This week we received an email from a gentleman who bases his arguments for long ages on the processes we see occurring today, or in other words, uniformitarianism which says that the present is the key to the past. In some ways he’s wrong, yet in other ways he may be right.
From: Nils J
This is an interesting article because it admits that personal bias will often influence an interpretation of facts. However, there are issues that do not necessarily need interpretation because the facts are self evident. For instance, the shape of the continents and the distribution of fossils indicate that there was once a super continent that has broken up at rates that are still measurable today. There are lava dams in the Grand Canyon that have been cut through by erosion forces that are acting today and give us factual data regarding how long they were there and how long it took the river to cut through them. Based upon a myriad of facts, it is evident that the earth is either very old or that God produced an earth that looks very old. If this is the case, then one can’t rely upon science at all and must totally rely upon their interpretation of what an ancient language written thousands of years ago actually means in minute detail about subjects that had no meaning to its original readers in terms of science. It is only in relatively modern times that such issues arise.
In my opinion, there is no conflict between science and the Bible as some of the respondents have already stated. The real issue is a dispute between science and science, i.e. the science of linguistics of ancient languages which depends upon the science of archaeology as its basic guide and the physical sciences which depends upon modern empirical experimentation and observation for the development of its tenants. When there is a conflict between the two, one or both of these sciences must be off track. It is not a matter of the Linguistic sciences taken precedence over the Physical sciences. It is a matter of which set of facts available for consideration carry the most elements of truth. Much to the chagrin of science some past theories which have been in direct historical conflict with the Bible have been amended due to more archaeological findings. Interestingly, there are also examples of Biblical interpretations that have been amended due to the greater accuracy of modern translations which is also based upon the science of linguistics and archaeology.
So if you believe that the earth looks old, don’t fret, the Bible has never said how old the earth is. If you believe the earth is young, don’t fret, your faith will not be diminished just because it is in conflict with the latest scientific findings. There are so many other things to worry about than to spend unnecessary energy trying to prove or disprove one science by using another science. However, if one says it is a dispute between the Bible and Science, then they must be very, very sure of themselves for fear of making God look ridiculous. I am sure God will never be upset with someone who simply believes what they see over what some expert in linguistic science says is wrong. However, I could be mistaken.
Nils, thank you for your comment and views that you shared concerning the age of the earth, science v science, interpretation and Scripture. I addressed many of your issues in a Feed Back article that was posted April 14, 2012, but will try once again to answer some of your comments and critiques.
To begin with, I have to disagree with you when you state that Scripture doesn’t say how old the earth is. In fact, you couldn’t more wrong. You have to remember that the Bible is not just a book of ancient writings by men that know nothing of the world today, but it is the Word of God that He directed to be written so that we would have a record of history from the beginning of creation until just after the time of Christ.
Rather than go into detail here about what the Bible says on the age of the earth, I would direct you to the following articles: (There are many more on the Creation Revolution website)
You also imply that what was written in the Bible is not necessarily relevant to today and thus we should not rely on it as much as we should rely on today’s science. Again, I think you are wrong. For instance, look at what the Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:1-6:
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.
Peter’s words describe our world today with a great deal of accuracy. He is telling us that evolutionists will ignore the overwhelming evidence of the Genesis Flood and then scoff at the Bible because of their unbelief. He talks about how man will follow his sinful desires which is exactly what we see today with the acceptance of homosexuality, unmarried couples living together, sex outside of marriage, pornography, and so on. When you realize that Peter was penning what God inspired him to write, you have to realize that God was warning us then about the world now.
There is something else in Peter’s words that present a problem for your statement about the earth looking old. Both in Genesis 6-8 and in 2 Peter 3 we are told that the earth was completely destroyed. It was inundated with water, which in turn inundated it with thousands of feet of sediment. In all honesty, there is nothing on this earth that we see today that isn’t older than 4,360 years old, except the fossil remnants of plants and animals that were destroyed and buried in the Flood. All of the canyons, valleys, gullies, hills and mountains were reshaped and formed since the time of the Flood.
Yes there seems to be strong evidence that there was once one massive continent, but many creation geologists believe that it was broken up and spread apart during and after the Flood when the Bible says that the fountains of the deep burst forth. As the supercontinent began splitting apart, it would have released volumes of underground water and a great deal of heat. The heat in many cases would have vaporized a significant amount of water, sending into the sky like huge super fountains, only for it fall back to earth as heavy rains.
Nils, you cite evidence from current processes and then extrapolate them back in time to prove old ages, but that is a fallible logic that has a number of flaws. The first flaw is that you only seem to note processes that we observe to be slow and gradual, while ignoring other process that we’ve observed to be fast and catastrophic in nature.
You use the Grand Canyon as your example, but allow me to use the Little Grand Canyon to refute your logic. In 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted sending a mudflow down through the Toutle River. In a matter of a few hours, the mud and debris carved a canyon up to 100 feet deep. Not only did the mudflow carve out this canyon, but it also carved out numerous side canyons as well. The result was a landscape that looked like the Grand Canyon, only 1/40th the size. Researchers named the new canyon the Little Grand Canyon.
Since the time of Mount St. Helens, there have been other examples of canyons 20-40 feet deep cut into river channels by local floods. One example occurred in the Texas Hill Country in 2002 when flood waters overflowed the dam at Canyon Lake. The flood waters carved deep, steep walled canyons out of the rock layers downstream from the dam. The area is now referred to as the Canyon Lake Gorge.
A number of geologists that believe in biblical creation believe that the Grand Canyon was carved out when a large lake left over from the Genesis Flood broke through its shores, causing a massive flood the flowed down the Colorado River pathway. Occurring so soon after the Flood, the layers of sediment laid down by the Flood would not have completely hardened into solid rock. When the flood waters started to cut through, it quickly carved out the mighty canyon that would later attract millions of visitors today.
So when you use the evidence of processes we observe today to interpret the past, you have to take into account all of the evidences. We actually have many observations of processes that can explain how many of the earth’s features as being the result of rapid and catastrophic events. So whether you realize it or not, the evidence you give as fact is actually not fact but still the interpretation of fact. It’s not science v science, but rather it is interpretation v interpretation.
More importantly, I still strongly contend that if someone compromises God’s Word in Genesis, then it is an easy step to compromise His Word elsewhere in Scripture. We see the evidence of this today with Christians accepting many sinful ways as normal lifestyles.
I’ve even heard people say that you can’t trust everything in the Bible. If that’s true, then what part of it can you trust? The Bible claims to be the Word of God from the very first word in Genesis to the very last word in Revelation. If just one word is not true, then God is a liar, deceiver and Jesus was a also a liar and fraud and Christian’s are placing their hope of eternity on an empty promise. If a day in Genesis one is not a 24 hour day, which the Hebrew clearly indicates, then the rest of Scripture cannot be trusted. If Genesis 1-3 are not factual history, then there is no basis for sin, no foundation for the Cross and no hope of eternity.
Scripture clearly warns us not to succumb to the ways of this world but to be a light unto the world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me that all of the scientists can’t wrong. My reply to them is taken from Jesus as recorded in Matthew 7:13-14:
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
I count evolutionists as those taking the easy path through the wide gate. The destruction it leads them to is eternal separation from God. I gladly choose the narrow gate traveled by few because I know it leads to eternal life. That is also why I choose to interpret the evidence based upon my belief in the Bible as God’s infallible Word.
Author: Don Batten and Jonathan Sarfati
Many have been misled into thinking that the Genesis account of creation is not actual history, but is just some sort of theological argument (‘polemic’). This small book succinctly shows why those who believe in the inspiration of Scripture have no intellectually honest choice but to take Genesis as straight-forward history, just as Jesus did. It powerfully challenges one of the major problems in the church today that affects the authority of the entire Bible. Read it, and give it to your pastor or particularly anyone contemplating theological training—it could save them from getting derailed by some of the misleading arguments common in theological academia. (High School–Adult) 32 pages.