Secular scientists today believe the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old. However, this is both unsupported by the Biblical view of creation and actual scientific evidence. Many of the methods used for dating and determining ages involve guessing, false assumptions or extrapolation. This means that scientists work out the rate at which something is occurring today, and then use this to predict data for billions of years ago.
However, this is unreliable, as we cannot necessarily assume that these rates/measurements have always been consistent. For example, we do not know that the speed of light has always been the same, so may not be able to work out the distance and age of stars using it.
What does the Bible say?
The Bible teaches that God created the heaven and the earth around 6000 years ago. This is sometimes called young-earth creationism. This age of 6000 years comes from studying the Bible, through the genealogies (lines of descent and ages of death etc. given in the Bible), accounts of people’s lives, families and events from the Bible, as well as historical records.
James Ussher was a Bible scholar, and studied lineages and dates in the Bible, languages and history to attempt to establish a date for creation, and thus establish an age for the universe. He calculated creation for the year 4004 BC, making the universe around 6000 years old today.
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician and astronomer who dated creation to 3992 BC, Gerhard Hasel calculated 4178 BC, and Isaac Newton estimated 4000 BC, alongside many more. Although these dates differ slightly, the important thing is that they are all within a hundred years of each other and so, to an extent, agree to an approximate age of the earth.
What evidence is there for a young earth?
There is a vast range of evidence that the universe is only a few thousand years old, rather than the proposed billions of years. For example, the stars in our galaxy are
spinning so fast that if the universe were more than a few hundred million years old, we could not have the spiral shape that we do. Furthermore, our galaxy has a supernova (a huge explosion of a star) approximately every 25 years, which explodes matter into space which should remain for millions of years. However, we can only observe 7000 years worth of supernovas.
Another argument involves the movement of the moon. The moon is spiralling away from the earth slowly, so reversing this calculation we can work out that 6000 years ago, the moon would be around 250 metres closer to us. However, less than 1.5 billion years ago the moon would have been touching the earth, and yet scientists argue that the earth is 13.8 billion years old.
Also, radioactive decay releases helium into the atmosphere, but we do not have the amount we would expect to see. The total amount we have in our atmosphere is only 1/2000 of what it would be if the universe was billions of years old.
Population genetics shows that the human genome (set of genes) can only be several thousand years old because of the decay and mutations over generations, and yet evolutionists argue that humans evolved over 100,000 years ago. Additionally, even using a small rate of population growth, if humans had been on the earth this long it is impossible that our population would only be the size it is today. However, using an average population growth, this fits the origin of the universe and humanity as around 6000 years ago. Also, human history has only been recorded back around 5000 years through stone tablets and other methods of writing, but not before.
What about radiometric dating?
An isotope is a form of an element (e.g. a form of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen). If they are unstable, they become radioactive, so will decay and change to another element. By measuring the amount of the original isotope (parent isotope) compared to the one it is decaying into (daughter isotope) we can attempt to measure how long the isotope has been decaying for, and thus the age of the rock. Geologists mainly use five isotope pairs to measure the age of rocks:
Uranium-238 which decays into Lead-206
Uranium-235 which decays into Lead-207
Potassium-40 which decays into Argon-40
Rubidium-87 which decays into Strontium-87
Samarium-147 which decays into Neodymium-143
However, this calculation assumes that we can know how many unstable parent atoms there were at the beginning based on the number of parent and daughter isotope left today, and also that the rate of change and decay has always been constant. From a Biblical view, this could have been altered by the events of creation or Noah’s flood. Finally, it assumes that the daughter atoms were all produced through the decay of the parent isotope and not through any outside forces or contamination. Already, the process seems fallible, but here are some further examples of issues:
- Scientists tested volcanic matter from a 1954 volcanic eruption in New Zealand and found that some parts were supposedly 3.5 million years old using potassium-argon dating. If this method cannot be trusted for samples of known age, why should we trust it for things of unknown age?
- Mount St. Helens erupted in 1986, some of the cooled lava was tested using potassium-argon dating, which said the age of the rock was 350,000 years old, and individual minerals were aged at 2.8 million years.
- In Australia, some wood was found contained inside basalt, and yet when tested, the wood was found to be 45,000 years old, but the rock was dated at 45 million years old! This is impossible.
- Basalt from a volcanic eruption in Hawaii in 1959 was supposedly 1.7-15.3 million years old.
- Rock from Mount Etna’s eruption in 1972 was found to be 210,000-490,000 years old.
What about carbon-14 dating?
Carbon-14 dating is a type of radiometric dating involving carbon. When an organism is alive, it takes in carbon-14 (C-14). When it dies, this stops and the C-14 decays into N-14 because it is a radioactive isotope. By calculating the amount of C-14 left today, scientists can theoretically work out how long the organism has been dead, by comparing the ratio of C-14 to carbon-12 (C-12 is a stable isotope so does not change).
However, this only works for up to 50,000 years ago, and also depends on whether the ratio of C-14 to C-12 was the same in the past as it is today. Even with ‘reliable’ results there is always a degree of uncertainty, and dates are usually given with a ± (meaning there could be a number of years added or subtracted).
There are a number of problems with the carbon-14 dating process and an evolutionary timescale of billions of years. For example:
- There is measurable C-14 in dinosaur bones, but if dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years, there should not be any carbon left in their bones. Both triceratops and hadrosaur bones have also been found to contain collagen, which decays within a few thousand years.
- A scientist named Dr. Willard Libby found that C-14 would take 30,000 years to reach equilibrium, and yet it has still not reached this stage.
- Samples more than 50,000 years old should not have any measurable C-14. Coal, oil and natural gas are supposed to be millions of years old, yet some of them contain measurable amounts of C-14.
- Dr. Steven Austin submitted rock samples for analysis to a lab who were not told that the specimen was only 10 years old, and they found that the rock was supposedly up to 2.8 million years old.
Can’t billions of years work alongside the Bible?
There are a range of reasons why accepting the proposed 13.8 billion year age of the universe cannot be consistent with the Bible. First of all, the Bible clearly teaches that God created the heaven and the earth in six days a few thousand years ago. When the scientific evidence against this is so weak, why go against scripture?
Also, the Bible is not intended to be a science book, but it never contradicts any valid findings of science. If we begin reinterpreting everything the Bible clearly teaches (such as creation and the age of the earth) in light of falsifiable science, it corrupts the eternal standing of the Bible. God is not the author of confusion, he did not write things that we cannot understand without findings of modern science, or that we need science to be able to understand.
If we reject the fundamental origins of the universe given within the Bible, how long until Christians begin to reject the resurrection of Jesus as ‘impossible by the laws of science’? There are some things Christians have to accept as miracles and only due to the divine power of God, otherwise it leads to a slippery slope of rejecting everything in the Bible as ‘non-literal’ when it contradicts the views of the secular scientific world. Proverbs 30:5-6 says “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
If Christians compromise and ‘add’ evolution to the Bible, if one day the theory of evolution is rejected by the world and replaced with a new theory, we will be seen as foolish and the word of God will be discredited. We need to stick with what the Bible clearly says (without needing any scientist to explain it to us) and has always said, rather than the always changing theories of science.
Furthermore, the Bible teaches that death, disease, decay and suffering are a consequence of sin. When God created everything, he created animals and humans vegetarian (Genesis 1:29-30, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.” Meat means food here). In the original creation before Adam and Eve sinned, everything was created “very good”, because there was no death.
Animals were not killed for food or other purposes, everything lived in harmony. After Adam and Eve sinned, death came into the world, and the curse of sin. God warned them if they ate the fruit from the tree they would die both spiritually (through their separation from God) and physically (no longer having eternal life), Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Because of their sin, God had to kill an animal to cover their nakedness (a picture of a blood sacrifice for sin), which is where death was brought into the world. This is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ coming and shedding his blood on the cross so that man’s sin could be covered and atoned for. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
In order for this to be consistent and reliable, death cannot have occurred before Adam and Eve sinned, as through their sin death was brought into the world. If Christians accept millions or billions of years for the age of the earth, this means that death would have happened before sin, which undermines the gospel of Jesus Christ.