Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 9, 1964
NUMBER 9, PAGE 2,12b

What Is The Age Of The Earth?

Bill Cavender

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Gen. 1:1) "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Heb. 11:3) "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth...For He spake, and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast." (Psalms 33:6, 9) "...the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and things that are therein" '(Acts 14:15). "God...hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;" (Heb. 1:2) "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." (Col. 1:15-17) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:1-3) "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths. I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: When He established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth." (Prov. 8:22-29).

It is a matter of faith with the Christian that our Father, the One True and Living God, Jehovah, created the heavens and the earth, the universe. The theories of Dualism, Materialism, Pantheism, etc., we reject as not only being unscientific and unprovable, but also as being unscriptural and unreasonable, The universe exhibits evidence of design, thought, laws, mathematical precision, chemical combinations, and engineering. Therefore, there must have been a Designer, Thinker, Lawgiver, Mathematician, Chemist and Engineer. Such a One is Jehovah. The above verses of scripture show that (1) God created the heavens and earth; (2) this creation came to pass "in the beginning"; (3) the agent in the creative work through whom the creative power of God was exerted is the One in the New Testament whom we know as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour and King. These verses of scripture assume (1) God's existence; (2) His eternity; (3) His omnipotence; (4) His freedom; (5) His wisdom. These verses therefore refute (1) Atheism; (2) Poly- theism; (3) Pantheism; (4) Materialism; (5) Fatalism; (6) Agnosticism; (7) Dualism; (8) Modernism.

Without extending further this line of thought regarding the universe being an expression of the power and glory of God, I now desire to consider the phrase "in the beginning" as it relates to the age of the earth. How old is the earth? Is it of comparative recent origin? Is it millions, or even billions, of years old? When was the "beginning" to which the scriptures refer in the which the earth came into existence?

The Bible does not tell us the age of the earth nor when the "beginning" was. There is no way, scripturally nor scientifically, of determining this. They err who try to claim the Bible teaches that the earth is some five or six thousand years of age. The Bible teaches no such idea. They also err who say that the Bible is contradicted if the earth is millions or billions of years old. The Bible is not contradicted by such an idea. If men could prove the earth to be millions of years old, or even billions, it would contradict nothing the Bible says. The Bible says that God created it and that it was created "in the beginning." When this "beginning" was, no one knows, and the Bible does not tell us.

Most people, even many Christians, have not understood what Genesis 1:1-2 actually teaches. The verses say, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void' and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." (ILTV) The American Standard text renders verse 2: "And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Hence, Genesis 1:1-2 covers FOUR periods: (1) eternity, when God alone existed; (2) the creation of the heavens and earth "in the beginning"; (3) a period when the earth became (was) waste and void; (4) the Spirit moved upon the waters, that is, began to accomplish a revamping, remaking and reconstituting of the earth.

Genesis 1:1 is the only verse in the first chapter of Genesis that has to do with the original creation of the earth. Verse 2 tells us that the earth "was" or "became" waste and void sometime after the original creation. How long it lasted until it became waste and void we are not told. How long it existed in this "waste and void" condition we are not told. Then beginning with verse 3, through the remainder of the chapter, there is the record of the remaking and reconstituting of the earth in the Adamic era. In these verses the word "create" (from the Hebrew word "bara" which means to bring into existence that which had no previous existence) is used only two times, in verse 21 referring to animal life and in verse 27 in reference to human life. The word "was" in verse 2 is exactly the same word used, in the same form, in Genesis 19:25 concerning Lot's wife who "became" ("was") a pillar of salt. Isaiah 45:18 affirms that when God originally created the earth, He did not create it a "waste." "For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah: and there is none else." Thus there was the original creation of the earth. How long a period this was or what forms of life inhabited it the Bible does not say. This period is only referred to and passed over in silence. Then there was a period when the earth was waste and void, evidently covered by water, verse 2. How long this period was, no one knows. Then there was the remaking and refurnishing of the earth as described in Genesis 1:3-31. This was perhaps some six or seven thousand years ago but of this we cannot be sure. This remaking and reconstituting the earth took place in a six day's period.

"As to what the condition of the earth was when it was first created, what were its inhabitants, if any, during that remote period, the Bible furnishes but little information, as such matters have necessarily only an indirect bearing upon God's revelation to man." (Sidney Collette, All About The Bible, page 250).th"And the earth was waste and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God brooded upon the face of the waters." "This is evidently not its original condition but its condition just before God "made," reconstituted or renewed the earth and prepared it as a dwelling place for man during the six days of Genesis 1." (DeHoff, Why We Believe The Bible, page 28).

"Some have imagined that the six days of creation represent so many periods, rather than literal days, chiefly on the ground of the supposed high antiquity of our globe, and the various great epochs or periods, each terminating in a grand revolution, through which our earn seems to have passed, before coming to its present state, when it became a fit habitation for man. There is, however, no need to resort to any such theory. The first verse in the book of Genesis simply states the general fact, that "In the beginning" — whenever that may have been — "God created the heavens and the earth." Then, in the second verse, we find earth described as it was at the close of the last great revolution, preceding the present state of things: "And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." An almost indefinite space of time, and many changes, may therefore have intervened between the creation of heaven and earth, as mentioned in verse 1, and the chaotic state of our earth, as described in verse 2. As for the exact date of the first creation, it may be safely affirmed that we have not yet the knowledge sufficient to arrive at any really trustworthy conclusion." (Alfred Edersheim, Bible History, Vol. I, pages 18-19).

"When this beginning of Genesis 1 was, or how long it occurred before the Adamic epoch, we have no means of ascertaining with any high degree of certainty. But geology makes it quite probable, if not indeed absolutely certain, that it occurred many ages previous to the historic period; and, moreover, that during these intervening ages, many distinct orders of vegetables and animals were created and destroyed at the beginning and close of each geological formation ...But these matters have no direct connection with the Scheme of Redemption. And hence it is that Moses passes over them all in silence, and simply notices in the second verse of his narrative, the chaotic state of the earth after the last great cataclysm that occurred shortly before the first day of the Adamic era." (Robert Milligan, Scheme of Redemption, pages 24-25).

"The original creation of the heaven and the earth, then, is covered in the first verse of Genesis. Only God knows how many ages rolled by before the ruin wrought by Lucifer fell upon the earth, but it may have been an incalculable span of time. Nor can any student say how long the period of chaos lasted; there is not even a hint given. But let us clearly recognize in these studies, that Moses, in the record of the First Week of Creation, is telling the story of God's re-construction; rather than the story of an original creation. Therefore Moses uses the word "asah" — to manufacture, to form, to release from restraint, or to make, rather than the word "bara" — to create, until he reaches that part of his narrative where life appears, and he then turns to the latter word. It is natural that if life had previously existed it would have perished in this great upheaval when the earth was made 'waste and empty', and the new orders God produced must come from pure creative action. It has been suggested that the manifold fossils the rocks contain may be a relic of that pre-Adamic age; but of this no man can know definitely." (Harry Rimmer, Modern Science and The Genesis Record, page 28).

These quotations from the scriptures and from Bible believers who have studied this matter thoroughly should cause all of us to see that no one can determine the age of the earth. When the scientist guesses his millions or billions of years of the earth's existence, he does nothing that violates the scriptures. He may be right. He might not be. But when he begins to attribute the earth's existence to accident or to some cause other than by special Divine creative fiat, he has then become unscientific and unscriptural and unreliable. God created the heavens and the earth.

— P.O. Box 5794, Longview, Texas