According to current scientific estimates the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old and the universe is around 13.75 billion years old. If these calculations are correct, even approximately so, then there were billions of years between the creation of the universe and the formation of our planet. Even then the Earth would wait over 4 billion years for the appearance of life, around 150 million years ago.

From a human perspective it is difficult to conceive of these lengths of time — a human lifespan is a mere speck in comparison to these vast stretches of time. We might feel that these vast stretches of time were wasted time; that nothing really important happened until the appearance of humans. But this is actually a rather arrogant and presumptive stance, as if humans were the only thing that mattered in God’s creation. God is eternal — he is not in a hurry — why shouldn’t he take billions of years to delight in his creation, if he chooses?

There may also be practical reasons for these vast stretches of time. If the Standard Model is correct, and the universe was created at the Big Bang and that galaxies, stars and planets arose from this initial moment, then actually these lengths of time are needed to arrive at the universe as it is today. So if that was God’s chosen method of creation — rather than, say, an instant creation — then these vast stretches of time would be necessary.

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11 Responses to Why is the age of the universe so different to the age of the Earth?

  1. ez says:

    The Bible is perfectly clear on how creation was formed and quite clear over what time period. There is no need to bend original Christian teaching to accommodate the fickle nature of ‘modern science’.

    The truth is that beyond sound Biblical teaching we have no direct insight beyond 6000 odd years of history.

    The ‘big bang theory’ remains just as unprovable as when it was invented.

    God created the universe ‘mature’ and fully intact. God is not limited by time rather he is the ‘author’ of such.

    There is simply no room to ‘squeeze’ atheistic theories into the pages of a profound and inspired message: the Bible.
    This same Scripture that brims with verses pertaining to Gods literal and miraculous Creation.

  2. Ken Gilmore says:

    Ez, beyond “sound Biblical teaching”, we have no evidence that the earth revolves around the sun. In fact, if we had no insight from modern science and interpreted Scripture literally, we’d believe:

    * The earth was a flat disc over which was a solid firmament
    * The sun revolved around the Earth.

    Flat earth Christians are in fact more consistent in their literalism than YECs who nonetheless refuse to believe the literal teaching of the Bible that the sky is solid and the earth is fixed.

    The Bible is not s science text. We do it a disservice by treating it as such. Well before Darwin, geologists accepted that the Earth was ancient, so it is not an ‘atheistic’ theory. John Thomas and Robert Roberts accepted the witness of creation to the antiquity of the earth, They had no quarrel with science, and I suggest we would do well to follow the early Pioneer attitude towards Bible and science with respect to the age of the Earth.

  3. ez says:

    The Bible does not teach us any of your dot points Ken. I have no idea where this contrivance has been manufactured.

    The Bible is far more than a scientific text Ken, it is the reliable and inspired word of God. Scientists so called fleeting and inaccurate musings have no measure on this.

    I suggest we do far better to follow divinely inspired scriptures than unconfirmed dogma.
    I have no quarrel with science either Ken but unfortunately science (so called) is not equipped to measure such an age. It is most certainly never equipped to contend with Scripture.

    The Bible in no way supports the ‘theory of evolution’ and neither did any of the pioneering Brethren.
    Maybe it would serve you better to read the pioneering brothers a little closer.
    Excerpt from Robert Roberts book ‘The Ways of Providence’:
    “The evolution theories of Darwin, Huxley, and Spencer, are with a small substratum of fact, mere guesses, and hideous at that, with quite as much of mystery at their roots as may ever be felt to attach to the idea of a Creator.”
    Also he quotes appropriately this verse:
    “9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? “(Psa 94:9 KJV)

    I think it a far better thing that Christians adhere to sound scriptural teaching than fanciful and known atheistic notions.

  4. Ken Gilmore says:

    Hi ez

    The Bible is not a science text, and you run the risk of making serious exegetical errors if you treat it as such. Interpreted literally, it *does* teach that the firmament is solid. The Heb raqia’ in Gen 1:6-8 for example means something solid, as evidenced by its use in Ezek 1:22 where something solid is clearly meant. The standard lexicon HALOT notes “the beaten metal plate, or bow; firmament, the firm vault of heaven: Sept. στερέωμα, Vulg. firmamentum; by רָקִיעַ was understood the gigantic heavenly dome which was the source of the light that brooded over the heavenly ocean and of which the dome arched above the earthly globe.” See too the respected OT scholar Peter Enns who notes:

    “Let me summarize some of the general arguments for why raqia is understood by contemporary biblical scholars as a solid structure1:

    * The other cosmologies from the ancient world depict some solid structure in the sky. The most natural explanation of the raqia is that it also reflects this understanding. There is no indication that Genesis is a novel description of the sky;

    * Virtually every description of raqia from antiquity to the Renaissance depicts it as solid. The non-solid interpretation of raqia is a novelty;

    * According to the flood story in Gen 7:11 and 8:2, the waters above were held back only to be released through the “floodgates of the heavens” (literally, “lattice windows”);

    * Other Old Testament passages are consistent with the raqia being solid (Ezekiel1:22; Job 37:18; Psalm 148:4);

    * According to Gen 1:20, the birds fly in front of the raqia (in the air), not in the raqia;

    * The noun raqia is derived form the verb that means to beat out or stamp out, as in hammering metal into thin plates (Exodus 39:3). This suggests that the noun form is likewise related to something solid;

    * Speaking of the sky as being stretched out like a canopy/tent (Isaiah 40:22) or that it will roll up like a scroll (34:4) are clearly similes and do not support the view that raqia in Genesis 1 is non-solid.

    The solid nature of the raqia is well established. It is not the result of an anti-Christian conspiracy to find errors in the Bible, but the “solid” result of scholars doing their job. This does not mean that there can be no discussion or debate. But, to introduce a novel interpretation of raqia would require new evidence or at least a reconsideration of the evidence we have that would be compelling to those who do not have a vested religious interest in maintaining one view or another.” –

    ez, as you can see, a literal reading of the Bible would oblige you to believe in a literal solid firmament. If you disagree, the onus is on you to show where these views are wrong, in detail and with due references to the scholarly literature.

  5. Ken Gilmore says:

    Prior to the Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos in the 3rd century BCE, there is no recorded evidence of anyone believing that the earth revolved around the sun. Rather, people assumed that what their eyes told them was the truth, namely the sun moved. The Bible reflects that view and does nothing to disabuse its readers of that idea. In fact, there is nothing in the Bible that states the earth revolves around the sun. If it was intended to be a science text, it would have corrected that natural belief, but it did not. Rather, we see:

    Josh 10:12-13 “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon. So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.”

    Ecc 1:5 “Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again. ”

    Psa 19:4-6 “In them He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.”

    You cannot claim that these references are phenomenal language, that is, merely describing how things look from an observer’s perspective as we *know* that the apparent motion of the sun is just that. As I said before, the ancient Hebrews lived before science had informed us that the Earth moved around the sun, and when they saw the sun move, they really believed the sun was moving. The burden of proof is on you to prove otherwise.

    In fact, additional evidence comes from the fact that early Christians used the Bible as proof against the Copernican view of the solar system. If there was any proof of heliocentrism in the Bible, the early church would have noted it. However, there is none. The Bible reflects a geocentric world view, and does nothing to disabuse its readers of it. Clearly, the Bible is not an astronomical text.

    I would caution against using Job 26:7 ” He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing.” to prove that the Bible was “ahead of its time” as four verses later, Job 26:11 says “The pillars of heaven tremble and are amazed at His rebuke.” It is little more than special pleading to claim that verse 7 is literal and verse 11 is figurative, when the only way one can make that call is by virtue of having access to extra-Biblical knowledge.

    Likewise, Isa 40:22 ” It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers” is not proof the Biblical writers knew the earth was a sphere, since the Heb word for circle ‘khug’ does not mean sphere. HALOT again defines it in this context as the “earth conceived as a disc”.

  6. Ken Gilmore says:

    The Biblical scholar Robert Schneider comments on the Hebrew of these verses:

    “The critical line in Hebrew reads (transliterated and omitting vowels): hyshb ‘l hwg h’rtz, which my colleague Dr. Robert Suder translates: “the one dwelling on the circle/horizon of the land.” A survey of Hebrew lexica and theological wordbooks yields much information about the key word hwg (chûgh). According to K. Seybold, its root appears six times in biblical Hebrew, and it is clear from its usage in context that it has a specifically geometrical meaning, that is, “a circle, as drawn with compasses.” In Job 26:10 and Prov. 8:27, chûgh is used with choq, meaning “to inscribe a circle.” This nominal infinitive form also appears in Job 22:14, where it denotes “the circle of the heavens” (shamayim), and in Isa. 40:22a, where it denotes “the circle of the earth” (haarets). Sir. 43:1218 uses chûgh in describing the rainbow. Finally, in Isa. 44:13, mechûghah, a hapax legomena (a form used only once), means “a compass,” i.e., that simple instrument people my age used to draw circles in high school geometry class.” Schneider R “Does the Bible Teach a Spherical Earth?” PSCF 53 (September 2001): 159-169.

    As Schneider shows, there’s no evidence to support the idea that khug means sphere. Examining the Septuagint of Isa 40 provides further support. Schneider again:

    “Looking at these usages together, I am hard put to see how anyone could justify rendering chûgh in Isa. 40:22a as “sphericity.” The earliest translations of these Scriptures bear this out. In the Septuagint (LXX), the translators render the nominal and verbal forms of chûgh in every case with the Greek gýros (noun), “circle” or “ring,” which they use in Isa. 40:22a, or gyróo (verb), “to make or inscribe a circle.” Gýros does not mean “sphere,” and in fact nowhere in any Greek recension of the Hebrew Scriptures will one find the proper word sphaíra used in this context at all. The history of the formation of the LXX is largely lost, and we do not know if the Prophets were translated in Alexandria as the Torah was in the third century BC. But if they were and if the translators were familiar with the concept of a spherical earth taught at the Museon of Alexandria, then the center of Greek science, they give no hint of it in their translation of chûgh.”

  7. Ken Gilmore says:

    In short, ez, you will find absolutely no evidence in the Bible to support a spherical earth or heliocentrism. Rather, you will find that it reflects a pre-scientific viewpoint. Literalists who read the Bible as proof that the earth is 6000 years old are completely inconsistent in their literalism as they do not accept a solid firmament or geocentrism which also flow from a literal, plain reading of the Bible.

    I am quite familiar with the Pioneer writings. Roberts and Thomas were not scientists, but unlike too many modern believers, they respected genuine science. In Elpis Israel as you may recall, Thomas observed that the Earth existed for “millions of ages before the Adamic era” – he was no young earth creationist I remind you. Continuing:

    “Fragments, however, of the wreck of this pre-Adamic world have been brought to light by geological research, to the records of which we refer the reader, for a detailed account of its discoveries, with this remark, that its organic remains, coal fields, and strata, belong to the ages before the formation of man, rather than to the era of the creation, or the Noachic flood. ”

    If you want to know about the history of the Earth, I would suggest you take up bro Thomas’ advice and refer to the records of geological research where you can read yourself rich.

    Bro Roberts not only believed in an ancient world, but in “The Visible Hand of God” showed that the flood was not global, but local. (In other words, he did not believe in Flood Geology.” He used biogeography – the science which looks at the distribution of animal and plant life through time and space to prove this:

    “There are facts that compel such a conclusion; and as all facts are of God, they must be in agreement. The animals of New Zealand are different from those of Australia. The animals of Australia, again, are different from those of Asia and Europe. These again differ entirely from those of the American continent: all differ from one another: and the fossil remains on all the continents show that this difference has always prevailed.

    ““Now if the flood were universal in the absolute sense, it is manifest that these facts could not be explained, for if the animals all over the earth were drowned, and the devastated countries were afterwards replenished from a Noachic centre, the animals of all countries would now show some similarity, instead of consisting of totally different species.” – Robert Roberts. The Visible Hand of God. (Chapter 5 – Enoch and the Flood)

    Roberts and Thomas did not accept evolution, but I am not talking about evolution, but the age of the earth. Furthermore, I am keen to diabuse you of the idea that the Bible is a reliable science text. It is not, and if we interpret it literally, we will end up bringing the word of God into disrepute by tying it with an extreme form of science-denying fundamentalism.

  8. ez says:

    Wow Ken that’s a lot of copying and pasting. I think it would be a little more succinct to make your point and then add links.

    I will try therefore for our sakes to surmise my answer.

    Even though you also seemed to cross post between this topic and another posted topic, I will include my answers here for you.

    Your evidence for the word raqyia is a little overcooked and lacking. You have not demonstrated anywhere in the ‘positive’, why you think the ‘firmament’ needs to be a ‘solid’. My point here was given the context and the fact that this word ‘raqia’ can also mean ‘expanse’, why wouldn’t you think this was the intended meaning? Does God making a ‘solid surface’ between the waters in Gen 1:6 make any sense to you?!
    Wouldn’t it make more sense if it was an expanse between the waters that was made and it was called ‘sky’? After all, this is what God called it in the next verse, ‘shamayim’, which is Hebrew for heavens/sky.
    I think you will also find Psa 19:1, Psa 150:1 and Dan 12:3 are fairly likely contextually to mean ‘expanse’ also.

    The ‘onus’, as you would have it Ken, is not on me but rather the Bible. As we have seen the Bible has extensively shown (in context) what is meant by ‘firmament’ in Genesis.

    Your regard for the reference in Josh10/Ecc1/Psa just seems incitable. When you read the weather details on your local weather site, what do you think they mean by sunrise/sunset?! This language is obviously used relevant to the viewer. Beyond your own imagination I cannot see whereabouts in these passages a geocentric model is implied.

    You say:”If there was any proof of heliocentrism in the Bible, the early church would have noted it. However, there is none”
    The Bible also doesn’t tell me that a Giant Anaconda could squeeze me to death, so is the Bible now unreliable??
    What is your point here?

    Creation being approximately 6000 years old does not rely on a ‘solid sky’ or a ‘geocentric perspective’. The Bible offers a reliable ‘literal account’ with a realistic timeline. All this backed up with many references to God’s care and detail.

    It’s because I believe in science and the Bible that I reject the fleeting theories of evolution. Our reliability on our Pioneering brethren is based on scripture. If they, like anyone stray from such, they do so without inspired merit.

    One fact is assured above all things Ken, man’s theories will come and go but God’s inspired word does not change. It doesn’t need to.

  9. Ken Gilmore says:

    Hi Ez

    Unfortunately, it’s far easier for people to make bald assertions than it is for those who have to refute them. This is particularly so when you have to outline some of the lexical, cultural, historical and scientific facts which need to be understood when correcting mistakes made by those who think the Earth is young because of their mistaken reading of the Bible. I would remind you that it isn’t “cutting and pasting” when you quote from a variety of sources and make due attribution to them, but rather research.

    It’s apparent that you have not read or understood anything I posted, otherwise you would not have made those assertions which were anticipated and answered in what I wrote. I suggest you go back, read everything carefully, find the references and read them as well. I have no desire to repeat myself again, so I will be brief:

    * Raqia’ does indeed mean something solid – HALOT, the standard Hebrew / Aramaic lexicon as I pointed out makes that clear. Unless you’re a qualified Hebrew scholar whose opinion is respected in the scholarly world, I doubt whether your refusal to accept the lexical definition carries much weight. I’m not being polemical, but honest. The Hebrew scholarly consensus carries far more weight than the view of a layperson.

    * Ezekiel 1 uses raqia’, and the meaning there is clearly of a solid dome capable of supporting objects – in this case a throne. That should give you an idea of the semantic range of raqia’ which does include something solid.

    * The idea that raqia’ means ‘expanse of space’ in Gen 1 can’t be sustained. For example, look at Gen 1:20: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.'” Actually, the Hebrew literally translated says “let birds fly above the earth on the face of the heavens, which makes no sense if they’re flying in space, but perfect sense if they’re flying in front of a solid firmament. Seely nails it when he says:

    “This phrase upon the face (surface) or in front of the raqia’ is important in that it implies the raqia’ was neither space nor atmosphere. For birds do not fly upon the surface or in front of space or air, but rather in space or air. This distinction is illustrated in the case of fish, which no one would say swim upon the surface or in front of the water (Gen 7: 18) but rather in the water (cr. Exod 7: 18, 21).”

  10. Ken Gilmore says:

    * Further to this point, Gen 1:17 says of the stars “God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,” So, how can the fimament be the atmospheric expanse if it also is the place in which the stars are set? The idea that firmament means expanse of space can’t be sustained:

    * Birds fly in front of the firmament
    * The firmament separates the waters above from the waters below
    * The stars are set in the firmament

    Recognise however the fact that Genesis 1 refers to the pre-scientific view of the world which the Hebrews believed (ie: solid sky with water above it, arching over a flat earth), then the problem vanishes, as to a person who believed this, birds would indeed fly in front of the firmament, and stars would be fixed in a solid firmament.

    The problem with your argument is that you assume Genesis is a scientifically accurate textbook. It isn’t. Genesis was not written to teach us science, but to tell us who created the earth. God accommodates his message to human limitations, therefore he would not have wasted time trying to teach Israel modern astronomy before telling them that he created the world. Rather, he told them that he was the creator of the world as they knew it. This idea is not foreign to Christadelphians. C.C. Walker wrote:

    Moses’ testimony was given to Israel in what might be called the infancy of the world, when men did not know the extent of the earth, let alone that of the sun, moon, and stars. And, as we believe, it was given (by God through Moses), not so much to instruct Israel in cosmogony in detail, as to impress upon them the idea that The Most High God is the Possessor of Heaven and Earth (Gen. 14:22). And this against the claims of the gods of the nations, as was abundantly proved in Israel’s history.’,

    * Again, you need to recognise that the ancient Hebrews did not believe in a spherical Earth that revolved around the sun. There’s no documented evidence that anyone who lived 3-4 thousand years ago believed in a modern view of the solar system. Rather, they accepted that the earth was flat, the sun revolved around the earth and the sky was solid. (I’d recommend strongly that you read and re-read Paul Seely’s paper which should clear up all your misconceptions on this subject.) The upshot of this is that when people in this time talked about the sun moving, they really believed that because they had no reason to believe that what they saw did not reflect reality. Astronomy did not exist. They had no way of knowing what we know, that the motion of the sun is apparent. Once more, you have to read Genesis not as a 21st century person, but as an inhabitant of a pre-scientific world which accepted that the earth was flat, the sky solid and the ground fixed. Remember, there is no evidence of a heliocentric cosmology in the Bible – if there was, the Catholic church would not have fought a losing battle with Galileo on that matter.

  11. Ken Gilmore says:

    Ez, the fact that science is of human origin does not make it any less true. Science does not operate the same way religion does. Nothing in science is ever final – it is always subject to revision pending the discovery of new facts. If this wasn’t the case, then we’d be mired centuries ago, where Aristotle and Galen were regarded as being unchallengable.

    The earth is ancient – around 4600 million years old. That’s not up for dispute – it’s a fact attested by multiple different dating systems that converge on the same date. There are many Christadelphians – dead and alive – who accept the great antiquity of the Earth, and they did so because they realised the scientific evidence was overwhelming, and therefore a literal interpretation of the Bible could not be maintained. As C.C. Walker said, when answering the objections of a Christadelphian who believed in a flat, stationary Earth:

    ‘Admitted that “the globe-earth theory” is of “pagan” origin, it is not therefore untrue. Much natural truth is of “pagan” discovery.’

    Exactly. The antiquity of the earth is of ‘pagan’ discovery. It doesn’t make it false, any more than the fact that there is no solid firmament or that the earth is a sphere – both of which are ‘pagan’ discoveries not found in the Bible are false. The natural world is equally a revelation of God, and if a disinterested examination of the natural world produces facts that contradict with an interpretation of the Bible, the only credible response is to accept that the interpretation of the Bible is wrong, and change your belief accordingly. Otherwise, we will be rightly regarded as closed minded obscurantists and cranks. This by the way is an idea with impeccable, ancient Christadelphian origins:

    ‘The inconsistency spoken of between nature and scripture, arises not from antagonism, but from the misinterpretations of both. It is man’s interpretation of the one set against man’s interpretations of the other. It is not nature versus scripture, but false science against true theology, or false theology against scientific fact.’

    I could not put it better. Remember, as bro Thomas said, if you want to learn more about the specific details of geology, consult the science journals, rather than try to force on the data from the natural world a literal reading of the Bible.

    I will make this my last comment in this thread – there is no point to be gained in repeating myself if you are disinclined to accept the revelation of the natural world as a reliable.


    1. Seely P “The Firmament and the Water Above – Part 1: The Meaning of raqia’ in Gen 1:6-8” The Westminster Theological Journal (1991) 53:227-240
    2. Walker C.C, ‘Is it wrong to believe that the earth is a sphere?’, The Christadelphian (1913) 50:346-348
    3. ibid, p 348
    4. WDJ. ‘The Bible as a Law of Life and Immortality’, The Ambassador of the Coming Age (1864) 1:93

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