Is there no way to prove
that the earth is young or old?
At first glance, it would seem that if the world and the rest of the
universe was created less than 10,000 years ago, that there should be some way to
absolutely prove its approximate age. If the universe evolved due to
natural forces or as a result of God's interventions for the past 10 billion years, it
would seem that there should be some way of proving that.
An all powerful, all intelligent God might have chosen to create the world, its life
forms and the rest of the universe in such a way that they all look as if they developed
naturally. For example, God may have created the universe in 4004 BCE, and:
||Created trees containing tree rings which give the impression that the trees were in
existence for hundreds or thousands of years previous to the date of creation.
||Created worn-down mountain ranges that look as if they once had had tall peaks millions
of years previously, and had gradually eroded away since.
||Created stars millions and billions of light years away from earth, and then created
light radiating from each star to earth so that an astronomer would conclude they look as
if the rays had left their stars millions or billions of years ago.
||Created fossil-bearing rocks in layers so that each layer contained only the remains of
certain specific species of animals. Paleontologists would later observe that a particular
species was only found in a certain rock layer around the world. Thus they would conclude
that the species did not exist before or after that layer of rock was laid down. The would
assume that only those species found in a specific rock layer actually existed together on
earth during the same era. They would not realize that all species were created along with
the earth and lived together, only to be carefully sorted by God during the flood into
separate layers of sediment that later became rock.
In other words, God created the universe in such a way as if it appears to have been
evolving over billions of years. There is no test that a scientist could design that would
||a universe specifically created to look as if it had a evolved over multiple billion of
years in response to natural forces, and
||a universe that actually evolved over billions of years in response to natural forces.
We suspect that there is probably no way to resolve these differences in belief through
reason or scientific investigation, unless:
||A time machine could be created that would let a person go back to 10,000 BCE, look
around, and determine first-hand whether the universe existed at that time. Unfortunately,
time machines do not exist and are probably impossible to construct. Even if one could be
built, there is no way in which it could be calibrated and its proper functioning
||If the universe was created by God, and if God were still active in the world, then He
might wish to inform humanity directly in such a spectacular way that skeptics, atheists,
agnostics and others would accept his word. For example, he might rearrange a few hundred
stars to spell out the phrase "I AM" in the sky. This would be a trivial task
for an all-powerful deity. No communications of this type have happened in the past
millennium. If there had been, then the number of atheists and agnostics would have shrunk
There is thus no way to prove that the earth and the rest of the universe is either
young or old. However:
||If you assume that the Bible is inerrant,
and that it is to be normally interpreted in a literal manner, then the beginning of the
book of Genesis shows conclusively that the earth is obviously less that 10,000 years old.
||If you assume that God does not exist, or that God exists but did not
take part in creation, then the only logical way to interpret the geological, fossil, and
other evidence is that the earth is billions of years old, and that most of the rest of
the universe is even older.