How do we put to bed the idea that the earth is only 6000 years old?
The gospels declare that Jesus only spoke in parables (Mark 4:33,34). Jesus himself declares that he only does what the father does (John 5:19). If Jesus' words were not literal, but meant as a reflection on the lessons they would teach, why should the word of God be any different based on what Jesus himself said?
The idea that the earth is only 6000 years old comes from a literal acceptance of Genesis (tracing the genealogy back to Adam and Eve). Yet can we accept this? Paul says we are ministers of the new testament, not of the letter but of the spirit (II Corinthians 3:6). Accepting that the earth is only 6000 years old requires that we go with the letter and not the spirit.
If the earth was only 6000 years old, then it presents a view of God not unlike the character "Q" in ""Star Trek The Next Generation" who likes to taunt and tease his subjects. For why would God create a world full of forensic evidence that indicates the earth is far older? Why do we find fossilized remains of sea creatures on the tops of mountains? Why do we find evidence in galactic ice and sea floors that indicate a far older earth? Why do we find geological evidence of a far older earth in the fossil record and in earth's sedimentary structure?
The idea that life did not evolve is part of the 6000 year old earth concept. And yet the evidence for evolution is overwhelming in its favor.
There are lessons to be learned from the scriptures. But accepting them as literal avoids our needing to search out those lessons (or) worse yet, causes us to abandon them altogether. I say that we need to accept that the earth is as old as the evidence says it is and go from there.
Closing Statement from Roy Bourque
Fundamentalists make the claim that the earth is relatively young based on literal interpretations of the book of Genesis. yet the book itself makes no such claim. The bible was written to lead us on a spiritual path. To say that it is true does not support the premise of a young earth. One must not confuse spiritual with physical truth.
As evidence accumulates, we cannot ignore what it is trying to tell us. Science allows itself to be challenged. As new evidence surfaces, if it contradicts what is previously believed (or hypothesized), science will alter its views to fit the new evidence. This is a sore spot in religion. Religious fundamentalists will cook the data to make it say what they want it to say. Not only is this a problem, it deviates from what religion was all about in the first place. Chris Kelly presents interesting views of scripture that show they are of a spiritual nature. Once this is understood, we can disengage from using the bible to dispute scientific facts.
I have heard stories that the biblical flood can explain fossils. Leonardo DaVinci disputed this theory many centuries ago. If the biblical flood is the primary cause of fossils, then one would expect to find fossils all mixed up with debris, with no order to how they were dispersed. In fact, the various layers of sediment are well preserved throughout the world with specific fossils existing within specific layers. Such a separation would not exist if a worldwide flood was the cause.
I have chosen to separate religion from science. I choose to allow science to explain how the universe is ordered and to explain how and why it works as it does. I choose to allow religion to lead me on a spiritual path that helps me to understand love and forgiveness, and the principles that lead to spiritual growth. I see a definite distinction between these two and will not use one to dispute the other.