Age and Shape of the Earth

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 28, 2019 5 comments

by Steve Risner

We are hip deep in answering 10 questions Mr. Michael Roberts wanted to ask Biblical creationists. I stumbled upon this writing online and decided it would make a nice series to write about. We covered Mr. Roberts' intro here and his first question (Is the Gospel more about the Rock of Ages than the ages of rocks?) here. This week's question is sort of interesting because, by itself, it's a good question. But with his commentary on it, he quickly erodes the question into false statements and nonsense. Let's look at it:

Does the age of the earth – or its shape – matter to a Christian?

I don't think the age of the earth is on the forefront of every Christian's mind all the time. In fact, I'd wager that most don't pay that much attention to it. I don't think they care about the shape of the earth either as the Bible isn't perfectly clear on that, but it does give us some clues about it. Isaiah 40:22 tells us that “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth ...” The word translated circle here can easily be rendered sphere or, as the link here indicates, vault. I doubt a flat disc would be considered a vault. I'm not sure if Mr. Roberts is eluding to being a flat earther, but it makes no difference really. The earth's shape is mentioned in the Bible, but we're not given complete specifics on it. However, we are told very specifically when creation occurred. I fear his combining these two different things into a question are his way of equating the two, which really would show how disinterested he is in functioning as a follower if Christ. But that's another topic.

I mentioned that the poser of this question was going to make some false statements. This is seen in his remark that the Bible makes no indication of the earth's age. As stated above, it actually clearly states when creation occurred. I'll outline that below.

The Bible obviously doesn't give a date for creation. That would be impossible, actually. It does, however, give us exceptionally easy clues to follow so we can figure out when the creation and Flood took place. Here's how it works:

We start with Genesis 5 where we have genealogies recorded for us from Adam to Noah. This is not just a record of who was someone's father, but it also gives the number years in between. This is not like most other genealogies in the Bible which may be incomplete or without these age indicators. This makes them reliable for calculating time to within a year or so. Genesis 7:6 tells us how old Noah was when the Flood started. So, using the years indicated in Genesis 5 which ends with Noah and Genesis 7:6, we reasonably know that the Flood occurred 1656 years after Adam's creation (which was on day 6 of the creation week). This is reasonable but could be off by 10 years or so, depending on how the years actually fall. Genesis 11:10 begins another genealogy with ages assigned to its members from Shem, the son of Noah, to Abraham. Genesis 21:5 tells us how old Abraham was when Isaac was born. Genesis 25:26 tells us how hold Isaac was when Jacob (Israel) was born. Genesis 47:9 tells us that Jacob was 130 when he went to Egypt. Using only these numbers, we come up with Jacob moving to Egypt 2298 years after the creation of Adam.

Exodus 12:40 tells us that Israel was in Egypt for 430 years (confirming what God told Abraham about his descendants being in Egypt for 400 years). This puts the Exodus at 2728 years after the creation of Adam. Israel wandered the desert for 40 years, so they entered the Promise Land 2768 years after the creation of Adam.

Now we need to move on to 1 Kings 6:1, which states clearly that it was 480 years after the Exodus that Solomon began working on the Temple of God in Jerusalem. This means Solomon began work on the Temple 3208 years after the creation of Adam (that's over half the history of the world now). Based on the chronologies written for us in the Old Testament (which are too complex to list here), we know that the time from the Temple to the Exile was about 345 years. I say “about” because it is a little less solid a number, but it's certainly not thousands or millions of years off. It's probably within 100 years and likely much closer than that. This puts the Exile of the Israelites at about 3553 years from the creation of Adam. Here we can jump from the timing found in the Bible and put it in our terms. The Exile is generally considered to have occurred in 586 BC. That means the year 1 AD was 4150 since the creation of Adam, plus or minus no more than 50 years! Then we add 2018 years to get us to 2019 and we end up at 6168 years since the creation of Adam, who was made in the image of God on the 6th day of the creation week.

Does the Bible say when God created the heavens and the earth? Well, actually, quite clearly it does. It’s not possible to give us a date, but it does give us a timeline—a very clear timeline with years attached to give us a very discernible time frame for when God began creation. For Mr. Roberts to indicate the Bible is not clear on the matter only exposes his desire for the Bible to not be clear on the matter. It is, in fact, very clear and people have calculated the years since creation for many centuries. It's not a new idea by any means. In fact, it's a much more recent idea that the earth is billions of years old.

Mr. Roberts goes a step further, showing us his hand when he says, “to go against the proven results of science is simply folly.” This statement says so much about where his authority lies and what he truly thinks of the Bible. The “proven results” of science are ever changing—being modified as more data comes in. However, we know for a fact that if you use 3 different methods to date a rock or fossil, you'll get 3 different ages—sometimes wildly different. This is true if we use the same test multiple times on samples as well. The “proven results” of science are far from a sure thing. In fact, they're based on numerous assumptions and built on the presupposition that such information is true prior to it being verified. The circular reasoning here is astounding and for an intelligent person to not even question it is disappointing to say the least and also a little alarming.

My advice here: if you read the Bible and get a VERY clear message (as we do with the creation account and the timing of it) and you “read” nature and get a very different idea, you've read one of these two things incorrectly. We know this because you cannot have 2 conflicting ideas at the same time. However, one of these messages is from God and is captured in His perfect Word. The other is a fallen man's biased (there is no denying bias) interpretation of a fallen world that was ravaged by a global catastrophe that wrecked the entire surface of the planet (as is stated numerous times in the Bible). It would be wise to follow Martin Luther's statements here when he said, “When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are. For you are to deal with Scripture in such a way that you bear in mind that God Himself says what is written. But since God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His Word in the direction you wish to go.”

In other words, if what you think you're seeing in nature doesn't line up with the clear teaching of Scripture, you'd be better off accepting what the Bible clearly states rather than trying to make it fit what you, a fallen human being viewing a cursed world, sees in nature.

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Ken Wolgemuth said...

Hi Steve,

I have read the question raised by Michael Roberts, and as you know, I am also an old earth creationist. Have you been able understand our paper about radiocarbon which I sent to you. It demonstrates that the earth is at least 40,000 years old from counting of tree rings, counting of varves, and the decay of carbon-14.

God's Word and God's workmanship in Creation must fit together in perfect harmony, because He is the author of both. And because of God's character, He cannot lie and He cannot be a prankster to miraculously create something to deliberately mislead us. If there seems to be a conflict, then either science or theologians have something incorrect. In the days of Copernicus and Galileo, it was the theologians who had it wrong. I do not know any theologians today who think that the earth is the center of the universe. Why? Because of the science of astronomy.

First I will start with the Bible an priorities on the Word. Those I will post on FB so I am sure every one can see them.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Ken Wolgemuth

Dale Langmade said...

Very interesting blog. I'd be in agreement. I'm wondering if the reason there are no other comments is that this is the most strenuous 'prove you are not a robot' that I have ever encountered. At the rate things are going Ai will soon exceed the abilities of folks like myself, then who will comment?

Steve Risner said...

Hello Ken
Thanks for reading. I appreciate the paper on radiocarbon. I haven't been able to get to it as of yet. I do plan to and appreciate your patience. However, I'm sure you'll have to agree that it's probably not "ground breaking" or something totally new that no one has suggested thus far. I certainly don't mean that as a shot at your work, so please don't take it as such. If you are familiar with Biblical creationists at all, I'm sure you'll already know there are major issues with tree ring counting as a direct and clear measure of age as well as varves, carbon dating, ice layering, and a host of other techniques that, truly in essence, amount to nothing as they are all unknowns. Sure, we can ballpark stuff with some of them if we have some good starting info like averages, but then that would also mean we know for certain uniformitarian principles are solid. Since we know for a fact unformitarianism cannot account for much of what we see in the world and/or universe today, I suppose that means even if we have some of the info like average number of rings or layers or whatever per year, we still can't say that we know for sure how long something has been going on simply because we don't know of something altered the process in the past when no one was looking.
I'm glad you understand that God created the universe and His glory is declared by nature--even Paul said this means man is without excuse for rejecting his Creator. God is also the Author of the Bible. One of these requires very little effort to interpret while the other has proven to be difficult--more so this is proven all the time as the more we learn the less we truly know. The Bible is a written communication from God Almighty with (save a few areas) a very clear message. How He created/when He created is written very clearly in the Bible. Denying this would be akin to lying in my estimation. The Bible is exquisitely clear and it's been understood to mean exactly what it says until about the last 250 years or so. This was due to men who admittedly wanted to reject God and His Word and they allowed this to infiltrate their study of His creation. Since that time, people have just accepted the humanist origins myth as a given without comparing it to the eyewitness testimony of God Himself or to the clues He's given us to trace when these things happened. Some, unfortunately, have opted to accept the humanist origins myth and then determined also to be a follower of Christ and blend the two. I'm happy for anyone who finds Christ--it's truly the greatest discovery a person can make. But to not reject the humanism that has infested the so called "scientific" community for His Word is problematic at best. Science was invented by creationists who believed the Bible as it's written. The origins "science" is history, really, and has masqueraded as science for long enough. Call it what it is.
My suggesting is if you find an interpretation of nature that conflicts with the very clear teachings of Scripture, you'll want to work hard to make sure there are no other alternative interpretations of nature (btw: there's little in nature that all scientists agree 100% on so pick the interpretation you like I guess) when the Bible couldn't really be more clear. You and I both know the Biblical narrative of the creation, flood, babel, etc have no wiggle room in them at all. The intent of the text is overwhelmingly clear. You want it both ways and this just doesn't work. This has caused many to fall away form the faith. Please stop.

Steve Risner said...

Hi Dale
Thanks for commenting. I appreciate you reading my work. Share it anywhere you think people will be interested, especially if they're antagonistic to the Word of God. Blessings.

Steve Risner said...

Sorry. I nearly forgot. You may want to read up on Galileo and Copernicus. Galileo was urged by church leaders to go public with his work. I believe he thought it was a bad idea, but eventually did it.
And there are plenty who feel the earth is near the center of the universe. There is plenty of scientific data to suggest this could be true. Maybe it's not. It really doesn't matter, but there are certainly "theologians" who accept that it could be true and it seems reasonable, doesn't it? Again, maybe it's not, but who can say? The concentric shells of galaxies around us seems to warrant a second look, eh?
In referencing Galileo, though, you're telling us how going against the consensus was a great thing! Thanks for that. Many of the greatest discoveries of all time went against the consensus and changed the world. Sometimes this isn't the case, but you've made a great case of not accepting the status quo. Too bad many (secular or Christian) people settle for the status quo and are even afraid to question the consensus (See Mary Schweitzer and how she was treated).
The Word of God is true and you cannot argue that the message of creation, the flood, and babel including the timeline it includes are not overwhelmingly clear.