Does the Bible Really Say the Earth is Less Than 10,000 Years Old?

This entry is part 16 of 57 in the series Mysteries

Question Sixteen

Does the Bible really say the earth is less than 10,000 years old?

The first item to understand when asking this question is this:  Where does this idea come from?  Most people have heard this figure from various believers but many are unaware of how it was derived.

The first step was to figure the time period between now and the birth of Christ, which is a little over 2000 years. In addition to this, Bible students have studied the genealogy of Bible names from Christ back to the time of Adam.  The Bible gives enough lifespans of individual to enable students to calculate that Adam began mortal life just over 4000 years before Christ. The 2000 years to Christ plus the 4000 years to Adam equals 6000 years.

So far so good as far as most Bible students are concerned. However, the time lapse from the beginning of creation to the beginning of Adam’s life is problematic.

Many literalists say that before Adam all creation took place in just six 24-hour periods so the earth and the universe itself is only around 6000 years old.

Others will say that perhaps Adam’s life began when he was expelled from the Garden of Eden and became mortal. Maybe he lived a couple thousand years in the Garden that need to be added to the age of creation.

Still others quote Peter who said that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. (II Peter 3:8) Therefore, they reason that the creation days could have been a thousand years apiece rather than 24 hours.

Taking these things into consideration most literal believers think creation began 6-12,000 years ago.

On the surface, this seems to be what the Bible is saying, but if so it is certainly at odds with science and observed fact. For instance, the Hubble telescope has observed galaxies so far away that their light has taken 13 billion years to reach us. It is really stretching reality to say that such far away light has reached us in less than 10,000 years. Believers say that the speed of light was much faster at creation but the evidence doesn’t support this idea.

Let us see if the Bible really supports such a conflict with science.

The English translation, “day”  comes from the Hebrew word YOWM. This doesn’t necessarily mean a 24-hour day but can also be translated as “time” implying an unspecified period of time.

This makes sense since the first three days of creation took place before the sun was created.  Therefore the first three days could not have been days as we see them in our present.

Then the scripture makes this interesting use of “day.”

“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.” Gen 2:17

Adam lived over 900 years after he ate the fruit so he obviously didn’t die within a 24-hour day from that event. But if we use the more generic Hebrew meaning which is “a period of time” for the meaning of YOWM, or “day,” then it makes sense.

So, the Bible tells us that God’s period of creation was six periods of time.  It doesn’t say how long those times were.

The first couple verses of Genesis give us extra material to ponder:

 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”  Gen 1:1-2.

Generally, these two verses are read as if they are taking place in the same time sequence, but such is not the case.  Verse one describes an event that took place billions of years ago and verse two describes a scene that has existed periodically on the earth over millions of years, the most recent of which took place prior to the beginning of our present civilization.

In examining this scripture one may wonder how it is that the earth can be “without form and void” after it is created.  It could not even be considered a planet if it was truly without form and void.  Fortunately, to the justification of the original author, this is a grave mistranslation.

The words “without form” are translated from the Hebrew TOHUW which literally means “to lie waste” or implies a “desolation”, or “destruction”.

This sheds an entirely different light on the subject and Isaiah gives evidence that there was a time lapse between verses one and two;  “He (God) created it (the earth) NOT in VAIN (“Vain” comes from the same Hebrew word TOHUW)  but formed it to be inhabited.”  Isa 45:18.  Since the earth was not created in a state of TOHUW or destruction, but was formed to receive inhabitants then the period of destruction described in verse two had to take place after a significant time lapse.

The Bible thus tells us in the first verse that God created all there is but gives no time reference when that happened.  It could have began 13.8 billion years ago as science teaches.

But then in verse two we are told that the earth was laid waste indicating that a great destruction occurred.

Was the six days of creation merely representative of six time periods where God was working to restore the earth to a habitable state?

Was the Adam and Eve of six thousand years ago merely a new beginning, the start of rebuilding a civilization that was lost? Many ancient records and teachings support this idea and amazingly, so does the Bible.

 

Copyright by J J Dewey 2014

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