How Old Does The Bible Say The World Is

The Bible is the source of eternal inspiration, guidance and comfort. For many, it is also a source of scientific and historical knowledge. How old does the Bible say the world is?
The Bible does not give an explicit age of the world. The Bible’s estimate of the creation of the world and humanity is roughly 6,000 years in total. This is based on the interpretation of the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11, and the supposition that the days of the creation narratives are literal 24-hour days.
The scientific consensus on the age of the Earth is around 4.5 billion years, significantly older than the biblical estimate. This wide gap between these two viewpoints has prompted a number of discussions and disputes.
Theologians and archaeologists point out that the early parts of Genesis were written to encourage faith and emphasize the importance of humans, rather than provide scientific facts. They also note that genealogical listings include gaps, suggesting that not every person was an ancestor of the next one listed. Also, the Hebrews of the time were used to hearing round figures of years and months, so this could explain why the described ages of certain patriarchs may be inexact.
One of the most commonly argued points is that the days of the creation narrative could represent longer than 24-hour periods. This would mean that God used longer periods of time to bring about creation, but also allowed him reveal his majesty, awe and supremacy in doing so.
Seeking out scientific facts in the Bible is generally viewed as misguided; attempts to reconcile science and Scripture are often unconvincing and unsatisfying. The scientific evidence points to the Earth being vastly older than that suggested in the Bible.

An Adamant Interpretation

Those that adamantly adhere to the literal 24-hour day interpretation of creationist theory sustain that the physical and moral laws from the universe prove that evolution and naturalistic theories can’t be true.
The idea of macro-evolution — that all life developed from a common ancestor over millions of years — is contrary to most interpretations of the Bible, which suggest that every form of life was created during a six-day period and via divine fiat.
Adherents of creationism rely on the theory of divine fiat to explain their beliefs, asserting that God created the world, essentially all at once, in its finished state. This is the only explanation of the universe and its makeup that is consistent with the Bible and its teachings.

How To Respond To Controversy

Those who believe the age of the world according to the Bible should be respected, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that science offers an independent reality and its theories are the product of thousands of years of observation, study and investigation.
It’s important to remember that science is not incompatible with the Bible — both refute each other’s views on a few topics, such as the age of the cosmos. Those who are looking to find information about the age of the world should focus less about not questioning scripture and more about furthering understanding and education.
Instead of debating facts based on perceived incompatibility, ask questions from different points of view. This can help parse out how the various authors of the Bible interpreted their data and gain insights into how the various philosophies of today influence how we interpret scripture.

Trying To Reconcile Scriptures & Science

Many religious texts contain elements that are not necessarily scientific. In other words, it is not possible to make a scientific statement about the age of the world based on the Bible.
Some blame this difference in interpretation on a variety of influences such as pre-scientific world views, power structures, and the prevalence of certain interpretations among particular faiths.
Another way to address this discrepancy is to consider the way time is experienced within a belief system. What may seem like a long or short period of time from an outside perspective may seem very different from the point of view of a faithful believer.
Theologians also try to reconcile faith and scientific evidence by proposing that divine miracles could happen even with the passage of large spans of time. For instance, God may have created the world thousands or millions of years ago in a way which could appear to be natural and scientifically explainable within our knowledge of the world.

The Debate Is Not Ending Anytime Soon

The debate over the age of the world based on the Bible appears to be an ongoing one and is likely to continue as scientific understanding of the world advances and theologians interpret scripture to meet modern needs.
At the heart of the debate is the issue of faith and its’ validity in relation to science and other ways of knowing. Those who study the Bible through a scientific lens often come away frustrated and feeling like the two cannot be reconciled with one another. This, however, does not dramatically decrease the value of the Bible as a source of inspiration, guidance and faith.
Whether you accept the biblical estimate of the world’s age or the scientific consensus, there is an important lesson to be learned about the nature and power of faith.

The Ease of Making Assumptions

The lack of scientific consensus in the debate over the age of the world is also illustrative of the ease with which assumptions can be made.
Those who adhere to the literal interpretation of Genesis often assume that the 24-hour day description is an accurate representation of the age of the world, believing their interpretation of the Bible to be infallible.
On the other hand, those who adhere to science often shrug off creationist theory, failing to recognize that experts on both sides are attempting to interpret the same set of data and that neither answer is necessarily right or wrong.
The debate is an example of how conflicting perspectives are necessary in forming comprehensive views of the world and its history. None of us have the authority or access to divine knowledge, so ultimately understanding of the world is incomplete.

Exploring Other Points of View

When it comes to debating the age of the world according to the Bible, it’s important to consider the viewpoint of those of different beliefs and disciplines.
Creationist theories cannot be taken as absolute fact, but nor should scientific theories be taken as the only truth about the world. It’s important to remember that both sides of the argument are exploring the same data from different angles and attempting to form a more complete understanding of the world and its history.
It’s also important to remember that the Biblical explanation of the world’s age is not necessarily contradicted by scientific evidence. We keep finding new ways to explain our universe and its history and while we may never come to a definite conclusion on all questions, the conversation itself is what brings us closer to understanding one another.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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