The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Around the web 3/22/2013 — The ice age only lasted 250 years, evaporites formed from magma, environmentalism is bad for us, and more

answers-ice-ageThere have been a number of articles on the web the past few weeks that deserve a long analysis, but some short notes will have to do.

THE ICE AGE (SINGULAR) OCCURRED BETWEEN 2250 AND 2000 B.C. — Answers in Genesis posted an article in February by Andrew Snelling and Mike Matthews entitled When Was the Ice Age in Biblical History? As usual, none of this is necessary Biblically, or workable scientifically.

Here is everything they want to squeeze into 250 years after their date for Noah’s flood (2350 B.C. on the accompanying map with timeline):

  • 2350 to 2250 B.C. — Antarctica becomes covered by forests, then gets covered by its ice cap.
  • 2250 to 2000 B.C. — Ice age on the rest of Earth.
  • approx. 2300 B.C. — First mastadons.
  • 2250 B.C. — first human tools in archeological record.
  • approx 2200 B.C. — First woolly mammoths.
  • approx 2200 to 2100 B.C. — Age of the Neanderthals.
  • approx 2150 B.C. — Humans migrate into Australia.
  • approx 2100 B.C. — Humans migrate into North America.
  • 2000 B.C. — End of Ice age. Abram born.

Again, the Bible says none of this! When Abram is born, he is born into a stable civilization on a stable Mesopotamian plain that isn’t much different than how it is described in Genesis 2. There has been no massive transformation of the Tigris-Euphrates valley!

But the geological problems with the YEC picture dwarf the biblical problems. Not only do they have to squeeze Antarctic glaciation, Neanderthals, the ice ages (there is plenty of evidence that glaciation happened multiple times), and human migration into Australia and the Americas into 250 years, one would have to throw in things like multiple eruptions of a number of “supervolcanoes” (e.g. Yellowstone, Toba, Long Valley), growth of other volcanoes (e.g. Cascade Range), growth of modern coral reefs, and deposition of in some cases many hundreds of meters of ice age sediments around the world. Add in a few biological marvels as well — hyperevolutionary adaptive radiation going from “elephant kind” to mastodons, woolly mammoths, and modern elephants; as well as dispersion of animals and humans throughout the globe.

Don’t teach this to the church or our youth as biblical truth or scientific apologetics!!!!

EVAPORITES (SUCH AS SALT) FORMED FROM MAGMA — YEC geologist Tas Walker has endorsed Stef Heerema’s magmatic model for for the origin of large salt formations. Heerema’s Journal of Creation article is here, and a more recent YouTube video is here. I am writing a longer response to this one, but for now I’ll say that this all shows that, despite YEC claims to the contrary, the Journal of Creation cannot possibly be a peer-reviewed journal.

ENVIRONMENTALISM IS A THREAT TO CIVILIZATION — So says Evangelical writer Cal Beisner, a spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance. There are some good things in the Cornwall Alliance’s Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, but…

Here’s what Beisner recently said about why humans could not be doing any catastrophic harm to the Earth by adding excess greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, as reported at Huff Post Green:

“That doesn’t fit well with the biblical teaching that the earth is the result of the omniscient design, the omnipotent creation and the faithful sustaining of the God of the Bible. So it really is an insult to God,” Beisner said.

Isn’t that sort of like saying that it doesn’t matter what we do to our bodies—smoking, excess alcohol and drug use, etc.—because God has designed us in such a way that the things we do could not possible cause us catastrophic harm?

THE DOCTRINE OF CREATION – The biblical doctrine of creation isn’t primarily about how old the Earth is. See Bigger Than We Think by David Wilkinson.

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANITY CONTINUES – Iran puts five Christians on trial for their faithChristian protesters decry Muslim mob’s arson spree following blasphemy chargeChristians, churches dwindling in Iraq since start of war 10 years ago.

I want to write, write, write, but can’t keep up with it all.

Grace and Peace

March 22, 2013 - Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Around the Web, Christianity, Climate Change, Creation Care, Creation in the Bible, Environment, Geology, Nature, Origins, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , , , , , ,

15 Comments »

  1. I really liked the article from Christianity Today. If only more people involved in the origins debate would look at the bigger.

    Comment by Carol | March 23, 2013

  2. I was very surprised to read in the Ice Age article that the author accepts the relative dates from carbon dating but not the absolute, doesn’t-fit-the-bible, dates. I would have thought that by questioning the assumptions that go into carbon dating the YECs would not even trust the relative results. Is the author’s approach typical?

    Comment by Carol | March 23, 2013

  3. Beisner is clearly a great influence upon people like Senator James Inhoffe. Sadly, blind faith in certain Biblical texts will not stop the climate form changing and the sea level rising. Saying it can’t be happening won’t change the fact that it is. Seeing some Christians being this stupid is, I think, a major cause of widespread disbelief in God. Thomas Aquinas was right: we should only adhere to interpretations of Biblical texts lightly; and be prepared to let go of them when doing so brings faith itself look stupid.

    Comment by Martin Lack | March 23, 2013

  4. Carol — YECs have changed their stance on radiometric dating over the past decade or so. Because radiometric dating really does work most of the time, the better YECs acknowledge that it gives a general, relative sense of how old things are. They also teach that there was an extreme acceleration of radioactive decay during the flood; which is why rocks deeper in the record tend to give older dates. To accept C-14 dates after the flood as relative (rather than absolute) dates, it is necessary for them to suppose either that there was still somewhat of an acceleration of nuclear decay after the flood, or that there was a different amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere immediately after the flood.

    It appears that the evidence that radiometric dating works most of the time was so overwhelming that the YEC researchers (the RATE study) had no choice but to accept it as valid for relative dating. That does not, however, stop them from placing a huge amount of emphasis in their literature on the instances where radiometric dating gives clearly invalid results.

    One more thing about accelerated nuclear decay — compressing a billion years of decay into one year would have generated enough heat to boil the oceans, and also to melt a significant part of Earth’s crust. There also would have been billion-fold rates of accelerated decay of C-14 and K-40 in the people and animals in the ark (unless, of course, they were shielded from whatever caused the accelerated decay).

    Comment by geochristian | March 23, 2013

  5. Martin — I would not say that Beisner et al. have “blind faith in certain Biblical texts” but that they wrongly interpret or apply those texts. I agree that wrong thinking about the environment on the part of Christians can drive some people away from Christianity, just as wrong thinking about geology on the part of Christians can drive some people away from Christianity.

    Do you have a source for the Aquinas quote? I am not all that familiar with Aquinas, and your paraphrase was a bit too loose to find a quote on the internet.

    Comment by geochristian | March 23, 2013

  6. You are quite right to pick me up on my emotive choice of words.

    However, with regards to Aquinas I thought I had quoted his exact words on this site quite recently. However, here they are once again; with similar senitments from St Augustine as well…

    “… since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.”
    – Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (1273).

    “It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.”
    –St. Augustine (354-430 CE), De Genesi ad literam 1:19.20, Chapt. 19 [408].

    Comment by Martin Lack | March 23, 2013

  7. Martin — Thanks for the Aquinas quote. I’ve commented on the Augustine quote before, and it is actually one of the most-read posts on The GeoChristian.

    http://geochristian.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/augustine-the-literal-meaning-of-genesis/

    Comment by geochristian | March 23, 2013

  8. In reading the AIG Ice Age article I realized there is a contradiction in their approach to ‘historical science’ (I have to give some credit to the Sensuous Curmudgeon for this argument*). Typically AIG and other YE creationists don’t trust ‘historical science’, e.g. Ken Ham’s much repeated refrain ‘Were you there?’. But since the Bible doesn’t say anything about one or more ice ages YE creationists have to depend on ‘historical science’ to even know that one or more existed. There is no explanation on this issue nor how to accept some historical science but reject most of it.

    * http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/answers-in-genesis-the-ice-age/

    Comment by Mark B | March 23, 2013

  9. Mark — thanks for your thoughts and your link to The Sensuous Curmudgeon. It is sad that many people will use the silliness of the Answers in Genesis ice age article to dismiss Christianity.

    Comment by geochristian | March 23, 2013

  10. Here’s what James McGrath has to say about the AiG ice age article on his Exploring Our Matrix blog:

    The Answers in Genesis web site has a fascinatingly amusing discussion (previewing an article in their magazine) about the timing of the Ice Age within the framework of their insistence that creation occurred 6,000 years ago. This means that they date the Pleistocene Era after the flood. The article cites evidence from radiometric dating, the evidence of which they dispute whenever it suits them. They also need to posit radically fast evolutionary changes to account for the differences in species between the ice age and the time of Abraham, in order to account for the differences between the fossil evidence for certain animals and their later counterparts. The whole thing illustrates just how bizarre a system of thought young-earth creationism is. All this to shoehorn data into a time frame that they insist on imposing, but which is not only at odds with all the scientific evidence, but isn’t even required by the Biblical evidence.

    I continue to wonder whether the folks at AiG are working to make Christianity look as foolish as possible, even while claiming their aim is to promote it.

    (emphasis added)

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/03/ice-age-creationism.html

    Comment by geochristian | March 23, 2013

  11. YEC (young earth creationism) would actually be funny (and it seems to me like the ‘science’ is a made up joke) if it didn’t hurt so many of our young people’s faith. Young earth creationists (YEC) remind me of Haman in the story of Esther. They actually think they are doing the right thing by ‘destroying’ those nasty old earthers and defending the faith when in actuality all they are building is the gallows upon which many non-believers will hang Christianity and its so-called ‘science’

    Comment by Dan | March 25, 2013

  12. Thanks for the clarification, GeoChristian. It still seems like they want to have it both ways — dismiss carbon dating when convenient and accept it on their terms when necessary. It seems to me it is easier to dismiss the evidence for the timing of events on order billions of years ago than it is for events merely a few million to thousands of years ago. Perhaps that is why I’ve seen little YEC material on more recent events like the Ice Age(s), Yellowstone eruptions, and civilizations that are older than 6,000 years.

    Comment by Carol | March 25, 2013

  13. Interesting posts and comments, as always. I don’t know what I like more: the idea that you are a heretic if you believe evolution happened over millions of years but you are orthodox if you believe evolution happened over decades, or the idea that the best scientists believe in YEC because great scientists in the past like Newton assumed the Earth was young (this was of course before advancements in astronomy, geology and other sciences). There were also a lot of smart people who believed in alchemy at one time, before modern chemistry.

    I will not say that YEC is a cult, but then again… I guess I could call it an alternative system of theology, where belief in certain timelines becomes the central aspect of the faith and to support these timelines an eleborate system of pseudo-science and pseudo-history is constructed. Traditional Christianity points to Christ in various ways. It seems that in a version of Christianity that is heavily influenced by YEC, the emphaisis is no longer directly on Christ but it shifts to the literal verity of certain dates and timelines. Only when you have an exact and correct understanding of these dates and timelines can you have enough info, evidently, to point to Christ. So elaborate discussion of supposed timelines and pseudo-science become a main part of the apologetics. How many people reject or give up on Christianity because the apologetics get skewed in strange directions and they are told that this is the only way to understand Christianity?

    Comment by Jacob | March 25, 2013

  14. Jacob — I like your statement: you are a heretic if you believe evolution happened over millions of years but you are orthodox if you believe evolution happened over decades.

    Comment by geochristian | March 25, 2013

  15. Re the YEC argument for a single ice age, a retired Christian geologist wrote an article on this a few years back in the NCSE Reports: http://reports.ncse.com/index.php/rncse/article/view/72/65

    Comment by tkhelble | March 26, 2013


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