Paleo Chronology


The news media sometimes gets their information wrong.  Perhaps they do it to sensationalize a story.  Sometimes the story is simplified by the media because they are dealing with a less educated audience.  Sometimes it is because news people themselves are ignorant concerning the subject and they do not know what questions to ask or how to adequately explain the topic.  Lastly sometimes the media purposely biases a story to push a certain social position or political agenda.  Whatever the reason the true story is often much more complex.

In the present day the creation/ evolution debate is often treated in this way.   The creationist is often labeled as someone who believes the earth and universe is 6000 years old. This is not the case as there is a wide variety of opinions among creationists. There is much more variation in creationist theories than in evolutionary theories. Some creationist believe the earths rocks and minerals are thousands of years old while some believe they are billions of years old.    Creationists are thought of by some as being ignorant and uneducated.   In truth the so called creationists have a great variety of differences in their beliefs.  We will try to outline the most common viewpoints that exist today about the origins of the universe and of life held to by creationists.

Creationist views

  1. In the mid 1600's James Usher an Anglican Bishop and John Lightfoot a British scholar concluded that the first day of the creation of all material things was 4004 BC. He based that on counting the genealogical information given in the books of genesis.  Adam lived 950 years and begat seth at age 130.  Seth lived 105 years and begat Enosh at age 105.  Usher totaled up the years and concluded that creation of all life and matter by the creator God began in 4004 BC.  This view was very popular until the middle of the 19th century and still has a very small number of adherents.

  2. The next closely related view came about when it was observed by some scholars that the genealogies in the bible skipped some generations.  It was also noticed that some time sequences of Bishop Usher may not have been correct.   In chapter 4, verse 17 of Genesis Enoch's birth is mentioned before Shem's birth. But Shem was born 492 years before Enoch.
    However, Bishop Usher missed some things. He thought that the text says that Abram was born when Terah was seventy years old. The text actually just gives the names of three sons born to him after Terah was 70. Abram was only one of the sons.    Careful reading of the text does not categorically state that Abram was born when Terah was seventy years old.

    Genesis 11:32, 12:4 and Acts 7:4 ,make it clear that Terah lived 205 years and when Abram was 75 years old, Terah died. So Terah would have been 130 years old when Abram was born and not 70 as used by Bishop Usher.    Though Abram is listed first of Terah's three sons, that does not necessarily mean he was the oldest. Noah's sons are listed as Shem, Ham and Japheth and yet Ham mentioned in the middle was the youngest. What we conclude from all this is that bishop Usher did not have exact dates for any of the genealogies.   This view believes that (7) 24 hour days were used by God to create the universe all elements and all life forms. The difference between this and the previous view is that that beginning point was not necessarily in 4004 BC since the genealogies had some gaps in them. The exact time for Adam's creation or the 6 creation days are not stated by proponents of this view.   Most holding this opinion believe the beginning was thousands of years ago and not millions of years ago.

  3. The next closely related perspective is that 7 time periods not (7) 24 hour days were used by creator God to form all the elements of the universe and all created life forms.   Therefore with this view the seven days of Genesis could have been 7 time periods with each day being a thousand years and not a 24 hour day.    The original Hebrew bible version uses the word "YOM" which is translated in the Bible as either day or period of time.As an example in the first chapter of Genesis there is morning and evening a day which implies a 24 hour period. There is also chapter 2 verse 4 where it mentions "the day that the Lord God created both heaven and earth".  Therefore it may have taken (6) thousand year long time periods (yoms) to create the universe and all life forms.   If one then adds 7000 years for creation and another 7-10,000 years for earths history , one arrives at a total of 14 to 17 thousand years for the age of all living things plus the non living things such as rocks, water, stars, that exist in the universe.

    Adherents of this view also say that since on the sixth day God formed or brought forth Man, and all land animals and the seventh day God rested or ceased bringing forth animals. This implies both Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day. So what did God do in this sixth 24 hour day? First he created all the thousands of land animals, next he formed Adam, then he brought the animals to Adam to be named. Adam reviewed and named thousands of animals and then became aware there was no mate suitable for him. Next God caused Adam to fall in a deep sleep while he created Eve. Then Adam saw his mate and was pleased. All this on the sixth day? That was some busy 24 hours for Adam. Creationist John Woodmorape believes there were 5000 different "kinds" of animals on the ark of Noah. So this leads one to suggest Adam named all 5000 of these animals on the sixth day. Let us say that God created all land animals in a few microseconds and lets say Adam had 16 hours to name the animals and 8 hours in which to sleep, eat,realize he was alone, meet his partner Eve and do everything else. Simple mathematics shows he would have about 12 second to review and name each animal if he did it for 16 hours straight. This is just one of the many reasons this group does not believe the Hebrew word "yom" used in genesis means in this case 24 hours. Since the word "yom" can mean a 24 hour day or a period of time, consider that it means some indeterminate period of time

  4. The next view holds that there is a "gap" between Genesis chapter one verse one and chapter one verse two.   In other words in the way distant beginning God created the heavens and earth i.e. the rocks minerals, and elements but not life.    Then the earth sat empty and void of life for an unknown time.  Perhaps during this time the earth was cooling.   At that time the earth was encased in either ice or water.   As "Genesis chapter one verse 2 says "the Spirit of God hovered over the waters." Then at some time in the past roughly 7 thousand years ago God initiated the (6) 24 hour days of creation.    This is generally known as one of the several "GAP" theories.    This view has an unknown gap of time separating the formation of earth, stars, and matter, from the much later life forms appearing on the earth starting with day 5.

  5. The next closely related perspective is also known as a gap theory but differs in that the creation of life occurred over 7 successive time periods which could have lasted a thousand years or more each.   With this view the stars and earth elements could be very old and life much more recent.    This view makes no claims whether the earth, stars and elements are thousands. or millions or billions of years old. Therefore these creationists have no problem when someone tells them that the earths rocks or stars are billions of years old.  Created life however according to most of these proponents is much younger.    Most adherents say that created life was created on the order of thousands not millions of years ago.

  6. Another view is called "ruin and restoration" another so called "gap theory".    In this view the universe is old and created life is old. An original earth was created millions of years ago and that God after destroying the first world let it set empty for a while.   Then he decided to recreate and restore life on earth. This view comes from the early genesis verse chapter 1 verse 28 which states in the King James version that they are to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth implying that it was once filled and this is a new filling so to speak.    There is also a passage in the book of Ezekiel chapter 28 which describes Satan and the Garden of Eden and is used by people holding this point of view. People with this viewpoint have no trouble accepting claims that the universe is old and that the dinosaur fossils are millions of old and come from the ruins of the first creation. .  This viewpoint is usually held by people that believe in a God that created these first life forms. Then at a very recent time Creator God created man.

  7. In this next view the universe is old.  Created life is millions of years old but God actively directed each step of life development from simple to complex over a period of millions of years.    The well known Christian author Hugh Ross holds this view.    Many large Christian churches hold this view also.

  8. This view similar to the previous holds that God started the process of creating the universe and later living beings and then let the processes go on their own not taking an active part in managing.  Once the process was started it proceeded on its own with the Creator stepping aside.   This process once started then proceeded over millions of years at its own pace.   This view, commonly called Theistic Evolution is held by many church denominations also.

Next time you discuss origins, you might want to see which of the numerous different viewpoints they hold.  You probably will find that most people are not aware of more than two or three of these viewpoints.

  1. Age of the earth link:   age of the earth
  2. Old earth vs. young earth link:"> old earth vs young earth
  3. Gap theory links:  Gap theoryalso   Gap theory
  4. Age of the universe link: age of the universe