If the earth is old or evolution is true, why did God not reveal it, and instead allow it to be discovered by people hostile to the faith?

When I accepted an old earth, this always bugged me. The Bible strongly implies that the earth is thousands of years old, and it’s what virtually all Christians believed until the 1700s. Chrysostom, Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, everybody thought the earth was young because of pretty reasonable exegesis. Presumably, God could have revealed in Scripture that the earth is not just thousands of years somehow. If He couldn’t, couldn’t He have at least created an earth in thousands of years instead?

What made matters worse for me was seeing how the people who first argued for an old earth were deists, not Christians. They explicitly rejected biblical cosmology to begin with. With evolution, it’s worse, seeing as Darwin was an atheist.

It’s pretty hard to dispute that the rise in belief in old earth and evolution has helped lead to secularization. This being the case, why would God allow things to go this way on an old earth view? I’m not asking this rhetorically, it just bugged me a lot when I was old earth, and now that I’m young earth it makes sense that systems of unbelief rise over time and this would just be another, so it’s not a problem of God’s providence.


I believe there are many things wrong with the premises in your question. But instead of going there, I would turn the “why would God?” question around, namely: Why would God allow all the scientific evidence (all of it, without exception) to point to an old cosmos?

As for the theologians you listed, it is important to remember that a) not all of them believed in a literal 24-hour day interpretation (with Augustine being the most radical of all–he differed by infinite orders of magnitude from yom=24hr view, while old earthers only differ by 6 orders of magnitude! lol) and even more importantly b) they had no reason to believe in an old earth. Who knows what they would have believed if they lived in an era when the scientific evidence became irrefutable.


They were? Who are you referring to exactly? Here’s a longer history of the demise of young earth flood geology in the 18th and 19th centuries and the Bible was central to this discussion:
A History of the Collapse of “Flood Geology” and a Young Earth


Charles Lyell and James Hutton were both deists influenced by Hume.

Did you read the entire history of how we figured out the earth is old? You posted kind of fast. There were a lot more names throughout that were not deists and were pastors/theologians.

Also, even if they all were deists, this would be an example of the genetic fallacy-


Sure He could. But the arrogance of religious Bible thumpers is already nearly boundless so WHY would God want to encourage that and make them even worse? Thank you God, for not doing that! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

oh… LOL right… God should have made the earth to conform to the beliefs of some religious people? WOW! typical… religious people really want a whipped subservient god serving them alone, don’t they?

All completely incorrect. Those who discovered the age of earth and the age of the universe, the scientists, include people from all religious backgrounds. And Darwin was not an atheist. Like many of us, He did experience a loss of faith at one time, AFTER He wrote “The Origin of the Species,” and it probably had more to do with the death of his beloved nine year old daughter Annie. Like others who have such a loss of faith, Darwin found it very depressing and bewildering.

I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.— Let each man hope & believe what he can.

Darwin’s correspondence to Asa Gray, May 22 1860 (ref Wikipedia).

Those with faith in God, like myself, believe it is because this is for the betterment of mankind. Religion simply hasn’t done all that well for us. And yes I am a Christian. Why? Because, like evolution and abiogenesis, I think what it teaches is correct. But that doesn’t mean I think Christianity, let alone the domination of mankind by the church is the best for mankind.


The early Christians, especially Origen, were decedents of the Greek founders of science. They believed in the Apocatastasis, the imperceivably slow reconciliation of all the fallen with God. They did not believe in a young earth. It was the declaration of this theory as anathema that took this early logic out of Christianity.

The problem with modern Christianity is it has lost the reason for God’s creation of material world in the first place. What did Jesus need to save us from? I just came back from two sessions with Michael Ramsden and two of his colleagues. They are all passionate speakers, but cannot present a logical theory for suffering or for the creation of the universe.

The following is an excellent examination of the views of the early fathers of the church on this subject:


Very detailed, balanced, and objective examination of the facts!

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Assume you mean thousands of years ago in six days. Also God could have created the universe last Thursday and just gave it the appearance of thousands or billions of years of age.

One of the first arguments that the days were not literal 24 hour days was God created by command. He spoke and things happened.

I also like the approach that yom represents a workday. This makes more sense as the creation appears to be limited to the time between sunrise and sunset just as a normal workday for those people. So yom is God’s workday and we aren’t told how long a period of time that is in Genesis and we are told elsewhere that our time and God’s time is not the same.

Surely God could have created it that way, but just at surely he did not.
Had he done so, it would have made the earth in such a way that how he created it would be observable and true to his creation. I say that because the Bible says that Creation reflects his nature and glory in Psalm 19 and Romans 1:20. No fossils, no viable universe beyond 6000 light years, no evidence of deep sediments, no evidence of heavy erosion, no radioactive decay beyond 6000 years.
God is Truth, and he would not create false records and tell us we can see him in it. Perhaps you can understand how sometimes old earth people feel young earth assertions border on blasphemy when seen in that light.


Aquinas is the greatest philosopher of the middle ages and the go-to philosopher of the catholic church. His philosophy argues from a perspective of an eternal cosmos like Aristotle did, so even though he did believe personally that the universe had a beginning, because of Genesis, he obviously didn´t think that it was too important. I have my doubts that he even believed in a young earth at all and think he would have seen this perspective as a way too narrowed down version of the infinite being classical theists believe he is.

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Naturally I agree with most of what you say. But I wouldn’t say religion hasn’t done that much for us. It hasn’t done for us that for which it is unsuited - so it doesn’t answer all empirical questions. But then Tolstoy fails us in exactly the same way.

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I like that you let the best evidence inform how you think God created things. But I wonder how accurate it is to agree God could have created things any way at all. My objection isn’t based on a different assessment of prowess so much as a different assessment of His nature.

I was reading Pete Enns’ Sin of Certainty book last night where he imagines challenging God for thinking it helpful to draw our attention to the birds and the lilies of the field. While acknowledging birds and plants don’t have the alternative we do, Enns’ concludes that God is counseling us to willingly adopt an inability to doubt God. We don’t have to correctly understand in order to trust. So, if God practices what he preaches here, perhaps his choices are more constrained by His perfection than we can imagine. Not because his awareness is as limited as that of a bird or plant but because his resolve to adher to what is best and fitting so far outstrips our own. Who knows?

I wouldn’t say anything of the sort, though perhaps I should have added the qualifier “recently” to what I did say. Religion simply hasn’t done all that well for us, recently (i.e. in the last millenia). Actually, going quite a bit earlier than this, I am likely to say that religion played a crucial role in the development of our humanity, providing the inception of abstract thinking. In other words, I would propose that ideas of the supernatural is the bridge to abstract ideas.

Robert Woodberry has argued differently. In peer-reviewed journals.

I should have read it before responding, sorry. It was a good read - brought up new information that challenged old beliefs (I thought it was a bunch of evil deists who conjured wicked ideas up out of nowhere that Christian clergy without a scientific background accepted whole hog), but it also confirmed others (accepting an old earth completely undercut people’s trust in Scripture).

It does seem though that liberalizing elements were involved in the geology from the start, I’ll stand by that, but it is interesting that there were orthodox Christians who were willing to accept an old earth early on and helped to establish it.


You might enjoy this little known work of Tolstoy’s, The Gospel in Brief. If you read the introduction on Amazon, you’ll see that he did exactly what the fundamentalists fear – he went down the slippery slope to create his own stripped-down version of Christianity based solely on the teachings of Christ, minus the signs and wonders, of course. Tolstoy comes down somewhere between @Shawn_Murphy and @mitchellmckain on the theological spectrum.

Not a bad guess, but it’s more likely that the first abstract language was related to the social domain. For example, the earliest symbolic artifacts (~100 kya) relate things like tribal identity, social status, or ownership, while evidence of totemism, anthropomorphism, and shamanism doesn’t appear until after the cognitive revolution (~50 kya).

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My guess is that it probably a lot more complicated than either hypothesis.

Sure. I’m leaving a lot out. I also should have mentioned the exception, which is grave goods. Many of the early artifacts, such as shell beads, are found in graves. I take this as a nascent spiritual sense, but it’s hard to know exactly the purpose. It could be taken as evidence for your idea.

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I believe Thomas Jefferson did one of these too. Having not acquired a tolerance for all those begats when I was more easily intimidated I’d probably have to choose one of these if my curiosity ever gets the best of me … unless there are Blackline notes available.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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