Current Issue

Tyrannosaurus rex, one of the kings of the dinosaurs, is said to have lived 66 million years ago, and some scientists claim to have discovered fossils of simple life that are 3,465 million years old. In sharp contrast, the Bible indicates that God created the various forms of life just a few thousand years ago during Creation week! Following this came the great Genesis Flood, which biblical creationists understand to be responsible for much of the fossil record.

So which model of origins is correct, science or the Bible?

With our average life spans of 60 to 80 years, obviously no living human being has been around long enough to observe what happened even 6,000 years ago—the approximate biblical time span for life on the earth—to say nothing of the millions of years proposed by current scientific thinking. So we are left with examining rocks, fossils, and other pieces of evidence to calculate the age of the earth and life upon it. Some data, emphasized by most scientists, tends to support the longer time span. However, other data supports a shorter age for the earth. It’s this latter evidence that we will examine in this article.

Radiometric and carbon 14 dating

In support of the long ages of earth’s history, scientists rely heavily on radiometric dating of minerals and carbon 14 dating of fossils. However, these two methods sometimes disagree. Some mineral samples that are assumed to be millions of years old by radiometric dating give carbon 14 dates of 30,000 to 80,000 years.

Of course, even the maximum 80,000-year carbon 14 dates are still much older than the few thousand years since Creation as indicated in the Bible. One possible explanation for these older carbon 14 dates is that there was a lower concentration of carbon 14 before the great Genesis Flood. The less carbon 14 a fossil had to begin with, the older it will appear to be today.

Challenging data

There’s significant evidence that’s hard to explain for those who believe in many millions of years. Especially noteworthy are the current rates of geologic changes, which are occurring much too rapidly to have operated over such long geologic ages.

Erosion of the continents. One example is the rainwater that keeps slowly eroding away the surface of our continents, carrying sediment into streams and rivers, which then carry it to the oceans. Numerous studies have been conducted on the amount of sediment that all the rivers of the world are carrying into the oceans. These studies indicate that the continents are being eroded at an average rate of about 200 feet per million years. That seems slow to us humans, who live 60 to 80 years, or to 100 if we’re lucky. However, the average height of our continents is only 2,044 feet, which means that they should have washed entirely into the oceans in about 10 million years.

A complication is that humanity’s modern agricultural practices speed up erosion, so it would have been slower in the past. Taking that into account, one can very conservatively calculate that erosion should have leveled our continents at least 100 times during the proposed long geologic eons—yet they are still here!

Geologists suggest that the reason the continents are still here is that they are slowly being renewed by uplift from below. However, this conclusion fails to take into account that the geologic layers from very old to much more recent are still very well represented on all the continents, and we do not seem to have gone through even one complete cycle of erosion and renewal. It looks more like the great waters of the Genesis Flood rapidly laid down most of the sedimentary layers. As these waters receded, they eroded chasms like the Colorado River’s Grand Canyon, and there has not been much time for extended slower erosion since then.

Erosion filling the oceans. Another consideration is that the sediments that the rivers carry to the oceans should eventually fill them up. But the volume of sediments found in the oceans is only a fraction of 1 percent of what would be expected from the world’s rivers during the 2,000 to 4,000 million years proposed for the ages of the continents.

Some geologists have suggested that the reason there is so little sediment in the oceans is that as the earth’s huge tectonic plates have sunk under other ones (subduction), they have transported the ocean sediments deeper into the earth. The problem with this argument is that the amount of sediment that’s being subducted is estimated to be only 10 to 20 percent of the sediment that the world’s rivers carry to the oceans.

Flat lands. Also, there are some very flat surfaces of the earth that are assumed to be very old yet do not show the ravages of erosion. Are these flat surfaces as old as they are said to be? An example of this phenomenon is Kangaroo Island in Australia, which is some 90 miles long and has a very flat surface except at one end. According to radiometric dating and fossil correlation, the surface of Kangaroo Island is supposed to be 160 million years old. This age would suggest that at least three miles of erosion should have occurred, yet the surface is flat, suggesting that little erosion has occurred. It looks very much like Kangaroo Island is not that old!

Earth’s sedimentary layers. The same lack of evidence for erosion over time is seen in many places between the sedimentary rock layers of the earth, where significant parts of the geological column are missing. According to the standard geologic column, the layers of sediment around the world were laid down in a certain order. Yet in many cases, significant parts of this column are missing.

When these gaps are between flat layers, geologists call them paraconformities or disconformities. These flat gaps can be huge, covering major parts of continents. Geologists propose that no sedimentary layers were laid down in these regions because they were elevated. However, over the millions of years suggested for these gaps, there should be either deposition or erosion, for no part of our restless planet can escape the ravages of weather for such long periods.

The problem these flat gaps pose for the idea of long geologic ages is that if there is a deposition of layers over time, there should be no gap because the layers just keep building up. On the other hand, if there is erosion over time, the lower surface of the gap should be highly irregular. Since there is no evidence of either significant deposition or significant erosion, as would be expected over long geologic ages, the conclusion seems reasonable that little time has occurred at these gaps. And these flat gaps are so common all over the earth that they provide rather strong evidence that the millions of years proposed for the geologic layers never occurred.

Three major gaps in the Grand Canyon are assumed to represent 6, 14, and 100 million years. During those times, an average of 600, 1,400, and 10,000 feet of erosion would be expected to have occurred. However, today’s canyon is only about 5,000 feet deep!

Rapidly rising mountains. Another geologic factor that contradicts the proposed long geologic ages for earth’s history is that the world’s major mountain ranges are rising much too fast. Mount Everest is currently rising at the rate of four millimeters per year, which in 100 million years would result in a mountain 250 miles high! And erosion rates are much too slow to compensate for that.

Volcanoes. Also, volcanoes are currently producing lava, cinders, and ash at too rapid a rate to fit with the standard model for geologic ages. If the present rate of volcanic production had been extended over the proposed thousands of millions of years, we should expect volcanic material at least 12 miles thick over the surface of the earth!

The conclusion seems evident that many things are currently happening much too fast to fit the proposed long geologic ages of earth’s history.

How long have humans existed?

Did humans slowly evolve from an apelike ancestor over millions of years, or were we created more recently by God, as the Bible indicates? The evolutionary theory proposes that humanity has existed for between 200,000 and 500,000 years, and our genus Homo for two or more million years. However, there’s significant data to challenge that assumption.

For instance, the human population doubles its size in less than a century. If we go back and cut the present size of the human population in half every century, only a few thousand years are required to come to just the two individuals that were necessary to get humanity started. However, if human beings have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, it’s necessary to postulate extremely slow rates of population growth in the past compared to what we now observe.

The recentness of humanity is also substantiated by solid evidence that human activity, such as writing, and architectural edifices, such as pyramids and aqueducts, all date back only a few thousand years. Why were such good evidences not produced earlier if humanity has been here for hundreds of thousands of years?

Genetic mutations that modify our DNA cause it to degenerate. Recent evidence indicates that a newborn baby has some 60 mutations that its parents did not have. At that rate, humanity should have degenerated to the point of extinction a long time ago. Scientists wonder how humanity has survived for hundreds of thousands of years against such damaging odds. Perhaps the answer is that humanity has not been around that long!

Extremely strong evidence in support of the idea that a divine Mind created the world is the complexity of even the simplest of living things. The human brain is far more complex than the most sophisticated modern computer. And the reproductive systems of even the simplest forms of life—to say nothing of the ability of humans to reproduce ourselves, especially our brains—leads us to ask, Could this have arisen all by itself? It also seems extremely unlikely that the incredible precision required of the universe could have come about by accident.

Science has produced an amazing world of communication, travel, and health care. Thus, it deserves our highest respect. However, for all its benefits, there are limits to what it can investigate, and it continues to modify its conclusions. What seems to be so true today may prove to be incorrect tomorrow.

On the other hand, significant evidence supports the Bible’s account of our world’s beginning a few thousand years ago.

How Old Is the Earth?

by Ariel Roth
From the November 2014 Signs