Another Age of the Earth Theory

You might remember my crazy age of the earth theory I wrote about a couple of years ago. In that post, which you can read here, I argued that since we measure time by the earth’s rotation and since that rotation is slowing down a little every year, it follows that time, at least as we used to measure it, is not constant. Therefore it is possible that the first seven days were seven literal days as marked by one full rotation of the earth on its axis, but measured in thousands of days as measured by the cesium second, which is constant. In this theory then, God gradually set the earth in rotation rather than set it at top speed from the beginning.

Photo by Greg Rakozy

As I wrote in the article, the theory is just that; theoretical. It is pure conjecture. Additionally, I have no stake in the age of the earth arguments. My theology, worldview, salvation, and security—none of these things hinge on how old the universe is. As for those who say the Bible would be invalidated were the seven days in Genesis not literal? Well, I’ve already offered one possible reconciliation between the two sides, but nevertheless even if the days were not literal, my faith would not be shattered and neither should yours be. Why not? You might ask.

The Bible describes several things that are not astronomically correct, but we understand that they are from the vantage point of the authors describing them. For example Joshua 10 describes a day in which "the sun stood still" so that the Israelites would have more time to defeat the Amorites before nightfall (Joshua 10:13). The sun (at least in relation to the earth), of course, is already stationary. So most likely the earth's rotation stopped for a day.

All that upfront is simply to say this: I have another possible explanation for old earth adherents. Again, I’m not taking sides in this debate, but rather thinking out loud here. The age of the earth is of little importance to me. Either way I am still secure in the gospel: "That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). These verses encapsulate the Christian faith. They form the core of our worldview.

The Theory

No doubt I’m not the first to ponder this possibility, but here it is. The book of Genesis does not record how long Adam and Eve spent in paradise prior to eating the forbidden fruit. Because the Scripture progresses straight from God creating Eve to the fall, we assume it was only a matter of days before Adam and Even caved to the serpent's temptation.  But maybe we should give them more credit.

What if Adam and Eve flourished in Eden for centuries or even millennia prior to the fall? Before you summarily dismiss the idea, consider the verse from 2 Peter which teaches, "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (verse 3).

Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve were not time-bound; there was no end to their existence because there was no death. Therefore, time, for the most part was irrelevant. One thousand years would seem like a day in paradise in communion with our maker. Additionally, the book of Genesis does not offer how long Adam lived before God created Eve. We do know that Adam gave names to all of the animals prior to Eve's existence, a task that could have occupied a considerable amount of time.

Nevertheless, were this theory based in truth we would have to deal with Genesis 5:4 which tells us Adam died at the age of 930. If this verse is true, how could Adam have thrived in the garden for millennia?

For this theory to be valid, the counting of years would have had to begin after the fall--after the ouster from Eden. A stretch? Maybe, but consider again that prior to the bite of forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were not time-bound. They were timeless, and their existence was not limited. Why count the years (if they even understood the concept of "years")?

Photo by Marco Lastella

Think of it this way. When we die and enter glory will we continue to count years? I can't say for sure, but I would guess the answer is no. In an infinite existence, time is meaningless. It is irrelevant and nonsensical.

Yet even if this theory has validity it would not, no doubt, appease the majority of old earth creationists who tend to side with popular, secular science which posits our earth to be a shade under 5 billion years old. We can imagine an Adam and an Eve in Eden for one thousand years and even ten thousand years, but 4.5 billion years? Probably a stretch. Nevertheless, again, time is an afterthought in an infinite reality.

Peter, of course, wrote metaphorically and not literally with his thousand days reference. But just for fun, if one thousand years were as one day to Adam and Eve, and if the two persisted in paradise for 4.5 billion years, that time period would seem like 12,329 years.

Not as much of a stretch when thought of in those terms, is it?

Don't Let the Enemy Use You

Do I ascribe to this wacky theory? No, probably not. But I do think the first humans probably did live in the garden for quite some time before giving in to temptation. They had no needs, no wants, no hunger. They were satisfied and fulfilled in Eden, so I doubt that God gave Adam the command not to eat from the tree and then a day later he disobeyed.

So why even posit this theory at all? I think it's important for both sides of the earth-age debate (I'm referring only to those who believe the one true God created our universe) to concede that we don't and can't know all of the details. My prayer also is that we can all agree that although interesting and fun to discuss, how old the earth is has no bearing on Christ crucified and resurrected, the foundation of our faith. No, the earth being 4.5 billion years would not invalidate the Bible. And no, the earth being 10,000 years old does not necessarily disagree with science.

So maybe, just maybe, can we all admit we don't know as much as we think we do and rather than die on the earth-age hill, can we unite under the banner of the resurrection?

Just as Satan tempted Eve in Eden to taste the forbidden fruit, he is still tempting Christians today. His aim is to divide the body of Christ by appealing to our pride. His hope is that if he can pit us against one another over meaningless issues that we will be distracted from our true mission: to spread the gospel of Christ for the glory of God.

Let's not let him win.

One of the best ways to stave off the enemy is by studying God's word. In Psalm 119, King David wrote, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (verse 11).

But if you're anything like me, you have, at times, struggled through the Old Testament. As a result too many Christians simply skip over many of these books and miss out on the richness of Scripture.

No more.

I've put together a guide to help you get through the Old Testament called, How to Read Through the Old Testament without Getting Lost or Dozing Off.

The guide takes you chronologically through the most essential OT passages in just 90 days. Best of all? You can have it for free. Just enter your email address below and click the button.