How Old Is The Earth According To The Bible?
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
The Institute for Creation Research has always taught, as an integral part of its ministry, the concept of the young earth. We have never put an absolute date on the age of the earth. We feel that the Bible doesn't provide all the information necessary for certainty, as shown by the fact that almost every Bible scholar who has ever tried to discern the exact date has come to slightly different conclusions. Maybe all the information is there but we just don't understand it fully yet.
However, lest we be too concerned, every honest attempt to determine the date, starting with a deep commitment to the inerrancy of God's Word, has calculated a span of just a few thousand years, most likely close to 6000 years, since creation. The largest figure I've ever seen from a trustworthy scholar is approximately 15,000 years, but even this seems to stretch the Biblical data too far.
To calculate the date one must first employ the genealogical data given in Genesis, I & II Chronicles, the Gospels, and elsewhere. Information gleaned from Judges, I & II Kings, Daniel, Acts, and other books must be included as well. Since dates are fairly well established archaeologically beginning at about the time of David, these can be a big help. This is because so many Biblical events are referenced to the reigns of individual kings. Obviously, the job is difficult.
Of course the genealogies only begin with the creation of Adam, so the question of time before Adam remains. As has been well noted on these pages, the six days of Creation Week must be of the same length as our days. We recognize, however, that the Hebrew word yom, translated "day," can have a variety of meanings, including an indefinite period of time. Thus, some have suggested that these six days might then be equated with the billions of years claimed by geologists.
Whenever a word in Scripture can have a variety of meanings, we must go to the context to determine what it does mean and not be content with what it might mean. And when we do, we find that the first time yom is used, it is defined as a solar day (Genesis 1:3), and then a total day/night cycle (1:3).
Furthermore, yom is modified by "evening and morning," which in Hebrew can only mean a literal day. It is also modified by an ordinal number (first, second, etc.), a construction limited in Hebrew to that of a literal day. Elsewhere the six days of creation are equated with the six days of our work week (Exodus 20:11), a formula incorporated in the fourth of the Ten Commandments regarding the Sabbath rest. We should mention that the use of a numeral to modify "days," in this case "6," is again reserved for a literal day in Hebrew, as is the use of the plural word "days."
Suffice it to say that no one could conclude that Scripture specifically places Creation any longer ago than a few thousand years, and to my knowledge no one does. Many do hold to an older position, but not for Scriptural reasons. They are convinced by radioisotope dating, perhaps, or maybe the molecular clock of mutation rates, or some other line of thinking, but not from Scripture.
Scripture teaches a young earth, and the time has come for Christians to stop twisting Scripture to fit the evolutionary and uniformitarian speculations of some scientists about the unobserved past. We suggest it's time for such Christians to stop calling themselves "Bible-believing" Christians and start using some such name as "world-believing" Christians.
*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.