“How Old Is the Earth?” series (post #7)
I want to use this post to name three practical evidences that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. However, I’ll admit right up front that these three evidences are not what we might call “scientific.” That’s not to say that there isn’t scientific evidence; there is, to be sure. It’s just that I’m not going to get into all that right now.
Just between you and me, the unceasing debates between young-earth-scientists and old-earth-scientists start to give me a headache after a while. Even though both sides work from exactly the same empirical evidence, they never fail to reach completely different conclusions concerning that evidence, and neither camp will ever give an inch on their core beliefs. So, while I always pull for the young-earth-scientists in such debates, and I am certainly appreciative that qualified men are on the case in defense of the Bible’s account of a six-day creation, I find myself drawn to evidences that I don’t have to have a PhD in physics or geology to fully understand.
Here now are three of those evidences, each one phrased under the heading of a question:
Evidence #1: Where Are All the People?
According to the website http://www.worldometers.info, the world’s population is currently growing at a rate of 1.9% per year. That’s down from 1.12% in 2017 and 1.14% in 2016. What that amounts to is an increase of approximately 83 million people per year. For the record, the growth rate peaked at a little over 2% in the late 1960s.
Another website, http://www.ourworldindata.org, says that before 1800 the growth rate was always well below 1%. The world’s population first reached the number 1 billion in 1803, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1975, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999, and 7 billion in 2011. At the current rate, it will reach 8 billion in 2024.
The http://www.ourworldindata.org site also provides a graph of world population numbers beginning at 10,000 B.C.E. (which stands for “Before Common Era” and is the hip new way of saying B.C.) and ending at last year, 2017 A.D. I found it interesting that the graph lists the 10,000 B.C.E. population total at 0. Since I don’t even think there ever was a 10,000 B.C.E., I’d say that’s a correct total for that year, but I’ll let that go. Here I simply want to point out that even by that graph’s non-Biblical reckoning it has taken the human race just 12,000 years to go from 0 to over 7 billion.
Okay, according to the hot-off-the-presses evolutionary timeline, Homo sapiens (anatomically modern humans) appeared in Africa 300,000 years ago. I use that description “hot-off-the-presses” because up until June of 2017 the accepted timeline for Homo sapiens began at 200,000 years. But last year new dating techniques were done on some previously discovered fossils from Morocco and, presto, us Homo sapiens got 100,000 years older in one fell swoop. That’s the evolutionary timeline for you. It’s always written in pencil, never pen. One new discovery or one new test can change everything 100,000 years or a million years. The textbooks can’t even keep up with it all. Anyway, that age of 300,000 years leads us to the following question: “If it took humans 12,000 years to go from 0 to over 7 billion, what would the current population total be if we had truly had 300,000 years to work on it?”
Keep in mind now that any attempt at doing the math on this must take into account the built in exponential factor of population growth. Putting it simply, as the numbers increase, it takes increasingly less time for the total to double itself. Since I’m no mathematician, I won’t even try to offer a guess at the total 300,000 years of human reproduction would achieve, but that number would surely be staggering. Isn’t it interesting then that the experts who study such things tell us that the earth’s current food resources could not sustain a population of over 10 or 11 billion?
It’s at this point that those who contend for an old earth and evolution will say, “But the population rate hasn’t always been what it is now.” That’s true, but it’s also true that the consistent long-term trend for thousands of years has been growth, either slow growth or rapid growth. Consider the following quote from that http://www.ourworldindata.org website:
A picture of the world population in the very long-run shows extremely rapid growth. Indeed, for a very long time the world population grew at an increasing rate. However, if we focus on the last couple of decades, we see that this pattern no longer holds, as the annual rate of population growth has recently been going down. 1962 saw the growth rate peak at 2.1%, and it has fallen to almost half. A long period of accelerated growth has thus come to an end.
The key thing to take from that quote is the simple fact that even though we’re now experiencing slowed population growth as opposed to accelerated growth, growth is still growth. Maybe we’re not growing at the 2.1% rate anymore, but we’re still ending each year with a higher population total than we had when the year began. And such yearly increases have obviously been the trending norm, perhaps even with some years of negative population growth mixed in here and there, for thousands of years. I say “obviously” because we wouldn’t have reached over 7 billion by now if we had been going backward much.
Someone else might say, “But people are living longer lives these days, and that’s what has now gotten everything askew. Humans didn’t live so long 300,000 years ago, and so you can’t make the argument that the yearly population rate always saw increases back then.” Well, there’s no denying that humans certainly are living longer lives these days. Here in America, for example, the average life expectancy has almost doubled since 1900. What must also be taken into account, though, is the fact that global birth rates have dropped by a full 50% since 1950. The reason isn’t hard to figure out: It was in the 1950s and 1960s that birth control started becoming a common thing for women to use.
This, you see, provides a pushback to the increase in life expectancy. Yes, we are living longer, and that helps increase the population total, but we are producing only half as many babies, and that helps decrease it. So, all in all, we have good reason to believe that the current population rate isn’t completely apples and oranges different (for example, plus 1% to minus 20% or whatever) from what it has been on average throughout the entire history of the human race. Certainly there have been high marks and low marks in regards to that rate, times of boom and times of war and famine. That’s understood. But there’s just no way that for hundreds of thousands of years the rate was always magically just what it needed to be to allow humans to keep their numbers balanced out precisely enough to match the earth’s food supply at the time.
That, by the way, is another way the advocates for an old earth and a human race that is 300,000 years old explain away the problem of humans eventually overpopulating the planet. They say the population rate has only become a problem in recent times because only then has that rate exploded. Here again, though, the mathematical reality of the exponential aspect of growth would have had to come into play. Once the numbers (pre birth control numbers, mind you) started piling up, whether it was in the year 100,000 B.C.E. or 10,000 B.C.E., the time it would have taken for the total to double itself would have started shrinking quickly.
And that brings us back to the conclusion that if we have been here reproducing for 300,000 years there wouldn’t be much elbow room left on this planet. At least us Bible believers have God once wiping out the world’s burgeoning population by way of a great flood and starting over with just eight people. Atheists and agnostics don’t even buy that, and they need such a drastic decrease in population much more than we do in order to make sense of the current population total. The best they can offer is the death toll from The Black Plague that swept through Europe and Asia in the 14th century, a death toll estimated to have reduced the world’s population from 450 million to 350 million. But that loss of 100 million lives isn’t nearly enough to explain how 300,000 years of human reproduction has only added up to a world population total of 7 million or so.
Evidence #2: Where Are All the Graves?
This question comes right on the heels of the previous one. If the “modern” human race has had 300,000 years to multiply, whatever the exact birth rates, death rates, and population rates were during any given eras, where are all the graves? No one denies that large numbers of graves from mankind’s history have been discovered, just as no one denies that large numbers remain undiscovered, but are we to believe that literally billions of graves remain undiscovered?
According to anthropologists, the earliest known human burial dates back 100,000 years to human skeletal remains found at Qafzeh, Israel. That site is a group tomb of fifteen people buried in a cave along with their tools and other ritual artifacts. Anthropologists conclude from the site that humans have been burying their dead for at least 100,000 years.
Further evidence of how long humans have been burying their dead comes from the Neanderthals, a race of ancient humans that (supposedly) lived between 400,000 years ago to 50,000 years ago, with their time actually overlapping the rise of modern humans (Homo sapiens) 300,000 years ago. I agree with the young-earth-creationists that the Neanderthals were, in fact, fully human, but that’s another post for another time. For now, let me just point out that anthropologists are in agreement that a 50,000 year old Neanderthal skeleton discovered in a cave in southwestern France in 1908 is a case of intentional burial. Additionally, anthropologists are now convinced that twenty other grave sites throughout western Europe fall under the same heading as intentional Neanderthal burials.
Okay, now lets have some fun with numbers. First, let’s ask, “How many people have been born since Homo sapiens came on the scene?” You see, all we have to do is subtract the current population total of 7 billion from that number and we’ll get at least some rough idea of how many humans have been buried in the ground of planet earth, right? Unfortunately, as you might guess, figuring out how many people have been born is a highly inexact science. However, on the website http://www.prb.org I found a popular chart that begins in the year 50,000 B.C.E. and arrives at the conclusion that 108 billion people have lived upon the earth. That’s at least a place to start.
So, when we subtract 7 billion from 108 billion we conclude that over 100 billion people have died in the past 50,000 years, a time frame during which mankind was practicing human burial. That’s when we must ask again, “Where are all those billions of corpses?” Certainly a percentage of them were cremated, and another percentage were buried at sea. And then there is another percentage that only lasted a few centuries because they were buried without the use of coffins or embalming and the condition of the ground in which they were placed turned them to nothing relatively quickly. But even taking these three categories into account, we’re talking about 100 billion graves! You see, those are the kind of bizarre, incomprehensible numbers you get into when you start floating around the idea that the human race is even 50,000 years old, let alone much, much older.
In March of 2015, the BBC ran a story entitled “The World Is Running Out of Burial Space.” That story cited a 2013 survey that concluded that nearly half of England’s cemeteries could run out of burial space within the next twenty years. But don’t think that England is the only place where burial space is in short supply. Scores of churches around the world are currently facing the same problem.
The church I pastor, Oak Grove Baptist in Nebo, NC, is one of them. We have a cemetery that is approximately a century old, and right now we are looking at having to impose some restrictions as to who can be buried there because we are running out of plots. Trust me, this is rapidly becoming a common problem, and it’s one that’s not going away. This is one of the reasons — cost being the other one — that cremations are now so popular. Well, just think how precious burial space would be worldwide if we added an additional 100,000 years or so of buried corpses.
Evidence #3: Where Is All the Written History?
Let me begin my third and final piece of practical evidence by giving you a purported timeline for the activities of modern humans (Homo sapiens) down through history. I got this from http://www.newsdesk.si.edu, a website associated with the Smithsonian Institute. Here goes:
- 200,000 years ago Homo sapiens came into existence in Africa as a product of mankind’s evolution from ape to human. (Obviously this website needs to be updated because it doesn’t take into account that in June of 2017 the evolutionists revised the emergence of Homo sapiens on the scene to 300,000 years.)
- By 164,000 years ago they were collecting and cooking shellfish.
- Between 135,000-100,000 years ago they were making shell beads.
- By 104,000 years ago they were catching and killing dangerous prey.
- By 100,000 years ago they were burying their dead.
- By 90,000 years ago they were making special tools for fishing.
- By 77,000 years ago they were making clothing from hides.
- By 60,000 years ago they were beginning a series of migrations.
- By 60,000 to 40,000 years ago they were creating permanent drawings.
- By 40,000 to 35,000 years ago they were creating paintings and figurines.
- By 35,000 years ago they were creating musical instruments.
- By 30,000 to 24,000 years ago they were making well-fitted clothing using bone needles.
- By 26,000 years ago they were making baskets.
- By 12,000 years ago they were controlling the breeding and growth of certain animals and plants, which resulted in farming and herding and eventually led to the creation of villages, towns, and cities.
- By 10,500 years ago they were domesticating animals.
- By 8000 years ago they were using symbols to represent words and concepts.
According to scholars, it was approximately 5,000 years ago that the first system of writing was invented. This was the cuneiform system, which was developed around 3,200 B.C.E. by the Sumerian people. Cuneiform writing involved the Sumerians using a reed stylus to make wedge-shaped indentations upon clay tablets.
So, here’s the crux of the matter: We are supposed to believe that modern humans lived, thrived, invented things, and steadily advanced civilization for almost 300,000 years before they began to make written records in 3,200 B.C.E.. These are the same humans, mind you, who by 3,200 B.C.E. had designed and built such impressive structures as:
- Gobekli Tepe in Turkey (estimated date: 9,000 B.C.E.)
- Barneze in France (estimated date: 4,850 B.C.E)
- Tumulus of Bougon in France (estimated date: 4,700 B.C.E.)
- Tumulus Saint Michael in France (estimated date: 4,500 B.C.E.)
- Monte d’Accoddi in Italy (estimated date: 4,000 B.C.E.)
- The Temples of Ggantija in Malta (estimated date: 3,700 B.C.E.)
- The Knap of Howard in Scotland (estimated date: 3,700 B.C.E.)
Are we really to believe that such ingenious people either didn’t see the need to invent writing, or simply couldn’t figure out how to do it, for almost 300,000 years? That seems preposterous. And yet the fact remains that there simply is no written record of human history before 3,200 B.C.E. None. That’s not much of a problem if the Bible’s teaching that the universe, earth, and human race are all less than 10,000 years old is true. It’s a major problem, though, if modern humans have been doing stuff, stuff worth recording for posterity’s sake, for 300,000 years.