How Old Is the Universe?

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.

My spreadsheet from Creation to the Flood

My spreadsheet from Creation to the Flood. Click to embiggen.

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.

Flood to Solomon's Temple.  Click to embiggen.

Flood to Solomon’s Temple. Click to embiggen.

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.

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About Steve Picray

I have been many things, but right now I am a registered nurse attempting to pay off my debt so that, God willing, I can be a pastor again someday. I have a wife and three kids. I am a conservative Christian (of the Baptist variety). This blog is about me: the things that happen to me, the things that interest me, and the things that bother me. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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3 Responses to How Old Is the Universe?

  1. Here is a nice explanation of the issues of dating old stuff… An analysis of radio carbon dating, and of other dating methodologies that rely on subjective assumptions of conditions extant when the “dated” object supposedly existed :

    http://christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c007.html

    Decades ago, I postulated that radiocarbon dating was most likely hogwash as we live in a dynamic universe – which is to say things change, and stuff happens. So there is absolutely NO assurance that conditions that obtain NOW have always been as they are now. (ie the radioactive decay rate changes, the absorption rate changes, etc.) and if the material that you are examining came to be in a world that was different, then you CANNOT determine its age. Period. Absorption and decay rates of radioactive materials change according to conditions – so there is NO “yardstick” that can be used to determine the age of something prior to “recorded” history.

    Now that my “postulants” are being proven, I guess that proves that I’m maybe (MAYBE) not as dumb as I look – eh? ;-D

  2. Steve Picray says:

    I think I remember you telling me the thing about carbon dating when I was younger. But since then I’ve learned from scientists at the Institutes for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, and others that the way secular scientists interpret carbon dating is seriously flawed.

    I personally think (and I’m not dogmatic about this: I could be wrong) that climate conditions were much much different before the flood. Most people (even Christians) think of the flood as if the world back then were about the same as it is now, and then it rained a whole lot. That’s not what happened. If you read Genesis 6-8, it’s pretty clear that there were massive geologic changes taking place. It was a worldwide catastrophe. This is probably what caused the continental breakup. It’s also possible that the climate change caused by God through the flood somehow made people’s lives shorter, as seen by the lifespans going from 900+ years before the flood, to the dwindling lifespans from Abraham to Moses. The Bible says Adam lived 930 years. Noah lived 950 years (no shortening of the lifespan). His son Shem (born before the flood) lived 600 years. Here are the ages of Shem’s children and grandchildren down to Jacob:
    Arpachshad 438
    Shelah 433
    Eber 464
    Peleg 239
    Reu 239
    Serug 230
    Nahor 148
    Terah 205
    Abraham 175
    Isaac 180
    Jacob 147

    And 430 years later when we get to Moses, he only lived to be 120, which is really long for us today (most of the records held in the past century are around 115 years old), but not totally unheard of. And for the rest of the Bible people had more “normal” lifespans. Moses’ age was out of the ordinary, as we can see in the Psalm written by him, in which he tells us the normal lifespan of man during his lifetime (around 1440 BC) was 70-80 years (Psalm 90:10).

  3. Maybe the “years” were shorter? If the rock that hit the Yucatan/Gulf of Mexico hit with an anti-rotation trajectory (against the rotational direction) then it could have changed a LOT of things! There’s nothing sacred about a 60 minute hour and a 24 hour day, or a 30 day month or a 12 month year. Just because that’s what we have doesn’t mean it’s a universal constant… shoot not even a global constant.

    And if as you speculate above all the surface land was in one place then the world may have had a faster or slower rotation, or there could have been a wobble that changed “seasons” differently than now. Or maybe if there was nothing to break up the monotony of daily life, maybe they just thought they lived that long because they were bored out of their skulls!!! ;-D

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