The Age of the Earth
Introduction: Man seems to possess an untiring preoccupation regarding the globe on which he resides. Some of this interest is beneficial to man, enhancing his lifestyle. However, some of the preoccupation is indicative of arrogance on man's part. Those who are obsessed with teaching that the earth, man, and every living thing on earth naturally began and through natural selection evolved are engaging in the zenith of gall (Gen. 1; 2). There is particular interest today relative to the age of the earth. Some geophysicists tell us the earth is 4.7 billions years old. Some theologians say the earth is only 6, 000 years old. The simple answer regarding the age of the earth is, no man knows the exact age.
I. The earth is 6,000 years old position
A. The date 4004 B.C. is found in the marginal notes (Genesis one) of many King James Versions.
a. This date was first placed in the King James Version by James Ussher in 1701. He arrived at this date by adding the lengths of the lives of the patriarchs as given in Genesis 5 and 11.
b. In reality, this dating method is not infallible for a number of possible reasons.
c. As far as the Bible is concerned, we can not date the earth with accuracy. When was "the beginning" and how long was the earth void and chaotic (Gen. 1: 1, 2)? We do not know.
II. The earth is 4.7 billions years old view
A. Scientists have employed a number of methods in trying to arrive at the age of the earth.
a. The rate of erosion.
b. Rate of salt accumulation in the ocean
c. There is also the rate of decay of certain elements such as uranium, thorium, potassium, and rubidium.
1. All of these methods including the "ore method," "meteorite method," and the dating of fossil remains are unreliable and contain many attendant variables.
III. There are a growing number of scientists who are concluding the earth is actually relatively young
A. They have studied population growth, the amount of meteoric dust on the earth's surface, the quantity of nickel in the oceans, and carbon-14 build up.
B. Many of these scientists believe the earth is more in the range of 7, 000 years old. (Another factor in the determination of the age of the earth is how much such a catastrophe such as the Noachian flood would accelerate the aging process of the earth, see 2 Peter 3: 6, 7. Notice "then was" and "which are now." The world of Noah's day ,pre-flood, was very different from the world of our day. Stress the possible and likely contributions such a flood would have, climatically, atmospherically, and geographically as far as the apparent age of the earth would be concerned).
Conclusion: One thing we do know is life begets life and creation implies a Creator: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1: 1). In all honesty, there are matters scientists and theologians do not definitively know as to the age of the earth. True science and the Bible, though, do not conflict.