Having told you why I am skeptical of the idea of an ancient (millions or billions of years old) earth, I would like to give you some of the data that lead me to believe in a young earth. I am certainly open to changing my view on this, as I see no inherent reason to believe in any specific age for the earth. However, based on what I know about science right now, it seems to me most reasonable to believe that the earth is on the order of thousands of years old, and it seems to me incredibly unscientific to believe that the earth is on the order of billions of years old. So over the course of the next few weeks, dear reader, I hope to present to you my “top five” reasons for thinking that the earth is young.
Before I do that, however, I need to provide bit of scientific philosophy on this issue. I don’t think most scientists are equipped to evaluate this question, at least not in any scientifically meaningful way. In fact, I personally think that creationists are the only people who can address the age of the earth scientifically. I don’t think that all creationists are qualified to address this issue (as will become apparent in a moment), but I don’t think a single committed evolutionist is qualified to weigh in on the age of the earth, at least not in a scientific manner.
Why do I say this? Well, in order to scientifically evaluate any issue, you must view the data in as unbiased a way as possible. It is, of course, impossible to completely rid yourself of all your biases. Nevertheless, a scientist must try as hard as possible to check his preconceptions at the door and look at the data honestly and openly. Only then can the scientist hope to make a reasonable conclusion based on the data.
There is simply no way for a committed evolutionist to look at the data related to the age of the earth openly and honestly. After all, the “magic formula” for evolution is:
random change + natural selection + billions of years = people
Thus, an evolutionist is forced to believe in a billions-of-years-old earth. There is simply no other alternative, as there is simply no other way to construct an evolutionary scenario for the life that we see on this planet. As a result, any data that indicate a young age for the earth must simply be dismissed. Period. End of discussion. This is not a scientific approach to the data. Committed evolutionists, then, simply cannot evaluate data related to the age of the earth in any meaningful scientific way.
Now, of course, there are creationists who also cannot evaluate the data related to the age of the earth in any meaningful way. Any creationist who thinks Scripture requires you to believe in a young earth is just as unqualified as a committed evolutionist when it comes to evaluating the data related to the age of the earth. After all, like the committed evolutionist, a creationist who thinks that an orthodox member of his or her faith must believe in a young earth is just as biased as the committed evolutionist. As a result, any data that indicate an ancient earth must be dismissed. Period. End of discussion. Once again, this means that such a creationist cannot be trusted to evaluate the data related to the age of the earth in any meaningful way.
Most reasonable creationists, however, are not forced into any preconceived notion about the age of the earth. For example, a Christian or Jewish creationist who has spent any serious time trying to understand what the first few chapters of Genesis tell us will understand that there are several possible orthodox interpretations for the events recounted therein. As a result, a reasonable Christian or Jewish creationist need not be committed to either a young earth or an old earth. Creationists such as these are really the only people who are qualified to address the age of the earth from a scientific perspective.
When you strip away your biases (as much as is humanly possible), then, what does science tell you? Overall, I think it tells you the following:
If the earth is billions of years old, there are a myriad of natural processes (some of which we have been studying in detail for hundreds of years) that we simply do not understand. However, if the earth is on the order of thousands of years old, there are only a few natural processes that we don’t understand, and most of them are processes we have not been studying for long.
As a result, it seems to me that the most scientifically reasonable belief is that the earth is on the order of thousands of years old. As I continue this line of posts, I will detail five of the processes that are easily understood in a young-earth framework but are utterly mysterious in an old-earth framework. I hope you find it all as fascinating as I do!