I wanted to take a moment to talk about an issue that gets many people of faith arguing with one another: How old is the earth? If you answered “exactly 6,013 years old”, then you are a staunch believer in the “Young Earth” creationism theory. And that’s fine. Do I agree? I’m not sure. And I’m not sure it really matters.
James Ussher, in his ‘Annals of the World’ did a lot of research and came up with the conclusion that Creation began in 4004 B.C. This year was arrived at using the Scriptures, and by assuming a closed-gap genealogy. That is to say, if you count backwards through all the ‘begats’, 4004 is the year you arrive at. The assumption is that no births or generations were left out. Adam lived so many years and begat Cain, Cain lived so many years and begat Enoch, etc. Because we are told the age and years they lived, the idea is that we can, in essence, figure out how old the earth is ultimately (or at least until the begatting began – and that assuming a literal six-day creation as well.)
This view leaves out the possibility that Cain perhaps begat person X, and in turn person X begat Enoch. While this may be true and may have been God’s clue to us, I also consider that we know from reading that often scripture focuses on the important people. What if there was a generation or two here or there where simply no one significant worth mentioning was born? The world ‘begat’ seems to mean ‘fathered’ or similar, which is the common understanding, but it also can mean ‘to bring forth’ or ‘to cause to bring forth’. While that may sound redundant, consider that if I have a son, and that child has a son as well, I, the grandfather, begat both my son and grandson, in the latter definition. My grandson could not be here without my son, who in turn could not be here without me.
Therefore I do feel that it is possible that certain births or generations were not mentioned simply because they may not have been worth mentioning from a scriptural standpoint. I also believe that not everything fits easily into two categories however; and by this I mean that I do not personally believe the earth is millions of years old – I do lean toward a younger earth, but do not feel that ‘young’ must mean 6,000 years, and that only two views of the earth’s age are allowed.
We must also take into account the story of creation, as this factors into our earth age as well. Even if you believe in a closed-gap genealogy, but feel that creation itself could have taken a few years, or hundreds or even thousands of years, then mankind may be 6,000 years old, though the earth itself may be older. As we’ve heard many quote “A day is like a thousand years” with the Lord, and also no doubt you’ve heard “well, how do you measure a day when the sun and moon weren’t created until the fourth day?” And so it becomes difficult to land on a certain answer. As for me, when I read Genesis 1, I lean toward a 24-hour day simply based on how it reads plainly; but when I read Genesis 2 and 3, with the way creation is described at a more detailed level, it is difficult to conceive of God planting a garden “in a day” — not that He couldn’t of course – He’s God! But maybe He wanted to take His time, right?
It is likely an argument that will not cease. All I know for sure is that I don’t know, and sometimes that’s okay. The age of the earth does not factor in to salvation. I am not sure what God thinks of the theory of evolution. If it was His idea, He probably thinks it was grand. For the record, I do not believe in the theory of evolution as purported in the typical sense. I may believe that all birds came from one or two types of birds for instance, but not that humans came from a much lower life form. This is simply because the bible says we are created in the image of God, and God Himself did not evolve from anything – He always was and always has been. There are many scientific inconsistencies within the concept of evolution itself from what I have read. One author had pointed out that if we did all evolve from a much lower organism – what were the chances of two different organisms both evolving into a male and female version, both at the stage where they could reproduce, at the same time? And if it were asexual reproduction initially, how and at what point did we convert to sexual reproduction?
But as I stated earlier, I also do not believe that things always fall easily into two buckets. I do not believe in evolution, but I am also not certain that creation took only six 24-hour days. Also, I do not believe mankind and earth have been around millions of years, yet I believe it is entirely possible it has been more than 6,000 years.