Astronomer and physicist Galileo, following up on Copernicus’s notion that the Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun, was chastised by the Catholic Church. The book of Genesis states that the earth was created before the sun and the stars. Psalm 104:5 states “He founded the earth on its foundations that it not falter to eternity.” This not only suggests that the sun revolves around the earth, but that the planet is actually stationary, not even turning on its access. The Catholic church officially refused to believe that the earth revolved around the sun until decades after astronauts and spaceships actually travelled into space and showed them pictures to demonstrate. Galileo was officially forgiven by Pope John Paul II on October 31, 1992, 350 years after his death.
Despite radiometric-dating which proves the advanced age of fossils on earth and Cosmic Microwave Background which places the Universe at around 20 billion years old and the earth at 4.6 billion, there are people who cling to the belief that Adam and Eve rode around on Dinosaurs and swam amongst the trilobites.
Christians derive the age of the earth from the book of Genesis, which states that God created the earth, the heavens, and all the animals on it under a week. There are multiple references that these “young earth creationists” call upon that place the earth between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. However, for this editorial, we will once again turn to our friend, the King James Bible. Church of Ireland Archbishop James Ussher published his chronology, which pointed the exact date of man’s creation to be October 23, 4004 B.C. using some abstruse formula calculated between the Roman calendar and the Old Testament text itself. The irony of this is that young earth creationists believe this because it has some form of scientific base as it was mathematically “calculated” to be true.
Ussher looked at the creation of the earth as a six day period, and hypothesized that each of God’s days equaled 1,000 years. Jesus was well-documented to have been born during the era of King Herod, who was actually recorded to have died in the year 4 B.C, meaning that Jesus had to have been born between 37 B.C., when King Herod’s reign began, and 4 B.C. Ussher took the date of 4 B.C. since it was closest to the actual date of 1 A.D., attributed to Jesus’s birth. Hebrew calendars dated back over 3,000 years B.C. so 4,000 was a nice, new number to lead back from. Incidentally, the world was supposed to end in the year 2,000 A.D., or, more ostensibly, 1997. Oops.
Farcical nature of this aside, the fact of the matter is that there is much better math and science out there that absolutely trounces Ussher’s utterly laughable contribution.
Radiometric dating is the process of determining the age of a rock or fossil through radioactive decay. Energy or particles from the nucleus of an unstable atom (known as a parent atom”) are decayed into stable atoms (known as “daughter atoms”) These systems are measured by “half-lives.” This is the amount of time required for 50% of the parent atom to decay into the daughter atom. There are several elements that can be measured using this rate of decay, such as Uranium 235 which decays into Lead 207 , Rubidium 87 to Strontium 87, and perhaps the most famous, Carbon 14 to Nitrogen 14, commonly known as carbon-dating. These atoms decay at specific rates (710,000,000 years, 47,000,000,000 years, and 5,570 years respectively) and are mathematically and scientifically used to determine the age of past life forms. This is how we know that the last dinosaurs died out 65,000,000 years ago.
Furthermore, radiometric dating isn’t the only way we measure these things. There is Amino-acid dating, which measures the equilibrium of proteins after the death of an organism, Paelomagnetism which measures the natural remnant magnetism of rocks and sedimentary objects in how they align with the magnetism of the earth, and fission-track dating, which where Uranium decays and leaves a physical track etched in the material around it. All these methods are applied to past plant forms, fish, prehistoric animals to determine how many tens of thousands to hundreds of millions of years these life forms existed. So with four different modern, scientifically measurable methods indicating how old different beings on this planet are, to believe the world and its inhabitants are 6,000 years old is a ludicrous concept.
And that is just the earth. As far as the Universe is concerned, we have the method of Cosmic Microwave Background or CMB. CMB radiation also provides evidence for the Big Bang. Radio telescopes show a background glow in the space between galaxies and stars, which radiates in approximately the same distance in all directions. By calculated the luminescence and temperature of the microwaves in what is referred to as a blackbody spectrum, astronomers can determine the age of the stars and the galaxies, placing the universe at 13.75 billion years old. The expulsion of these radiowaves provide support for the Big Bang theory by demonstrating that the Universe is, in fact expanding.
The main fear amongst Christian scientists is that once you negate one part of the bible, you negate the entire thing. This is not necessarily true, especially since the revolution of the earth around the sun has already negated one part of it. The bible is a guide and there are many warm, comforting, and meaningful passages that truly do help people. However, it can be very dangerous when people blind themselves to scientific fact. Basking in ignorance is no show of faith. Being a good person and treating others with kindness is the real Gospel.