Where Did We Come From? Part ONE of TWO

Where Did We Come From?

A Story of Creation Part ONE of TWO

By David G. McAfee 

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                The question of origin is one that will undoubtedly arise in the minds of children, and for those young people whose parents are non-religious- the answer may not come as easily. For Christians, their belief system comes neatly bound in the form of Children’s Bible stories in every bookstore- but science can be more difficult to understand than faith and magic for any child.

                Nobody really knows where we came from, as much as we can know what happens after death… or before life. But it is natural to ask the question of the earth’s origin, and millions of people have come up with different ideas to explain our existence here. Many of the ancient Greeks believed that Zeus, Hera, and a family of gods reigned over humanity and were responsible independently for creation, rain, fire, hunting, and more; today, this belief system is referred to as a myth. Historically, human beings have often attempted to explain the unknown with interesting tales of the supernatural… but today, we can use scientific evidence to determine the earth’s origin, and how humans came to populate it.

Why Can’t the Bible Be the Answer?

               The problem lies within the wording of the Bible, which seemingly indicates that the earth has been around fewer than seven thousand years from its creation until today. Not only does this leave many unanswered questions regarding dinosaurs, other planets, evidence of evolution, etc… but if the Bible is to be considered, as it is taught by the majority of Christian clergymen, as the literal word of God, and all of its statements truthful, then this should mean that scientific evidence would support such claims; in this instance, that is not the case. Using various radiometric dating methods, scientists have discovered parts of earth’s crust to be around 3.8 billion years old, but experts generally agree that the earth is over 4.5 billion years old.[1] Because we know that the earth cannot be less than ten thousand years of age, the only question is whether or not the Bible explicitly makes that claim. Here I will outline the chapters that indicate that indeed it does.

  1. In Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, a description of the earth’s creation by God includes man, woman, fish, beasts, sky, lightness, darkness, earth, and, after God creates humanity, states: “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”[2] We conclude, then, that the Bible literally represents the earth as being five days older than humanity.
  2. In Luke 3:23-38, Luke gives a detailed ancestry of Jesus, beginning with his father and outlining seventy-two generations between Adam (and the creation of earth) and Jesus Christ. Historians are able to document the approximate time period between Abraham, referenced as fifty-three generations prior, and Jesus; this period is around two thousand years.
  3. Using lifespan averages (most of the chronology is available through Genesis 5:3-27,[3] in which Adam is linked to Noah, including the number of years each father lived), we can calculate that the remaining twenty generations between Abraham and Adam also constitutes approximately two thousand years.

               Therefore, the earth was created and five days later man was built in God’s image. Two thousand years and twenty generations later, Abraham is born and gives birth to a son, Isaac. Fifty-three generations (much shorter than the prior generations, some of whom lived to be over nine hundred years old[4]), and two-thousand years, follow until God gives Mary the gift of immaculate conception and Jesus Christ enters the world. Jesus dies on the cross at around thirty years of age.[5] We know the exact number of years from Jesus’s crucifixion because of the way our years are measured. For example, I am writing in 2010 AD. “AD” means anno Domini[6], literally meaning “in the year of the Lord.” Using rough estimates, we conclude that two thousand plus two thousand plus thirty plus two thousand and ten gives us an approximate age of 6,030 years since the beginning of the earth’s creation according to the Old and New Testaments. Because modern science has taught us that this cannot be true, we can infer that the Bible, and therefore the Christian religion, does not accurately represent the history of events of the earth’s origin.

[1]“Age of the Earth,” U.S. Geological Survey, 1997, http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html

[2] Genesis 1:31-2:02: “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”

[3] Genesis 5:5-11: “And all of the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died…And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years…And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.”

[4] Genesis 5:27: “And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.”

[5] Luke 3:23: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as he was supposed) the son of Joseph.”

[6] The Anno Domini dating system was devised in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve

13 responses to “Where Did We Come From? Part ONE of TWO

  1. I object to the statement “as it is taught by the majority of Christian clergymen”. I put it to you that the majority of Catholic, Episcopalian(Anglican), Lutheran, the various Orthodox churches, Presbyterian, Methodist and other moderate schisms vastly outnumber the few, mainly fundamentalists, who teach a literal interpretation of the Bible

    Correctly the wording should be “as it is taught by some Christian clergymen”.

  2. I just have an accuracy question… isn’t Anno Domini the birth of Christ? hold on let me Google it…
    Wikipedia says I am right: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini however…. Who cares? Jesus probably didn’t even exist right?

  3. Most catholics don’t care too much for the literal truth of Old Testament. Most Bible literalists are Protestants. It comes from the Reformation, when some reformists (I think it was Martin Luther himself) preached that only the Bible (solo Biblia) was the source of faith. By that time, in most of the Conter-Reformation countries, the Bible was forbidden reading for everyone except clergymen.

    As a secularist, you should not be using the chronolgy AD/BC, but the secular one (CE/BCE, os Comon Era and Before Common Era). That’s what I do, even if I have to leava a footnote explaining the meaning.

  4. The majority of Christians here are fundamentalist, no matter what the clergy are!
    Ignostic Morgan’s blog.WordPress.com
    Skeptic Griggsy ditto
    Strato of Ga. ditto
    that website on left

  5. But whatever their denomination or clergy say, the majority of American Christians are fundamentalist.
    Here are some blogs to check out: the one at the left
    IgnosticMorgan’s blog.WordPress.com
    Strato of Ga. WoedPres.com
    Skeptic Griggsy ditto and
    Thales IgnosticMorgan .Blogspot.com

  6. Carneades.aimmoo.com- is the one noted at the left

  7. Well young man “Using various radiometric dating …” I’ll let the good Dr. speak to this: http://www.icr.org/article/myths-regarding-radiocarbon-dating/

    • That article, brought to you by the “Institute for Creation ‘Science'”, isn’t even worth responding to. Sorry

      • LOL… a very reasoned response.

      • Colin Pipkins

        Myths Regarding Radiocarbon Dating
        by Gerald A. Aardsma, Ph.D.

        The field of radiocarbon dating has become a technical one far removed from the naive simplicity which characterized its initial introduction by Libby in the late 1940’s. It is, therefore, not surprising that many misconceptions about what radiocarbon can or cannot do and what it has or has not shown are prevalent among creationists and evolutionists – lay people as well as scientists not directly involved in this field. In the following article, some of the most common misunderstandings regarding radiocarbon dating are addressed, and corrective, up-to-date scientific creationist thought is provided where appropriate.

        MYTH #1. Radiocarbon is used to date the age of rocks, which enables scientists to date the age of the earth.

        Radiocarbon is not used to date the age of rocks or to determine the age of the earth. Other radiometric dating methods such as potassium-argon or rubidium-strontium are used for such purposes by those who believe that the earth is billions of years old. Radiocarbon is not suitable for this purpose because it is only applicable: a) on a time scale of thousands of years and b) to remains of once-living organisms (with minor exceptions, from which rocks are excluded).

        MYTH #2 Radiocarbon dating has established the date of some organic materials (e.g., some peat deposits) to be well in excess of 50,000 years, thus rendering a recent creation (6 to 10 thousand years ago) impossible.

        Some organic materials do give radiocarbon ages in excess of 50,000 “radiocarbon years.” However, it is important to distinguish between “radiocarbon years” and calendar years. These two measures of time will only be the same if all of the assumptions which go into the conventional radiocarbon dating technique are valid. Comparison of ancient, historically dated artifacts (from Egypt, for example) with their radiocarbon dates has revealed that radiocarbon years and calendar years are not the same even for the last 5,000 calendar years. Since no reliable historically dated artifacts exist which are older than 5,000 years, it has not been possible to determine the relationship of radiocarbon years to calendar years for objects which yield dates of tens of thousands of radiocarbon years. Thus, it is possible (and, given the Flood, probable) that materials which give radiocarbon dates of tens of thousands of radiocarbon years could have true ages of many fewer calendar years.

        MYTH #3. The shells of live freshwater clams have been radiocarbon dated in excess of 1600 years old, clearly showing that the radiocarbon dating technique is not valid.

        The shells of live freshwater clams can, and often do, give anomalous radiocarbon results. However, the reason for this is understood and the problem is restricted to only a few special cases, of which freshwater clams are the best-known example. It is not correct to state or imply from this evidence that the radiocarbon dating technique is thus shown to be generally invalid.

        The problem with freshwater clams arises because these organisms derive the carbon atoms which they use to build their shells from the water in their environment. If this water is in contact with significant quantities of limestone, it will contain many carbon atoms from dissolved limestone. Since limestone contains very little, if any, radiocarbon, clam shells will contain less radiocarbon than would have been the case if they had gotten their carbon atoms from the air. This gives the clam shell an artificially old radiocarbon age.

        This problem, known as the “reservoir effect,” is not of very great practical importance for radiocarbon dating since most of the artifacts which are useful for radiocarbon dating purposes and are of interest to archaeology derive from terrestrial organisms which ultimately obtain their carbon atoms from air, not the water.

        MYTH #4. Samples of coal have been found with radiocarbon ages of only 20,000 radiocarbon years or less, thus proving the recent origin of fossil fuels, probably in the Flood.

        I am not aware of any authentic research which supports this claim. Also, it does not coincide with what creationist scientists would currently anticipate based upon our understanding of the impact of the Flood on radiocarbon.

        It is not difficult to see how such a claim could arise, however. There are two characteristics of the instrumental measurement of radiocarbon which, if the lay observer is unaware, could easily lead to such an idea.

        First, any instrument which is built to measure radiocarbon has a limit beyond which it cannot separate the signal due to radiocarbon in the sample from the signal due to background processes within the measuring apparatus. Even a hypothetical sample containing absolutely no radiocarbon will register counts in a radiocarbon counter because of background signals within the counter. In the early days of radiocarbon analysis this limit was often around 20,000 radiocarbon years. Thus, all the researcher was able to say about samples with low levels of radiocarbon was that their age was greater than or equal to 20,000 radiocarbon years (or whatever the sensitivity limit of his apparatus was). Some may have mistaken this to mean that the sample had been dated to 20,000 radiocarbon years.

        The second characteristic of the measurement of radiocarbon is that it is easy to contaminate a sample which contains very little radiocarbon with enough radiocarbon from the research environment to give it an apparent radiocarbon age which is much less than its actual radiocarbon age. For example, a sample with a true radiocarbon age of 100,000 radiocarbon years will yield a measured radiocarbon age of about 20,000 radiocarbon years if the sample is contaminated with a weight of modern carbon of just 5% of the weight of the sample’s carbon. It is not too difficult to supply contaminating radiocarbon since it is present in relatively high concentrations in the air and in the tissues of all living things including any individuals handling the sample. For this reason special precautions need to be exercised when sampling materials which contain only small amounts of radiocarbon.

        Reports of young radiocarbon ages for coal probably all stem from a misunderstanding of one or both of these two factors. Measurements made using specially designed, more elaborate apparatus and more astute sampling-handling techniques have yielded radiocarbon ages for anthracite greater than 70,000 radiocarbon years, the sensitivity limit of this equipment.

        MYTH #5. Continuous series of tree-ring dated wood samples have been obtained for roughly the past 10,000 years which give the approximate correct radiocarbon age, demonstrating the general validity of the conventional radiocarbon dating technique.

        Several long tree-ring chronologies have been constructed specifically for use in calibrating the radiocarbon time scale. By radiocarbon dating a piece of wood which has been dated by counting the annual growth rings of trees back to when that piece of wood grew, a calibration table can be constructed to convert radiocarbon years to true calendar years. Of course, the table, so constructed, will only give the correct calibration if the tree-ring chronology which was used to construct it had placed each ring in the true calendar year in which it grew.

        Long tree-ring chronologies are rare (there are only two that I am aware of which are of sufficient length to be of interest to radiocarbon) and difficult to construct. They have been slowly built up by matching ring patterns between trees of different ages, both living and dead, from a given locality. As one might expect, the further back the tree-ring chronology extends, the more difficult it becomes to locate ancient tree specimens with which to extend the chronology. To alleviate this problem it seems, from the published literature, to be a common practice to first radiocarbon date a large number of potential tree specimens and then select those with appropriate radiocarbon age for incorporation into the tree-ring chronology. Such a procedure introduces a bias into the construction of the tree-ring chronology for the earliest millennia which could possibly obscure any unexpected radiocarbon behavior.

        It is not clear to what extent this circular process has influenced the final tree-ring calibrations of radiocarbon. Efforts by creationist scientists to obtain the raw data from which the oldest tree-ring chronology has been constructed to investigate this possible source of bias have so far not met with success. Until the raw data does become available for general scrutiny, creationists are clearly justified in maintaining a high degree of skepticism.

        In any event, the calibration tables which have been produced from tree rings do not support the conventional steady-state model of radiocarbon which Libby introduced. Rather, they lend support to the idea that significant perturbations to radiocarbon have occurred in the past.

        MYTH #6. Creationists are only interested in debunking radiocarbon.

        Creationists are interested in the truth. This involves exposing areas of weakness and error in the conventional interpretation of radiocarbon results as well as suggesting better understandings of radiocarbon congruent with a Biblical, catastrophist, Flood model of earth history. At ICR research into alternative interpretations of radiocarbon which are not in conflict with the Biblical record of the past continue to be actively pursued and a special radiocarbon laboratory is being developed for research into the method.

        Radiocarbon holds unique potential for the student of earth history who adheres to a recent creation. It is doubtful that other radiometric dating techniques such as potassium-argon or rubidium-strontium will ever be of much value or interest to the young-earth creationist who desires to develop further our understanding of the past because they are only applicble on a time scale of millions or billions of years. Radiocarbon, however, is applicable on a time scale of thousands of years. A proper understanding of radiocarbon will undoubtedly figure very significantly into the unraveling of such questions as when (and possibly why) the mammoths became extinct, the duration of the glacial period following the Flood, and the general chronology of events from the Flood to the present.

        Creationists are not so much interested in debunking radiocarbon as we are in developing a proper understanding of it to answer many of our own questions regarding the past. At the present time it appears that the conventional radiocarbon dating technique is on relatively firm ground for dates which fall within the past 3,000 years. For periods of time prior to this, there are legitimate reasons to question the validity of the conventional results and seek for alternative interpretations.

        * Dr. Aardsma is Chairman of the Astro/Geophysics Department in the ICR Graduate School. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto doing research in accelerator mass spectrometry, a new technique now widely used in radiocarbon dating.

  8. Pingback: Christian Explanation of Genesis: A Response « The Secular Writings of David G. McAfee

  9. what if we never question our existence? Would there be any
    belief system or would scientist be concerned about the age of man,
    the earth, and the universe? since religion and evolution defines
    mankind existence, and scientist attempts to discover how we got
    here, more than likely there would no belief system nor science, at
    least how we know it today. Since we asked the question, where do
    you think this though come from? Did God put this though in our
    heart, did we evolve to be curious people, or is it the result of
    crossbreeding with aliens. Morever, why do we look to creation to
    understand how we got here? After Darwin observed the birds he
    concluded that life evolved. But the Bibles says to asked the birds
    and the will instruct you. Job 12:6-9. We asked the birds through
    science. God says that life came from the earth. Forensic science
    have proved it. God put eternity in hearts but says that mankind
    will never discover the beginning of his work, that is creation,
    Ecc 3:11.

  10. When were children we asked our parents the biological
    question, the we asked the geneaolgical question, then we asked
    questions about men’s origin. Our parents them told us the story of
    creation. We asked the heavens the same story. And without words
    the heavens tells us the same story. Ps 19:1-6

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