To the sincere and honest student, what the Bible says about the age of the Earth deserves serious consideration. For those who believe that there is a God, that Jesus is His Son, and that the Bible is His Word, this section offers an accurate answer to the question about the Earth’s age.
It certainly would have solved many problems if God had put a verse in the Bible that said something to the effect of: “When Jesus was born, the Earth was exactly 4,134 years old.” Obviously, no such statement can be found in The Book, but that does not mean that the answer is not there. Many times, in order to find out what the Bible says about a particular subject, we must look at several different verses and piece them together like a puzzle. So, let’s take one piece at a time.
In one sense, the Bible tells us exactly how old the Earth is. In Mark 10:6, Jesus stated: “From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.” How long has humankind been on this Earth? Jesus said “from the beginning of the creation.” Genesis 1:26-31 explains that God chose the sixth day of the Creation week to form mankind from the dust of the ground. Were humans a part of that six-day beginning? Indeed they were. But what does it matter if mankind was formed on day six? Exodus 20:11 records: “For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day….” Quite simply, that piece of information, combined with the information from Genesis 1 and Mark 10:6, informs us the Earth is exactly five days older than humanity!
In order to determine the age of the Earth, then, we must determine how long man has been here—which is not as difficult as it may seem. Speaking in round figures, it has been about 2,000 years since Jesus Christ visited the Earth. Secular history volunteers that piece of information, since it is A.D. 2002 (A.D. standing for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of the Lord”). Next, we must determine how many years came between Jesus Christ and Abraham. Secular history also volunteers this figure, which turns out to be about 2,000. These two figures can be obtained from practically any secular history book.
The final number we must uncover is the number of years between Abraham and Adam. We know from Genesis 1:1-5 that the Earth was created on day one. We know from Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15:45 that Adam was “the first man.” And we know from Genesis 1 that Adam was created on day six of the Creation week. If we could determine the number of years between Adam and Abraham, that would place us within five days of “the beginning.” All that would be necessary to calculate an approximate age for the Earth would be to add the three figures together—the time from Adam to Abraham, the time from Abraham to Jesus, and the time from Jesus to us. The figure representing the time between Abraham and Adam cannot be retrieved from secular history, of course (nor should we expect it to be), since the Noahic Flood would have destroyed most, if not all, of the records pertaining to that time period. How, then, can we determine the number of years in that time span?
In chapter 3 of the book that bears his name, Luke lists 55 generations between Jesus and Abraham—a time that archaeology has determined to be about 2,000 years (see Kitchen and Douglas, 1982). In that same chapter, Luke documents that there were only 20 generations between Abraham and Adam. How much time is covered by those twenty generations? Since Genesis 5 provides the ages of the fathers at the time of the births of the sons in the period between Abraham and Adam, it is a simple matter to calculate the approximate number of years during that time span—a figure that turns out to be about 2,000. In chart form it looks like this:
|Present to Jesus
|Jesus to Abraham
||2,000 years (55 generations)
|Abraham to Adam
||2,000 years (20 generations)
[The fact that the 55 generations between Jesus and Abraham cover 2,000 years, while only 20 generations between Abraham and Adam cover the same amount of time, is explained quite easily on the basis of the vast ages of the patriarchs (e.g., Methuselah, who lived 969 years—Genesis 5:27).]
Some have argued that the genealogies in Genesis 5 cannot be used to show the age of the Earth because they contain huge gaps. But in Jude verse 14, the writer noted that “Enoch was the seventh from Adam” (he is listed, in fact, exactly seventh in the genealogies in Genesis 5:21). Therefore, we know that there are no gaps between the first seven patriarchs, because Jude, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, confirmed the Old Testament account. That leaves only 13 generations with possible gaps between them. In order to accommodate the evolutionary scenario that man has been on the Earth (in some form) approximately 3.5 million years, one would need to insert approximately 290,000 years between each of the 13 generations. It does not take a wealth of Bible knowledge or common sense to see that this quickly becomes ludicrous. Who could believe that the first seven of these generations are so exact, while the remaining 13 contain “gaps” of over 290,000 years each? What kind of biblical exegesis would that represent?
The Bible plainly teaches, after all the pieces have been put together, that the Earth is only about 6,000 or so years old. It is a young Earth after all!
Kitchen, Kenneth A. and J.D. Douglas, eds. (1982), The New Bible Dictionary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale), second edition.
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