Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [3]

I have been making my way through this post by J.W. Wartick, offering my responses to his responses. This is my third installment. Part 1 will provide a bit more background, and of course there is Part 2.

With that in mind, let’s chug along forward,

That’s Just Poetry

The Argument

Many of the verses that old earth proponents use are from places like the Psalms. For example, the verse about a day being like a thousand years is from Psalm 90:4. These verses are poetry and therefore not relevant to the actual age of the earth.

Response

Poetic literature still makes truth claims. Are you suggesting that nothing in the Psalms is true? To dismiss a text that is brought up in order to counter your position by saying “that’s just poetry” is tantamount to throwing God’s word out the window. One might wonder why it is that the YEC interpretation of Genesis 1 trumps every other passage in the Bible.

I should have included this point at the end of my second post because it ties in nicely with the overall theme I was addressing about the exegesis of the word “day.” But, oh well.  At any rate, the response provides us another illustration of how OEC many times mix the context of biblical passages.

If one were to read Psalm 90:4 the verse does not say anything about a “day” being a thousand years. In the NKJV, the text reads, For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night. In fact, none of the major English translations say a day is being likened unto a thousand years.

What is probably in mind is Peter’s summary citation of Psalm 90:4 in his second epistle that reads in 2 Peter 3:8, But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Yet even with Peter’s words, nothing that he writes is defining the word “day” in such a manner that we can now re-read Genesis chapter 1 and conclude that a “day” equals a vast number of years.

So I would agree with Wartick when he writes that poetic literature makes truth claims, but with Psalm 90:4, the psalmist is making truth claims only about God’s attribute of eternality, not about how the word “day” is meant to be understood in Genesis 1.

Appearance of Age

The Argument

Sure, some scientific evidence may make it seem as though the earth is old, but it is not actually old. Instead, God made it in such a way that it would support life, and in order to do so, it had to look old. He created light already on its way to earth and the Flood explains sedimentation.

Response

Nature tells us about reality, though we cannot infallibly search it (Psalm 19); God does not lie; therefore, God would not make something which by all appearances would look old, but is not in fact old.

Rebuttal

But Adam looked old. He was created about 30 years [or some adult age] old! Similarly, the plants in the garden, etc. would have looked old, but been new.

Response

The text doesn’t actually say how old Adam was when he was created. But that’s a side issue. More importantly, we would be able to tell how old Adam was by looking at evidences like his teeth, his bones, and the like. All of these would show signs of age.

Regarding the plants, this argument really just begs the question for YEC. As it is written, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food…” (Genesis 2:8-9a).

The text clearly says that God planted a garden. While it says that God made plants spring up, it is prefaced by the notion of planting. The notion of planting implies growth over time.

And suppose this is wrong; suppose the plants were grown instantly: we’d still be able to test them and see how old they actually were by looking at things like cell division and tree rings.

cslewisI have dealt with the the “appearance of age” defeaters in another post when I was interacting with theistic evolutionary arguments,

On Matters of Age

I’ll refer people to it; but to offer a few comments in response to Wartick’s response. The idea of an “appearance of age” is not to say God created something in a deceptive fashion to give it the appearance of being old when in fact it was but merely a few hours old. No. It is better to say God created His creation to be fully functional. The earth and all that was therein was created fully functional for man’s use. Fruit trees already bearing fruit, birds all ready flying, animals already grown and fully able to do what animals were created to do.

The same can be said about the stars. Though from our extremely limited perspective they appear to be light-years old, they were in fact only a two days when Adam saw them. God made them to be as such. How God did that may be open for debate. It could be that everything was divinely accelerated so that they gained their full function instantaneously. Whatever the case, His revelation is His revelation and I believe it as it is written. There is no deception and the OEC wrongly assumes deception would be taking place.

I noted this in my article I just linked.

Take for example Christ’s miracle feeding the five thousand. The fish and loaves were obviously created in just mere moments, but the fish never swam. They were never eggs that grew into baby fish that in turn grew over the course of a year or more to become fish ready to be netted, prepared, and consumed as a meal. The same is with the loaves. They did not come from wheat that was planted, that grew over the summer, that was harvested, threshed, turned to flour, and then made into bread to be eaten. A process which would take several months. Both the fish and the bread had “an appearance of age,” or better, was fully functional to perform the purpose of what they were created to do: feed 15,000 people or more.

For those who may have read it, consider for a moment The Magician’s Nephew, the first book in C.S. Lewis’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia.  Lewis, who by the way is a favorite thinker among BIOLA trained apologists, describes Aslan’s creation of Narnia. Aslan, a majestic lion who represents Lewis’s Christ figure throughout his series, walks back and forth across the world of Narnia singing his beautiful song. As he goes along singing, everything in Narnia comes into existence almost at once. Lewis’s description is powerful.

Now certainly Lewis is telling us a story, but in his story he could very well have captured what truly happened at creation. There is no reason to doubt such happened when we are talking about the Almighty God of Scripture.

Presuppose Naturalism

The Argument

This one is extremely common when one listens to/watches debates between YEC and old earth proponents. Essentially, the argument goes like this: “You are presupposing naturalism in order to come up with an old earth. I presuppose the Bible is true instead. The difference is I [the YEC] am aware of my presupposition.”

Response

Strictly speaking this argument is actually completely false. Naturalism is the philosophical position that only the natural world exists. The debates in which this argument is often brought up are very often between Christians of opposing views. Therefore, because they are both Christians, neither one is operating under the presupposition of naturalism.

Rebuttal

The YEC may press this objection, however, and say what they mean is that one is presupposing a naturalistic methodology as opposed to the entire worldview.

Response

Define “naturalistic methodology.”

1) If you mean assuming “uniformitarianism”: see the argument and response below.

2) If by “naturalistic methodology” you mean something else, show how that is the case.

naturalismStrictly speaking, he is correct with regards to his definition of naturalism. However, is the YEC wrong for leveling the charge of “presupposing naturalism” against the OEC?

It probably would be helpful to re-phrase the argument to say how the OEC is unwittingly embracing a naturalistic hermeneutic when he engages the issue of origins. What Wartick goes on to state in his second response as a naturalistic methodology.

Now, he challenges the YEC to demonstrate what he means by “naturalistic methodology.”  I would argue that what is in play here regarding “naturalistic methodology” is the faulty view of general revelation that OEC advocate in their overall apologetic.  The OEC typically claims nature is a second source of divine truth that serves as an authority regarding God’s creation. Hugh Ross always likens nature as a secondary testament or God’s 67th book of revelation. It is argued that both special revelation, the Word of God, and general revelation, nature, are revealed by God and because both realms have their origin with God, then both cannot contradict each other.

There is, however, a problem with this notion of a realm for special revelation and a realm for general revelation that allegedly never contradict each other because they both come from the Creator. Simply put, what the Bible reveals about the history of the world and what nature supposedly reveals about the history of the world, obviously conflict with each other. It is the reason why we have YEC and OEC in the first place and Wartick was compelled to write up his initial post.

But the Bible is not in conflict with general revelation, or nature. What is in conflict are the interpretive presuppositions OEC bring to studying nature and Scripture, or the so-called methodology they utilize that attempts to reconcile them.

It is assumed by the OEC, that because God is the creator, that nature is self-defining and authoritative. Hence, the OEC believes what the men who study nature, i.e., scientists from the various fields of science, conclude about nature needs to be considered the correct way to understand the nature. So, for the OEC, when the scientist concludes that nature is telling us the universe is billions of years old and life developed (evolved) over millions of years upon the Earth, they are not necessarily wrong about their views of history of origins on our planet. The OEC then weighs their conclusions against what Scripture teaches.

The interpretation of “nature” that brings an OEC to the conclusion that the earth is old was determined by unbelieving individuals who presuppose strict naturalism. So when the YEC says the OEC is operating from a position of naturalistic philosophy or whatever, that is what he has in mind. There truly are now two conflicting authorities supposedly telling us two entirely different stories regarding where the world came from, where life came from, and where this world is going. From the vantage point of the YEC, the OEC doesn’t seem to take that presupposition into consideration.

Uniformitarianism

The Argument

The only way to come up with an old earth is by assuming that everything has been uniform forever; in other words, the processes in place now are operating at the same speed they always have.

Response

Let’s apply this argument to one field: geology. Geology does come up with ages around 4.5 billion years old for the age of the earth. Now, the problem is that this is not due to uniformitarianism. Rather, geologists must take into account the fact that catastrophes do happen. For example, a huge meteor hitting the earth would change the geological landscape. Modern geology is neither catastrophist nor uniformitarian; rather, it must take both into account. And it still comes up with an “ancient” earth. The problem is that YECs go to the opposite extreme and actually assume that a catastrophe (or numerous catastrophes) can account for all geologic evidence. By citing specific examples of catastrophism, they then apply a catastrophic geology to the rest of the earth. It’s exactly the methodology YECs critique, but then they do it themselves. This is simply naive.

Furthermore, the burden of proof here is upon the YEC to show that the rates could increase at such a monumental rate on such a monumental scale that everything we observe that looks ancient is, in fact, ‘young.’ They must make the argument.

Here we have an unfortunate display of ignorance. I don’t expect our author, who is a BIOLA trained apologist who has been influenced by deep time views of history by Reasons to Believe, to have a working knowledge of geology. I don’t have a “working” knowledge of the ins and outs of geology.  But, with what I do know, even from a secular education in high school and college, he is honestly more naive as he claims his YEC detractors are.

I’d encourage him to actually read what geologists believe about uniformitarianism. A commenter left two book recommendations in the comments under my second article, “Bursting the Limits of Time: the Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution” by Martin J.S. Rudwick, and “The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth’s Antiquity” by Jack Repcheck. Both books are written by men who are experts in their fields, who adhere to deep time perspectives of the earth, and present the history of the earth as gradual uniformitarianism. It is important to note also that both books, within their working titles, recognize how geology challenged the biblical history advocated by Christians up until that time which was a 6,000 year old history.

I would also encourage Wartick to read on the subject from a creationist perspective. Roger Patterson’s book on earth sciences [Available on-line HERE] which examines and evaluates all of the major high school texts books on the subject of earth sciences, would be a good place for a basic start. Then I would recommend reading through Terry Mortenson’s doctoral thesis on the history of geology that is also available on-line  HERE.

Suffice it to say, the uniformitarian argument is an important one, because those naturalistic scientists we just discussed presuppose it in a lot of their research and conclusions. For Wartick to just sort of wave off this objection as if YEC are idiots and don’t know what they are talking about, displays someone who is profoundly out of touch with how naturalism and uniformitarianism have been historically related.

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7 thoughts on “Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [3]

  1. The appearance of age
    There was a fairly recent supernova discovered on Jan 22, 2014 in a galaxy called M82, it is about 12 million lightyears from earth, so the light that was observable from earth showed the supernova took 12 million years traveling at a rate of about 186 thousand miles per second. But if God made the universe with the appearance of age God made the image of the star exploding in-between the Earth and the star, since the YEC people say the Earth is less than 7,000 years old. The star didn’t really explode at all, in fact the elements that were shown expanding around the exploding star are just an “fake movie” also, In fact every star you see in space is not really the light from that star it is just an “image” or in the case of the supernova a “pretend show” because the star never really exploded it was just Gods “light image” explosion that he created to just look like the star went super nova. This is deceptive? I would ask, what is a lie? Answer, a lie is a statement that has a deliberate intent to deceive.

    If the YEC says theses distances are incorrect then he would have to say that mathematics and logic are also incorrect because we know enough now to calculate the distance of stars, by simply using math with no theoretical guesses at all.
    The speed of light is so constant that the standard of distance is no longer a platinum-iridium alloy meter stick but the distance light travels in 1/299 792 485 of a second.

    Saying that there was a super expansion of the universe is arbitrarily and extraBiblical a way to try to fit science into Genesis. The problem with math and YEC is important because only the Christian world view can explain math logic and Truth. YEC has a problem here in my opinion.

  2. Are you not aware that these objections were considered some time ago and rejected by Biblical Creationists?

    “Saying that there was a super expansion of the universe is arbitrarily and extraBiblical a way to try to fit science into Genesis. The problem with math and YEC is important because only the Christian world view can explain math logic and Truth. YEC has a problem here in my opinion.”

    So do the secularists. I’ve read that problems also exist with Big Bang version of the expansion of the universe the Big Bang and that model is no less arbitrary. You would do well to familiarize yourself with current BC argumentation so as not to present straw men arguments as these.

  3. Burrito
    I realize this is not a new argument, I’ve read about -White Holes- and all kinds of rationalizations to fix this problem scientifically but I think the real problem is the newspaper literalism view of Genesis. Forget about science just understand that this literalist approach forces a “false history” for anything in space farther than 7,000 light years. Sure YEC people don’t want to talk about it but the fact remains that God does not deceive he would not make fake super novas that show an explosion that never happened. BTY you never want to discredit the education of someone you don’t know, simply bad form.
    Also
    Just today 5/26/14 a research paper came out showing problems with the Big Bang. Things always change in science, but I think God would not design fake images of fake explosions and set them at a fake distance from us to see his glory in space.

  4. First off, I apologize for assuming that you had not read up on other arguments. It just seemed that way to me.

    However, no recent Biblical Creationist scientists I’ve read claim that God made “fake supernovas”, and they would agree that yes, those objects in space are that far off, and disagree that a normal reading of Genesis “forces” anything. Yet God Himself is quoted in Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17 as saying, “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.” How exactly that happened remains to be discovered. Because of God’s words in Exodus that reinforce the Genesis 1 and 2 narratives, I remain confident that the six day creation account and distant astronomical bodies are in some way compatible with one another. Also, one cannot dismiss consideration of the miraculous; even OEC’s will admit that time, space, matter and energy just weren’t going to start themselves without a Divine push. At some point we must appeal to mystery.

  5. Pingback: Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [4] | hipandthigh

  6. Pingback: Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [5] | hipandthigh

  7. Pingback: Refuting Theistic Evolution and Old Earth Creationism | hipandthigh

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