Young-Earth Creationists Undermine Confidence in the Bible

In a discussion with a young-earth creationist here on this blog recently, it was illustrated once again how those with such a perspective are willing to simply make things up to try to bolster their viewpoint. One example is the evidence for the age of the earth provided by chalk deposits. Chalk is formed through the death and deposit on the ocean floor of the remains of microorganisms. The rate at which this ooze of dead microorganisms’ remains can turn into chalk over time is, I believe, around 1-6 centimeters in 1,000 years. When we consider that there are chalk beds hundreds of meters thick, and which are no longer submerged underwater, a strong case for the minimum possible age of the earth can be made. You do the math.

Some young-earth creationists have already shown themselves willing to cook or fudge the numbers, or insert countless ad hoc assumptions, in an attempt to avoid the obvious conclusion about where this evidence points. And in doing so, they call the creation that they attribute to God a liar, and risk defaming the Creator they claim to wish to defend.

But that isn’t what I wish to focus on here. Sometimes, young-earth creationists will be asked about this issue and, never having previously encountered it, will try to make something up on the spot to address an issue about which they have no background information or understanding.

In doing so, they illustrate that some Christians (I emphasize not all of us are willing to do this, although back in my young-earth creationist days I too did this very thing) are willing to simply make things up if they think that those things will persuade others to believe or allow an argument to be won.

In so doing, they make it seem entirely plausible that Christians in antiquity did the same thing. People are saying that the disciples stole the body? We’ll invent guards on the tomb. What was Jesus’ birth like? It must have been spectacular, so let me tell you a story.

Young-earth creationists, by their very willingness to deceive in the name of their worldview (which they falsely attribute to divine origin), undermine any confidence that anyone might have had in ancient religious texts. After all, can we confirm from this distance in time that the authors were not just like these modern young-earth creationists – either willing to make things up themselves, or willing to pass on stories that they heard without investigating the matter thoroughly and critically?

Young-earth creationists claim to wish to defend the truthfulness of the Bible, but their very actions are among the reasons people today find it impossible to be confident in the Bible’s truthfulness.

Finally, for those who may be interested in the scientific evidence itself, not only do chalk deposits provide evidence for the antiquity of the earth, but it is also possible to trace the evolution of microorganisms through the deposits! The rocks cry out!

  • Mel Schriver

    I have found this reference effective with Christians of all stripe in discussing this issue (http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Rocks-Time-Geological-Evidence/dp/0830828761).

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Thanks! I highly recommend that book too, and reviewed it here at Exploring Our Matrix a while back:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2009/04/review-of-young-and-stearley-the-bible-rocks-and-time.html 

  • Anonymous

    You are assuming those microorganisms did evolve and are not just tons of dead microorganisms from the pre-flood to the flood. You are also assuming that the entire chalk structure is pure chalk. Some chalk is not organic. You are assuming the flood did not happen and kill nearly all sea life. You are assuming the flood event did not cause a breakup of the ocean floor which pushed these deposits up rapidly.

    This is what secular scientists do. They examine the evidence and then generally make assumptions. They have to as they can’t know everything about the past. Christians themselves do not attribute a divine origin to a worldview. The Bible does. You are free to believe it or not.You are claiming that the NT is made up stories? So those writers of the NT got beat up, tortured and killed because of a fake story? Why didn’t they invent a super savior then? One that didn’t get beat up himself and die? One that would have been accepted by the majority of Jews? If later writers wanted their readers to believe that Jesus is the Son
    of God and Lord of life, then His journey to Golgotha appeared to be a
    disaster. He stumbled and fell and was too weak to carry the crossbeam;
    and why make up that seemingly despairing cry from the Cross: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
    So many details of Christ’s final week—the entry into Jerusalem, the
    beating and Crucifixion, and the claim of a resurrection—opened
    Christians up to ridicule. The Jews were offended, the Greeks mocked,
    and the Romans drew graffiti of a donkey-headed man on a cross. Why make
    it all up?As with the Old Testament, archaeology continually confirms the accuracy of the New Testament historical record. A few examples:A papyrus decree was discovered in Egypt that was an order for a
    Roman census in Egypt at the time of Trajan in AD 104, which mirrors the
    order of Augustus recorded in Luke 2. The Prefect Gaius Vibius Maximus ordered all those in his area to return to their own homes for the purpose of a census.

    The British Museum in London displays a small bronze coin minted by
    Pontius Pilate while he was governor of Judea; it carries the date of
    the 17th year of Tiberius, which would be AD 30/31—perhaps the very year
    of the Crucifixion of Jesus.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Cdbren, you are once again simply making things up. Why not at least do so with the necessary specifics, having God miraculously increase the number of microorganisms in certain areas, kill them all and turn them into chalk, rather than simply assuming that your flood idea is sufficient, when it isn’t?

    You seem not to grasp that no one who is historically well-informed disputes that some things in the Bible actually happened. There absolutely is some historical evidence confirming some of the things in the Bible. There is also some evidence that is at odds with the accounts in the Bible. There is nothing implausible about viewing the Biblical texts as including historical information. What doesn’t work is the attempt to say that they always do, or that the Biblical authors consistently managed to avoid saying anything that reflected the pre-scientific worldview that people held in their time.

    Now, are you ready to stop simply assuming that I must be wrong, and that pretty much all the world’s scientists including many who are your brothers and sisters in Christ must be wrong, because we follow the evidence where it leads, and instead inform yourself about these matters? Have you learned nothing from the attempt to argue against heliocentrism based on what seemed at the time to be equally clear Biblical statements? 

    • Anonymous

      Turn them into chalk….?

      They don’t turn into chalk. Chalk is the dead shells of marine organisms. 

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalk

      God increased the numbers?….

      Again, you are assuming that prior to the Flood there were insufficient organisms present to account for the chalk cliffs. If you have evidence that there was not, please present it. I would assume that no one knows that answer so again, we have more guesswork at work. 

      Even today, right now, we don’t know how many species of organisms are in the oceans. How can you assume to know what was there 2000 years ago? And then claim that God had to “increase the numbers”.

      “The total number of marine species known to us is 212,000 (+/- 29%)
      species, however, it is estimated that there are 1.4 -1.6 million marine
      species on earth (Bouchet, 2006.[1])
      The reason for the huge range in the estimated number of species is the
      lack of information on the diversity of some of the smaller organisms
      on Earth. For example, in the ocean, there is a plenty of information on
      marine mammals (seals, whales, dolphins, porpoises) and fish, while
      only recently are scientists beginning to understand the extreme
      diversity present in micro-organisms such as bacteria and phytoplankton
      (i.e. the plants of the sea). In Europe alone it is estimated that there
      are 41,000 – 56,000 species present (5,000 – 20,000 have yet to be
      identified!). There are 1,000 – 1,500 new marine species identifed each
      year!”
      http://www.marbef.org/wiki/Number_of_marine_species

  • David

    Hi James,
    There is no good reason to believe “1-6 cm per 1000 years” is the final answer on chalk formation rates. A good place to research other interpretations is at the Creation/Evolution Literature Database: http://www.bryancore.org/celd/about.html  Type in “chalk”.
    Thank you for the links you provided so I can learn more about the various interpretations of chalk cliff formation. 

    • Gary

      So I followed David’s suggestion, clicked on bryancore.org, typed in chalk, and got the first hit “Chalk and upper Cretaceous….” by JD Matthews. Clicked on other articles by JD Matthews, and got “The origin of oil – A creationists answer”…then I read the synopsis, “To try and resolve the issue whether oil is biogenic (derived from living
      matter) or abiogenic (built up from primordial matter and therefore not from
      living matter) a Hedberg Conference recently took place. The issue was not
      resolved. This suggests that a third alternative is needed, especially as
      neither model fits into a young-earth scenario. The purpose of this paper is to
      discuss those naturalistic models, show that there are severe problems with both
      models, and offer a robust alternative which respects the geochemistry of oil,
      the known geology of rocks involved in the process, the Creator’s power, and the
      geological events surrounding the Noachian Flood. I have called it the
      “theobaric” model, meaning made by God. The oil existed in pristine state before
      the Flood, and moved during the Flood into the reservoirs where we now find it.
      This has interesting implications for Christian apologetics and the choice of
      Flood models.”
      No need to go further. I think it speaks for itself. Kind of makes the whole field of organic chemistry rather superfluous. All PhD’s in chemistry, please turn the degree in, it means nothing.

      • David

        Hi Gary,
        Do you believe all oil is biogenic or abiogenic?  Why?

        • Gary

          David…I would say biogenic, as per my basic organic chemistry class. Since I am a physicist/engineer and not a chemist or geologist, I am not an expert on oil origin. However, as a physicist, I do not try to explain something by saying God did it, and that is it. I find it amazing that some people cannot accept that God has the power to create the processes (extreme pressures and temperatures), that in turn create the oil, or that God cannot use the processes of evolution to create us. Genesis is an allegory, not a science book. Written by man, not God. Inspired, yes, but not without flaw, and includes man’s own biases of 2 to 3 thousand years ago. I’d say you need to use your own brain to filter out the important lessons in the bible, and not consider it a perfect book. When you view the bible as a perfect book, you are worshipping the bible, and not God. Big mistake.

          • David

            Hi Gary,
            Wow, long answer for a simple question! I don’t really care what you are or aren’t an expert at. You can read and think, so I would encourage you to read up on serpentinization, asphalt volcanoes, hydrothermal heat engines and salt domes, and Hebes Chasma on Mars which you can “fly” to on Google Mars and see evidence of oil oozing from its side. 

            After reading up and thinking some more, you may come to a different conclusion. A problem I see with a lot  of people’s thinking is that, for some bizarre reason, things must be either/or instead of both/and. Why couldn’t the oil and gas underground be from both biogenic and abiogenic sources? Why does Genesis have to be either accurate history or an allegory? Why can’t an allegory also be historically accurate?

            • Anonymous

              Good points David.

            • Gary

              David,
              Thanks anyway, but I think I will stay with mainstream science. I don’t need the oil creation process to tell me the earth is billions of years old. Basic physics says the same thing. Even the basic carbon that makes up oil, whether organic or not, needed a star system to generate it from the basic plasma of He, and needed to be distributed by a supernova to a planetary system. Takes a lot longer the 8000 years. Of course, a person could say God created the Carbon by magic, from the very start. But that would take away the fun of discovering the real processes involved. But we can still say God created the actual triple alpha process that creates carbon, which even Hoyle said was a rather miracle. But by saying God generated the carbon at the moment of Genesis, takes away the facts that have been established by science.

              • David

                Hi Gary,
                If you want to “say God created the actual triple alpha process that creates carbon” but not say God could create carbon anytime He wanted to, then that is definitely one opinion. I guess I just don’t feel the same need to limit God to the physical laws that man currently understands. He said He spoke this place into existence in 6 days, and I believe Him. 

          • Anonymous

            So if God is perfect then his word, what is claimed in itself as His word, is not perfect? That is highly illogical. 

            You state your opinion that Genesis is an allegory and written by man when Jews and others have regarded it as actual history and it claims itself as from God not to mention Moses saying it was from God.
            (I won’t even go into the miracle of how the Israelites escaped Egypt, crossed the Red sea and survived the desert against all odds.)

            It is your opinion but not backed up by any evidence. 

            On God using Evolution, that is just not possible in light of clear scripture. It would also be calling God not perfect. That he would use death and destruction as a means of perfecting a creation he called “very good”. 

      • Rob Cahill

        You all know the Flood was a metaphor right?? sounds like some of you take it literally. Just saying. 

        • Anonymous

          Explain how it is a metaphor. New Testament writers took it seriously as a historical event. Jesus did as well.

  • MWW

    cdbren’s ‘argument’ is one massive and fallacious ‘appeal to ignorance.’

    S/he ‘argues’ that based upon what we do not know – about conditions              prior to an asserted worldwide flood for which there is no good (much less) sufficient evdience - that what is therefore possibly the case (since we do        not know…) is somemohow evidence against McGrath’s position.

    Then s/he chracterizes McGrat5h’s evidence-based convictions as ‘assumptions.’

    • Anonymous

      Yes, McGarth makes assumptions about past conditions or at the least believes scientists assumptions about past conditions. And they are assumptions. I agree that what I am saying is an assumption, based on historical writings and scientific evidence, as well. That is all we can do with historical science. Make assumptions based on a presupposition. 

      I am merely looking at all possibilities, including that there was indeed a worldwide flood. (A flood that buried fossils, broke up the continents, pushed mountains up, caused the short lived “ice age”, killed the dinosaurs and other animals in the mass extinction evidence we find, etc. etc. It answers a lot of questions.)

      You say there is no evidence for a world wide flood, yet ignore the fossil record, mass extinctions that are as yet unexplained in any other way, the Grand Canyon formation, rapid sediment deposits, no erosion between strata. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

        re:
        Yes, McGarth makes assumptions about past conditions or at the least believes scientists assumptions about past conditions. And they are assumptions. 

        actually most of these ideas are conclusions from 150 years plus of geological work. one of the fascinating things about this whole noahic flood that YEC/AIG propound is that the first generation of geologists were flood geologists trying to demonstrate the factualness of Genesis and a worldwide flood. the rocks taught them(and now us) otherwise. 

        ideas like uniformity of the present forces projected into the past do function a little like assumptions as per AIG/YEC, the problem is that they are not nearly as binding as yecists propose. the whole discussion of asteroids vs volcanoes in the various geological boundaries shows this continuing idea that things can radically and abruptly change and this change can be detected historically. that makes uniformity a proposition used to do science not an unexamined assumption that screws everything up.

        it would be nice to have a list of what assumptions are being used by modern science from a YECist viewpoint, but i am unaware of anyone that is specific enough in their criticism to actually defend X being an assumption that invalidates, say, radiometric dating or here the rate of growth of a chalk bed. the ploy seems to cry out “assumptions!” and leave it there without being explicit enough to talk about.

        • Anonymous

          Natural selection, speciation, DNA replication, genetic correction mechanisms, mutations, bacteria resistance incorrectly labeled as evolution, polypoidy, continental drift, radiometric and other dating methods, chalk beds, incomplete fossil record, Cambrian explosion, extinction of mass numbers of species like the dinosaurs…..I know there are more and I have touched on a few in the other discussion in more detail. 

          Oh, yeah. I have not even listed any space observations like how a planet forms (which no one has ever observed).

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

            i assume the items in your list are supposed to be some assumptions of modern science. in fact each one is a conclusion. none of these is an assumption, presupposition, postulate, unproven axiom etc. but rather each one is the result of a large amount of data-theorizing-work and therefore are conclusions drawn from the data and not assumptions used to find or interpret the data.

            sorry charlie. gong.

            • Anonymous

              No, that is a list of things that some secular scientists make assumptions on. They are the evidence. 

              There is no doubting many of those things happened or do happen. How long it took and how they happened or how they effect species are the assumptions. 

              The Big Bang, age of the universe, age of the Earth, and evolution are all theories. They are guesses and not fact based on a naturalistic world view. 

  • MWW

    Sorry – Hit the send button too quickly!

    cdbren’s ‘argument’ is one massive and fallacious ‘appeal to ignorance.’

    S/he ‘argues’ that based upon what we do not know – about conditions prior to an asserted worldwide flood for which there is no good (much less sufficient) scientific evdience – that what is therefore ‘possibly’ the case – based upon our ignorance – is somehow evidence against McGrath’s position.

    Then s/he characterizes McGrath’s evidence – based convictions as mere ’assumption.’

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

    I believe one of the most useful metaphors in this discussion is the two books of God. The book of works and the Book of words. What i find curious is that YECists do not seem to desire to listen to the book of works, analogous to how we must be submissive to the Word, approaching Scripture carefully- desirous of listening to God. They run rough shod over creation, demanding that it conform to their desires, to their framework, to their worldview. Rather than listening carefully to the voice of God as revealed in the world around us, they demand that the world is to be seen through essentially 19thC American frontier eyes.

    The rise of the radical individualism, of the anti-intellectualism inherent in the revival based faith, all contribute to modern American YECism’s retreat from a natural theology that commits itself to listening to God works and using that information to modify our often erroneous interpretations of Scripture. 

    • Anonymous

      Well, please explain how one makes statements about/interprets historical or observational science evidence without first having a presupposition. A starting point? 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

        “a presupposition”? we have an entire interpretative matrix in our heads, which makes perception and thinking possible. so what? the entire YECist structure is a fraud, it is not just bad science, it is as well bad Biblical theology as J.McG points out here and elsewhere on his blog. it makes a for fragile Biblical faith in an age dominated by science as it is. it’s lack of natural theology makes it incapable of bringing Biblical insights to modern issues like gene manipulation as YECists are fighting 19thC evolutionary theory when the church ought to be involved in 21C genetic counseling.

        anyhow, calling the creation a fraud and lying for your Jesus will never engage with the real world out there. The truths of creation, the beautifulness of biological science is so persuasive that people will find it, and if a substantial part of the church chooses(the YECists) to wall itself off and isolate itself from that world, then unfortunately your voice will not be heard in the modern world except as a laughing stock.

        i find that sad. 

  • Anonymous

    I am always struck by the claim that we can trust the gospels because they were written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses who would have called out the authors had they tried to fudge the facts as it always seems to be advanced by apologists who are themselves impervious to correction. 

    • Anonymous

      The gospels were not only written within the timeframe of eyewitnesses but also written BY eyewitnesses. Who, by the way, were arrested and most killed for those beliefs and writtings. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t die for a work of fiction I wrote. 

      In terms of the number of ancient manuscripts, the Bible is the most
      authentic work of ancient literature—by far. No one doubts that the
      modern copies of Plato or Homer have been reliably transmitted, and yet the Bible is far more authenticated. Therefore, if the Bible is to be
      doubted as to its authenticity, then to be consistent, we would have to
      deny that we know absolutely anything about the ancient world.

      Is it translated accurately? Even secular scholars will concede that the Bible has been accurately transmitted and accurately translated. A one-hour study at your local library will confirm this.

      So Vinny, is there any reason for you to justify a belief that the NT is not true?

      • Anonymous

        There is no reliable evidence to establish either that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses or that the authors of the gospels were killed for their beliefs.  There are only traditions from long after the fact.

        Any sane person would acknowledge the possibility that Plato and Homer have been considerably corrupted in transmission. Most sane people would acknowledge that Homer wrote myth and fiction.  I don’t think comparing the gospels to Homer does much to support their claim to reliability. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

        re:
        The gospels were not only written within the timeframe of eyewitnesses but also written BY eyewitnesses. 

        Paul clearly says he never knew Jesus when he was alive, so he is not an eyewitness to the events of the NT. his letters are roughly 1/2 of the NT. Luke in verse 1 says that he was not an eyewitness but a compiler of accounts, that’s Luke and Acts.

        re:
        Who, by the way, were arrested and most killed for those beliefs and writtings. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t die for a work of fiction I wrote. 

        actually dying for religious writings you wrote is almost a requirement for successful religion founders, even into the modern era with rather good historical documentation like Joseph Smith and Bab the founder of the Bahai’is. 
        i have no reason to believe that being willing to die for something is any indicator of the truthfulness of that something. rather i would suspect that it lies in the emotional personality of that individual, which as you point out is not really normal.

  • Robert

    From what I remember, chalk was deposited off a desert coast – hence the presence of distinctive grains of desert sand – with no rivers flowing from it, hence the absence of mud or other types of sand. It was deposited in shallow water, hence the abundance of fossils. It’s largely made up of the skeletons of various types of plankton, mostly with calcareous shells, a few with silica shells – you dissolve the chalk in acid to obtain those. Yes, there are other ways for it to form, but you’d go a long way to find significant quantities of CaCO3 which didn’t have organisms vitally involved in its production.

  • Robert

    <>

    This sentence alone gives the YEC game away completely. First comes the solution, then they attempt to find a way to cram the observed facts into it. It doesn’t work, hence the deceitfulness which creeps in.

  • Robert

    Oops, what happened there. I’d better type it instead of cutting and pasting. ‘This suggests that a third alternative is needed, especially as neither model fits into a young-earth scenario’

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Young-earth creationists often think that the Bible is the words of God rather than the Word of God in a metaphorical sense. They have not read enough of the Bible to realize that it is problematic to treat 1 Corinthians 11:17, “In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool,” as though these were God’s words.

    • Anonymous

      I might suggest that you ask Jesus to forgive you and get saved. Otherwise you will not understand His word completely nor the spiritual things contained in it. 

      Then you could understand what God’s word is and says.

  • Casey

    cdbren said: “It would also be calling God not perfect. That he would use death and destruction as a means of perfecting a creation he called ‘very good’.”

    Based on that logic and assuming that God is perfect, Jesus’ death could therefore not be used as a means of perfecting (or redeeming or sanctifying) a very good (yet sinful) world.

    Did I misunderstand or extrapolate too much?

    • Anonymous

      Jesus’ was sinless.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Cdbren, I am a born again Christian. And a professor who studies and teaches the Bible for a living. And yet you arrogantly assume that you are the one who understands the Bible and that anyone who disagrees with you not only is wrong, but needs to get saved.

    Charming. But profoundly unchristian. And I am guessing that your whole attitude is actually based on a misunderstanding of texts in the Bible, such as where Paul talks about the removal of a veil, where you have missed the meaning because you failed to pick up on his references to the story of Moses. He is talking about a veil that hid the fact that the glory on Moses’ face was fading.

    In your very treatment of the passages in the Bible usually used by Christian fundamentalists to arrogantly assert that they understand while everyone else is blind, you and others like you illustrate your failure to actually read the Scriptures with care and take the efforts needed to understand them.

    • Anonymous

      You are the one assuming and putting words in my mouth. From the get go you have been hostile in your approach. Look at the log in your own eye first.

      I never said any of those things you judge me to have said. Much of what you said about the Bible was the direct opposite of what not only I, but many, many born again Christian believe. Do you believe the Bible’s claims that it is the word of God or not? Do you believe Genesis and that there was a worldwide flood? Jesus affirmed that they were true history.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Cdbren, as Ken Ham encourages us to ask, so I ask you: how do you know that Jesus affirmed the flood to be true history? Were you there?

    David, as Ken Ham encourages us to ask, so I ask you: how do you know that God said that he created in six days? Were you there?

    You both seem to have divinized the Bible to the point where you attribute to it things which, in a monotheistic faith, ought only to be said of God.

    • Anonymous

      You must not know what the bible actually says and claims.

      I was not there but Jesus was. I was not there but Moses was. That is what you seem to keep missing. I am not saying it. It is right in the bible you claim to teach. 

      Every single word of the Bible is Jesus’ words. 

      Jesus explained the Scriptures, “Then beginning with Moses and with all
      the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all
      the Scriptures,” (NASB, Luke 24:27). 

      Jesus affirmed the historical existence of Jonah (Matt. 12:40), Noah (Matt. 24:37-38), and Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4-6). 

      Luke 17:25 But first must He suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and
      destroyed them all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

        i am curious why you think your interpretation is the only one that True Christians© can possibly believe? in both time and place Christianity has had a wide range of understanding on most of the Bible. where does this extraordinary parochialism come from that believes it alone has the True Interpretation©  of each and every verse? are you really as ignorant of church history as you are of modern science? again, i find such ignorance, sad.

        • Anonymous

          You need to be more precise. Do you mean that God created the Earth in six days and the story about the Flood? 

          What have I interpreted wrongly exactly?

    • David

      Hi James, 
      No Bible divinizing going on here, just faith in His word. He said He made everything in 6 days, and that’s confirmed in Exodus 20:11. No, I wasn’t there, and I personally cannot verify these claims with my own eyewitness testimony, so I trust His. There is evidence the earth is young, and evidence that it is old, the differences come in the interpretations of natural history and the interpretations of Scripture.

      I have attached a photo of a canyon. How long do you think it took for all the sedimentary strata to form, and then for the river to cut down to its current location? What is your best guess? I know you are not an expert, but I also know you have a strong opinion regarding earth history, so what is your opinion on this? Anyone else who wants to guess is welcome to.

  • Geoff Hudson

    All this talk is an irrelevance.  I simply take evolution for granted.  This issue pales into insignificance compared to other reasons for disbelieving the extanct bible.   

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  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Cdbren, Moses wrote that at that time the Canaanite was in the land? That no prophet like Moses has ever arisen since his death? You are putting tradition above what the books you attribute to Moses actually say.

    But never mind that. How do you know that Jesus said what the Gospel authors claim? How do you know that Moses wrote these books? Were you there?

    • Anonymous

      We both must believe in totally different God’s and totally a different Jesus. 

      John
      5:46-47 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words.”

      The Hebrew Masoretic Text (Old Testament) was handed down and was not translated over and over. There are more than 14,000
      existing Old Testament manuscripts and fragments copied throughout the Middle East, Mediterranean and European regions that agree dramatically with each other. In addition, these texts agree with the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was translated from Hebrew to Greek some time during the 3rd century BC. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in Israel in the 1940′s and 50′s, also provide phenomenal evidence for the reliability of the ancient transmission of the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) before the arrival of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew scribes who copied the Jewish Scriptures dedicated their lives to preserving the accuracy of the holy books. These scribes went to phenomenal lengths to insure manuscript reliability. They were highly
      trained and meticulously observed, counting every letter, word and
      paragraph against master scrolls. A single error would require the
      immediate destruction of the entire text.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    But how do you know that God said these things, as opposed to ancient Jews and Christians expressing their beliefs about God? Were you there?

    As for the evidence for the formation of strata, there are strata that include pollen, alternating colors as a result of the effect of seasons. Would those not provide a good basis for dating? Do you have some reason to reject such evidence as a basis for an estimated date?

    • David

      Hi James,
      I answered the “how do you know question” in my previous post. Would you please just play along and give us your best guess for the age of the canyon in the photo I attached? Come on, I’ll even make it multiple choice: 6 days, 600 days, 6000 years, 60,000 years, 6 million years, or none of the above?

    • Anonymous

      Your argument is extremely faulty. Of course we were not there. The writers of those documents were there.

      Ken Ham asks that because OBVIOUSLY no one was there to see evolution or creation. Except of course the person doing the creating or the person receiving words from that person. 

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    The Dead Sea Scrolls did indeed demonstrate the fidelity with which manuscripts were copied. Not perfectly or inerrantly, but faithfully.

    But how does that show that Moses wrote something that later tradition said he did? The Pentateuch itself refers to Moses writing laws, sounding clearly like someone else writing about Moses writing the laws embedded in the Pentateuch’s narrative.

    You are still placing human tradition (Mosaic authorship) above the evidence within the Pentateuch itself.

    And you are still making claims about the past when you weren’t there. If deduction about the past is legitimate, then hopefully you will tell Ken Ham that he is wrong, that deduction is possible, that asking “Were you there?” doesn’t help anyone and is merely a deceptive strategy, not an argument.

    People interested in this topic may also find this video about fossils and transitional forms interesting:  http://biologos.org/blog/where-are-the-transitional-fossils 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

    this idea of “where you there?” bugs me on several levels. the first is the legal issues occurring over eyewitness testimony. frankly we have good reason to distrust and discount eye witnesses. the second is the appeal to naive realism. like the insistence of one poster here to date his picture of gullies in mount st helen’s ash, we seem to instinctively wish to jump in with a guess. as if our uninformed naive unscientific guess should count for something. well they don’t, we are often mislead by our thinking, we are prone to systematic errors and we really do need critical thinking and expert witnesses, not half baked guess. 

    i’ve learned to distrust memory, be wary of simple answers, do my homework and research to try to understand the situation  before making a judgment, this AIG mantra of “where is there?” leads into the opposite, a simple, naive trust in perception that doesn’t do justice to the complexities of the world and only panders to the simple black v white fundamentalist mindset and Weltanschauung.

    • David

      Hi Richard,
      That is not Mt. St. Helen’s in the photo. And I don’t think you are uninformed or naive, so what is your guess?

      And the “were you there?” is not an AiG mantra, it is what God asked Job (Job 38). It is not supposed to lead to “naive trust in perception that doesn’t do justice to the complexities of the world”, it is supposed to lead to humility and acknowledgement of our inability to completely understand unverifiable historic events. It is a reminder that we are not omniscient and have it all figured out, and therefore should continue to advance our learning regarding the complexities of this world. And that is something we could all stand to do with a little more patience and humility.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    How do you know that the writers of those documents were there?

    Either you accept that it is legitimate to deduce things about authorship and past events based on surviving evidence – in which case it is also legitimate to deduce things about the past through the study of geological, paleontological, genetic and other relevant evidence too – or otherwise you deny that it is, in which case I ask again: How do you know who wrote these documents? Were you there?

    “Were you there?” is a stupid question, that young-earth creationists like Ken Ham encourage people to ask. Thinking themselves clever, they become as fools. So do you accept that it is a dumb question and that it is legitimate to deduce things from evidence? Or do you stick with Ken Ham, in which case I will insist that the same objections be applied to your assumptions about the Bible, which it might or might not be possible to deduce if deduction and inference are legitimate, but under no circumstances can be assumed as if they were self-evident if deduction and inference are rejected.

    • Anonymous

      Geological, paleontological and genetic evidence does not speak to us as written documents do. Scientists guess at the evidence based on a presupposition of naturalistic causes. 

      God was there. People were there that received the word from God. People were there that saw Jesus. If you do believe in God then why do you not believe His words? Why do you not believe Jesus’ words? Instead you trust in mans words.

      I don’t know why you keep using faulty logic and do not trust in the words of the God you say you trust in.

      I would suggest that you sincerely ask Jesus to save you and then start digging into the word that He wrote. The Bible is God breathed and is a living, spiritual book. (All those attributes can readily be found as stated in the Bible itself). God’s word, Jesus’ word can be trusted from Moses to Revelation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

        re:
        Geological, paleontological and genetic evidence does not speak to us as written documents do. Scientists guess at the evidence based on a presupposition of naturalistic causes.  

        using the metaphor of the two books of God is useful here, for both books need to be interpreted. hermeneutics is how we interpret texts and science is how we interpret the physical world. they have interesting parallels but at heart both hermeneutics and science are human enterprises that rely upon human principles of epistemology. one big difference between Biblical hermeneutics and natural science is the private/public issue. science is primarily public, given enough time and being bright and hard working enough, anyone can master a topic in science. 

        but much of biblical hermeneutics claims to be private, spiritual knowledge. look at several calls in this blog’s comments from someone to another person “to get saved”. this is the issue of private knowledge, no matter how diligently someone studies a topic, say J.McG’s lifelong study and teaching of the New Testament, someone with their own private “spiritual” knowledge proposes to “trump” his years of study and tell him to “get saved/repent/etc” in order to participant in some private knowledge.

        no matter how many times JM states he is a Christian, if he does not possess this all important YECist private knowledge that the world is young, he can not be a True Christian.

        anyhow the author of the quote above doesn’t really understand hermeneutics very well, for texts do not speak anyone more than do rocks. and given the extraordinary divisiveness of Christian interpretation of the text-Bible and its primarily private nature as opposed to the extraordinary monolithic science unifying people from every nation, kindred and tongue, i’d propse that science reads the rocks far easier and better than people read the Bible.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Cdbren, rocks do not lie, whereas people have been known to. Scientists do not guess at the evidence. They interpret past evidence in light of processes that can be observed today.

    No one disputes that God was there. But how do you know that people in the past received a word from God? Were you there? Could one not simply paraphrase your own pseudo-objection back at you? “Conservative religious believers just guess at what God has said based on the assumption that the authors of some texts were given divine revelation.” You keep assuming that the words of the Bible are God’s words or Jesus’ words. But how do you know this, without using deduction from evidence? Were you there?

    Jesus saved me, not only from the life I was leading before I came to a personal faith, but also from the deceitful snares of the young-earth creationists. I pray that you may have the same experience!

    • David

      Hi James,

      It is really surprising that you keep hammering away at this “how do you know?” question. You are right, rocks do not lie, but it seems that you forget that people interpret those rocks. A well know phrase among geologists is “every rock has a story.” But the story is subject to interpretation. The Bible is also a story, and its story is subject to interpretation too. Some interpretations of rocks and Bible stories are better than others though. 
      So what do you think the story is in the photo I attached earlier? What is your best guess? You seem to know something about sedimentation rates and processes, how long does it usually take to deposit several hundred feet of sediments, and then cut through them to form a canyon?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, but the Bible does not claim to come from man. Every page says it came from God. Plus there is the fact that 40+ books from different authors, time periods and regions match. To say the Bible may be false is to say God may be false. That He can’t convey to us simple life instructions and knowledge of himself to us. It seems you require some sort of supernatural book that was written by God himself and is undisputed. In that case it would be worshiped instead of God.

      I have pointed out the many evidences that the Bible was not altered from as original as we can get manuscripts. You seem to just ignore the evidence that is not in dispute nor can be disputed. 

      Do you know that Jesus is a young earth creationists himself? You contradict your own faith in each and every post, which is why I thought you are not genuinely saved. 

      BTW: Rocks do not speak so the argument that rocks do not lie is invalid.

  • Geoff Hudson

    But does James believe in the origin of, for example the New Testament, from something more primitive.

    • Geoff Hudson

      On the one hand he believes in evolution.  On the other, it seems, the New Testament was written as it is, from scratch.  It just doesn’t make sense.

      • Geoff Hudson

        The rocks may cry out.  But so do the Jewish prophets who were there at the time Jesus is supposed to have existed.

  • Darren P

    Interesting discussion. I see the people who believe in unicorns are here.
    The “were you there” question is invalid mostly because the person asking already knows the answer.  As Prof McGrath suggests, you can’t ask an unreasonable question and expect to be exempt from it being asked of you.  I am guessing none of us in this forum survived Auschwitz, so a Holocaust denier could easily sneak in here and win a debate, if that question had any merit.  Fortunately it does not.
    We have evidences for both sides.  The science side of course relies on the science.  The creationist side uses the Bible as evidence.  The Bible is perfectly fine as evidence, but it is only one piece. A piece, I might add, that Creationists insist must not conflict with other pieces of evidence.  In the fundamentalist view, the Bible cannot be falsified.  Thus, if it conflicts with other evidence, it is the other evidence that is false, never the Bible.  This is a very unscientific approach (and not a good way of studying history either).
    The evidences for evolution are perfectly falsifiable.  For example, if you find a fossil embedded naturally in geological strata where it doesn’t belong, we’re going to have to review a few things.  It wouldn’t disprove the theory of evolution altogether, you’d need a few more conflicts before that happens, but it would pose some very serious questions.  But that’s what science does; it discovers new things and helps us look at the universe in new ways.  If a particular hypothesis no longer adequately describes the universe, it’s almost always because something better has come along.  If Creationism replaced evolution, it wouldn’t be a stride forward, it would be a regression.
    Some of you no doubt heard the recent story of scientists discovering particles that move faster than the speed of light.  If true, that throws a monkey wrench at some of the evidences for Relativity.  But that doesn’t jettison the Theory of Relativity any more than Relativity jettisoned Gravitational Theory; rather, it helps add some neat things to our understanding.  On the other hand, nothing new is added to Bible evidence; it simply is.
    I think the biggest error creationists make is that they believe the creation was a singular one-time-only event in history, when it is actually ongoing, still going right now, unfolding before our very eyes.  To observe the universe scientifically is to watch God perfect his masterpiece.  You know how art historians x-ray Rembrandt paintings to see what he painted over?  Scientific inquiry is like that with God’s “painting”, except in real time, in motion, in 3D, HD, surround sound etc.  God popped everything into existence in 6 days? How unimaginative!  I see a much more creative God than that.  And I actually feel sorry for people who insist on ignoring the true beauty of this miracle and restrict their view to the static and the dead.

    • Anonymous

      You are incorrect. Both sides have the same evidence. Both sides rely on science. 

      The difference is their starting point. As any interpretation of evidence has to have a starting point. One starts with the Bible as a historical starting point, the other relies on no bible and no God. (Naturalistic starting point).

      How you described creationists is untrue. No real evidence is called false, ever. The thing that is sometimes called false is a man’s (secular scientist) interpretation of that evidence.

      The God you describe is your own idea of God, not the God of the Bible. So it was sort of useless to try to force your ideas on what or who the Biblical God is. Plus you completely left out Biblical texts that clearly refute what you described God as.

      • Darren P

        You are right to say both sides have the same evidence at their disposal.  You are being disingenuous at best to say Creationism relies on science.  Creationism does not rely on science -it is a statement of belief.  What Creationists do is to try to get some science to coordinate with that belief, but that’s not relying on it.  Creationists can take science or leave it.  Usually they leave it.  When they take it, they muddle it.

        “The difference is their starting point.” 

        No, the difference is the endgame. For the scientist, the starting point is an inquiry into how things work with as few prejudices as possible (except for the “shoulders of giants” he or she is standing on), and the endgame is to discover more and more about the universe than was discovered previously.  For creationists, the endgame is to make sure no scientific evidence ever jars with what the Bible says, and if it does, twist or warp it to make it fit.  In other words, for a Creationist, the starting point is the Bible, and the endgame is the Bible.  Que cientifico!
        For example, what do you do with the recurrent laryngeal nerve from a Biblical standpoint (particularly in a giraffe where the detour is over fifteen feet -see http://goo.gl/rBwC4)?  You would have to propose a God that made it look like such an obtuse design was done on purpose, just to trick us into thinking we descended from the fishies.  A simpler explanation is that the path of the laryngeal nerve evolved along with the rest of the organism, which falls in line with the rest of the evidences for the evolution of structures.  And as Prof McGrath has illustrated here, Creationists need to do something about the age of the earth and so pick-and-choose data that might make it look like a young earth if you ignore the mountains of evidence to the contrary (radiometric dating, for instance), not to mention simpler explanations or interpretations.  Again, the endgame is “the Bible is correct,” therefore you take contrary scientific evidence and give an interpretation for it that is hellishly convoluted and unnecessary.  Also, wrong.  But hey, as long as it fits and helps everyone sleep better at night. 

        “No real evidence is called false, ever.”

        Meanwhile, if radiometric dating says a rock is older than the Bible says the Earth is, then of course radiometric dating is false.  It’s just a secular scientist’s “interpretation” that a certain isotope turns into another at a certain rate, despite the fact that these things are observable.  It’s just some secret atheistic conspiracy that makes all the data come out the way it does.  Never mind direct observation of decay and precise calculation.  Math?  Who needs it?  2+2 doesn’t always equal 4.  Creationists reject radiometric dating as false.  Radiometric dating is as real and concrete of evidence as you’re going to get, backed up by the math and countless laboratory confirmations.  Therefore Creationists DO reject real evidence as false, a lot.

        “The God you describe is your own idea of God, not the God of the Bible.”

        The God I describe is far more wonderful and admirable than a God that would purposefully deceive people into thinking things that weren’t true about the universe.  God armed man with intellect and curiosity.  The God I describe wishes man to use them.  The God you describe seems to wish that man had left them hanging on the Tree of Knowledge.

        • Anonymous

          I was merely trying to clear up your misconceptions of creationists and the word “science”. You have kind of made my point. If a creationist tries to make the evidence fit his worldview then an evolutionist must do the same.

          1. Operation science uses the so-called “scientific method” to attempt to discover truth, performing observable, repeatable experiments in a controlled environment to find patterns of recurring behavior in the present physical universe. For example, we can test gravity, study the spread of disease, or observe speciation in the lab or in the wild. Both creationists and evolutionists use this kind of science, which has given rise to computers, space shuttles, and cures for diseases.

          2. Origin science attempts to discover truth by examining reliable eyewitness testimony (if available); and circumstantial evidence, such as pottery, fossils, and canyons. Because the past cannot be observed directly, assumptions greatly affect how these scientists interpret what they see.

          So, for example, how was the Grand Canyon formed? Was it formed gradually over long periods of time by a little bit of water, or was it formed rapidly by a lot of water? The first interpretation is based on secular assumptions of slow change over millions of years, while the second interpretation is based on biblical assumptions about rapid change during Noah’s Flood. 

          Origin science attempts to discover truth by examining reliable eyewitness testimony (if available); and circumstantial evidence, such as pottery, fossils, and canyons. Because the past cannot be observed directly, assumptions greatly affect how these scientists interpret what they see.

          Thus, creationists and evolutionists develop totally different reconstructions of history. But they accept and use the same methods of research in both origin and operation science. The different conclusions about origins arise from different starting assumptions, not the research methods themselves.

          So, the battle between the Bible and molecules-to-man evolution is not one of religion versus science. Rather, it is a conflict between worldviews—a creationist’s starting assumptions (a biblical worldview) and an evolutionist’s starting assumptions (an antibiblical worldview).

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

            re:
            So, the battle between the Bible and molecules-to-man evolution is not one of religion versus science. Rather, it is a conflict between worldviews—a creationist’s starting assumptions (a biblical worldview) and an evolutionist’s starting assumptions (an antibiblical worldview). 

            i think this is one of those bottom line, here i stand, type of big statements. worthy of a J.McG blog entry someday ;-) . despite some rather muddled thinking(a worldview is much more like a conclusion than an assumption) or there are certainly lots of evolutionists possessing biblical worldviews. and even despite the common us v them, biblical vs antibiblical evolutionary warfare metaphor so often used in the conservative Christian community. there is something interesting here.

            this is really the heart of a video i watched yesterday http://vimeo.com/31809117
            on the neccesity of an historical adam. everyone talking assumes: the possibility of a biblical worldview, believes it to be singular-there is but one biblical worldview, believe that an historical adam must be part of it, that evolutionary science has no part in that world view and finally that they each have this proper worldview in their head.

            anyhow. a worthwhile thought (or two).

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    David, I am glad to hear you emphasize that evidence – not only scientific data but texts such as the Bible – require interpretation. That is one reason I have persisted in responding with what I consider a misguided response Ken Ham advocates, as though it does not cut both ways.

    I am not going to try to offer a guess about geological processes based on a photo. If you would care to direct me to some geological study of the area that provides the variety of sorts of information relevant to interpreting what is found there, I’d be happy to take a look at it.

    • David

      Hi James,
      And the reason it cuts both ways is not because the rocks are lying or God’s word is false, but our human interpretations of both are never perfect. I think what Mr. Ham is doing is really the same thing you are doing. He thinks his interpretation is better than yours and he supports this with evidence from Scripture and evidence from Creation. He calls you a compromiser and you call him misguided.

      Okay, if you don’t want to guess, I won’t pester you. The photo is of the River Lethe in The Valley of 10,000 Smokes. I know that sounds like something out of a Greek fairy tale, but it is in Alaska. The sediment layers are volcanic ash and tuff that were deposited in about 60 hours (June 6-8, 1912) to a maximum thickness of 700 feet, or a maximum rate of 3.1 billion cm per 1000 years, slightly higher than the chalk deposition rates you mentioned! It probably took 1-2 years to carve most of the canyon. 

    • Anonymous

      A few things in the Bible do require some interpretation. Usually that is reading the entire context or referencing other scripture. Referencing the original Hebrew is helpful as well in making verses more clear. Most passages are easy to understand at a low grade or age level. 

      What you seem to be continuously saying is that the Bible saved you from the Bible. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

        re:
        A few things in the Bible do require some interpretation. Usually that is reading the entire context or referencing other scripture. Referencing the original Hebrew is helpful as well in making verses more clear. Most passages are easy to understand at a low grade or age level.  

        what an amazing claim. EVERYTHING, every letter, every word, every sentence, requires interpretation. a text is just black marks on sheepskin, (for one example of a media) the Bible is a collection of ancient manuscripts wriiten over 1500 years in at least 3 languages by at least 4 distinct communities. you read a modern translation into english of these documents and claim that they need a low grade level to understand and rather little interpretation!

        the table of contents itself, the list of books in your bible, is itself not in any of the texts(the problem of the canon). the location of say jerusalem is not in any of the texts, you assume continuity of position through history, that is a fundamental interpretation. you literally can not even locate the discussion in the texts without reference to enormous amounts of similar data imported into your interpretation before you even open the cover of your english bible.

        since someone else, some interpretive community has supplied you with all these fundamental answers BEFORE you even read the text doesn’t mean that they are not there, simply because you’ve never recognized them doesn’t mean they aren’t important interpretations underlying your understanding from the very beginning.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @ded4853db0917a974d5751019c550358:disqus , that volcanoes can deposit lava and ash in large quantities is not disputed, as far as I know. I don’t think that addresses the chalk formation.

    @cdbren:disqus , you are listening to a deceitful person’s claims about what the Bible and science say, and choosing his word and interpretation over the much larger number of Christians who bring genuine expertise in Biblical language, history, biology and other disciplines as well as their own faith to their examination of the evidence. The choice is not between listening to God and listening to humans. The choice is between your listening to a charlatan’s interpretation of the Bible rather than those who with patience, honesty, dedication, faith, and relevant knowledge and skills study them, and unlike Ken Ham and his ilk, refuse to try to force the Bible to conform to their desires and presuppositions when it stubbornly refuses to do so – and treat the scientific evidence in the same way.

    • David

      Hi James, the point is that rates vary, a lot, and to assume the “science is settled” on 1-6 cm per 1000 years as the only true historic range of chalk formation rates is unverifiable and a bit close-minded.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @cdbren:disqus , As for your last comment, the Qur’an claims to be divine revelation, so I assume you accept that claim? If not, then please do not pretend that a text’s statements are definitive without further discussion. In fact, the Bible cannot say anything about itself, since the decision about what to include in the Christian Bible post-dates the writing of those texts included in it, by definition.

    How do you know Jesus was a young-earth creationist? Even if he were, does it matter? Paul thought that the heart was where thinking took place. Today we know he (and Aristotle, whose thinking he followed on this matter) was wrong, but appreciate what he said as a metaphor. Are you denying the historic Christian faith which maintains that Jesus was fully human, and that as such he was capable of not knowing things and of (as Luke puts it) growing in wisdom? If you are going to disagree with the Bible to maintain your views about science, you seem to be in a perilous and self-contradictory position.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I don’t think that you are taking seriously either the sheer number of microorganisms you would need to gather into one place to posit a young earth scenario for them. I also don’t think that you are offering an account of the evidence for the microorganisms whose remains produced the chalk evolving over the period during which the layers formed.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think you realize that we don’t even know what the sheer numbers of organisms are in the oceans at this date and time. (They discover thousands of new species every year). So I couldn’t possibly be underestimating the numbers needed. 

      Not every conclusion is the only possible conclusion. 

    • David

      That sheer numbers of organisms were involved is a little difficult to overlook. What is more likely to be overlooked, especially when a slow and gradual model is preferred, is the physics of wind-generated currents concentrating sheer numbers of microorganisms along a physical boundary in a Post-flood environment where water temperatures were warmer and growth rates higher. What might also be overlooked by someone who thinks bacteria turned into people via a bunch of genetic copying errors are the effects of environmental fluctuations on species diversity and epigenetics. All the chalk deposits show us is that chalk-forming organisms had offspring that were chalk-forming organisms. Hence all the chalk.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @cdbren:disqus , please stop simply grasping at straws. Other conclusions than yours are indeed possible, but that is hardly something that you seem to consider relevant, since even when presented with specific evidence, you try your best to dodge it. Do you have reason to believe that the organisms involved in the production of chalk are not known, and have not been studied? Have you ever investigated this topic at all? Or are you simply happy to press on with the assumption that, because we do not know everything, therefore you are justified in believing that you are right while those who actually study these matters are wrong?

    @ded4853db0917a974d5751019c550358:disqus  what you wrote would sound more convincing if those who claim that “true science” supports an old earth actually investigated the matter and demonstrated that an alternative scenario at least fits, if not better explains, the evidence. But even some of the young-earth creationists who have actually done something along those lines admit that the evidence and studies thus far do not fit a young-earth scenario.

    • David

      Hi James, what you really need to do is definitely not find someone who is dogmatic about an old earth, but instead find a colleague to investigate the matter who can give you an honest opinion without their “old earth glasses” distorting their view.

      There is a lot of evidence that thus far doesn’t fit a young-earth scenario, and there is a lot of evidence that thus far doesn’t fit an old-earth scenario. 

      • Darren P

        David, what evidence doesn’t fit an old-earth scenario?

        • David

          Hi Darren, we all have the same evidence, it’s the interpretations of the evidence that may or may not fit an old-earth scenario. 

          • Darren P

            You said there was a lot of evidence that doesn’t fit an old-earth scenario.  That means it directly contradicts an old-earth scenario, so that you cannot “interpret” the evidence as supporting old-earth.  I can think of some evidence that would if it were discovered (finding modern and ancient fossils in the same geological strata, for instance), but none that exists in the real world.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PJ6PZMYZVJL4CGQBUYBVMQSDPQ james Harrison

    The history of geology is interesting in respect to the age of the Earth. Young earth creationism in the form of what was once called “Biblical Geology” was already a crank position in the early years of the 19th Century. Even religiously-inclined scientists, including people like Adam Sedgwick who had no use for Darwin’s theories and told Darwin so in a famous letter, were perfectly well aware of the great antiquity of the Earth because they had done field work and observed the enormous depth of sediments and discovered that sequences of strata were consistent across hundreds of miles.  (The field trips that go along with a Geology 101 course are perfectly adequate to show the impossibility of a young earth. Most of what laymen learn about the sciences requires a degree of trust in authority, but you don’t have depend on hearsay when it comes to recognizing the falsity of a literal Genesis account. Visit a limestone quarry.)

    Disputes about the absolute age of the Earth lasted a long time because there was no very good way to associate specific dates to particular formations before radiometric dating; but even Lord Kelvin, who famously claimed to have proved that the Earth could not be as old as the evolutionists supposed, was talking about a very old planet. The same calculations that he believed had proved that the world could not be more than 100 million years old showed that it couldn’t be less than 20 million years old. The debate about how old the planet might actually be continued into the 1950s when it simply ended when several independent lines of evidence yielded the same result and real scientists lost interest in an issue that had been settled.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    David, first, that is not what you originally said, and second, it is always possible to force evidence to seem to fit a predetermined theory, so the question is why you do not simply follow the evidence where it naturally leads.

    • David

      James, Darren,
      Sorry! I’m not saying what I mean and meaning what I say! James, what I should have said to you is “There are a lot of interpretations of the evidence that don’t fit a young-earth scenario, and there are a lot of interpretations that don’t fit an old-earth scenario.” This is one of the points I always try to make when discussing natural history, which is different than testable, repeatable science, because we cannot verify claims made about the evidence. Some say chalk cliffs form at maximum rates of 6 cm per 1000 years. I say sure, that’s one interpretation, but there are other interpretations that are reasonable, too, such as the rates may have exceeded 6 cm per 1000 years and that chalk forming organisms formed more chalk forming organisms. You want to believe the 6 cm per 1000 year because it fits your belief about earth age, not because it’s been tested and verified it in a laboratory.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Cdbren, two points. First, the evidence for an old earth and for evolution is such that it persuaded both fields, in which the assumptions were creationist, to change their minds. Any failure to take that seriously and pretend that the evidence does not consistently persuade even people starting with different assumptions simply contradicts the history of these fields.

    Second, you keep saying “molecules to man evolution” and it sounds bizarre. Are you saying that you deny that human beings are composed from molecules?

  • Darren P

    So what is geology?  If we can observe radioactive decay in a laboratory, does that make earth science an “operation” science?  If so, then the age of the earth is quantifiable.  If not, then you are saying the data accumulated with these observations is false.
    I’m not sure what an “evolutionist” is.  Is that shorthand for “evolutionary biologist?” They don’t study “molecules-to-man,” they just describe and study life, both contemporary and ancient, as it adapts and changes.  Actually, the people who promote a “molecules-to-man” hypothesis the hardest are the Creationists who believe that the first man was made from dirt.

    • David

      Hi Darren, natural history is a “mixed question”, and requires inputs from other areas besides science, such as history and philosophy. Sure, you can observe radioactive decay in a laboratory to make guesses about earth age, just like you can observe evidence of accelerated nuclear decay to make guesses about earth age. 

      • Darren P

        There is no guesswork with radioactive decay.  You observe the amount of decay and calculate the rate.  In order to say the rate of decay can be variable over time, you have to have evidence for that (I am of course talking about HUGE variability that can pit scientists’ estimate of the age of the earth against the YEC’s with such a gigantic difference in order of magnitude –not the extremely slight variability when solar neutrinos are introduced). I’m sure if this evidence was discovered it would make headlines.
        Is this evidence part of the “accelerated nuclear decay” concept you mention?  I’d never heard of it and tried googling, but I got a bunch of Creationist websites and nothing in the peer-reviewed literature.
        Keep in mind that radiometric dating on earth rock is only one method of dating.  All methods agree, so assuming a quicker rate of decay than exists is only one problem you face when trying to hit the fast-forward button.

        • David

          Hi Darren, creationists shouldn’t have to have separate, peer reviewed journals to publish natural history research, but they do. Fortunately, that is starting to change a little. Perhaps instead of blowing off all creationists work, you should have a more open mind about it and realize the world is big enough for other interpretations of earth history that you may disagree with. There is evidence of accelerated nuclear decay, and one interpretation of that evidence is that decay rates were faster in the past, so the earth may be younger than some are led to believe. 

          • Darren P

            Yes, but where IS the evidence for accelerated decay?  I’m not talking about the interpretation of the evidence, I’m talking about the evidence itself.  Like I said, it would be a pretty monumental find, and could easily be presented in any reputable science journal unless there was something suspect about the research or the methods used.  Heck, even flawed research sometimes make publication.

            • David

              The evidence is in the rocks. You talk like the earth age question is settled, and we shouldn’t research it anymore. Am I understanding you correctly?

              • Darren P

                From an order-of-magnitude standpoint, yes the age of the Earth is settled.  See James Harrison’s comment on this topic above. 
                Also settled?  Heliocentric Theory.  Case closed on that one too.  It would be pointless to do further research on whether the Earth is revolving around the Sun or vice versa, but creative geocentrists are welcome to go nuts.
                I’m still happy to look at a paper on this “accelerated decay” idea, even if it’s from a Creationist publication, just as long as it was done by someone knowledgeable in the field (ie an actual professional geologist, not an engineer-turned-amateur-rockhound) and only if I can find critical analysis of the research from his/her scientific peers.

                • David

                  Hi Darren,
                  Well, as long as it is an order of magnitude standpoint, then it must be true! If you want to learn more about what the “insignificant others” think, you can research away here: http://www.bryancore.org/celd/about.html

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    David, can you please offer some scientific literature indicating that a faster rate of chalk production (by a factor of millions) is feasible, and under what circumstances? Can you offer some literrature indicating that observation of the relevant microscopic life forms and the process of chalk formation is something which, in spite of the ease of doing so and the reasons for doing so, nevertheless remains to be done?

    I didn’t want to change my mind when I was a young-earth creationist. The evidence persuaded me.

    • David

      Hi James, I can’t provide you any scientific literature, because we’re not talking about real science, were talking about natural history. The CELD link I provided in an earlier post will provide you with a number of young-earth interpretations on historical chalk formation. And, just to be clear, you weren’t persuaded by the evidence, you were persuaded by the interpretations of the evidence, correct? 

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    David, I was persuaded by the evidence – the scientific evidence, and the evidence for young-earth creationists having tried to misrepresent and obscure that evidence. The evidence itself points uniformly in one direction: an earth far older than young-earth creationists claim. What YECs do is better called “spin” than “interpretation.”

    • David

      Hi James, I am glad you are concerned about misrepresenting and obscuring evidence. You have ignored my invitation to debate, giving the excuse that you are not a scientist, so I would encourage you to consider your lack of science (and math perhaps) skills when you try to convince yourself that you were “persuaded by the evidence”. You were persuaded by conclusions drawn from the evidence, by stories and artwork and media hype. You were not persuaded by anything verifiable. It’s one natural history explanation vs. another, not one verifiable science experiment versus another.

    • Anonymous

      Evidence does not show what the conditions were in the distant past.

      If Adam and Eve were brought to you to study the hour after they were created you would naturally assume they were much older. When in fact they were very young.

      What makes you think the amazing forces God used to create a land mass out of the waters did not cause drastically sped up decay rates? 

      If you take one interpretation of the evidence as fact, that leaves little room for further scientific study. 

      “Scientists said it, so that settles it.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662663242 Richard Williams

        re:
        If Adam and Eve were brought to you to study the hour after they were created you would naturally assume they were much older. When in fact they were very young. 

        google Omphalos hypothesis

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    David, if you believe what you wrote then I can only conclude that you have never written any presentation of the relevant data that patiently addressed the claims of young-earth creationists and showed that they are not merely different, but false and based on misrepresentation. There was no media hype involved. There were scientists involved, including ones who are concerned enough about their own Christian faith to try to counter the efforts of young-earth creationists to connect it with deceit and falsehood. I’d highly commend any such book to you, such as Kenneth Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God.

    • David

      Hi James,
      I don’t know if Dr. Miller did this deceitfully or not, but he has a high school biology curriculum, and in Texas he was supposed to address cell complexity. He did this by presenting students with the idea of endosymbiosis, where over time, cells ate other cells, and the cells they ate became organelles. This is an idea (and that is all it is) about how we have eukaryotes (cells with a nucleus). This has never been tested in a laboratory. 

      So Dr. Miller’s curriculum says nothing about 21st century advances in the study of cell complexity, where real studies of cells reveal amazing things such as bioinformatics, proteomes, or interactomes. Our cells are multidimensional super-machines, not “bags of salt” as Darwin thought. So whether he did it willingly or not I don’t know, but Dr. Miller’s presentation of cell complexity for Texas high school students is at best, extremely lame. And his chimp/human chromosome similarity stuff is again a story based on the evidence. So based on the evidence, you can either believe the biblical story of common design or the Darwinian story of common ancestry. And I am glad we live in a country where we are free to choose which story we want to believe, without fear of persecution. I am a glad I could believe in a common designer and still be a science teacher at Butler University, or am I wrong about that?

      • Anonymous

        Interesting

  • Anonymous

    Wait a minute. I thought it was the evolutionists that believed in unicorns…. :/

  • Anonymous

    Would anyone here consider that “if” Genesis is really true, that the forces God used to create a large land mass that are our continents, just “maybe” drastically increased decay rates? 

    It would be logical that God used natural forces and wouldn’t reset them just so it would appear young. That would be dishonest after all.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    David, before we discuss what you wrote, can you provide the sources relevant to your claims about Ken Miller? Whenever one makes a statement about a matter, it is always necessary to provide supporting documentation and not simply assume that one’s own authority somehow settles the matter.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    But the evidence is not just that the universe or the earth looks older, perhaps because it was made fully formed. The evidence points consistently to specific ages for the earth and for the visible universe. And what YECs say is that God expects us to reject the evidence that he himself supposedly put there in favor of a chronology given in an ancient text the days of which seem to be organized to highlight parallels between the first three days and days 4-6 rather than chronology.

    • Anonymous

      God did not “put” any evidence anywhere. I suspect it is a natural by-product of the creation event. 

      Specific? From what I have seen the age of both the universe and the Earth keeps changing all the time with scientists. Especially for the universe. They keep seeing things that, according to their interpretation, should not be there or in that way. 
      Have you even considered that the creation event inadvertently or as part of the event, created a white hole? It would explain why the universe looks older and how distant start light got here so fast. Physicists have worked on this and Einstein’s theories predict it. Wiki describes it better here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_hole

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I wrote something on the creationist attempt to spin the matter as simply two different interpretations of the same evidence:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2011/11/creationists-postmodernists-of-convenience.html 

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  • Aaronross

    We can be thankful that atheists never make things up!


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