This is part in a series of posts I’m working on concerning the “Argument within Christianity” on the origins of the universe and life. Other posts can be viewed here.
Young Earth Creationism holds that the Genesis 1-3 account is to be literally read. The days mentioned are literal 24-hour days. The Creation account is not metaphorical or some kind of theological rendition of Creation, but is a literal, scientifically accurate (when science is viewed through this lens) account of the origin of the universe.
Central to Young Earth Creationists (hereafter YECs) is the idea that people can look at the exact same scientific data and take different interpretations. I remember a man coming to speak on campus about YEC and he said that he looks at the exact same evidence as other scientists, and simply comes away with a different interpretation.
So what does it mean to take the same evidence and look at it with different interpretations? One is the age of the earth. A prominent and important site for YEC scientists is the Mount St. Helens eruption site. This site has provided a number of startling findings. Specifically, YECs point to the layers of sediment deposited by the volcano as showing there could be a different interpretation of geologic time. In the space of a few days, Mount St. Helens deposited up to 600 feet of sediment. This sediment looks like the sedimentary deposits found throughout the geologic record across the world (Morris). Other evidence includes the fact that a canyon formed, complete with a redirected river flowing through it, trees were deposited standing up (similar to petrified forests), and peat moss deposits that could eventually lead to coal (Morris).
Thus, YECs take this as evidence for the Genesis account and creation in a few ways. First, if there was a worldwide flood, then it is possible that there would exist worldwide sedimentary deposits that are quite uniform. If canyons can form so quickly from a volcano, then could not other canyons that are often cited as having taken millions of years to form have been formed by an event like the flood or other volcanic activity surrounding the Flood (Morris)?
It seems like, on a YEC perspective, the Flood is the answer to a great many questions, including the evidence from geology for the age of the earth (YECs would say it is sediment deposited and compacted by the flood), canyons, fossils, etc.
I always find things like this greatly appealing, but I do have a few problems. I must stress again that I am not a scientist. Thus, I am not someone to go through and evaluate scientific claims in any scholarly fashion, as I don’t have the knowledge to do so. I try to stay on top of things by reading reports, whatever books I have or get a hold of that have to do with science, but the bottom line is that it isn’t my main interest. Anyway, these are the problems I have, with my layman’s knowledge of science:
1. What about evidence from astronomy for the age of the universe?
2. How does one go about putting things like this into a scientific model (again, not that this is the standard for truth of any claim, but it is the standard for science, and if the YEC perspective wants to compete on this level, it must provide a competing model that involves tests)?
3. Can we really take evidence from something like the Mount St. Helens eruption and assume things about the Flood because of it?
4. Where is the positive case? Rather than attacking all other views, where is the scientific case building bottom up a YEC explanation of the universe? I think this is absolutely essential for YEC to offer any competition to Old Earth Creationism, Theistic Evolution, or Intelligent Design. Hugh Ross has done well for the OEC view (here), but as far as I know, YECs have no comparable case.
Morris, Dr. John D. “Lessons from Mount St. Helens.” http://www.icr.org/article/lessons-from-mount-st-helens/.
My notes from a talk on campus which I don’t feel like looking up a way to officially cite
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author.