Did God Create the Earth to Look “Old”?

by Dr. Jason Lisle
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Does geological data “abundantly demonstrate” either that the earth is old or that God created it to appear old?

Message specifically for Dr. Jason Lyle [sic].

I appreciated your reply about God creating illusions of movies of exploding stars more than 6,000 years ago. I completely agree with you that “Biblically, we can assume the our senses are basically reliable, even though we sometimes misunderstand what we observe.”

I recently sent a letter and printout of the PowerPoint file to Terry Mortenson which presents an argument that geological data abundantly demonstrates evidence for an old earth, OR that God created the earth to appear old. And science does not have the tools to distinguish between these two.

I am inviting you to give your own eyes the opportunity to see ice cores from mountains in the Andes that have annual layers that extend well past 6,000 years. I also sent a letter to Ken Ham with this invitation.

So please come and use your own senses to see come of God's Creation.


—K.W., PhD, US

Thank you for your kind invitation. We actually are already familiar with ice cores, and many of the age claims that are based on them. In fact, Larry Vardiman, Meteorology has written a fine work on this topic, Ice Cores and the Age of the Earth.

We also have a number of web articles on the topic. Briefly, I should just mention that we cannot actually observe annual layers (for more than a few years anyway). We can observe layers—but the idea that all of them are annual is an (unbiblical) uniformitarian assumption.

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—B.A., U.S.

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I’m glad you agree with me that our senses are basically reliable. Of course, almost everyone believes this. But interestingly, only a Christian can give a good reason for why this must be so. The basic reliability of our senses is a Christian presupposition. Since God made our senses (Proverbs 20:12), we can expect them to work properly most of the time (though because of sin and the curse, not all of the time). Furthermore, since God made both our mind and the universe (John 1:3), we can expect that these things “go together.” That is, the Christian can expect that the mind has the capacity to understand aspects of the universe. There would be no reason to expect any of these things if the eyes, the mind, and the universe were merely accidents of a big bang and evolution.

The Bible gives us a reason for why we should be able to reason. However, God also tells us that we need to start with Him in our reasoning. We must build our thinking on what God has revealed in His Word (Luke 6:47–49); otherwise, we will draw the wrong conclusions and will be reduced to foolishness (Proverbs 1:7). Therefore, we must interpret what we observe in the world in light of what God has said in His Word.

The ideas that God created the earth with appearance of age or that the earth actually is old are both easy to refute. “Appearance of age” is refuted because it is an oxymoron; age cannot be seen. Therefore, something cannot really “appear” old or young. Age is a question of history, not a matter of present observation. We sometimes use the phrase loosely (and technically incorrectly) when we say that a person “looks” a particular age. But what we really mean is that the person resembles (in some ways) other people who are known to have a particular age. Formally speaking, there is no such thing as an “appearance of age.” The universe was created mature, in the sense that it was complete and functional by the end of the sixth day; but this is not the same as “age.”

It’s also easy to refute the idea that the earth is actually old. The Bible tells us that God made the earth in six days. It’s clear from context (the days are bounded by an evening and morning) that these are days in the ordinary sense—the same as our work week (see Exodus 20:8–11). And it’s clear from the genealogies that this happened thousands of years ago. Those who argue against this must either assume that (A) the Bible is wrong, or (B) the Bible does not mean what it says.

  • (A) If the Bible is wrong, then we have no reason to think that our senses are basically reliable. If our brain and eyes are merely the result of molecules in motion, then why should we think that what we see and what we think are actually true? Only if God created the universe and our senses (as the Bible teaches) would we have the right to assume that our senses are basically reliable, and that the mind is capable of interpreting what the eyes sense.
  • (B) If the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, then we have the same problem. How could we know that God really did create our senses, our mind, and the universe, and thus that our senses are basically reliable? Granted, the Bible says this, but how would we know that it means this if the Bible doesn’t mean what it says? A straightforward reading of the Bible is necessary in order to make sense of anything else.

Your message implies that science cannot actually determine the age of the earth; this is true. Since science deals with predictability in the present, it cannot definitively answer history questions—such as age. Age is not a substance that can be measured by scientific means. Granted, there are many powerful examples of scientific evidences that are inconsistent with an old earth, such as C-14 in diamonds. But the proof that the earth is young is that this is the clear teaching of the Bible, which cannot be wrong since any alternative leads to irrationality (Proverbs 1:7; Colossians 2:2–4).


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