(My latest book God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom has just been released and is now available through the usual outlets. You can order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the publishers Rowman & Littlefield, and also through your local bookstores. For more on the book, see here. You can also listen to the podcast of the interview on WCPN 90.3 about the book.)
For previous posts in this series on the age of the Earth, see here.
The minimum age of the Earth kept getting pushed back as older rocks kept being found and methods of analysis improved with the invention of new instruments such as the mass spectrometer. The minimum age was raised to 1.90 billion years in 1935, 3.35 billion years in 1947, to 3.45 billion years in 1956.
But there arose a new problem. Astronomers had discovered that the universe was expanding and Edwin Hubble’s (1889-1953) discovery of the law now associated with his name enabled scientists to estimate the time when the universe would have begun, and they initially arrived at an age of 1.80 billion years (Jackson, p. 251). It was absurd to suppose that the universe was younger than the Earth and this caused some consternation. But as the reach of telescopes increased and greater and greater expanses of the vastness of the universe came under observation, the calculated age of the universe kept increasing, to 10 billion years by the early 1950s, to 13 billion years by 1958, and finally to the present value of 13.7 billion years. Thus the potential paradox of the universe being younger than the Earth was resolved.