One of the biggest questions humanity wonders is “How old is the Earth?”. This question stumps many, especially Christians. Throughout the Bible, it is made plainly known that God is the Creator of all things. Yet, the first book of the Bible, Genesis, details creation in a very intricate and quite odd way.
God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then rested on the seventh (Genesis 1). In Genesis 2, God created Adam and Eve: Adam out of the dust of the ground and Eve from Adam’s rib.
What is recorded in Genesis has caused many to question and even argue about the validity of the Bible and science. Scientists claim the Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old, while some Christians adamantly argue that Genesis is the literal documentation of the start of all life, so the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
As Christians, who and what can we really trust? Does the Bible document world history? Is the Earth really 6,000 years old? Should Christians deny science?
But science is actually something Christians can reason with. Science studies nature, and God is the Creator of nature – the Creator of all things. Through science, we can understand the beautiful intricacies of God’s creation on Earth.
When we reason with ourselves, our standard should also be God’s Word. But this does not mean we need to take everything found in the Bible literally. The Bible is filled with knowledge, it is logical, and we can find answers to these questions if we thoroughly seek for them.
First, we can reason with the Bible to find answers for how old the Earth really is.
In Genesis 1:1-2, it says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Over the next several chapters, Genesis details how God created the heavens and the Earth, and how Adam was created “from the dust of the ground” (Gen 2:7). This is where believers interpret this section of the Bible literally, and believe Adam and Eve were the first two human beings on the planet.
But there are several discrepancies if we interpret this literally; first, if Genesis was the literal account of creation, then who wrote Genesis?
The book of Genesis was actually written by Moses, the pastor of God who led the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.
However, Moses appears nearly 3,500 years after Adam and Eve. Even the Jewish faith recognizes the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) are written by Moses. So, how could we reason with this? We can actually find our answer in the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews 3:5, Paul describes Moses as “[a] faithful servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future.” If Moses testified to what would be said in the future, that makes Moses a prophet. If he wasn’t even alive during the time of Adam and Eve, then Genesis may not be a literal interpretation, but something spiritual, something greater that God was showing to Moses of the future.
Another story within Genesis we can also examine is the story of Cain and Abel. As infamous as it is, we can reason with Scripture and continue to wonder if Genesis really is a literal interpretation of creation.
Cain and Abel are Adam and Eve’s two sons; Cain worked in the field while Abel tended to flocks, and offered the fruits of their labor to God (Genesis 4:3-4). Ultimately, God rejected Cain’s offering but accepted Abel’s, which leads to Cain murdering his own brother (Genesis 4:5-8). As the story progresses, Cain is punished by God for what he did, and when speaking to God says, “… I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
Who could possibly want to kill Cain?
If Adam, Eve, Cain (and Abel) are the only people on Earth at this time, who else could Cain be afraid of? In verse 17, it also says that “Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch…” Who is Cain’s wife? Some speculate that it could be Eve, but how could that be? Could Eve lay with her own son, Cain, and then lay with Adam once again to have Seth at the end of the chapter?
The Bible is something we must reason with, and God made it so. We are logical creatures for a reason. If the Bible was to be taken literally, then God would have clearly stated that the Earth was 6,000 years old. Our answers would be crystal clear; God does not want to confuse us.
Let’s also briefly examine the fields of science and history. With rapidly advancing technology, researchers are able to analyze fossils, historical artifacts, and ancient manuscripts and determine their age. Ancient artifacts often date back thousands and millions of years – far beyond the 6,000 year old Earth many claim is recorded in the Bible. Yes, we can argue that science can be inaccurate – even scientists acknowledge that the field of science is always changing – but the Earth only being 6,000 years old would challenge many ancient civilizations around the world.
For example, Chinese history predates 6,000 years, yet nowhere in the Bible does it record any Chinese history. So then, where did Chinese people originate? Did they pop up out of nowhere? Where were Chinese people prior to Adam and Eve?
But when we examine the Bible further, we can see that only the histories of Judaism and Christianity can be found. Here, we can begin to understand that the Bible only details biblical history – the history of God and His people – and not world history.
So, from what we have understood so far, is the Earth really only 6,000 years old? Most likely not. How old is it then? Scientists claim it’s billions of years old, but how can we really know? The most popular theories for creation are the Big Bang Theory and evolutionism. But these are all still theories, not facts. It is difficult for us to study about the creation of everything, when we are part of that creation too.
If God really wanted us to know the beginnings of creation, then He would have made it clear through His Word. When we really think about it, is knowing the beginning of creation something needed for salvation? Will it help us to be saved?
What God gave us through Biblical history are warnings and examples for us to not repeat the same mistakes. Adam and Eve betrayed God, they were deceived by the serpent and sinned. We can learn not to make this mistake again. Eve’s response to the serpent is quite poor; we can clearly tell she did not have God’s Word deeply rooted in her heart. She barely understood God’s command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (compare Eve’s response in Genesis 3:2-3 to what God commanded in Genesis 2:16-17). Although the Bible may not answer for us how old the earth is, it is a book that contains the teachings and commands of God that lead to eternal life. Let us search for those answers to heaven and salvation, and let us understand God better.