Monday, November 1, 2010

The Age of the Earth (Part II)

... continued from last post (10/30/2010) ...

In addition to the Scriptural issues described last time, the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the OE view and therefore also aligns perfectly with the scientific evidence from God’s natural revelation. If we truly believe that all truth is God's truth, we have no reason to distrust valid scientific data that does not conflict with a valid interpretation of Scripture. As I've said before, the two complement one another in amazing ways.

If we do not trust the scientific data, we are forced to resort to claims like the ones my critic puts forth below. The irony here is that my YE friend accepts the fact that the universe looks old and "admit[s] that it is a serious problem." The question is, how do [YE] Creationists address this serious problem?

My critic offers three suggestions that I have heard before and two that I have never heard. First, the familiar explanations:
  1. The decreasing speed of light -- Because the speed of light has been gradually decaying, objects appear farther away than they actually are. There is little scientific evidence to support this claim. The minor deviations in our measurement of the speed of light cited by some cannot begin to account for the discrepancy between the roughly 14 billion year age of the universe claimed by modern science and the less than 10,000 year claim of YE creationists. 
  2. Time dilation in outer space -- Based on Einstein's General Relativity (GR) Theory, this is similar to the speed of light assertion -- that the universe simply appears older than it actually is. Again, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Ironically, the concept of time dilation rests on an acceptance of GR which also happens to posit an expanding universe and therefore provides strong physical evidence for Big Bang Cosmology. This aspect of GR is what led Einstein to doubt (and modify) his own theory because he could not accept the divine implications of an expanding universe. He later described his modification as one of the worst mistakes of his life. So, I say it is ironic when YE proponents appeal to time dilation to buttress their case because by doing so they are also unwittingly accepting one aspect of the Big Bang -- a scientific theory  that YEs despise because, again, they claim it supports 'Evolution.' The materials my critic sent me do exactly this and specifically deny the expansion of the universe as being true.
  3. Starlight created in transit -- The starlight was created after the stars themselves or it was artificially made to look like the stars are older than they actually are. Once again, there is absolutely no scientific evidence for this claim. Additionally, one has to wonder why the God who we all accept as the source and standard for Truth would deliberately foist a deception like this on us -- and for what reason? In fairness, most reasonable YEs have abandoned this option.
This brings me to the unfamiliar points:
  1. "The Lord has put a shield in front of each star and each shield has a different color of the rainbow" -- The idea here is that these shields affect the brightness of the stars, thereby rendering them dimmer in appearance than they really are. This dimness makes them appear to be farther away than they actually are.
  2. The Bible tells us the approximate size of the universe directly (but only in the KJV) -- This distance is easily calculated as follows:
    • Reading Revelation 8:1 and 12:1 together tells us that, on the fourth creation day, "there was silence in heaven about the space of half and hour."
    • The speed of light is 186,000 miles/sec
    • 186,000 miles/sec x 60 sec/min x 30 mins = about 350 million miles to the "outmost parts of heaven" (re: Deuteronomy 30:4)
Because we "know" that the Earth is at the center of the universe (a later post will address this claim), the outer edges of the universe must lie just beyond this 350 million mile limit. This is offered as "proof" that the universe is orders of magnitude smaller than astronomers claim and therefore verifies that it is also orders of magnitude younger. As a point of reference, I would note that modern science -- by direct measurement -- puts the planet Jupiter at approximately 468 million miles away. Therefore, I leave it to my readers to evaluate the reasonableness of this claim.

Forget the actual numbers or the fact that these claims completely defy any of the actual findings of modern science. What I really object to here is the method involved. Because the hard core YE proponents see any acceptance of modern science or the OE view as a capitulation to 'Evolution' (as described in the previous post), and because the YE camp holds to a dogmatic insistence that its interpretation of the word yom is the only valid one, they are forced to offer these kinds of explanations to support their view.

In addition to that, the exegetical method of plucking Bible verses out of thin air and using them -- or even using phrases from them -- to make a scientific point strikes me as doing violence to Scripture. It is completely indefensible to ignore (or worse -- make up) the context just to suit your own personal, pre-ordained view of what the text "should" be saying. Using that method, one could make the Bible say anything they want it to say. The proof of that is in the pudding above.

My question is, why? Why does anyone find it more compelling, reasonable, or more in line with Biblical truth to have to concoct these kind of twisted explanations for things than to just accept the clear coherence we find between the findings of modern science and an equally valid (and, yes, "literal") translation of the Bible? I honestly don't get it.

I sincerely hope that my YE critics will weigh in on this and that we can engage in a productive and polite debate about these issues.

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