The determination of just how old the universe might be is a daunting and complicated endeavor. As a student of science, I will readily admit that in many ways it appears that the universe might be very old. If we assume that everything we now see has existed since the beginning, and nothing has changed. If we assume that God did not create everything, as the Bible suggests, a few thousand years ago (which is the basis for current atheistic science). If we assume that we could know the ratio of the so called parent and daughter isotopes in various rocks when they were created (we cannot). If we assume that the light from the stars is not being affected by anything (such as the 95% of the universe we cannot measure) and they are therefore exactly as far away as they appear, then one would easily be led to believe that the universe is quite old. (1)
However, Dr. John Baumgardner, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory has a M.S. and Ph.D. in geophysics and space physics from UCLA, and he clearly believes the evidence does NOT indicate an old earth or an old universe. He states “Most people… including most scientists, are not aware of the systematic and glaring conflict between radiometric methods and non-radiometric methods for dating…”(2) He notes the vast differences that result when using different chemical methods of dating. For example, based on experimentally measured helium diffusion rates found in the zircons of Pre-cambrian granite, the age of the fossil layer is only a few thousand years old. Yet Uranium in the same crystals gives an entirely different (and much older) result.
Dr. Baumgardner notes that the present rate of uplift for the Himalayan mountains and the rate of ocean mineralization also point to a young age for the earth. In fact at their current rate of uplift, if these mountains are a mere 1 million years old, they should be 40 miles high! And of course, the presence of unmineralized proteins in dinosaur bones from many locations should place a limit of a few thousand years at most on the age of the bones. (3)
Then he tackles the thorny issue of light from distant stars. This is generally thought to show the universe is billions of years old. Although it involves principles such as cosmic inflation, general relativity, and the place of the earth in the universe, it may be said that Dr. Baumgardner, and many other scientists, believe that there is no reason to reject the possibility of a young universe, because there are far too many unexplained variables to compute any certain age at all. (See blog entitled Bang… and nothing.) “If, instead, the cosmos has the earth near its center, then its early history is radically different from that of all big-bang models.”(4) In fact, the massive distribution of matter near the center of any exploding model of the universe could alter the time gradient drastically, slowing time almost to a standstill (relative to the other/outer areas of expansion) if earth were indeed near the center.
We can imagine the possibility that as written in the Creation Science website, “factors combine in various ways: 1. A decrease in the speed of light. 2. An expansion of space. 3. Large concentrations of dark matter with each galaxy. 4. Dark matter concentrated near the center of the universe. 5. Stars dimmer earlier in their history. 6. An age of the universe somewhat larger than 10,000 years. In addition, there may be other factors that we are not aware of. But even the factors we know about seem sufficient to explain the observed universe within a short time frame.”(1) All this being said, there is no reason to rule out a young earth based on science. The Bible story is no less believable now than at the time it was written.
Yet one more point bears mention here. Most atheistic scientists would discount it. (See Unethicalists for reasons why). Nevertheless, for a Christian it makes logical sense. We know that a cell cannot operate without all its parts (DNA, RNA, nucleus, organelles, cell membrane, proteins, etc.) No part of the cell will function meaningfully or reproduce without all the others. Therefore isn’t it logical that all cells were created intact, fully functional at the moment of their creation? Likewise Mankind is not functional without the brain, liver, eyes, heart, skin, and all organs functioning. So it is easy to believe that Adam was a fully formed, functional, adult human being at the moment of his creation.
Is it not equally possible, in fact likely, that an infinitely wise, infinitely powerful Creator God would create a universe fully functional from the moment of its creation? What good are the stars in the beautiful sky if Adam will not seen them for millions of years? Why create them at all? Creating light in transit is not a difficult thing for God. It is only a difficult thing for us! Yet who are we (our most brilliant scientists still do not understand the nature of light itself, and cannot tell if is is a particle or wave… so they say it is both). Who are we to tell God how He should order his new and wondrous creation?
(1) Is The Universe Young? https://tasc-creationscience.org/other/plaisted/www.cs.unc.edu/_plaisted/ce/universe.html
(2) in six days, john r. baumgardner, Master Books, p 234.
(3) Ibid, p. 237.
(4) Ibid p. 238.