The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

The best of young Earth creationism — part 2

Back in July I listed three blogs by young-Earth creationists that I think are pretty good. Of course I disagree with these brothers in Christ regarding the age of the Earth and the extent and work of Noah’s flood, but I appreciate them because they hold firmly to the Bible, have a good background in science, and, unlike many YECs, are willing to admit that not all that comes out of the mainstream YEC organizations is all that good.

Two of these blogs have recently said things that reinforce my appreciation of them:

Dr. Jay Wile, Proslogion

Dr. Wile authored a post called More Evidence Supporting The Young-Earth Theory of Earth’s Magnetic Field. Dr. Wile and I had a bit of a dialog in the comments section about this, each of us giving our reasons for and against his position. I thought my reasons were better, but I’ll write about that some other time. Another thing that caught my eye, however, was his response to an off-topic question from young-Earth creationist John Chaikowsky (a friend of mine):

You mentioned that Answers in Genesis had “theology leaves a lot to be desired”. What do you mean by that or what examples do you have that you don’t agree with? Just curious.

And here is Wile’s reply:

Thanks for the question, John. Answer in Genesis believes that the ONLY way to interpret Scripture faithfully is to say that the Genesis days were 24-hour days and that the earth is young. This is nonsense, of course, since some of the best theologians of the past and present use other interpretations, and since a 24-hour day wasn’t the exclusive view of the early church. This desire to force Christians to believe in a young earth puts them in some very shaky theological waters. For example, they claim that the idea of no animal death before the Fall is crucial for Christianity, when at best it is extraBiblical.

Now please note that I do believe the days in Genesis were 24-hour days and that the earth is young. However, I do not think it is the only orthodox way to interpret Scripture, and it is certainly not the only way to have a literal view of Scripture.

Christians of both the young-Earth and old-Earth varieties would benefit from this sort of theological openness and humility.

Dr. Todd Wood, Todd’s Blog

In the past, Dr. Wood, has admitted that

Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.

I suspect that not all of his fellow YECs appreciated this.

This week Dr. Wood pointed out that Jason Lisle’s “anisotropic synchrony convention” —an attempt to explain how starlight from distant stars could have already arrived at Earth if the universe is only 6000 years old—fails to be a scientific theory:

Because Lisle’s anisotropic synchrony convention does not make predictions and cannot be tested, it really falls outside of the realm of science. It’s more like medieval philosophy, where theories of ultimate reality could be bandied about because there was no way to test them. Lisle’s idea reminds me of extreme forms of the idea of creation with the appearance of age. It’s logically possible that God created the universe 5 seconds ago, with people having vivid memories of lives they never lived and events that never happened. But that logical possibility doesn’t mean extreme appearance of age is scientifically or theologically useful.

And so ends my assessment of Lisle’s solution to the speed of light problem. It just isn’t science. As he seems to freely admit, anisotropic synchrony convention is all about logical possibility, but it doesn’t actually help us understand or explain galaxies or pulsars or redshift or cosmic background radiation. He seems content to assume God made the universe exactly as it is for whatever inscrutable reasons He had. Talk about ad hoc. I suspect that those creationists like me who are actually interested in science will just shrug their shoulders at the anisotropic synchrony convention. Whether it’s true or false, it just makes no difference.

Thank you, Dr. Wile and Dr. Wood, for your gracious attitudes and desires to weed out bad science and bad theology as you hold on to your young-Earth creationist beliefs.

Grace and Peace

October 5, 2010 - Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Astronomy, Biology, Creation in the Bible, Origins, Young-Earth creationism | , ,

10 Comments »

  1. Since you are have a dialog with these brothers, maybe you can ask the 144 hour group about these passages in Genesis 1:

    12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind.

    21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.

    25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind.

    In these verses, the organisms reproducing according to their kinds at least (and not less than) one generation, no indication that the reproduction occurred in any manner other than the natural reproductive cycles of the organisms. (And, no reason to assume that the passages are not discussing multiple generations.)

    Unless these verses are focused strictly on micro organisms, all of the reproduction cycles require more than 24 hours, and many not less that one year.

    I’ve wondered about this, but bringing this up with your run of the mill young earther in the pew is not productive.

    Like

    Comment by Jody | October 5, 2010

  2. Jody:

    I agree that there are issues within the text of Genesis 1 that are difficult for young-earth creationists.

    You mentioned 1:12, about the earth bringing forth vegetation. This implies a process that takes time rather than an instantaneous creation of all plants.

    YECs also read a lot into the phrase “reproducing after their kinds.” This means that horses reproduce horses and not alligators, but it cannot be stretched to mean that populations cannot change over time. There may or may not be limits to biological change, but Genesis 1 does not dictate an answer to the question.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | October 5, 2010

  3. I’ve talked with Dr. Wood about Dr. Lisle’s claims in his theory. I think that though Lisle may intend his theory to be completely untestable, it actually is quite testable and does interact with things beyond merely assuming a particular point of view about the speed of light.

    For one, there are phenomena which directly measure the speed of light on a one-way path – watching the moons of Jupiter progress across Jupiter’s face at different times of the year, and looking at the aberration of starlight coming toward the earth.

    Then there’s a couple, tiny little things called Maxwell’s Laws – they measure the speed of light based on other physical phenomena, the simplest of which is the ratio between wavelength and frequency always being a constant – c, the speed of light. That doesn’t change depending on which way the light beam is oriented.

    And then there are all sorts of things happening like refraction and interference of light beams. If light were moving at different speeds in different directions as oriented to the Earth, they would not show up the same diffraction patterns because the waves in the “fast” beam would not match up with the waves of the “slow” beam.

    Finally, I wish I could take credit for this, but I didn’t really bother studying Lisle’s nutcasery beyond the point where it was obviously wrong, but someone did, and it turns out that Lisle’s variable speed of light would require a gravitational field oriented across the universe toward the Earth, one that could quite easily be noticed if it actually existed.

    For the most part, I had generally thought Dr. Lisle was a benefit to AiG in that he was one of VERY few people in their organization who have actually studied the field which they write about. But this … this is … unbelievable. I could imagine some college student just finishing his first class of relativity in his Freshman and not having taken any other physics classes at all making these sort of blatantly false claims, but a guy who studied this stuff for years and got a doctorate in astrophysics?!?!?

    I really don’t get it. This is stuff that a college sophomore in physics could show to be nonsense. My pet theory is that the culture of AiG to completely ignore anything that may cause serious problems with a theory has soaked into Lisle and he has developed tunnel-vision to an extreme.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | October 6, 2010

  4. “I’ve wondered about this, but bringing this up with your run of the mill young earther in the pew is not productive.”

    Now that’s an understatement!

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | October 6, 2010

  5. Huh, I can’t say I think much of Dr. Wile myself. Closed comments on the thread without warning and before the discussion could get uncomfortable for him.

    Such as how an inflated sheet flow (ISF) could be found in the middle of a Flood, like they are in the Columbia River Basalts. That’s not a question of “heavy interpretation”.

    I can’t imagine that any YEC geologist, no matter how fervent, no matter how dedicated, not one single one, would ever claim that an ISF could form underwater.

    This isn’t something that is “heavily interpreted”. And yet, there are many of them found all over the world in layers supposed formed in the Flood, including the Columbia River Basalt formations.

    Much better to close comments and avoid the question.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | October 8, 2010

  6. My experience with Dr. Wile was attempting to teach 8th grade Science from his text book in a Christian school. While he pretends to be non-hostile to old earth creationists, he successfully created in the students and parents of students an extremely hostile environment.

    I took a look at his 7th grade text and was horrified to see that he introduces science with an explanation that Christians will use Biblicalism as a means to understand the world — that the world is only viewed correctly through the lens of the Bible. What he never addresses is that if your view of scripture is in error at any point, your view of the world will be warped in that area. Biblicalism also means that if your view of scripture is in error at any point, there is NOTHING that can bring you into correction.

    He summarily dismisses any view that he does not hold as unchristian, heretical or “compromising.”

    Like

    Comment by Jody | October 8, 2010

  7. WebMonk (#5):

    I was unfamiliar with “inflated sheet flows,” so I did a little looking. Here’s an abstract in the GSA Bulletin that says,

    Inflated sheet flows from Kilauea and Mauna Loa are morphologically similar to some thick Icelandic and submarine sheet flows, suggesting a similar mechanism of emplacement.

    Hon et al., Emplacement and inflation of pahoehoe sheet flows: Observations and measurements of active lava flows on Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

    It looks like this is ambiguous at best, in terms of subaerial or submarine emplacement.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | October 8, 2010

  8. Jody (#6):

    Is Wile’s 8th grade book his Physical Science book? I’ve paged through that one, didn’t think much of the standard YEC geology chapters, but didn’t see where he took the typical YEC “heretic” attack against other views. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I used his chemistry book to teach at a classical Christian school for a year and didn’t like it a whole lot. Some of my complaints were probably related to the fact that it was his first textbook. When it came time for me to order textbooks at a different Christian school, I chose a secular chemistry textbook.

    I have pointed to Wile’s blog as an example of a “good” YEC site because of his willingness to acknowledge that there are other ways to look at things like the days of Genesis 1 and death before the fall. He is also a good writer, and is willing to point out some problems in the YEC camp. Perhaps he has evolved somewhat in his stance since writing that 8th grade text.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | October 8, 2010

  9. WebMonk (#5):

    Wile closes his comments a few weeks after he posts, perhaps automatically. I think he thinks he was winning the argument, so I don’t think he chickened out.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | October 8, 2010

  10. You’re the expert, but all the papers I had found on submarine lava flows described that lava as inflating with tubes/pillows/tumuli/lobes rather than sheets. Lots of flow lobes can join together to make an underwater sheet, but a sheet flow by itself doesn’t seem to be able to form underwater, certainly not on the scale seen in the CRB.

    Sheet flows underwater take on a different look than those on land. From what I could find, the only time you get an underwater lava formation that looks like a surface sheet flow is a lava “pond” underwater which can develop a smooth surface. Other than that, the underwater sheet flows are either full of big pillow-like shapes, or are made of ropey-looking shapes.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | October 8, 2010


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