Review by Greg Neyman
Young earth creationists will often resort to ages for the creation based upon the genealogies of the Bible. The most famous of these is by Archbishop James Ussher. However, there have been many other attempts to calculate the date of creation in this manner. Bodie Hodge of Answers in Genesis attempts to address the question "how old is the earth?, based on many different chronologies.1
Chronologies Based On Genealogy
Bodie starts by examining where the idea for a young earth came from. Naturally, it came from the Bible. Bodie states that by calculating the times in the genealogies in the Bible, we can know when Adam was created. In principle, this theory is a good one, although there are demonstrated gaps in the genealogical record which makes this method unreliable.2,3
Bodie notes that this method takes us back to Adam, and of the first five days, he says they are 'negligible." However, he makes a mistake here. He should have said the first six days were negligible, because Adam was the last creation on the sixth day, and many creatures were created before him that day, so most of Day Six is not part of the genealogies. Of course, if you believe in 24-hour creation days, this is no big deal, but if you don't, this represents an error of millions of years.
The major flaw of young earth dating by genealogies is, of course, the fact that they date the time from Adam's beginning to now. Since Adam is the final creative act, these chronologies do not date the creation week at all. For example, Ussher and Nolan date Adam to 4004 B.C. This leads young earth creationists to claim the creation is only about 6,000 years old, when in fact what they really mean is that Adam was created 6,000 years ago. Using this fact, one could argue that Adam is 6,000 years old, but the universe is 13.7 billion years old, and he would be correct.
Because of this, old earth creationists can ignore chronologies based on genealogies, and young earth creationists would be wise to do the same. Hodge lists a total of 34 chronologies, all of which are worthless for dating the age of the creation. He goes into the different Hebrew texts, showing that these may be the reason for the differences, but this is a moot point.
Some cultures have also tracked time, and come up with an age of the earth. However, these also are based on the history of these peoples, and thus are post-Adam dates. They have no bearing upon the actual age of God's creation.
Where Did the Old Earth View Come From?
The author introduces the thought that the developing science of geology in the late 1700s brought on the idea of an old earth. He briefly explains this, and does an adequate job. The most important point that Hodge makes here is:
Thinking biblically, we can see that the global Flood in Genesis 6–8 would wipe away the concept of millions of years, for this Flood would explain massive amounts of fossil layers.
Hodge claims that if millions of years were true, the global flood would rip up the rock layers of the earth and redeposit them, thus wiping out any record of the previous millions of years. I agree that this would be the case. He goes on to state:
So the rock layers can theoretically represent the evidence of either millions of years or a global Flood, but not both.
Again, I agree, and this is where we disagree. The rock record clearly indicates millions of years4, whereas Bodie interprets the rocks to be the result of a global flood. The difference is that scientists who believe in an old earth obtain those great ages by examining the rocks, and letting the scientific data guide them in determining their ages. On the other hand, young earth creationists already have the age (about 6,000 years), and then they bend the science to fit their preconceived age. The scientific evidence does not guide the young earth creationist...the young earth creationist 'guides' the scientific evidence.5
Hodge does not go into a lengthy discussion on how the old earth ages are determined, but he does state that there is "growing scientific evidence that radiometric dating methods are completely unreliable." He is referring to the work of the Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, or RATE study, which ended several years ago, and was shown by this website and others to prove nothing at all. For more on RATE, see the Old Earth Ministries RATE page.
Bodie sums up this statement with a powerful emotional appeal:
The age of the earth debate ultimately comes down to this foundational question. Are we trusting man’s imperfect and changing ideas and assumptions about the past or trusting God’s perfectly accurate eyewitness account of the past, including the creation of the world, Noah’s global Flood and the age of the earth?
This statement is quite misleading. For example, I completely trust God's eyewitness account of the past, including the creation, yet I am an old earth creationist. It's not an issue of trust of God versus trust in science. It's an issue of interpretation. Old earth creationists interpret the Bible, and see millions of years, whereas young earth creationists interpret the Bible and see thousands of years. Both appeal to an infallible, inerrant Bible, with different conclusions. It's not that we don't trust the Bible...we just don't trust the young earth interpretation of the Bible (or science).
Other Old Earth Dating Methods
Bodie states that the other methods yielding an old earth have problems, namely that they make assumptions. True, but they are assumptions based upon scientific data and observations, and not upon subjective ideas from scientists. Bodie says that Henry Morris lists 68 uniformitarian (old earth) estimates for the age of the earth, and shows how they greatly differ, but offers no details on what the 68 methods are. He provides two examples, which are easy to answer...carbon dating and potassium-argon dating.
Carbon dating is effective only for dates of less than about 60,000 years, yet Bodie claims that samples that are supposedly millions of years old still have Carbon-14 in them. This fallacy is addressed in several web articles, and shown to not be a problem.6,7
Potassium-Argon dating is another method that Bodie attacks. He mentions the report by Andrew Snelling, where recent volcanic rocks (less than 2,000 years old) yield results that are hundreds of thousands to millions of years old. However, geologists know of the limitations of potassium-argon, and that dating young volcanics yields false results. By intentionally testing young rocks, Snelling is "stacking the deck" in his favor. This underhanded trick is commonly used by young earth creationists.8
Bodie concludes by saying:
When we start our thinking with God’s Word, we see that the world is about 6,000 years old. When we rely on man’s fallible (and often demonstrably false) dating methods...
As an old earth creationist, I accept God's Word as the ultimate truth, inerrant and infallible. The second point is the problem...relying on man's fallible methods. We both start with the same Bible, but we are both human, and we both interpret the Bible. We are both fallible. God's Bible is perfect, but man's interpretation of what the Bible means is not perfect. We must examine all the evidence to see what the Bible means.
The difference is that young earth creationists believe 100% that their interpretation is right (they believe their interpretation is not 'fallible'), and then they try to bend science to match it. On the other hand, old earth creationists look at both science and the Bible. We don't have to bend science to fit the Bible. Our interpretation is a little different, but it is still an inerrant, infallible Bible.
Sources / For More Reading
1 How Old Is The Earth?, by Bodie Hodge, originally published as an AiG Daily Feature on 30 May 2007. Republished as a Daily Feature on 21 Feb 2009. On the web at http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/05/30/how-old-is-earth
2 Green, WIlliam Henry, Primeval Chronology, published in Bibliothecs Sacra, April, 1890, pp. 285-303. Available online here.
3 Milliam, Dr. John, The Genesis Genealogies. Online here.
4 See the Old Earth Ministries articles on Noah's Flood
5 Creation Scientist???, by Greg Neyman, Old Earth Ministries. Published Online 26 May 2003)
7 Book Review: Thousands, Not Billions, by Greg Neyman. Chapter 3.
8 Henke, Kevin R. PhD., Blind Leading the Blind: Austin, Snelling, and Swenson Misinterpret Dalrymple's K-Ar Dating of Historical Volcanics. Online here.
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