How far into the past can ice-core records go? Scientists have now identified regions in Antarctica they say could store information about Earth’s climate and greenhouse gases extending as far back as 1.5 million years, almost twice as old as the oldest ice core drilled to date. (source)
There is very compelling evidence from ice core samples that discredits young earth interpretations of the Bible. However, it isn’t a problem for believers because the Bible never dates creation. That came much later when men like Bishop Ussher added the genealogies and calculated a date. However, there are very good reasons to think these genealogies are not chronological. Francis Schaeffer observed:
Prior to the time of Abraham, there is no possible way to date the history of what we find in Scripture. After Abraham, we can date the biblical history and correlate it with secular history. When the Bible itself reaches back and picks up events and genealogies in the time before Abraham, it never uses these early genealogies as a chronology. It never adds up these numbers for dating. (Genesis in Space and Time 123-124).
This is laid bear when one examines the text in its original language. The term often translated “father” does not necessarily imply linear descent but can also mean “ancestor” or “forefather.”
אָב ab (3a); from an unused word; father:—ancestors(1), family*(1), father(571), Father(8), father’s(137), fathers(333), fathers’(120), fathers’ households(1), forefather(1), forefathers(27), grandfather(1), grandfathers(1), households(5), Huram-abi*(2), sons(1).
New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).
Accordingly, the young earth date setting project was never the biblical authors’ intent but a later extrapolation. With such a dubious starting place it is rather astounding the level of vitriol and science denial in which young earthers engage.
Ones interpretation of scripture needs to be tempered by natural revelation as in the case of the ice core samples. History has shown us that to refuse do so discredits the church. Consider when Copernicus proposed that the earth revolved around the sun, he and Galileo were branded heretics because of the churches interpretation of these passages:
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. (Ps. 93:1)
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. (Josh. 10:13)
[The sun’s] rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Ps. 19:6)
The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. (Eccl. 1:5)
If young earthers maintained a consistent hermeneutic to what they demand concerning Genesis and the genealogies, it seems like they should also be geocentrists. However, today it is understood that the Bible uses the language of appearance and was not making scientific claims about the sun moving. Indeed, even young earthers compromise their literal interpretation of scripture in order to keep step with Copernican theory. How long will it take until they face the overwhelming evidence for the true age of the earth?