How old is the Earth?

By Kersley Fitzgerald

I wrote the Compelling Truth article on God and evil some time ago. Right now (right now as I'm writing this, not right now as you're reading this), I'm doing research for articles on the age of the Earth and the anthropic principle. (Because, while the rest of the staff is learned and wise regarding theological things, I'm a science geek. But you probably already figured that out.)

When I lived in Montana, long before Dev and I even started dating, Ken Ham came to Great Falls and did a conference on biblical creationism. This was huge for me. I didn't know there was scientific evidence of the Genesis account of creation and hard-core evidence of a global flood. It rocked my world. There is only one human race; there is little genetic difference between the ethnicities; the animals at that time could have fit on the Ark, and here's how; the similarities between the aftermath of Mt. St. Helens and the Grand Canyon. And, yes, the little mechanical engineer on me did buy the book on the second law of thermodynamics.

Now, for you old-Earth creationists and run-of-the-mill evolutionists, I'm not going to get into the science. This conference just gave me a glimpse into a possibility of how God works. Because, despite the numbers thrown up on either side, I really doubt anyone on the face of the planet has a good grasp of how Earth and life on it developed. Many people take 2 Peter 3:8 to try to show that a "day" in Genesis 1 could mean an "age." I'm going to use it here to say that, as a good little dispensationalist, I believe God reveals things to the human race gradually — lets us get our head around things. And if He wants to take several thousand years to let us work out the whole creation thing, that's fine. But I don't think anyone's there yet.


I can't get around the theological implications of an old Earth. I don't mean the moral implications or the foundation of society or marriage — subjects near and dear to the hearts of the good folks at Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis. I'm talking about a little verse tucked away in the book of Romans: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned..." (Romans 5:12). For those of us without theology degrees, it says that Adam sinned, and death entered the world. He ate of the fruit, and he surely died. Because of his sin, the Earth was cursed. For the play-by-play, see Genesis 3. Because of his sin, the world was cursed, and death entered into the equation. Because of his sin, life was hard and everything suffered.

So please, in the name of the little bunnies who live outside the GQ? offices, explain to me how dinosaurs fought and ate each other if there was no sin and suffering and death before Adam?

Because God didn't make sin. God is the shining light that brings love to everything it reaches. Sin is the act of a creature with free will, moving away from God and allowing that distance to create a shadow of darkness. Further sin is deliberately facing that shadow and choosing darkness over the light of God. The closer we are to God, the more aligned we are with him, the smaller our shadow. The farther away, the longer our shadow and the more it blends in with the darkness created by other people. God didn't create the shadow; we did when we blocked His light.


Fortunately, I have the internet. The Faraday Papers are published by the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St Edmund's College at Cambridge and, since they are PDFs, are easily transferred to my Kindle. They are written by old Earth Christian scientists. Paper 12 concentrates on creation and evolution, taking the tack that the two are not mutually exclusive and both young earth creationists and atheistic evolutionists are off their rockers. The paper explains my visceral reaction to the thought of human evolution nicely, if derisively:
For religious people, the possibility of human beings evolving from "lower" forms is a key reason for rejecting the whole notion of evolution. The frequently reproduced figure of a "grim and grotesque procession" of ape skeletons from gibbon, orangutan, chimpanzee, gorilla to man implicitly puts humans at the summit of a progressive continuum...
He goes on to say that, theologically, this is easily explained. At some point in the evolution of Homo sapiens, God breathed into one man and one woman, creating "homos divinus" — the divine human. We are here because God gave an existing caveman a soul.

What about all the dead dinosaurs? This was obviously before Adam sinned. Well, the "death" God spoke of was a spiritual removal from God's presence, not a physical death. Physical death was already around. God put Adam and Eve in a garden and, because their souls were new and pure, had community with them. When they sinned, they were removed from the Garden, and they were dead — removed from God's presence.

So God took a caveman, gave him a soul, watched as he sinned — thereby horribly damaging his soul — and sent Jesus to save him.

Okay, that makes so little sense to me that I need to set it aside for a moment.

Where does the anthropic principle come in?

If you've read the articles, you know. The anthropic principle is merely an observation that this planet sure is suited for life. Suspiciously so. And, come to think of it, the sun's awfully convenient, too. Not to mention the set up of the whole universe. Or the makeup of subatomic particles. Yesirree, as one scientist put it, this sure does seem to be a set-up job.

The explanation of the anthropic principle is what keeps Stephen Hawking up late at night thinking about gravity. Why are things so conducive for the creation and care of life? Because, really, as much as I complain about my ant-eaten trees and the fact that in three years the best I can say about my rhubarb is that it hasn't died, it really is amazing that any of us are still breathing. And I'm not just talking about that truck I almost pulled out in front of Saturday, but the electrical charge of the atoms in my lungs — so perfectly balanced to ensure I don't fall apart like one of Jean Grey's victims. Why is that?

Hawking says it's because there are a billion other cosmoses out there, and we happen to live in the one that can support life because if we didn't, we wouldn't have a whole lot to say about it. "Bah!" as Dogbert says. That's a numbers game. Evolutionists also reference Douglas Adams's sentient mud puddle. Perhaps it isn't the universe that is suited for us; perhaps we were formed to be suited to the universe. A universe with different electro-chemical-magnetic constants such that the cohesiveness of stars and planets is not even possible would have a different life form. Perhaps involving one or more of those extra seven dimensions we can't seem to get a handle on.

Do you realize what a can of worms "survival of the fittest" opens? With it, everything we do is bent on propagation of the species. We have no free will because all of our actions are controlled by chemicals and preprogrammed reactions to our environment.

How about the whole concept of millions of years of evolution?

Image Credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight; "Sun Over Earth"; Creative Commons

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Published 1-31-12