Pat Robertson criticized for rejecting a Young Earth

Wut-woh. Pat Robertson apparently mentioned the Earth might be older than 6,000 years, the date determined by adding up all the begats in the Old Testament. That observation produced the expected counter attack on Robertson:

Raw Story — In the video embedded below, “Creation Today” hosts Eric Hovind and Paul F. Taylor asserted that “God’s word” is “the basis of all knowledge,” and that televangelist Pat Robertson is off-base in saying that perhaps the world is more than 6,000 years old. The two hosts were discussing Robertson’s response to an email he received from a “700 Club” audience member who wanted to know why the Bible doesn’t say anything about the dinosaurs. “Of course the Bible does cover dinosaurs,” said Taylor, “we have talked about that on this show several times.”What Robertson said in response to the viewer, however, was that, in spite of what Creationists and Ireland’s Archbishop James Ussher [1581-1656] say, the Earth is not 6,000 years old. Ussher was a Christian cleric who claimed to have pinpointed the moment of Creation to the day.

Hovind of course is Son of Kent Hovind, uber creationist currently doing a dime for massive tax evasion. Justified in part on the premise that the almighty does not pay taxes.

There was a time when the age of the Earth was a hot theological debate. Creationist back in the day made what is imo a salient theological point: without a young earth and a literal garden of Eden, there would be no fall of man and thus no justification for death and decay to enter the once perfect world. The tale of garden of Eden might seem silly to us today, but it’s a cornerstone in Old Testament cosmogony. Without which there’s no reason for God to inflict on humans all manner of disease and evil, meaning God would be a rather vicious psychopath.

Most important for Christianity, there would be no point in a Jesus figure to provide salvation from this inherited sin and give the gift of everlasting life. I’m not sure how modern religions get around that, but they must have made some kind of accommodation because many now accept an ancient universe.

It’s kinda hard to root for either side in this deal. A giant senile grifter under fire by younger, lessor frauds, may they all destroy one another.


  1. stever says

    A sign of sanity from a big-league god-grifter? Maybe these really are the End Times. Or maybe Robertson just realized that the market for Young Earth wingnuttery is drying up. Tuning his scam to run closer to observed reality should rope in more fools (and higher-income fools) than that move chases away.

    BTW, has anyone bothered to check Archbishop Ussher’s calculations? While I recall some O.T. patriarchs’ ages given in years (that might have been mistranslated from lunar months), I don’t think any lifespan was given to the day. And given all the edits and consecutive translations, how did Ussher prove that the chain of “begats” is unbroken?

  2. Shlumbumbi says

    Creationism is like Syria, arses fighting against their holes and you wouldn’t want to chose sides.

  3. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Hovind of course is Son of Kent Hovind, uber creationist currently doing a dime for massive tax evasion. Justified in part on the premise that the almighty does not pay taxes.

    But didn’t Jesus himself say to pay taxes using some line like render unto Caesar?

    Also evidence = a big book? Really? Really? (1 minute 35-40 seconds mark.)

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Surely even Creationists can see the problem with that “argument.”

    (Or maybe we should just bring out extra large type versions of Origin of the Species’ and ‘The God Delusion’ for them as instant proof of our case?

    @3. Shlumbumbi : To be grudgingly fair to them, you’ve got to admit that idiotic and wrong as they are at least when the Creationists are “fighting” it’s with words and isn’t with guns and bombs and physically doing any actual violent killing. The Syrian comparison is a bit much I think. Although ‘assholes’ does describe all those groups well its a bit like saying a flea and an elephant are both animals – true but there’s a big difference betwixt ’em!

  5. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    Well, they have stuff to sell and there’s that old adage that “no publicity is bad publicity”.

  6. jakc says

    At Stever

    Ussher’s chronology is a little bit actual dates (the lifespans of the begats) and a little bit art (the Bible has gaps that he had to fill in). Others working at the same time came up with roughly similar numbers. Ussher moved it 4004 BC to account for Herod’s death in 4 BC (and Dennis’s error). The 4,000 also matches up with a popular idea ( a day with the Lord is like a 1,000 years); thus 6,000 years ending 2000 years after the birth of Jesus (moved back to 1996 to account for human error of course) and then the 1000 year reign. (7000 years of Earth comparing to the 7 Days of creation). SJ Gould defended Ussher as I recall saying something like the guy was trying to imagine the Earth as old as possible back when no one had a theory of an old Earth, versus some later scientists (Halley, Kelvin) who proposed older Earths than Ussher, but younger Earths than geologists in an effort to disprove really old earths.

  7. haitied says

    This kind of thing makes me think of the “Total perspective vortex” from the H2G2 series. Basically it destroys your mind by revealing the entire width, depth and breadth of the universe and your tiny place in it. It is able to do this by extrapolating the information from a piece of cake.

  8. William Stubbs says

    The Bible is not always clear about what it is saying. A bible passage can produce a variety of interpretations. In the Second Epistle of Peter from the King James Version of the New Testament, verse 8 of chapter 3 reads: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” This is typically interpreted to say that one creation day is one thousand years. The first two chapters of the Book of Genesis suggest that we are still in the seventh creation day. This means the Earth must be between 6,000 and 7,000 years old.

    Verse 8 seems to repeat that one day is a thousand years within it. But, to say “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,” “and” “a thousand years as one day,” could be interpreted as providing two pieces of information. The “and” in the verse may indicate that additional, not redundant, information follows. If so, then the days and years mentioned in the first clause may not be the same days and years referred to in the second clause.

    To explore this; first, we denote the days and years in the first clause as Days and Years (beginning with upper case letters). Next, we denote those in the second clause as days and years (beginning with lower case letters). Now, the verse says: 1 Day = 1,000 Years, and 1,000 years = 1 day.

    Let a “Day” be a creation day, a “year” be a year as we know it, and a “Year” be 365 “days.” Then, 1 Year becomes 365,000 of our years, and 1 Day, 365 million of our years. This would make the Bible’s six creation days (6 Days) 2.2 billion of our years. This is about half the 4.5 billion years geology says is the age of the Earth.

    We can go one step further with this line of thought. In verse 4 of Genesis, God divides the light from the darkness. Then, in verse 5, He calls the light, “Day,” and the darkness, “Night.” To distinguish between Day and Night suggests that they are two independent entities, not two parts of an entity, “Day.” If we assume that God divided them equally, then a Night is as long as a Day, or 365 million of our years. Since there is a Night after every Day; then, in addition to the six creation Days, six creation Nights have also elapsed. This means that we have to add another 2.2 billion years to the Bible’s Earth age, making it 4.4 billion years. This is essentially the same as the 4.5 billion-year geological age of the Earth.

    For more, see:

  9. jakc says

    An interesting theory William Hobbs but 4.4 billion is still 140 million (plus or minus 40 million) years off. It’s a pretty good estimate for someone living when the Bible was written, but I’d expect God to be spot on accurate.

    I think it far more likely that the writers of Genesis (and later books of the Bible) had no idea how old the Earth is and meant the creation stories in Genesis as metaphors not to be taken literally, If nothing else, had they intended the stories in Genesis to be taken literally, they would have made them consistent in the editing process rather than leave them with unresolvable contradictions, not simply the creation of the Earth before the Sun and stars (something that could not have been reasonably known then) but the contradictions in the order of creation. Are birds and whales created before land animals? Are humans created before or after the animals?

    Even if you could convince most fundamentalists that the Bible predicts the Earth to be 4 billion years old, there is no fair reading of the text of the first two chapters of Genesis that would match what we know to be the correct order – stars, sun, Earth, Moon, and the subsequent start and radiation of life.

  10. William Stubbs says


    The 4.4 billion (actually 4.38 billion) years calculated above are for the first six days of Creation. Assuming that we are in the seventh Creation day, which is 365 million (or 0.365 billion) years long, the Earth’s age using the method I presented is between 4.38 billion and 4.75 billion years old (4.38 + 0.365). Since the 4.54 billion year old age of the Earth that you refernce is within this range; I’d say that, for all practical purposes, the geological age and my Biblical age calculation are the same age.

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