AIG Embraces Uniformitarianism?

That’s a big word in our title. What’s Uniformitarianism ? If you’re not familiar with it, Wikipedia has a writeup. They say it’s “the scientific observation that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe.”

That’s an important principle, and only by abandoning it can one believe in tales like Noah’s Ark. That’s why we write about it from time to time — e.g. The Laws of Nature Don’t Change, #3.

So what we found today is truly bizarre. It’s a Pi Day post at Answers in Genesis (AIG). The title is Celebrate Einstein’s Birthday with Pi on 3.14.15. It was written by Avery Foley and Frost Smith, two names with which we’re not familiar.

They start out talking about pi, and they also mention that 14 March is Einstein’s birthday. For a few brief moments, they make AIG sound like a bunch of normal people. Then it gets weird. They say, with bold font added by us and their scripture references omitted:

Physics and mathematics are only possible because we live in a rational universe. If random naturalistic evolution were true, then we shouldn’t expect to have universal constants like pi. Why should things work the same throughout the whole universe? Why should our universe run in an orderly fashion if it is just the result of purposeless chance? What gives order to our whole universe? What causes pi to be the same today and tomorrow? Why do the laws of physics operate in predictable ways?

Yes, that sounds normal too, but remember — this is from AIG. They’ve previously rejected what they call “the uniformitarian worldview.” We quoted them in Answers in Genesis & the Speed of Light saying:

However, the uniformitarian worldview maintains that all things have continued at the same rate without any supernatural or catastrophic events to alter them. Namely, uniformitarianism excludes the Creation by God and the global Flood.

And before that, in AIG: All Scientific Dating Methods Are Wrong, we quoted them saying:

So our position is that all the dating techniques used in geology, cosmology, and physics are wrong when they claim that the universe is 13–15 billion years old and the earth about 4.5 billion years old. All the dating techniques are based on assumptions, and the main assumption is the constancy of the process rates used to calculate those ages. Since that assumption is used in all the dating techniques of geology, cosmology, and physics, then if that assumption is wrong, then so are all the dates. According to God’s Word that assumption of constancy of process rates is wrong.

They’ve said similar things on numerous occasions. Just go to the AIG website and search for the word “uniformitarian.” It’s as big a bogeyman to them as evolution itself. That has to be their position, because if the laws of nature were constant — and they are — then the cosmology, chronology, and biology implied by Genesis are impossible, and AIG’s creation science is as ludicrous as the sleigh used by Santa Claus.

However, in spite of the importance that chaotic laws of nature play in creation science, AIG seems to be doing a total flip-flop. Suddenly they favor uniformitarianism — at least in their Pi Day post. We assume they’ll quickly revert to their creation science ways.

Okay, now that you know what’s going on here, let’s get back to AIG’s latest essay:

We live in an orderly and consistent universe because there is a consistent God who upholds the universe. Universal constants and order make sense because there is a God who never changes and who has imposed order on His creation — and this all-knowing God has informed us of this. That’s why we can know that the laws of nature will operate the same way next week as they did this week.

Do they realize that they’re contradicting one of the fundamental premises of creation science? Let’s read on:

In order for us to even be able to do physics or mathematics, we must assume that the universe is orderly and that laws of nature will operate the same tomorrow as today. Yet in a naturalistic worldview there is no way to know the future . . . for all they know, the laws of nature might change tomorrow.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Then they throw in something about Pi Day:

Some say the Bible has an error in relation to π. First Kings 7:23 states, “Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference.” … The Bible writer here merely used rounding. Most people, if asked what the circumference of a cylinder with a diameter of 10 feet is (regardless of the thickness of the wall), would answer “about 30 feet.” Critics often grasp at straws to find Bible inaccuracies that simply aren’t there.

Yeah, yeah. We discussed that in Creationists And The Scriptural Value Of Pi. Then they repeat AIG’s nonsensical mantra “explaining” why their mythological cosmology is scientific:

There are two different kinds of science: observational and historical science.

We won’t bother with that today. In the essay’s final paragraph, they once again contradict AIG’s central dogma:

Mathematics, like all branches of science, confirms God’s character and God Word. Indeed, no matter where we look in the universe or what branch of science we use, God’s Word is confirmed over and over again because it is true from the very beginning. God is the Creator who has carefully fashioned this universe, imposed order on it, and upholds it. Pi, logic, physics, math, and “the heavens declare the glory of God” — no amount of math, science, or technology has ever falsified that. We can trust His Word from the very beginning.

How will AIG handle this doctrinal catastrophe? Contradictions don’t bother creationists, so they could simply ignore today’s essay. That seems the easiest course to follow. But it’ll be more fun if they try to reconcile it with everything they’ve said before. We’ll be watching.

See also: Ken Ham Rejects Uniformitarianism.

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33 responses to “AIG Embraces Uniformitarianism?

  1. Our Curmudgeon outrageously blasphemes:

    AIG’s creation science is as ludicrous as the sleigh used by Santa Claus

    What!? No Santa Claus!? Noooooooo!

    My own mother assured me that Santa was real, and who would dare challenge such an authority!

    And what hideous impact it would have on society if people ceased to belive in Santa! Klinghoffer would have to quit Seattle altogether, so dense would be the population of panhandlers “loafing, and in a pervasively threatening way.”

    So, even if it is claimed–using unreliable “historical science”–that there is no Santa Claus, it behooves us to deny that and perpetuate true Santa worship in the name of social harmony!

  2. Hmm. D’ythink Avery Foley and Frost Smith, the authors of this anomalous post, will be looking for a new job tomorrow? Truly amazing how this one could have gotten past control-freak Ham. It’s as though they are members of Florida governor Rick Scott’s administration using the terms “global warming” and “climate change”.

    (I was also going to comment on that Santa thing, but as usual, Megalonyx beat me to it.)

  3. AiG is known best for UNINFORMitarianism.

  4. The Bible writer here merely used rounding.

    Whut? I thought the Bible was the inspired Word of God throughout and literally true in all respects! Were the authors allowed to round off, how can we know the salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus is true? After all, if you accept the heresy of mere humans being allowed to round off the inspired word, Jesus might have been only 98% the Son of God and only 98% of our sins are erased by His Blood! Heretics! Gather the stones! … opps … we’re not allowed to do that anymore, are we? … Drat! …

  5. Crummy says “…as ludicrous as the sleigh used by Santa Claus”. Well, if Santa doesn’t use a magic sleigh, how does he get presents to all the good little boys and girls? Seriously, I wonder why most adults outgrow belief in Santa, the Easter Bunny (coming soon to leave some colored eggs around!) and the Tooth Fairy, but seem unable to shake belief in the equally improbable sky fairy.

  6. abReastwood says: “Crummy says”

    Careful with those Rs.

  7. The whole truth

    Yeah, the AIG creobots totally contradicted their usual claims and they’re trying to make it look as though a “naturalistic worldview” is the one that allows for non-uniformity in the “laws of nature”. What a bunch of dishonest screwballs.

    And regarding Pi in the bible, it is an inaccuracy in what the AIG bible thumpers claim is the inerrant, infallible ‘word of God’.

  8. Yes, be ye careful with those Rrrrrr’s! Talk Like A Pirate Day isn’t until September 19th!

  9. Opps, sorry Curmudgeon. Better proofreading next time!

  10. To be fair, if Pi were not rounded at some point, scribes today would still be writing the number. God would be very bored by now, and probably wondering why he created Pi in the first place.

    On the other hand, if Pi were quoted to, say, 10 decimal places, it would be a much, much more impressive verse.

    God had so many opportunities to show off his superior divine knowledge, but unfortunately he seems to have stuck to the superstition and low level of knowledge possessed by the human writers (probably all religious scribes) of the day.

    Well, based on the article, it’s good to know we can have faith in our dating methods again, now that it is shown that uniformitarianism is “upheld” by god.

  11. Physics and mathematics are only possible because we live in a rational universe. If random naturalistic evolution were true, then we shouldn’t expect to have universal constants like pi.

    If the universe is rational, why then have irrational constants such as Pi?

  12. “If the universe is rational, why then have irrational constants such as Pi?”

    . . . And why have irrational clown circuses like AiG?

  13. “That’s why we can know that the laws of nature will operate the same way next week as they did this week.”

    Therefore, the speed of light has always been constant. . . Oops!

    These two creationists who wrote this twaddle must be old earth types who slipped in while Hambo was dreaming about his Ark.

  14. “Indeed, no matter where we look in the universe or what branch of science we use, God’s Word is confirmed over and over again”
    Like quantummechanics confirms that God loves playing dice.
    Oh wait.

  15. “That’s why we can know that the laws of nature will operate the same way next week as they did this week.”

    Therefore, radioactive decay rates have always been what they are now. . . . . . . .Oops!

    Thanks to Foley and Smith we now know why modern radioactive dating methods work just like their god wanted them to! These bozos must be an embarrassment to Danny Boy Faulkner, Ph.D. and ol’ Hambo himself.

  16. Charles Deetz ;)

    Took a peek at Facebook comments about this post, and no one calls them out on uniformitarianism, everyone is too busy discussing how the order of numbers in the date works in the USA.

  17. AiG wisdom: “If random naturalistic evolution were true, then we shouldn’t expect to have universal constants like pi. Why should things work the same throughout the whole universe? Why should our universe run in an orderly fashion if it is just the result of purposeless chance?”

    This quote sort of reveals how they are thinking. When they hear the world “evolution”, they don’t think “a scientific scenario attempting to explain how the existing biosphere has developed”, like informed people do. Their definitiion of “evolution” is rather something like “an elaborate philosophical system trying to explain away the need for a Creator God and promote atheism”.

    What has Darwinian evolution to do with with pi or universal laws of nature? Biological evolution does not contradict, but PRESUPPOSES a universe with stable laws of nature so as to allow complex genetic information to arise and be transmitted from generation to generation. How could you have functional DNA if the principles of chemistry abruptly change every month or so?

    So where did the universe with its law of nature come from? That is not Darwin’s concern at all. For that matter, this universe might actually be created and fine-tuned by some deity, and this would not affect the truth of evolution in the slightest. The origin of the universe falls outside the scope of Darwin’s theory, nor does the theory absolutely require the non-existence of any conceivable deity.

    Increasingly, creationists seem to think that cosmological topics like the Big Bang and the origin of the laws of nature are somehow integral features of “evolution”. To a great extent the word has become the catch-all phrase for “everything in modern science that we as Bible-literalists can’t accept”.

  18. AiG is a pack of hypocrites. They want to insist that every word in the Bible is literally true–except that even they can’t quite muster the nerve to say that in Old Testament times pi was exactly equal to three, so suddenly that passage from First Kings involves merely “rounding”–in other words, it can’t quite be taken literally.

    The excuse they offer won’t fly, since no matter what “most people say,” the Bible doesn’t say “about” thirty cubits–it says thirty, period. By their logic, since the planet Earth has a curvature of only (approximately) 0.0144 degrees per mile, one might as well round off to zero and say it’s approximately flat.

    When you insist on Biblical literalism except when it’s embarrassingly wrong, and yet claim that you’re standing by every ;last word of Scripture, you’ve blown your credibility right out of the water. Creationists, though, need AiG, so they sweep its heresy under the rug.

  19. … that passage from First Kings involves merely “rounding”–in other words, it can’t quite be taken literally.”

    Sorry. If you look up the word “literal” in any English dictionary, you will find that it poses no conflict with rounding and degrees of precision. You are misunderstanding the word as it applies not only to the interpretation of ancient texts but English usage in general.

    “Literal” is a word misused and misunderstood as often by the general public when dealing with hermeneutics as “theory” is misunderstood when the average person on the street deals with science.

  20. Ed: “On the other hand, if Pi were quoted to, say, 10 decimal places, it would be a much, much more impressive verse.”

    Very impressive indeed, seeing as how the entire decimal system of number notation hadn’t been invented yet, right? Just how would the original (human) authors of the bible express an irrational number?

  21. There are so many difficulties with the fundamentalists’ treatment of the Bible, why pick on such a weak issue as the value of pi in 1Kings?
    Why not talk about how the fundamentalists do not follow their rule – they make up stuff in abundance about the Flood with no Biblical warrant – the make up the standards of literal, inerrant, sola scriptura, original manuscripts – etc. etc.

  22. Oh Great Hand, I beg your forgiveness. Please close the italics after Ed’s quote above. I thank you, Sir.

    [*Voice from above*] I stretched forth my mighty hand, and lo, all is well.

  23. TomS wisely noted:

    There are so many difficulties with the fundamentalists’ treatment of the Bible, why pick on such a weak issue as the value of pi in 1Kings?

    Amen! (Sorry.)

    Yes, considering that Pi is neither mentioned nor implied in any scripture, that should be enough reason to avoid what has become an all too common anti-theist/anti-Bible, face-palm-inducing blooper that is nearly as lame as Ray Comfort’s complaints about crocoducks. Considering that ancient Hebrew had no efficient means of providing decimal place precision for measurements (as RetiredSciGuy observes) and the fact that all authors casually round the dimensions of the objects they describe, TomS’ call for sanity is well taken. (Those who have done the math will find that if the water basin was 9.55 cubits–which the observer simply rounded to 10 cubits–the unnecessary pi calculation would neverless pose no to “literalness” or the Fundamentalist Christian doctrine of scripture inerrancy.)

    Let’s be honest and admit that if not for its perceived propaganda value in looking for ways to make fun of Fundamentalist’s and their favorite book–and seeing it mindlessly repeated in anti-Fundamentalist venues–it wouldn’t pass the smell test. [I call it “propaganda” because it is based on an absurd argument which vaporizes in the light of the facts of the matter but appeals to dilettantes. Plus, as TomS rightly observes, there are far more interesting and LEGITIMATE critiques of the Biblical texts which actually hold up to serious scrutiny, such as Luke’s census of Quirinius. Otherwise, such “arguments” about Pi remind observers that Young Earth Creationists don’t have a monopoly on mind-numbingly ignorant propaganda. Websites like SkepticsAnnotatedBible already give “100 Evidences for a Young Earth” formidable competition in the Face-Palm Olympics. The SAB would have far more credibility if it culled about 95% of the detritus that got thoroughly addressed countless times in years of well-done roasting into charcoal. The 5% remaining would actually have didactic value for everyone, regardless of their religious or ideological agendas. So many of the SAB entries, including the Pi complaints, are little better in quality to a creationist saying “After all, a scientific theory is nothing but a hunch.”]

  24. Dave Luckett

    To me, that passage in 1 Kings about the “sea” of Solomon is a lovely example of why scripture is not the Word of God, but the word of man. I understand that much from context.

    That writer, whoever it was, spent pages describing the incredibly luxurious and expensive fittings and furniture of Solomon’s temple, lingering with loving detail and almost pornographic delight over the richness, the opulence, the sheer scale of everything. Why do this?

    Consider that this was written after the destruction of that Temple and the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians – 2 Kings ends with that event. What reason had the chronicler to elaborate at such length on that which had been lost in the utter defeat of his nation and people? Better, why would he think that such things were beloved of God, when God had clearly approved their destruction?

    The answer is not that the writer wished to draw the moral that luxurious excess excites the disapproval of the Almighty. No such thing. On the contrary, he extols the richness of the temple as an exemplar and the reign of Solomon as the apogee. It’s actually a bit of an embarrassment to much of the Protestant tradition, which has an almost allergic reaction to similar displays of baubles and bedrobes in the Roman church.

    No. 1 Kings 7 is all about just how freaking amaaaazing was our kingdom and our God, and how it just blows your mind how brilliant we were and are and how much wealth we possessed. We may not, at the moment, have a pot to piss in, but we were a great and mighty nation with a god that’s even mightier (and more difficult to please) than all these other gods and don’t you forget it!

    In other words, you read this stuff, and you see a human writer writing for a human audience with a human – indeed political – motive. It consists of boasting and vainglory, trumpeted as high as the writer can stretch. Word of God, my foot.

  25. Hnohf points out: “creationists seem to think that cosmological topics like the Big Bang and the origin of the laws of nature are somehow integral features of “evolution””
    They have a point. All these scientific stories together form a consistent story of origin that directly contradicts their own story of origin as written down by some ignorants a few millennia ago.
    That doesn’t make your conclusion wrong of course – rather it reinforces it.

  26. TomS wonders: “why pick on such a weak issue as the value of pi in 1Kings?”
    Because sometimes we can annoy fundies with this issue and that’s always fun. One aspect has not been mentioned yet: even if we accept the explanation the Bible is less precise than the Babylonians. And they didn’t use the decimal system either – a fact that makes the rounding off ridiculous, btw.
    But no, it’s not exactly the reason I reject creationism.

  27. Let’s face it, no matter what they say, the creationist types “believe” in spite of the evidence not because of any. In the “Age of Reason” over two hundred years ago Thomas Paine pointed out enough inconsistencies in the bible for any thinking person. His best reason of all, basically, “can you really imagine that the real creator of the whole universe would write this crap?” is the only reason any thinking person, religious or not, needs to reject the bible as any kind of infallible writing of an omni-god.

  28. To be fair to the authors (Why? Because of my godless human ethics), and ignoring the absurd conflation of mathematics (which depends only on its axioms and substitution rules) and physics (which is contingent on how things actually behave). they have a point. There is a serious problem, that of induction, discussed by Hume among others. How DO we know that the laws of physics will be the same tomorrow as they are today? That assumption worked fine in the past, but if we invoke that fact now, we are mired in circularity.

    But the authors are not original; their proposed solution goes back to at least al-Ghazali.

  29. YECs like Jason Lisle reject uniformitarian results and conclusions like the speed of light in a vacuum having always been the same or radioactive decay rates not varying, whilst embracing some vague ‘uniformity of nature’ that is from the Christian god and is the ‘only’ thing that makes ‘any’ science possible.
    Please see my post here at 4.45 am on 13 January 2012:
    http://forums.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2818&p=34460&hilit=uniformity#p34460

    Why they would wish to imply that in a ‘godless’ universe mathematics would not work properly is beyond me. Such ideas strike me as insane. The argument that if there was no god the value of pi might vary also sounds bizarre though if physical laws were different elsewhere in the universe that might suggest a ‘non rational’ ie ‘godless’ universe.
    “In order for us to even be able to do … mathematics, we must assume that the universe is orderly and that laws of nature will operate the same tomorrow as today.” Yes – insane. (In a godless universe 2 + 2 might equal 5 – or might have done so in the unseen past or in a different galaxy.)
    As they appear to realise later in their article: “Now mathematical principles may be used when we are looking at and trying to interpret historical science, because math [sic] is a tool with principles that were true in the past and are true in the present.”

    AiG would doubtless insist that maths working OK in the past and in the future, and a constant value for pi are simply part of their invented ‘uniformity of nature’ (and not uniformitarian thinking re an unseen past).
    I will now read the later SC blog post on uniformitarianism and AiG.

  30. Ganf17

    You are confusing a physical constant (the speed of light in a vacuum such as outer space) with a law of nature. How silly of you. Perhaps a YEC will come on here and explain the distinction to you.

  31. Sorry – the comment I was addressing was actually by Waldteufel (or at least it is NOW …).

  32. Creationists are used to saying anything at all and getting away with it, at least among their followers.