A few weeks ago Bill Nye incorrectly stated that the Bible says the earth is 6000 years old. Ken Ham correctly pointed out that since the Bible was completed about 1900 years ago, it would be silly for there to be a verse stating “The earth is 6000 years old” because it would now be incorrect. However, we can determine based on the genealogies in the Bible an approximate age of the universe.
A few years ago I did an exercise where I attempted to plug in all the details I could regarding the age of the earth, according to the Bible. Given the recent debate on the science of those who hold the biblical view of Creation, I felt it might be helpful for me to publish my exercise here on my blog. I am not stating that this list is 100% accurate, because I am a fallible human being. However the Bible is infallible in its original autographs, and the Bible is the source of my figures. Any error made is mine alone.
Genesis 1:26 says that God created Adam on the sixth day of creation. In other words, Adam has existed for five days less than the rest of the universe. Genesis 5:3 states that Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born. From this we can determine that Seth was born 130 years after the creation of the universe. Chapter 5 gives the age of each father when his son was born, and how long he lived, all the way to Noah. Doing the math, I determined several facts: Noah was born 1056 years after Creation. Adam lived to see the birth of every man in this chapter except for Noah. Adam was the first of these men to die, even though he lived 930 years. When Noah was born, Adam, Seth, and Enoch were the only patriarchs not on earth. Methuselah and his son Lamech both died the year of the flood.
As we investigate further in Genesis, we see that the flood happened when Noah was 600 years old (Genesis 7:6), meaning that the flood happened 1656 years after Creation. Genesis 11 gives the continuation of the chronology, stating that Shem’s son was born two years after the flood when Shem was 100 years old. From this we can determine that Shem was born when Noah was 502 years old. The chapter then gives the age of each person when their son was born, all the way down to Abraham. This means that Abraham was born 297 years after the flood.
From that point, it’s a little harder to determine the exact timeline, because the verses are scattered, but it is by no means impossible. For your convenience, I will list the relevant sections here. Genesis 12:4 says Abraham was 75 when he moved to Canaan. Genesis 21:5 says Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. Genesis 25:26 says Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born. Genesis 47:9 says Jacob was 130 when the Hebrews moved to Egypt. Exodus 12:40-41 says the Hebrews were in Egypt for 430 years to the day. This means that we can show biblically that the Exodus happened 2673 years after the Creation. I Kings 6:1 states that Solomon’s temple was started 480 years after the Exodus, in the 4th year of Solomon’s reign. We know from ancient texts (and this is the only part of my evidence that isn’t biblically based) that Solomon reigned in Israel from about 970 to 931 BC. That means the temple was started in 966 BC, and adding 480 years to that gives us the date of the Exodus: 1446 BC.
Now that we have connected the date of the exodus with the Biblical chronology, we can do some quick math and determine that Creation happened in 4119 BC. Add in the 2014 years since, and we can state the age of the earth (give or take a few years) is 6133 years. At least according to God, who was there, so He should know.
Postscript: Some interesting points that the Bible doesn’t emphasize: Abraham died when Jacob and Esau were 15 years old, so they likely knew their grandfather. Noah’s son Shem outlived Abraham by 30 years. Abraham was the 9th descendant of Shem, and all of his paternal ancestors were still alive when Abraham was born, including Noah. As a matter of fact, Noah didn’t die until Abraham was 53 years old.