Beliefs re the Age of the Earth

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See Qms:Questioning Mainstream Science.

Evolutionary Creationism Old Earth Creationism Young Earth Creationism
without "gap" with "gap"


Historical Christadelphian approaches

See In the beginning . . .  for historical Christadelphian approaches.

Young Earth Creationism (YEC)

Questioning Mainstream Science
Appearance of Age

Young Earth Creationists almost always subscribe to some version of Appearance of Age explanation for the apparent age of the universe. See at Beliefs about "Appearance of Age".

Old Earth Creationism (OEC) with "Gap" — a very common Christadelphian view

1849 – J Thomas

  • John Thomas believed that

. . . light, . . . the sun, moon, and stars . . . [were] absolutely pre-existent for million of ages before the Adamic Era. . . . There are indeed hints, casually dropped in the Scriptures, which would seem to indicate, that our planet was inhabited by a race of beings anterior to the formation of man. . . . catastrophe befell them . . .

— John Thomas, Elpis Israel, ch. 2

1910 – C C Walker

C. C. Walker (1856-1940), reflecting the general Christadelphian view at the beginning of the 20th Century, wrote in 1910 in favour of an ancient Earth with a "Gap", and was scathing about the idea that the Earth is only 6,000 years old:

In Isaiah 24:10, tohu describes the divinely accomplished desolation of Jerusalem because of her sins, thus: —“The city of confusion is broken down.” And in Jeremiah 4:23, a similar lamentation by the prophet concerning the land of Israel introduces the exact expression of Moses in Genesis 1:2, thus: “I beheld the earth, and lo! it was without form (R.V., waste), and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.” This was a kosmos reduced to a chaos by the hand of God in punishment for sin, “For thus saith the Lord, The whole land shall be a desolation; yet will I not make a full end” (verse 27). These divine allusions are explicative of the earlier expression in Genesis 1:1. There is no mark of time there, and in the absence of any hint in the context, we should be going too far in speculating concerning the possible destruction by divine judgment of a pre-Adamic kosmos. We can only legitimately glean from the very brief allusion of Moses that at some time anterior to the creation he is about to describe, the world was in existence, but in a waste and void condition by comparison with what it afterwards became under the creative energy of the Almighty. The conclusions of geology, and the undoubted existence of fossil remains of incalculable antiquity are quite in harmony with this view, whereas the view that the earth itself was created some 6,000 years ago is hopelessly irreconcilable with facts.

The Christadelphian, Vol. 47 p222, 1910

1926 – C C Walker

By 1926, however, C. C. Walker was writing against the Gap Theory in The Word of God:

“The appearance of herbage naturally preceded that of the creatures which fed upon it. Some of their fossil remains have even contained herbal remains within the wreckage of their gigantic ribs, strongly suggesting some primeval cataclysm in which the great beasts suddenly perished. It will be perceived that this view regards the third day as ages before the creation of man, and the cataclysm in question as of incalculable antiquity. It is very evident from geology that such upheavals have been many in earth’s remote past, but there does not appear to be any evidence at all that some six thousand years ago an existing cosmos was reduced to such a chaos as is described in Gen. 1:2.

— as cited by L G Sargent, The Christadelphian, Vol. 103, page 458–460, 1926

A YEC attitude to Bro. Walker
"Some ['Pioneers'] did concede ground on the six days, particularly brother Walker in 1910, feeling the pressure of the geologic timescale that he was being faced with, said we don't have to literally read the six days. They love that quotation, it's always the first one they send you. It was a very unhelpful comment by brother Walker . . ."

— talk by brother Ron Cowie published on youtube.

1942 – P. Wale

" . . . in view of the indisputable fact that the formation of the substance of the earth, with its various strata and mineral deposits, occupied vast stretches of time, we feel shut up to the conclusion that the six days' work was not the primary creation envisaged by astronomers and geologists, but a work of restoration and reconstruction after an overthrow. Granted that some of the exponents and advocates of this latter view have understood verse 1 as a statement concerning a previous and primary creation, that assumption is not necessarily involved. The opening verse is just as appropriate an introduction to a work of restoration, s it would be to a primary creation."

—P. Wale, "In the Beginning."Genesis 1, The Testimony Vol 12 No 133, January 1942, p.39

2015 – Rugby Ecclesia, UK

  • Rugby Christadelphians teach here that the Earth contains fossils that "could well be millions and millions of years old" but that Genesis 1:3 is the beginning of "God's 7,000 Year Plan" (approx. 13-15 minutes from the start). The speaker presents the 7,000 years' history of life on Earth as a brief moment in infinite time.

Old Earth Creationism (OEC)

Brother Wilfred Lambert:

Two preliminary points can be made before getting to grips with the real problems. The first is that we absolutely reject the idea put out by some that God deliberately put the fossils in the rocks in 4004 BC to deceive the (recent, western) scientists. This assigns a totally excessive importance to these people, and denigrates God by making him into a petty trickster. The second is that while all the failings of modern scientists can and should be taken into account – including rare cases of deliberate fraud – the general result that the human race is more than 7000 years old, and that the universe is very much older, can no longer be considered insecure. Devout and believing Bible scholars have made and still do make mistakes and Biblical manuscripts have, rarely, been forged, but that is no reason to abandon faith in God.

— Wilfred Lambert, Creation A Christadelphian Study—Understanding Genesis chapters 1-3, pub. L Boddy, 1998
Full text of the the study is here.

Evolutionary Creationism (EC)

Evolutionary Creationists necessarily accept the dating of the age of the Earth as calculated by Geologists and Astronomers. With Old Earth Creationists, they are embarrassed when Young Earth Creationists talk about "Appearance of Age", which from the EC and OEC point of view turns God into a fraud, faking supernovas that did not happen, and creating a whole world of trickery.

  • Bro Ken Gilmore has written against The 7,000 Year Plan on his blog and documents the continuity of the fossil record at "A million years of hominins in the Middle East":

    Fundamentalists assert, based on a highly literal reading of the creation narratives, that the human race began 6000 years ago in south-west Asia. However, what the archaeological and palaeoanthropological data from this area show is that not only does evidence of human settlement in this area extend back well before 4000 BCE without any evidence of discontinuity, human fossils can be found back well over 100,000 years ago, with hominin fossils appearing in Turkey around one million years ago. It is impossible to dogmatically assert that no human was alive more than six thousand years ago, Adam was the first human being to exist or that every human who has ever lived descended exclusively from Adam. Just the fossil evidence from the near East flatly refutes these dogmatic assertions, and pretending they do not exist or threatening to excommunicate people who point out these facts will not make them go away.

  • N. T. Wright speaking about a literalist reading of Genesis:

. . . if people then say, "What really matters about Genesis is precisely how many days it took and precisely how young the Earth is," et cetera, I'd say, "It doesn't feel to me as though you're reading the text," or, "You're reading something that you have turned the text into rather than the text itself."

(— extract from transcript at Eden as background to New Testament)

Deism, Agnosticism and Atheism

There is nothing to encourage unbelievers to reject the physical evidence for the age of the earth and the universe, but they sometimes play with the idea, and can mock religious people who they say believe that God made a fake universe. Bertrand Russell proposed a paradoxical "Five minute hypothesis" as a philosophical exercise: we cannot prove that the universe was not made five minutes ago. The Wikipedia page Omphalos hypothesis writes about this, and the alternative "Last Thursdayism". It also links to a copy of the old web page of the parody "Church of Last Thursdayism".

Atheist publicity often exploits the conflict between Young Earth Creationists and fundamentalists who believe in an older earth — for example, Hemant Mehta here.

Bruce (talk) 15:00, 21 May 2018 (UTC)