Teaching the Earth is 4.5 BILLION years old

I was talking to some Junior High kids the other day and they were talking about
science class and how the Earth is 4.54 BILLION years old. I do know a few other kids though who were (falsely) taught the Earth was much less, and I’m assuming they were taught 6000 years by some extreme religious groups. Can we as Catholics all agree on the former?

Unfortunately, no.

Yes, I have an opinion on this also, :). The way I view it – to keep those that think science is the answer to everything: sure the earth could be several billion years old, and man may have been created at this time also – the Bible does not let tell us how long Adam was in the Garden of Eden. The Bible does not tell us how long Adam was there before God created Eve, The Bible does not tell us how long they lived there before being kicked out for defying God. Yet the world outside the Garden could change, the creatures God created that were not in the Garden could roam and change as their environment changed. Yes a few billion years would be a very long time but compared to Eternity that would be a blink of an eye. Again it all comes down to faith, do not lose yours because someone else has none or doubts.

Remain strong and always trust in God.

Winter

IMO 4.5 billion years is hard to fathom, whether you are a Creationist or not. I’d start with something simpler.

From a Catholic Answers tract:

"The Time Question

“Much less has been defined as to when the universe, life, and man appeared. The Church has infallibly determined that the universe is of finite age—that it has not existed from all eternity—but it has not infallibly defined whether the world was created only a few thousand years ago or whether it was created several billion years ago.”

Peace,
Ed

No, I can not agree. There is a ± of 50 million by many estimates plus even you use two numbers in your post. The title is .04 Billion years different than your number in the body of the post. Now .04 may not seem big but add that to the ± of 50 million and we have tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of years leeway. Hundreds of millions. the dinosaurs were 65 million years ago. So hundreds of millions is not a small discrepancy Not to mention, sciences own changing dates for the earth. When I was in Jr high it was a tad under 4 Billion. But you know, to teach evolution without question, one needs to move some numbers around. Honestly, The Truth is somewhere between 6000 and 6 billion.

Also, A Catholic can hold to the 4.54 number as well as 6000. Much like a Catholic can reject “limbo” or believe it.

The age of the earth is not really a theological question. But, before “science” gets it’s chest all pumped up about it, it should realize it is pretty inaccurate as well.

4.5 billion years sounds about right. But that number is not a question of religion or of theology.

It took a few billion years just for it to cool down.

I think Catholics can agree to earth is so ancient. Some Protestants came up with the idea the earth is thousands of years old, so I consider this a purely Protestant invention.
Actually, how old the earth is has nothing to do with Catholicism, which has never passed on the age of the earth. This question is irrelevant to the faith. So if I was teaching CCD to children, I wouldn’t see any basis for talking about this.
But where did fossils of dinasaurs and other species come from, which predate humans and even are show to be millions of years old? So I think the earth is much more than a few thousand years old (though this is not my judgment as a Catholic).

In the grander scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. Nowhere in scripture are we told that salvation is dependent on believing what the age of the earth is, nor is there any church dogma that dictates such.

The Bible was written by God. People have taken this and tried to extract non-theological information from it, like mining for data. God knows this and has written it specifically not to be used as a scientifically useful text. God is respectful of good science. He reserved that information for the discovery of man and intentionally did not reveal scientific things; any but the most minor things.

The wonders of such a vast and continually expanding universe. Speaks to His power and glory. It is expanding ever faster and still growing and young. It is giving birth to new stars at an astounding rate. Just a decade ago they thought that the universe was slowing to a crawl and going to cool into darkness or begin to collapse back into itself. Wrong again, it is alive and growing even greater! Billions or more old and still young as a two month pup.

Don’t let the nay sayers bog you down in their depressing visions of doom and gloom. See the greatness that God has made and get excited!

IMO, Eden was a realm before Earth was even created. I think that it was a terrestrial realm of perfection, which through our fallen nature we lost. That’s why there is so much suffering in nature and in the abuse of free will.

This is just my interpretation, as well as that of some others, but it has no bearings on Church doctrine.

Falsely taught a different age? You must be able to undeniably prove a claim in science to call another claim false.

Actually, you don’t “prove” anything in science. You can arrive at an explanation that seems to fit the current data best, but with the full understanding that you (or a future generation) might have to revise that explanation if more data comes in that makes it no longer the best.

On the other hand, if a particular claim doesn’t fit even the currently available data at all, that claim is highly likely to be false (unless we are very, very wrong about the currently available data). As ages for the Earth go, 4.5 billion fits the available data far better than six thousand. There’s some wiggle room around 4.5 billion, but not so much wiggle room that 6000 is a reasonable estimate.

Usagi

Hundreds of millions is a large discrepancy as a bare number, but in terms of error bars around 4.5 billion, it’s not a very big range at all. 6000 is so far outside that range it’s hard to see from there :smiley:

So, yeah, while the absolute truth may be “somewhere between 6000 and 6 billion,” everything we presently understand places it considerably closer to the latter than to the former. It would be disingenuous to act as if every number within that (huge) range is equally probable, just because we haven’t settled on one yet.

I just think “science” should be careful pointing a finger when the age of the earth changes based on “evidence” all the time. Now, I am getting older, but when I was in Jr high it was less than 4 billion. So I am obviously over 500 million years old now right?
The OP was critical of kids being taught a different number. Well I was taught a different number from both of those. And it was not religion that taught me that, it was the almighty intellectually superior “science”:wink:

Well, I don’t begrudge those who believe the world is 6000 years old, but I think we get a lot farther with people if we aren’t wound up so tight on exact, literal Scripture interpretations that are impractical.

For one thing, the Catholic Faith is all about the Truth, and as we currently understand time, the Earth does appear to be older than 4 billion years.

That can and probably should be taught, but what should also be taught is that science is about observable, repeatable results and observations.

I just think there’s more important matters than worrying about how old the planet is.

The earth may be 4.5 billion years old, maybe older maybe younger. None of us were around 4.5 billion years ago, so how certain really is science about this estimate? I do not know how the physical sciences come up with this number of 4.5 billion years. If the earth is that old, I have no problem with it nor would Holy Scripture or our faith. The point is, science says a lot of things that are based on theories and not facts such as the darwinian evolution of man from primates, apes, or whatever which we know is false. I have no problem saying the earth is 4.5 billion years old, but until I studied diligently into how science got this number for all I know there could be a lot of guess work involved, I do not treat it as a cold hard fact, maybe they are wrong. One thing I do know, some things at least some scientists say and that make there way into science textbooks, I do know are false as they are in contradiction to Holy Scripture and our catholic faith which is the truth.

It’s a useful theory. “It is what it is” as my former director of graduate studies would say.

And how long ago was that? …:rotfl:

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