How Old Is the Earth?

by Perry Hall

A recent conversation with an atheist who was honest enough to admit a point I had made was from a perspective she hadn't heard before. May we all be as honest!

The information below is more than what I discussed with the young lady:

In doing campus evangelism, I asked a young lady what persuaded her to become an atheist. She had once gone to a "church of Christ" and had even been baptized. She said that the Bible contradicted science, and science could be proven. So, I asked for an example. She stated that the Bible shows a young earth, but science proves the earth is extremely old.

I shared the following with her: The Bible does not contradict that the earth is old because the record in Genesis shows how age was created into the earth. For example, how long would it take the light from the stars to reach the earth? Whatever the answer is in lightyears, the light from the stars would not immediately be visible on Earth the very day the stars were created. And yet the Genesis record shows how the stars were immediately visible (Genesis 1:14-19). Therefore, when God created the stars, he created them with age because he created the stars (i.e., the source) and the light (i.e., energy) proceeding from the stars.

How many years is one light year? A light year is the distance light travels in one Earth year, which is about 6 trillion miles. (That is a 6 with 12 zeros behind it!)

  • Alpha Centauri (the nearest star system) - 4.3 years
  • Sirius (the brightest star in our sky) - 9 years
  • Betelgeuse (a bright star) - 430 years
  • Orion Nebula - 1500 years
  • Andromeda Galaxy - 2.5 million years.

I suggested an easier example: When Adam and Eve were created, does the Genesis record say they were created as babies or as adults? The answer is adults. Therefore, Adam and Eve were created with age built in.

Getting more technical, the appearance of great antiquity, which admittedly the earth has, is explained in terms of "pro-chronic or ideal time" by Philip Henry Gosse, as referred to by Ramm as follows:

"Every object of creation has two times. That which is before time or instantaneous in coming into existence is pro-chronic. That which consumes time is diachronic. All processes during the course of the world since its creation are diachronic. All things at the moment of creation were pro-chronic.”

Gosse also uses the terms real-time and ideal time. At the moment of creation, Adam's real-time was zero — actually, he did not exist until then. His ideal time was, say, for the purposes of illustration, thirty years old. A tree in the Garden of Eden would appear fifty years old (its ideal time), whereas it had just been created (its real time).

In other words, when God created each object, He created it to appear as though it had passed through the usual stages of development. Thus, the earth looked very old at the moment of creation.

Logically and physiologically, this must be true: Some types of matter are defined by their age. For example, coal versus diamonds; oil as residue from animals (if that is the origin). As another example, Adam would logically be created with age since his existence did not begin with sperm and egg.

Is there both "real" and "ideal" time seen within Genesis 1? Absolutely!

  • Day 3 - God created plants that were able to reproduce. He did not plant seeds.
  • Day 4 - God created lights, including stars (the source of light), whose light (the effect) reached Earth immediately, although light years away.
  • Day 5 - God created sea animals swimming and birds flying.
  • Day 6 - God created land animals reproducing, including the chicken that came before the egg!
  • Day 6 - God created humans able to multiply and rule over God's creation.

How is all this possible? God's creation is a miracle. For example, in John 2:1ff, Jesus turns water into wine. In real-time, the wine is only an instant old. But in an ideal time period, by definition, the wine is old enough to have gone from seed to fruit, to picking, to squeezing, etc.

This appearance is not evidence of a deceptive God. God could not create what He did without it being what it is! Nor is this appearance of an old earth only to test our faith. God had no choice. You cannot create a rock that is not old, for a rock by definition is old, just as God could not create a square circle because a circle by definition is round.

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