Mark 10:6 - Proof the Earth is Young? Was Jesus a Young Earth Creationist?
by Rich Deem


YEC & Divorce

Why would young earth creationists cite Jesus' teaching about divorce in Mark 10:6 to "prove" the earth is young? Why don't they cite the parallel verse in Matthew 19:4?

Rich Deem

Young earth creationists say that Jesus believed the earth was young and cite Mark 10:6 as "proof." The verse, cited out of context, seems pretty convincing, "But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female." Since the verse is referring to human beings, it seems to suggest that there couldn't have been millions or billions of years before human males and females came on the scene. Is this the meaning Jesus intended to convey in His teaching?

Mark 10:6—in context

Jesus had travelled from Capernaum to Judea on the east side of the Jordan River (see map). While preaching to the people, some Pharisees showed up trying to trap Jesus in some of His teaching. The question they posed was, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" They knew that God was against divorce, although Moses did allow it under certain situations. So, no matter what Jesus said, the Pharisees thought they could trap Him.

Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses permitted a man 'to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.'" But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. "But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh;' so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Mark 10:2-9)

So, the context shows that Mark 10:6 is part of a teaching on marriage and divorce and not about creation. If one looks at the English translation of Mark 10:6, it appears that Jesus erred in His description of Genesis 1. No matter how one counts the "days," human beings were not created "at the beginning of creation." In fact, male and female human beings were created at the end of God's creative acts (Genesis 1:24-31). The original Greek word, ktisis, translated "creation," has a number of other meanings.1 Ktisis can also refer to created beings (e.g., creatures) or institutions or ordinances.1 If translated in any of these ways, Jesus was not making a theological error about the beginning of creation. Instead, He was merely claiming that the institution of marriage began immediately after both males and females had been created. This reference to marriage, rather than the creation, was made clear when Jesus immediately quoted from Genesis 2:24.2 So, the claim that Jesus was making a theological error, while supporting young earth creationism, is not supported by the context of Mark 10:6.

Matthew 19:4

The parallel text of Mark 10:6 is Matthew 19:4. In both instances, Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees on the question of divorce. Here is Matthew 19:4, in context:

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matthew 19:3-6)

In this version of Jesus' teaching on divorce, the Greek word ktisis does not appear at all. Instead, the verb ktizō, "to create," is found. So, the verses are clearly referring to the beginning of marriage, which started upon the creation of Adam and Eve. Like Mark 10:6, these verses have nothing to do with a teaching about the age of the earth.

Conclusion Top of page

Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding CreationYoung earth creationists claim that Jesus taught in Mark 10:6 that human beings were created "at the beginning of creation," meaning that there could not have been millions of years between the creation of the earth and the creation of human beings. However, Jesus' teaching was not about creation, but about marriage and divorce. The "beginning" referred to in Mark 10:6 and Matthew 19:4 was the beginning of marriage, not the beginning of the universe. The young earth interpretation of Mark 10:6 actually makes Jesus seem to misunderstand the order of creation by claiming that human beings were created at the beginning of creation rather than the end of creation (the sixth day). Since Jesus actually created the universe and all other created things, it would seem unlikely that He would have erred on the order of creation. The claim that Mark 10:6 supports young earth creationism is false.

Other Resources Top of page

A Matter of Days by Hugh RossA Matter of Days by Hugh Ross

Dr. Ross looks the creation date controversy from a biblical, historical, and scientific perspective. Most of the book deals with what the Bible has to say about the days of creation. Ross concludes that biblical models of creation should be tested through the whole of scripture and the revelations of nature.

Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth by Mark S. Whorton, Ph.D.

This book, written for Christians, examines creation paradigms on the basis of what scripture says. Many Christians assume that the young earth "perfect paradise" paradigm is based upon what the Bible says. In reality, the "perfect paradise" paradigm fails in its lack of biblical support and also in its underlying assumptions that it forces upon a "Christian" worldview. Under the "perfect paradise" paradigm, God is relegated to the position of a poor designer, whose plans for the perfect creation are ruined by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God is forced to come up with "plan B," in which He vindictively creates weeds, disease, carnivorous animals, and death to get back at humanity for their sin. Young earth creationists inadvertently buy into the atheistic worldview that suffering could not have been the original intent of God, stating that the earth was created "for our pleasure." However, the Bible says that God created carnivores, and that the death of animals and plants was part of God's original design for the earth.

A New Look at an Old EarthA New Look at an Old Earth by Don Stoner

Don Stoner looks at the age of the earth from a scientific and biblical perspective. He presents much more evidence that is not presented in Creation and Time.

The older version of A New Look at an Old Earth is available online

References Top of page

  1. Thayer's Greek Definitions
    ktisis κτίσις (Strong's #G2937)
    1. the act of founding, establishing, building etc.
      1. the act of creating, creation
      2. creation, i.e. thing created
        1. of individual things, beings, a creature, a creation
          1. anything created
          2. after a rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called)
          3. the sum or aggregate of things created
      3. institution, ordinance
    Part of Speech: noun feminine
    A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G2936
    Citing in TDNT: 3:1000, 481
  2. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
  3. Thayer's Greek Definitions
    ktizō κτίζω (Strong's #G2936)
    1. to make habitable, to people, a place, region, island
      1. to found a city, colony, state
    2. to create
      1. of God creating the worlds
      2. to form, shape, i.e. to completely change or transform
    Part of Speech: verb
    A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: probably akin to G2932 (through the idea of proprietor-ship of the manufacturer)
    Citing in TDNT: 3:1000, 481
Last Modified April 8, 2013


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