In literally every discussion I have had with an Atheist, the age of the earth is the first thing they have gone to. I can explain my beliefs better now, but for many younger Christians, this can be a point of uncertainty. Reading this will help you in your witness, even though this isn’t going to be the most entertaining thing you’ve ever read.
The first thing you need to know is that the Bible was not written as a science book. It is a historical documentation of God’s people divinely inspired by God. With this in mind, you have to realize that the Bible can’t solely be analyzed through the lens of science. It would be like taking your history book and someone telling you to find all the elements and their isotopes, it’s just not going to work.
The verse in question is: Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
There are many schools of thought, but I will explain mine. This is not the only viewpoint, and you are welcome to disagree, as long as you can support what you believe.
I believe Historic Creationism makes the most sense. The Hebrew word for “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 is re’shit. This marks a specific starting point for what comes after, which would have been the six days of God cultivating the earth. It does not define how long between God creating, and God cultivating the earth. To say it in a more succinct way, God created the earth, time passed, and then God cultivated the earth in six days, resting on the seventh.
What God created in Genesis 1:1 existed for an undefined period of time. This could be anything from a second to billions of years. The land that God created was unfit for human habitation. The cultivation of the land for Adam and Eve was six literal days, shown in Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11.
I like this interpretation because it leaves open the possibility of an old earth (which allows for carbon dating, etc.) but also leaves open a young humanity on the old earth.
Science has already proven that human life as we know it is at most 10,000 years old. It has also proven that there was a first human female, and a first human male, unconnected to other Homo species such as Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus.
Again, I have no way of proving this is one hundred percent right. This is simply what I have found in studying, and has helped me to be able to share my faith with others, without having to say “I don’t know” to every question they ask.