An Article by Alexander Zephyr
Brit-Am Preliminary Note.
Alex Zephyr is well known to us via articles we have received from him and correspondence. He is a scholar who has published several books of value. Quite a few articles by Alex Zephyr are available on this site, see Guest Articles. He has also written quite strongly in several of his works in support of Brit-Am. In the article below Alex Zephyr discusses the physical Age of the Earth. He quotes certain Rabbinical Views. These opinions exist BUT they are not the only ones. Nor are they doctrinal or representative of Rabbinical Understanding in general on these matters. They do however represent an existing point of view that may be worth consideration.
AGE OF THE EARTH
by Alexander Zephyr
The planet Earth doesn't have a birth certificate to record its formation, so scientists have spent hundreds of years struggling to determine the age of the planet. There are so-called "Young-earth" proponents who stick with the Biblical account that the age of the Earth and the Universe is about 6,000 years. The scientists have been able to place the age of the Earth at approximately 4.5 billion years and the Universe has been dated to 14 billion years.
There were created Worlds that existed before ours and these were eventually destroyed and renewed again. There were human pre-Adamic civilizations in existence on earth that God had created, destroyed and renewed on a few occasions. They were spiritless creatures, with whom God was not pleased. Adam and Eve were created in the form, likeness, and image of God, having an immortal spiritual soul, the essence of God Almighty. This is the difference! At the time of Recreation and Renewal of Earth, God was very pleased with the Work of His hands and He blessed Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28, 31). A very famous Midrash asks, "What was God occupied with before He created out World?" The answer goes like this: "God was busy building and destroying other Worlds" (Genesis, Rabbah 3:7). This process continued until God was satisfied with His newly created World.
How old is the Earth?
There were two outstanding Jewish Rabbis, Kabbalists, who lived approximately 200 years apart and amazingly had each independently come to the same conclusion about the age of the Earth which they estimated as being 15, 340, 500.000 years.
Rabbi Nehunya ben Ha-Kanah, Tanna of the first century, in his book 'Sefer HaTemunah', ("Book of the Figure," i.e. shape of the Hebrew letters), expressed a quite unpopular in his time opinion that the age of the Earth can be calculated as analogous to seven Sabbatical cycles of 7,000 years, as one day in God' sight is a thousand years. The Sabbatical cycle is followed by a Jubilee (every 50th year). 7,000 years is one Sabbatical cycle, so the Universe must have existed for seven Sabbatical cycles (parallel to the Jubilee), giving in total 49,000 years. Human civilizations, according to his view, will thus also rise and fall seven times during this period. This is the so-called Shmita Theory which became known as the Shitat Sefer Ha-Temunah. There are different opinions regarding which Sabbatical cycle we are currently in: some say we are in the sixth cycle (42,000) years, others say we are in the seventh cycle (42,000+5,779=47,779). As of today, 1,221 years are left to complete the seventh Sabbatical cycle, the last one of the Jubilee. If we account the age of the Earth for the sixth cycle, 42,000 x 365,250 ('divine year') = 15,340,500,000 'earthly' years old. To calculate the seventh cycle, we just simply add to these numbers the current years 5778 from the creation of Adam.
Rabbi Isaac of Acco, a 13th century Kabbalist, in his works Otzar haHaim, "Treasury of Life," agreed with the earliest teachings of R. Nehunya ben Ha-Kanah. In his opinion, the Sabbatical cycles existed before Adam was created; therefore those years should be calculated in 'divine years', not as 'human years'. The Bible says that one day in the eyes of the Lord is a thousand years for people on Earth (Psalm 90:4). Since the earthly year consists of 365.25 days, one 'divine year' would be 365,250 'earthly' years long. To calculate one Sabbatical cycle of 7,000 years, we must multiply it by 365,250 years which gives us 2,556,750,000 'earthly' years. Because we have completed the sixth Sabbatical cycle, it means that age of the Earth, before the 'freshly' originated seven days of Creation recorded in the Bible (Genesis 1:3-31), and the appearance of Adam and Eve, would have been 2,556,750,000 x 6 = 15,340,500,000 'earthly' years old. From the creation of Adam and Eve, in the opinion of R. Isaac and the other proponents of 'old' Earth, the calculation of the last, seventh Sabbatical cycle, must be measured in 'human', not 'divine' years. And the main reason for this is the fact that Adam, contrary to the other human races, created before him, was created in the shape and image of his Creator, who gave him an immortal soul, which is an essential part of God Almighty. At the end of Creation God blessed Adam and Eve. Everything He had created was good and pleased Him (Genesis 1:28, 31).
In no way does the Biblical account of Creation, properly understood in the light of the first two chapters of Genesis, contradict evolutionary theory and scientific findings. On the contrary, both views complement each other. There is no contradiction between science ('Big Bang') and the Biblical account (Creation) concerning the age of the Universe and planet Earth.