At the core of the arguments about naturalistic evolution as the origin of the species and the big bang theory is the question of the age of the earth.  The big bang theory requires billions of years, while evolution needs hundreds of millions of years in order to even be considered.  But the problem that many Christians have is trying to make the Bible fit with what these theories postulate.  But if one accepts a Biblically authoritative worldview, requiring everything to fit in with what the Bible says, that might create problems.

So what does the Bible say about the age of planet earth?  In short, there is no scripture verse that says, “In the 2082nd year after God created the heaven and the earth, Abram was born.”  But if one knows where to look in the Bible and how to glean the information that is needed, an approximate age for creation can be discovered.  This article will go through that process to arrive to an answer.  And the great thing is that it is not so complicated that one needs a PhD to understand or explain it!

First, the right place or places in the Bible must be found to get the information, of which there are two.  The first stop on the train ride is Genesis 5, a little chapter that is often forgotten about since is seems dry and boring on the surface.  But this chapter is not only rich because of the theology and dating that it provides, but if one examines the meanings of the names of the men mentioned, the plan of salvation can easily be seen!  How awesome is our God and His Word!

Genesis 5 follows a pattern that goes something like this:

Adam lived a hundred and thirty years and begat a son, Seth.  Then after he had Seth he lived eight hundred years.  The days of Adam were eight hundred years after he begat Seth.  Adam had other sons and daughters.  Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years and then he died.

This example is simplified and paraphrased, but it presents the formula that is used for 11 men through this chapter.  Basically, it tells how long the subject lived before having a son, how long they lived after their child was born, and how many total years they lived.  The only deviation from this formula is seen in verse 24 with Enoch, because he presumably did not die: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”

Looking at this formula, what information is needed to get the timeline that is desired is how many years the subject lived before his son was born.  Since this information is repeated in each case, we can easily get the names and years in a list.  Below is the list with the verse the information is given:

Adam                    130 years             verse 3

Seth                      105 years             verse 6

Enos                     90 years               verse 9

Cainan                  70 years               verse 12

Mahalaleel          65 years               verse 15

Jared                    162 years             verse 18

Enoch                   65 years               verse 21

Methuselah         187 years             verse 25

Lamech                182 years             verse 28

Noah                    500 years             verse 32

If you take and add the years from all these men, the sum is 1,556 years.  Since this figure has been discovered, the next stop on the train ride would be Genesis 11.

Genesis 11:10 starts the same process described from Genesis 5, except in a somewhat shorter, more concise format.  Once again, the subject is named, how long he lived before his son was born and how long the subject lived.  Genesis 5:32 ends with Noah giving birth to three sons:  Ham, Shem and Japheth.  Genesis 11:10 starts with Shem, and the record eventually works its way down to Abram (Abraham).  Here is the list of nine men:

Seth                      100 years             verse 10

Arphaxad             35 years               verse 12

Salah                    30 years               verse 14

Eber                      43 years               verse 16

Peleg                    30 years               verse 18

Reu                       32 years               verse 20

Serug                    30 years               verse 22

Nahor                   29 years               verse 24

Terah                    70 years               verse 26

Adding up the ages this time gives a total of 399 years.  If the first figure of 1,556 is added to this result, the sum comes to 1,955.   The next train stop on this journey is a museum of historical information.

In order to get the final figure that is desired – the date of Abram/Abraham’s birth – history and tradition need to be consulted at this point.  The Bible does not specifically say when Abram/Abraham was born, but a number of sources give relatively close numbers.  One good source would be a library of information about Jewish history.  As such, the Jewish Virtual Library, it is reported that Abram/Abraham was born around 1,800 BC 1.  Another source of Jewish history dates his birth around 1,813 BC 2.  From a Christian perspective, the Introduction to Genesis in the HCSB Study Bible has a timeline putting the year of birth at 2,166 BC 3.

In order to be judicious, responsible and fair, the most conservative figure should be used.  Use the figure of around 1,800 BC, add that to 1,955, and this will yield a figure of up to 3,755 years.  Combining that figure with 2,013, the year that this article is written, the final total that is found is 5,768.

It should be stressed that this figure is not definitive, as there have been numerous changes in the calendar throughout history, so the exact figure would be difficult, if not impossible to discover.  The discrepancy could likely come to hundreds of years at the most.  Given that estimation, a date of approximately 6,700 year could be a safe age.  At this point, it should be stressed that what we are now looking at is a date of thousands of years, not billions of years, as naturalistic science requires for the big bang theory to be acceptable.

One major question that also comes up in the mix is the question of Adam’s creation, and how does this affect the timeline?  How do we know how long he actually lived since there is no mention of how long Adam and Eve were in the garden?  To get the answer, Genesis 5:1-3 needs to be examined:

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.
He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.”

Verse 1 introduces us to a record of a genealogy, and it also identifies Adam as being created by God in His own likeness.  Next, it is revealed that God made man and woman, creating mankind on day six as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2.  The next phrase is crucial to finding a resolution to the question at hand when it is stated “Adam lived one hundred and thirty years.”  From this wording, it should be safely presumed that from the moment he was created, the clock started and it tallied 130 years when Seth was born.  So this leaves one last point to examine, which is the timeline that is involved before God spoke light into creation on day one of creation, specifically referring to Genesis 1:1-2.

Genesis 1:1 introduces the student to an earth that is created along with the heavens “in the beginning.”  Some try to suppose that between verse 1 and 2 there is a period of time which no man can determine.  However, verse 2 says “And the earth was formless…”  It does not say the earth became formless, as proponents of the time gap postulate.  In addition, the original languages and earliest texts are in agreement with the translation which we have here.

Also, the Bible does not say, “a little later the earth was formless”, nor does it say something to the effect that “after a long wait the earth was formless.”  The verse continues to tell the account, like one event happened right after the other.  A different example to further illustrate this point would be “Johnny went to the restaurant, and he ordered his foot, and he ate it.”  It is grammatically implied that one event happened soon after the other.  Basically, the Jewish construction of the translation implies the exact same interpretation, although there are no seperate verse in the original languages.

Verse two and three say, “And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.”  The grammatical structure of these verses implies, once again, that these events follow each other within a close proximity of time, not long ages of time as some may try to assert.  The earliest manuscripts all agree with this sentence structure and tense.  So were the heavens and the earth part of creation on the first day?  Given the tense and structure we have in Genesis 1:1-2, the evidence seems positive that the heavens and earth were created on day one of creation with light 4.

In short, Christians can feel a lot of pressure to cave in to long ages of time regarding the formation of earth since they may not know that the Holy Word of God does, in fact, address time from the creation of Adam on the sixth literal 24-hour day, and can reliably show little time expiring after the creation of the heavens and the earth.  With a little help from historical information, believing in an earth that is thousands of years old, not billions of years old, is consistent with God’s Scripture, after all.

For more information about the age of our universe, please consult the following articles on this site:

               A Young Earth

               A Young Moon

               Big Bang or Big Bust?

References Cited

1 – http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/abraham.html

2 – http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112063/jewish/Abrahams-Early-Life.htm

3 – HCSB Study Bible, page 2, copyright 2010, published by Holman Bible Publishers

4 – http://www.icr.org/article/how-young-earth/

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2 Responses to “Does the Bible Give an Age for Planet Earth?”


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