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Does the Bible give any indication on how old the Earth really is or when creation began?

QUESTION: Does the Bible give any indication on how old the Earth really is or when creation began? Everything we see today on television documentaries and learn in science class suggests the Earth is millions or billions of years old.

A: If you type the question "How old is the earth?" into Google, you will get the following answer: 4.54 billion years. It becomes pretty obvious that the theory of a very old earth is pretty much considered fact by most everyone in the scientific community. But there are also many reputable individuals who are skeptical of how those dates have been reached.

To answer your question directly, the only biblical method for deducing the age of the earth would be to read the various biblical accounts and attempt to compile a kind of chronology based on life spans and so forth. Many have attempted to do this, and the result has been a figure somewhere around 6,000 years. (Quite a difference from 4.5 billion, eh?) 

The website from Answers in Genesis has compiled some excellent information on this question and I would encourage you to check it out.


  1. The Bible is not always clear about what it is saying. A bible passage can produce a variety of interpretations. In the Second Epistle of Peter from the King James Version of the New Testament, verse 8 of chapter 3 reads: "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." This is typically interpreted to say that one creation day is one thousand years. The first two chapters of the Book of Genesis suggest that we are still in the seventh creation day. This means the Earth must be between 6,000 and 7,000 years old.

    Verse 8 seems to repeat that one day is a thousand years within it. But, to say "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years," "and" "a thousand years as one day," could be interpreted as providing two pieces of information. The "and" in the verse may indicate that additional, not redundant, information follows. If so, then the days and years mentioned in the first clause may not be the same days and years referred to in the second clause.

    To explore this; first, we denote the days and years in the first clause as Days and Years (beginning with upper case letters). Next, we denote those in the second clause as days and years (beginning with lower case letters). Now, the verse says: 1 Day = 1,000 Years, and 1,000 years = 1 day.

    Let a "Day" be a creation day, a "year" be a year as we know it, and a "Year" be 365 "days." Then, 1 Year becomes 365,000 of our years, and 1 Day, 365 million of our years. This would make the Bible’s six creation days (6 Days) 2.2 billion of our years. This is about half the 4.5 billion years geology says is the age of the Earth.

    We can go one step further with this line of thought. In verse 4 of Genesis, God divides the light from the darkness. Then, in verse 5, He calls the light, "Day," and the darkness, "Night." To distinguish between Day and Night suggests that they are two independent entities, not two parts of an entity, "Day." If we assume that God divided them equally, then a Night is as long as a Day, or 365 million of our years. Since there is a Night after every Day; then, in addition to the six creation Days, six creation Nights have also elapsed. This means that we have to add another 2.2 billion years to the Bible's Earth age, making it 4.4 billion years. This is essentially the same as the 4.5 billion-year geological age of the Earth.

  2. Those are interesting figures, but I find three major flaws.

    1. The Hebrew word Yom which is translated "day" in the Creation account of Genesis is the exact same word that is used elsewhere in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament. Wherever that word appears in the Old Testament is always refers to a single 24 hour period. And yet, for your theory to be correct, Yom actually must refer to 1,000 years! That means when Abraham and Isaac were traveling to Moriah to make a sacrifice and it says, "On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar." Genesis 22:4 (ESV) —this actually means that it took then 3,000 years to get there!

    Now, I seriously doubt that that is what you're suggesting. But if that's the case, then you're telling me that "Yom" in the Creation record means 1,000 years and elsewhere it just means a single day. Why? Why should I interpret that word differently in the first chapters of Genesis than I do later on in the book? If however you're saying that Yom should ALWAYS be seen as 1,000 years, then you have bigger problems than just trying to explain the age of the earth.

    2. You quoted 2 Peter 3:8 as a proof text for an ancient earth. In that passage Peter says: "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Peter 3:8 (ESV)

    You want me to believe that Peter is giving us a formula here for properly determining time, but is that what Peter is saying? When you read the context of his statement you see that he is addressing those who scoff concerning the promises of God and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In response to their mocking about God's apparent delay he makes this statement. But Peter is using a simile (a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing) to make the point that God's perspective on time is entirely different than ours. The whole reason for Peter's statement is to highlight God's mercy and patience. The scoffers saw it as reason to suspect God of being unable to keep His promises. Peter argues that all it proves is that God cares of people being saved and wants to give as much time as possible to see that happen.

    3. Lastly, the ONLY reason we're even considering the meaning of the word "day" in the biblical Creation account is because some people have become convinced that modern science is accurately dating the earth and so they are attempting to harmonize the Bible with those scientific conclusions. Personally I believe that sets a dangerous precedent. When we feel squeezed into making Scripture palatable to the world we're likely to end up with something other than the simple truth of God's Word.

    The fact of the matter is, God could have created the Universe in 6 seconds had He desired to do so. But the Bible says He took 6 days to do it and from all angles it seems like when it says 6 days it means 6 days.

  3. The answer to this question is simple, and found in the bible. The Earth and all creation was created with the appearance of age, like Adam and Eve, who were made in a full grown state, or size, they appeared to be older then what they were, so was the animals, the trees and plants and all the earth. One of the first miracles Jesus preformed, was to turn water into wine at a wedding, wine gets its flavor over time by aging,but Jesus made it instantaneous with the appearance of age, we have learned to do this with diamonds, and crystals etc…