Young Earth, Old Earth, or Flat Earth?

WE could spend the rest of the month writing about today’s amazing article from Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. It’s the same plot as The Controversy between evolution and creationism, but this time the science under attack is geology.

The article is Summary of a Response to “PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the Earth”, and it’s really a classic. The “PCA” in the title refers to the Presbyterian Church in America. We’ve often before pointed out the National Center for Science Education’s list of Statements from Religious Organizations supporting evolution, and the Presbyterians are there. That pretty much makes them a pack of pagans as far as the creationists are concerned.

The creation scientists at AIG are particularly infuriated at the Presbyterians. Not only do they accept evolution, but now they argue for an old earth. This is an outrage! Here are some excerpts from AIG’s article, with bold added by us:

Eight geologists, writing in Modern Reformation (magazine of Dr. Michael Horton’s White Horse Inn ministry), argue specifically that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and by inference committed Christians in all other denominations, should reject Noah’s Flood as geologically significant and adopt an old-earth view of Genesis. That is, they claim, because science, acting as “general revelation,” has demonstrated Earth’s antiquity (4.6 billion years) beyond any reasonable doubt.

AIG rarely links to rational sources, and this is no exception; but we found the offending article: PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the Earth. This is from the end of the geologists’ article:

[D]oes it ultimately make a difference which side [of the age of the earth debate] you fall on? We suggest it does matter for two important reasons.

The first is a greater appreciation of God’s handiwork. If creation conforms to God’s trustworthiness and looks old because it is old, we are free to marvel at each new discovery that further reveals the incredible complexity and grandeur of his creativity. If the earth is old and we insist it is young, every new discovery can be met only with distrust and disdain — disdain of his creation!

The second reason is of perhaps greater importance. If the earth is old and Christians insist it is young, we risk becoming a tragic obstacle to faith for those both inside and outside the church. …

Their second point is an old one, but a very good one. We’ve previously given you the source. See: St. Augustine on Creationism.

Now that you know what has enraged AIG, let’s dig into their rant against the geologists:

There is nothing new within this article — any well-read creationist will recognize the same tired arguments that have been answered many times. However, truth is always worth defending, and since these points reflect an apparent ignorance of creationist literature, we will reiterate the answers with links to more detailed discussions.

Yes, the creation scientists have to keep dealing with “the same tired arguments” all the time. We won’t go into detail, leaving that for you when you click over to AIG’s screed, but here are some of the geologists’ points with a hint of AIG’s responses. The numbered points are bolded in the original:

1. Prominent theologians accept an old-earth interpretation of Genesis.

[AIG says:] Truth is not determined by majority vote, and many theologians have been wrong in their interpretation of Scripture. Additionally, there is a serious theological error; Christians have a standard of truth: the Bible. …

There have been times when AIG is comfortable claiming that their peculiar views are supported by a majority (of laymen, not scientists), but we won’t get into that. Let’s continue with the AIG article:

2. The Copernican Revolution is an appropriate analogy to the old-earth/young-earth debate.

[AIG says:] Creationists have repeatedly refuted the propaganda, dating from the Enlightenment, that the Copernican controversy was (1) an embarrassment to the Church, and (2) analogous as such to the origins debate [link to an AIG article]. Typically, this canard is used by atheists and agnostics to attack Christianity, focusing on Galileo’s supposed persecution by intolerant religious bigots.

That one is easily our favorite. The Galileo affair never happened! And besides, it doesn’t matter anyway — so don’t think about it. Here’s more:

3. Geologists have proven that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old, and virtually all geologists, including many devout Christians, accept that conclusion.

[AIG says:] Again, truth is not determined by majority vote, and the majority of scientists have been wrong many times in the history of science and geology. … [O]nly God is infallible. Thus, His Word trumps the opinions of every expert (or even a majority of experts) that asserts otherwise.

Can’t argue with that! We’ll skip the discussion of naturalism, and another one about some irrefutable geological evidence in Japan, and another about the evidence of long-term sea-floor spreading. You can read those for yourself. Moving along:

7. The apparently proven scientific evidence of millions of years creates a serious theological problem: God’s honesty. The young-earth view makes God a “deceiver.”

[AIG says:] Incredibly, theologians for thousands of years never detected this “serious” theological conundrum found by these eight geologists. Even in the early church when battles were fought with Greek philosophy that advocated a cosmos much older than the Bible or even an eternal universe, theologians recognized that ex nihilo creation logically included an appearance of age. Thus, this issue is a red herring, not a real problem.

Isn’t this great? It’s the Omphalos hypothesis. Here’s the last one

8. The young-earth view is a practical obstacle to belief because it is so obviously wrong, and it particularly undermines the faith of children.

[AIG says:] Recent research [link to an AIG article] has shown the opposite; that it is the indoctrination into secular natural history and evolution that has led Christian youth away from the church. Compromise leads to compromise; standing on God’s truth instead, as Christ taught, sets us free.

So there you are, dear reader. Don’t waste your time presenting “the same tired arguments” to creation scientists. They’ve got all the answers; they always have. You have nothing — except the prospect of an eternity in the Lake of Fire.

Afterthought: You may find no merit in AIG’s approach to things, other than listing the symptoms of end-stage brain death, but that’s not quite correct. It’s a valuable tool for AIG. If someone can accept their arguments and embrace creationism, then AIG knows they have a faithful zombie servant who will offer them life-long support.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Young Earth, Old Earth, or Flat Earth?

  1. “The young-earth view is a practical obstacle to belief because it is so obviously wrong”

    It’s what did it for me. When I found that the people I trusted to teach me the “truth” as a youngster were not viewing all sides of the argument, I could no longer believe them when they outlined my “path to salvation” either.

    That was the day I became an agnostic and I have yet to regret the decision.

  2. The church, like any other organism (physical or social), must adapt to it’s environment or it will eventually perish. The environment in the past 200 years has significantly changed with respect to our scientific knowledge. The church can adapt to the environment it finds itself in, as the PCA writers suggest, by adopting the old earth view. (Most mainstream churches already have, and are instead struggling with ordination of women or acceptance of gays – other elements of the environment that they will eventually adapt to.) The AiG, by refusing to evolve, is leading it’s followers along a path to certain extinction. Who says that evolution cannot be observed in real time?

  3. What about the argument from specified complexity?

    The specified complexity of the evidence for hundreds of millions or billions of years of life on earth?

    It is highly improbable that all of that evidence came about by chance, so it must be due either to some regularity of nature (that is, that life on earth really is that old) or it was purposefully designed to look that way.

  4. I have never found any merit in AIG, except perhaps, when they were honest enough to debunk that “missing day” silliness. They want me, as a Christian, to believe that God lied when God Created. Sorry. Won’t.
    I don’t always agree with the Presbyterians, but I certainly do this time and thanks for the information.

  5. AIG says:] Recent research [link to an AIG article] has shown the opposite; that it is the indoctrination into secular natural history and evolution that has led Christian youth away from the church.

    That’s a very temporal, machieavellian view of their own religion. A true believer should not care whether a belief leads to more or less converts: if its what you believe, you should admit it. And if it leads people away from your church, c’est la vie. If, OTOH, you’re changing or hiding your religious beliefs in order to make more converts, you’re really running a buisness, not a religion.

  6. “AIG rarely links to rational sources, and this is no exception…”

    This just kills me. AIG articles are littered with links, but they nearly all just point to other AIG articles (or their store, whenever possible). I mean, they cite the source in the footnotes. The URL for the original article is right there. But no direct link.

    Can’t have one of the faithful casually clicking over and glancing through the heathens’ arguments in their own words – that’s uncontrolled content, after all.

  7. A nit . . .

    Although the Presbyterian Church (USA) has signed on with the NCSE, the Presbyterian Church of America has not. The PCA’s site states as its first belief

    “We believe the Bible is the written word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit and without error in the original manuscripts. The Bible is the revelation of God’s truth and is infallible and authoritative in all matters of faith and practice. “

    . . . whereas it looks like the PC(USA) takes as its primary tenet

    All power in heaven and earth is given to Jesus Christ by Almighty God, who raised Christ from the dead and set him above all rule and authority, all power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. God has put all things under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and has made Christ Head of the Church, which is his body

    [insert “die heretic scum” joke here]

  8. Crap, sorry about not closing that italics tag earlier.

  9. Cheryl, did I fix the tags right? And I must admit I’m not up to speed on all the Presbyterian factions.

  10. retiredsciguy

    By insisting that we must believe every word of the Bible as literal truth, AIG is clouding the most important message of Christianity — Love.
    Love thy neighbor, love thine enemy, love others as you love yourself.

    PCA is correct — AIG is a hindrance to the acceptance of the Christian message. They have no problem accepting the parables of Jesus. Why is it that they cannot accept Genesis as parable as well?

    Of course, what they choose to do with their religion is their business. But we, as responsible citizens, must object to the mountainous pile of ignorance that they are spreading over the land. And since it’s a “Young Earth” pile of ignorance, it hasn’t had time to compost yet.