Age of the world

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Jamie_McGill

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I am curious to know if the bible makes any specific reference to the age of the world. I have been through Genesis and don’t recall seeing it there. If it does give an age, how do you refute the discrepency between what the bible says and what science says?

Thanks!
 
I once read a treatise by a fundamentalist Christian who claimed that the earth was some 6000 years old, based on his mathematical interpretation of holy scripture. The earth is obviously much, much older than that!

The Bible itself tells us that 1000 of our years are like a single day for God. It seems silly to try to force a literal interpretation onto the numbers in scripture, whether they refer to the number of days it toook God to create the universe, or the ages of Old Testament figures, when the numbers were often used in a symbolic sense.
 
There is no place in Scripture where the age of the earth is explicitly stated. There is not even anywhere it could be calculated (such as “The world was created X years before Abraham”). Some people have tried, through (usually shoddy) exegesis to discover the Official Biblical ™ age of the earth. However, the Bible is not inerrant regarding matters other than faith and morals. In Scripture there are mentions of sunsets. Does the sun really “set”? No, the earth spins and faces away from the sun. Does this mean that scripture made a mistake!? No, because the purpose of Scripture is not to teach astrophysics. The same goes with the age of the Earth.
 
Jamie << If it does give an age, how do you refute the discrepency between what the bible says and what science says? >>

No age is given. It was the Anglican Archbishop Ussher (c. 1640 AD) that took the geneologies of Genesis and counted back to about 4004 BC making the earth about 6000 years old. There is no need to interpret the 6 days of time or the geneologies literally. There are many gaps.

Changing Views of the History of the Earth

A short bio on Archbishop Ussher

From Ussher to Slusher, from Archbish to Gish

This last one covers the history of “young earthers” from Ussher to modern creationists. Excellent.

Phil P
 
I’ll add another link, didn’t know this book was online but it is

HISTORY OF THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE WITH THEOLOGY IN CHRISTENDOM

Warning: the author is a bit anti-Christian, anti-Catholic slanted, but appears to give a complete history (to the end of 19th century) of the conflict between science and religion.

And the “Internet Infidels” of course love this book, so they have the complete book at their site also

Infidels version of Andrew White’s book (originally published 1895)

Phil P
 
Dr. Colossus:
However, the Bible is not inerrant regarding matters other than faith and morals.
This statement stands in direct contradiction to the teaching of the magesterium.

Pope Leo XIII: Providentissimus Deus, “It is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Sacred Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred;”

Pope Pius X: Lamentabili Sani: Condemns the following notion: “Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error;”

Pope Benedict XV: Spiritus Paraclitus: “…the divine inspiration extends to all parts of Scripture without distinction, and that no error could occur in the inspired text;”

Pope Pius XII: Divino Afflante Spiritu, repeats Pope Leo XIII’s decree: “It is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Sacred Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred;”

Pius XII: Humani Generis: Condemns the following notion: “…immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters”;

Vatican Council 1: “Further, this supernatural revelation…is contained in the written books…from the apostles themselves by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, and have been transmitted as it were from hand to hand” (Denz. 3006).

Pope Leo XIII: Providentissimus Deus (I, B, 2, b): “For the Sacred Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Spirit, it contains things of the deepest importance, which, in many instances, are most difficult and obscure…For all the books in their entirety…with all their parts, have been written under the dictation of the Holy Spirit” (Denz. 3292).

Vatican I: “But the Church holds these books as sacred and canonical, not because, having been put together by human industry alone, they were then approved by its authority; nor because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and, as such, they have been handed down to the Church itself…God inspired the human authors of the sacred books…it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever He wanted written, and no more.” (Denz 1787).
Dr. Colossus:
In Scripture there are mentions of sunsets. Does the sun really “set”? No, the earth spins and faces away from the sun. Does this mean that scripture made a mistake!?
There is a big difference between saying that Scripture uses phenomenological language and saying that it contains errors regarding matters other than faith and morals.
 
I does not, the book of Genesis was never intended to be a scientific treatise but a means of responding to middle eastern myths that put creation in the hands of false gods, Genesis returns creations to it’s creator…It is a spiritual truth not science…
 
If one interprets yalad, the Hebrew word which is normally translated as “begat,” to mean that the begetter was the immediate father of the one begotten, one can calculate the age of the earth based on the geneologies in the Bible. However, doing so puts the various geneologies in contradiction to one another, and leaves only 66 years between Noah and Abraham. If one interprets yalad more loosely, to mean that the begetter produced the ancestor of the one begotten, it is possible to stretch the amount of time between the creation of Adam and the present day from 6,000 to 10-12,000 years. This harmonizes the various geneologies. However, it doesn’t leave enough time for Darwinian evolution to have produced man. The Bible, Tradition, and the Magesterium all teach the special creation of man in the garden.

I think Genesis one, and the seven day creation cycle, are open to allegorical interpretations, however, since no Pope has ever forbidden us to do so, the way Pius XII forbid Catholic exegetes from allegorizing the Garden of Eden in Humani Generis.
 
I highly recommend that you read The Science of God, by Gerald Schroeder. He is a scientist who is also a Christian. He provides a very interesting and compelling argument that the universe is 16 billion years old AND the 6 days of creation in Genesis is literally true.

I mentioned this book in another thread on this site and will repeat my summary of the book:

You’re probably aware that time slows down as you approach the speed of light and supposedly at the speed of light, time stops. You may not be aware that the passage of time is also affected by gravitational force—it slows down with increased gravity. I don’t recall the numbers, but given a specific period of time on earth, for example, time lags by six minutes on the sun.

Utilizing the data from the “echo” of the big bang, scientists can calculate the mass of the universe. The mass is the same now as in that instant – just much more spread apart. Taking into account the enormous gravitational force of the super compact and dense universe, it can also be calculated how slowly time would pass relative to our earth-time. Scientists have estimated that the universe is about 16-18 billion years old (earth-time) Converting this to universe-time (the passage of time for a super compact universe), guess how old our universe it? 6 days!

Throughout this book, he explains how the scientific record harmonizes perfectly with the six days of creation. And he explains a evolutionary mechanism that is MUCH different than Darwin’s version. It has the hand of God in it all the way. Through supernatural special creation, God placed all the DNA material that would be eventually expressed in today’s species in the first living cells. Evolution was not a random, million-tries process, but rather environmental factors triggered the expession of traits very quickly in just a few generations. This is why we don’t see any transitional species in the fossil record. This is why we see very similar organs in very unrelated species, like the squid’s and mammal’s eyes. The information was there from the very beginning, dormant until the enviroment triggered its expression.

God was preparing a creature that would love and worship him. When such a creature finally offered that potential, He created Adam. He placed a human spirit in a hominid, and animal became human. Eve was formed from Adam, and they were the first human couple.

Interestingly, the word “created” is only used 3 times in the creation story. This word implies that He created something from nothing. God created the heavens and the earth (big bang). He created life (single celled organisms). And He created man by giving Adam something animals did not have: a human spirit in which God can dwell and commune with us.

Whether you agree or not, it is a fascinating read, and provides a God-glorifying and plausible explanation for many of the natural wonders of our world.
 
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Hananiah:
However, doing so puts the various geneologies in contradiction to one another, and leaves only 66 years between Noah and Abraham. If one interprets yalad more loosely, to mean that the begetter produced the ancestor of the one begotten, it is possible to stretch the amount of time between the creation of Adam and the present day from 6,000 to 10-12,000 years. This harmonizes the various geneologies.
That is interesting. Thanks for sharing that!
 
Thought I would share a few thoughts I’ve had on this topic. A Careful reading of Genesis leads me to the following question: Before the fourth day, what was the “literal” meaning of the words “day”, “morning”. and “evening”. Most of us would agree today that a “day” is the time period from when the sun comes up in the sky to when it goes down (I understand this is all from the earth turning). But since the sun was not even created until the fourth “day” after 3 “mornings” and “evenings” then what did those words mean for the first 3 days of creation.

Here is another thought - A literal translation of the phrase “one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as one day” leads us to the following calculation: 6000 years (the shortest estimate of creation theory) times 365 days per year times 1000 years gives about 2.2 billion years. Not all that far from estimates of science Coincidence? Yes actually I think it is.

Taking my tongue out of my cheek I would like to say that the most important and most inspirational points of the story of creation are that God made the world and that it is very good.
For all the knowledge and power science has given to us, it hasn’t particularly helped us see the good.

The debate between “evolutionists” and “creationists” has generally seemed to do more to divide and to create stumbling blocks for those who seek God than it has helped anyone reach enlightenment. It makes for interesting conversation but it doesn’t seem particularly important for those interested in seeking God’s kingdom
 
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trogiah:
For all the knowledge and power science has given to us, it hasn’t particularly helped us see the good.
True! Science gives us knowledge of our world, but it is incapable of assigning meaning and value to that information.
It makes for interesting conversation but it doesn’t seem particularly important for those interested in seeking God’s kingdom
Not true! Nature is one of God’s means of communicating the Gospel: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they [Gentiles] are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” Romans 1:18-23

This text is not just saying that people will see God’s beauty in nature and feel awed, it is referring to people’s response to the truth about God in nature. This response will either result in eternal life or damnation. (This of course refers to people that have never been exposed to Christianty. But it is a supplemental revelation of God to those that have.) Nature points to an omnipotent and intelligent Creator. As mankind moves through history, different clues become relevant in this message. In our time, seeing the order and complexity of DNA points to a Creator. Only a fool says it occurred through random accidents.

Some Christians believe the earth was created in its present form 6000 years ago, complete with sedimentary layers, evidence of ice ages, fossils that are carbon dated as much older than 6000 years, and continents that look like they could be fitted together like a puzzle. But this would mean that God created a world with evidence leading to false conclusions. Some say He did this to cause people who are overly reliant upon intellect to stumble. However Romans 1:18-23 completely rules out this possibility. The truth in nature is a Gospel. To say false evidence was built into it is like saying that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are correct, but the Gospel of John contains errors to cause stumbling for those who are overly reliant upon finding a God that loves. It just doesn’t wash.

Anyway, the creation account in Genesis is extremely relevant. That is why I was so excited to read Schroeder’s book. It seems that there is a possibility that the rift between science and theology can be eliminated.
 
Thank you all! 👍 This discussion has been very helpful and I intend to check out some of the books and pages recommended. Thanks again!!
 
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