Will the Earth Abide Forever? Ps 104, Ecc 1:4, Is 65, 2 Pet 3

Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether the earth will abide forever (Psalm 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:4 vs Isaiah 65:17, 2 Peter 3:10).
Bible "contradictions"
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Quick Answer

The supposedly contradictory verses are talking about earth in completely different ways. One set of verses is talking about how the earth appears to us—immovable, permanent. The other set of verses is talking about what will happen to the earth—there will be a new earth. This does not necessarily mean that the current earth will disappear or be destroyed. It could simply mean that God will renew, or transform, the earth.

The argument

Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether th earth will abide, or remain, forever. Here are the relevant passages:

The earth abides forever

Psalm 104:5 - He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.
Ecclesiastes 1:4 - A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.

The earth will not abide forever

Isaiah 65:17 - For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
2 Peter 3:10 - But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[a] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

The solution

There is clearly no contradiction between these verses.

Psalm 104:5 is talking about God's greatness, and says that God is great because He can create and control something as large and "immovable" as the earth. Obviously, the earth does "move," but, from our perspective living on the earth, it is as if the earth is "unmoving."

Ecclesiastes 1:4 is simply saying that human life is extremely fleeting compared to the lifespan of the earth. Compared to the lifespan of human beings and human generations, it is as if the earth abides forever.

Isaiah 65:17 is talking about what God will do in the future—there will be a new heavens and a new earth. This does not necessarily mean that God will destroy or remove the old earth. He could simply plan on renewing or transforming the earth in a significant manner.

2 Peter 3:10 is also talking about what God will do regarding the earth. THat it will be "burned up," or "exposed," doesn't necessarily mean that it will be destroyed. God could simply plan on burning a large portion of the earth.

"I don't buy that explanation"

Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:

I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.

Fact vs Opinion

The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.

However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.

When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.

Additional Resources

To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.

Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.

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