Wednesday 26 February 2014

What Do Genealogies Tell Us About the Age of the Earth?

The topic of the age of the earth and of the genealogies listed in Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 has recently come up in our family. I remember doing a short study on this ~10+ years ago but I do not have this readily available (probably hidden in a notebook in storage), and I was a little rusty on the results.   I talked with my pastor (we generally share the same point of view), and he helpfully reminded me that, for most of us, there are more important issues than genealogies to focus our energies on.

The main points of God's Word are far more important than the genealogies. 

The main points of God's Word to us

  1. God created the universe, and created and placed man in the world.  He did so in perfection, and to His own glory.
  2. Man sought his own glory and not God's glory.  Wanting to do things his own way he disobeyed God's command, thus bringing condemnation and judgment on the entire universe.
  3. God, in his mercy, has worked throughout history to bring a Saviour by whom any man can receive salvation.
  4. If any man will believe that Jesus is God and has the authority to forgive sins, died in our place for our sins, and rose again for our justification, and if that man will also repent of his sinful way of life, and give his life to Him, he will be saved.
  5. "Saved" means that the person is no longer under the judgment of God, deserving of and destined for an eternity of hatred of God and pain in hell.
  6. Instead, that person will be considered by God as having the righteousness of Christ, and will enter the new earth and new heaven, where there is no sin or suffering, but all is perfect.
  7. Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and was raised.  He did this that we might bear fruit for Him.
    1. For more on conversion, see our post "Are You Truly Converted".
(original photo credit)

Our Family's Basic Position on Genealogies

  1. We take the words of Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 at face value.  It is difficult to understand how extra "skipped" generations or time can be inserted in sentences such as the following from Genesis 5:
    1. "When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared. ... When Jared had lived 162 years he fathered Enoch."
    2. This type of history is given from Adam to Terah, the father of Abraham.
  2. God's Word, written by Paul, in Titus 3:9 warns us to "...avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless." Titus 3:14 gives us a better option to focus our energies on: "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, ..."

Our Family's Position on the Age of the Earth

  1. Based on the testimony of Scripture (especially the genealogies) given in Genesis 1-11, the age of the earth is likely best measured in thousands of years, and not 10's, 100's, or 1,000's of millions of years.
  2. For those who protest that the number of layers of sediment, or the distance light has had to travel from distant galaxies to our eyes confutes the idea of a "young" earth, the answer is easy: God created things in an already mature state: for instance, he created Adam and Eve, mature men and women (not single cells in a womb that had to grow to become mature) and there is no issue with God creating an earth that already has layers of rock and light from distant stars.  In fact, God created light before He created stars.
  3. Good resources on the age of the earth and creation science are available from Answers in Genesis.
  4. Scientific evidence best supports a young earth as compared to an old earth.

In Conclusion

As in all issues, our starting point should be "what do the scriptures say?"  Where the scriptures give a clear answer, they must be our final authority.   In the case of the age of the earth, it seems to us that attempting to make the scriptures support an "old earth" stems from the 'fear of man' and not the 'fear of God'.

What is your position on the genealogies and age of the earth?

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