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JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Okay okay, so we can't agree on some things about religion but can we at least agree that the Earth is older than 6 or 7 thousand years?

Asked by JeanPaulSartre (5779points) March 11th, 2010

So we apparently have some differing views about The Rapture…but can we at least come to grips with the age of the Earth? I’ll side with science on this one and say that the oldest rocks we’ve found date to around 3.8 – 3.9 billion years old… This doesn’t actually tell us the age of the Earth as it must be older, but it gives us a lower limit, that is, the Earth must be at least as old as any formation we find on it. The estimated age of the Earth is about 4.55 billion years (+/-1%). What are your thoughts on the age of our home?

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77 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

The Vulcan Sciende Directorate has determined that your planet is indeed 4.5 billion years old, but you will never be able to convince young earth creationists who believe that radiometric dating is a global conspiracy among scientists and that the earth is only 6000 years old.

ModernEpicurian's avatar

If there isnt a general consensus on this then I am throwing myself out of my own face in pain.

Ivy's avatar

I watched the first 20 minutes or so of ‘Jesus Camp’, strictly out of interest for such a curiosity, but had to stop when a counselor told children to exploit the earth’s resources to their heart’s content as the Rapture is on the way. Religious people have the agenda of their dogma that scientists don’t share, so I trust scientists to figure out an approximate age for our home, but it doesn’t concern me. I’m concerned for what’s happening to our home and how much longer it can sustain us. I worry for my grandchildren’s future, not about the age of our planet.

CMaz's avatar

“Earth is about 4.55 billion years”

Ahhh yes.. I remember that day well.

syzygy2600's avatar

Unfortunately, some people believe even stupider things than the earth only being 6,000 years old. Sad but true.

liminal's avatar

[removed by me…I answered my own question :P]

janbb's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre You’re starting to sound like Barack Obama, you know?

jaytkay's avatar

There is a certain percentage of people who are determined to remain in the Dark Ages. We should accept them as brothers and sisters. And dream up ways to make money off their idiocy.
http://boingboing.net/2009/03/03/christian-salt-a-wig.html

Cruiser's avatar

Lest we forget AL Gore created Earth.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@janbb I take that positively… but not sure how it was meant ;)

janbb's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Oh definitely, positively; searching for consensus.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Cruiser yes… fueled by his own sense of self satisfaction… [bonus points for knowing the source of that joke]

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@janbb ah – yes… I’m a real unifying force… lol

mrentropy's avatar

That’s silly. How could a hollow disc possibly be more than 7,000 years old?

nikipedia's avatar

Dude, you can’t reason with unreasonable people.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@mrentropy heheh – true… and how old do you think the tortoise that carries it is?

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@nikipedia It’s not fair though is it? The reasonable people can’t convince the unreasonable with words and are too reasonable to kill them off either… but sadly the unreasonable frequently off the reasonable…

davidbetterman's avatar

Religious fundamentalist, unfortunately…like rookie cops…go by the book. They have not yet developed the ability to think outside the box.

Of course the Earth is billions of years old. We have too much proof from fossils showing us this.

And undoubtedly it took more than 6 or 7 days for the Earth to form.

Most likely the Bible has been altered (why else would it be referred to as a version?) and most of the tales in it were handed down by word of mouth for hundreds of years before finally getting printed.

I wonder how much a story can change in hundreds of years?

And also keep in mind that these stories were told to help primitive peoples understand how things came anbout and how they worked.

On the other hand, those ancient peoples knew far more than do we regarding herbs and plants and their curative powers.

mrentropy's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre At least 500 years old. If it’s a Galapagos.

AstroChuck's avatar

@Cruiser- Al Gore never claimed inventing the Earth Internet. His actual words were, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”
Now can we please move on.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@AstroChuck Thanks for clearing that nonsense up. I always figured something was taken out of context.

Ria777's avatar

not even all Creationists believe this, only the Young Earth Creationists. versus the Old Earth Creationists.

Fyrius's avatar

Let’s just say that the people whose beliefs matter will agree that the earth is older than a few thousand years.

@davidbetterman
“On the other hand, those ancient peoples knew far more than do we regarding herbs and plants and their curative powers.”
Did they really? Far more, even?
Modern medicine can tell you exactly what substances a sick body needs and why. With a reference database of which of those can be found in which plants, you know everything they knew and much more.
And we don’t even have to bother getting that stuff from plants any more! We can now make pills consisting of only the ingredient that actually solves the problem, without any of the useless stuff the plants also contain. In other words, minimal side effects.

The medics of yore knew from trial and error what plants had what effect, without even understanding much of it. I’m not very tempted to consider that knowledge superior to ours.

ragingloli's avatar

@davidbetterman
“On the other hand, those ancient peoples knew far more than do we regarding herbs and plants and their curative powers.”
These people were usually burnt at the stake for being witches.

davidbetterman's avatar

@Fyrius Of course they knew more. they were in direct communication with the Creator, who told them what was needed and how it worked…Which is why @ragingloli they were burned at the stake. We can’t have any knowledge coming straight from the source interfere with our scientific experimentatation and need to act as if we figured this all out without any help.

ragingloli's avatar

they were in direct communication with the Creator
Yeah, there is no possible way that they might have found out the effects of herbs by trial and error. Just as there is no way we discovered fire ourselves.Humans are too stupid to look at a forest fire and then figure out a way to make fire themselves. Must have been handed down by Prometheus. Or that Copernicus discovered Heliocentrism by watching the movement of the planets and stars. Must have been a divine revelation by Cthulhu.

Fyrius's avatar

@davidbetterman
You must be aware that I think everything you just said is wrong.

davidbetterman's avatar

Well, I was told this by the Vulcan Science Directorate, so it must be so.

mrentropy's avatar

@ragingloli Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

ragingloli's avatar

@sam The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that there are no gods. They have also determined that your informant is a Tal’Shiar agent.

Nullo's avatar

Not a chance.

Berserker's avatar

The Earth is ancient, but The Bible didn’t account for science and study when it was written, I thought that, as mentioned already, this was the general consensus, even amongst plenty of Christians.

pikipupiba's avatar

I will start by saying I believe in God.

And I will continue by saying that God created things with age. Any supposed Christian who gives other reasons like “GLOBAL CONSPIRACY!!!!!!!!” is just stupid, and no, you shouldn’t take them seriously.

This answers the question, which came first, the chicken or the egg. God didn’t create and embryo that developed into a chicken. He was just all “BAMF!!!” and then there was a chicken, probably middle aged or younger. Just like he didn’t create a baby human, he created a grown man.

In the same sense God created the Earth itself with age. When God created the universe, he also created the laws that govern it, and these laws state that rocks take billions of years to form, so he made rocks that were a billion years old and fully formed, just as he created a middle aged man.

ragingloli's avatar

@pikipupiba
In your scenario he only created the man with the composition of a middle aged man. It does not mean that he was a middle aged man. He may have looked like 30, he may have had the chemical composition of someone at 30, but he was not 30.

In the same way, the Earth that God supposedly created to have all the physical characteristic of a planet that is billions of years old, would not be billions of years old.
It may look like it is, but it is not. In other words, God created a deception of cosmic scale.

Val123's avatar

Oh, alright. I’ll go for 8.

filmfann's avatar

Sarah Palin believes the 6000 year number, and believes man existed with dinosaurs.
That is one of the reasons I am convinced that she is an idiot.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@pikipupiba So… how old would you say the Earth is?

filmfann's avatar

@mrentropy Interesting. I have sculptures of Dragons. Do you think that is evidence that they once existed?

Val123's avatar

@filmfann The main thing is, do you idolize your sculptures of Dragons?

mrentropy's avatar

@filmfann That depends. European or Asian dragons?

Val123's avatar

@mrentropy African Dragons.

Cruiser's avatar

@AstroChuck I never said that Al Gore created the earth what I said was a metaphor for assigning credit to the incredible task of creating not only earth but our universes as well. Something even a God could not do and only an Al Gore could knowing proclaim credit for doing. now if I could only find out who created this stain on my T shirt…

mrentropy's avatar

@Val123 Africa has dragons? Oh, so they did.

Val123's avatar

@mrentropy ROFL!!! Ah, thank ya!

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Space Dragons!!!

Val123's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Yes!!!!! Dragons in Space! Space for the Dragons!

Nullo's avatar

I am of the opinion that the fairly widespread presence of dragons in mythology (I know that they have different attributes, but I also know that they also share a lot of attributes – reptilian features come to mind) points to some interactions with creatures that either were dinosaurs, or could pass for them in a dark alley.

Ria777's avatar

@ragingloli: for once I will actually disagree with you on a few things… the users of ayahuasca and yagé told them that the spirits of the plants themselves told them how to make them. that to me sounds as good an explanation as any as to how they manage to find the right plants to promote the right neurochemistry to create ayahuasca and yagé.

as for the part about burning users of herbs against the stake, in traditional cultures, and that includes parts of Africa today, they seize on people for having cast curses. a history called The Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton looks at and debunks many of the myths put about by the neopagans and offers the view that traditional witch lore never really did pass itself down to the present, if it did exist at all.

(the theory that accused witches actually knew witchcraft came originally from a cranky book called The Witch-Cult in Modern Europe and its sequels by Margaret Alice Murray. H.P. Lovecraft took some of the ideas from the book and used them in his fiction.)

during the early modern era to the 19th century rural england had people called “clever men” who used parts of the Book of Psalms to heal people, etc. they would do things like remove curses from people.

just speculation on my part, but I can’t see the practical advantage of putting someone to death who could heal you. I think you would want to try to learn what they did and copy it from them and learn to do it yourself. nor would that contradict religious belief.

CMaz's avatar

Could people of 2 or 3 thousand years ago comprehend anything more then 6 or 7 thousand year. That’s like a trillion years for us.

Ria777's avatar

@ChazMaz: you know how they came up with the six to seven thousand year figure? some clergyman, I think, whose name I forget, calculated the age of the universe based on the genealogy given in the Bible, with the death of Jesus the one fixed date relative to the present. he arrived at 4004 BCE, ISTR, as the creation of the universe.

Hindu myth assumes timespans of billions of years and successive universes.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Val123 I talked about them all over this place in this question

pikipupiba's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre I thought it was more like 10,000 years.

pikipupiba's avatar

@ragingloli Actual, God created a world that we would understand. He followed the laws of the universe (which he made) when he created it. If he just said “fuck it! They won’t know the difference!” then we wouldn’t be able to understand the world, because it wouldn’t make sense.

Ria777's avatar

@pikipupiba: so, “God” created the world already aged in the exact same that it would have aged. that explains everything and nothing. with science you can either move towards or against a theory based on what you find to get to some conclusions. with “God”-based explanations, you start with the conclusion and work on backwards to find the answer.

Fyrius's avatar

@Nullo
I would rather explain that by a scenario where ancient peoples stumbled upon fossilised dinosaur bones, and went off to speculate about what sort of being might have such bones. Perhaps they found enough to see some reptilian features, but at any rate there would have been plenty of room for wild guessing, leading to giant lizards that can fly, breathe fire, talk, amass large piles of gold and demand virgin sacrifices.

It’s interesting to note that A) all the mythical creatures from around the world that we all call “dragons” can look rather wildly different, and B) none of them really do look a whole lot like any particular dinosaur that is known ever to have existed. (For example, to my knowledge there has never been any dinosaur with wings and four legs, or any with more than one head, or any that could breathe fire.)
Those two facts suggest at most a very sketchy relation.

Fyrius's avatar

@pikipupiba
Why should we believe any of that?

How can you tell the difference between a universe created by a god to look like it developed naturally, and a universe that developed naturally? How do we know we don’t just live in the latter? It would certainly be a lot easier to explain.

Further reading: Burdensome Details; When Anthropomorphism Became Stupid

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@pikipupiba That’s an interesting way to think about it. It sounds a little like relativistic theory… but with God in it. It’s certainly not something I can argue against with science, because it explains it away in the “God did it” kind of way. But I could just as easily argue that no one else exists and all of this is in my head – no one can prove me wrong – but I chose to trust my senses and the science that uses them.

Nullo's avatar

@Fyrius I’m not saying that every kind of dragon talked about has a saurian analogue; I’m saying that people might have seen dinosaurs and told their kids, and that someone along the line got creative.
There are precedents, after all.

Fyrius's avatar

@Nullo
And I’m saying I doubt that very much.

We still have the fossil record too, by the way. While it’s true that it’s not exactly a bureaucratically dependable documentation of everything that ever lived, the order in which everything appears is very consistent. So if dinosaurs and humans even coexisted before the dinosaurs started looking like birds, we’d expect to see at least one (remotely dragonesque) dinosaur in the relevant geological period.
Things being as they are, the first humans are up here, and all the dinosaurs are way down there. Unless there was a good reason why the dinosaurs the humans met did not fossilise, I think we have a good reason to stop thinking about this hypothesis.

Maybe a traveller once saw a crocodile tear up an antelope and told the story back home, making the crocodile larger and more menacing with each telling, because nobody else had been there anyway. There are precedents for that, too.
(How many ferocious sea monsters were there out there again? Kraken? Scylla and Charybdis? Leviathan? Harpies? Sirens?)

ragingloli's avatar

Some indigenous people in some islands have built statues of WW2 Cargo planes and worship them as supernatural beings because back then they were used to drop precious cargo which the primitive people considered gifts from their gods. Wait a few centuries and they will have morphed into divine gift dropping god-birds or dragons. The point is that people will turn any trivial and normal thing into something preposterously divine if they want. A crocodile, an alligator, a Comodo Dragon, or even dinosaur fossils will easily be transformed into mythical firebreathing dragons. There is no reason to think that any of the mythical beasts was actually real, was based on a living dinosaur, since all the evidence we have points against it. Not to mention that some of these beasts violate physics (limbless and wingless chinese flying dragons) and the theory of evolution (dragons with four legs/two legs, two arms and a pair of wings which means it would have to have evolved from a six legged reptile/dinosaur because animals just don’t sprout an extra pair of fully functional limbs, and as far as I know, there is not a single example of such an animal anywhere in the fossil record)

Fyrius's avatar

@ragingloli
Minor side note: i believe that traditionally, Chinese dragons do have limbs.

ragingloli's avatar

@Fyrius-chan
Well, I will give you that, Fyrius-kouhai

Nullo's avatar

@Fyrius
You are, of course, free to think what you like. I will only point out that, AFAIK, fossilization is a pretty rare fate for a carcass. You know my position on the validity of the geological record.

Fyrius's avatar

@Nullo
“You are, of course, free to think what you like.”
I certainly like to think I don’t grant my mind that much freedom. I’d rather think what’s most likely to be true.

“I will only point out that, AFAIK, fossilization is a pretty rare fate for a carcass.”
Well, that’s true, but it still begs the question why many of them occasionally did fossilise in the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic eras, and then they completely stopped doing so about 62 million years before the humans came along. Coincidence?

“You know my position on the validity of the geological record.”
Actually, truth be told, I’m not sure I do. Is it the same one as that of the scientific community?

Val123's avatar

@Fyrius What do you mean “they completely stopped doing so about 62 million years before the humans came along”?

Fyrius's avatar

@Val123
The dinosaurs stopped leaving fossils roughly 62 million years before the humans came along. (Didn’t they?)

The usual explanation is that they also stopped existing around that time.

Val123's avatar

Well, there is a theory that a world wide cataclysmic event occurred that wiped them out (a meteor the size of Manhattan.) Which, incidentally, paved the way for the mammals to flourish. But….we have fossils of all kinds of other animals, and humans, after that time. So, I’m not sure what the debate is, though. Of course fossilization is relatively rare. It takes a combination of events. However, when you’re talking about a rare event that happens now and again over millions and millions of years, you actually do have a quite extensive record of fossilization.

Fyrius's avatar

Indeed.

Here’s what we were talking about in a nutshell: @Nullo up there entertained the notion that perhaps some dinosaurs (or something alike) had survived and been seen by humans, giving rise to the widespread dragon myths.
I said that if that were true, then it would be very difficult to explain why there are no dinosaur fossils to be found in any geological age more recent than the Cretaceous era. Presently that’s easily explained by the simple reason that the dinosaurs died out at that point. If they didn’t, then there would need to be some other reason why the dinosaurs stopped fossilising.

Val123's avatar

@Fyrius Now I got ya! OK, that makes sense. Yes, they all died.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

“First the earth cooled, then the dinosaurs came. But they got too big and fat, so they all died and turned to oil. Then the Arabs came and bought Mercedes Benzes! And Prince Charles started wearing all of Lady Di’s clothes. ”

- The history of the world according to Airplane II

plethora's avatar

@Dr_Dredd I love it when a thread just deteriorates into hilarious nonsense..:) GA

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@plethora When we started talking about dragons from outer space, I figured it was a lost cause. :)

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Dr_Dredd Or when I said “religion” in the question… it was probably a lost cause then.

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