from James B. Jordan, who reviewed Green’s work and showed a number of his arguments to be untrustworthy. To quote Jordan: “Gaps in genealogies, however, do not prove gaps in chronologies. The known gaps all occur in non-chronological genealogies. Moreover, even if there were gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, this would not affect the chronological information therein recorded, for even if Enosh were the great-grandson of Seth, it would still be the case that Seth was 105 years old when Enosh was born, according to a simple reading of the text. Thus, genealogy and chronology are distinct problems with distinct characteristics. They ought not to be confused.” Unfortunately, many who attempt to defend the concept of an ancient Earth have confused these two issues. For example, some have suggested that abridgment of the genealogies has occurred and that these genealogies therefore cannot be chronologies, when, in fact, exactly the opposite is true, as Jordan’s work has documented. Matthew, for example, is at liberty to arrange his genealogy of Christ in three groups of 14 (making some omissions) because his record is derived from more complete lists available via the Old Covenant. In the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, remember also that the inclusion of the father’s age at the time of his son’s birth is wholly without meaning unless chronology is intended. Else why would the Holy Spirit provide such “irrelevant” information? Plus, there are other important considerations.
Observe the following in chart form. Speaking in round figures, from the present to Jesus was roughly 2,000 years-a figure obtainable via secular, historical documents. From Jesus to Abraham also was approximately 2,000 years-another figure that is verifiable historically.
Present to Jesus 2,000 years
Jesus to Abraham 2,000 years
Abraham to Adam ? years
The only figure missing is the one that represents the time period from Abraham to Adam. Since we know that Adam was the first man (1 Corinthians 15:45), and since we know as a result of Christ’s testimony that man has been on the Earth “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10:6; cf. Romans 1:20-21), if it were possible to obtain the figures for the length of time between Abraham and Adam we then would have chronological information providing the relative age of the Earth (since we also know that the Earth is only five days older than man-Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11; 31:17). The figure representing the time span between Abraham and Adam, of course, is not obtainable from secular history (nor should we expect it to be) since large portions of those records were destroyed in the Great Flood (which interestingly enough is commonly believed to have happened, even by those ‘non-believers’). But the figure is obtainable-via the biblical record. Allow me to explain.
First, few today would doubt the fact that from the present to Jesus has been approximately 2,000 years. [For our purpose here, it does not matter whether Christ is viewed as the Son of God since the discussion centers solely on the fact of His existence-something that secular history documents beyond doubt.] Second, in Luke 3 the learned physician provided a genealogy that encompassed 55 generations spanning the distance between Jesus and Abraham-a time frame that archaeology has shown covered roughly 2,000 years (see Kitchen and Douglas, 1982, p. 189). Third, Luke documents that between Abraham and Adam there were only twenty generations. Thus, the chart now looks like this:
Present to Jesus 2,000 years
Jesus to Abraham 2,000 years (55 generations)
Abraham to Adam ? years (20 generations)
Since Genesis 5 provides the ages of the fathers at the time of the births of the sons between Abraham and Adam (thus providing chronological data), it becomes a simple matter to determine the approximate number of years involved. In round numbers, that figure is about 2,000 (see Arthur, 1999, p. 113). The chart then appears as follows:
Present to Jesus 2,000 years
Jesus to Abraham 2,000 years (55 generations)
Abraham to Adam 2,000 years (20 generations)
[The fact that 55 generations between Jesus and Abraham cover 2,000 years, while only 20 generations between Abraham and Adam cover the same 2,000 years, can be accounted for, of course, on the basis of the vast ages to which the patriarchs lived (see Thompson, 1995, pp. 265-275).]
Some have argued that there are sizable gaps in the genealogies (e.g., Clayton, 1980). But, where, exactly, should those gaps be placed, and how would they help? Observe the following. No one can place gaps between the present and the Lord’s birth because secular history accurately records that age-information. No one can insert gaps between the Lord’s birth and Abraham because secular history also accurately records that age-information. The only place one could put any “usable” gaps ( usable in regard to extending the age of the Earth) would be in the 20 generations between Abraham and Adam. Yet notice that there are not actually 20 generations available for the insertion of gaps because Jude specifically stated that “Enoch was the seventh from Adam” (Jude 14). An examination of the Old Testament genealogies establishes the veracity of Jude’s statement since, counting from Adam, Enoch was the seventh. Jude’s statement thus provides divinely inspired testimony regarding the accuracy of the first seven names in Luke’s genealogy-thereby leaving only 13 generations between which any gaps could be placed. In a fascinating article several years ago, Wayne Jackson observed that in order to accommodate the biblical record only as far back as the appearance of man’s alleged evolutionary forebear (approximately 3.6 million years), one would have to insert 291,125 years in between each of the remaining 13 generations from Abraham to Adam as provided in Luke’s genealogy (1978).
It does not take an overdose of either biblical knowledge or common sense to see that this quickly becomes ludicrous in the extreme for two reasons. First, who could believe that the first seven of these generations are so exact while the last thirteen are so inexact? Is it proper biblical exegesis to suggest that the first seven listings are correct as written, but gaps covering more than a quarter of a million years may be inserted between each of the last thirteen? Second, what good would all of this do anyone? All it would accomplish is the establishment of a 3.6 million year-old Earth; yet old-Earth creationists, progressive creationists, and theistic evolutionists need a 4.6 billion year-old Earth. So, in effect, all of this insertion of “gaps” into the biblical text is much ado about nothing.
And therein lies the point. While it may be true on the one hand to say that an exact age of the Earth is unobtainable from the information contained within the genealogies, at the same time it is important to note that-using the best information available to us from Scripture-the genealogies hardly can be extended to anything much beyond 6,000 to 7,000 years. For someone to suggest that the genealogies do not contain legitimate chronological information, or that the genealogies somehow are so full of gaps as to render them useless, is to misrepresent the case and distort the facts; facts that are based largely on secular historical confirmation. So, how old is our earth and universe? Even from a secular perspective, I would have to arrive closer to a 6,000 – 7,000 timeframe. So then, how do we explain the geological findings of multi-layered sediments and other factors that we believe date back millions of years?
Catastrophic geology can explain many of these questions. The occurrence of the “Great Flood” is one example. Catastrophic events still happen; volcanoes erupting, earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters. In all of these events, past and present, geological changes occur rapidly, unpredictably, and non-uniformly. Changes that may have taken hundreds or thousands of years, or may have never taken place, often occur in a matter of days, weeks, or months. How, therefore, can we accept the uniformitarian geological approach that certain earth-shaping and aging affects must occur over predetermined time periods when we factually know from present day experiences that this assumption is completely false? Uniform change would assume from the onset that no sudden or catastrophic events occur in order to “date” rock or strata formations. Even with the realization by some in the scientific community that some catastrophic events have occurred and some are recognized by scientists in geological dating of specific formations, we cannot be assured by any scientific methods that all events are noticed, recognized, or accurately interpreted. Nor can we assume that margins of error are small, since there is no documented evidence to support our man-made assumptions of geological dating. So, to close on this point, there is far more logical and documented evidence available to us that the earth is only about 6,000 years old. Using that same logic and the statements made in the Bible, we can also find evidence that our entire universe “stood up together” at one time, already matured and ordered, just like man, woman, the birds, the fish, the plants, and the animals.
If you are still having a hard time conceptualizing or believing this logic, then also consider the “Great Flood” as another supporting factor. Since secular historians also have evidence of and believe that the “Great Flood” occurred, perhaps this will have more resonance for you. If the “Great Flood” happened, as we have evidence of, biblically and secularly, and all life on earth was at one time destroyed by this flood, how then do we account for all life now? The “Great Flood” only occurred a few thousand years ago, which does not leave enough time for the millions of years necessary for regeneration of complex life forms according to evolutionistic theory, such as humans, animals, etc. Therefore, we are led to believe that Noah’s story of building an ark and carrying two of every kind of animal must be correct because we do exist today, as well as the animals, birds, etc. Just a thought to consider in this closing.
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