A Geological Timescale for Creationists

Jolyon Ralph, the creator of the minerology and geology website Mindat.org, has posted a very entertaining Geological Timescale for Creationists:

A little background: once upon a time there was an Archbishop named James Ussher who set about to figure out exactly how old the Earth was, based on Biblical evidence. This was around the time of the Renaissance but before the Age of Reason, when secular science began to come into full bloom. So the most natural approach, to him, was to flip through the Bible, keep track of all the “Ahab begat Ohabs,” and add together the listed ages of all these characters to figure out how much time had passed during Genesis, Exodus, etc.

He was able to find a real life historical event or two with a known date that was also mentioned in the Bible, which allowed him to connect Biblical chronology with actual world history. Thus he determined that the world had been created in 4004 B.C. Even more specifically, he had a time and a date based on hints in the text about what season it may have been and the time of day (even though there was no sun at the initial moment of creation).

This is where Young Earth Creationists get the idea that the world is 6000 years old. But of course, radiometric dating — which involves something very like a natural clock, regularly decomposing radioactive substances — tells us the world is much older. Not only that, it tells us when different layers of the fossil record were laid down. We know, for example, that life has existed for a couple billion years, but multi-cellular life is only about 600 million years old, while human beings separated from chimpanzees some six million years ago.

Institutions like the Kentucky Creation Museum (established by Answers in Genesis) try to explain the ancient fossils of long-extinct species all over the world by imagining that all these species have lived and died over the past 6000 years, and that some flaw in radiometric dating techniques causes us to be off in our numbers by more than six orders of magnitude. Before the Flood, apparently, life was very much like the Flinstones’ town of Bedrock.

Of course, even if that were true, the fact that multi-cellular life didn’t exist until the last third of the history of life (and maybe the last eighth of the history of our planet), raises the question of what the Roman Empire was really like, if it were run by bacteria.

It’s not only the sciences of geology and evolutionary biology that make a mockery of Biblical literalism. Simple history puts the lie to some deeply-help beliefs of fundamentalists. Chinese civilization, for example, actually has records pre-dating the year of creation, 6015 years ago (there was no year zero). The Onion, everyone’s favourite fake news site, once had an amusing story along the same lines:

Members of the earth’s earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, looked on in shock and confusion some 6,000 years ago as God, the Lord Almighty, created Heaven and Earth. . . .

According to the cuneiform tablets, Sumerians found God’s most puzzling act to be the creation from dust of the first two human beings.

“These two people made in his image do not know how to communicate, lack skills in both mathematics and farming, and have the intellectual capacity of an infant,” one Sumerian philosopher wrote. “They must be the creation of a complete idiot.”

Is it inappropriate to be making fun of Christian-inspired pseudoscience so close to Easter Weekend, of all times? Perhaps so. After all, it’s all fun and games until someone gets smote by a vengeful God.

Related stories:

No Politics In Science Class In Louisiana, 75 Nobelists Plead

Louisiana Lawmaker Wants Evolution Taught In Science Classes

Failing Grades in Science Standards for US Schools


Photo credit: PZ Myers


Robert S.
Robert S4 years ago

But what if one of God's days is a billion years in our timeframe?

Ed G.
Ed G5 years ago

Trying to incorporate religious ideas in a science class would make that class unteachable and most if nit all students would come out utterly confused and you would end up teaching two diverse courses in one class and there really could be no test as each question would have to fully qualify every question as a student could make a argument that he/she meant the christian version or the science version and either the test would be extremely long. Never mind making the course a doctoral course as the person would end up unable to reconcile science from religion. Of course this might be their secret agenda its hard to say.
Kids are bright but when you mix in 1/2 black arts and real science no one can be expected to really learn anything.

Tammy D.
Tammy D5 years ago

"...raises the question of what the Roman Empire was really like, if it were run by bacteria."
HA HA HA!!! hilarious. Great article. I hadn't known about the reason behind the 6,000 years idea.

And of course, the typical responses..... always disappointing. Leave science to science teachers, folks, and beliefs and faith to the worship house. then we can all get along....

Don H.
Don H5 years ago

Leigh, I suggest you read the following page in Wikipedia on radiometric dating. You will then understand that the geological timeline isn't the uncertain guess that you believe it to be.


Don H.
Don H5 years ago

Leigh, scientists have never claimed the moon was as old as the universe -not even close. Most astronomers feel the universe is 13 billion, or so, years old. Most scientists feel that the moon is somewhat younger than the earth's age of 4.6 billion years old. There is much evidence to support this.

But no reasonable scientists believe the earth is only 5,000 or 6,000 years old.

Leigh, there are no significant holes in these theories. Science is waiting for evidence to prove a theory wrong. That's how science works. They try their best to take everything into account but they do not take biblical scripture into account because scripture is not science.

Leigh, why would the rotation of a planet have an effect on the big bang theory? These planets didn't exist until billions of years after the big bang. What you said makes no sense at all.

Leigh, creationism doesn't even rise to the level of a hypothesis so it cannot be included in ANY science discussion.

We do not allow children to decide what to believe in science. Would you allow children to believe 2 2 = 5 in mathematics? Can't you see how ridiculous you are being?

Leigh E.
Leigh EVERETT5 years ago


I personally would prefer in schools to see BOTH theories taught side by side so that the children can decide for themselves what they believe without being "bullied", as you put it, by either side.

Leigh E.
Leigh EVERETT5 years ago

I can see where Sandy E is coming from.

Basis for all dating, first of all, comes from a BELIEF that a fossil or bone comes from a certain period which we BELIEVE, in the first place, is from so many years ago. From there we can and I think DO make assumptions on ages of things which we now teach as being accurate. It is not necessarily the TRUTH.
There are holes in scientific theories that are ignored completely and any possible detail is then searched for in order to back up their theory.
The fact, for example, that there are planets in our Solar System that rotate clockwise and others that rotate anti-clockwise are not at all explained by the BIG BANG and are therefore pushed into obscurity.
Also, when we landed on the moon, as we believed the universe to be billions of years old the legs of the landing capsule were made extremely long in order to be able to sink into the THICK layer of lunar dust that would have accumulated on the surface over those years. SURPRISE, SURPRISE they only sunk in a few feet. Does this not PROVE that the universe is younger that we thought? This too is pushed aside an ignored.

So Don H. and Thomas M. it would seem that your science IS flawed and EVOLUTION isn't in question in the first place, just the beginning of evolution and HOW it started.
Scientists certainly DO NOT take everything into consideration for their theories. There is a lot of speculation.

I personally would prefer in schools to see BOTH theories taught side

Don H.
Don H5 years ago

Sharon B, your people are the ones advocating the teaching of religious dogma in science class. That is a perfect example of bullying.

Why should your religious "beliefs" trump science? Don't you understand the danger inherent in allowing religious beliefs into science? You are welcome to believe what you wish but we don't want "beliefs" in science class.

Don H.
Don H5 years ago

Sandy said:

"I have a really hard time wrapping my mind around billions of years and that a single cell could evole into a multipule system organizim. There is no science that can back this theory up. As for the dating,even those who use it say that it is faulty. Layers don't tell the whole story. Earthquakes etc can and have changed the layering. There is a lot of faith in this'science'."

Sandy, you have a hard time wrapping your mind around "billions of years" because you are uneducated. There is zero controversy within the science community about the age of the earth. This is FIRMLY established science. See, established science is not a matter of opinion, it is the consensus of evidence.

Yes, Sandy, earthquakes can change "layering". But trained geologists immediately recognize these anomalies so they are not "fooled" by them.

And, Sandy, you say even those that use "dating" say that it faulty. This is untrue. Radiometric dating is very reliable. I understand that Christian and Muslim fundamentalists say it is not, but the people saying this are not scientists.

Sandy, you need to reexamine your information source because it is very flawed.

Thomas M.
Tom M5 years ago


It is indeed mind boggling the level of complex life to be sure. But the reason it's hard for us to grasp is that we don't live on the scale of millions (or billions) of years. The process of natural selection is powerful enough to direct the formation of complex life, we know this, but it is still an amazing thing to contemplate. But complexity is not the same thing as design, and natural selection is the very opposite of chance. Something that typical Creationists cannot (or refuse) to grasp.

As for your nonsense about there being nothing to "back up this theory." That is just ignorant hogwash. A world full of PhD's don't accept evolution as fact because there is no evidence, but accept it BECAUSE of the evidence. The evidence is overwhelming and without question, you only have to take the time to seek it out, which I doubt that you will.

Finally, scientists take everything into consideration when applying dates and using dating techniques. That you are so flippant in your dismisal of those far more intelligent than yourself speaks volumes about you, not them.