Tuesday, 25 February 2014

New thinking on the light and time problem for young earth creationists

I have just read an interesting and thoughtful article by Danny Faulkner on Answers in Genesis about the problem for recent creationists posed by the apparent very large size of the universe and the issues for a biblical date of creation posed by light from distant stars and galaxies. Read it here.

The problem of the age of the earth tends to be the first objection raised in discussions about creation versus evolution. I have lost count of the times the age of the earth has been raised as a 'knock down' killer response when I have raised fundamental scientific objections to the Darwinian evolution hypothesis. These objections include the impossibility of  abiogenesis, origin of information, observed fixity of species within genomic limits, deleterious nature of mutations, sudden appearance, extinctions and stasis in the fossil record, and many other issues that I raise on this blog from time to time. Rather than answer these problems, I find that evolutionists often tend to make straight for the presumed cast iron evidence for a very old cosmos and assume that they have killed my arguments.

As an aside, they have been hoodwinked into believing that a very old earth automatically guarantees that molecules to man evolution will occur. That is absolutely a non sequitur-if the mechanism fails (and it does) then adding time doesn't help. A very old earth is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for bacteria to turn into people via worms, reptiles and apes. Anyway, back to the article.

As a biblical Christian, I respond that I trust the Bible (for a range of reasons I don't have time to go into on this post) and so believe that the genealogies and histories are true, and that Jesus and the Apostles were correct when they referred to Adam, Enoch, Noah etc. as literal historical people. Therefore (because I accept the Bible as a primary resource) I believe the Earth is about 6,000 years old. The opponent then basically says. 'Ha! Got you! you're an ignorant moron who believes in fairy stories and denies science, so I don't have to answer any of the science problems you raised about evolution.' This is very convenient for them, as they can't satisfactorily answer any of the above mentioned science problems I raise.

I freely admit that I do not know enough mathematics, physics and astronomy to seriously address the science issues around distant starlight and how this might be consistent with a 6,000 year old creation. And neither do most of the people who so boldly assert that 'the scientists have proved it'. These people also believe a lot of other stuff they have been spoon fed since the age of 4 and never question. They are so very trusting of their masters. Some of these people also believe that Islam is a religion of peace and that Britain can borrow her way out of debt, despite the profound and readily accessible evidence to the contrary. I digress, although everything is connected.

However, as with all scientific evaluation of difficult questions, there are confounding factors and different angles on the apparent evidence for a very old cosmos and Earth. The most overarching and fundamental of these factors is the presence (even if only theoretical) of a Supreme Being who possesses and uses wisdom and power of a totally different order of magnitude than we can even imagine. As I posted yesterday, this factor tends to be automatically discounted, yet it is at the heart of the discussion. So why discount the only alternative to materialism? Not a very fair minded or reasonable thing for a disinterested seeker of truth, but very much what one would expect from a philosophically determined materialist.

Another thing I take into account when questioning billions of years is that I know very well that I have been systematically deceived over the biology of molecules to man evolution. The stuff I was taught at A level science-peppered moths, Galapagos finches, sickle cell disease, Miller-Urey experiment, embryology recapitulates phylogeny etc. (and all this is still being taught in schools today, by government diktat and prevented BY LAW from being questioned) is all a load of guff. I reserve the right to assume that the people who have deceived themselves and others over, for example, beneficial mutations as the central creative mechanism of evolution, may have been similarly lacking in objectivity and/or integrity over age of the cosmos issues.

What Faulkner essentially says in his essay is really very similar to what we read in the Book of Job in the Old Testament. After Job has said his piece, God responds, beginning with the question 'Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth? Tell me how I made the stars, since you're so clever!'

At this stage I can hear the sniggers 'Oh yeah, so you're falling back on the 'goddidit' defence! Typical!' Well if you like, I am. However, what if God DID do it? Because that after all is the central argument of the biblical creationist, and indeed of all anywhere near orthodox Christians. Have you  heard of the Nicene creed, or indeed read the historic accounts of the life of Jesus we call the four Gospels? If you extract the miraculous, you are left with nothing much at all, apart from some astounding moral teaching. Moral teaching which we can take or leave as we please if there is no Creator God to Whom we are accountable.

If the Christian religion has any validity whatsoever then Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin according to centuries' old prophecies (proving a God who exists outside of time and knows the end from the beginning), turned water into wine (His first miracle, see John's Gospel chapter 2) healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, raised the dead and after His crucifixion, ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. That's us by the way. As some anti Christian commentators have noted (although theistic evolutionists tend to shy away from this) if we are in for a penny, may as well be in for a pound. Either God performs mighty miracles or He does not, and if not, then why bother following Jesus at all? And if God can raise the dead, which science says is impossible, then why not create all things in 6 days?

The AiG article mentions that God created the stars to shine light on the Earth and mark times and seasons. To be fit for purpose, that light would have had to reach Earth by day 6 when Adam was created. Faulkner effectively suggests that the light was miraculously 'pulled', perhaps by some sort of inflation or 'stretching out' of space. There are several references to the Creator 'stretching out the heavens' in Isaiah. He freely admits that this would not be susceptible to any kind of scientific measurement or validation. It could not be. Back to Job, who was forced to admit that when confronted with the reality of God he was compelled to despise himself and repent in dust and ashes.

To simplify things, consider the rather large amount of plain water that Jesus miraculously and near-instantaneously turned into good, mature wine (John 2). If we could send wine experts Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke back in a time machine and ask them to taste it, they would (like the steward in John 2:10) pronounce it rather good and ask for another glass. If you told them it was only 15 minutes old they would laugh you to scorn. If you pressed the point, and let's imagine they had a wine scientist with a portable laboratory along for the ride, they would have pointed out half a dozen science facts (not least the season of the year and the biology of fermentation) why the wine just had to be at least 6 months, probably 2 years, old. But they would be mistaken, sincerely mistaken but nevertheless wrong because they had left the possibility of a miracle out of their calculations.

If Oz and Jancis, smiling to each other knowingly about fairy tales, were then taken aside by an eye witness who told them what had really happened, they might well be incredulous, and understandably so. But if the witness persisted in their story, open minded people might ask some more questions, for example about the integrity of the witness and the character and person of the man who had allegedly performed this miracle, Jesus. On the other hand, they might prefer to stick to their philosophical position that miracles never, ever happen, and so come to the only other possible conclusion-that there was trickery and deceit at work here.

Miracles are sovereign acts of God, not repeatable acts of nature. They are therefore not susceptible to the ordinary scientific rules of testing, prediction and falsification. This sounds like special pleading, OK so perhaps it does. That is why we need to take a broad, rounded view of the reasons why Jesus of Nazareth is a faithful witness who ought to be trusted. That's too big a tangent to go off on in this post, there is a lot elsewhere. Lee Strobel's book 'The Case for Christ' isn't a bad start..

So, in the end it rests on the reliability of Scripture and faith in God and Jesus. Biblical creationists need to face this, admit that we don't have a testable scientific hypothesis to account for the apparent great age of the cosmos as suggested by light from distant stars. We must admit that we trust the Bible because we trust Jesus, for which trust we are certain that we have adequate cause. However, there are a whole bunch of things in biology for which the materialists have absolutely no explanation, and with less excuse given their insistence on the supremacy of the scientific method. Using the issue of time as a distraction tactic from issues like the irreducible complexity of (for example) Krebs cycle which COULD NOT POSSIBLY have evolved by 'numerous successive gradual adaptations' since nothing works until it all works is lazy and a big fail.

Genesis 1:1

'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.'

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