How old is the earth... Does the Bible address this?

I have a friend who is discussing with a skeptical co-worker, creation and the age of the earth. My friend has asked me for some help in answering this person. Here is the e-mail which he sent…

“I have been searching for a bible reference relating to a conversation we had awhile back. I remember you saying something about God having a different time segments than mans time (in relation to the question of how old the earth is). I can’t find anything about this in the bible, but I may be looking in the wrong place. I have two King James version bibles here at home but the bible is generally a poorly indexed book and when I look for something specific it’s hard to know where to begin. I have used a couple of online search engines to no avail. Do you know of any verse that relates to this?”

Does anyone have any suggestions on how best to answer this persons question?
Thanks so much! :slight_smile:

We don’t know if God’s “time segments” are the same or different than ours. That specific point is not given in the Bible, so don’t bother looking for it.

The Bible is not meant to give us science. But at the same time, it is not incompatible with science. When we hear people say “Well, God’s six days of creation could be six million years,” well that could be true but the Bible doesn’t say that. However, that theory is indeed plausible and still in harmony with the Bible.

:thumbsup: And when you think of it really…what is six million years in the 4.5 Billion years in Earth history? I’d say a drop in the bucket. I don’t think we humans can really fathom finite temporal reality much less eternity.

The Catholic Answer is that the Church has not infallibly ruled regarding the age of the earth. It may be thousands or it may be billions of years old.

You should understand that there is contention over this issue today in an attempt to modify the true events in Genesis regarding Adam and Eve for example.


You cannot find the age of the Earth by reading the Bible. Catholics are free to believe in a young Earth or an old Earth.
I personally believe the overwhelming scientific evidence that the earth is around 4.6 billion years old.

[LEFT][bibledrb]2 Peter 3:8[/bibledrb]

  • … one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day …

Our timeframe is not the Lord’s timeframe. Between the first day of creation and the second day could have been billions of years. Then hundreds of millions of years between the second day of creation and the third day and so forth and so on.

The Bible tells us that the heavens and earth had a beginning. God created everything that exists. However, the Bible is not the right place to look for the “age” of the earth or the age of the universe.

It is the job of the natural sciences to determine the age of the earth. The Bible is not a sourcebook for scientific knowledge. Accordingly, Galileo cited Cardinal Baronius (1598) for the statement, “The Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

But that too shouldn’t be read as a scientific maxim, should it?

I think it means that God is outside of time. It doesn’t mean that we are to take the six days of creation and plug in this formula to say that the Earth took 6000 years to create.

I’m not saying that you mean that. But it’s another good example of how any statement about science or time has to be carefully interpreted.


(“the Church has not infallibly ruled regarding the age of the earth.”)

The Church never will infallibly rule on the age on the earth.

But there is theoretical evidence to suggest that the story of Adam and Eve took place circa: 25,000 years ago when man himself came out of his Neanderthal period into present day Homo Sapiens. To reiterate this is theoretical.

Thank you so much for your replies everyone! :smiley:

The Church has ruled infallibly that the universe has a finite age. It also has a Pontifical Academy of Sciences. In order to lead the faithful and to protect them from error, the Church is interested in science.


I have no confidence in this idea. It is based on man being a purely mechanical construct. This false theory assumes that man’s brain-mind was somehow able to detect a god/gods concept once it reached a certain level of development. That is why people who insist “science” does not deal with the “why” of man are completely wrong. Today, because man’s brain-mind has reached another level of development, the idea of god/gods can now be discarded.

The Church has infallibly ruled that the universe has a finite age.


If the Bible as you imply, is scientifically innacurate, how then will we interpret the miracles of Jesus ?
E.G. Commanding the wind and the waves…Scientifically impossible
Raising the dead to life…Scientifically impossible
Walking on water…Scientifically impossible
Healing the deaf, the blind and lepers…Scientifically impossible

Question : Are we people of the Word or favourite Word people?

The Good Book is a bit of a misnomer, in the sense that it is a collection of books, letters, etc, each with its own style and purpose. The Gospels are very clearly meant to be taken as history, documenting the life and actions of Christ. Scholarship independent of the Bible as verified some key details such as Christ’s execution.

Genesis however, was written in a different mindset, showing our dependence and growing Covenant with the Lord. Our faith depends on Christ’s death and resurrection being true events, however this important truth is true regardless of the exact age of the universe!

I would like to add that Jesus referred to the Old Testament. He said that Moses wrote concerning Him. After He ascended, people searched the Scriptures to see if what was written about Him was true. To verify the reports they were hearing that He was the Christ.


As I said

Our timeframe is not the Lord’s timeframe. Between the first day of creation and the second day could have been billions of years. Then hundreds of millions of years between the second day of creation and the third day and so forth and so on.

An I say the problem with that sort of interpretation is, for one, there are no geological or cosmic epochs that accord with the sequence of events in Genesis 1, regardless of whatever numbers one may choose to plug in. Thus, it cannot be the correct way to read the text.

The Bible does not say when the original creation of the earth took place, but it does indicate when man was created. The age of the earth is not connected with the date of the creation of man.

Another important point to understand is that a “day” in the creation story could not be anything but a 24-hour day. Genesis says its “day” is an evening and a morning – that is, nighttime and daytime – which is what a 24-hour day is. Also consider the plants which were created on the third day. The sun did not appear until the next day. If these “days” were say a thousand years long, the plants could not have survived, for they were without sunshine.

Now, why would the age of the earth not be connected with the creation of man when the “days” in the creation week were all 24-hour days? Shouldn’t the age of the earth be the same as the age of the first created man?

In Genesis 1:1 it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Then verse 2 reads: “And the earth was without form and void….” The Hebrew words translated “without form and void” are tohu and bohu. They mean chaotic, in confusion, waste, empty. Why would God create the earth in disorder and then straighten it out? That wouldn’t make sense. The Hebrew word for “created” used in verse 1 implies that the creation was a perfected work. It implies order and system, not chaos or confusion. And we read in I Cor. 14:33 that “God is not the author of confusion.” God is the author of peace, of law and order.

God told Job that the angels shouted for joy when the earth was created (Job 38:7). This is further indication that God did not create the earth tohu and bohu. A more conclusive proof is found in Isaiah 45:18. Notice: “For thus saith the Eternal that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain…” The original Hebrew for the word translated “in vain” is tohu, the same identical word used in Genesis 1:2. Thus, this verse is a plain statement that when God created the earth it was not tohu. It became that way only afterwards.

The proper rendering, therefore, of verse 2 when the Bible is taken in its entire context is: “And the earth became without form and void.” It should also be noted that the Hebrew word translated “was” is hayah. This word is translated “became” in Genesis 2:7, 9:15 and 19:26. Its use denotes a condition that was different from a former condition. In other words, the earth had not always been that way. It became chaotic only later.

When we examine verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1 again with this in mind, we would have to conclude that verse 1 is not connected with verse 2. Verse 1 is simply a declaration of who created the heavens and the earth. Verse 2 speaks of some point in time after the earth’s creation [could be millions of years after] when the earth had become chaotic and a vast wasteland.

The six-day “creation” account in Genesis therefore is not speaking about the original creation of the earth but a re-creation of a devastated earth into its original beautiful and useful state. As David, in one of his psalms revealed, “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created…” – notice Gen. 1:2 speaks about the same thing, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Clearly, David here is speaking about the creation week in Genesis. Then David continues, “thou RENEWEST the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30).

Properly understood, the Bible does not say when the earth was created. But the date of the creation of man can be estimated, as some people have tried (for example, the famous Usher dated creation at 4004 B.C.) based on the “creation” account in Genesis and on the biblical ages of the patriarchs.

This is a part from one of my RCIA classes please excuse the bold type I just copied and pasted it from my lesson plan is usually double line spaced I put it single to save space:

Gen 1:1 In the Beginning. Like I said before how many you have been told that Adam & Eve is a myth and not to take them literally? Is that really what the Church teaches about Adam & Eve? Geneses chapter one verses one and two says:

**1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. ****Then God created the Sun, the Moon, plants, animals, and finally on the last day the sixth day God created Man and Women verse 27 **God created man in His own image in the divine image He created him, male and female He created them. We are all pretty much familiar with that creation story

**However not too many of us is familiar with chapter two of Geneses. Starting at verse two “Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work He had been doing, He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had undertaken. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work He had done in creation. **

So everything is created and God rested. Now a little bit further down we read God created man beforethe plants and the animals. God created Adam from the dust of the earth in verse 7, and after Adam is created God creates the plants & tress in verse 9, the animals in verse 19, then in verses 21 & 22 God creates women. Now just wait a minute in chapter one God created man on the sixth day, in chapter two God creates man before the plants & animals. Which is it? Is the Bible the Word of God contradicting itself?

**The quick and simple answer is NO! In one of the flyers I gave out you can see **“The senses of Scripture” **that comes from the Catechism Of The Catholic Church CCC 115-118. **


What the Church teaches is that the interpretation of Scripture must be done in a literal sense as opposed to be interpreted in a literalist sense. What’s the difference they sound alike they are basically the same word. At first glance you might think they mean the same thing. But they don’t at least not in the world of theology. The Church teaches the interpretation in a literal sense and condemns a literalist sense of interpretation of Scared Scripture. [See paragraph CCC116]. I will explain the difference between the two. Now lets say I emailed you and said, “It’s raining cats & dogs outside. As Americans in the 21st century you know that if you go outside it’s raining pretty dog gone hard. That is the literal interpretation of what the author [me] intended for me to say for you to understand. On the other hand what if you took the literalist interpretation of raining cat & dogs. That means if you walked outside cats & dogs will be falling from the sky like rain. After all that’s what the text says so that’s what it means. The literalist is not taking into account the accepted meaning of that fraise. Not taking in account of what the author was trying to convey. “It’s raining cats & dogs by golly that’s what it says that’s what it means. Not taking into account the time-period, who did the author intend to convey this too, what culture, what is the author’s meaning? What if this email was read two thousand years from now? What would be the best way to interpret this; the literal sense or the literalist sense? The literal sense of course.

**Now is Adam & Eve a myth, is it just a story what does the Catholic Church teach? As Catholics we are free to believe that the Heavens and the Earth was created in six 24-hour days. Or the Heavens and the Earth took millions of years to be created. Or lets say I believe in the **theory of evolution.Notice I said theory. What If I wanted to believe in the big bang theory of creation? What if I believed that man was formed from dust and God breathed life into his nostrils. The Church is silent on this because it doesn’t know. So it’s ok for you to believe in any one of these. As long as you believe that somewhere in the process God infused a soul into the human race. God created it. Now what does the Church teach about Adam & Eve:

CCC 375:** The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice”. This grace of original holiness was “to share in. . .divine life”.**

**CCC 404: **How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”. By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, **

**[size=3]So what the author is trying to convey in the meaning of these two chapters is man is the highest in order of all of Gods creations. He is not conveying a time line or a scientific thesis. **

Time is created for man; God is beyond space and time.[/size]

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