How Old Is the World?
Text: Job 38:1-11
I. The assumption that our world is billions of years old appears everywhere in our culture.
A. It is so prevalent that few stop and question whether it is true.
B. But as God pointed out to Job, man wasn’t there at the beginning (Job 38:2). Everything we have in science is based on guesses from what we see today.
C. Science currently claims a 4.5 billion year old world
1. “This age is based on evidence from radiometric age dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples” [Wikipedia]
2. Now notice what is said, the age is derived by taking the oldest possible dates.
II. The biblical age of the Earth
A. Biblical dating is a bit hard because a universal calendar wasn’t in use.
1. Time was measured relative to local events, such as how long the current king had been reigning.
2. This leads to rounding, since events rarely occur right at the start of a calendar year.
3. Thus, as you work backwards in time, you can be off plus or minus a year, times the number of events used to go backwards.
a. Example: if you went back to a point in time using the length of the reign of five kings, you will be within five years of the true date.
B. Summaries in the Bible make dating a bit better.
1. The length of time the Israelites were in Egypt was 430 years - Exodus 12:40-41
2. The time from the Exodus to the building of the temple was 480 years - I Kings 6:1
3. These summaries restore the precision for long periods, when they are available.
C. The result is that the Bible gives an age to the earth that is roughly 6,000 years old.
1. One can argue for perhaps hundreds of years difference one way or the other, but the variation is less than what some lead people to believe.
III. Is the science record consistent?
1. The space craft Voyager in 1979 filmed a volcano erupting on Io, a moon of Jupiter.
a. The problem is that if the solar system is billions of years old, small moons like Io, should have cooled off long ago and not be able to erupt.
b. Could it be that Io is still hot because the solar system isn’t as old as people would like it to be?
2. Saturn has rings made up of fine particles.
a. If Saturn and its rings were there for billions of years, the orbit of those particles have to be very stable
b. Space probes show that the orbits are very unstable.
c. So the rings have to have been formed within the last ten thousand years or constantly being reformed.
3. Planets have magnetic fields that are generated because of the liquid cores. As the planets age, the core stabilizes and the magnetic field disappears. It happens to smaller planets faster than large ones.
a. Science assumed that Mercury would have no magnetic field after 4.5 billion years.
b. But the space probe Mariner 10 in 1974-1975 showed there still is a magnetic field around Mercury.
4. What about the light we see from distant stars, doesn’t show a really old universe?
a. Perhaps, if the speed of light is constant, but we have a problem. Evidence is mounting that the speed of light is slowing down.
b. We also know that what light travels through impacts its speed.
c. According to modern physics, empty space, even with all matter removed, still contains energy. And the amount of energy in empty space impacts the speed of light.
d. What if God created matter by converting some of this wide-spread energy?
(1) The result would be that the speed of light would be trillions of times faster as the energy was being converted.
e. A part of our problem is while we’ve calculated what we think the distances should be, we have no method at the moment to verify those numbers because we can’t get there.
5. People have looked at the stars for thousands of years. While it is only recently we can see as much detail, still we have records of observations from the past about stars which can be seen, such as Sirius
a. Sirius B is a white dwarf star, but Egyptian astronomers four thousand years ago describes it as a red star. So did Cicero, a Roman senator in 50 B.C. Ptoloemy, a famous astronomer in 150 A.D. listed Sirius as one of the six red stars that can be seen.
b. According to current theory, stars go through several stages:
(1) Gravity pulls gas molecules together and they somehow ignite.
(2) The star burns for 100's of millions of years, eventually expanding into a red giant
(3) The red giant then slowly collapses into a white dwarf
c. But we have evidence that the collapse of Sirius B wasn’t slow, which calls the rest of the theory of star formation into question.
(1) The usual response is that the ancient observers made a mistake.
1. Carbon-14 is created in the upper atmosphere as radiation strikes nitrogen atoms.
a. Living things absorb the Carbon-14, but once something dies it does not take in new Carbon-14.
(1) Since Carbon-14 decays to half its amount every 5,730 years, we can estimate how long something was dead by measuring the remaining amount (assuming the current ratio of Carbon to Carbon-14 remains the same).
(2) By a million years, there is no Carbon-14 left. It all decays away.
b. The problem is that all organic material has 0.3% or more of the Carbon-14 that we have today.
(1) That includes coal, oil, and unfossilized dinosaur bones.
(2) That makes the oldest possible age for life to be 46,000 years.
2. Remember the magnetic field? What about the Earth’s magnetic field?
a. We know the field is decreasing. It has lost 50% of its strength in the last 1,400 years.
(1) At that rate, you can only go back 10,000 years before the magnetic field would have been too strong for life to exist.
3. As radioactive material decays, it leaves distinctive halos in rock crystals, such as found in granite. Each type of radioactive material leaves a different kind of ring.
a. One is Polonium which decays in seconds to months.
b. For a ring to form, the rock has to be relatively cool (under 140 degrees Celsius). Higher temperatures destroy the rings.
c. Granite has Polonium rings in it.
(1) There is no evidence of the Polonium coming from any other material as it decays.
(2) So the Polonium had to been in the rock when it solidified
(3) But that means the rock had to have cooled off in seconds to a month time period – unless the rock was formed solid in the first place.
1. When an animal dies, its DNA begins to decompose. Based on DNA samples from a known 4,000 year old mummy, it has been determined that DNA cannot survive more than 10,000 years.
a. But DNA was found in a magnolia leaf that was dated to be 17 millions years old, dinosaur bones dated 80 million years old, and fish dated 200 million years old.
2. Protein molecules can’t last either, but they are found in dinosaur bones that are supposed to be 75 to 150 million years old.
1. Rock layers are dated by the fossils of extinct animals found in them.
a. For example, the Pilina mollusk, is believed to have been extinct for 400 million years, so rocks with Pilina in them is date 400 million years old or older.
b. But then in 1952 people found Pilina mollusk in the ocean, 12,000 feet below the surface that look just like their 400 million year old ancestors.
c. Another is the coelacanth, which was thought to have been extinct for 60 million years, until people started catching some in the Indian Ocean since 1938.
d. Living fossils is a problem evolutionists can’t explain and they ignore the fact that living fossils ruin their geology dates.
2. The top soil around the world averages less than 12 inches deep. We’re told that it takes 5,000 to 20,000 years to produce six inches of top soil.
a. If the earth is billions of years old, there should be hundreds of feet of top soil either on the surface or washed into the oceans – there isn’t
3. Coal is formed from plant matter, supposedly taking millions of years to form.
a. But scientist at the Argonne National laboratory found that if you mix wood with acidic clay and water, bake it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 28 days in an air-free environment, you get high grade black coal.
4. There are places around the world where rock material in a deep layer oozes up through cracks in the layer above it (clastic dikes).
a. In the Ute Pass fault in Colorado there is a layer that is supposed to be 500 million years old. Above it is another layer that is 70 million years old.
b. Some of the 500 million year old layer has oozed up through cracks in the 70 million year old layer.
c. How can solid rock ooze? The claim is that the lower layer hadn’t solidified in its first 430 million years. Hmm.
d. Better is that both layers were laid down in a short period of time of each other, allowing one to ooze up into cracks of the other before both hardened.
5. Then there is the problem of fossilized trees reaching through many layers (polystrata fossils)
6. It was once thought that layered rock formation was the result of millions of years of formation.
a. When Mount St. Helen erupted, it was learned to be otherwise.
b. Layered formations were formed in hours during the eruption.
c. In the picture given: It would be easy to think millions of years. However, the bottom layer formed in 6 hours on 18th May 1980, the middle layer was formed on 12th June 1980 and the top layer by mud flow in March 1982, following the eruption of Mt St Helens.
E. Other facts
1. The current population needed only 4,000 years to reach its current level
2. The rim of Niagra Falls is wearing at a rate that indicates it has only been around 5,000 years.
3. The Mississippi river delta could be formed in less than 5,000 years.
IV. The point of all these facts isn’t to say any one of these proves the earth is a young age, but to point out that the evidence for a million year old earth isn’t solidly established.
A. There is actually sufficient evidence to say that the biblical date of 6,000 years is plausible from a scientific view.
B. The biggest problem from the science vew is what are the starting conditions.
C. Remember that all dates have to make assumptions and the answers depend on the assumptions you make because we can’t go back in time and prove which assumptions are correct.
V. What it comes down to is faith.
A. We look at all the facts, but it is faith that takes us to what we can’t see - Hebrews 11:1
B. The evolutionist have faith in random happen-chance, the Christian has faith in a Creator.
C. Which do you think is more reasonable given the evidence that exists?
[Much of the source material comes from A Closer Look at the Evidence by Richard and Tina Kleiss]