This is one subject I have been timid to write about, as it is a large source of tension between Christians no matter what denomination. The age of the Universe has been a large conflict since the debut of radioactive dating methods. There are people on either side of this debate between an Old and a New Earth, and while I will not weigh in on this topic personally, I would like to present what each argument is and possibly a few pieces of evidence for both arguments to get you thinking about the issue.
For those unfamiliar with old and young earth creationism, young earth creationism is the result of several people taking the genealogies presented in the Old Testament of the Bible and adding up the lifetimes of each person to determine the age of the earth. Young Earth creationists also typically hold the view that the 6 day creation period are literally six 24 hour days. Proponents of this view will tend to take a literal interpretation of other Biblical passages as well.
There are quite a few defenses of young-earth creationism that are used, but I am only going to attempt to cover a few here. One view that young-earth creationists hold is the view that before the fall, death was non-existent, so the dinosaur fossils that are present were produced as an effect of the flood. Young earth creationists will also look at the dating methods that are used and show some cases where radiometric dating was wrong. In some cases, where a tree was buried in lava for a few days, the radiometric analysis said the tree was over a few million years dead. As I mentioned earlier, young earth creationists will also appeal to the genealogies in the Bible to help establish the age of the earth.
Old Earth Creationism is a little harder to pin down in a concise way, since it has branched off in many different interpretations. Generally all Old Earth Creationists hold to the mainstream view that the universe is around 14 billion years old and the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old. From there the view breaks down to Gap Creationism, Theistic Evolution, Intelligent Design, and the list goes on. Obviously, this view requires a looser view of scripture, with other passages such as the Great Flood up for different interpretations as to how large the flood really was.
For a defense of an old Earth, one can look at mainstream science for most of the arguments for an old earth. One can look at the ice cores and look at the annual ice deposits and also the bio-deposits of the earth. One can make the argument that these deposits do not naturally occur within the timeframe that a young earth calls for. One can also look at something like the La Brea tar pits in California are a naturally occurring environment in which fossils can be made without there having to be a global flood to rapidly bury everything on the Earth. We can also look at the younger radioactive isotopes that should be there if the Earth was young, and according to the research that I did, they are not there, which is indicative of an old Earth.
So I have given a very brief overview of each of the two views of the age of the earth that are prevailing amongst Christians. This is a big point of contention between Christians as a debate between one another as well as if being a point to argue amongst the skeptics and the atheists. As for myself, I do not think about the age of the earth as a critical issue to my faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. We can argue about the events that took place before humanity, and science can give us ideas as to what happened, but there will always be a certain amount of uncertainty about the actual events unless there were human witnesses to describe what they saw. God made the Universe and revealed His actions to Moses, which he wrote in the book of Genesis. We can fight over the semantics of the Hebrew wording all we want but there are some glaring points that I believe people are missing. No matter what your view on the age of the Earth, both sides of the aisle believe in a creator God. Both sides believe that He sent His son to come down as a man and die as the final sacrifice for the sins of man. While we may not have been around for the first few days of creation, humanity was definitely around for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He is the cornerstone of which our faith is founded, not the age of the Earth and our Universe. Unlike all the skepticism one way or another, historians must agree that Jesus existed, did great works, and was executed at the order of Pontius Pilate. Then shortly after, there was a rapid growth of people who claimed that Jesus rose from the dead and spoke with them. While the age of the Earth is an issue with some, this writer does not think it a critical one. I will place my faith in the One who came to die for us and give us eternal life through Him, not the assumptions of men, of whom some think we are only here to be born, procreate, and die.
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