300-Million-Year-Old Coal and the Bible

Mike Atnip

Suppose your name was Joe Scientist. And you have the grand privilege of being placed in the Garden of Eden on the sixth day of this universe’s existence, just like Adam did in the Bible. But you have some things that Adam didn’t have, namely, modern science equipment to measure, see, and test all kinds of things. You have radar equipment, telescopes, microscopes, test tubes … a full science laboratory, including the ability to do radiocarbon and potassium-argon dating.

Now, there you are in Eden. You look around and wonder where you came from, where the things around you came from, and how they came to be. You are a scientist. So you set yourself to finding out first just how old everything about you is.

Imagine now that Adam steps up to you. He tells you that everything you see is at most six days old. “Really?” you exclaim. That sounds plausible … until you look around. Just over yonder is a horse getting a drink from the sparkling waters of the Euphrates. And it hits you … only six days old?

Finding scientific evidence

How could that be? That horse looks to be very mature, a full grown mare with a beautiful black colt at her side. Your scientific mind kicks into gear, and it occurs to you that it is a scientific fact that horses’ teeth grow and wear at a pretty consistent rate. If you could look into her mouth, you could determine her age, at least fairly close.

Horse teeth
The teeth of horses in Eden would probably have shown several years of age, even only one minute after being created—because God created mature horses.

You walk to her side and she obligingly lets you open her mouth and peer in. Ah! Her teeth show her to be about five years old. So there it is, scientific proof that the universe is more than six days old. It is at a minimum of five years of age.

Then you spot that old fallen oak. It lies on the ground, food for grubs and worms, and full of woodpecker holes. Your scientific mind starts churning again. Striding to the rotting log, it occurs to you that you could count the growth rings to determine just how old that old oak got before it crashed to the ground. You find a better section of the tree, grab the chainsaw from your equipment, and slice the huge trunk into two pieces. The outer two inches are pretty soft, but the inner section is still firm enough to count growth rings.

Five minutes later you have your data: 134 rings! Estimating the rings you couldn’t count because of the outer decay, and adding a few years of time since it actually fell to the ground before starting to rot and become worm food, you come to the realization that the tree is about 150 years old. You now have hard scientific data that the universe has existed for at least 150 years.

Wow! You are getting pretty excited about your finds. Standing up and stretching your back from bending over the old rotten oak, you notice the black rock jutting up. A coal vein sticking out of the ground!

Walking over to your newest discovery, you wonder just how old it is. You remember that coal is made from organic matter that is compressed under great heat. Eager to try out your science lab, you pull out a small piece and put it into your radiocarbon dating equipment. Ah, too bad. Radiocarbon dating is only good for things less than 60,000 years old. And your sample doesn’t show enough carbon 14 to even give a measurement, so it is at least 60,000 years old. Undeterred, you fire up your other dating equipment and finally come to the conclusion that your chunk of coal is 300 million years old.

You find Adam and tell him that his belief that the universe is only six days old has no scientific basis. You have already obtained three samples of hard scientific data proving otherwise: a five-year-old horse, a 150-year-old rotting oak tree, and a chunk of 300-million-year-old coal.

Creating things as already aged

Perhaps most readers will by now know the point I am about to make. For several decades now, the church of Jesus has been bombarded with “scientific data” that seems to overthrow the idea of a six-day creation scenario as presented in the Bible. The reactions to these scientific discoveries have been diverse. Some have given in and pitched the idea of a literal, six-day creation and decided that everything has evolved. Others have fallen for the idea that the six days mentioned in Genesis 1 do not refer to literal 24-hour periods, but are symbolic of extended time periods (old earth creationism). And yet others have feverishly sought to prove that the scientific data is wrong (young earth creationism).

We really do not need to go down any of those paths. It is perfectly possible for a rock to be 300 million years old, and still have been created only six thousand years ago.

When God created the trees, did He create every tree as a little seedling?

How is that? Think about it …

When God created the trees, did He create every tree as a little seedling? Or did He create some trees already full grown? In fact, He most likely created some trees in a state of decay, already full grown and lying on the ground dead … complete with X amount of growth rings. Like the little story above mentions, a non-believing scientist would walk up to a full grown tree on the day it was created and declare up and down that the tree was X amount of years old, because he had counted the growth rings.

Looking at the animals, he would also declare—one minute after they were created—that the world was at least Y amount of years old, because that horse over there could not have grown to full maturity in just one minute.

And so it goes with coal and other rocks. When God created this world, he put all the coal in it.[1] He put diamonds and gold and limestone, complete with fossilized remains in the limestone if He wanted to. This shows us the goodness of God, because under normal conditions, coal or gold or diamonds take many years to form, and God knew that we in the 21st century would need coal. So he “prefabricated” some and put it in place for our benefit. Aren’t you glad our Father thought of us while creating?

Interpreting the data

And so we need not be distracted and deterred by scientific data that dates rocks that are older than the approximately 6000 years that the Bible indicates as this world’s age. God can just as easily create 300-million-year-old coal as He can create a 150-year-old oak tree or a six-year-old horse.

We need not spend our time trying to prove that a certain rock is only 6000 years old at most. If the scientific testing of the rock dates it to be 100,000 years old, there are several plausible explanations (from a purely scientific point of view).

  1. The rock was made 100,000 years ago by a natural process.
  2. The rock was created 50,000 years ago as a 50,000-year-old rock.
  3. The rock was created 6000 years ago as a 94,000-year-old rock.
  4. Any various numbers as in the previous two possibilities.
  5. The testing method may later prove out to be wrong.
If this rock dates to be 100,000 years old, it may simply mean that God created it 6,000 years ago as a 94,000-year-old rock.

There is not a bit of scientific evidence to prove that a 100,000 year old rock was not created 6000 years ago as a 94,000-year-old rock. The only thing that a scientific test can do on a rock is say that this rock shows to be 100,000 years old. Now, it is up to each of us to interpret that data. And the five choices above are some of the options we have.

Do I have any solid scientific proof that coal was created as already being 300 million years old? No, I have no more scientific evidence of that (from a scientific point of view) than the man who decides that the coal was formed that way by a natural process starting 300 million years ago. He has no proof that it was never created; he just assumes his theory is correct.

But most scientists will not tell you about the option of believing that the 300 million year old coal was created 6000 years ago as already being 2,994,000 years old, just like the horse was created as already being five years old. You see, “science” has been dominated for the last few decades by unbelievers, who have almost completely banished all interpretations of data other than the Darwinian evolutionary theory.

The limits of natural science

Natural science deals only with the natural, and is thus incapable of dealing with the supernatural, or even the soulish parts of man. In other words, scientific instruments cannot measure such things as peace and love and hatred. Natural science cannot tell you, from the standpoint of any gauges or measuring devices, if a spirit of revenge exists in a room. Is there no such thing as a spirit of revenge just because we have no meter to measure revenge with?

Natural science is incapable of measuring or seeing into the spiritual realm.

Natural science cannot measure, see, feel, or hear God, Satan, angels, or demons. Those belong to the spiritual realm—the supernatural realm—and scientific instruments—at least the ones we now have—are totally incapable of monitoring that realm.

A humble and balanced scientist will acknowledge that things may exist that his instruments cannot measure. A proud scientist may boast that since he cannot see, feel, or measure any such thing as God or a devil, that is proof that God and devils do not exist. In other words, a humble scientist will acknowledge that his current knowledge and equipment may well be limited and/or outdated tomorrow. The proud scientist who makes strong denials of the supernatural—because his instruments are totally incapable of measuring supernatural things—is setting himself up for an embarrassment.

We as Christians do not fight valid scientific data. We may well interpret that data differently than an unbeliever. We may say that just because a rock tests to be 300 million years old, that is no proof that the universe has existed that long. Our God can create a 300-million-year-old chunk of coal quicker than you can say “Really?”

The choice

I have chosen to believe the Bible account of a six 24-hour-day creation. Why? Because I just believe whatever I happen to read in some book? Or because granddad said so?

What if my granddad was named Charles Darwin, and I swallowed everything he wrote in a book?

I have chosen to believe the Bible account of creation because I have found so many other parts of the Bible to be true and have concluded that it is inspired by Someone greater than the men who actually penned the various parts. What it speaks about human nature, and how it contains so many prophecies about a man named Jesus that came to pass exactly as prophesied, and how the Bible speaks so clearly in terms that my spirit just has to say, “Amen. That is truth.” These all lead me to believe in the biblical creation account.

It’s all about interpretation

Do I have any scientific proof that God made coal that was already 2,994,000 million years old when He created the earth 6000 years ago? No, I have no scientific “proof” for that theory. But neither does the man who claims it was formed by natural methods starting 300 million years ago have hard, scientific proof that that is how it happened.

It is a matter of how we interpret the data we have. As the poet said, “And that has made all the difference.” ~

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. He. 11:3

[1] Some people claim that the world’s coal supply was made as a consequence of Noah’s flood. That could be … I am not disputing that theory. For the moment, we will just assume that the coal was there on creation day.

PDF Click the icon to download or print this article.

You will need Adobe® Reader® software installed on your computer in order to view this file. (Adobe, the Adobe PDF file icon and Reader are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.)