Biblical Basis for an Old Earth
  • tharrison November 2011
    It seems that it is generally accepted within Christian scientific circles (and of course outside of them in the general scientific arena) that the Earth and Universe are far older than an entirely literal reading of Genesis 1 would suggest, but what is the theological grounding of an "Old Earth" - how does it fit with the Bible? (I'm confident it does, but nobody has ever explained it to me)
  • SimonSimon November 2011
    The Faraday papers are what you want to read, especially number 8:

  • tharrison November 2011
    Very useful, thank you - so it is generally agreed the sequence of creation described in Genesis 1 is true then (but as periods of time rather than days)?
  • SimonSimon November 2011
    Not necessarily - see Faraday paper number 11:


    There is a deeper literary symmetry to the creation story which shouldn't be confused with the scientific process.
  • MrDunsapy December 2011

    Hi Simon

    If you read the first verse this is what it says.

    Genesis 1:1-5

    New International Version (NIV)

    Genesis 1

    The Beginning
     1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

    2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

    Did you notice there is no time limit mentioned here. It is just a simple statement. In verse 2 it starts with 'now' as though it is a new thought. Verse 2 is that start of the first 'day'  

    So far no time limit.
    The bible as say a day for a year, so a day can mean a year. But God said to Adam in the 'day' you eat from the fruit you will die. But Adam lived to 970

    In it says

    2 Peter 3:8

    New International Version (NIV)

     8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

    So to God a day could also be a thousand years.

    But in Psalms it mentions a day as a watch in the night. A 'watch' in those days were 4 hours sometimes 2 hours.

    Psalm 90:2-4

    New International Version (NIV)

    2 Before the mountains were born 
       or you brought forth the whole world, 
       from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

     3 You turn people back to dust, 
       saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” 
    4 A thousand years in your sight 
       are like a day that has just gone by, 
       or like a watch in the night.

    God was not limited  to a solar day. 

    So the creative days were  time periods  in which things were accomplished.

  • SimonSimon December 2011
    Hi MrDunsapy,

    Couldn't agree more RE the length of a "day" to God. However I am also keen to avoid the other literalism trap of thinking the creation order described in Genesis shows some sort of pre-knowledge of later scientific discoveries. The purpose of Genesis is to tell us about the reality of creation, not the scientific sequence.
  • Michael December 2011
    Agreed Simon. We need to stress the reality of creation and leave incidental details to scientists!!!!
  • MrDunsapy December 2011
    Though the bible is not considered a science book, what it does say about science is accurate. This was before the scientists really started to look into the science. It is important to know that, because the bible claims to be inspired, of God. If that is the case the bible would have to accurate even though the writers did not know about the scientific, scrutiny of today.  
    There is no need to fear what the scientists find out, because the bible is actually God's word, that makes science and the creation the same thing. God used science to create.
    Though it is true you don't have to know anything about science , to have proof of God.
    Most people in history did not need to know about science and they still believed in God.
    But the creation sequence, is exactly what the science supports, as the scientists have discovered as what has happened.  
    Time is an important part of the bible . That is partly why all the kings and ruler ships are mentioned. Also for lineage of Abraham had to be followed to the time of Jesus.
    You also have to ask why did God mention, that to him a day equaled 1 year or 1000 years? What was the point of that? Was he telling us how to understand the prophecies that would use specific periods of time? In other words did he give us a 'key' to understand, what the bible is about. Get his interpretation so we don't use our own.
    The mainstream scientists do not have any idea what they are talking about when it comes to the origin of life and 'evolution'. 

  • Michael December 2011

    The key is to see that Geensis was written in about 1000BC and thus is pre-science. then people thought the earth was flat, stars little shiny things stuck on a dome etc.

    The Bible does not care about science . in 350 Basil of caeserea in Cappadocia said it did not matter whether the earth was flat cylindrical or spherical and it does not, but we need to accept it for what it is.

    And then in 155o Calvin said in his commentary on Genesis "Let he who would study astronomy and other recondite arts go elsewhere".

    Or to put it over simply The bible teaches us the WHO of creation and science the HOW

  • MrDunsapy December 2011
    Hi Micheal
    "Or to put it over simply The bible teaches us the WHO of creation and science the HOW"

    That is interesting, I have used that line for years.:) though I use 'who and why'  So that is true.

    But when you say that the earth was flat.

    Isaiah 40:22

    Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

    22 It is the Lord who sits above the circle of the earth.
    And compared to him, people are like grasshoppers.He rolled open the skies like a piece of cloth. 

    He stretched out the skies like a tent to sit under. 

    Job 26:7

    Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

    7 God stretched the northern sky over empty space.
    He hung the earth on nothing

    These are 2 instances that showed that the bible was scientifically accurate, in a time when people really did not know these things.
  • SimonSimon December 2011
    Hi MrDunsappy,

    Again I can't agree with you more that the bible is the inspired word of God and that Christian theology has to - de facto - agree with science if we are to hold that both are "true".

    However I do think you are grasping at straws a bit by claiming that there was accurate science revealed in the bible. This is because there are far too many instances of the bible disagreeing with science if taken too literally (the sun standing still Josh 10:13 as an example). Hence my (and Michael's) insistence that the bible is revealed truth of the who and why or reality and actuality of creation not the how and when

    Of course this stance then leaves one open to accusations of "picking and choosing" which bits of scripture literally occurred - what about the virgin birth, Jesus, etc. etc. But EVERYONE picks and chooses when it comes to deciding which bits of the bible to take literally - do tree's have hands to clap? The important thing is to get straight your theology so you know which bits are the theologically important parts of the story. As I have mentioned on other threads supernatural miracles do occur, but only when theologically necessary.

    I get quite frustrated when people claim they are being "more consistent" or taking "a high view of scripture" by insisting that a greater number of stories literally occurred. Indeed I think people who are particularly keen to insist that most of the bible can be taken literally - on face value - are not more serious about scripture, but rather they are not taking scripture seriously enough! Those who are serious about the bible realise that the important thing is not you reading it, but it reading you.
  • Michael December 2011

    Also note that both Job and Isaiah are poetical  and thus not literal scientific accounts

    It is a misunderstanding of what scripture is.

  • MrDunsapy December 2011
    Hi Simon

    The bible is both literal, figurative. It was mostly written about the people of that time, but is for the people of our time.

    Ecclesiastes 1:7

    Amplified Bible (AMP)

    7All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place from which the rivers come, to there and from there they return again.

    Amos 5:8

    Common English Bible (CEB)

    8 The one who made
    the Pleiades and Orion,
    and turns deep darkness
    into the morning,
    and darkens the day into night;
    who summons the waters of the sea,
    and pours them out
    on the surface of the earth

    Both of these scriptures talk about the cycles of waters on the earth. This also was not understood at that time. But is accurate with scientific study today. 

    It is true that the events Josh 10:13,  no one knows exactly how that was done.God could, as Creator, if he wished, stop the motions of the whole solar system. Or, he could stop the motion of only the earth so that sun and moon appeared to remain in the same position as viewed from the earth. On the other hand, it is possible that the sun, moon and earth all continued on in their regular movements, but that the light from sun and moon ceaselessly shone by some form of refraction that we do not now understand. As creator and designer of the universe and its laws this would be possible by God. There are many things that the scientists know about but can not explain today. Like gravity, we all accept it, even the scientists do not understand how all of that works. We have built anti gravity, machines by using magnetism So no one can say this was impossible for God to do.

    Yes I know everybody claims to knows things correctly from the scriptures, but with the divisions, among, Christians religions they all can't be correct. But that in itself does not mean the scriptures are wrong or not meant to be understood.

    Isaiah 55:10-13

    Common English Bible (CEB)

    10 Just as the rain and the snow
    come down from the sky
    and don’t return there
    without watering the earth,
    making it conceive and yield plants
    and providing seed to the sower
    and food to the eater,
    11 so is my word
    that comes from my mouth;
    it does not return to me empty.
    Instead, it does what I want,
    and accomplishes what I intend.

    12 Yes, you will go out with celebration,
    and you will be brought back in peace.
    Even the mountains and the hills
    will burst into song before you;
    all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
    13 In place of the thorn
    the cypress will grow;
    in place of the nettle
    the myrtle will grow
    This will attest to the LORD’s stature,
    an enduring reminder
    that won’t be removed.

    This verse is figurative when talking about the trees clapping hands. What it means is that God promised a paradise earth, and these scriptures are telling us that this without fail will happen.

    When that does happen even the 'trees with clap their hands' in delight. it is also a change to the vegetation. Instead of thorns and stinging nettles there will be, beautiful trees.

    So those who are serious about the bible realize that important thing is to read it, and let it change you, instead of you trying to change it.

    "Also note that both Job and Isaiah are poetical  and thus not literal scientific accounts"
    Even if you take it as poetical,   what the bible said is still correct, scientifically.
    The real problem is that many in science and do not 
  • MrDunsapy December 2011

    "Also note that both Job and Isaiah are poetical  and thus not literal scientific accounts

    It is a misunderstanding of what scripture is."

    Though some of the bible is written in a  poetical way, does not diminish, the information included in those scriptures. Because God says that all scriptures is inspired of God and beneficial... We do not have the authority to say which parts are accurate or of value and which aren't. That really is a misuse of the scriptures we were given.


  • SimonSimon December 2011
    Hi again, 

    I think you have it all wrong if you think Michael and I are trying to say "which parts are accurate or of value and which aren't." We are arguing for a more nuanced, sophisticated, understanding of scripture that doesn't need to jump through theological hoops to try and explain difficult passages. All parts of the bible are equally accurate, inspired and authoritative. It is a mistake to try and guess which bits are literal and which are not. Instead we have to read the bible for it's theological truth, trying to see the big picture rather than get tied up in minutiae. Creationists of both types - YEC & ID - miss so much of the value of scripture by getting carried away with defending positions that are simply not important in the grand scheme of things. Likewise all the eschatological arguments, and a lot of the Zionist stuff, just completely miss what the bible is all about. 

    It is such a sad mistake that so many Christians waste so much time trying to square scripture with science or justify exactly why "God" demanded the killing of so many innocents in the OT, or trying to argue about new vs old covenant sacrificial law, or even get tied up with worries about the atonement or the trinity. Christian theology is so much greater than all these squabbles because it shows us who God is, who we are, and how we should then worship. In a way I see the way you have handled the verses you have quoted at me as being an extension of this side-track, trying to make scripture something that it is not and never was supposed to be.
  • MrDunsapy December 2011

    "YEC & ID - miss so much of the value of scripture by getting carried away with defending positions that are simply not important in the grand scheme of things."
    Yes this is true.The  grand scheme of things is important. That is why the bible is written. It tells why and who, like you said.
    But to have a real faith,  you have to have a confidence in the bible based on accuracy,and truthfulness in the writings.
    Though no one needs to know any 'science' to trust the bible, but it also has to be supported by science. If science did contradict creation, you would have to wonder how God got it wrong. That would diminish what the bible said. Also there are ones that need those proofs to be there. Other wise , it could be a blind faith. That is not something I am interested in. That is also why many people that believe in the God of the bible are afraid of science. Many today think that creation and 'evolution' both are involved in our existence. But reading the creation accounts, leaves no room for 'evolution' at all.
    If you look at the science, it confirms creation. Even though some scientists don't. So for many the bible accuracy even in minute details is important.
    For me I do look at the scriptures as an over all plan, to get things back they way it should be. And to explain who God is,and why things are the way they are.
    For example the world is a mess, and there is much cruelty with man.Many ask where is God, that he let things go on like this? You need to have answers for this.The bible's answer is that Satan is the ruler of the earth and man. That God, let man go his own way. But for a set amount of time. ( that is why the importance of the length 'day' that we discussed earlier.) Does this not make sense, that Satan is the ruler, when you look at the world of mankind? That means over religions as well, including Christendom.