Age of the Earth – Do We Know?
The Great Week of Time
The Biblical record repetitively draws on the cycle of seven with everything restored on the eighth. This sinful world will have a six-millennial period of human habitation, then the land will rest, followed by the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21) – the eighth. This provocative information demands, or it is only a misplaced Scriptural factoid, that we should be able to approximate where we are in that six-thousand linear year period.
This chapter will explore what is known about the age of the earth. If we can determine from a variety of techniques that the 6000-year period is nearly complete, then we know that the parousia is imminent – a solemn issue for every Christian.
A Simple Provocative Observation
The genealogies of the Bible are difficult to evaluate precisely into a time database. There is one apparent exception, and that is from the line of individuals between Adam and the Flood. That record not only notes the ages of the males when the first son was born but states that Noah, the ninth from Adam, was six hundred years old when the Flood waters came upon the earth (Genesis 7:6). Some may jest at the meaning of that ancient record. It is important to point out to those sceptics that the precision of God’s record is so detailed it even notes: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven opened.” Genesis 7:11. That’s a lot of timing information.
Those generations reveal that 1656 years from Adam’s creation the Flood came. We are not asked to figure out Adam’s birthday, whether the first birthday was the second year or even how long Adam was in the Garden before he sinned – none of those are issues. It simply says by God’s reckoning of a year when each man had a son and then Noah’s age at the Flood. That is 1656 years.
The Bible states that “every living substance” was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground. Noah came forth on the earth, and it was desolate – barren.1 Yet the first sign of life was an olive leaf “plucked off” (Genesis 8:11) from a tree. Life had begun once again.
This raises a fascinating question. Could any living tree that began to grow then still be surviving today? The oldest known tree is called Methusela because core specimens show 4757 rings. That bristlecone pine is in the arid White Mountains of California, just outside of Bishop.
How accurate are “annual rings” in a tree trunk? Some years a tree will make two rings. It is the exception and not the rule. Also, scientists must deal with “false rings,” all making it appear older than it is. A variety of techniques have been used by dendrochronologists to try to pinpoint the age of the ancient trees (see Table 1 below). Cross dating and regression analyses and carbon-14 dating have all helped to make estimates more accurate. However, science admits the age given is “maximum” for a given tree.2 The actual age is likely 10% less than the maximum years because of the extra-ring challenge. Methusela is probably 4300+ years old by many estimates. Incidentally, that ancient gnarled tree is still growing.
Concluding, it was 1656 years to the flood and 4300 years since, the time since creation is now close to 6000 years.
Maximum Tree Ages
Species Age Type ID Location
Pinus longaeva 4844 XD WPN-114 Wheeler Pk., Nevada
Pinus longaeva 4789 XD Methusela Methusela Walk, California
Fitzroya cupressoides 3622 XD Chile
Sequioadendron giganteum 3266 XD CBR26 Sierra Nevada, California
Sequioadendron giganteum 3220 XD D-21 Sierra Nevada, California
Sequioadendron giganteum 3075 XD D-23 Sierra Nevada, California
Sequioadendron giganteum 3033 XD CMC 3 Sierra Nevada, California
Juniperus occidentalis 2675 XD Scofield juniper Sierra Nevada, California
Pinus aristata 2435 XD CB-90-11 Central Colorado
Ficus religiosa 2217 HI Sri Lanka
Sequoia sempervirens 2200 RC Northern California
Juniperus occidentalis 2200 EX Bennett Juniper Sierra Nevada, California
Pinus balfouriana 2110 XD SHP 7 Sierra Nevada, California
The Evidence from Biblical Chronology
The Bible is the “word” of God. It is filled with timing information cover to cover. A fairly good delineation of time periods can be developed from Adam to the building of Solomon’s temple. The following outline is given in A.M. (anna mundi) years or “the year of the world.” (See Table 2 – next page.)
Another similar analysis in narrative form is here described:
“There are five (and only five) Biblical steps necessary to determine the age of the universe [earth].
“1. Genesis 5. These genealogies cover 10 generations, from Adam to Noah, and reveal that Noah died when the earth was 2006 years old.
“2. Gen. 11:10-32. These genealogies cover 9 generations, from Shem (the son of Noah) to the death of Terah (Abraham’s dad). This genealogy will give you the age of the earth at the death of Terah, who is the father of Abraham, as 2081. It is very interesting to note that Terah died the very year Abraham received the promise of God in Genesis 12:1-4. It is very true that we will not receive any of the promises of God until we obey the conditions of those promises. God had told Abraham to depart from: (1) his country, (2) his kindred, and (3) his father’s house. Abraham did not receive any of the promises of God until he obeyed completely. We, like Abraham, will receive none of the promises of God until we obey completely.
“It is interesting to note that Abraham was born the same year Noah died, when the world was 2006 years old. According to Genesis 12:4, Abraham was 75 years old when he received the promises of God. Add 2006 to 75 and we discover the world was 2081 years old when the promise was given to Abraham concerning the coming Saviour and the blessings of God upon the nation of Israel.
“3. Galatians 3:16,17 declares, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” Abraham received the promise when the world was 2081 years old. Now, add the 430 years spoken of in Galatians 3:16,17 to 2081, and we discover the world was 2511 years old when the law (the Ten Commandments) was given.
“Also read Exodus 12:40,41. “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.”
“The sojourning of the children of Israel in Canaan: during the lifetime of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [was 215 years]: in Egypt (see Exodus 6:16-20) during the life of Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moses [was 215 years].
“4. I Kings 6:1. This verse will bring us up to the fourth year of Solomon’s reign.
“I Kings 6:1 states, “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”
“Now we can add another 480 years to 2511 and we get find it is 2991 years from creation to the fourth year of Solomon’s reign.
“5. Using any secular history, look up the date when Solomon reigned. This will be in the area of 1015-975 B. C. If you like, you can go through the books of I and II Kings and prove that Israel went into bondage to the Assyrians in 722 B. C. and Judah went into bondage to Babylon in 606 B. C.
“Because we know from secular history that Solomon reigned about 1,000 years before Christ, we can add 1,000 years to 2,991 (the age of the earth when Solomon began to reign) and you get 3991 (the approximate age of the earth when Christ was born.)
“I think everybody knows it is approximately 2000 years from the time of Christ until now. So add 2000 years to 3991 and you get 5991. That is pretty close to 6,000 years.
“It is very clear, is it not, that the Bible proves the age of the universe [earth] to be approximately 6,000 years old.”3
Time is Short!
The Bible is Yahweh’s Word. Dating back to the creation of the world it provides mankind with the only infallible record of history relevant to salvation. Here is a brief chronological record in A.M. (anno mundi) years; which means “the year of the world.” Let the reader prayerfully consider the awesome conclusion to which this article arrives - that the Saviour’s return is near and that Time is Short.
Ante Deluvian Patriarchs A.M. Year
Genesis 1:27 Adam created in Yahweh’s image which was year 0
Genesis 5:3 Seth born when Adam was 130 which was year 130
6 Enos born when Seth was 105 which was year 235
9 Cainan born when Enos was 90 which was year 325
12 Mahalaleel born when Cainan was 70 which was year 395
15 Jared born when Mahalaleel was 65 which was year 460
18 Enoch born when Jared was 162 which was year 622
21 Methuselah born when Enoch was 65 which was year 687
25 Lamech born when Methuselah was 187 which was year 874
28 Noah born when Lamech was 182 which was year 1056
Genesis 7:11 The Flood came when Noah was 600 which was year 1656
Post Deluvian Patriarchs A.M. Year
Genesis 11:10 Arphazad born 2 years after flood 2 which was year 1658
12 Salah born when Arphazad was 35 which was year 1693
14 Eber born when Salah was 30 which was year 1723
16 Peleg born when Eber was 34 which was year 1757
18 Reu born when Peleg was 30 which was year 1787
20 Serug born when Reu was 32 which was year 1819
22 Nahor born when Serug was 30 which was year 1849
24 Terah born when Nahor was 29 which was year 1878
26 Abram born when Terah was 130 (see Note) 2008
21:5 Isaac born when Abraham was 100 which was year 2108
25:26 Jacob born when Isaac was 60 which was year 2168
Genesis 11:32: Abraham was the youngest son of Terah who died in Haran aged 205, in year 2083.
(1878+205 = 2083)
In Genesis12:4 we learn that at that time Abraham was 75 years old. In other words
Abraham was born when his father Terah was 130 years old. (205-75 = 130). Therefore
Abraham was born in year 2008, which is Terah’s birth year (1878+130 = 2008).
Genesis 12:1-4: Abraham was called at the age of 75. (2008+75) = 2083
Genesis 47:9: Jacob entered Egypt at the age of 130, which was 215
years after Abraham’s call. (2083+215) = 2298
Genesis 47:28: Jacob lived 17 years in Egypt and died at 147. (2298+17) = 2315
Israel stayed 215 years in Egypt. (2298+215) = 2513
Exodus 12:40: The Exodus occurred 430 years after Abraham’s call. (2083+430) = 2513
Exodus 7:7: Moses was 80 at the time of the Exodus. 2513
Deuteronomy 34:7 Moses died at 120 years, 40 years after the Exodus and just
before Israel entered the Promised Land. A.M. 2553
1 Kings 6:1: Building operations started 480 years after Exodus. 2993
1 Kings 6:37-38: Building finished after 7 years. A.M. 3000
That would mean the 6000-year period of this earth would end soon after the year 2000 A.D. We have entered that time period. Since God works on a Sabbatical principle, His coming is close.
Evidence from the Shortness of Human History4
Mythical periods of human history are claimed to go back thousands or even millions of years. The Flood, as we have seen, occurred at 1656 A.M. There are no ancient records detailing man prior to that date except in the Bible. In fact, no accurate records from Babylon, Syria, Egypt or China go beyond 3000 years ago.
The first fragmentary records from the Tchou Dynasty appears around 1000 B.C. (3000 A.M.). Greece, noted for its scholarship, science and literature, goes back accurately to only the 600-B.C. era.
“As with history, so with dates: the world has, aside from the Bible, no means of tracing its chronology farther back than B.C. 776. On this subject we quote Prof. Fisher of Yale College. He says: ‘An exact method of establishing dates was slowly reached. The invention of eras was indispensable to this end. The earliest definite time for the dating of events was established in Babylon – the era of Nabonassar, 747 B.C. The Greeks (from about 300 B.C.) dated events from the first recorded victory at the Olympic games, 776 B.C. These games occurred every fourth year. Each Olympiad was thus a period of four years. The Romans, though not for some centuries after the founding of Rome, dated from that event; i.e., from 753 B.C.”5
Civilization seems to come into existence fully developed. Why do all ancient records reveal the existence of a highly developed society?
Early Egyptian Records
The historical dates assigned to Egyptian history are based on kings’ lists. The First Dynasty was originally put at 3600-3200 B.C. – but more recently has been made much later. They were based on the writings of Mantho, an Egyptian priest around 250 B.C. What has been preserved of his writings have been questioned by many scholars, who now feel his chronology wasn’t reliable.
The oldest pictographic Sumerian tablets came from the region of Babylon. They too were originally placed as 3500 B.C. This was questioned in 1957 by S. N. Kramer, an expert in ancient Near Eastern Civilization. “The dates of Sumer’s early history have always been surrounded with uncertainty.”6
All the earliest peoples came from Mesopotamia, southeast of the Ararat Mountains where Noah’s ark came to rest. Those mountains are in the far eastern portion of Turkey.
If man went back over millions of years, by the records he has accomplished more in the past 3000-4000 years than in those vast eons of time! Again, the record reflects only a young age for mankind.
The Biblical record notes that language or dialectic differences suddenly developed shortly after the Flood when men began to separate by language groups so they could understand one another (Genesis 11:1-9). Philosophical and linguistic studies suggest that the large language families appear to radiate from the Babylonia area.
The Japhetic peoples, listed in Genesis 10, traveled to Europe and India, where they became the Ayran peoples. All this is of recent record only.7
Evidence for a Young Earth in Nature4,9
The earth rotation is gradually slowing down. Currently, it is spinning approximately 1000 mph at the equator. If it were millions of years old, it would have been spinning so fast that nothing could be retained on its surface. It would also be like a thin pancake.
The magnetic field is also slowly decaying. Only 20,000 years ago that electrical field would have been so strong the planet would have been liquefied by heat, totally unable to sustain life.
Looking Beneath the Surface
Oil and gas are located in porous or permeable rock. The current rate of gas escaping through sandstone or limestone would have depleted all supplies if the earth were long ages old.
Oil is constantly seeping from deep in the earth into the ocean floors. If the earth was older than 20,000 years old, all the oil would have been emptied out and all pressure would have been released from those vast reserves. Those reserves were placed there only recently.
Recently, Baumgardner reported that new studies of plate tectonics support the timing of the flood when great shifts of the earth’s surface occurred.8
Looking at Earth’s Surface
It has been estimated that it takes 300-1000 years to build one inch of topsoil. The average depth of topsoil is eight inches. Though very general statistics, this does show this planet can’t be older than a few thousand years as it presently exists.
Niagara Falls erodes the cliffs it cascades over three and a half feet each year. The gorge is less than seven miles, meaning that that natural wonder is likely a little over 5000 years old (likely eroding much at first as it was formed).
Evidence from the Oceans
“River deltas. The Mississippi River dumps 300 million cubic yards [229 million cm] of mud into the Gulf of Mexico each year—continually enlarging the delta area. Yet the Mississippi delta is not large. Calculations reveal it has only been forming for the past 4,000 years (4,620 years, to be exact). If the world was 120,000 years old, that delta would extend all the way to the North Pole.
“Sea ooze. Soft mud from dead plants and animal life form on the floor of the oceans, at the rate of about one inch (2.54 cm) every 1,000 to 5,000 years. The depth of ooze indicates the earth is quite young.
“Thickness of ocean sediments. If the earth was billions of years old, the ocean floor would be covered by sediments from land, measuring 60 to 100 miles [96.5 to 160.9 km] thick, and all the continents would be eroded away. Instead, we only find a few thousand feet of sediment. Based on known yearly sediment deposition, calculations yield only a few thousand years for our planet.
“Growth of coral. Coral growth rates indicate the earth is quite young. No known coral formation is older than 3,500 years.A”9
Science is increasingly coming to grips with the evidence that the earth is young. New observations on 14C decay to 12C show the earth to be relatively young.10
The Biblical Sabbaticals encompass the Great Week of Time (GWT) as a significant divine restoration template. This introduces linear redemptive appointments that are highlighted by prophetic events scattered throughout history. At the end of its “sixth,” sin and sinners will become history, and God’s kingdom will supervene. The GWT defines a restricted period of time for sin and rebellion to operate within.
Through innumerable channels it is possible to convincingly argue that the age of this earth fits within the GWT period. Of solemn importance is the information that we now have, revealing that closure on sinful man is about to occur. A major time transition within the GWT is pending.