Dating Biblical Events In An Old Earth Framework
As Christians who believe in the Bible, of course we think the events of the Bible happened just as the Bible records them. But when did they happen? This article will examine this question. The Last Common Denominator Young earth creationists say that the world is 6,000 years old, therefore they would say the events in Genesis happened less than 6,000 years ago. Unlike young earth creationists, old earth creationists simply don’t know exact dates (some YECs believe Adam was created at 9:00 A., on October 23, 4004 B.
!) However, old earth theory requires these events to be older, because of the scientific evidence which must match the Bible’s story. We will start with the last common denominator, and work our way back to the Garden of Eden. There is no way to know for certain what the proper age is for any of these events, but we can make certain speculations about the age. For instance, for many years, scientists thought that the first humans in North America ventured here via a land bridge between Russia and Alaska about 13,000 years ago.
Another site, the Meadowcroft site in Pennsylvania, contains artifacts dated to 16,000 years ago. Based on this and other discoveries, many scientists now believe that North Americans also arrived via boat, prior to the Bering Straight land bridge of 13,000 years ago.2 Thus, for archaeological evidences, the earliest date we have for North America is about 16,000 years ago. The most recent event, which would be the last common denominator for all human races, is spoken of in Genesis 11. The Tower of Babel tells the story of how God confused the language of the people, and spread them throughout the world. Thus, these early North Americans must have migrated at some point after the Tower of Babel. Therefore, the only thing we can say with any certainty is that the events of Genesis 11 happened sometime prior to 13,000 to 16,000 years ago. This is our starting point for understanding dating of events within our old earth framework, and it is only a rough estimate of the real date for the Tower of Babel. We only know for certain that the Tower of Babel could not be younger than 13,000 years ago (or could it? More on this later.) However, this assumes that the people spread from the Tower within a few years of God confusing their language.
Did they come directly from the Tower to North America…or did they gradually spread in North America’s direction. This could greatly add to the time since the Tower of Babel. The Flood of Noah The next event prior to that would be the Flood of Noah. We do have a good estimate for the time from Noah’s Flood to the Tower of Babel, as you will see. According to Genesis 9:28, we know that Noah lived 350 years after the flood. Genesis 10 then goes on to list the genealogies of the descendants of Noah’s Ark. It is apparent that the genealogies of Genesis 10 are not necessarily in chronological order with Genesis 11. In other words, the Tower of Babel in Chapter 11 occurred sometime in the middle of these genealogies in Chapter 10. I say this because Genesis 11:1 says “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” However, we read in Genesis 10:4, 20, that the clans each had their own language.
In fact, Genesis 10:25 actually refers to the events of the Tower of Babel. Right in the middle of Shem’s descendants it says “One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided” (NIV). (Other versions say “the inhabitants” of earth were divided up). Concerning these genealogies, the NIV states that in the original Hebrew, Sons could also mean descendants, successors, or nations. While not significant for the genealogies between the Flood and the Tower, we will come back to this thought later. The most definitive passage for dating back to Noah’s Flood is Genesis 11:10-19. This gives the descendants, from Noah’s son Shem, to Peleg, who we previously learned was alive when the Tower of Babel incident occurred. Thus… 0 Shem is 98 when the flood ended 2 Shem is 100 when Arphaxad is born 37 Arphaxad is 35 when Shelah is born 67 Shelah is 30 when Eber is born 101 Eber is 34 when Pelag is Born 310 Pelag lived to be 209 Using this chart, the Flood must have happened a minimum of 101 years prior to the Tower of Babel. If the split at the Tower was caused by God near the time of Pelag’s birth, this would lend support to his father, Eber, naming him after this event. However, we can’t be certain of this.
The only thing we know with any degree of certainty is that it happened during Peleg’s lifetime. Thus we have a range for the Flood of 101 to 310 years prior to the Tower of Babel. Adding this to our minimum age of 13,000 to 16,000 years, and we come up with a range of 13,101 to 16,310 years ago for Noah's Flood. This is assuming the migrations to North America involve post-Adamic men.more on this later. Eve Next we must consider mankind’s origins. The most favored theory now is the “Out of Africa” theory, which shows that a genetic “Eve” from which we are descended came from Africa about 150,000 years ago. This “genetic” evidence is based on mutation rates of mitochondrial DNA of 1 every 20,000 years. Some research suggests a ratio of 1 to 10,000, thus cutting 150,000 to 75,000 years.