The age of the Earth is a highly controversial topic: is it 4000 years old or 4.543 billion years old? Broadly speaking, people are separated into two groups: scientists and creationists. Apart from this, we have yet others who fall somewhere in between the two extremes. The two major groups differ regarding the age of the Earth in terms of religious beliefs.
The traditional scientists back up their arguments based on what they call scientifically concrete evidence involving carbon dating, radiometric dating, while considering evolution theories. Having analyzed these proofs, they have come to the conclusion that the earth is around 4.5 billion years of age – leaving behind what religion has to say about the creation of the Earth.
The creationists, on the other hand, consider their religious texts; the term “creationist” is mostly used in regards to Jews and Christians, but they are not the only ones included in this group. However, other religions that do fall under the broad concept of creationism might have wholly different perspectives of the issue.
For instance, the Hindus hold the belief that the time lapse since the existence of the Earth has reached billions of years. The Hindu belief revolves around the ‘cycle of life’, and their scriptures do allude to a certain number of years. Yet other religions, like Islam, do not even give an age range, with no specific number mentioned in the Islamic religious texts. The religion does spell out that God is the creator of the universe which did not just sprout out of nothing, but it does not deny the relevance of science. For example, the religion acknowledges that dinosaurs have lived on this planet around 200 million years ago.
Those of the creationist group inclined towards religious texts like the Genesis of the Old Testament provide a range from 4 000 to 10 000 years – this conclusion of theirs has its roots in the Old Testament whose words were literally interpreted. This type of creationists include scientists who try to put forward their point of the Earth being ‘younger’ by accumulating both religious and scientific proof. Creationist scientists argue that had the Earth indeed been billions of years of age, the moon would have had much more dust coating its surface.
They also posit that the helium concentration in the atmosphere hints at the “younger Earth” theory, arguing that, were the Earth as old as the traditional scientists say, the atmosphere should have had a greater proportion of helium. Furthermore, this type of scientists also contest the accuracy and relevance of radiometric dating methods which might be contaminated, according to them.
Traditional scientists say, Earth is 4.5 billion years
Traditional scientists, on the other hand, are those who are proponents of the evolution theory together with the Big Bang theory which stipulates that the universe came to be from nothing as a consequence of some cosmic accident. Not having a set of fixed beliefs based on sacred texts, they have set out to pierce the mystery by themselves, relying themselves on evidence relating to the dating of meteorites and mineral rocks. For example, a mineral rock known as zircon is commonly known as the oldest mineral which dates back to around 4.4 billion years ago. Their studies also focus on the changes undergone by the layering of rocks and earth on our planet’s surface. They have also used other terrestrial and lunar samples to substantiate their results, leading to the theory that the Earth has seen the light of the day 4.5 billion years ago.
This is yet another case of the conflicts between science and religion. However, it is to be noted that in this particular case, the conflict is mainly between traditional scientists proponents of the concept of the evolution of mankind from nothing by itself and the bearers of the Old Testament who interpret the text literally.