Old Earth or Young Earth?
The Answers are in the book of Genesis
An essay donated by Rev. Jim Persinger
The debate over the age of the earth has been building since geologists first
started dating rock strata and Darwin introduced us to the concept of evolution.
Whether it's billions of years old or only a few thousand is a topic that seems
to be impossible to come to an agreement on. Most people believe one or the
other, completely ignoring all evidence contrary to their beliefs. A few
attempts have been made to reconcile the two but rebuttals to the arguments seem
to come faster than the theories themselves.
I believe the answer to this question lies right there in the first chapter
of Genesis and one need only look to the original Hebrew Scriptures. "Old
earthers" rely on science while ignoring the Bible and "young earthers" blindly
stick to the King James Version of the Bible while ignoring science.
The keys to unlocking this mystery require first, an open mind, and second, a
look at what was originally written about creation. I am vehemently opposed to
allowing one's personal bias to get in the way of the truth. We must start from
the scriptures and learn from them, not bring our own preconceived notions to
the scriptures. Every English version of the Bible that I've found has shown
signs of personal bias in the translation. No two translations completely agree
with each other and even the KJV has been revised several times. If you have
ever sat in church trying to follow along with what the pastor is reading and
found all the words don't match up it's because you're reading from different
"editions" of the KJV. In this essay, I will use the most common edition of the
KJV as a reference only. It's the version that is most widely read in the
English speaking world and it's also the version that Dr. James Strong used as a
reference for his "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible".
Strong's Concordance is considered to be the most accurate resource for Biblical
study and is certainly the most widely read. These are the only two references I
use in my work unless otherwise noted.
Analysis of the Genesis creation story:
Now, let us start "In the beginning".
Gen 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
"In the beginning" comes from the Hebrew word "reshiyth" meaning "first" and
the word heaven comes from “shamayim” meaning "sky", so the first verse should
read "First, God created the earth and sky."
Gen 1:2 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
In the first sentence, the translations for the words "was", "without form"
and "void" are not completely accurate. The Hebrew meanings of these words are:
"was:" hayah, meaning become or come to pass
"without form:" tohu, meaning to lie waste; a desolation (of surface)
"void:" bohu, meaning to be empty; a vacuity, i.e. (superficially) an
In the second sentence:
The "Spirit" of God comes from “ruach” meaning wind
"Face" is from “paniym” meaning "surface.
There are a couple of ways to interpret this verse so I will give both
- The earth became desolate and empty, darkness was over the face of the
deep. The wind of God moved over the surface of the waters.
- It came to pass that the earth was laid waste and ruined, darkness was
over the face of the deep. The wind of God moved over the surface of the
As you can see, both versions say the same thing. We'll come back to this
after looking at verse 3.
Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
This verse is actually translated pretty accurately, at least close enough
that nothing is really lost in the translation. The only reason I even mentioned
this verse is because it's important to subject at hand.
Let's put all three verses together and see what the scriptures tell us. I will
take the liberty to paraphrase:
"First, God created the earth and sky. The earth became a wasteland,
desolate, empty and ruined. Darkness covered the surface of the oceans. God
caused a wind to blow over the waters."
As we can see, the Hebrew Scriptures paint a different picture than the one
we've been taught. If the scientists are right about their old earth theory,
then millions (or billions) of years could have passed between the original
creation and destruction of the earth. The scriptures do not tell us how much
time passed nor the reason for the destruction. Since the details were not given
to us, we can only speculate.
Because of the fossil record and the study of rock strata, scientists believe
that the earth is billions of years old and dinosaurs have been extinct for at
least millions of years. They very well could be right without compromising the
inerrancy of scripture.
The leading scientific theory for the extinction of the dinosaurs is a meteor
impact in the Yucatan Peninsula:
"The shock wave from the impact would indeed have triggered massive
earthquakes in the region and indirectly triggered other earthquakes around
the globe. A tsunami would have formed from the impact, which occurred in a
shallow sea. The giant waves would also have been generated by the
earthquakes and undersea landslides triggered by the shock wave."
"The dust thrown up by the impact, the soot generated by the firestorms and
the smog formed from the oxides of nitrogen and sulfur particles would have
blocked sunlight for many months. The surface of the Earth would have
plunged to freezing conditions -- typically 70 degrees Fahrenheit below
normal -- and photosynthesis would not have been possible, even if plants
had survived the fires and acid rain." 1
This scenario certainly fits the description of the wasteland as depicted in
the Hebrew Scriptures. The earth would certainly have become desolate, empty of
life and ruined. Darkness would have covered most of the earth. In Genesis 1:2,
God caused a wind to blow ridding the planet of the soot and dust particles that
caused the darkness giving the earth light once again as seen in Gen 1:3. Once
there was light again, the rest of the new creation process could begin.
As you can see, this is an issue that can be laid to rest. Billions of years
ago, God created the earth and sky (probably at about the same time as the rest
of the cosmos), it was populated with the plants and animals that we now see
only as fossils. At some point the earth was destroyed in a great catastrophe,
not only causing the extinction of plants and animals but also altering the
topography of the earth. Somewhere around 6 to 10 thousand years ago (according
to theologians) God "re-terraformed" the planet, created the new plants and
animals and, of course, man
- Michael Paine, "Did asteroid-induced firestorm destroy the dinosaurs?"
Originally published on 2006-AUG-08
Latest update: 2006-AUG-08
Author: Rev. Jim Persinger