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This is a question for people who believe in the creation.

One point considered a serious proof of evolution is the scientific method of carbon dating. As per this method, humans haven't existed from the beginning of the creation of the earth (as per age of discovered human skeletons). However many other species like Apes and have existed before human beings and a species whose skeleton looks partly ape and partly human has been discovered, which existed before humans as well. Humans began to appear around the same time this species seemed to go extinct. Isn't this a proof for evolution? Or at least a proof that creationism does not exist? (Since Humans and animals were created within a span of 7 days according to the bible.)

In what ways do creationist Christians generally handle these claims?

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closed as not constructive by warren, Bruce Alderman, DJClayworth, Lawrence Dol, JustinY Dec 6 '11 at 2:20

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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There are a couple competing theories on this held by various Christians. If this question is going to be answered rather than getting closed as Not Constructive, all answers must include an overview of the different views including how YEC and OEC address these claims. –  Caleb Dec 5 '11 at 9:19
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I can't see this ending well... –  Marc Gravell Dec 5 '11 at 10:04
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We need to separate out some of this stuff. Much of the evidence you quote is NOT evidence for evolution, it is evidence for an old earth. Old Earth and Evolution are not synonymous. –  DJClayworth Dec 5 '11 at 16:29
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As it is written, the question seems overly broad to me. The issues of radiometric dating and hominid fossils could stand alone as their own questions. –  Bruce Alderman Dec 5 '11 at 18:46
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This question looks like it was specifically phrased to avoid debate - it asked for something supportable - descriptions of how Christians reconcile apparent difficulties. It wasn't phrased in a "You Christians are stupid" tone. It sounded sincere and he accepted a reasonable answer. The answers themselves followed the guidelines, even if the excessive argumentative comments from those that didn't answer didn't. If this was an "honest seeker" this is a fair question, and one that non-Christians seekers are likely to find interesting. Voting to re-open even though I know the odds are slim. –  David Stratton Dec 6 '11 at 3:13
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4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Carbon-14 dating does give ages that are incompatible with a literal interpretation of the Bible. The question, then, is whether or not Carbon-14 is giving us valid data.

There are quite a few assumptions used in Carbon-14 dating:

  • The rate of C-14 decay (half-life) has always been the same.
  • The C-14/C-12 ratio in the Biosphere (equilibrium) has remained constant.
  • The specimen was in equilibrium with the Biosphere when buried.
  • The specimen had not gained any carbon since it was buried.
  • Today, we can measure the correct C-14/C-12 ratio in the specimen.

If any of these assumptions is invalid, then the dates we get from Carbon-14 dating would be inaccurate and completely irrelevant to the discussion. Any reasonable person should admit this. The onus is then on those who accept all of the assumptions as true without proof.

As it turns out, there is evidence that the rate of decay has not always been constant, and there is also evidence that the C-14/C-12 ratio is still not in equilibrium. So, if that's the case, Carbon-14 dates should be considered inadmissible in the court as evidence.

Propounding the difficulties is the fact that when multiple dating methods are used on the same specimen, wildly different results are found. For instance, if the Carbon-14 test gives a date of 50,000 years, but the Uranium-Lead test gives 100,000 years, and the Potassium-Argon test gives 200,000 years, the question is often asked which one is accurate. Yet, why should we say any of them are accurate with such extreme inconsistency? Even if the 100,000 year date fits into what was expected, it doesn't mean it's correct. If all the dating methods consistently returned results within 1-3% of each other, that would be significant, but that is not the case at all.

If a professor gave a specimen to his students to date, and he used one method and each of the students used a different method, the professor would give each of them an "F" on the assignment, because they would differ that much from the result the professor himself got.

So, creationists just simply respond to the Carbon-14 evidence with a request for proof that all of the assumptions used are actually true, and we also ask for an explanation of why multiple dating methods disagree so much with each other.

Then, we would probably point to some of the many evidences for creationism, such as the earth's decreasing magnetic field, the departing moon, the presence of meteorites, the continued rotation of the earth, the 2nd law of thermodynamics... and a million other things. In any discussion on such things, the evolutionist and creationist should both split their time defending and presenting evidence. Too many times creationists are forced into only countering so-called evidence for evolution, and the evolutionist never has to answer anything.

So, that's how a creationist would answer such evidence.

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And if anyone is interested in answers to these claims from a scientific point of view, here is a starting point. If someone wants me to explain those issues to them, they can ask in the chat and I'll take my time. –  Sven Dec 5 '11 at 15:22
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@Sven: Also, the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims is quite good. –  hammar Dec 5 '11 at 18:19
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And there are tons of resources out there that demonstrate the scientific impossibility of evolution. –  Narnian Dec 5 '11 at 18:45
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@Narnian, (un)fortunately those resources you speak of are usually already well disputed and shown to be false. Again, if you would like to engage in a discussion, I'm happy to open a chat-channel for that. –  Sven Dec 5 '11 at 19:08
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On one level I really want to +1 this because it is, indeed, what is argued, but I also want to -1 it because all of the points are so massively critiqued and frankly discredited. This leaves me in a dilemma. –  Marc Gravell Dec 5 '11 at 22:34
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Through history, Christianity has struggled with science. Ultimately, there are only three possible solutions that we can come to in order to reconcile facts with beliefs:

  1. Re-evaluate, and attempt to change the facts (or establish new facts based on beliefs)

  2. Re-evaluate and attempt to change the belief (or establish new beliefs based on the facts)

  3. Do not attempt to reconcile the facts and the existing beliefs

These three directions have resulted in three separate doctrines:

  • Old Earth Creationism

    The idea that God created the earth over the course of millions of years. This is an attempt to reconcile the latest understanding of science with the clear doctrine of creationism.

    (In regards to evolution specifically, Theistic Evolution, also known as evolutionary creation, is a doctrine that has come out of the belief of evolution.)

  • Young Earth Creationism

    The idea that the Bible is completely accurate and that the best interpretation of the text speaks to the Earth being about 6,000-12,000 years old.

    This belief system presumes science's most popular conclusions to be somehow faulty and tries to shed more light on the matter by either hunting for new evidence or re-examining existing science and forwarding various possibilities that discredit the methods or premises used.

  • Non-reconciliation

    Several Protestant denominations (From Southern Baptists to Quakers), simply don't try to reconcile these differences. They say that God created the universe and that science studies the universe, but they don't try to reconcile the two. These viewpoints basically leave the believers of the denomination open to make their own judgments (which generally follows YEC or OEC above).

Summary

As science changes, Christianity changes, usually. Sometimes, Christians don't attempt to reconcile the difference between science and religion. Sometimes they do. When they do, they end up either pushing back against their original beliefs or pushing back against the scientific system.

Ultimately, how evolution (and all other scientific theories) is reconciled with Christianity depends upon the doctrine to which you hold fast.

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Basically, I'm not about to address either science or doctrine in regards to this. Both are hot-button topics. This is just the big, over-all picture for you. –  Richard Dec 5 '11 at 20:51
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You might check my edit, I re-worded the YEC section. I wanted to mess with the first three points too but my wording was going to make it much more verbose. I don't think "changing facts" or "changing beliefs" is fair to either side of the YE/OE debate or any other similar conflict with science. How about "re-evaluate, find the beliefs to be sound and the apparent facts to be faulty and attempt to set the record straight on the facts" and "re-evaluate, find the apparent facts to be valid and the belief to be faulty and attempt to re-cast the belief in light of the apparent facts"? –  Caleb Dec 6 '11 at 15:02
    
@Caleb Yeah, that's great! I agree, it's not that anyone is "changing the facts" or "changing the beliefs necessarily. However, if you come from one side of the fence, that's how it seems on the other side. (OEC think that YEC are trying to change science and YEC think that OEC are trying to change the Bible.) I don't think it's perfect wording, but it's just something to attempt to convey an idea. I wasn't shooting for a perfect answer, just a complete, non-controversial answer. ;) –  Richard Dec 6 '11 at 15:27
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Quite frankly, there are several viewpoints on this. There is no one answer to your question.

  • Some Christians see evolution as a complete non-issue (but you asked specifically about creationists, so this group is outside of the scope of our desired answer).
  • Some hold what are sometimes called "compromise positions" by young-earth creationists, such as the Day-Age theory or the Gap Theory. Each of these theories explains an old earth while allowing for a semi-literal interpretation of the Genesis account: The Gap Theory by indicating that there's a "gap" between creation and Genesis and the Day-Age theory by explaining the days in Genesis as "time periods" rather than literal days.
  • Others - literal young-earth creationists see flaws in the arguments and have specific arguments about the accuracy of the methods used to date the universe as old, and point to other evidences that could indicate a young earth.

To answer this fully would be too big an answer for this forum, but if you're really interested in how young earth creationists explain these things, a good resource you might consider is: http://www.icr.org (The Institute for Creation Research)

They also have articles that explain the gap and day-age theories, but they absolutely hold to the young-earth creationist view.

As for the partly man/partly ape skeletons, both the young and old earth creationist camps happily point to several examples of "human ancestors" that turned out to be mistaken identity or outright fraud. (Nebraska man, Java Man, and Piltdown man all come to mind off the top of my head.) They ask, "If these were accepted as human ancestors, and have been shown to be false, why would we automatically assume that the current "ancestors" are to be trusted."

But again, there's a range of beliefs, and not all creationists agree on every specific point or example.

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I think the best way for a Creationist Christian to respond to claims of evolution is to step back and examine the broader assertion as to whether evolution is possible. I believe that a Creationist Christian can take the moral and scientific high ground by using the scientific method to lessen the scientific claims of evolution.

I have found Stephen C. Meyer's Signature in the Cell to be an excellent resource and reference. Meyers goes through a series of easy-to-follow examples (a cheater at a roulette wheel, words built from Scrabble tiles, a combination lock) as well as some more challenging examples (such as the chance of a molecule mutating into a useful amino acid, given that the entire universe is working on that single problem).

Meyers comes to the conclusion that Intelligent Design is the best hypothesis that fits the data, and uses scientific thinking to undermine the very roots of evolution.

For a mass media resource (funny and accessible) rent or show the movie Expelled: No intelligence allowed. It draws some of the same conclusions and has some pointed moments in interviews with evolutionists when they say ridiculous things (e.g., life evolved on the backs of crystals). From the editing, a thoughtful skeptic would say that the evolutionist doesn't believe it himself.

As to a pointed question about carbon dating, I would point to the Cambrian explosion and note how many life forms appeared during this period. I would ask the evolutionist what evolutionary mechanism could have been the cause for this explosion of life forms. They will probably answer "punctuated equilibrium" or some variation, as described by Stephen Gould. Then, refer to chapter 19 of Meyer's book ("Sauce for the Goose") where he politely, firmly, and thoroughly dismisses Gould's notions.

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Well, the "documentary" Expelled is known to be fraudulant, quoting many of its interviewees out-of-context. This is, in fact, an excellent example of how Creationists react to Evolution: they lie about it. –  TRiG Apr 23 '12 at 18:56
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