Updated: May 12
As someone who is not particularly trained in the sciences, I will simply refer to what scientists say. Since nearly everyone who is trained in the sciences believes that carbon dating is not a hoax and that the world is actually over a billion years old, I am inclined to defer to their judgement.
In fact, carbon dating is not the only reason scientists consider the earth old. A book called Is There A God? by John Oakes, Ph.D., who was a professor of chemistry, reports some of the other reasons scientists consider the earth older than a few thousand years.
One is how the distance of celestial objects is calculated. He discusses how astronomers calculate distance to stars thro
ugh at least three methods: parallax viewing, Cepheid variables, and red shift. For instance, the spiral galaxy M31 in Andromeda is calculated to be 2.25 million lightyears away from our solar system. These three methods of determining the distance of a star lead to a couple conclusions, according to Dr. Oakes:
“How long ago did the hitting an astronomer’s telescope leave the M31 galaxy? Since light travels a distance of one light year per year (the definition of a light year), evidently the galaxy being viewed is at least 2.25 million years old, because the light entering a telescope on earth left the galaxy about 2.25 million years ago. (Actually, according to the theory of stellar evolution, to be discussed later, cosmologists interpret many of the stars in M31 to be billions of years old.)”
The conclusions of cosmologists on these points are part of what lead scientists to believe that the universe is billions of years old. But wait, there’s more.
From what scientists understand about geological deposits, there is no doubt that the earth is very old. For instance, scientists have concluded that the Colorado River has been cutting through millions of horizontal layers of rock in the Grand Canyon for many millions of years. For a more in-depth explanation that Dr. Oakes gives, I suggest buying the book. Here is also an article that sheds light on the subject:
The reason that carbon dating is considered a hoax is because people who believe in the young earth theory of creation (YECs) try to fit this belief into science. Like I said, I am not a scientist, but I do find forcing religious beliefs to fit with scientific evidence to be dubious at best. Science is based on empirical evidence, and therefore is not capable on answering questions based about our purpose as human beings (A.K.A. philosophy or religion). These are entirely different fields of study. If science is doing what it's supposed to, it is only concerned with the data and studying that data as objectively as possible.
I do not believe scientists are out to get Christians or "disprove Christianity" in most cases, and some of them are avid believers in the God of the Bible. In most cases, they are simply doing their best to examine the evidence as objectively as possible. Am I saying that scientists always succeed in this endeavor? No, but that is the goal.
Could they all be deceived? That is certainly possible. However, the belief in a young or old earth in and of itself has no real importance to our salvation, or any bearing on our relationship with God. I find it an interesting subject, and one that is helpful in learning how we are to interpret the first few chapters of Genesis in their original context.
For those who are inclined to trust scientific discovery or theory, I see no reason to reject the Bible and its claims.
Inevitably this question will lead to another: Well, how are we to interpret the first few chapters of Genesis? For this I will write my own separate blog post on how to interpret the first two chapters of Genesis. However, Douglas Jacoby’s link above will be helpful to start.