Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Evidences of an Old Earth 

From this discussion:

Touchstone and GloverGJ,
I just can't leave it alone. I've learned from past experience not to say I will not reply to an argument anymore, because often I can't resist.

So. The OT says that a legal matter could be decided on the evidence of two witnesses. You've implied I must be ignorant of the scientific evidence. So I'll tell you this, to make you aware of my educational background and capacity to understand your argument: I'm not a scientist. But I have received a B.A. degree from a secular university, including classes in physics, astronomy, chemistry and calculus. I have taught calculus, geometry and trigonometry on the high school level. I am trained in logic. I am aware of the arguments regarding the speed of light, the distance of stars and the Doppler shifts we have observed. I am also aware of the arguments regarding radiometric dating of rocks, though to a lesser degree.

So let me ask you- what are, in your minds, the strongest two arguments for the old age of the earth? What are the two witnesses you would appeal to? Please don't make it lengthy- let's just name the evidences and briefly summarize them. If I need to do research to understand the arguments, I know how to do that research. You will know from my replies whether I understand well enough or not.

Update: Here is the discussion on Evangelutionist's site. It's quite lengthy. The discussion revolves not so much around the specific evidences, but on the question of epistemology, the basis for our knowledge and understanding of things.

I am endeavoring to show that belief in old or young earth is a choice you make. Judge for yourself whether I am successful or not. The evidence does not compel belief in an old earth as there are possible explanations for the evidence. Even if the evidence says what they say it does, there is simply the possibility that God created it that way six thousand years ago, with some processes already advanced:

All of the data you presuppose could have simply been created in that state by God six thousand years ago. I know that such a solution is usually mocked, but really, why should it be? There’s a perfectly good reason why God would create the light of the stars already on earth, and that’s that He wanted us to see the stars. Stars are very useful for navigation and other things. And all of these heavy elements and radioactive isotopes must have their purposes too. Just because we don’t know why God would do something like that doesn’t mean He didn’t do it, or that there isn’t some reason of which we are unaware. Can you prove that it’s impossible for God to have created everything six thousand years ago with some processes already advanced? It is necessary for you to prove this in order to make your case.

And there’s another possible reason that He did it that way, and that is the real possibility that He did it in order to test people, to see whether they would believe Genesis 1-11 or the theories of God-hating idolaters. Unworthy of God, perhaps you might say? Isn’t that deceptive, dishonest? But God told us He would do exactly that:

Deuteronomy 13:1 “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,
2 “and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ — which you have not known — ‘and let us serve them,’
3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

This isn’t the only passage that tells us God would do this. Revelation mentions it several times. Many passages speak of God clouding the minds of people with madness and giving their minds over to lies to punish them for their rebellion. It’s not really deception when God told us He would do it for the purpose of testing us, and provided the truth in clear and unambiguous language as well. He said He would introduce misleading and difficult evidence into play to see whether or not we would believe what He has clearly told us. I think that’s exactly what’s going on here.

Another example of this exact thing is the story of Micaiah and King Ahab in 1 Kings 22, where the prophet tells Ahab that God sent lying spirits to deceive him through his false prophets so that he would go to war against Syria and be killed. God at the same time provided the true witness in the form of Micaiah, telling him the truth, so that Ahab would be tested, to see whether he would follow God or not.

His response:

“Can you prove that it’s impossible for God to have created everything six thousand years ago with some processes already advanced?”

Absolutely not - such a thing is impossible to prove. Neither can you prove that the earth was creation this morning and all of our childhood memories are false. You can never prove these things. As a result, the “appearance of age” argument is the only logical YEC argument out there. If you agree to this, then we can stop all of this silly arguing over the “evidence” because it will always favor an old earth, and you will always have a logical way to dismiss it - since the “actual” age as revealed by God is much younger. If this is your position, why concern yourself with the evidence for an old earth in the first place?

The point is to show the fact that this belief is a choice you make. The evidence does not require it. It may be a hard choice in the face of the pressures the world puts on us. But everything about Christianity flies in the face of the world. This is no different. Christians must make hard choices and suffer the scorn of the world.

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Matt - I'm glad I know you, and that we've been blessed to know and be taught by Bud. I've just read the posts from Dec. 12 to present (Happy New Year!) and pour blessings on your head.

Having been raised in a neo-orthodox church, I recognise the continuing (somewhat patronising) anxiety of Touchstone et al. You are right to warn them of the path that leads to death. The pastors and teachers I had were false shepherds dressed in clothing made of sheep's wool and skins, but inwardly they were wolves out to destroy the flock. I was systematically taught that the miracles as recounted in the Bible, while they could never have been really, rationally understood in our enlightened times to have actually really taken place in real time and real space (I paraphrase with thinly-veiled sarcasm), but in actuality they really did teach us how to live in the light of the truth of the truly miraculous power in God's really great love, yada yada ... Rather ironic that there was a rhetorical insistance on "truth and reality".

When God breathed His Spirit of truth into my soul, my mind became attuned to discerning theological lies. By faith I received the teachings that had been "unbelievable" (the virgin birth, the bodily ressurection, the diety of Christ) and in time I learned why these doctrines were essential.

But it wasn't until I studied biblical archeaology, earth science and biology from Christian professors that I believed the Bible to be a true and dependable account. If the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments could be trusted in regard to those earthly, physical things which can be seen and verified, then I could have complete confidence that the hidden things of God could indeed be trusted as materially taught in the Bible, and otherwise not.

(question for this discussion: If the earth is old, did death enter before sin? or is that a moot point if Adam & Eve are "myth" - pagan, pre-rational, post-enlightenment, poetic, parable or otherwise).

as per the oversight in previous post's spelling: I believe in the resurrection and I believe it is spelled thusly. You may verify this by means of external knowledge found within the framework of a modern English dictionerry. (gotcha?) We English majors can be a petty lot.

But for those Christians who are in the word-smithing professions - they can’t take the easy way out. They have to ask these tough questions and the answers are not always easy. But then, not being a science guy, I didn't pass by the conjunction "OR" as used by you correctly - not ignorantly - rather than "AND" which latter might better have prompted a genuine, rather than the obsequious apology following your post: "You understand the argument you’re making here? I don’t agree with you because I’m either ignorant or stupid? I’ll let that pass- it’s just the reflex of people with your beliefs. I say that because I run into this every single time I have this discussion."

God Bless Us, Everyone - Bettyann
All I can say is that you are very persistent. I understand why, and you have a tough fight over there. I had a hard time reading through all those comments, and it is still going. WOW. Have fun. I have said it before, God chose well when he chose you :) Tell Andrea Hello for me.
I've been going back and fourth with our brother Matt on the evangelutionist site, and wanted to make a short comment here for those who have't yet been over there to see what we've been discussing.

Matt said "The point is to show the fact that this belief is a choice you make. The evidence does not require it." Perhaps we can agree on this. But in terms of science, evidence, belief and faith - this statement is trivial. Evidence never "requires" belief. Belief is always a choice! This is Epistemology 101. All beliefs, even those of a scientific nature, rest on certain assumptions about the world and how it works. Therefore, everything must be believed by faith.

When it comes to nonessential doctrines, the question is not really, "what do we believe?" but "what are the consequences of what we chose to believe?" And "are our starting assumptions grounded in a biblical worldview?"

These are the issues. If you are interested in being challenged, then I invite you to visit the other post and read the full text. If these are the only kinds of excerpts that end up on this site, you are not getting the full picture.

Anything any of us are, we are only because God chose us. He chose wisely in all of us! Thanks for reading.

And to all, by all means read the whole discussion. GJG apparently thinks that inerrancy of Scripture is a non-essential doctrine. Judge for yourself.
Let's be fair here. I've never denied the inerrancy or infallability of Scripture. But the question is "infallable" about what exactly? That's not so easy to determine - there are many things that the Bible doesn't tell us, and many things that don't make sense in a straightforward reading of the text. When John Calvin comments on Gen 1:16 and exhorts us to not deride the unskilfullness of Moses for making the moon a second luminary (it had just been discovered that the moon did not actually generate its own light), he is not questioning the inerrancy or infallability of the Bible. He is merely clarifying the scope of its authority. He rightly concludes by writing that the Holy Spirit had no intention to teach astronomy - but he who uses the light of the moon by night and does not render thanks to its Creator will be condemned. The spiritual meaning of the passage transcends the unskillfullness of the ancient mode of delivery. That's my point.

My approach to understanding and applying Scripture to modern questions seeks is to let God be true and all men be liars. If you examine these issues closely, you will see that misguided notions of inerrancy actually make God out to be the liar. I'm trying to avoid this unfortunate situation. Visit the other site and judge for yourself. I'm am disappoint that Matt would level such a severe charge to another brother so carelessley just to try and make himself look like the only one standing up for truth. That is not very Christlike! I am equally concerned for God's truth.
It was only after about a dozen posts, and I don't know how many thousands of words, that I accused you of denying inerrancy.

I did so because you say the Bible has errors. That's what the word means.

By all means, Gentle Reader, judge for yourself. Judge for yourself whether saying that using the same word for the sun and moon, despite the fact that one produces light and the other just reflects it, is of the same species of statements as saying the whole first fifteen hundred years or so of recorded human history are nothing but pagan fantasies dressed up with a little God-talk.

If I can't use inerrancy to contradict this doctrine, then the word has no meaning.
Were Adam and Eve created on the same day? If so, is Genesis 2 wrong? If not, is Genesis 1 wrong? OR - is there another way to understand these "conflicting" accounts that doesn't make the Bible wrong? These are the kinds of questions that thoughful Christians ask. THE BIBLE WILL ONLY APPEAR TO CONTAIN ERRORS IF WE FAIL TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE TEXT IS SAYING TO US! This is not the same as saying that the Bible has errors. I still don't know why you falsely accuse me of believing that. You either haven't been listening to me, or you are intentionally misrepresenting my position to your readers.

If we assume the point of Genesis 1 and 2 is to give us accurate historic and scientific information about what was made on which day, then a plain reading of the text will reveal "errors". This is just one simple example. Sometimes we have to look past these material details at the larger themes, as was common in pre-scientific ancient time. Once we see the text through ancient eyes, it becomes clear that God makes use of the foolishness of the world, even the ancient notions of cosmology that are incorrect by modern standards, to communicate timeless trugh to every generation. I really don't see what the problem is here. Even though you have false accused me of things that I do not believe, I hope your readers can at least see the difference.
I'm not going to repeat this whole argument here. It's all already been said. My readers are capable of judging, as am I, whether there's any comparison between resolving difficult texts and just saying they didn't happen.
like i said in the actual conversation, thanks again for having this discussion. it may not help those firm in their beliefs, but those of us still willing to learn and reform our faiths, it is much appreciated.

~John DeFilippo
Hey John,
Glad it was useful to you. I very much appreciated your comments over on the other site as well.

Hello. Spent an hour or so on the debate that you, Touchstone and GloverGJ are having, regarding the 'evidence' of an old earth - interesting to be sure - and thought that I would interject the following.

I suggest that the obvious is true: we have ALL been thoroughly confused (in one way or another) by a Creator whom Scripture repeatedly refers to as both pure and "shrewd", with He Himself proclaiming (during one of Israel's most calamitous times): 'I form the light, and "create darkness" [create confusion], I make peace and "create calamity"; I, the Lord, do all these things.' [Isaiah 45:7] In the words of Paul: "…(a pure and shrewd) God has committed them ALL to disobedience, that He might have mercy on ALL. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! HOW UNSEARCHABLE ARE HIS JUDGMENTS AND HIS WAYS PAST FINDING OUT!(?)" [Romans 11:32]

Eight years ago I began researching suffering’s effect on the Creation, and found the majority of people similarly believing (through retrospect) that their personal trials and tribulations have “made them who they are”, with most feeling a sense of ownership through them, and claiming that they would not change those experiences if they could. I came to the conclusion that we too are being ‘perfected through suffering’ [Heb. 2:10], just like our Lord […take up your cross (daily), and follow Me…], and thereby concluded that beginning with ‘Adam and Eve’ and ‘original sin’, all Scripture has been misinterpreted, because as Scripture repeatedly affirms [example par excellence: Isaiah 29:9-21] we have ALL been intentionally blinded by a shrewd yet pure Creator who has yet to reveal who we truly are (becoming through suffering): the Stars of heaven [that’s us, according to Abraham] just like the Sun [Son] have been ‘darkened’ [blinded] as to who they are (becoming through tribulation). This lead me to begin considering the duration of our necessary tribulation(s?), and in turn, the age of the Creation, beginning with the 'evidence' of an old earth.

In short, and to the point, the Creation has been created with the appearance of age in order to ‘create’ the illusion that our journey here has been much, much longer than it truly has been. Paraphrasing the words of Peter [II Peter 3:5] who in response to future ‘scoffers’ suggesting (in the last days) that the longevity of our time here, or the ‘delay’ in His coming, is evidence of God’s unfaithfulness: we have ‘willfully forgotten’ that at God’s (spoken) word ALL things ‘were of old’ [created with the appearance of age: history (his-story?)], that is, the creation itself [carbon (666): 6 electrons 6 protons 6 neutrons] was created to, for a very brief period of time, deceive us into believing in the very long “Story” we call history. The question is why.

I would like to invite you to further consider my work at: thepresenttruth.blogspot.com


Jay Love
Just read this whole thread and just wanted to comment quickly. In your posts you seem to get more and more frustrated with your opponent. I just wanted to remind you that that things that God has revealed to his children are foolishness to the eyes of the world. This guy obviously hasn't placed his faith in God because faith can't ever enter into his equation. Don't feel badly or get frustrated, there is always someone out there smarter than you that can argue nonsense better than you can argue the truth. Although he clearly won this argument, rest assured that the holy spirit can give a push to anyone that may have been on the fence and that's something that this guy can't do no matter how smart he is.
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