Analysis of Scriptural Theories for the age of the Earth

How old is the earth? This wasn’t even debated among Christians until the 19th century. Before then, the belief was that the earth was created in 6 literal days as described in the Genesis account. Today, after Darwin and Charlie Lyell, people went back to the scriptures to find a way to make the scriptures say that the earth is old.

Over the past three centuries, a hand full of theories have become popular. I will go through each theory and show the flaws (if any) with that theory.

I will not go into the scientific flaws behind these theories on this article. I will mainly point out the logical and scriptural flaws. I will point out that I have never met a scientists that has done his research enough to write a book or present a detailed theory that believed the earth was old and at the same time believed the flood account as a world wide flood (the scientists claiming to believe the scriptures will say that the flood story was figurative or that it was a local flood). There are 2 ways to look at the Geologic column. The scientists that believe in the old earth theory will look at the layers and conclude that these layers were set down over a long period of time (with no hard evidence of any world wide flood). The scientists that believe in the young earth theory look at the rock layers and see how the world wide flood buried all the dinosaurs and other animals and laid out the rocks in layers.

A person that believes in the old earth theory and believes in a world wide flood has not done much homework and study on this topic. This will have a contradiction between their knowledge of science and the scriptures. Either the rock layers were laid out over time or they were laid out in the flood. If they believe that it was laid out over time, I ask them, “Where is the geologic record of the world wide flood?” This is why you will not find a geologist with a detailed scriptural and scientific theory of the age of the earth that believes that the earth is old and at the same time believe the world wide flood.

Theory 1: The days in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, Exodus 20:11, Exodus 31:17, and Hebrews 4:4 were not literal 24 hours days, but they were a period of time (also called the “Day-Age Theory”).

This theory is the easiest theory to debunk. For one, the people who believe this theory usually have to make the days different lengths, and overlap each other. For instance they will say that the first “day” was actually maybe 10 billion years, and the second day was 5 billion years and the second day began a few billion years before the first day ended. They do this because the sun was made on day 4, so they need to stretch the 4th day to over lap day 3 and possibly day 1 and day 2. Then when you ask them how long day 7 was, to be consistent, they have to believe that we are still in day 7, even thought the scriptures clearly say that Yahweh rested (past tense).

So, how long were these days? James Barr (A Professor of Hebrew Bible, Vanderbilt Univ., and former Regius Professor of Hebrew, Oxford University, Oxford, England) writes:
"Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah's flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the 'days' of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know." - [That Their Words May Be Used Against Them; Morris, p. 375]

But the easiest and best way to debunk this theory is to look at the scriptures. Yahweh defines how long a day is. Yahweh said in Gen 1:5 that he called “light Day”, and “darkness he called Night”. Then he tells us “the evening and the morning were the first day”.

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." (Genesis 1:5)

"And the evening and the morning were the second day." (Genesis 1:8)

"And the evening and the morning were the third day." (Genesis 1:8)

"And the evening and the morning were the fourth day." (Genesis 1:19)

"And the evening and the morning were the fifth day." (Genesis 1:23)

"And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." (Genesis 1:31)

Yahweh made a point to say “and the evening and the morning were the…” for all 6 days! If the people want to believe that these days were billions of years, then to keep true to the scriptures, there must be billions of years without nightfall, followed by billions of years before the light will come back. This method would kill almost all plants each night since the nights would be billions of years long.

A common argument that these days were not literal days is that the sun was not made until day 4. They say you can not have a day without the sun. When Yahweh defined what a day was in Genesis 1:5, did he say anything about the sun? Then someone will say, “Well, you can’t have light without the sun”. This is also not true. In the millennial reign with the Messiah, the sun will no more light our days, but the glory of Yahweh will light them (Isaiah 60). I would not put the people who use the reasoning that Yahweh did not create the sun until the fourth day in the category that each day represents a long period of time. I would put them into the category that they believe that the Genesis account is unreliable, and should be viewed figuratively. Because if they believe that every day represents a long period of time, then for the first so many billions of years of the earths existence, there was no sun (even for millions or billions of years after the plants came).

The people that believe in the Day-Age theory and believe in evolution will believe that the birds evolved after the land creatures (this is what evolution teaches). The scriptures clearly contradict this when it tells us that the birds were created on day 5 and the land creatures were created on day 6.

Theory 2: There is a gap between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2 (also called the Gap Theory). This theory has fewer gaps in it than theory number 1. Those who hold this theory believe Genesis when it says, “the evening and the morning were the first day” they believe that. So I can not point out their flaws using Genesis, because they actually believe the Genesis account. To show them that they are wrong about the gap, I have to use other scriptures.

First, to show how they conclude that there is a gap between verses 1 and 2.

Although the gap theory can be traced back to some obscure writings of the Dutchman Episcopius from the 17th century, the theory still remained virtually unknown until Rev. William Buckland started preaching it in the 19th century.

The people that believe this gap theory usually believe it because science books claim the earth is billions of years old and they are trying to get the bible to say that. If the science books were saying that the earth was only 6000 years old, these people would drop this theory in a heart beat.

Although it is harder to put holes in this theory than the first theory, it is still fairly easy. These holes are large and can not be filled (they must be ignored to keep the theory).

The scriptural basis for this theory heavily relies on the Hebrew word, “hâyâh” (translated as “was” in the KJV) which sometimes is translated as “became”. So when reading Genesis 1:2 the verse could read as, “And the earth became without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

Since the word could be translated as either “became” or “was” we should look at some other scriptures to see which word should be used here.

Exodus 20:11
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 31:17
It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

The above 2 verses show that the heavens and earth and all that are in them were created in 6 days. If the earth and waters and dinosaur bones were here before Yahweh started recreating things, then Exodus 20:11 could not read the way it does.

Another word that the gap theorist will use is the word “replenish” (in the KJV) from Genesis 1:28: “and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth’”.

This is easy to debunk. When the KJV was written, the word “replenish” meant to “fill”. It wasn’t until later that it came to mean “fill again”. If you look in the Hebrew, they used the word “mâlê'” which means “to fill”.

Another gap in this theory is that it puts death before sin.

Theory 3: Genesis is not supposed to be taken literal. It was written as poetry.

I can’t help these people too much. If they don’t believe the scriptures to be accurate and factual, then it is pointless to give them other scriptures to show their error. All I can say about this is prophecy, parables, and Psalms can obviously have some hard to understand, hidden messages in them. But we are talking about a law book here. If one can say that the 6 day creation is figurative, then they can say that the law was figurative.

Exo 20:8-11
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

The earth being created in 6 days was intertwined in the Sabbath commandment. If you can take that to be figurative, then why can’t you take the Sabbath commandment or any other commandments to be figurative? Have you ever heard of a law book to have laws intertwined with figurative sayings? Laws must always be clear or it will be difficult if not impossible to convict a criminal.

Plus, if you can take Genesis chapter 1 to be figurative, what about the rest of the chapters? What about the flood? Usually the people that I talk to that chalk Genesis chapter 1 to poetry, also do not believe in that the Adam and Eve story was historical, or that Noah and the flood was historical (I have yet to find a Geologist with a detailed theory that supported both the old age theory and the world wide flood). After denying these two historical stories the rest of the scriptures falls apart. Then you will have Yashua and his disciples teaching myths as they were facts.

2 Peter 3:3-7
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Theory 4: The earth was created in 6 literal days between 6-10 thousand years ago (people who believe this theory are often called, “YECs”, in a derogatory manner, for Young Earth Creationists).

It is safe to say that this theory has absolutely no scriptural holes in it. I have been searching for any holes for over 10 years now. I have talked to many people. I have been on open forums and asked for one scriptural reason why this theory can not be true. When asked this question, people will then start attacking the credibility of the scriptures or trying to give scriptures or other reason why they believe their theory, but so far, every time they end up conceding that there is no scripture that they know of that can contradict that the earth is a young earth and was created in 6 literal days and I have never heard of anyone accusing a young earth creationist of not believing some part of scripture when it comes to this theory.

Here are some good Books and Videos that I recommend on this topic:

Here are some good webpages about the age of the earth:

The earth is 6000-10000 years old

‘Young’ age of the Earth & Universe Q&A

Biblical Age of the Earth

Here are some great websites that I recommend on this topic:

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