Millions of Years Is the Problem, Not Evolution

If you were asked to decide which is more wrong: (a) the tale of Adam & Eve, or (b) the tale of Noah’s Ark, how would you respond? You can’t, because how does one decide the relative incorrectness of those tales? Well, today we have a question of that nature — and an answer.

We found it at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. Hambo’s article is titled Evolution or Millions of Years — Which Is the Greater Threat? It first appeared at his website back in 2012, but somehow we missed it. We won’t make that mistake again! Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Christians are quick to speak out against evolution but often fall silent on the age of the earth. It just doesn’t seem to matter. But when you talk to an evolutionist [The hell-bound fool!], which subject arouses the strongest reaction? Why is this so?

Interesting question, huh? Hambo says:

When the secular media visit the Creation Museum to interview me, they rarely ask about biological evolution. [Why is that?] Typically they will start by asking, “Why do you believe dinosaurs and people lived at the same time?” or “What do you believe about the age of the earth?” or even, “Why do you reject science and believe God created the universe in six days only thousands of years ago?”

Typical of the secular media! What does Hambo make of it? He tells us:

I believe they start this way because they know biological evolution is impossible without billions of years of history. [He’s right!] In fact, I find that secularists are very emotionally committed to the millions and billions of years. They almost go ballistic when told the earth is only thousands of years old. In my experience, I have found that secularists don’t really care if Christians reject evolution. [Huh?] Yes, they still mock. But the minute people reject billions of years, they are labeled antiscience, anti-academic, and anti-intellectual. The pressure to believe in an old earth is extremely great.

Interesting observation. Is that your experience, dear reader? Hambo continues:

Secularists understand something few Christians seem to grasp — biological evolution is not the heart of the issue. [Really?] “Millions of years” is. If they accept a history timeline as outlined in the Bible (around six thousand years), secularists are forced to abandon evolution, and creation is the only viable alternative. But by accepting an old earth, it is easy for them to justify their rejection of God and the trustworthiness of His Word.

Those secularists are a sneaky bunch, but Hambo’s got ’em all figured out! We’re skipping a load, because it gets repetitive. Ah, here’s some more good stuff:

“Millions of years” flies directly in the face of the history God’s Word clearly reveals. Ultimately, belief in millions of years attacks the character of God. If the fossil-bearing layers were laid down slowly over millions of years, then these layers contain the remains of dead creatures, fossil thorns, evidence of diseases (e.g., brain tumors), and animals eating each other — all before humans appeared on the planet. [Gasp!] How can a Christian fit this into God’s Word, which tells us that everything was “very good” after God finished creating man? How can a good God call brain tumors “very good”? How could such history fit with Scripture, which tells us that thorns came after sin and that humans and animals were originally all vegetarian?

Wowie — millions of years is a biblical catastrophe! Let’s read on:

The old age of the earth is a much bigger problem than biological evolution. Not only is it a direct attack on the authority of Scripture that drives away the next generation, but it is also the child of the pagan religion of this age — naturalism [Oh no!], the atheistic philosophy that everything can be explained by natural causes without God. Secularists must cling to long ages in order to explain life without a Creator.

Hambo has clearly identified the enemy — it’s millions of years. Another excerpt:

Without the belief in millions of years, Charles Darwin could never have successfully postulated his ideas of biological evolution. One figure who probably did more than anyone else to popularize belief in millions of years is Charles Lyell, who published his ideas in The Principles of Geology (1830). Darwin took Lyell’s work with him in his five-year voyage aboard the ship HMS Beagle. Lyell’s book convinced Darwin and gave him the foundation to propose millions of years of small changes in biology.

All that is true. Here’s more:

As an analogy, the idea of millions of years is like a disease (although we know sin is everyone’s ultimate disease). Biological evolution is merely the symptom. Many Christians are treating the symptom but fail to recognize the source disease.

Very clever! And now we come to the end:

Time may be the hero of the secular evolutionary plot, but the hero of real events is God. In Scripture He has given us the infallible record of the true history of the universe, which shows how He has been working out His plan to redeem sinners since Adam brought death into the world around six thousand years ago.

That was a really brilliant essay! We’re certain that you agree, dear reader. You do agree, don’t you?

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

38 responses to “Millions of Years Is the Problem, Not Evolution

  1. Young earth…BS determined by an idiot bishop wrongly interpreting a collection of BS fairy tales, and being the normal ahole to reject the existence of only women births, which would not have mattered anyway.

  2. @L.Long, no; Ussher was not an idiot. He was a justly respected scholar of his time, and similar estimates had been made for centuries before him. ISTR that Stephen J Gould has an essay about him. And FWIW Steno, who was undermining Ussher’s work within a generation by his stratigraphy, also became a bishop

  3. Yes, the idea that the Biblical chronology is not to be taken literally is much older than Darwin. See, for example, Augustine. I don’t mean that millions of years was thought of, but from the six days were take figuratively as early as the first centuries AD.

  4. I don’t know why Hambo is so opposed to super-fast evolution taking place in just a few thousand years. He must think that’s what happened after the Flood, because we have a lot more species now than Noah had room for on his boat.

  5. And once the idea of millions of years began to be accepted, and the evidence accumulated, the 6000 year chronology was discarded by nearly everyone, until it was revived in the mid 20th century. Yes, the early 20th century fundamentalists were Old Earth Creationists.

  6. @TomS, I think it’s generally agreed that old Earth was accepted, including by most English clergy, by around 1820. The line of descent from 7th day Adventists through George McCready Price to Whitcomb and the Genesis flood is well documented,with Whitcomb and Morris playing down their intellectual debt to Price, so as not to highlight the Adventist roots of their thesis

  7. So Paul Ussher is so brilliant that his 6000yrs calculations are spot on??? And this is a young earth! OK! I’ll be stupid and reject his brilliant calculations.

  8. There were many calculations of Biblical chronology. There needs to be some work with gaps in the narrative and then to tie sacred history to secular dates. Ussher’s became famous by being included in some editions of the King James Version.
    Even in evangelical and dispensationist churches there were work-arounds to get Old Earth Creationism. Why Ussher’s chronology was suddenly adopted in the mid 20th century, who lmows?

  9. Charley Horse X

    The fatal flaw in all YEC’s claims is calling the Bible…especially Genesis…GOD”S WORD without any evidence and a ton of evidence to prove otherwise. Else…their god is a liar….a big time liar.

  10. @Charley Horse X
    One of the problems with YEC is that
    it is taking a particular understanding of the Bible as definitive. There is no Biblical warrant for that reading.

  11. chris schilling

    “I believe they start this way because they know biological evolution is impossible without billions of years of history.”

    One may as well reverse the charge: YEC’s cling to a six thousand year timeline because they know — or should suspect, at least, if they were honest — that biological evolution is inevitable given billions of years of changing climates, changing environments, and populations adapting to altered conditions over time, broadly speaking.

    This is partly, I think, why YEC’s are also so ill-disposed to the concept of climate change, at least through anthropogenic causes. God controls everything, ultimately, so how could mere humans effect their environment to such disastrous degrees?

    (Except when it comes to sin. That’s the one time we caught God napping on the job. He shoulda’ seen it coming, omniscient an’ all).

  12. Don’t worry, Ol’Hambo. When you reject evolution theory I also call you antiscience, anti-academic, and anti-intellectual. Because that’s what you are.

    “biological evolution is not the heart of the issue”
    Agreed. You being a liar is.

    “How can a Christian fit this into God’s Word, which tells us that everything was “very good” after God finished creating man?”
    Not my problem.

    “the hero of real events is God.”
    The same god who repeatedly ordere a genocide.

    @our dear SC: “I don’t know why Hambo is so opposed to super-fast evolution taking place in just a few thousand years.”
    I think he isn’t. He’s opposed to common descent of Homo Sapiens and Pan Troglodytes, hence to “macro-evolution”, hence to “Darwinian” evolution. As long as evolution happens “within a kind” (you know, Hitler’s “fox remains a fox”) he’s totally fine with whatever speed it takes.

    @L.Long: good that you recognize your own stupidity, not so good that you don’t recognize the cause.

    @ChrisS: “One may as well reverse ….”
    Leave it to creationists to blame their opponents of everything they are themselves guilty of. Just take a look at this:

    “He has been working out His plan to redeem sinners.”
    Creationists excel at declaring that they are sinners and point out which sins Darwinists commit. Yet they never specify what sins they commit themselves. Now I’m far of an expert regarding the teachings in the Gospels, but Matth. 7:4 has a clear meaning. Still Ol’Hambo and co don’t or refuse to recognize it.

  13. Dave Luckett

    Bishop Ussher was no fool, and he did a job that turned out to be greatly useful for what was an actual debate in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: he calculated the Biblical chronology. He specified what the Bible actually said about the age of the Earth (and the Universe), and came up with a number, an actual measurement. That’s important. Numbers are not like words. They can mean only one thing, and that meaning can be investigated, tested. They can be verified or invalidated. After Ussher, there was no use arguing “The Bible doesn’t say how old the Earth is”. It does say, and Ussher proved it.

    True, It was others who showed that the Bible was wrong in fact. Lyell was one of those. But Ussher’s contribution was a real one, and he should be given credit for it.

  14. @Dave Luckett: indeed, the Ussher estimate of the age of the earth is, as far as I know, one of the few bible-based numerical hypotheses. And any physicist could tell Hambone that when the evidence doesn’t support the quantitative calculations of your hypothesis, it would be a good idea to revise it.

  15. chris schilling

    “But by accepting an old Earth, it is easy for them to justify their rejection of God and the trustworthiness of His Word.”

    Did the Old Earth creationists who established the geological column completely reject God, just because they no longer hewed to a literal six-day-creation interpretation of the Bible?

    It’s Ham who feels rejected.

  16. @abeastwood
    The Wikipedia article Chronology of the Bible talks about many systems for dating creation and other events of the Bible.

  17. We all agree that the acceptance of an old Earth preceded Darwin, and that Darwin’s ideas depended on millions of years.
    The acceptance of the shape of the Earth preceded the old Earth.
    The acceptance of the same Sun appearing each day preceded the round Earth.
    In general, might it be a good idea to argue for the earlier idea?

  18. Wikipedia has another good article on biblical dating, under the heading Anno Mundi. Ussher was certainly misguided, But in no way does that make him stupid, unless you are willing to say that Isaac Newton (who carried out similar calculations) was stupid too.

    The real driver for Ham and those like him is not just biblical literalism, but something one level deeper; the need to believe in their original Adam and Eve, and the Fall, as a precondition for their view of redemption through Christ. As Ham repeatedly argues, if you accept the pivotal role of the Fall, but also accept that it was preceded by millions of years during which things lived and died (leaving their fossils in the strata), then you have to say that there was suffering and death before the Fall, and that is not compatible with how he perceives God’s goodness.This view, however, owes less to the Bible than it does to to Milton and his attempt “to justify the ways of God to man”.

  19. I’d like to ask for some help related to this. I’m writing about the idea of creationism as a conspiracy theory. How does that strike people? and if you think it’s a useful idea, please tell me why

  20. @PaulB: “Ussher was certainly misguided, But in no way does that make him stupid,”
    Of course not.

    “unless you are willing to say that Isaac Newton (who carried out similar calculations) was stupid too.”
    Newton rejected Huygens’ wave theory. Einstein couldn’t accept quantum mechanics because of probabilism. Stoooopiiidd!

    “How does that strike people?”
    Good idea.

    “and if you think it’s a useful idea, please tell me why”
    As I wrote on Tim O’Neill’s site:

    “I think atheist quack-history is part of a much larger and broader phenomenon; Donald the Clown who claims that he can’t have lost the American elections is another example. It’s the popularity of “alternative facts”. Exactly last year with it’s pandemy has showed how dangerous that can be.
    A few years ago I began to notice the similarities of jesusmythology with creationism. I suspect all promotors of “alternative facts” have a lot in common. But I’m not aware of broad, systematic research on this question.”
    Your plan is a step in that direction.

  21. Dave Luckett

    Paul Braterman: Conspiracy theory is implied in young-Earth creationism, at least. YECers routinely believe that many scientists know that the Earth and the Universe are not billions of years old, or at least suspect the truth, but that they are constrained by sinister forces or the “scientific establishment” or the Darwinist secret police or somebody, to continue to promote falsehood. Sometimes the YEC will assert that the “somebody” is no less a person than Old Nick himself.

    This is only conspiracy theory with horns and a tail, of course. You might as well blame the Freemasons, or the Rosicrucians, or the College of Cadinals, or the House of Windsor, or International Jewry. No, come to think of it, I’d prefer it to be blamed on Satan. He is, at least, entirely fictional.

    In whose interest would such a conspiracy be? Who would it profit to promote such a falsehood? Where are the secret masters of atheism who work so tirelessly to mislead and obfuscate, and to cover up or riotously pervert the evidence? There is no trace of such people – which only serves to emphasise their occult power!

    Does Ken Ham actually believe that? I don’t know what Ham really believes. I tend to think he believes as many things as it benefits him to believe, and that he is capable of conflicting beliefs to the same extent and with the same motivation.

  22. Theodore J Lawry

    @P.Long, Here is Ussher on Catholics

    “The religion of the papists [Catholics] is superstitious and idolatrous; their faith and doctrine erroneous and heretical; their church in respect of both, apostatical; to give them therefore a toleration, or to consent that they may freely exercise their religion, and profess their faith and doctrine, is a grievous sin.”
    James Ussher, Protestant Archbishop of Ireland, also known for calculating that creation happened on October 22, 4004 BC.[“James Ussher” Wikipedia]

    If he was the Protestant Archbishop of Ireland, you can see why he didn’t like Catholics. You can also see why the Catholic church is not nearly so hung up on a young earth as the Protestant fundmentalists are.

  23. Paul Braterman asks

    I’m writing about the idea of creationism as a conspiracy theory. How does that strike people?

    It strikes me pretty well, because there certainly are elements of Creationism that smack of a classic conspiracy theory, e.g. their supposed opponents (“Darwinists”) are presumed united in covert suppression of the TRVTH &c.

    But in other respects, I think that Creationism displays many features of a Cargo Cult

  24. line spacing went weird–but I daren’t tax The Great Hand of Correction yet again, lest I incur His wrath!

    [Thunderous voice from above:] No problem. I have a simple-minded elf I can dispatch for tasks such as fixing your comments.

  25. Lawry demonstrates exactly the st00pidness of Ussher. He is smart about the ridiculousness of catlickers but stone blind st00pid about his own BS religion!!! Ussher may have been brilliant about some simple thing but was still st00pid about the BS in the buyBull!!! So,FrankB, I will accept my stupidity about accepting good evidence for something rather then using faith & belief.

  26. @ Paul Braterman: a few stray thoughts re: Creationism as Conspiracy Theory, though they may not be at all helpful.

    I think there is at least one feature that should perhaps be considered which distinguishes Creationism from other wacky stuff: Creationism, at least prior to the 19th century, wasn’t even an “-ism”, it was in effect the dominant paradigm for explaining the origin of life—and had been that dominant paradigm for centuries. William Paley wasn’t some crank on the fringe but a mainstream theologian and philosopher at a time when Hume’s works had not yet gained much traction.

    I’m sure you’re familiar with a famous quote of Wittgenstein:

    “Tell me,” Wittgenstein once asked a friend, “why do people always say, it was natural for man to assume that the sun went round the earth rather than that the earth was rotating?” His friend replied, “Well, obviously because it just looks as though the Sun is going round the Earth.” Wittgenstein replied, “Well, what would it have looked like if it had looked as though the Earth was rotating?”

    I think, in fairness, something very similar could be said about earlier Creationism: at a glance, life does look ‘designed’, and prior to Darwin (and a handful of his precursors) no one had really framed an alternative theory of natural processes that could account for what life would look like if it were not designed. It was an accumulation of contrary evidence, from geology as well as biology, that eventually supplanted that view: like Newton, Darwin also stood on the shoulders of giants (and btw, Newton was not the first to deploy that metaphor!).

    Of course, our contemporary Creationists do indeed display all the hallmarks of Conspiracy Theorists, but the fact that they are harking back to what was once a mainstream view distinguishes them from, say, anti-vaxxers or COVID-hoaxers, and perhaps accounts for the relatively greater currency and persistence of Creationism.

    It might be worth developing a rigorous description of those hallmarks of conspiracy theorising. As a first stab at that, I’d include the deep sense of victimhood professed by such theories’ proponents as an essential element. Conspiracy theories are driven by emotion rather than reason, and fear is a potent emotion. Less clear to me is the general relationship between conspiracy theories and reactionary political agendas, but arguably there is much common ground: dissatisfaction with the status quo and an emotional longing for a previous and presumably superior age.

    It is also interesting IMHO to consider what I briefly referred to in my earlier post: the resemblance between the ID Creationism of the Discovery Institute and the classic cargo cults of Micronesia. What is the DI’s ‘green screen’ lab other than a crude jungle landing strip fashioned out of bamboo and fronds?

  27. @Megalonyx
    For a long time, there were alternatives to design. One was chance. Another was growth. I don’t know why Design ma aged to get away with not providing an answer.

  28. @Megalonyx
    If I may be so bold as to confront Wittgestein, to say that it looks like such-and-such should not be taken literally as restricted to eyesight. The overall feeling that one has is that one is standing still and the Sun is moving.
    If you ask a naive observer what would it look like if the Earth were turning, they wood say that they would feel the motion. That is part of what it would look like. Or, I might say, excuse me for a careless ordinary usage of language, I must be careful and say that the overall feeling that I get is that the Sun is moving.

  29. TomS notes:

    For a long time, there were alternatives to design. One was chance. Another was growth. I don’t know why Design ma aged to get away with not providing an answer.

    Yes, humanity has generated no end of Creation Myths—I should have been more specific in my previous post.

    I was thinking of Western Europe and the authority of the Church endorsing the Biblical version of Creation. The pagan religions of European antiquity did not have anything like the same entrenched religious institution of the later Christian church, and hence did not exercise the same power. An ancient Greek haruspex ‘reading’ the entrails of a sacrificial goat could allow the gods a measure of whimsy and fallibility, the later Christian clergy could not.

    Now, I entirely agree with your general critique that ‘design’ is actually meaningless when used to describe the activity of an omnipotent supernatural entity that is not constrained by anything other than its own whim—but what authority can one claim as the representative on earth of a capricious deity rather than one with a cradle-to-grave-and-beyond plan?

  30. @ TomS: Good point re: Wittgenstein, I don’t imagine he would disagree with retouching his observation to “what would it seem like if &c”

    Apart from some wacky Flat-Earthers, we all know we dwell on a sphere. But in our day to day lives, it mostly still seems flat…

  31. Conspiracy theories do seem to cluster. Ham is now fighting on two fronts; on one side, science, but on the other side flat Earthism. I think that all the creationists, including the Discovery Institute, play down global warming. I am visiting their sites to see what they say about coronavirus. Answers in Genesis was using language implying the election was in doubt as late as November 11, while the Discovery Institute’s Economics Institute describes the election as stolen, in a full-blooded conspiracy theory (Raffsenberger was bribed by Olympia), and calls on the Supreme Court to declare Trump elected

  32. @Megalonyx
    The atomists believed in chance. Some of the Stoics believed that growth like a living thing would account for patterns.
    Atomists were identified with atheism in the Middle Ages. But I don’t know what happened to Stoics, other than their ethics.

  33. @ TomS: I don’t know what happened to the Stoics either, but whatever it was, I’m sure they bore it without complaint…

  34. Paul Braterman notes:

    the Discovery Institute’s Economics Institute describes the election as stolen

    The DI, which claims to be a “501(c)3 non-profit and non-partisan educational and research organization” have consistently been cheerleaders for Trump—and also, of course, Brexit. Who can forget Stephen C. Meyer’s stunningly ignorant contribution to that topic in 2019, How Theresa May Can Get a Better Brexit Deal — and How Trump Can Help , wherein he noted, inter alia:

    Mr. Trump should reject advice to “stay in his own lane.” He should reiterate his offer to fast track a U.S.–U.K. free-trade deal on favorable terms to the U.K. in order to strengthen the British hand in future negotiations. He should let Mrs. May know that he opposes Britain’s continued membership in the EU customs union precisely because it would preclude a U.S.–U.K. trade deal….[snip]… he [Trump] should express his own desire to see Britain reclaim its place of leadership among sovereign nations

    However little one may think of Mr. Biden, we must nonetheless acknowledge that had he not won the US Election, our own government would not have withdrawn its proposed legislation to break international law and ignore the Good Friday Agreement.

    And “place of leadership among sovereign nations”, in Meyer’s view, here clearly equates to “tame poodle of the United States.”

  35. @Megalonyx, that also was in Economics, but given Meyer’s position within Center for Science and Culture, total guilt by association is legitimate.

    I find this whole discussion of the US presidential in relation to the UK withdrawal agreement slightly surreal. The president, whoever he may be, can’t get a trade treaty through without the agreement of Congress, and it has been obvious from the outset that the House of Representatives would not approve any deal that violated the Good Friday Agreement.

  36. “The Tooters can see nothing, for they are dwarves crushed under the feet of giants.”

    –Megalonyx, Second Epistle to the Darwinians 5:46

  37. @ Paul Braterman: We know that, but Trump apparently didn’t, nor–more to the point–does it seem Farage & friends did.

    Brexit was achieved on the back of a plethora of falsehoods and impossible promises. The offending clauses which were pulled at the last minute from the UK Internal Market Bill may been bluff rather than self-delusion–but I tend to doubt it.

  38. @TomS: “The atomists believed in chance.”
    Actually Democritus was a determinist. The Ancient Greek philosopher who came closest to modern probabilism was probably Carneades of Cyrene, another funny guy. I mean, when was the last time the citizens of a prominent city chases away a philosopher because of two speeches?