3

Young Earth Creationism postulates two main theses:

  • Creationism/Intelligent Design: the thesis that the universe was created by a divine entity.
  • Young Earth: the thesis that the Earth is approximately 6000 years old.

Now, let's imagine we compile the strongest arguments and evidence for competing secular theories, such as Common Descent, Abiogenesis, and the widely accepted old-Earth model supported by mainstream geology and cosmology. Similarly, suppose we gather the most compelling arguments and evidence for competing theistic views, like Theistic Evolution and Old Earth Creationism (OEC). Suppose we also collect the best peer-reviewed papers and books from respected apologists for each position, essentially creating a comprehensive library of material for each view.

Now, imagine X, an unbiased, sincere, honest, open-minded, and neutral truth seeker with plenty of time on their hands. They are about to dive into studying all this material in detail, even if it means dedicating an entire decade to study, with many hours devoted each day.

Is it the position of Young Earth Creationism that X should inevitably conclude that YEC is true? If so, does this imply that anyone who disagrees with YEC, whether theist or non-theist, has not diligently, honestly, sincerely, and open-mindedly studied the evidence and arguments hard enough?


Bonus

This question intrigues me, especially in light of public declarations by Christian apologists who have relinquished their former Young Earth Creationist beliefs, such as the following:

A few weeks ago, astrophysicist Dr. Luke Barnes (Western Sydney University) published an excellent article in Premier Christianity Magazine, in which he gives his story of changing his mind about the age of the Universe, revising his view from being a young earth creationist to embrace an old earth. I resonated with much of Barnes’ story, since my own intellectual development on this topic has followed a similar trajectory. More than a decade ago, as an undergraduate student, I too would have identified as a young earth creationist. However, the more I have come to understand of science and epistemology, the more implausible young earth creationism has seemed to me. I now see the antiquity of our earth, and indeed our cosmos, as being supported by an avalanche of data, spanning multiple scientific disciplines. While I do not doubt the sincerity of young earth advocates — and am often quite inspired by their piety — it is my considered opinion that young earth creationism has, regrettably, done more damage than good to the public perception of Christianity.

Source: https://jonathanmclatchie.com/a-response-to-jim-masons-defense-of-young-earth-creationism-in-premier-christianity-magazine/

I sometimes describe myself as a “disappointed young-earther.” By that I mean I started out holding to the young-earth position, but the shortcomings of most of the YEC arguments and the shenanigans of certain YEC proponents forced me to the old-earth position.

...

As you can probably tell, my decision to move from YEC to OEC was motivated strongly (but not exclusively) by a reevaluation of the empirical evidence. However, I recognize that everyone approaches the empirical evidence with presuppositions. Facts are not self-interpreting nor do facts “just speak for themselves.” The question before me—indeed, before all of us—is how, when, and how much should the empirical evidence cause me to adjust or change my operating presuppositions. What should I do since the scientific data seems to clash strongly with my presuppositions?

Source: https://peacefulscience.org/prints/confessions-disappointed-young-earther/

3
  • 1
    It might be better to restrict X to someone that has already accepted, or at least is open to the possibility, that the Universe was created by a supernatural being. Accepting that first belief can be much more difficult and significant than the second, which is the one you are actually interested in. Commented Apr 11 at 21:05
  • @RayButterworth That was already granted, X is open-minded, so they are open to that possibility.
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 11 at 21:24
  • 3
    This isn't answerable. Only X could answer, anyone else will simply say that X will, of course, agree with them. Those already convinced of YEC will say the evidence obviously points to it, and those not convinced will say the evidence is obviously against it. Everyone believes that the evidence is on their side, and if humans were rational enough to only work on evidence, there would be no disagreement. So either the evidence isn't conclusive one way or the other, or it is but people stick to their beliefs regardless. Either way, this can't be answered here.
    – terdon
    Commented Apr 15 at 16:47

1 Answer 1

2

Yes

Abiogenesis is an absolute disaster. No one has a clue how it could have happened. Why, then, are scientists so convinced it did happen? I think Lewontin sums it up best:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

Lewontin makes it clear that belief in abiogenesis in particular is philosophical in nature; that is, it does not stem from an unbiased, neutral and open-minded approach.

Common Descent has significant issues; so many that it's difficult to list them all in any concise summation. Just to name a few:

  • Various methods used to consist the singular "tree of life" that the hypothesis requires result in very different trees.
  • "Convergent evolution" is a bad joke. Many complex features are required to "evolve" not once but several times independently, which exponentially increases the probabilistic hurdles that must be overcome. By contrast, reuse is a typical feature of design.
  • No mechanism for creating new genetic information which requires coordinated changes to more than two DNA sites has ever been demonstrated. Meanwhile, changes to even two sites has been shown by evidence of organisms in the wild to be extremely rare. In particular, the number of trials necessary exceeds the available resources of large organisms (i.e. chordates).
  • "Junk DNA" isn't. "Vestigial body parts" aren't. CD is rife with failed predictions.
  • Despite over-hyped claims to the contrary, transitional forms remain elusive.

These issues are so severe that even atheists are calling for the sinking ship to be abandoned; see The Third Way, and The Altenberg 16. The Discovery Institute is a good site for more information on why Intelligent Design is more likely than Common Descent.

Geological claims were originally based on the idea of uniformitarianism, or the thought that processes measured in the present could be back-plotted into the deep past. Based on this idea, features such as fossils, coal and oil, cave mineral formations, canyon formation, and others were believed to indicate that hundreds of thousands of years were required. These ideas have been thoroughly discredited, and we now know that all of these examples can be formed quickly under the right circumstances. Some, such as diamond production, have even become industries in their own right.

Radiometric claims are based on a number of questionable assumptions and are highly contentious. Different techniques don't merely give different results, but differ in a systemic manner. Samples of known ages (<100y) have been assigned vastly inflated ages in blind testing. Blind tests have found 14C (which completely decays in not more than hundreds of thousands of years) present in samples supposedly millions or billions of years old. Several lines of evidence also indicate that extremely rapid decay occurred; additionally, different degrees of increase for different types of decay are consistent with aforementioned anomalies. In addition, "unexpected" dates are frequently discarded or massaged in order to fit the "accepted" timeline. (For more, consider the RATE reports, Volume I and Volume II.)

In short, the foundations of "old age" claims are suspect. In addition, many lines of evidence indicate that the various strata were deposited quickly and catastrophically. The existence of fossils indicates flooding. Uniformity of rocks and fossils on continent and super-continent scales indicates rapid deposition on a scale that is almost inconceivable (e.g. a global Flood). Lack of inter-layer erosion/weathering, polystrate fossils, preservation of fine surface features, and folded formations with no sign of fracturing or heat metamorphosis all indicate rapid layer deposition. Rates of continental erosion and oceanic salinity increase also contradict "long ages".

Cosmological claims are based on two lines of evidence; first, on geological claims (which we've shown are problematic), and second, on our ability to see light from what appear to be distant objects. To be clear, it is generally accepted, even by YECs, that stars are very distant. However, all this evidence actually tells us is that very distant light has reached Earth. A number of possible solutions have been proposed, but it's important to note that YEC isn't alone in being unable to explain light/energy propagation. The neutral, unbiased response to the evidence of energy observed throughout the cosmos is that energy seems to be able to propagate faster than the apparent distances allow. Everyone is missing something here, so no one hypothesis is favored or disfavored. (The "inflation" hypothesis is purely ad hoc and lacks a viable explanation, nor is it the only hand-wave that must be introduced to keep the Materialist model viable.)

In addition, there are many evidences that at least our solar system is "young", of which a few are:

  • Current models of stellar "evolution" suggest that our sun would not provide an environment on Earth suitable to the development of life over the supposed time period.
  • The moon is currently receding. At present rates, it can't have been around for the entire alleged age of Earth, or for as long as life has allegedly existed. Hypotheses as to how it could have "appeared" or been created are problematic with respect to existing life on Earth.
  • Many large bodies are too warm, have too strong a magnetic field, or retain too many volatiles to be millions or billions of years old.
  • Rings, as seen on most outer planets, are short lived.
  • Comets are short lived. Proposed methods for their replacement are completely speculative.

I haven't even touched on any of the evidences that humans and dinosaurs lived together, which don't fit cleanly into the above categories. Nor have I gone into any of the genetic or linguistic evidence that affirms thousands of years, the Flood, and Babel.

Competing views are invariably based on attempts to reconcile the claims of "science" (which we've falsified) with the teaching of Scripture. For thousands of years, the main competitor to six-day Creation was instantaneous Creation. While this was often not taken seriously (and would seem to blatantly contradict Exodus 20:11), its roots are at least theological in nature, with the argument being that it shouldn't take God so long to accomplish what is described in Genesis 1. And these arguments are correct; however, they miss that God "took His time" for a reason; namely, to establish the pattern that is the seven-day week for our benefit.

It's important to remember that "billions of years" gets the lion's share of the funding and is backed by most news agencies, many large organizations, and even some governments... not to mention tremendous "peer pressure". (Again, while it's been well known for quite some time that failure to adhere to the "party line" can kill one's career, even atheists are starting to speak up about the problem.) There may be "an avalanche of data, spanning multiple scientific disciplines" that is waved about by Materialists, but when critically examined, my uniform experience is that that data is over-hyped, flawed, twisted, and sometimes entirely fabricated (Piltdown man, anyone?). Conversely, what is "supported by an avalanche of data, spanning multiple scientific disciplines" is exactly what we read in Genesis; that God Created the Earth about six thousand years ago and subsequently sent a catastrophic global Flood that wiped out nearly everything.


Addendum: When I say uniformitarianism "[has] been thoroughly discredited", I am not referring to the methodology as such (which is, after all, an extrapolation of logical induction), but to its reliability. Consider, for example, a scientists examining a tunnel who observes ants carrying away grains of rock at the rate of 1 cm³/day. If the scientist estimates the volume of material removed from what started as solid rock to be 1000 m³, it isn't unreasonable, in the absence of other evidence, to hypothesize that the tunnel took 1ga to form. What's unreasonable is rejecting the competing claim that the tunnel was excavated with dynamite, especially when shown the tool marks (contradictory evidence)... or the civil planning documents (contradictory historical records).

This is the (invalid) idea of uniformitarianism; that the effects we observe may only be explained by processes currently in operation, to the dismissal of any evidence that contradicts its conclusions and to the rejection of the possibility that processes could have differed in the past. As a starting hypothesis, it's fine. When I say, however, it is "thoroughly discredited", I mean that nearly all the results which are alleged to require thousands or millions of years have subsequently been demonstrated to be achievable in decades. A great many, in fact, require only days or even moments. Therefore, while its conclusions may be logically valid on their own, they are demonstrated to be unreliable ("thoroughly discredited") by virtue of experiments which contradict the underlying assumptions. Since they are unreliable, and since much contrary evidence exists, its conclusions are therefore unlikely.

7
  • 5
    There's a lot of claims made in this answer, but no credible sources backing any of this up. As it stands, it could be true, or it could be a bunch of imaginary drivel with no connection to reality. You make extraordinaly strong claims "when critically examined, my uniform experience is that that data is over-hyped, flawed, twisted, and sometimes entirely fabricated" yet can't put in concrete terms even your own personal observations. I don't believe this meets the criteria set in the original question, requesting a dilligent and unbiased study. Commented Apr 16 at 10:38
  • @BartekBanachewicz Hopefully more arguments and evidence will be cited by the answers to this follow-up question.
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 16 at 15:04
  • 1
    @BartekBanachewicz "yet can't put in concrete terms even your own personal observations", because, frankly, I don't have the time to write the book it would take to do so. Frankly, I spend too much time writing these Answers as it is, and they're moderately repetitive. It's not hard to find resources defending YEC if you bother to look. Try some of my previous Answers...
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 16 at 15:40
  • 1
    @Matthew while I understand it takes a lot of time to write a good answer, I think that it's better to focus on a small portion that you can substantiate with sources, rather than to write an opinion piece. The former allows others to fill the blanks and build a set of well-documented answers that cover the topic, each that can be discussed individually. The latter, I'm afraid, won't receive such scrutiny. It's becoming a meta thread now, but I wanted to explain why I find your answer inadequate even though you clearly put a lot of effort into it. Commented Apr 17 at 5:42
  • @BartekBanachewicz, what small portion? I've cited lists of reasons before. If someone wants to discuss something specific, they are welcome to ask a Question or engage in chat. Any one point might be wrong, or might be "refuted" (though in my experience the quality of such "refutations" can range from plausible to absurd). Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that it isn't just one, or a few, points where YEC is the superior explanation, it is many.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 17 at 21:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .