Viewpoint: Evolution denialism is back. This time it’s coming from the left

(Alistair Robertson) #41

I’ll just add that contacting them is also an option.

(AndreasM) #42

+1 for John Hartnett. That’s the idea I meant in my other post.

(Tim Bayly) #43

Yup, and wine without alcohol and men with two belly buttons. :slight_smile:

(Joseph Bayly) #44

Absolutely. But I’ve never heard of trees without rings needing “explanation.” I don’t deny the possibility of God creating a seed instead of a tree. But where did the seed come from? Each implies the other. Even if you work your way back all the way to a “big bang” or some such, you’re left with the essential question of where did it come from? And the answer is “God created it out of nothing.” And it’s a miracle. I don’t see what benefit it is to say the miracle happened this time but not that time, here but not there. Existence implies a prior time, but there was a time when existence started. That’s all I’m driving at.

(AndreasM) #45

Isn’t wine without alcohol an abomination? :wink:

(AndreasM) #46

I agree with you. I would also point out that even “time” is something created, an entity that “exists”, even if we can’t imagine that.

(Alex Costa) #47

I asked the question so here are my thoughts. I hold these loosely.

The question of starlight ultimately doesn’t matter. When God created the universe, He wasn’t limited to creating the present time. It was within God’s power to create the time period that we perceive to be “past” at the moment He spoke everything into existence. So on the fourth day when God said “let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens,” He could have then created the time we perceive to be x billion years ago while He created the space x billion light years away in which the star existed, all for the purpose of it’s light reaching the Earth at the time He spoke. With this view, it wouldn’t be a contradiction to say that God created the universe thousands of years ago and that the universe is/feels billions of years old.

With that being said, if I’m asked this question by a skeptic, my desire is to show him that the question of starlight doesn’t matter. His view of God and what He can do is limited to man’s perceptions of God’s abilities.

(Henry Milewski) #48

Belated reply, yes totally agree with this statement. I recall Kurt Wise saying any scientific theory that can explain 90-95% of the evidence is a very successful one. There are always anomalies.

I don’t see anyone arguing that answering the ‘how’ is unimportant. That is what the whole YAC enterprise is about. Rather, the point is that if our main reason for dismissing a theory is on the level of ‘how’ - that is not a robust grounding for dismissal. We must go further, and show that the balance of evidence is against. And theological evidence should be determinative here.

(Henry Milewski) #49

I’m dubious about Hartnett’s proposal, but don’t know his work well. The difficulty for almost everyone in assessing cosmological theories like those of Hartnett or Humphreys, is that they are highly technical, mathematical and abstract, and you need to be something of an expert to be in a position to assess credibility.

The solution, I think, is to read qualified critics, especially creationist ones, and see what they say, and you can often begin to get a sense of the merits (or not) of a theory, even if you don’t understand the theory itself. John Byl, is one such critic, and has some critical comments on Hartnett’s theory here at his very interesting blog.

Good YACs will tell you Danny Faulkner is the go-to man for astronomy, and it is interesting to note that he doesn’t seem sufficiently convinced by Hartnett’s proposal to actually adopt it, and himself prefers a much simpler non-technical mature creation solution, similar to the one favoured by John Byl in the link above and also here. John Byl has written other thoughtful stuff on mature creation too.

For an up-to-date overview of the current state of creation astronomy, see this paper from last year’s ICC by Danny Faulkner. Includes an overview of the various light time-travel proposals too.

(AndreasM) #50

Thanks Henry, this is very helpful.

I agree that it is more of a speculation than a complete theory. I mentioned The Creation Answer book and the authors seem to be very cautious too and note that it is healthy when one theory is replaced by a “better” one.

(Joel Norris) #51

I’ve been busy and not much has happened on this thread for a week, but I think it is probably worthwhile for me to return to the topic and offer a more precise criticism of YAC. My thanks to @henrybish and @Alistair for the links.

First, let me lay out the premises of YAC as I understand them. One is that creation happened over six 24-hour days, as would be measured by someone with a watch standing on the surface of the Earth. Another is that Genesis 1 reports a scientific history of creation, understood broadly. A third is that the creation happened recently. A fourth is that the Earth and the rest of the universe, after their initial creation, developed mostly according to real natural processes.

My first point is that the premises above are not the only premises one may adopt and still be faithful to the Bible. For example, one might posit that the days of creation are no ordinary days considering that the Sun didn’t appear until the fourth day and that the seventh day is of indefinite duration. One also might also posit that Genesis 1 is not intended to convey an actual scientific history any more than Ezekiel’s vision of a temple is intended to describe a structure that will actually be built someday in Jerusalem. One might also posit that the Earth and universe may be considerably older than human history (Psalm 102:25). I won’t develop this any further here but simply offer it as a demonstration that there are biblically faithful alternatives to the YAC premises.

Now I will discuss the application of YAC premises to the development of scientific theories. Someone above mentioned light from distant stars, and this provides a good illustration. The basic conundrum for YAC is that almost all astronomical objects are very far away such that light from them would take a very long time to reach Earth, which doesn’t fit with the YAC premise of a recent creation. Positing that God created the light along the way also doesn’t fit with the YAC premise that astronomical events seen in telescopes are the result of real natural processes occurring after the initial creation. So instead YAC adherents develop speculative ad hoc theories related to changes in the speed of light, gravity wells, etc. that attempt to explain how light from very distant objects could have reached Earth within a very short period of time. But there is not really any evidence to support one theory or another, nor is it clear whether there would ever be any sort of evidence that could test one of these theories. To be fair, I should stress that YAC adherents acknowledge these shortcomings. But I will also point out that such shortcomings characterize not only the question of distant astronomical objects but many questions in geology as well.

With this foundation laid, let me now issue my criticism. When one must resort to speculative, ad hoc, and untestable theories in order to reconcile observations of nature with one’s premises, that is a strong indication that one’s premises are faulty. After all, we wouldn’t accept reasoning this weak in other areas of life – imagine trying to win a case in court on such grounds – so why should YAC get a pass? It seems that the only people who find YAC arguments convincing are those who are already strongly invested in the YAC premises. That’s not a demonstration of strength. Propping up YAC is a waste of effort that could be more profitably spent elsewhere.

(Alistair Robertson) #52

Joel, thanks for your explanation.

Your conclusion was:

When one must resort to speculative, ad hoc, and untestable theories in order to reconcile observations of nature with one’s premises, that is a strong indication that one’s premises are faulty.

The problem with that conclusion is that I came to a biblical understanding of a young creation before reading any creation scientists, so unless I could be convinced that an old creation is biblically accurate (or at least plausible), I read your conclusion like this:

When one must resort to speculative, ad hoc, and untestable theories in order to reconcile observations of nature with Scripture, that is a strong indication that Scripture is faulty.

Creation scientists point out - rightly, I think - that often people say “observations of nature” when they are actually referring to interpretations of observations of nature. But I admit the distance and speed light travels from distant stars comes down harder on the observation side. In that case, I see people casting around for biblically faithful explanations, (as a side note, I like the alternative one linked to by Henry the best), and that some of them seem to be reaching doesn’t really worry me. Sometimes it’s the weird and counterintuitive ideas that provide a key to a more plausible solution.

As for untestable, when John Hartnett disagrees with theories on the basis of red or blue shift, he is using evidence to test their validity. In every area, creation scientists critique and test each other’s theories. This alone shows that your characterisation of Creation Science theories as “untestable” is uncharitable and inaccurate.

Of course those who believe Scripture teaches a young creation are willing to support YAC theories - that’s where they stem from. And those who have faith in naturalism support theories that rely on natrualistic principles - that’s where they stem from. A better test is whether people have been convinced to change their minds from one view to the other - but then there are examples both ways.

So all in all, you disagree with YAC. Ok. To my mind, that means you put the premises of naturalistic science above the premises of Scripture. I understand that you and others believe that such premises are compatible with a reading of Scripture, but I don’t. That’s the area I would need to be convinced in.

(And yes, there are weak arguments on every side).

Enjoying this, but busy. Any further contributions may be late or never.

(John M. ) #53

The text of Scripture won’t hold these alternative explanations. Either the earth is young, or we must ball our hermeneutic into a wad and throw it in the trash before we’ve left the first page of our Bible. And in so doing, we lose Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood and the Tower of Babel, all of which are crucial for what comes later.

(John Trocke) #54

Augustine also questioned what “day” meant before the sun existed. I think you need to expand why you think the Joel’s alternate positions necessarily contradict scripture.

(Joel Norris) #55

Thanks for your response @Alistair

This illustrates my point. You did not compare the scientific arguments put forth by young age and old age creationists and find the former more convincing. Instead, you already had your mind made up and used YAC to reaffirm your prior belief. In essence, YAC serves as propaganda – it boosts morale on the home front, but one wouldn’t want to use it to train people for combating real opponents, like a student going to college to face secular geologists and astronomers.

Rather, you should read it as “that is a strong indication that one’s interpretation of Scripture is faulty.” YAC adherents often frame their view as believing the Bible or not, but in actuality, it is whether one believes a particular interpretation of the Bible or not. What I assert is that Scripture does not mean what you think it means.

Actually, it was a YAC writer who described YAC theories this way in one of the links suggested above.

It turns out that I when I became a Christian I adopted YAC views because that is what my church taught, and I think it was suitable for me as a young believer to do so. Later on I reconsidered and switched to old earth views.

I assume you are not a geocentrist (there are in fact Christian geocentrists out there who adopt that view out of biblical conviction). If so, you have let naturalistic science correct your interpretation of Scripture (or you have followed those who have gone before you who let naturalistic science correct their interpretation of Scripture) – after all, a literal reading of Scripture would require a geocentric view. So it’s not a question of whether we ever let naturalistic science correct our interpretation of Scripture, it is a question of in what situations is it right to do so (note that I am not advocating uncritical acceptance any or every current theory because Science).

Because @FaithAlone can’t see how Scripture can be faithfully interpreted in any other way besides his interpretation, one must agree with him or disbelieve the Bible. This seems to be a common mode of YAC argumentation.

(John M. ) #56

Augustine did not interpret the six days of creation literally. But he believed the earth was young:
“Unbelievers are also deceived by false documents which ascribe to history many thousand years, although we can calculate from Sacred Scripture that not 6,000 years have passed since the creation of man.” (From City of God)

(John M. ) #57

Sure. Let’s start here: we should interpret Scripture normally. People generally write literally, and if they write metaphorically, there are textual clues for that. If there are no textual clues that something is a metaphor, then it isn’t.

The word “day” in Genesis means an ordinary 24-hour days. It’s an entirely typical word used many, many times throughout Scripture. Can anyone point to a use of this word in Scripture that isn’t an ordinary day, outside of the creation account in Genesis?

Now let’s look at another part of Scripture:
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Here we have YHWH himself giving commentary on his sabbath commandment. In it, he points back to the creation account and ties the seventh (ordinary 24-hour) day to the seventh day of creation.

If the “days” of creation aren’t ordinary 24-hour periods, then why do they tie to the ordinary days of a week? Is the sabbath an age?

When we exegete Scripture, we must let Scripture tell us what it’s saying. We cannot take extra-Biblical sources and push them into the text. Why did basically every Christian before 1800 believe in a young earth? Because that’s what Scripture is saying.

Taking materialistic explanations for the origins of the universe poses a number of problems. Disposing of Adam and Eve is a huge one. Being left with a hermeneutic that has no defense against metaphorical interpretations of the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus is another.


(Joseph Bayly) #58

This Augustine quote does not prove what you want it to. “…since the creation of man” combined with interpreting “day” as a metaphor proves nothing about what he thought the age of the earth was. His argument was simply that “histories” of what men were doing before Adam and Eve existed were obviously false.

(Joseph Bayly) #59

I believe so, since even people who hold your position acknowledge it prior to arguing why it must be 24-hours in Gen 1:

(Alistair Robertson) #60

G’day again, Joel.

I’m wondering where that description is. Can you direct me to it? All I could find was John Hartnett going on about this or that model being testable and one that he disagreed with being untestable.

But perhaps you are referring to the general Creation Science distinction between operational science (testable, repeatable) and “origins” or “historical science” (untestable, unrepeatable). In that case, the argument is that historical events are not subject to scientific experimentation in the same way existing properties can be tested in real time. Both evolution and creation are historical events, and therefore are interpretations of evidence for which many and varied lines of evidence of differing levels of authority are employed.

Or perhaps you read that assertion correctly somewhere, but in light of the fact that theories are tested in many creation science writings, the assertion is patently false.

The assertion that creation scientists deem their theories untestable should be tested :).