In a culture that demands Christians give up the Bible and accept the secular humanist age of the earth at billions of years, it seems the discussion about 6,000 years vs. 10,000 years gets left behind. Yes, biblical creationists unite to battle the secular dating system and that is the “bigger fish to fry,” but at times, we can’t ignore the little fish in the bucket that needs to be cooked up too.
Where Is the Debate?
Statements of faith from various ministries can range, depending on their ministerial focus—and rightly so. But the foundation of our faith goes back to the early pages of Genesis, so we at Answers in Genesis encourage Christians to take a stand on biblical creation and have a statement to reflect it. Many times we applaud the way these statements on creation are stated, and in other cases we groan.
Some Christians try to avoid the subject by generically stating that God created. Of course that leaves room for Christians who mix their Christianity with certain tenets of other religions like humanism’s origins account. For example, when Christians deviate from the Bible in Genesis and deny biblical origins, they are trading it for secular humanistic origins such as evolution, millions of years, and/or the big bang.
But another issue crops up as well. Have you ever seen statements of faith declaring that creation occurred “6,000–10,000 years ago”? Sometimes people put a range because they haven’t researched the subject. But regardless, they want to leave open the possibility of an extended age of the earth. Why? I’ve talked to others who profess to believe the earth is 20,000–30,000 years old. I’ve even spoken with other Christians who claim to believe in biblical creation (i.e., a young earth and six-day creation), but they really believe the earth is about 50,000 years old!
It is the issue of trying to stretch as much time out in the Bible as you can. Why? Is it because we are still influenced by the secular world inundating us with long ages? Do we really think that if we stretch out some dates in the Old Testament we will look better to the world? I suggest not. The world wants you to doubt God’s Word because they doubt God’s Word.
Getting into the Meat—or the “Little Fish” Anyway
So what is the earth’s age? About 6,000 or 10,000 years or what? Answers in Genesis has carefully placed in our Statement of Faith that
Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation, spanning approximately 4,000 years from creation to Christ.1
Why do we say it this way? The Bible spans from the beginning of time (creation) until the New Testament was complete, so the logical place for a calculation based on the Bible is from creation to Christ; then we can add in the time from Christ until today. So we work out the approximate calculation from creation to Christ.
This range from creation to Christ is placed at about 4,000 years, not on a whim but for a very precise reason. AiG limited the earth’s age to 4,000 years in the Statement of Faith because of virtually every chronology based on ancient original language texts (e.g., Masoretic, but also consulting the Samaritan Pentateuch and Dead Sea Scrolls). When calculated, we arrive at the date of about 4,000 years between Creation Week and Christ.2
We have biblical genealogies and chronological data from father to son, given precisely from Adam to Jacob (Israel). Jacob’s grandfather was Abraham.
Abraham is like the pivot point. Both Christian and secular scholars agree that Abraham lived about 2,000 years before Christ. And simple math reveals about 2,000 years from Adam to Abraham. See the chart:
Even from a rough calculation, you only get about 6,000 years when you tally
- Creation to Abraham about 2,000 years
- Abraham to Christ about 2,000 years
- Christ to today about 2,000 years.
You can try to get an extra 1,000 years or so from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the LXX (Septuagint), which was translated just over 2,000 years ago. But it has glitches. For instance, if you add up the translation’s inflated ages in Genesis, Methuselah lived for about a decade after the Flood without being on the Ark. But that is about the extent of it. You still don’t even come close to 10,000 years.
Few realize that to get 10,000 years, you need to put a gap between every single person from Adam to Christ because, really, you are doubling the 4,000 years to 8,000 years between Adam to Christ. No one tries to add 4,000 years from Christ to today and say that Christ lived 6,000 years ago! But if you put an additional person between every name from Adam to Jesus, that would be over 70 missing people in the Luke 3 genealogy. Furthermore, this does damage by neglecting that Jude clearly stated that Enoch was the seventh from Adam (Jude 14).
Naturally, this calls into question the integrity and accuracy of the Bible in Genesis 5, Genesis 11, 1 Chronicles 1, Luke 3, and others—which makes this a serious biblical authority issue. It would call into question the majority of accounts where fathers and sons are discussed as overlapping in the text too. If you can’t trust the Bible in the area of genealogies, then why trust it anywhere? This would be a dangerous step toward unbelief, especially if taught to unsuspecting children.
Others have tried to allege that there are gaps between Noah’s sons and those listed in Genesis 10 at Babel (the splitting of languages where the people were divided on the earth). Again, this doesn’t comport with the lineages given in the Bible.
The genealogies are very specific in giving the age of the father when the son is born. However, in some translations of Luke 3:36, there seems to be an extra Cainan. Because of this, some have proposed that there may be gaps in the genealogies. However, one needs to understand this specific instance better. Expositor Dr. John Gill points out,
This Cainan is not mentioned by Moses in #Ge 11:12 nor has he ever appeared in any Hebrew copy of the Old Testament, nor in the Samaritan version, nor in the Targum; nor is he mentioned by Josephus, nor in #1Ch 1:24 where the genealogy is repeated; nor is it in Beza’s most ancient Greek copy of Luke: it indeed stands in the present copies of the Septuagint, but was not originally there; and therefore could not be taken by Luke from thence, but seems to be owing to some early negligent transcriber of Luke’s Gospel, and since put into the Septuagint to give it authority: I say “early,” because it is in many Greek copies, and in the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, even in the Syriac, the oldest of them; but ought not to stand neither in the text, nor in any version: for certain it is, there never was such a Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, for Salah was his son; and with him the next words should be connected.3
This appears to have been one of a few copyist mistakes that have crept into the manuscripts after Luke wrote the original, inspired manuscript.4 Early Luke manuscripts do not have this extra reference to Cainan. Others have pointed out how this error could have occurred rather easily.5
If one proposes gaps in Genesis 5, the chronological data in the Bible is false, and you are back to the same problem of having an untrustworthy Bible. There is no legitimate reason to introduce gaps into the genealogies—other than the desire to extend the dates based on extra-biblical ideas.
When you leave open the possibility for the earth to be 10,000 years old, you are suggesting that God erred in numerous places in the Bible. My humble suggestion is to be more precise based on the biblical data that is given. It is better to “err” on the side of Scripture than the side of sinful, fallible man’s ideas about the past.
Don’t let the world influence you to doubt the genealogies and chronological data in the Bible. There is no need for stretching—it isn’t going to help anyway. It’s time to reel in that little fish and cook it too!
- Larry Pierce and Ken Ham, “Are There Gaps in the Genesis Genealogies?,” chapter 5 in The New Answers Book 2, edited by Ken Ham, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008, https://answersingenesis.org/bible-timeline/genealogy/gaps-in-the-genesis-genealogies/
- James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003.
- Floyd Nolen Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2005.
- Augustin Calmet, “A General Chronological Table of the Holy Bible,” in Dictionary of the Holy Bible, 947–987