How Old is the Earth?
The Bible provides a chronology of history that extends back to the creation of Adam and Eve and to the creation of the earth. From this chronology it is possible to determine the date of the creation and hence the age of the earth.
Archbishop Ussher of Armagh (1581-1657) had calculated the year of creation to be 4004 BC If that was not precise enough, Dr. Lightfoot of Cambridge worked out that the exact time when God completed His creation was 9 a.m. on Friday, October 23, 4004 BC (see the book 7whinking about God by Sr. R. W. Maqsood, p. 63).
Many religious groups and sects have used this date in predicting precise dates for the end of the world, but all such predictions have so far proved erroneous. The one fact against them is that the world is still intact and we are very much alive. One reason al1 of those predictions failed is that they are calculated from a false date of creation. If 4004 BC was the year of creation, that would make the earth less than six thousand years old. No scientist can accept this today.
Modern scientists estimate that the earth is 4.5 billion years old with a maximum error of 2.2 % (see The Bible, the Quran and Science, p. 148). Knowing this, many educated people lost faith in religion. They naturally felt that the Word of God should not contain errors of this kind. Others maintain that the Word of God was meant to teach only that truth which God wanted put into the scriptures for our salvation It if therefore immaterial if the book contains historical or scientific errors. As the scientist Galileo put it, the Bible is there to teach people how to go to heaven; it is not there to teach people how the heavens go. Some maintain, therefore, that it is understandable that the book will contain some historical and scientific errors since it was written by human beings who lived a long time ago and did not share our modern knowledge.
The Quran, on the other hand, does not contain any historical or scientific or any kind of error. God challenges us to test this claim by examining the book for ourselves (see Quran 4:82).
The Quran does not repeat the incorrect biblical chronology we have seen above. The Quran does not give a chronology since its purpose is not to provide us with the details of history, but only to teach us the lessons arising from specific events in history.
The Quran does, however tell us that God measured the sustenance of the earth in four periods (Quran 41 :10). As to what could be the significance of these four periods, Dr. Bucaille comments as follows: "One could perhaps see in them the four geological periods described by modern science, with man's appearance, as we already know, taking place in the quaternary era. This is purely a hypothesis since nobody has an answer to this question" (The Bible, the Quran and Science, p. 150).
How did the author of the Quran avoid the mistake in chronology committed by so many others, and believed in by so many others even up to our present day? Could a man in the seventh century have known that the earth was much more than six thousand years old? How could he come by this modern knowledge unless God was revealing knowledge to him?
God tells us that the Quran is His book and not the work of any man (see Quran 10:37).