According to carbon dating the Earth is millions of years old but according to creationism the Earth is only 6,000 years old. How can this be?

Hello - I am a longtime believer that just wants to learn more about proving the authenticity of the Bible.

One question I have that I don’t really have a clear answer for is the age of the Earth question. According to carbon dating the Earth is millions of years old but according to creationism the Earth is only 6,000 years old. How can this be? Is science wrong? Also when you date trees based off of how many rings they have…there are some trees alive today that would be more than 10,000 years old.

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Hello, @Nkwilli!

We cannot use carbon dating to determine the age of the Earth, but we can use other radiometric dating methods to determine that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

I posted these videos elsewhere, but I will also post them here. Please let me know what you think.

Hi Nathan. An age old question we will probably never know the true answer to until we are face to face with God. Even then, He may not tell us. But it’s fun speculating.
I am not a scientist, by any stretch of the imagination. However, just this afternoon, I happened to look closely at the creation sequence. I’m sure I’m not the first to see this, but it was a revelation to me today. Scientists might think I’m all wet, but this is what I saw.

First, I should premise my biblical revelation with what John Lennox has to say about the concept of “day”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FmO2XKMe6g
In Hebrew, there were four different meanings for the same word, “day”. He gives one example of our saying, “Back in my day…” . Or “in the day of (let’s say, dinosaurs)…”. So, “day” can mean more than a 24 hour period.
Using that concept, I think “day” refers to a segment of time that God took to create each stage of progression in forming the earth.
While scientists use a method such as Francisco @Francisco_Delgado has demonstrated, I believe Creationists use a 24 hour day as their biblical basis. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong).

As to what I discovered today (breaking it down to its simplest sequence), I found that God first separated light from dark = “day” one. The next segment of time (second “day”) was used to separate the water vapors on earth and in the heavens, or the firmament. Next, God created and divided the land masses from the seas, as well as forming vegetation (3rd “day”).

*However, if you look closely at the 4th “day”, He created the stars for signs and SEASONS. He also created the sun to rule the light and the moon to rule the darkness.
This is where my revelation starts: I believe that this 4th “day” established our calendar in this way: Seasons require months. Months require weeks. Reducing it further, weeks require days; days require hours, hours require minutes, minutes require seconds. So, I believe God created the 24 hour day, with the sun and moon to govern it, on the 4th “day”.

But that is not all I saw. After creating the 24 hour day, God then created animals first and started the progression of each to its kind on the 5th “day”–not using 24 hours to define “day”, but each 24 hours was part of the 5th “day”. (I hope that is clear.) Finally, He then created Man on 6th “day” made up of 24 hour days. I believe God set in motion the 24 hour day in order to give the animals and man time for sleep and time for wakefulness. Bear in mind that God remembers our frame…that we are dust. (Ps.103:14). We do not have the supernatural abilities of God to always be awake. Man was created last because he was to have dominion over all creation and to care for it. God ceased on the 7th “day”, giving man the model and command to cease from their labors on the 7th day of the week, expressly to worship Him. It’s a Holy cessation.
While vegetation does require rest periods, they are more seasonal, which is another reason I think God created the seasons after creating vegetation.

So, if we put all this together, I think both scientists and creationists are complimentary. Science is right in that the earth is billions of years old because God created in segments of time, not in 24 hour periods. But, if we realize that the fourth “day” established the 24 hour day, then time can be counted on the basis of man’s existence from the biblical 6th day, which shortens the dating. Of course, we don’t know how long Adam and Eve lived on the earth before the Fall. If Creationists count backwards to the Fall and all that took place afterwards using 24 hour timing, then the timing may closer approximate their 6000 year age of the earth.

We should also remember that Scripture refers to a day being as a 1000 years in God’s mind (2 Pet.3:8). So, taken literally, six days of creation would be 6000 years.

So, this is what I saw. Maybe it helped you to think through this ongoing debate in a different way. On the other hand, I may be leaving myself open for correction. Only God really knows :thinking:

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My authority is the bible.
Read carefully the great flood on Noah’s time. Besides raining for 40 days and 40 nights, the water that was under the earth gushed out. The earth was ripped creating the continental divides. The flood was a catastrophe of such magnitude that they have found dinosaurs dead standing up some of them even have soft tissue that could not be from million years ago.
Study Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980 and what it created in such a short period of time.
Look up Ken Ham author of Answers in Genesis.

Your observation about 24 hour days beginning on day four is interesting. I have always wondered about how God created everything and how there was light before he made the sun, moon, and stars. I’ve heard some of what John Lennox has to say and have heard even more from Ken Ham. My mind is definitely open to learning more on this topic. I was always taught to believe strictly that the universe is between 10,000-6,000 years old, but I don’t see a problem with the universe being older than the things God created on the earth (plants, animals, people). I am looking forward to reading more on this fascinating subject. :blush:

Hi Carrie @gchop. I never really put it together in my mind until yesterday. Then the “day” dawned :wink: Having light and dark was always a puzzle for me as well. But, according to the sequence, the sun was created to “rule” the light, and the moon to “rule” the dark. Keep in mind also that our sun is only one of a gazillion suns in the universe. It’s as though God just picked one of them to be ours. Isn’t it also possible that our light and dark came from the universe source because He had already created the heavens(emphasis on the plural). Genesis is about earth’s specific story. God set our stars in our galaxy for signs and seasons, the seasons suggesting 24 hour days. Definitely fascinating. Not diminishing Creationist thought, if they are using 2 Pet. 3:8, but I believe Peter was saying that time is not an issue with God in this verse. Peter uses this passage saying that a day is LIKE a 1000 years, not IS a 1000 years. If Christians and Creationists take that Scripture literally, then they set themselves up for criticism from the scientific world that is using empirical data.
Edit
I did a little more research to see exactly how Creationists arrive at their dating of the earth. I found this site:


Specifically from this explanation:
Young Earth Calculations https://answersingenesis.org/age-of-the-earth/how-old-is-the-earth/

Where Did a Young-earth Worldview Come From?

Simply put, it came from the Bible. Of course, the Bible doesn’t say explicitly anywhere, “The earth is 6,000 years old.” Good thing it doesn’t; otherwise it would be out of date the following year. But we wouldn’t expect an all-knowing God to make that kind of a mistake.

God gave us something better. In essence, He gave us a “birth certificate.” For example, using a personal birth certificate, a person can calculate how old he is at any point. It is similar with the earth. Genesis 1 says that the earth was created on the first day of creation ( Genesis 1:1–5 ). From there, we can begin to calculate the age of the earth.

Let’s do a rough calculation to show how this works. The age of the earth can be estimated by taking the first five days of creation (from earth’s creation to Adam), then following the genealogies from Adam to Abraham in Genesis 5 and 11, then adding in the time from Abraham to today.

Adam was created on day 6, so there were five days before him. If we add up the dates from Adam to Abraham, we get about 2,000 years, using the Masoretic Hebrew text of Genesis 5 and 11.3 Whether Christian or secular, most scholars would agree that Abraham lived about 2,000 B.C. (4,000 years ago).

So a simple calculation is:

5 days

  • ~2,000 years
  • ~4,000 years

~6,000 years

So, Creationists use known time,* that is, specific dates or “birth certificates”, as this article states. The problem with that method is that it doesn’t account for how long Adam and Eve lived before the genealogies began.
By assuming a 24 hour day, starting with day one, they can’t substantiate that “day” meant 24 hours because there was no sun or moon to govern the light and dark. There was only darkness and light which God separated out. It wasn’t until the fourth day that stars were placed in the heavens as signs and “seasons”. We know for a fact that the earth has four seasons which make up one year. Even if Creationists time started on the fourth day, it still doesn’t account for the Hebraic use of the word “day”. So, the fifth day could have been any number of 24 hour days, and the sixth day, the same. The best Creationists can do is estimate how old man is, but as already mentioned, we don’t know how long Adam and Eve lived before the fall.
Since scientist claim empirical, or verifiable, data for their method of dating the earth’s age, Creationists can be challenged on their method of dating the earth and the age of man simply based on “birth dates”.
Another consideration that some Christians might use is found in 2 Pet:3:8 which states that 1 day is as a 1000 years to God. If they take that verse literally, as some do, then they are saying that it took 6000 years for God to create earth and man. We know from dating history that we are way past that time. Even if we are 10,000 years old, it still doesn’t account for the use of the Hebraic word “day” and that there was no sun or moon to govern the light and dark until the fourth day.
As I stated from the beginning, I am no scientist, but, I, personally, can’t agree with the Creationists’ method of dating, My premise is that we can’t know what a “day” meant in God’s economy until He established the 24 hour day on the fourth “day”. Even after that point, we still don’t know how many 24 hour days were in the 5th and 6th days. If science is correct about earth’s age, what does that tell us about our eternal God? We may never really know the truth about earth’s age until God reveals it to us in eternity, if even then. Hope this clarifies any confusion.

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My only question to your theory is that in Exodus when God handwrites the 10 commandments he states that he did all of creation in 6 literal days. And he said the 7th day is a day of rest since he rested on the 7th day. The 10 commandments are all literal laws. Do not murder, do not commit adultery, etc. A non literal creation commandment would not make sense here. God handwrites for us that the creation events in Genesis should be taken literally.

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When God created Adam he must be looking at least like a 25 year old man. So when you test his physical structure using our testing method one will definitely say he is 25 years old because God made him perfectly eventhough He might have taken only a few moments. Same like all other living and non living things. When we test the age of earth it will definitely give millions of years but for God it must be only a few moments to create it. But he made it so perfect that even we with our testing methods will show it’s age it should be according to the structure. So both science and the Scripture says the same thing. Its my assumption. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I have heard a couple theories about young earth creationism.

Most notably from www.creationtruth.com

I attended an event hosted by the creation truth team the theory they taught goes like this:

Romans 6:23 tells that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.

Taken literally this means until sin entered the world there was no death. If nothing could die then where were the dinosaurs?

They submit that the dinosaurs were almost completely wiped out by the flood. Is there proof of this?

The answer lies in Job 40:15-24 when Behemoth is described. Behemoth has a tail that is like a cedar tree[v17] the cedar trees of this region are known as Lebanon Cedars. When they are grown a man can’t put his arms around the trunk. That is one HUGE animal to have a tail like that. They conclude that behemoth was a herbivore dinosaur there are other things in the passage that point to this. Since Job lived in the time after the flood that shows dinosaurs were on the earth a few thousand years ago and not millions of years ago. They lived during the time of man.

This is one theory they use to explain that the earth is young and not old.

The second theory I heard came from a scientist that did research in the Oklahoma City area.
I asked him about the age of the earth once and his answer was as follows:

Time very much like sound has a Doppler effect also known as time dilation. The present we are in seems very short and loud as we are experiencing it right now. But much like a sound wave Time compresses as we look into the past and appears to be much farther away than it is.

This effect is what causes our dating of objects to appear very old when in fact it was just a few thousand years ago.

The above theories are most likely poorly explained by me and others can probably better unpack them.

I used to get very caught up in the young earth vs old earth debate and I came to a realization whether the earth is old or young has no bearing on what Jesus did on the cross.

So when I am engaging skeptics I stick to the standard cosmological and teleological arguments for God because getting bogged down in a debate about the age of the earth detracts from the goal of getting to the person of Jesus Christ.

I have no idea if my ramblings are helpful or not but they are my thoughts on the topic

Your brother in Christ
John

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Hi @Francisco_Delgado,
I had a look at the videos on radiometric decay.

one example was for half-life of Uranium 238 as 4.5 billion years, and of course to measure it you have to measure a short time and extrapolate backwards

Are there some assumptions in the methods?

  • decay has always been constant (analogy of the car driving between california and florida in video 1), uniformitarianism.

Just some thoughts from video 2.

let’s take a closer look at how these techniques work and try to decide in order to accurately measure an object’s age.
there are three things you have to know.

  1. the elements decay rate or half-life
  2. the initial amount of an element and
  3. the final amount of an element in an object

say for example that we wanted to date the age of a rock. one way this may be done was by accounting for the radioactive decay of an element known as uranium 238.

in order to get an accurate age scientists need to know
a) the half-life of uranium 238
b) the initial amount of uranium 238 that was present when the rock formed

(how would one be certain of this beyond all doubt? A sample at that time is not possible to obtain.

c) and how much uranium 238 is present now

scientists have verified that uranium 238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years

(assuming that decay has always been constant in the past)

as uranium 238 decays it changes into a more stable element. in this process 32 protons and neutrons changing to helium and evaporate which leaves two hundred and six remaining. the element with 206 protons and neutrons is lead, so the amount of lead atoms increases as the amount of uranium decreases. measuring this ratio is a key to measuring the object’s age.

when scientists measure the ratio of lead and uranium that is present today, they can run the clock back using the half-life, and determine how long ago the rock formed.

scientists have developed sophisticated calibration techniques to account for original amount of lead that would have been present when the rock formed.

(again, this cannot be known, because an actual sample is not available)

calibration is important because some environments impact the initial amount of an element that was present in a sample while other environments do not this is where most of the confusion about the reliability of radiometric dating comes in.

So the calibration required because; some environments impact the initial amount of an element that was present in a sample; while in other environments it does not. I have a question at this point; How do scientists ascertain the original environment in order to decide whether calibration is required or not.

Analogy: let’s use a simple example if you’re taking a selfie with your friend you’ll need to make an adjustment to your camera depending on the amount of light in the environment if it’s dark you’ll need to use a flash but you do not have to account for the temperature in the environment the lack of photons in a darkroom requires the camera to compensate in order to get an accurate picture it however does not need to compensate for an environmental factor such as temperature so it doesn’t matter if you’re at the beach or in the snow the same is true for an accurate picture of the initial amount of an element some environments will require scientists to make an adjustment for the initial amount of an element that is decaying while other environments will not accounting for this is a process called calibration

if you don’t properly calibrate your measurements of elements by taking environmental variations into account you will end up with an inaccurate date

exactly; and I think this is where ‘Field relationships’ come in, and upon which the dating method relies?

https://creation.com/the-way-it-really-is-little-known-facts-about-radiometric-dating

some famous examples of inaccurate dates that circulate on the Internet are trying to measure the ages of live snails recently burn tree bark and coal that has changed into diamonds these inaccurate dates are the result of poor calibration we will cover some of these in a different video radiometric decay provides an amazing tool to measure different ages it’s


this article also suggests certain assumptions about dating methods.

  1. The physico-chemical system must have always been closed. Thus no parent, daughter or other decay products within the system can have been removed, and no parent, daughter or other decay products from outside the system can have been added.
  2. The system must initially have contained none of its daughter elements or decay products, or at the very least we need to know the starting conditions/state of the decay system.
  3. The decay rate, referred to as the half-life of the radioactive parent element, must have always been the same, that is, constant.

I’ve read John Lennox’s book 7 days that Divide the World and Lennox is one of my favorite writers; and he says that he talks to the experts and ask what they say. The article above was written by PhD Geologist as well, so I guess the jury is still out: for me at least, and happy to stay in the young earth creationist camp.

Now having said all that; I do agree with @John.Wright, and I also stick with Cosmological Kalam, Fine Tuning, Moral Law Giver and other arguments for God being Creator. I don’t get bogged down or argue about age of the earth when trying to reach non-believers for Christ; otherwise the conversation gets very long about How God created, but simply ask the question ‘Did God create?’ or did the universe self-create? :slight_smile: As Lennox points out so nicely in one of my favourite quotes; a self-creating universe is logically incoherant. :slight_smile:

Take, for instance, Hawking’s statement quoted above: “Because there is a law of gravity the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” Clearly, he assumes that gravity (or perhaps only the law of gravity?) exists. That is not nothing. So the universe is not created from nothing.

Worse still, the statement “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” is self-contradictory. If I say, “X creates Y,” this presupposes the existence of X in the first place in order to bring Y into existence. If I say “X creates X,” I presuppose the existence of X in order to account for the existence of X. To presuppose the existence of the universe to account for its existence is logically incoherent.

interesting topic…

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Hi, @matthew.western!

You raise very good questions, and the answers are available and are good.
This is a complex subject, and partial explanations may be detrimental in understanding its complexities.
I try to minimize the technical details in these conversations so they are accessible to people that do not have strong backgrounds in science.

For those who are interested in the details, I would suggest these resources:

https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html
https://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q8270.html
And this video from Ken Wolgemuth.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIOV0Th-Wj0&t=29s

But the main issue in the age of the earth debate is an issue of biblical interpretation. You have mentioned John Lennox. I think he is one of the most amazing Christian thinkers alive at this point in time. Let me share this video here. I Would like to hear your thoughts.

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Thanks for sharing those links about the half-life of u238, especially the second one;

I had a conversation with a geologist who held to theistic biological evolution; I’m not a geologist and was interested to learn more so I asked him to explain it. He said that he could replicate this testing in his lab; so therefore I should trust him: it was a bit of an appeal to authority I thought; Now the age of the earth doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but theistic evolution does bother me if the doctrine is similar to this: pre-Adamic races are decended from Satan?. (Note this conversation online was not the geologist whom I first mentioned)

ah; another Lennox video I hadn’t watched yet. it was a pleasure as I watch all the ones I can find. :slight_smile: most of the points he covers in his book ‘7 days that divide the world’; which I have read a while ago; and was good to refresh. What I do like is how he allows for different interpretations but then goes onto explain his position.

A few brief thoughts; (dare I push back against Lennox? hehe :slight_smile: );
In his building an argument against the fixed-earthers on Psalm as ‘the earth being fixed’, I thought has a weak premise; because Psalm is poetry and is about praising God; and always full of metaphor. Is it an example of begging the question?

1 Chronicles 16:30 - “Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.”
Psalm 93:1 - "The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.”
Psalm 96:10 - “Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.”
Psalm 104:5 - “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.”

(Psalm 104 is full of metaphorical poetry; with God being clothed with light; )
(1 Chronicles 16 also has a lot of poetry and metaphor and it is about praising the Lord).

31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The Lord reigneth.
32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.
33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth.
34 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

I did like how Lennox clearly points out the rejection of chemical (biological?) evolution; I had seen this in a different video; but not in such a well structured way; that to me is key; It doesn’t bother me in the slightest how old the rocks are; as it doesn’t introduce any problems to the character of God. perhaps an issue for me would be animal death before the fall of man; I know Lennox clearly subscribes to man being a special creation on day 6; with (as far as I know) Adam and Eve being literal people? a compromise on Adam being literal first man, introduces (to me) issues about Christ being the second Adam. I also wonder what Lennox thinks of the Flood account as I’ve not been able to find anything on that specifically : my understanding of progressive creation is that the Flood was a local event ‘to the known world’; whereas Young earth creationism holds to a global flood with ‘the fountains of the deep being broken up’, and basically suggest that prior to the flood, there was a water canopy much like a greenhouse which is where all the rain came from. Some people say where did all the water go; and you can look at the size of the ocean. Plenty of water to explain where it all went.

Interesting the last question by member of the audience on Theological Determinism; another one of my favorite books by Lennox; ‘Determined to Believe’ answers a lot of questions for me in that area.

it’s good to think this through; ‘science’ still currently teaches us that biological evolution is true.


This Charles Darwin quote is quite disturbing, as is where Eugenics was taken by Hitler trying to create a super-race:

The Western nations of Europe . . . now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors [that they] stand at the summit of civilization. . . . The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races through the world.

I don’t subscribe to ‘race’ but rather culture; with language separation starting at Babel, and genetic differences resulting; to me there is only the human race;

I don’t think we blindly follow ‘science’ as it is taught today; as it always changes; and we should question it; and it’s always subject to the experts worldview. For me, my default is the Bible is true; and I question science as it always changes with prevailing ideas; I don’t to hold that science is true, and then question the Bible. I agree firmly with Lennox that you don’t have to choose between science and God; and his recent book ‘Can Science explain everything?’ and his older one ‘God’s Undertaker’ were also excellent. He also does a good job of dispelling ‘god-of-the-gaps’; as God created the parts we understand as well as the parts we don’t understand.

“The teaching of morality likewise lies outside science. Science can tell you that, if you add strychnine to someone’s drink, it will kill them. But science cannot tell you whether it is morally right or wrong to put strychnine into your grandmother’s tea so that you can get your hands on her property.”
― John C. Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

so in conclusion; I think the dating methods do seem to have some assumptions; so I like to look at the assumptions and ask questions about them. Is the universe 4.3 seconds old; or 4.3 billion years old? It doesn’t matter to me; what really matters to me is that God is Love, God created the world and humanity out of his Love; and most importantly because man fell into sin; God’s plan of Jesus dying on the cross made a way we can be redeemed and brought back into fellowship with Him.

anyway, just some thoughts; some going of in a tangent direction away from the main topic; :slight_smile:

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Hi Nkwilli

This is a subject that always causes a lot of debate and strife in the church as feelings run high on either side of the debate. Importantly we should never let where we stand on the subject colour the central theme of the gospel which is the cross of Christ.

That said I believe that the reason carbon dating is inaccurate is that it supposes that the conditions on the earth have always been the same and so scientists extrapolate back from today and come up with an old earth. I don’t believe this model can be accurate based on what the bible says about the pre flood world. I believe the water above the earth influenced the aging process which is why pre flood man lived for almost 1000 years and why carbon dating is inaccurate.

God bless

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I think what we can see from all this dialog is that there is a lot of room for dialog and discussion! I would trust that none of us would allow relationships to falter over our views. Many years ago, I had a friend (at the time a new believer, who also has a Ph.D. in paleontology) get bullied at church over this topic, and the damage was significant. There are things to be said in both directions, and we should discuss it keeping in mind it is not central to the gospel message.
Nor does concluding “old earth” or “young earth” render God any less powerful or involved.
One can be an “Old Earther” and another can be a “Young Earther” and both achieve salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and serve Him well.
We agree that our eternal God, the great I AM, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, created the Heavens and the Earth for His glory, and our salvation rests in His works for mankind.

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I’m not sure I can add anything to either side of this debate that hasn’t already been said. But I can share my perspective on this. As this dialogue shows both sides have their strengths and weaknesses. I tend to be more agnostic on this issue as I’m not fully convinced toward either side and can be persuaded to go one way or another. And since this is a non-essential Christian doctrine, I try not to get emotionally hung up on this. There are lessons we can learn from this from history, such as the Church’s response to Galileo’s claim that the sun is at the center of the universe instead of the earth.

When I die and get to be with the Lord and have the chance to ask about the age of the earth and universe, I trust that whatever answer He gives me is going to be consistent with both the scientific data we currently see and the correct interpretation of Genesis. That is enough to satisfy me. Not to say we shouldn’t continue to pursue this topic. In the spirit of better understanding God’s creation, I would support further research on this. Plus I find it to be a fascinating debate. But I think we just need to keep the proper perspective in mind when we converse on this topic both inside and outside the church.

Hope this helps.