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Monday, May 11, 2009

Young-earth creationism is a matter of faith, not science

I have previously posted about the RATE project, wherein the leading young-earth creationist organizations did a thorough study of the evidence from radioactive dating. They concluded that, provided the rates of radioactive decay have remained constant, the scientific evidence argues against a young earth. They also stated that the evidence hasn't been faked. However, they then proposed that the rates of radioactive decay have not remained constant. I am no expert in this area of science, but it sounds to me, and to other people, including Bible-believing Christians, that the reason for proposing such variation in radioactive decay rates is the presupposition that the earth is not very old. There seems to be no scientific evidence for such variation.

This post points out that Kurt Wise, who has impeccable scientific credentials, and is a young-earth creationist (YEC), has said exactly that -- that this presupposition takes precedence over the scientific evidence. The Panda's Thumb, the most important anti-Intelligent Design blog, has pointed out that Wise is not the only such YEC believer. Todd Wood, who also has impeccable scientific credentials, says this:
I have hope because I'm a sinner saved by grace. That's my whole reason. It's not because I can refute evolution (I can't) or because I can prove the Flood (I can't) or because I can make evolutionists look silly (I don't).

So two of the leading proponents of YEC have said that YEC cannot be proved scientifically. That's commendable, but it's a far cry from a great deal of what comes out of the YEC camp. Most evangelical and fundamentalist Christians have been taught that the scientific evidence for a young earth is compelling. It clearly is not. Unfortunately, a principal motivation for Christian parents to send their children to Christian schools, or to home-school them, seems to be to expose them to textbooks that make such claims, when they aren't supported by the evidence.

Are YECs the only people who confuse their presuppositions with their conclusions? No. All too many scientists, and others, start with a belief that there is no God. No one has ever proved that scientifically, but if that's your basic presupposition, it's hardly a surprise that you will come out still believing it. As Hebrews 11:3 puts it, the evidence for origins is a matter of faith. That's true for YECs, and of naturalists/atheists, and it's true for anyone in between these positions.

Christianity is never well served by deceit, or ignorance. It's time that YEC proponents stop claiming that YEC is scientifically proved. Will they do this? I'm afraid that most will not.

Thanks for reading.


elbogz said...

I have friends that are young earth creationist, and I ask them, how they can sustain such a belief. The one’s I’ve met believe in a young earth because they truly believe the bible tells them so. I respect that opinion. I do because there is a foundation to the belief. When a young earth creationist tells me that their beliefs are founded in science and scientific study my only response is ***censored***

Go back 500 years to Rome, where excavation for churches uncovered fossils. Fossils of creatures that no longer live on this earth. What were these? The young earth creationist at the time argued they were put there by Satan to confuse us, or they were a result of Noah’s flood. Science didn’t really know, but as they studied them more and more, they came upon the first theories of geology. Most important, the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality, and the principle of lateral continuity. What’s important is the fossil history goes from creatures that were very simple to creatures that are complex. Laid down in order of less complex to more complex; something that could never happen in a flood. Good Christian men have struggled with that concept for hundreds of years, conceding there is no proof of Noah’s flood.

Then came Galileo. He dared to tell us that the earth was not the center of the universe. The stars were not attached to the firmament. There were not windows to heaven from where the rain came from. The earth was not fixed. It did move! The church argued in vain for 200 years that it wasn’t so. Finally they conceded the point. Now we don’t argue geocentric creationism. That argument was lost. Now we come to find not only is the earth not the center of the universe, it’s some insignificant planet, in some not too spectacular of a galaxy. It’s mind boggling to think we are just a speck of space dust.

Before all of that, the Egyptian mathematicians calculated with great accuracy the diameter of the earth. They accomplished this simply by looking at the horizon, and watching the ships disappear in the distance. However, they probably failed to convince the flat earth creationist at the time.

The church preaches the story of young earth creationism. A Sunday school teacher tells his class there are no fossils that prove evolution. A young boy that lives near the university’s geology museum raises his hand and says, “Yes there are”. “Do you want to go see them”? A young girl is taught that her science teacher is a liar. The young girl raises her hand and says, “no he’s not”. “Do you want to go meet him?” It is that moment, that these young children realize the church is lying to them. It is only a short time before they start asking what other lies the church is telling.

In our lifetime, or, perhaps our children’s lifetime, the young earth creationist will be forced to join the flat earth creationist and the geocentric creationist. Resigned to history as another chapter in the story of the church. It wasn’t some Egyptian mathematician that convinced the flat earth creationist their story was no longer true, nor was it Galileo that convinced the geocentric creationist that their story was no longer true. It was because that belief was no longer sustainable. The same will come true of young earth creationism. It won’t up be me to convince you, nor some great scientist. Perhaps in our lifetime, perhaps in our children’s lifetime, or longer, one day the church will realize they can no longer preach the sermon of young earth creationism. That’s the day beliefs will change.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, elbogz.