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Why the vast difference of opinion about the age of the Universe?

I was surprised my self when I learned that light comes from stars that are millions or billions of light years apart. It seems to be obvious that our universe is pretty old. I suppose.

One explanation is that the word yom in hebrew means era instead of days. Still the Jewish calendar counts from creation. That suggest that you know (or presume to know) the year the world is born.

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marked as duplicate by Isaac Moses, Monica Cellio Sep 6 '12 at 14:30

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
See judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/30/bereishit-vs-science and judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/792/…. (I'm not sure which of those to propose this as the duplicate of.) –  Monica Cellio Sep 6 '12 at 13:07
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@MonicaCellio I vote for the latter. JimThio, you should know that 5772 years is traditionally from the end of the 6th day when Adam was created not the 1st day when the world was created. –  Double AA Sep 6 '12 at 13:13
    
See also this excerpt from Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (brought by Rabbi Gil Student here). –  b a Sep 6 '12 at 13:30
    
@DoubleAA, source? –  Seth J Sep 6 '12 at 18:34
    
@SethJ Seder HaDoros, et. al. –  b a Sep 7 '12 at 0:25
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

A simple explanation is that the when G-d created the world 5772 years ago, He did not create it as a "brand-new" world, but rather created the world in a state as if it had been existing for many years previously.

This is quite evident from the fact that the sin of the Tree of Knowledge occurred on the same day Adam was created. He was obviously "born" being capable of talking and eating, and not as a one-day old newborn baby. (According to the Midrash he was created as if he was 20 years old - Bereshit Rabbah 14:7). The Torah says (Genesis 1:12) that the trees were created already bearing fruit. The world was thus created in a ready state, and the stars many millions of light years away were likewise created together with their light reaching earth.

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It's called last thursdaysm. –  Jim Thio Sep 7 '12 at 6:45
    
@JimThio Actually I think it's called Last Wednesdayism. –  Double AA Sep 7 '12 at 8:57
    
Yap that's the link :) –  Jim Thio Sep 7 '12 at 9:07
    
@DoubleAA Actually according to the link you posted it is called Last Thursdayism –  Michoel Sep 9 '12 at 7:15
    
I find it fascinating that opponents call this idea "Last Thursdayism", mocking the fact that the world could have been created 5 minutes ago. That is exactly the point - it could have. The only way we know it wasn't is because the Torah tells us otherwise. I'd go further to say that the only way we know that we even exist is because the Torah says so. –  Michoel Sep 9 '12 at 7:18
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