Neville Chamberlain, B. Elec Eng. (Hons)
Hong Kong Creation Resources Ministry
“I believe the earth is old… very old… 6,000 years old in fact!” So began Dr John Hartnett, retired Australian physicist and cosmologist, as he began a lecture on the topic of the age of the earth that I attended a few years ago.
Why would anyone risk their reputation in this scientific age by making such an assertion? And on what basis do educated laymen like me dare to question the overwhelming consensus of scientists, educational institutes, politicians, media producers and even theologians when it comes to the age of the earth? After all, most “Bible believing” scientists from Yale, MTI, Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge hold to an “old” earth position and very few top scientists hold a “young” earth one. They can’t all be wrong? Surely to believe otherwise is to hide one’s head in the sands of ignorance.
For those of us who are Christians, does it matter anyway? After all, we believe that the one thing essential for anyone’s salvation is to believe in Jesus, who He is, what He did on the cross for us, His historical resurrection form the dead and the hope of everlasting life in a new heavens and earth.
What you believe about the early chapters of Genesis doesn’t seem to have anything to do with that, surely?
Let’s unpack these questions. This will of necessity be a very brief look at only some of the factors in this very important issue. Much more material is available at https://creation.com
HOW OLD IS OLD?
Firstly, “young” and “old” are relative terms. Our grandson is 4 years old; his 70-something Nana and Grandpa must seem “old” to him! But compared to the ages of the Biblical patriarchs, even up to the time of Moses, we are spring chickens! They were truly “old” when they finally expired… the average lifespan of pre-Flood people recorded in Genesis was about 900 years. Even for these oldies, however, a 6,000 year old earth would seem “old”, just as it does to me.
That is why I prefer the term “Biblical Creation” rather than “Young Earth Creation”. The roughly 6,000 years since Creation Week is based on a straightforward reading of Genesis as history.
Looking at the chronologies recorded in Genesis 5 and 11, the age of each patriarch is given when his next of kin was born. Simple maths enables us to calculate roughly when Adam was created, since archaeological evidence gives us an approximate date for Abraham, Adam’s great16-grandson. The careful historian Luke included these patriarchs in Jesus’s genealogy (Luke 3:23ff), indicating that he believed these were real people, right back to Adam.
Calling this position “Young Earth” creationism gives credence to the Deep Time assumption that underlies the alternative position. 6,000 years is only “young” when compared to the 13-15 billion years since the supposed big bang. It is just a paper-thin layer on top of the aeons of time since nothing became everything, according to the commonly accepted consensus.
THE MAJORITY MUST BE RIGHT!
Which brings us
to the next question: why do most university professors, main-stream scientists
and beautifully crafted nature shows assert that the earth is 4.5 billion years
old? Good question. Not too many Christians think to ask this question it
seems. It is assumed that since those making the assertion are highly qualified
authorities and are in the majority, then their consensus view must be
right. But if we were to ask the majority of scientists why they believe in evolution and millions of years, their answer most often is “because the majority of scientists believe this.”
Let’s think about this for a moment. Dr Jerry Bergman, who has 9 degrees including 2 PhDs, (https://creation.com/dr-jerry-bergman) has this to say:
“One of the major methods employed to oppose critics of Darwinian theory is the consensus science argument. Consensus science is the claim that evolution is true because it is agreed by the proper authorities, meaning that most all scientists accept evolution; and, therefore, opposition to Darwinism is ‘obviously’ as foolish as claiming that the earth is flat. A typical example of the consensus claim is a statement by the National Academy of Science that “The scientific consensus around [Darwinian] evolution is overwhelming”, and, therefore, ideas that oppose it are properly censored.”
In a talk given at California Institute of Technology, Harvard-trained physician Michael
Crichton, … argued against the belief that a view was most always correct when a “consensus of a very large group of scientists” existed. The reason he condemns consensus science is because “… (the task) of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world…. in science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.”
In support of this claim, Crichton noted that the “greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus… (there) is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science … the claim of consensus is invoked … only in situations where the science is not solid enough … Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away [because it is a verifiable fact].”
Bergman’s whole article is well worth reading and reflecting on. https://creation.com/why-consensus-science-is-anti-science as is this article by physicist Dr Russel Humphries https://creation.com/why-most-scientists-believe-the-world-is-old
Scientific progress has often been hindered by insisting on the consensus view. The majority of scientists once believed the earth was the centre of the universe, for example. The church followed them by insisting on that view. Copernicus and his student Galileo were denounced for not believing what science taught. But they were later proved right: the earth does indeed rotate around the sun.
Things haven’t changed much since Galileo’s time. Ask any independent thinking staff member of most universities today what happens if they question the tenets of evolution. Some have been threatened with termination, others with grants being cut off; yet others have their academic papers refused for publication. It is simply not worth aborting one’s career by questioning the status quo!
Given this environment, it is not surprising that even Christians who work and study in universities which are known to be bastions of atheism and progressive liberalism quite naturally believe that evolution and millions of years is the truth, and that a 6,000 year “young” world is a religious fantasy.
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE FOR AN OLD EARTH – RADIOMETRIC DATING
But there are some “scientific” reasons that seem to show that the earth is very old. Doesn’t radiometric dating, for example show that the rocks in the earth are millions of years old?
answer is that the methods used in radiometric “dating” are not actually measuring
time or age. They are simply measuring, with greater and greater
accuracy as technology advances, the ratio between radioactive decaying parent
elements and their stable daughter elements in a rock. The
rate of such decay is usually exceedingly slow. Using these ratios and rates, the age of the rock is then calculated (not measured), with that calculation based on some important assumptions.
It is assumed, for example, that originally only the parent element and no daughter element were present in the rock. It is also assumed that no parent or daughter elements were washed in or washed out of the rock during the millions of years (i.e. it was a closed system); and it is further assumed that the rate of decay has never changed over this long period.
One doesn’t have to be a scientist to realize that these assumptions are unprovable. No scientist was ever there to make the observations and measurements that are the staple of the “scientific method”. One has to ask, are these assumptions reasonable?
The answer to this question can be found by some quite simple tests. For example, creationist scientists have applied radiometric dating to rocks from recent volcanic eruptions. Since the radiometric “clock” is set to zero at the time of the eruption, the true age of the rocks is known from historical records. But in many cases the calculated age is hundreds of thousands or even millions of years! Furthermore, different radiometric dating methods often produce different “ages” for the same rocks. The calculated ages and the actual ages are vastly different.
The question then becomes, if the radiometric “ages” of rocks of known age is so wrong, why do scientists trust the “ages” calculated for rocks of unknown ages? The answer is quite revealing. They simply devise a way to explain away the calculated anomaly.
Australian geologist Dr Tas Walker says, “Creationist scientists have uncovered dozens of anomalies and conflicts like this. Surprisingly, these conflicting results do not unsettle mainstream geologists. They genuinely believe the world is billions of years old, and the conflicting results do not cause them to question their belief. In their minds, these conflicts are a little mystery that will be resolved with creative thinking and more research.” (https://creation.com/radioactive-dating-anomalies)
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE FOR AN OLD EARTH – ROCKS & FOSSILS
Another supposed indicator of millions of years for the age of the earth are the layers of sedimentary rocks, which are rocks and sand that was laid down by water and then solidified, by processes supposedly occurring at the same rates as observed today. Such layers are found all over the world, sometimes thousands of feet thick, and are said to represent different epochs separated by millions of years.
But each layer lies perfectly flat on top of the preceding layer, with no sign of the erosion from weathering that should have occurred before the next layer was laid down. The year-long global flood described in Genesis better explains sedimentary rock layers than does the story of millions of years of gradual deposition during the so-called “geological ages”.
Inside sedimentary rocks we find millions of once living creatures that have been buried and now fossilized. Most people don’t realize that these creatures had to have been buried rapidly and deeply to become fossils; dead creatures do not fossilize if simply left lying on the ground or the sea floor to be slowly covered by sediment. Furthermore, it takes a lot of sediment to completely bury and fossilize something as big as a dinosaur for example! No flood or tsunami occurring today would be large enough to do the job. Some major catastrophe must have happened in the past to explain their death by drowning and burial in mass graves in so many parts of the globe. Genesis records just such a global watery event.
But if Noah’s
flood is true history, then the geological evidence for the supposed millions
of years of earth history disappears. Those rock layers were laid down over the
course of a year or so.
HOW CAN WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST?
This highlights one of the main limitations of science; science can only observe and measure things and events that exist in the present. The past cannot be observed and experimented on. So science cannot be used to prove the earth is millions of years old; nor can it be used to prove only 6,000 years. Information about events that are unrepeatable can only be obtained by historical means, and in particular, from the written records of eyewitnesses.
This is where we get to the key question Christians of all persuasions need to answer: is Genesis a true and accurate historical record about the ancient past? Or is it simply a religious fable written to tell us that there is a Creator, but not how or when he created? Is it legitimate to dismiss the global flood narrative as nothing more than a made-up story, or perhaps only a description of a local flood, given to tell us that God judges sin?
The tendency today is for theologians to impose mainstream secular ideas about the past (millions of years) onto the text of Genesis. The plain meaning of the text, however, does not in itself support millions of years. As Dr. James Barr, Professor of Hebrew, Vanderbilt University and former Regis Professor of Hebrew at Oxford university says, “Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew of Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the idea that creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience; the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story; Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.”
MODERN MAINSTREAM SCIENCE HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED
One common misunderstanding is that the millions of years conclusion is the result of scientific data. In actual fact, millions of years is an interpretation of that data based on certain assumptions. The primary assumption undergirding mainstream science today is that the origin of the universe and life must be explained by purely natural means. Invoking a supernatural Creator is not considered scientific or factual but is simply a non-factual religious idea. Science today has in effect been kidnapped by atheism, with its assertion that only matter and energy exist and that there is no actual supernatural realm. Everything, therefore, must have come about as a result of chance, time, and natural processes.
But that assertion is itself a position taken by faith, a choice to exclude the alternative explanation no matter how clear the evidence is that points in that direction. As Dr Francis Crick, co-discover of the amazing DNA helix and an ardent atheist famously said, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but evolved.”
This being the case, it seems odd that Christians try to impose an atheistic explanation of earth history on the Bible, which claims to be inspired by God the Creator who knows everything and never lies, who was there at the beginning and who seems to be telling us in plain language what he did and the order in which He did things. When the atheistic bias is removed, the data of science (the things we actually observe in the natural world) support the Biblical history of a recent creation followed by a global flood much better than they do the millions of years scenario.
ISN’T THE AGE OF THE EARTH MERELY A SECONDARY ISSUE?
This question of
the age of the earth has become such a controversial issue. Does it really
matter what we believe about this? Surely it is a secondary issue that is best
put aside in order to maintain unity.
While our understanding of the origin of everything is not essential for our personal salvation, it is important for two key reasons.
Firstly, what we believe about the creation account and the timeline of the early world affects our perception of the reliability and authority of the Bible. Charles Templeton, a colleague of Billy Graham and co-founder of Youth For Christ, was a powerful preacher of the Gospel… until he went to a seminary that taught that millions of years could be added to Genesis. Intellectual honesty led him to abandon his belief in God, a sad outcome he tells about in his autobiography, “Farewell to God – My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian faith.” In it he wrote, “…it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact.”
Sadly, more and more young people are following in Templeton’s footsteps, who reasoned that if the miraculous events in Genesis didn’t really happen, then the amazing things recorded in the rest of the Bible couldn’t have happened either. Jesus turning water instantly into the best of wine (which by natural processes would normally take several decades) is different only in degree to him creating a fully grown adult man instantly from the dust of the ground. If mainstream science is to be believed, neither event could possibly have happened… such fantastic stories are no more than fairy tales.
Resurrection from the dead? “Come on! You don’t really believe that do you?!”
So ultimately, to believe in a millions-of-years ancient earth when the Biblical account plainly tells a different story, erodes the foundation of faith for this present generation. Believing in a 6000-year- old earth may not be essential for salvation; but the belief in millions of years is keeping many from salvation who would believe if they could be convinced the Bible is true. Stories abound of people who now believe in Jesus after becoming aware of how the evidence of science supports the Biblical account.
PREACHING ANOTHER GOSPEL
More importantly, though, if the world is millions of years old, and not 6,000 as the plain meaning suggests, the very Gospel we preach is destroyed.
The big-picture message of the whole Bible is that God created a perfect world which was then marred by sin resulting in death and decay which affected the whole natural world. Jesus died to pay for our sins and rose again to give us the hope of resurrection into a new creation restored to its former beauty, with no more sin and death.
But if millions of years preceded the appearance of Adam & Eve, this means that death existed long before they sinned. The supposed evidence for the millions of years is the layers and layers of fossils that must have been buried under their feet in the Garden of Eden; and remember, fossils are creatures that have died in their millions, some with signs of diseases such as cancer. God declares all this “very good”! In an “old earth” universe, death has no connection with sin; and God is an evil ogre who used millions of years of death and suffering to create mankind.
Richard Dawkins is one of the most strident antitheists around. Some church leaders think they can appease him by compromising the Bible with evolution. But what does Dawkins think of this? In a TV diatribe against theistic religion (2006) he said: “Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual? Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!” https://creation.com/dawkins-on-compromising-churchians
The Bible states
categorically that “…sin entered the world through one man, and death through
sin…” (Rom 5:12). Jesus came to reverse this most serious of problems that
started with Adam & Eve: “…death came through a man, the resurrection of
the dead comes also through a man…” and
“…as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:21f). THIS is the Gospel, and it starts with the historical events of Genesis. Millions of years of death supposedly evidenced by the fossils wipes out the need for a saviour dying in our place.
Paul had some strong words to say to people in his day who tampered with the Gospel truths. “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:8-10)
MAYBE THE MINORITY ARE RIGHT
The attempt to win the approval of men, to please men, may be one reason the majority of Christian scientists who graduate from prestigious universities believe in an earth billions of years old rather than in a world about 6,000 years old as the Bible plainly states.
But the minority who have stopped to think for themselves and question the “scientific consensus”, and who have examined the scientific evidence without the atheistic bias of naturalism, have been pleasantly surprised to discover overwhelming multi-disciplinary confirmation of the Bible’s account of earth history. This has greatly strengthened their confidence in the Bible and in the truth of the Gospel and the need for all mankind to know this truth.
I am proud to be numbered among this minority.
I am in good company with men far more qualified than I am, like those listed here:
Some of these scientists appear in videos we have translated or will translate, such as these: