Question 294:

Is it true that the Bible states the earth to be 6000 years old? Up to now I have not received a clear answer to this question.   



The figure of 6000 years is largely based on the work of an Irish bishop of the 17th century called James Ussher.  He was a considerable scholar and wrote widely on theological matters.  He traced back in the Bible, cross-referencing with other sources where possible, to arrive at a precise date for the creation of the world: “the night before the 23rd October 4004BCE.”  Attempts at such “chronologies of creation” were not uncommon in earlier centuries.  Whilst this was a considerable feat of scholarship based on the scientific knowledge of the time and the interpretation of the Bible that was generally accepted then, such a view would receive only the faintest of support in our own times. Christian scholars take seriously the advances in scientific understanding of the development of life on earth and the calculations about the probable age of the planet.  This would mean that the earth is vastly older than 6000 years.  The way that Ussher used the Bible, as a work of history in which one could add-up dates, would not be accepted by modern biblical scholars, who would not regard it as a historical work in that sense.

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