Tag Archives: age of the earth

Young Earth/Old Earth, the debate rages on

As a preliminary statement, I would like to say that I think old vs. new earth is a fruitless debate that has sidetracked much of evangelicalism from other doctrines (like the infallibility of Scripture) that are far more important. In short, I don’t think there is enough data in the bible to make a conclusion one way or the other based on Biblical data alone. I don’t think the age of the earth is something the Bible was intended to answer and I think asking that question of it is an effort in futility at best.

That said, as one who leans more towards the old earth side of things I’ll appeal to the modified gap theory (held by many evangelical leaders and professors lest we think it is a “fringe movement” or something overly new) which does, in fact, hold to 7 literal 24 hour periods in Genesis 1:2 on. The “modified” moniker is there because there are usually some things people tack on to the original gap theory I’m not willing to follow, but I believe all of the main points in the wiki above, as well as the theopedia article are sound and help us avoid the following issues.
  1. If Genesis is supposed to be a detailed account of the creation (rather than recreation) of the world, where did the water come from we find the Spirit of God hovering over?
  2. As far as God making something look old; How do you get past the deception inherent in such a position?
  3. As far as science goes I’ll bring in a good quote from Galileo Galilei, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same Lord who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use. Why mistrust science when the age of the earth:
    1. is not directly addressed in Scripture and
    2. poses no threat to any major doctrine?

    There are at least two reliable sources that date the age of the earth past 10,000 years which is commonly held as the threshold of “young” earth proponents which are the redshift (specifically the cosmological redshift) and background radiation. Both of which measure the age of the universe in the billions of years.

  4. If the Earth is, indeed, young. And if it really matters that we believe that in order to “truly believe the Bible”, how come the Jews didn’t pass that down in their traditions? Why did we wait for Ussher, a Catholic bishop in the 16th century, to add up the genealogies and tell us that? Why did it never occur to anyone before the 16th century to date the age of the earth based on the genealogies in the Bible? Could it be that it just wasn’t that important?
To end with; I think this debate hurts us far more than it helps as it tends to be the number one thing atheists and non-Christians tend to go for which, if we follow their pied piper tune down this rabbit trail, has the potential to derail any gospel presentation as we fight to maintain a tertiary doctrine at best.
This issue also manages to divide us needlessly, as I often hear unhelpful and erroneous comments like “well, of you believe in the Bible you’d accept a young earth”, as if those of us who disagree somehow believe less or are nefariously looking for a way to smuggle in something like progressive creationalism or theistic evolution.
The truth is that this is an unsettled issue that, while it may be fun to debate and kick around in Christian circles, is not a core doctrine, not worth dividing us, and certainly not worth preaching to the world outside our walls about.