Soap Box: The Earth's Age - Bible vs. Science
July 10, 2002
There are two basic schools of thought when it comes to the age of the earth. Science generally presents the age of the earth to be somewhere around 4.5 billion years old. That's quite a huge number. The bible on the other hand, when analyzed, puts the earth at around 6 thousand years old (with includes 6 days for its creation). The separation between the ages is so large that one has to belong in one camp or the other, there is no middle ground. You either believe in an old earth or a young earth. Think about it, the old earth believers are saying that the earth is 750 thousand times more older than what young earth believers say. Some people believe the earth a little older than the 6 thousand year figure and some people believe the earth might be a little younger than the 4.5 billion year figure but the difference is still so great that there is still essentially two camps. The only other consideration might be those that believe that God created a universe 6 thousand years ago, but made it look old.
So which one is correct? Personally I belong to the old earth camp. I believe there is enough science to prove that the earth is very, very old. Even if the science is off by many factors, the earth would still be much older than 6 thousand years. Why do I think the earth is old? Because too much has to be wrong for it to be young. It's not a simple matter of one dating method being wrong. All of them have to be wrong, along with other theories, for the earth to be as young as 6 thousand years.
First of all, rock and fossil dating methods have to be wrong. A popular method of determining age is to use radiometric dating. These methods are based on the known, regular decay of certain radioactive elements (isotopes). This includes the Carbon 14 method that most people have heard of, as well as potassium-argon or rubidium-strontium dating methods. Other methods include noting the Stratigraphic order, or basically the layering (folding or faulting) of sedimentary or volcanic rock layers. For the earth to be young, all of these have to be wrong.
The theory behind the way fossils are thought to form has to be wrong. The idea that minerals slowly replace the bone over millions of years has to be in error for the earth to be young. Fossils would have to form at a much faster rate and maybe with an entirely different process.
The way caves and canyons are thought to have formed would also have to be wrong. Some are thought to be formed from water erosion over millions of years. Some stalagmites and stalactites are considered thousands of years older than the young earth's age. Now I have seem some young earth believers try to counter this by pointing out cases where stalactites have formed rapidly, such as in transportation tunnels. And I saw one picture of a preserved bat that was incased in a "stalagmite", which suggested fast formation. But either by ignorance or deception, these cases are not considering what the formation is made of. Some minerals dissolve and deposit much quicker than others. I can make a "stalagmite" within seconds on the beach using water and sand (use to make my sand castle spires this way). But this doesn't compare to the hard rock stalagmites and stalactites that the geologist are talking about.
And what about the formation of other minerals and materials? Diamond, coal, oil, etc? What about the way rock layers are laid down and mineral deposits? All the theories behind their formation have to be wrong for the earth to be young.
What about the mountains and continents? Mountains are thought to form over millions of years as continental plates plow into each other. This too has to be wrong for the earth to be young. Continental drift, if it happens at all, has to be blazing fast in comparison if we live upon a young earth.
Look to the sky on a clear night and you'll see thousands of stars. There are also galaxies that contain millions of other stars, which means the universe has billions of them. Current stellar evolution theories believe that stars take millions of years to form. Then, according to their size, they could live hundreds of millions of years or billions of years. According the young earth theory, all of this is wrong. And consider how far away some of objects are. Some are thousands of light years, some are millions of light years, and some, such as quasars, are billions of light years away. How can the earth be young, if we are seeing light that took over a million years to get here in the first place? The young earth theorists would say that all of our methods of measuring stellar and galactic distances are wrong, or that the theories behind light and how it travels are wrong.
And what about tidal coupling with planetary-moon systems. The moon is tidally locked with the earth. The moon rotates once on its axis as it makes one revolution around the earth. This is why we are only able to see one side of the moon from earth. And this is not a coincidence, it has been observed with other moons around the planets of our solar system. Astronomical theories think tidal coupling takes billions of years to stabilize. But according to young earth proponents, this too has to be wrong.
So think about it for a moment. For the earth really to be a relatively young age of 6 thousand years old, one of two things has to be true. The first is that God made it to appear old. This is entirely possible and there would be no way to prove it false. This would be a case where the science is right because God made it that way and our science is based off of what we see (i.e. God's creation). But so far I've only seen the young earth proponents argue for the second case, which is that all the science is wrong. This stance is harder to swallow for me than God just making it old. As I've pointed out, too many theories and science methods have to be wrong. Fossil formation theories have to be wrong. Cave and canyon formation theories have to be wrong. Mineral formation and deposit theories have to be wrong. Mountain formation theories have to be wrong. Continental drift theories have to be wrong. Star formation theories have to be wrong. Galaxy distances have to be wrong. Planetary physics theories have to be wrong. And so on and so on. For the earth to only be 6 thousand years old, ALL of it has to be wrong!
While I might could except a few of the scientific theories being in error, I can't fathom that every single one of them are wrong. This is especially the case when we have unrelated fields such as geology and astronomy both giving old earth figures.
And for those that think an old earth means a God-less earth, think again. Believing in an earth that is billions of years old still gives you two paths to choose from while maintaining your religious faith. The first was mentioned above, that God made the earth and universe to appear old, for whatever reason. The second is that the bible has areas that shouldn't be taken literally. Remember that it was written by men that had no concept of science and how it worked. They tried their best to explain the world around them given what they knew and could see. Godly inspiration doesn't necessarily equate to scientific writing and understanding. I don't understand the science of how Jesus turned water into wine, but I'm sure He just followed some divine formula, known to us as a miracle.
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