Some christians believe the Earth is only 6000 to 12,000 years old. Where does this age originate from?

  • Possible duplicate of christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1384/… Aug 31, 2011 at 16:19
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    @DTest it's the same subject, but the first 2 questions are different. The last part about fossils is definitely the same, though.
    – a_hardin
    Aug 31, 2011 at 16:22
  • I removed the fossil part of the question since it is a duplicate.
    – a_hardin
    Aug 31, 2011 at 16:34
  • We have two questions, where one would suffice. Suggest retaining only "How is a young age of the earth calculated?"
    – djeikyb
    Aug 31, 2011 at 17:57
  • This has devolved into pointless speculation, arguments, and a throng of strawmen. If anyone has a reasonable argument for why "what do Christians think" questions have value here, let's hear it.
    – Shog9
    Aug 31, 2011 at 21:14

5 Answers 5


No, this is not a universal belief. Some do not take the days in Genesis as literal, and some treat Paradise (as described in Genesis) as being a spiritual world rather than being the same 'world' which we measure with carbon dating and other physical measures.

The 6000 years is roughly discerned using clues from stories in the Bible, but there are other measures placing its age closer to 7500 years.

What is generally used is the following:

  • Length of 'day' in Genesis 1
  • Length of time figures in Genesis lived
  • Ages are added by using 'and in so-and-so's xth year, so-and-so was born' (and variations thereof)
  • History / chronicle books have king-dynasty lengths.

It's a lot of work to do, really.

Variations in measures can be explained by differing interpretations of 'day' in Genesis, whether 'in the xth year of y' means that x years preceeded it or x-1 years, and estimates of times not explicitly mentioned.

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    Most Christians do not believe that the Earth is only 6-12 thousand years old. Aug 31, 2011 at 16:20
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    If most Christians don't believe the young age theory, then where do Adam and Eve fit into the timeline? Aug 31, 2011 at 16:30

The "young earth" figure comes from treating the descriptions of the creation of the earth in Genesis as a literal, continuous, description of earth history. It's fairly simple to do the calculation, adding up the ages of each person described, and concluding how long ago Adam and Eve happened. It was most famously done by Archbishop James Ussher.

Most Christians do not believe that the earth is that age, but a substantial minority (mainly in the US) do. See Wikipedia.

The discussion of the evidences for and against is far too complex to give even a summary here.

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    Can you explain how It's fairly simple to do the calculation? I know passages which explain who lived how long, a lot of them several hundret years long, and who is the son of whom, but not at what age of the father the son was born. And it is in an early part of the bible. But maybe you can show, for example, the line from King David to Jesus, if it is fairly simple, or show, how James Ussher did it? Aug 31, 2011 at 16:52
  • Not so simple that I would want to do it, but certainly possible. The point is that even with really bad mistakes the answer is only going to change by a few thousand years, and will fall within the 6000-12000 range. And yes, the technique is simply to add up the ages at which each person gave birth to their son. Aug 31, 2011 at 16:56
  • According to (1 Mos 5,3), Adam lived 930 years. And different from what I remembered, the age, when they beget their sons, is mentioned. But 1 Mos is one of the early books from the bible, so it can't lead to the later figures. Aug 31, 2011 at 17:23
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    @user unknown The usual name of the first book of Moses is "Genesis", so "Genesis 5:3". Aug 31, 2011 at 18:05
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    @user unknown I'm pretty confident that it's the same for most of English-speaking Christianity. Aug 31, 2011 at 19:52

I'm a young earth creationist.

No, not all Christians maintain this belief. Christians can identify themselves with two different categories, Young Earth Creationist (YEC) or Old Earth Creationist (OEC).

As a YEC believe that God is more then capable of creating everything in six days and that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. As a YEC my argument originates from the following beliefs.

The flood event

The Bible talks about a huge flood about ~4,500 years ago. IF you look for the evidence of this flood you'll see that there's actually a lot of evidence. Walt Brown has done some great research on this topic. He holds true to scripture and does not deny any verses.

The reason that I mention this flood, is because the flood did some major devastation to this planet when it occurred. In young earth creationist POV we see that the sediment layers, massive fossil deposits and more where created because of this flood. The continental shelves and the oceans were also created because of the flood event.

Chemical dating

The only evidence that one has of an earth that's millions of years old is chemical dating. One thing that has recently been learned about chemical dating, is that if things are left in water then that thing's chemical dates will show the thing to be much older then it actually is.

Well, if all fossilized animals that we're finding today were put there due to a large flood, then it would make sense that the chemical dating shows those fossils to be older then what they actually are.


More evidence of young earth is given by our current population numbers. If we're the product of millions of years of evolution then we would see an obvious over population issue. But we don't see that, have you ever driven through Wyoming? We're not overpopulated. The entire human race could fit into the state of Virginia with room.

If you do a backwards calculation of our current population you find a small group of people ~4k to 6k years ago.

Planetary decay

I use the word decay very vagly here. The moon is drifting away from our planet. One million years ago and the moon would have been touching the earth. The sun is shrinking because of the constant amount of gases being burned. One million years ago and the sun would have been so hot that no life could have existed on earth. The planet is losing is magnetic field. People chalk this up to some kind of polar shift, which has never been seen or reproduced on any magnetic, ever.

We have NEVER witnessed a single star forming, know of one that has recently formed or even know how it would be possible. Scientists calculate that it would be impossible for debris to crush together to form a planet. They have no idea how this could happen. Granite is the same way, there's no way to create granite, it's impossible to have formed from molten lava.


IMHO, those of weak faith believe in man and those with stronger faith believe God. To answer your question, THIS IS WHY some Christians believe in young earth.

When voting on this comment do not downvote because you disagree, as this is not an arguement as to whether or not I'm right. This is merely an answer to the question "Do I maintain a belief that the earth is young, and why."


Again.. I'm not stating these as facts, I'm stating them as my beliefs as a YEC.

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    I think this should be reworded. Right now it comes off as a bit preachy. This site is supposed to answer factual questions about christianity, not to address whether or not these are true. It would be better to describe this objectively. Many of the "scientific" claims here are not widely accepted by the scientific community. They should not be stated as fact. However it's fine to state that these views are generally accepted by young earth creationists, as that is likely a fact. Also, some sources would be nice.
    – hammar
    Aug 31, 2011 at 17:14
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    "The entire human race could fit into the state of Virginia with room." really no. On so many levels, no. Aug 31, 2011 at 17:45
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    Your points about lunar drift, dating, etc should not be presented as "fact". They conflict with a vast body of scientific argument, and have been deeply challenged by fellow professionals in the associated fields. At best they are "competing proposed ideas" on those topics. It is misleading to present them "as is" without openly admitting that they are deeply contested. Aug 31, 2011 at 17:48
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    There is just so much wrong with this answer, for one it is radiometric dating, not chemical dating and the confounding factors are pretty well known and corrected for. The problems with the other parts Marc already mentioned. Your Virginia comparison is also deeply misleading, as the maximum population of Earth is certainly not the number of people you can just fit on there. Aug 31, 2011 at 18:48
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    The potassium-argon method is a radiometric dating method, calling it chemical dating is wrong and very misleading. Those methods rely on nuclear decay, that is pure physics, it has nothing at all to do with chemistry. Aug 31, 2011 at 19:00

As mentioned elsewhere, the Young Earth belief comes from a literal reading of Genesis.

Problems do arise when we try to insert the day-age theory. Assume for a moment that one day is 100 million years. The symbiotic relationships in creation would be separated by hundreds of millions of years.

Additionally, if Adam was created on the sixth day, and the sixth day is 100 million years, if we trace down from his line, we would still be in the sixth day... or, if he was created on the last moment on the sixth day, we would still be early on the 7th day.

Also, why would we ever read 'day' and think 'millions of years'. The only reason would be what we have heard from scientists. However, every person is biased and brings that to bear upon the conclusions they draw. Darwinism is a theory based on assumptions that cannot be proven.

Several pieces of evidence for a young earth are based on the fact that things are wearing out:

  • The distance of the moon from the earth. It is gradually retreating from the earth, but if you extrapolate back 4 billion years, it would be inside the earth.
  • The length of a day - the rotation of the earth is slowing down. In the past, it would have been faster. If you go back 4 billion years, it's spinning so fast, that nothing could live.
  • The Earth's Magnetic field is diminishing over time. 4.5 billion years ago, it would have been so strong that nothing could survive.

The list goes on and on. So, there is a biblical reason to believe in a young earth. Science has failed to prove evolution or deal with the problems mentioned here as well as numerous others.

  • How does this address the question? You are arguing the merits of young vs old creation instead of answering "Do [all] christians maintain a belief that the earth is relatively young?"
    – djeikyb
    Aug 31, 2011 at 17:36
  • The second question was "Where does this originate from?". I mentioned it comes from a literal meaning of Genesis, and then I expounded on the biblical and scientific reasons for that.
    – Narnian
    Aug 31, 2011 at 18:11
  • Aye, and so I didn't downvote. Really, the question is bad because it asks too many things. I proposed an edit to the question limiting it to what you answered. If it is accepted, I'll delete my comments here.
    – djeikyb
    Aug 31, 2011 at 18:14
  • Cambrian Explosion a problem for the evolution theory.
    – user13992
    Jul 26, 2014 at 8:14

The belief that the earth is only around 6000 years old comes from faith, supported by appropriate interpretations of the Bible, including the creation accounts in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. The early Christian Church Fathers did not hold to this belief because they understood the Genesis creation history to be allegorical. By deriding any belief that the Genesis creation history should be read literally, Origen indicates that at least some Christians did hold this view as far back as the second century, but it has never been Catholic doctrine that the creation account was literally true.

Archbishop Ussher believed that the age of the earth could be calculated quite accurately, using the biblical genealogies that go all the way back to Adam, whom he assumed to be created on the sixth day. Using the Bible and, to a limited extent, extra-biblical information, he decided that the world was created in 4004 BCE, a date more or less consistent with other seventeenth-century calculations. However, it seems that belief in the historicity of the creation story only became a significant issue in the last 150 years, after the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

The biblical account in Genesis Genesis 2:4b-25 tells us of the creation of Adam, and then a biblical genealogy, from Adam onwards, tells us that Adam was created around six thousand years ago. However, this does not tell us anything about the age of the earth, so for this we need to harmonise Genesis 2:4b-25 with the other creation account in Genesis 1:1-2:4a. Genesis 1:16 tells us that the sun, moon and stars were created on the fourth day, so if the two accounts are aligned, we can then say that the universe was made just 6000 years ago. That still leaves the age of the earth, and Young Earth Creationism requires that the earth was created by God during the creation week of Genesis chapter 1.

In Hebrew, the first three words of Genesis are: "בראשית ברא אלהים" (B'reishit bara Elohim). There is no definite article and the grammar is complex, if not confusing, but there is a general consensus among scholars that this can not be translated correctly as "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" - for example, Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom, page 27. Debate surrounds just when, in this passage, the earth would have been created, with some views saying that the earth was pre-existing. Nevertheless, Genesis 1:1 has almost universally been translated into English in the form "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth," thus supporting a YEC view of the age of the earth as approximately 6000 years old.

  • According to the Essenes and the 360 day calendar found in Noah’s account at least and other 360 day calendars, if we maintain the 360 day calendar from Creation we are approximately in the year ~6950. We have in 2019 less than 50 years until the year 7000 from Creation, depending on which year Jesus was born, this date becomes more precise.
    – Autodidact
    May 21, 2019 at 4:46

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