A quick look around us is enough to realize that the world we inhabit appears to be old. The great mountain ranges, the massive deserts, the frozen wastes all seem to point to an old earth. Thus this has become a popular argument either implicitly made by evolutionists or hinted at heavily in their logic. But is the earth truly old? More importantly, is it old enough for evolution to occur? This article will examine why the earth looks old and why this has an impact on the origins debate.
Before going any further in this discussion, we need to recognize that the words “old” and “young” are relative terms. To my grandparents I am young. To the kids I coach soccer for, I am old. My actual age has not changed when I am with these different groups. Rather the perception of my age has changed. So it is with the terms “old earth” and “young earth”. For the purposes of this article, “old earth” will refer to anything above 10,000 years, though most likely this number would be in the billions. “Young earth” will refer to the creationist claims of a 6,000-10,000 year old earth.
There are two potential answers for why the earth appears to be old. The first and perhaps most obvious answer is that the earth appears old because it is old. If the earth is older than ten thousand years as evolutionists and old earth creationists claim, then several things must be true. The first thing that must be true is that all natural processes must have always proceeded at the same rate. Many of these processes are used as a type of clock, to measure the age of the earth. One such process is the erosion of the Grand Canyon and other canyons like it. The rate that the Colorado River is eroding the Grand Canyon deeper has been measured. Using this known rate, scientists have then calculated the age of the Canyon. When this age is determined using this method, geologists tell us the Canyon is over seventy million years. This is much older than the ten thousand year maximum set by young earth creationists, leading old earth scientists to declare victory. This of course assumes the constant rate of erosion which is unprovable. However, constant rate of natural processes are just one thing that must be true.
A second statement that must be true if the earth is old is that the Bible is inaccurate. The Bible is the majority source for young earth claims. Genesis 5 contains a genealogy of Adam to Noah and Genesis 11 contains a genealogy of Noah to Abraham. By doing some simple arithmetic, we find that the amount of time that elapsed, per the Bible, from the beginning of the universe to Abraham, was about two thousand years. Since even secular scholars agree that Ur, Abraham’s home town, existed about four thousand years ago, this puts the age of the earth at approximately six thousand years according to the Bible. Therefore, if the earth is in fact old, then the first eleven chapters of the Bible, Genesis 1-11 must be false, at least in part. Since God wrote the Bible, that makes Him a liar. The moment God becomes a liar, He ceases to be God, by the Bible’s own standards. “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:” Hebrews 6:18. If the Bible standard is that it impossible for God to lie, yet He wrote a completely fabricated account of the origin of the universe, then He has not met the requirements to be God.
The second option when faced with the universe appearing to be old is that it was created to look that way. The Bible supports this. In Genesis 2:23-24 it says “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Clearly these verses are referencing adults, not infants. Infants do not become husband and wife. Thus Adam and Eve were certainly created with appearance of age. Further, so were the plants and animals. God put man in the Garden of Eden, which was already grown, and brought animals to Adam for him to name. Now if these animals, which had just recently been created themselves, were not already adults, many of them would have been unable to move or walk. Infant koalas, which I just recently wrote about here do not even leave their mothers pouch for the first six months after birth. That is just one example of hundreds or thousands that could be given.
Further, the universe itself gives evidence of having been created with appearance of age. For example, the universe has a nearly equal background temperature anywhere you look. Yet there is not enough time in evolutionary time scales, let alone young earth time scales, for the temperature to reach equilibrium as it has. Further, some stars are adjudged to be too far away for their light to have reached us under evolutionary time scales. Yet these same stars are clearly visible in the night sky, meaning that their light has reached us early. These are just two examples of things that do not fit the time scale, yet are clearly there to be seen.
Believing in appearance of age is beneficial to the Christian because it leaves God on His throne. Believing in long periods of time dethrones God. Claiming the earth is millions of years old makes God a liar and thus, no longer God. For the evolutionist, this is no problem. However, for any Christian who believes the earth is millions of years old, this is an issue. In fact, age of the earth is one of the top reasons cited by former Christians for why they stopped believing the Bible. Appearance of age matters. The earth is not millions of years old. God made it around six thousand years ago. Natural processes, which are assumed to operate at constant rates, have not operated at constant rates. Catastrophes, such a a global flood, could drastically alter how natural processes act and how fast they function. It makes far more sense to believe God made the world with the appearance of age, than to believe the world made itself around 4.3 billion years ago.