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Christianity and Science, Creationism, Young Earth Creationism

The Dialogue Proceeds: Young Earth Creationism

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.

Sources:

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.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “The Dialogue Proceeds: Young Earth Creationism

  1. The bible does not say that the universe is only about six thousand years old or that dinosaurs and humankind ever coexisted. This actually anti-scriptural perspective is based on a misunderstanding of the bible’s literal language and facilitated by the fact that there are so many colloquial versions now available. They often obfuscate the precise interpretation. Simultaneously, more and more words are ending up in the appendices of the Exhaustive Concordance, which makes it increasingly difficult to arrive at an exact translation. But there are some versions of the bible, like my NAS Nelson Royal Reference, that also reference the literal meaning wherever a colloquialism has been used. For research, this has been priceless.
    Young Earth Creationists scoff at the idea of a gap between the first two verses of Genesis, something the Orthodox Jews have always accepted. Even though this hardly represents the definitive argument; they are ignoring two critical factors. The NIV offers the appropriate alternate translation of “became” in the first line of verse two, which says, “Now the earth was formless and void.” The verb involved is active and clearly indicates a preceding condition. It is the same verb used later, in Genesis 19:26, where Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. She was something else before that conversion. So it was with the Earth. It was something else before it became formless and void. The second thing Young Earth Creationists are ignoring is the inherent meaning of the word bara, translated as created in verse one, which describes God speaking something into being. God does not create chaos, nor does he create things formless. Everything else in the bible was created complete. The earth was no exception. It became formless and void. In fact, if you check the literal translation of Isaiah 45:18, you’ll see that God denies having created the earth in the formless manner in which it is found in Genesis 1:2.
    But what’s essential to understand is how the idea of bara alters the basic function of the word made. If you try to look up the word remade in an Exhaustive Concordance, you won’t find it. This is because, to the Jews, made and remade mean the same thing. According to them, only God creates; whenever we make anything, all we actually do is take what he already created and remake it. There are plentiful scriptural examples just in Genesis. Consider 3:7. They did not create the leaves, they remade them into aprons. Consider 31:46. They did not create the rocks; they remade them into a heap. While the before and after products are identified in both of these examples, that is not always the case. In Ezekiel 18:31 God commanded his people to make for themselves a new heart and a new spirit. He was obviously telling them to remake the hearts they already had. It is the same Hebrew word (dictionary number 6213) that’s used in Exodus 20:11 & 31:17.
    When the bible speaks of God creating the heavens and the earth, it doesn’t identify the period of time it took to accomplish this exploit. When it talks about what was done in the six days we call the creation, it does not use the Hebrew word that actually means to create! This is too incredibly consistent to be insignificant!
    But can’t create and made mean the same thing? Not when they’re both used in the same sentence. And there’s exactly one place in the entire bible where that happens. I’d strongly encourage the reader to verify the literal language I am about to elucidate, since many colloquial bibles do not contain this literal interpretation of Genesis 2:3. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it he rested from all His work which God had created to make.” Many bibles, such as the King James and NIV, say, “created and made,” which isn’t a precise interpretation; though it identifies the involvement of two verbs. Without understanding the language, it’d be easy to see this as anticlimactic; as if God created, which only he can do, just to make, which anyone can do. And create and made can’t mean the same thing here or the sentence would be ridiculously redundant.
    What the verse is telling us is that the creating he did was done in order to remake what was already here; which is why the next verse, literally translated, begins, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth.” Your bible may use the word history or account instead of generations. But if you look up the word that’s used here (Hebrew dictionary number 8435) you’ll see that the literal translation is generations and that the first thing the dictionary says about it is that it’s plural only! To call it a history or account is merely figurative, as also indicated in the definition. According to the bible, there most certainly was something here before. Genesis 2: 3-4, if their literal translations are taken in context, make no other allowance.
    Scripture is rife with examples of this perspective, and I would exhaust the reader if I were to try and reference them all. But to demonstrate that they really do run all the way to the end of the New Testament, consider Revelation 16:18. “And there were flashes of lightening and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth.” The insinuation is that there was such an earthquake at least once before. But there is certainly no reference to it in the five days that preceded mankind’s creation. Such a thing would have to have taken place during the “gap” that the Young Earth Creationists have made a multimillion dollar profession of opposing. If you’ve supported their propaganda, you would be well advised to demand a refund.
    Young Earth Creationists also endorse something called the Canopy Theory. It says that the earth was once surrounded by a canopy of water ice. They further insist the Gap Theory was only a reaction to the idea of evolution. But while Old Earth Creationism can be traced into antiquity; their celebrated Canopy Theory was first proposed by Isaac Vail in 1874, fifteen years after Darwin’s publication of Origin of Species. And the theory is in complete conflict with Psalm 148, which says that the waters above the firmament were put their as an everlasting statute. If they existed as a canopy, it had better still be there. If not, then this scripture is wrong!

    Posted by Tom | September 8, 2010, 10:12 AM
    • Thank you for your thought-provoking comment. It is wonderful to explore the Hebraic nature of the Genesis account. I personally use my Hebrew Bible, which leads to similar insights. One question I have, though, is about this statement: “When the bible speaks of God creating the heavens and the earth, it doesn’t identify the period of time it took to accomplish this exploit. When it talks about what was done in the six days we call the creation, it does not use the Hebrew word that actually means to create! This is too incredibly consistent to be insignificant!” The word used with the heavens and the earth is definitely bara, create, as you stated. But (acting as a YEC here), doesn’t that seem to imply that what follows is an account of creation?

      I would, of course, tend to take it as this means exactly what it says–in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This could tie into, for example, the Big Bang.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | September 8, 2010, 10:33 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: The Origins Debate Within Christianity « - March 21, 2010

  2. Pingback: The Life Dialogue: Young Earth Creationism 2 « - January 12, 2011

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