The Age of Earth (RJS)

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop on Evolution and Christian Faith that is a part of the BioLogos grant program. As I noted in my last post it is always refreshing to be part of a gathering that values intellectual engagement with our faith and incorporates worship into the meeting.  The chance to meet and speak with serious Christian scholars from a variety of traditions was a real highlight.  At this workshop I had the opportunity to meet, and to sit down and speak on several occasions with Ralph F. Stearley, a Professor of Geology at Calvin College. Some may be familiar with Ralph Stearley as coauthor with Davis A. Young of a substantive book,  The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth. I posted a brief introduction to this book several years ago, just after it came out, but the book is worth another look. This post is a revision of my earlier post with somewhat different emphasis.

I have been accused on occasion, on this blog as a matter of fact, of arrogance for dismissing the young earth arguments and simply asserting an old earth as fact. I plead guilty and apologize. In my defense, it is difficult – no, impossible – to really deal with the evidence for the age of the earth in any comment or post of reasonable length. There are many different lines of evidence that lead to the conclusion that the earth is very old. The most quantitative of these point to the consensus age of ca. 4.6 billion years. It is even harder to deal with all of the arguments put forth by those defending a young earth geology. Fortunately I don’t need to lay out the evidence, or deal with the counter arguments. Davis Young and Ralph Stearley give it a great start – in 510 pages (this is not a short book).

Both Young and Stearley are geologists. Davis Young received his Ph.D. from Brown University. Ralph received his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Michigan and is interested in paleontology and biogeography. According to the Calvin website linked above his past and present research includes studies of rock-boring marine invertebrates in the intertidal zone of the Gulf of California in Sonora, Mexico; studies of Neogene fossil fishes from western North America; anatomy and systematics of salmonid fishes; analysis of fish remains from archaeological sites in New Mexico and west Michigan; and assisting in developing a computerized database of Pleistocene mammalian fossil sites for North America. These men know what they are talking about on this subject – and they are familiar with YEC (Young Earth Creationism) arguments against the geological evidence. Thus they can, and do, engage these arguments on a scientific basis. There is no polemic in this book, just a desire to educate the interested reader.

The book is divided into four parts.

Parts 1 and 2 of The Bible, Rocks, and Time deal with historical perspectives and with biblical perspectives on the age of the earth. These sections are outstanding. I recommend them to everyone interested in the debate and how we got to the current position, especially Pastors and church leaders. Even if you don’t care about the scientific details read this.

Part 3 of  The Bible, Rocks, and Time presents the evidence for the age of the earth at a relatively accessible level.  This is the place to start for those who are struggling with the data. Young and Stearley begin (and 241 pages is only a beginning) to lay out the reasons why an old earth is simply a given as I approach these issues – it is not up for debate or interpretation.

Young and Stearley also put significant effort into interacting with the variety of arguments put forth by young earth creationists to account for the geological evidence. One website debunking YEC that I happened upon while preparing this post claimed that it is a waste of time to address these arguments seriously.  Ridicule, the author of this site insists, is the only useful approach. Young and Stearley disagree. Ridicule is counter productive, it only serves to build walls. But none of the arguments against an old earth hold up to scrutiny. Ultimately they have no scientific credibility. If YEC is not a serious concern in your context, some of this detail may get a bit, well dare I say it, boring. On the other hand, if YEC and flood geology are serious concerns, the detail is just what is needed.

In chapters 8-13 (about 175 pages) Young and Stearley work through much of the geological evidence for age and for a succession of eras. The stratigraphic record alone (ch. 8) provides abundant evidence for an earth that is much older than 10,000 years. The varves (cyclic deposits at the bottom of a lake, ch. 10) present in the Green River formation in Wyoming provide one of many threads of evidence for an ancient earth. Here I would like to pause an dig a little deeper.

Varves are interesting phenomena – a little like the rings of a tree, they can be very useful in both relative and absolute dating. The image above shows the very fine sedimentary layers formed in a glacial lake near Missoula MT (image from wikipedia, click on the image for a larger version). These layers represent approximately annual cycles in sedimentation. As I understand it, not being an expert in this field, there is evidence for more than one deposit per year at times due to floods and other extraordinary events, but these are relatively easy to identify and the dominant pattern is one of annual cycles. The varves not only provide a means of dating a column, they also provide information on cycles in the climate of the time.

In contrast to the 10,000 or so layers in a glacial lake such as the one in the picture above, there are millions of layers at places in the Green River formation. Thus the lakes that gave rise to these formations persisted for at least a million years or so. Of course, the lakes that gave rise to these layers also disappeared long ago. The Green River formation dates to the Eocene Epoch. Thus the layers in various cores provide ca. 0.5 million to 1.5 million year windows on the climate cycles some 50 million years ago. An interesting detail, not brought up by Young and Stearley, the varves and other sedimentary layers in the Green River formation show cycles that correlate with phenomena such as El Nino type cycles, sun spot cycles, and precessional variation of the earth (Milankovitch cycles) (J. Sedimentary Petrology 61, 1146, 1991, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 125, 216, 2013).

These layers and patterns are not consistent with a young-Earth. And I’ve only scratched the surface of the data discussed by Young and Stearley.

And then they get to the fun part. (I am a chemist after all.) While all the evidence points to great age for the Earth, the geological observations alone do not provide absolute dating for the various formations. This requires a turn to chemistry, physics, and radiometric dating. The field of geochronology has advanced tremendously in recent years.  In chapters 14 and 15 Young and Stearley work through the basics of radiometric dating. Radiometric dating of geological features is a complex problem, one that requires a detailed understanding of geochemistry as well as the behavior of radioactive isotopes. But it is a tractable problem on a firm theoretical and experimental foundation. Young and Stearley do a good job of outlining the basics for a non-scientist. The physical arguments that are raised against the accuracy of radiometric arguments simply do not hold up.  But independent of the strength of the evidence, it is important to bear in mind a point that Young and Stearley make at the beginning of chapter 14:

The claim that radiometric dating is the only support for the ideal that Earth is old is not valid. As a result, attempts to discredit radiometric dating are pointless if the goal is to support the notion that Earth is really young. Long before the development of radiometric dating methods, there was abundant geological evidence for an ancient world. Even is young-Earth creationists could somehow discredit all radiometric dating methods, the conclusion that Earth is very old is firmly established on solid scientific grounds such as those we laid out in the preceding chapters. What would be lost if radiometric dating were totally invalidated would be a more accurate determination of the age of Earth and of geologic events. (p. 389)

The layers in the Green River Formation have been dated rather precisely using 40Ar/39Ar ages – a radiometric method. In one core with sedimentary layers (although not technically varves) the ages range from 49.92 ± 0.10 Ma to 51.40 ± 0.21 Ma … that is the most recent layer dated is 49.92 million years old give or take a hundred thousand years and the oldest layer is 51.4 million years old give or take 210 thousand years. Intermediate layers fall in succession between these two. Thus the column represents a record spanning 1.5 million years. If these ages were invalidated the formation would still indicate great age, we would only lose the ability to perform the more detailed and quantitative analyses.

The final section (Part 4) of The Bible, Rocks, and Time discusses some philosophical perspectives on the problems that young-Earth creationism introduces into the church as they, speaking as professional geologists, see it. All professional Christian scientists – and Young and Stearley make this point – know many who were shipwrecked without intellectual resources for faith when confronted with the depth of the evidence. The confrontational either-or shape of the dialog (that is, either young earth or no God)  often promoted by both young-Earth creationists and by many evangelistic atheists alike serves the church ill. The data presented in last week’s post Faith and Vocation as a Scientist provide a window on the effect this conflict is having, if not yet on the general population, at least on those who are going on to educate the next generation in our colleges and Universities.

If the questions surrounding the age of the earth are an issue in your surrounding, this book is an excellent resource to have on hand.

What will it take to move the church away from young earth creationism?

What evidence is convincing?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail [at] att.net.

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

  • Andrew Bossardet

    First things first: Addressing the issue of anxiety in the Christian Church will be necessary. Age-of-earth debates are largely demonizing or condescending. YEC folks are “uneducated” (at kindest) and Old-Earth folks are “compromising” (at kindest). If we can’t get past the labels, nothing will happen.

    Second: I would ensure that all voices are welcome at the table. From personal experience, I know that Christians in the sciences feel marginalized, unheard or perhaps reluctant about participation in these conversations because of poor behavior on other Christians’ part.

    Third: I would address the theological issues of Biblical authority. What does Genesis 1 teach us about the nature of Creation? I have found John Walton’s material very helpful for looking deeply at Genesis 1. One does not need to fall into either/or camps in order to discuss age-of-earth issues.

    Lastly: This conversation should be had over food. I can recommend some great microbreweries…

  • NateW

    As for what it will take, I think that it will take a deep change in how a great many people conceive the very root of their faith—something that no amount of evidence can do. It’s not easy to learn to see the bedrock of one’s faith (sure, why not—pun intended) from a different perspective. I think that before a person can approach the evidence without fear they must first be led, step by step, to a place where they know that their salvation does not depend on their knowing correct facts, but on faith that they are known and loved by the One who is True.

    As it stands, for many Christians, each traditional brick that crumbles brings Christ himself (and thus their own security) one step closer to collapse, as if Christ were the steeple of a church building and our task is to guard and protect his place of honor at the top. The first step then, in humbly approaching a change like this, is to learn to see Christ not as the steeple that depends on the integrity of the structure below, but as the cornerstone, the first stone laid from which all the others extend and upon which we each build as we align ourselves with Him in daily, Christ-like, love.

    Likewise then, we who don’t hold to a Young Earth theory, also need to recognize that the salvation of our brothers and sisters is based not upon the “correctness” of the facts that they know/believe, but on the foundation of Christ that is able to uphold them and upon which they build in moment by moment surrender. If someone is able to walk day by day in simple faith, loving God and loving their neighbor well, giving up themselves for the good of others, I see no reason that they must be made to change their beliefs on this matter until such time as it becomes a hindrance to relationship with God, for them or others.

  • Rick

    NateW-

    “I think that before a person can approach the evidence without fear they must first be led, step by step, to a place where they know that their salvation does not depend on their knowing correct facts, but on faith that they are known and loved by the One who is True.”

    I hear what you are saying, but knowing correct facts eventually does come into play. The importance of the age of the Earth does not compare to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. It just depends on the “facts” one is emphasizing.

  • attytjj466

    Like so many things, the log jam on this issue will continue until a tipping point is finally reached. For that to occur, those who know the truth on this issue must speak up and speak out about it, in love and respect, but clearly. I have a 12 year old son in a Christian School. It is overall a great school and I want him to go there. But he is only taught YEC as being true. But we have conversations about it and I share my views (old earth) and why. His mother is not happy I do that and mostly wishes I would not. So I have to be very sensitive to her as well as to my son. And he in turn has to be sensitive regarding what he says about it at school. The school has to be very careful or they will lose enrollment. That is just one example of how complicated and difficult this can be.

  • Phil Miller

    I have to confess that it’s kind of amazing to me that Christians fight about this as much as they do still. My grandfather who turns 92 next week is a retired AoG minister. I distinctly remember talking to him once about the age of the earth and the Genesis creation accounts, and he said “I have no idea if it was a literal seven days, or it was talking about a really long period of time – it doesn’t really matter”. So even though he held a pretty conservative view of things, he didn’t care what anyone believed about the age of the earth.

    It just strikes me as so odd that people are willing draw such lines in the sand on this issue. It seems that people have lost the ability to hold an opinion and still maintain some epistemological humility about it.

  • AHH

    Unlike evolution where there may be real issues to wrestle with, an old Earth does not by itself cause tension with any aspect of orthodox Christian theology. So the ONLY obstacle to accepting the abundant evidence in nature is perceived conflict with a particular way of reading Genesis.

    Therefore, progress on this issue will require weaning the church away from the naive Biblicism that is unfortunately common, the idea that Genesis needs to be a perfect science textbook in order for the Bible to be true. And dealing with the fear (which the YEC movement has done an effective job instilling) that interpreting Genesis in other ways (for example in its ANE context as scholars like Walton and Waltke and Kline have advocated) is “not believing the Bible” and is the first step in capitulation to theological liberalism.
    To get there, I think we need more church leaders with a Scot McKnight or NT Wright or John Stott or Fuller Seminary approach to Scripture, and fewer with an Al Mohler or Ken Ham or Harold Lindsell approach. But how to get that shift is a huge question.

    P.S. I would join RJS in recommending this book as a good overview of this topic, suitable for reading by pastors and also by any layperson of decent intelligence.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    AHH, but the fossil record is right there, encapsulated in the geological record. Which makes its sort of hard to deny evolution.

  • AHH

    I’m not advocating that anybody deny evolution (I certainly don’t).
    Just pointing out that it has more potential to raise theological tensions (for example with traditional views of Adam and original sin), so there are more obstacles to many Evangelicals embracing it.
    Whereas with the age of the Earth, which is a separate question, I cannot see any obstacle whatsoever other than a fundamentalist approach to Genesis (and to the Bible more generally).

  • Adam

    As great as this book might be, there’s still the issue that most YEC believers don’t want to change their belief. A 500 page book will never get read by these people. And I’m not making up a straw man here, I’m talking about members of my own family. 500 pages is a lot of effort to learn you’re wrong about something. And not only that, it attacks the very foundation of their faith and sorting that out is exponentially more difficult than just recognizing we’re wrong about something.

    It’s kind of a catch 22, because the majority of people are taking an emotional response to a logical argument. To try to answer the emotion with more logic just exacerbates the problem, but on the other hand trying to emotionalize the logic just seems wrong. (Ever heard of Michael Dowd? That guy’s enthusiasm about evolution just creeps me out.)

  • Andrew Dowling

    Honestly, I think with most YECers they don’t care about evidence, they simply don’t want their own framework of the world disrupted (hence, there is a whole industry of people making up their own pseudo-evidence to support their own fantastical notions about life’s origins).

    I think the society and culture just need to treat YEC thinking as the fringe, ridiculous idea that it is, ensure that science is taught in schools and key concepts imparted into mandatory state standardized tests, and gradually it will die out (like the dinosaurs . . who didn’t coexist with humans! :) .

    People need to be treated with respect, but not all ideas do.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I understand, but in my experience, the 2 (young earth, no-evolution) often go hand in hand. OEC / TE are often very close to each other. It is hard to deny the evidence.

  • AHH

    Klasie, that may be a geographic thing. In the US, there are a LOT of Christians who take an Old Earth, anti-evolution position. Maybe not as many as are full-blown YEC, but a lot.

    With that said, I think you are right that for some, once they realize the Bible shouldn’t be read as a science textbook and therefore abandon YEC, a trajectory is set toward being willing to consider evidence in God’s creation and away from fundamentalist readings of Genesis. So that an Old-Earth anti-evolution position (like that of Reasons to Believe) can be an intermediate step in a journey away from YEC and toward a position more like what you and I (and RJS) would prefer.
    But there are many people for whom such a position is not an intermediate but instead is a final sticking point. And I think much of the reason for that is that significantly more traditional doctrine is threatened (or perceived to be threatened) by evolution than by an old Earth.

  • Susan_G1

    “It just strikes me as so odd that people are willing draw such lines in the sand on this issue.”

    As someone who came to faith in a YEC Evagelical community, I think I understand them pretty well, having been one of them. They are not unintelligent or uneducated; they are threatened. Although the gracious among them will admit the above (it’s not a life or death issue), in reality, it feels like one to them, because of the expectations they have placed on the Bible as the whole and perfect Word of God, perfect in it’s science, perfect in it’s history, perfect in it’s revelation, perfect in it’s whole. In too many Bible study groups, I heard the “slippery slope” argument (which I hate): not one single verse can be regarded as wrong, or then how can you know Jesus rose from the dead?

    They regard me sadly as fallen; I regard them as willfully ignorant. Even though many of the YEC’s I know are physicians and scienists, they will not budge; they have (as I did) compartmentalized their science and their belief. Labeling their beliefs won’t affect them. They probably will not read this book.

    Being shown convincingly that the Bible was never intended to be read as a science or a history text is probably the first step in reaching them. Until they stop feeling threatened by assertions against the Bible-as-all, they won’t listen to arguments. All science that “supports” YEC (bad science a la Ken Ham) is right science; all science to the contrary is distorted and wrong (such as radiometric dating.) They can look at the Grand Canyon, appreciate it’s beauty, Praise God, then visit the Creation Museum without feeling any conflict.

    So what do we do? We keep speaking the truth about the age of the world, the message of the Bible, treat them respectfully (as we are called to do with any brother or sister in Christ) without agreeing with them (and without hurling insults at them, or at each other using “YEC” or “flat earther” as an insult), recognize their fear, and let God speak to them.

    Also, I believe we could benefit by examining the threat they pose to us. We are embarrassed by them. We feel judged by non-Christians because of them. What else might be at the bottom of the hostility some Christians feel for them? It’s worth examination.

    It will take time. Maybe a lot of time. Maybe they will never die out. In the end, it’s not a hill to die on.

  • Norman

    Very well said and IMO accurate and humble in the reality you paint. :)

  • Norman

    Andrew,
    You are point on with your observation abou “food fellowship”. Some of the more difficult issues I have found can be entertained in good company when sharing common meals togther.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    “People need to be treated with respect, but not all ideas do.”

    Exactly!

  • AHH

    On the 500 pages, there are other resources that cover the ground more briefly. This page for example, which also links some shorter items:
    http://biologos.org/questions/ages-of-the-earth-and-universe
    and the video material by Walton is also quite accessible.

    But you are right that it is such an emotional investment for many that no logic or number of pages can overcome it. So progress comes by weaning people away from the underlying unhealthy beliefs — for example if it “attacks the very foundation of their faith” maybe get people to see that the true foundation of the faith is Jesus, not some human-invented doctrine of a scientifically perfect Bible. And knowing that many faithful Christians take non-YEC interpretations can break the ice (depending on the person, naming Billy Graham or Tim Keller might help).

    And of course it is not heresy for somebody to take a YEC view, so we shouldn’t get too bothered by it in and of itself. The problem comes when such people represent to others that YEC is the Christian view — at that point it becomes a tremendous detriment to the witness of the Gospel and opposing it is warranted.

  • geoffrobinson

    I take an Old Earth, anti-evolution view. Mainly because the evidence for, at the very least, a naturalistic version of evolution is poor. No, strike that. It’s not lack of evidence, the more we find out about biology the worse the case for Darwinism becomes.

    And I believe in an Old Earth because the evidence supports it. And, when you look a little closer, the assumptions that hold up a Young Earth view of Scripture aren’t there.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “Mainly because the evidence for, at the very least, a naturalistic version of evolution is poor.”

    The ole’ “watchmaker” analogy? You know that’s been thoroughly debunked, right?

  • geoffrobinson

    If you count hand-waving and “Darwin-of-the-Gaps” arguments, yes, I’m aware. If you are talking about actually establishing scientifically that random mutations can have a creative capacity that neo-Darwinism requires, that hasn’t been established.

    So much so, you may be unaware that several scientists, no friends of creationism or Intelligent Design, are saying a new theory of evolution needs to arise.

    And don’t get me started on the pathetic state of naturalistic Origin of Life scenarios.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Geoff, random mutations resulting in beneficial changes for the organisms, as well as split populations, have been shown. Lenski’s LTEE did just that.

    Furthermore, accepting the geological record implies acceptance of the fossil record – unless you believe in progressive creation, that implies acceptance of evolution.

    “The more we found out about biology, the worse the case for Darwinism becomes”. :Substantiate, please? Keeping in mind that there is a major difference between revisiting, refining, and growing understanding, compared to obliteration.

  • RJS4DQ

    I’ve been traveling – and Disqus is almost impossible to use on my phone and threaded discussions are absolutely impossible to follow (unless you like one or two words per line plastered on the right hand side of the screen). As a result I have not been able to engage with this conversation. (Have I mentioned how much I dislike disqus?)

    I’d like to make a few points though.

    First – as far as this book is concerned an old earth progressive creation scenario is consistent with the data Young and Stearley discuss. They make no arguments about mechanisms of evolution per se. While I think the evidence for evolution is stronger than geoffrobinson suggests, his view is completely consistent with the data presented in this book. In fact this is one of the major points. I think we have to separate the old earth, progressive creation arguments from the discussion of evolutionary mechanisms more specifically.

    Second – as several have mentioned, the major issues are not scientific but are biblical and theological. This is why most of my posts deal with bible rather than science.

    Third – this book won’t convince anyone who is not open to discussion. But it will provide an important resource for those who are engaged in discussions with others.

  • Greg

    i wonder why its so compellingly necessary to convert the church over to an old earth theory?
    its smacks of trying to convert me from Calvinist to neo Arminian or Baptist to Pentecostal, which of course is at the core of why Christians cant just get along, otherwise, am i in danger or at loss in some way by knowing only what I know?
    Is it so almighty important to be right?

  • AHH

    I’d say it isn’t necessary to convert the church to an old Earth view. Maybe desirable for a variety of reasons, just like it was good that the church eventually abandoned geocentrism, but not necessary.

    What is compellingly necessary is for some in the church to stop pushing YEC as the only acceptable Christian view, because that does tremendous harm to our witness to the scientifically literate.

  • geoffrobinson

    I would recommend reading Behe’s Edge of Evolution. It’s not that random mutation never produces something beneficial. It’s just that it lacks the creative capacity neo-Darwinism necessitates. In other words, it can take a stroll down the sidewalk. But it can’t build a car that goes down the highway. And we now have numerous generations of e. coli, etc. which shows this.

  • Susan_G1

    AHH, I agree with you completely about YECs pushing that view.

    At the same time, the scientifically literate should be intelligent enough to see YEC as an approach to interpreting the Bible. They should be able to hear the majority of Christians who do not eschew sound science.

    We can’t blame YECs for people who don’t have ears to hear. God has to do some of the work.

  • Greg

    Our witness to the scientifically literate is not solely the work of scientists. It’s the witness of the church collectively to bring others into Gods family, and by old or young earth theorists defensively juxtaposing their theory of origins against other Christians views as if origins are on par with the gospel, is to suggest that being right about origins is the way to God.
    How can you expect unbelieving sinners to see through the veil of pride in themselves if they don’t witness what that looks like in everyday life among God’s family?
    They must see us refusing to make hay over lesser truths than Jesus.
    Is your love of science such an idol to you all that you can’t see that its the tension between old and young earth proponents, and all the other similar tensions, that repels them, because they aren’t looking for scientific, or doctrinal truth.
    Its the foolishness of the gospel that catches their breath and compels them to use their reason to come to faith.
    When any of you who were not raised in the gospel, and who came to Christ as scientists,and/or via science, ever convicted by God for believing what you now consider unscientifically true about origins?
    Have you forgotten that God is first a lover of our souls before He is concerned with our understanding of scientific evidence, that incidentally, it appears He deliberately shrouded in mystery?
    The war between Christians claiming more exact truths than their brothers is opposed to Jesus gospel and ways of reconciliation to sinners.
    Dear brothers and sisters, please consider putting your efforts into creatively finding ways to present Jesus collectively to unbelieving scientists rather than splitting hairs.
    We will stand before Him to give an account of what we did with what He’s given us, and He’s given you folks much more brains, logic and reason that the average person. He didn’t gift these to you for you.
    Its for Him, and you must rise above trivial pursuits as ambassadors.
    blessings
    Greg

  • AHH

    Greg,

    I don’t think we are disagreeing in substance, perhaps in emphasis. You rightly point out that it also damages our witness to scientists (and to everybody else) when they see Christians attack each other over nonessentials, whether it be young Earth vs. old Earth (more attacks come from the YEC side, but there’s blame all around), or attacks over doctrine of Scripture, or over Calvinism, or whatever. That’s part of why I say I don’t mind so much if a fellow Christian wants to believe in a young Earth, or a flat Earth for that matter — it’s the pushing of that as the only view (usually accompanied by attacks on fellow Christians who don’t agree) that is the bigger problem.

    So we should strive to be rid of all obstacles to mission, including both squabbles in the church over nonessentials and also giving people the impression that following Jesus requires them to believe nonsense (apart from the foolishness of the Gospel). Those two considerations may come into tension sometimes — to me the point where it is necessary to oppose YEC in the church comes when it is pushed as the only acceptable Christian view (so we Christians who think the Earth is old are branded as compromisers or worse), which is witness-damaging in both ways mentioned here.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Geoff, Behe chose to publish a book because peer review would have torn it apart based on him not responding to previous concerns (With “Darwin’s Black Box”), on ignoring research, on misleading “quote mining” etc etc.

    A google search would help you in reading more about this.

  • Susan_G1

    Greg, are you taking your own advice here?

  • geoffrobinson

    When an Intelligent Design-friendly article has passed peer-review, the result has been a witch hunt to find those responsible for getting it through, so I don’t want to hear about peer review, frankly.

    Regardless, Behe has ably responded to criticisms of Edge of Evolution several times. You can start here: http://behe.uncommondescent.com/

  • Richard Green

    Thank you for this geoff, I think your point is completely correct, and although it appears of topic for the thread, it is complete on it.

    The core of the thread imo is the way in which pro-science and anti-science people talk to each other. This blog is mostly pro-science (it seems), and the focus is on showing that none of sciences claims need turn a person away from the Christian faith.

    I believe this, but also I believe the debate between pro and anti-science people would be improved by the pro-science lot being more humble and realistic about sciences achievements.

    So, maybe we stick to our guns with the age-of-earth evidence, but we must be ready to admit the we don’t know how evolution proceeds. Not everything the anti-science lot says is rubbish – a bit of give-and-take will make the pro/anti-science debate much better.

  • Richard Green

    Greg is saying something important imo, and he is being intolerant of intolerance – which should be voiced. Thank you Greg, you gave me a gulp of air to breath.

  • Phil Miller

    Here’s a hint… If your side of the debate refers to itself as “anti-science”, it’s not going to help you out any.

    Science is simply the field in which the debate is taking place, and there are rules that dictate how that debate happens. If one side doesn’t respect those rules, no true debate or discussion can occur.

  • Richard Green

    A debate can’t happen if either one of the parties know in advance that they are right. Ears must be open.

    If science is the rules which one side is respecting and the other is not, then I guess those ears will have to open even more. We can’t do much about ‘their’ ears, but ours…

    Oh, and I’m in the pro-science camp.

  • http://scilla.org.uk/ Chris

    All we need is a little common sense. (Hah!) :-( Here is the broad analysis.

    There is a great deal of evidence for the age of the Earth being around 4.6 billion years. There is also a great deal of evidence for evolution, anthropogenic global warming and the moon landings, but there is no evidence for flying saucers.

    Given the evidence we all have choices to make.

    We can accept the evidence. Or we can ignore the evidence.

    1 – If we are Christian or Muslim and accept the evidence we will find ways for our faith to coexist with the science. We must! There is no alternative. Many hold this view.

    2 – If we are Christian or Muslim and deny the evidence there is no issue for us. Many hold this view, but far fewer than hold view 1, at least in the West.

    3 – If we are unbelievers and accept the evidence there is no issue for us. Most hold this view.

    4 – If we are unbelievers and deny the evidence there is no issue for us. Very few hold this view.

    It is unseemly and, I think unhelpful, for people holding position 1 and those holding position 2 to fight, especially in public.

    It would be great if we could draw a line under the disagreements, but we also have to face the likelihood that will be impossible.

    Does this add anything to the discussion? Probably not. But it was fun to write!


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