This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Question and Answer: How Old is the Earth?

I am a devout Christian. However, I struggle with those who use the literal interpretation of the Bible to conclude that the earth and all of creation is only about 10,000 years old. What are your thoughts on this?

It is true that the Bible appears to present a young earth, or at least younger than the assumption that the universe came into existence millions or billions of years ago. However, that doesn’t mean a creation date of 4004 BC is correct (a traditional view presented by biblical scholar Bishop Ussher). It also doesn’t mean (necessarily) that the earth is only 10,000 years old.

The truth is, none of us really knows the exact date of creation. Some scholars have pointed out that the genealogies in the early parts of Genesis did not necessarily include every name in a family. In fact, they might have recorded only every fourth or fifth generation. So, even if you calculate the date strictly using biblical record, the earth might be 25,000 years old or even 50,000.

There are also respectable and responsible Bible teachers who argue that the earth is much older. I disagree with them, but hopefully, without ever being disagreeable. I can believe in a young earth despite the evolutionary dating of the fossil record for at least two reasons. First, it seems that God created the world with apparent age. Consider the creation of Adam. God made him from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). But, when Adam was just a few minutes old, he wasn’t an infant. Rather, God created him as a fully grown man. In the same way, when God made the world, He built age into everything that was made.

Second, much of the fossil record can be explained by what is called cataclysm. This term means that earthly catastrophes can leave remnants that appear to have happened much earlier than they actually did. For example, the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 left underwater forests and canyons that, if we didn’t know better, would appear to be millions of years old. In the similar way, the Bible depicts a major catastrophic event, the flood (Gen. 6–8). The flood could explain much of the alleged evidence for a seemingly much older earth. The Bible says “all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened” (Gen. 7:11). More important than knowing exactly when creation took place is that we can be certain of what the Bible teaches—there is a Creator who made the world and all humanity. He cares for us so much, that He gave His one and only Son, the God-Man, Jesus, who died for us and rose again. If we put our trust in Him, we can have an eternal personal relationship with our Creator.

BY Dr. Michael Rydelnik

Dr. Michael Rydelnik is professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute and the host of Moody Radio’s Open Line. He is the author of Understanding the Arab Israeli Conflict and The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? He is also the co-editor of the Moody Bible Commentary. Michael served on the translation team of the Holman CSB Bible and contributed to several other books and study Bibles. Michael also appeared in the Lee Stroebel video The Case for Christ. Michael and his wife, Eva, have two adult sons. The Rydelniks live in Chicago, Ill.

Find Questions and Answers by Month