The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Ongoing conversations — dinosaur eggs, and why I’m a Christian

I’m sort of caught between the young-Earth creationists on one side and the militant Dawkinsites on the other. I love them both: the YECs are my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and Jesus loves the atheists, so I do too.

There are a couple of interesting conversations going on on some of my older posts:

  • A conversation about dinosaur eggs under Dinosaur footprints part 3.  Did stressed dinosaurs lay those eggs while swimming around in the flood?
  • A conversation about “How can you be a Christian and a scientist at the same time?” under Darwin’s birthday #2. I am having a dialog with some lengthy comments with an atheist who calls himself  Human Ape. He uses language like “Christians are uneducated morons” on his own blog, but has been mostly respectful in his comments on my blog.

Please feel free to join in.

Grace and Peace

July 8, 2010 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , | 3 Comments

The best of young Earth creationism

I’ve added three links on my blogroll: “The best of young-Earth creationism.”

I strongly disagree with these guys on geological issues, but admire them for:

  • Being bold in their convictions and commitment to Biblical Christianity
  • Being willing to confront some of the problems with young-Earth creationism
  • Being respectful of those who disagree with them
  • Being very smart guys. I’m not sure I would want to get in a live debate with any of them, even though I’m right and they’re wrong about the age of the Earth and the extent and work of the flood

The three blogs are:

  • Proslogion — Dr. Jay Wile. Dr. Wile is a nuclear chemist and is author of the popular Exploring Creation With Chemistry/Physics/Biology/Physical Science series for high school homeschoolers.
  • The New Creationism — Paul Garner. Mr. Garner is a young-Earth geologist.
  • Todd’s Blog — Dr. Todd Wood. Dr. Wood is a biology professor at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, home of the famous/infamous Scopes Monkey Trial. Dr. Wood has taken some flack from fellow young-Earth creationists for admitting that evolution “works, and it works well.”

Grace and Peace

July 6, 2010 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Young-Earth creationism | | 2 Comments

Perhaps the oceans haven’t been created yet

Last year I published a blog post regarding young-Earth creationists’ use of seawater composition to “prove” that Earth is nowhere near 4.5 billion years old (Aluminum and the 100-year old oceans). This argument is one that needs to be added to their growing “Arguments creationists should not use” page, but it continues to make the rounds. This month’s Acts & Facts publication from the Institute for Creation Research has a rather inconsistent article called “The Ocean’s Salt Clock Shows a Young World,” written by ICR Senior Science Lecturer Frank Sherwin.

On the one hand, Sherwin argues that sodium inputs into the ocean far outweigh sodium outputs, proving that the age of Earth’s oceans cannot be anywhere near the billions of years as advocated by geologists. The most significant sodium input into seawater is ions dissolved in river water. Outputs—those processes that remove sodium from seawater—include sea spray and exchange of sodium ions with other ions in clay minerals on the sea floor. According to Sherwin, the maximum age for the oceans based on sodium concentration is 40-60 million years, and the oceans must be much younger than this because it would be best to assume that the oceans were created with a composition not all that different than what it is today.

On the other hand, Sherwin brushes off the criticism that similar reasoning using aluminum would show that the ocean is only 100 years old. He states that aluminum concentrations in the oceans are at equilibrium but sodium concentrations are not. Perhaps this is a case of “sodium concentrations support our position, and aluminum values do not, so the sodium values are valid and the aluminum ones are not.”

In reality, concentrations of all elements in seawater are somewhere near equilibrium, but none of them are perfectly at equilibrium at any one time. In other words, the amount of sodium in seawater—or of any other element—can increase or decrease over time as global conditions change. This has certainly been true in the Quaternary Period, with rapid and significant climate and sea level changes, and has likely been true throughout geologic history.

Sherwin concludes his article with:

“Accumulating salt in the ocean does not “prove” anything, but it does deal a death blow to evolutionary ideas. Holding to the well-attested biblical text gives us the true age of the world’s oceans–measured in just thousands of years.”

It is not clear what he means by “not proving anything,” because he clearly thinks he has proven something. But he hasn’t proven anything, as one can see by diving a little deeper into the literature. On a side note, many conservative Biblical scholars would contest the idea that the Bible requires an Earth that is only a few thousand years old.

A technical treatment of the issue from a young-Earth creationist perspective is The Sea’s Missing Salt: A Dilemma for Evolutionists, by Austin and Humphreys.  They examine sodium inputs and outputs, and claim that 3.56 x1011 kg of sodium enters the ocean per year, while only 2.06 x1011 kg is removed. If this is true, sodium concentrations in the ocean are increasing over time rather than being near equilibrium.

Christian geophysicist Glenn Morton (formerly a young-Earth creationist) wrote a response to Austin and Humphreys’ article, closely examining their values for sodium inputs and outputs. Morton identified additional mechanisms for removal of sodium from seawater, and calculates that 3.81×1011 of sodium is removed from the ocean per year, which is greater than the amount of sodium that enters. There is a degree of uncertainty about the magnitude of some values, as many seafloor geochemical processes are only incompletely understood, but Morton’s values are likely to be at least approximately correct.

Conclusion: Ion concentrations—whether of sodium, aluminum, or any other element—cannot be used to determine the age of the oceans.

Or perhaps we should conclude from these numbers that the oceans have not been created yet!

Grace and Peace

HT: Webmonk.

July 2, 2010 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Geology, Origins, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Evangelical Christian perspectives on the environment

Christianity Today magazine asked three Christian leaders “How concerned should Christians be about environmental care?” The answers are short, but serve as an introduction to the range of answers that exist among Evangelicals. Each of these writers, from politically liberal to conservative, has insights that Evangelicals need to take into consideration as we think about our responsibilities in the realm of creation care.

Here are a few excerpts:

Answer #1: As much as God is, by Jonathan Merritt, author of Green Like God. Merritt’s perspective represents the politically liberal side of Evangelicalism, and he focuses on some Biblical issues that the political conservatives that make up the majority in Evangelical circles sometimes ignore.

Non-Westerners carefully observe the historically Christian West and form opinions about our faith based on our lifestyles and practices. For example, Americans make up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet consume over a third of Earth’s paper products. How does this influence the gospel message in countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, and Ecuador, where deforestation causes so much suffering and injustice?

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It is inappropriate to claim that creation care—or any social issue—composes the foundation of the gospel. But the gospel calls us to a radically sacrificial, compassionate lifestyle. Jesus commands us to “make disciples of all nations” and teach others to “obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). This includes the commands to love our global neighbors, care for the least of these, and uphold the creation care mandates throughout Scripture.

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Part of missional living is telling the truth. That means we must be honest about our world’s problems. When we blindly follow Christian lobbying groups and “alliances” that ignore global injustice, the gospel suffers.

Answer #2: No less than stewards, by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler is one of those individuals who is able to comment intelligently and passionately on just about any topic he puts his pen to. Mohler’s blog is at AlbertMohler.com.

Concern for the environment is one of the most controversial issues facing Christians today. On the one hand, we confront an environmentalism that is often deeply rooted in a naturalistic worldview, sometimes wedded to pantheistic or panentheistic spirituality. On the other hand, we face a painful legacy of silence, apathy, and unconcern among evangelicals.

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For a long time, I did my best in my teaching and writing to “balance” this verse [Genesis 1:28] and its clear declaration of human dominion over the created order with the biblical theme of stewardship. But I have come to the conclusion that they are really one and the same. A proper understanding of dominion includes stewardship.

God invested the only creature made in his image with the power of dominion. There is little room for misunderstanding. Human beings are not blights upon creation. Indeed, creation itself is, as John Calvin famously declared, the theater of God’s own glory. Human dominion over the earth is to be exercised so that God’s glory is most evident in God’s creation. The love and care the Creator invested in the cosmos is to be our model of dominion, rightly fulfilled.

We cannot buy into the implicit pantheism and questionable science of so many environmentalists. We cannot accept environmental apocalypticism. Far too many evangelicals seem to do this while ignoring deeper Christian motivations for proper earth care.

At the same time, we cannot neglect our responsibility to exercise our dominion in a way that treasures the earth, heals its wounds, respects its creatures, and values its divinely given resources.

Answer #3: Depends on one’s gifts, by Cal Beisner, spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. Beisner is a leading climate-change skeptic among Evangelicals.

I suppose we all are capable of a good deal of emotional care for the environment,for what that’s worth. But our resources are more limited for objective, outward care—time spent removing litter from a streambed, protesting toxic waste at a chemical plant, inventing a more fuel efficient and less polluting engine. Time and money and bodily energy spent on those cannot simultaneously be spent on HIV/AIDS care and prevention, hunger relief, evangelism, fighting human trafficking, or reading Bible stories to our children.

Prioritizing is inescapable. The apostle Paul’s statement about gifts in the church applies: “There are many parts, but one body.The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!'” (1 Cor. 12:20-21).

Suppose Julie dedicates full-time service to Earth stewardship and no time to her church’s clothes closet for the poor. Ron does the opposite. Jean divides her time unevenly among homeschooling her children, teaching a women’s Bible study, following up on visitors to her church, and contacting her state and federal representatives about public policy concerns. Is one of them wrong? “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4).

Grace and Peace

July 2, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, Environment | , , , | 3 Comments

Aurora Australis

I’ve only seen the northern lights (aurora borealis) once, and that only faintly. Here’s a photo of the southern lights from the International Space Station.

Credit: NASA/ISS Expedition Crew 23

From NASA’s Earth Observatory Image of the Day, June 21, 2010: Aurora Australis Observed from the International Space Station.

Grace and Peace

July 2, 2010 Posted by | Space Exploration | , , | Leave a comment