How old is the universe? June 5, 2011

A correspondent recently asked me the following question:
“I just have a quick question for you. As an expert in the field, I was wondering what your personal view is on the age of the earth. As an archaeology major who focuses on circa 3500 – 1400BC, I am having a hard time reconciling the date of the flood, and creation, as given by young or old earthers, with artifact evidence. An example would be that the flood is dated at 2304, yet Sargon united Babylonia at 2300, just four years later, which does not work, being that Noah and his sons would be the only ones around. I was thinking that the young earth date of 6-10,000 BC does not really fit, but I am not willing to ascribe to billions like Hugh Ross. If the date of creation was somewhere between, let’s say, 20-30,000 BC, it would fit much better with the accepted dates of ancient civilizations, because then maybe the flood could be earlier. Also, what is your opinion on the Genesis genealogies? Do you feel that insignificant ones were left out or is it an unbroken chain?  Thanks in advance for any help!”
I replied as follows:
Sadly, quick questions don’t always have quick answers and you open up several hotly debated subjects! However, briefly, the key to my personal position is the exegesis of Genesis 1 given by the conservative Hebrew scholar E. J. Young which can be found at
Basically Young sees Gen. 1:1 as a description of the original ex nihilo creation of the whole universe (not as a summary of what follows as the YECs teach). Then v.2 onwards gives an account of events occurring on earth or observable from earth … that is, the perspective from v.2 onwards is strictly an earth-bound one. I differ from Young somewhat re. day 4. He suggests that the sun etc were constituted on day 4 from matter previously created in v.1 (before there were any days!) while I feel day 4 is better understood as the already-existing heavenly bodies becoming visible as the cloud cover broke up (this is similat to and no less miraculous than v.9 when the seas were gathered together and the dry land appeared. It also overcomes the whole problem of light, day and night on earth before day 4). On this view the Bible sets no age for the universe or the earth; these are left indeterminate in terms of what is revealed. However, this does not make me an OEC because it still allows the days of Genesis 1 to be true days in which miraculously speeded-up geology and terra-forming took place. I always remind myself that time itself is a little understood concept (in spite of my efforts to explain it in “Who made God?”!)
FInally, on the genealogies, I believe these are incomplete and serve the purpose not of a family tree but of establishing lines of descent (this would explain inconsistencies in different genealogies). This could perhaps put human origins (by special creation, not evolution) at around 10 to 20 thousand years BC.
Having said all that, I really have only two non-negotiable positions: 1) that Genesis is historical not mythological and 2) that creation was miraculous.

The three studies in the first chapter of Genesis are based upon the assumption that this chapter is a revelation from God, and that it tells us about the origin of all things. It is not regarded as the product of the mature reflection of the Israelites, nor as an account devised by the fathers …





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