Young Earth Creationists often counter the multiple, independent evidences for the ancient age of the Earth (here meaning billions of years old) by appealing to the notion of “appearance of age.” Effectively, what this argues is that because God is creating by fiat, the universe may look old and even show evidences of being quite ancient, when in fact it is a recent creation. Among the evidences mustered in support of this is the notion of the creation of Adam and Eve. The first humans, it is asserted, were created as fully grown individuals and so they would appear to us to be adults, despite being created just that day.
One example of this in practice can be found in a statement from Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds:
God would have no real motive to ‘actualize’ most of cosmic history… ‘Apparent’ history in the mind of God could not be any different than ‘actual’ history… He would gain a fully functioning universe, but without the ‘waste of time’ needed to actualize the less interesting parts. (Nelson and Reynolds, 52-53, cited below)
Another significant aspect of most Young Earth Creationists’ (hereafter YECs) argument is the notion of “Flood Geology,” which argues:
…substantial amounts of water can have the same geological effect in a short period of time (even laying down rock layers) that hypothesized millions of years of slow water flow would have. (here – see also the many additional Young Earth resources on the flood at this link from Answers in Genesis)
Essentially, the argument is that there is positive evidence for a young earth when we look at the evidence rightly–through the lens of a catastrophic, global flood.
A Dilemma for Young Earth Creationists
The problem for YECs is that these two commonly held positions are in tension. Kenneth Keathley and Mark Rooker note this tension:
[A] consistent application of the mature creation argument will conclude thatthere are no evidences of a young earth. The universe has been coherently, uniformly created with the appearance of age. (Keathley and Rooker, 223, cited below, emphasis theirs)
These authors go on to note how one of the first proponents of the appearance of age argument, Philip Henry Gosse, would have considered the efforts of groups like the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis “unrealistic at best and detrimental at worst…” (223) because they are embarking on a program of trying to find what is not there. Gosse affirmed a young earth in spite of the evidence because he consistently clung to the notion of the appearance of age:
[T]he acceptance of the principles presented in this volume [that of the appearance of age and affirmation of a young earth]… would not, in the least degree, affect the study of scientific geology… [The evidences for an old earth] would be facts still… [but] the duration was projected in the mind of God, and not really existent. (Gosse, Omphalos, 369, cited below [quoted in Keathley and Rooker and independently checked by me])
The force of what Gosse is saying should not be missed, for he remained consistent in his application of the notion of appearance of age. If the young earth creationist is going to say that the evidences for an apparently ancient earth are explained by divine fiat creation–they were simply made that way because they had to be made fully formed and ready for habitation–then it is a misguided attempt to go back and try to find evidence for a young earth as well.
Consider this in more depth for a moment: if the explanation from geology for the age of the earth from rock strata and independently confirmed with radiometric dating is that these things merely appear old because God created them as such, would it not be strange to turn around and say all these strata were layered down in the last 6000 years by a catastrophic global flood? Which is it? Do the strata merely “appear” to be old when in fact they were created recently, or were they formed through a global flood? YECs can’t have it both ways.
A False Dichotomy?
It may be countered that the YEC could instead hold that some things are due to appearance of age, while others explicitly demonstrate a young earth. That is, something like the rock strata are alleged to point to a recent, catastrophic, global flood, while the light from stars that are millions of light years away can be explained by appearance of age. There are, however, two problems with this counter-argument.
First, it is effectively question begging. If this counter-argument is maintained, then any evidence which cannot allegedly be explained by recent effects can be relegated to appearance of age, for any reason. Thus, if coral reefs can be independently shown by multiple methods to be quite ancient, they can simply be explained away by “appearance of age,” but if we are only looking at something like an ice core, it is alleged that differing temperatures led to different and multiple layers of ice, thus pointing to a young earth. At this point, it is effectively impossible to falsify any portion of the young earth position, for if one were able to demonstrate that an aspect that purports to show evidence for a young earth in fact is evidence for an old earth, the YEC can simply counter that it merely “appears” to be old.
Second, it is intrinsically inconsistent. The YEC who wishes to use both appearance of age and alleged positive evidence for a young earth has an inconsistent method. They must come up with some reasonable method for sorting out the two from each other and maintaining them–often at odds with each other. After all, the one who wants to hold both of these positions must believe on one hand that much evidence demonstrates the universe is billions of old (but only appears to be so, in actuality), while also arguing that the universe has many evidences for being quite recent. God’s creation is thus turned into a chimera–showing an ancient face on one hand, while being a baby in comparison on the other.
Young Earth Creationists cannot have it both ways. They must decide which of the methods of argumentation they want to use to try to maintain a recent creation. Does the universe appear to be old, when it is in fact quite young? Or has all the evidence been misinterpreted and does it all demonstrate a young earth? These two positions cannot be maintained together without significant tension.
Do Young Earth Creationists Advocate Appearance of Age?– A demonstration that the appearance of age position is very much alive among YECs today.
What options are there in the origins debate? – A Taxonomy of Christian Origins Positions– I clarify the breadth of options available for Christians who want to interact on various levels with models of origins. I think this post is extremely important because it gives readers a chance to see the various positions explained briefly.
Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.
Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds, “Young Earth Creationism” in Three Views on Creation and Evolution edited by J.P. Moreland & John Mark Reynolds (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999).
Kenneth Keathley and Mark Rooker, 40 Questions about Creation and Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2014).
Philip Henry Gosse, Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot (now public domain and available here).
“The Flood” – Answers in Genesis – https://answersingenesis.org/the-flood/ (accessed 12/20/15).
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I can’t believe we’re almost through January already. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my awards post for 2015. In this round of Really Recommended Posts, we have messianic prophecy, women in the ministry, evolution and creationism, the Bible, and movies of 2015. Let me know what you think, and be sure to let the authors know as well.
Did Moses really write about Jesus?: A look at Messianic Prophecy in the Torah– An excellent post highlighting a number of biblical prophecies about the Messiah found throughout the Torah.
Prominent Biblical Scholars on Women in Ministry– It continues to amaze me how willing some are to dismiss any nod to egalitarianism as clear rejection of biblical authority and teaching. I do not believe that merely mustering names is enough to prove a position (the list of complementarian scholars is quite long), but the fact that so many clearly biblical thinkers have held to the egalitarian position should give pause to those who make this claim. Here’s a list of just a few such scholars.
Dodging Darwin: How Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter is Slowly Embracing Evolution– “That which we call a rose…” is the essence of this post. As Ham and other young earth creationists decry evolution, they have been slowly embracing forms of it that go beyond the wildest dreams of modern evolutionary biologists. This post highlights the inconsistency of the Answers in Genesis answer to evolution.
Admit it: Some of the Bible is Hard to Believe– We should not sugarcoat the tough passages in the Bible. Here’s a good post that addresses an approach to problematic passages.
An Assassin, White God, and Fury Road- The Top 10 Films of 2015– Think Christian has a post highlighting major worldview-level issues found in several films from 2015.
Brr! It’s cold in Iowa… but not as cold as it was in Minnesota! I still walk around without a coat on in 30 degrees (F) due to my time spent in the frozen north. Anyway, the cold has given me time to read, and I present this latest round of really recommended posts to you, dear readers. There are posts about stay-at-home dads and egalitarianism, Batman and Christianity, Answers in Genesis’s position on “kinds,” the flying spaghetti monster and Santa, and censoring pro-life voices! Wow, I’m excited. Let me know what you think, and be sure to let the authors know you enjoyed their stuff, too!
Egalitarianism is for Men, Too– As a stay-at-home dad currently, I wrote this post for Christians for Biblical Equality to show some of the challenges faced in my life as well as how an egalitarian theology can benefit men. This one is from the heart, folks.
Review and Christian Reflections of My Favorite Works on Batman– Here’s a literary apologetics post on different Batman graphic novels. I decided to pick up one of these to start my own reading of Batman, since I’ve always enjoyed Batman. It is important to apply the Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives–including the fiction we read–and this is a good post showing how to do that.
Are Ruminants Derived from a Common Ancestor? Ruminating on the Meaning of Noahic “Kinds”– The Young Earth Creationist group, Answers in Genesis, is known for squeezing animals onto the Ark by reducing the number of species required, appealing to the notion of “kinds” in order to allow for common ancestors. Here is an analysis of just how difficult this assertion is to maintain.
God, Santa, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster– Often, atheists claim that God is on the same level, evidentially, as things like Santa Claus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Here is an analysis of that claim.
Six Ways I’ve seen Pro-Choice People Censor Pro-Lifers– Here are six common ways that pro-choice people have interfered with people who are trying to choose to listen to pro-lifers on college campuses and elsewhere.
We have already made it to December! Can you believe it? I can’t. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep delivering the goods, however! This week we have posts on women in the early church, dinosaurs and young earth creationism, an evil god?, the theology of Star Wars, and the Planned Parenthood shooting. As always, let me know what you think–and be sure to let the authors know as well. Also, because it’s already snowed a couple times, we’re switching back to the snowy owl to bring our post, Hogwarts style.
A Theology of Star Wars– Star Wars Episode VII comes out soon. I bet that’s news to you! I may or may not have my tickets to an early showing. The world will never know. Anyway, here’s a free e-book (sign up to newsletter required) on Star Wars and Christian theology. I haven’t gotten through the whole thing yet, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far.
Four Myths about Women in the Early Church– The topic of women in the early church is quite interesting. I’ve only read one book on the topic, but I’d like to explore further. This post highlights some myths about women in the early church that are largely taken as givens. In the debate over women in the church and home, it is important to get our facts straight.
Is an Evil God as likely as an All-Good God?– Edward Feser analyzes Stephen Law’s (in)famous “evil God challenge,” in which Law alleges that the evidence for the existence of God cannot bring us to a good God, so an evil God is just as likely. I have analyzed Law’s argument myself, and I believe I demonstrate that the assumptions behind his argument would yield radical skepticism if held consistently.
Why Pro-Life Advocates are not responsible for the Planned Parenthood Shooting– Some have alleged that the recent, horrific attack on a Planned Parenthood building can be blamed on the pro-life movement. Here is an analysis of that ad hominem attack vs. pro-life advocates that gets at the heart of the issue.
Where did all the Dinosaurs go? Ken Ham’s Climate and Human Induced Dinosaur extinction hypothesis– Young earth creationists must deal with the evidence we have about dinosaurs and their lives. Here is an analysis of Ken Ham’s hypothesis regarding what happened to all the dinosaurs after they purportedly survived a global flood alongside humans.
I have scoured the ‘net and some of my favorite blogs to provide you with another round of excellent reads through your weekend and into next week! I hope you’ll enjoy them! Let me know what you think, and be sure to tell the authors you enjoyed their posts as well! The topics we have this week include Dean Koontz’s Innocence, the homo naledi fossil find, apologetics and atheism, and whether you can be pro-life as a man.
Responding to the Astute Observation that I am a Man– Are men allowed to be involved in discussions about abortion? Here, Josh Brahm discusses the common accusation that men cannot talk about pro-life/pro-choice issues.
Dean Koontz’s Innocence– I read this book about two weeks ago and loved it. Here is a fantastic look at some of the worldview-level issues the book raises. Dean Koontz is a Christian author who is one of the highest-selling authors in our time.
Bones of Contention: ICR Claims Homo naledi fossils of “imaginary creature”– ICR is the Institute for Creation Research, a Young Earth Creationist organization.
Repressed knowledge of God?– Thomistic philosopher Edward Feser questions whether it is accurate to say atheists have repressed knowledge of God. Specifically, he enters into a critique of apologist Greg Koukl. What are your thoughts on this discussion?
Women and Church Politics: Living Outside the Bubble– Politics in church? Surely not! Okay, yeah they’re there. Here’s a post that discusses how church politics can impact women.
I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s roundup of posts from around the web. You can watch a video explaining egalitarian theology from Genesis, survey challenges your kids might encounter for their faith, learn about pro-life dialogue, discover theology in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and explore a cold time before a young earth could have existed. Let me know what you think of the posts, and be sure to let the authors know as well.
Egalitarian from the Start (Vide0)– this sermon is from Richard Davidson, author of the monumentally important study on sexuality in the Old Testament, Flame of Yahweh. He argues that, from the beginning of creation, egalitarianism is the ideal perspective.
17 Ways Your Kids Will Encounter Challenges to their Faith– Children will encounter a great number of challenges to their faith as they grow up. Simply being aware of the way children can be confronted by these challenges will help parents prepare to answer them and help their kids find answers.
Four Practical [Pro-Life] Dialogue Tips from My Conversation with Brent– Josh Brahm, an excellent pro-life speaker, offers some dialogue tips alongside a case study of an actual conversation he had with a pro-choice advocate.
Star Trek Theology- “Remember Me”– The Sci-Fi Christian, an excellent website and podcast, offers up this heaping helping of theological analysis of The Next Generation episode, “Remember Me.” It’s an episode I enjoy immensely, and I also enjoyed reading this post. Check it out.
A Holocene Cold Snap In the Year 2,200 B.C. (Before Creation)– Here is an analysis which challenges the Young Earth timeline, because it demonstrates that we can observe weather patterns from before dates set by groups like Answers in Genesis.
Another week, another round of enjoyable reads for you, dear readers. It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so I’ve shared a double-feature of posts that work to dispel myths about domestic violence. How many of these myths have you heard or held onto? Other posts include the fine-tuning argument, apologetics in the Bible, fossilized burrows, and the strangeness of the Bible. Check them out, and let me know what you think.
Ten Myths About Domestic Abuse You Didn’t Know You Believed – Part 1 – I found this post enlightening about some of the perceptions related to domestic abuse we often absorb without realizing it. I think everyone should read this post to get an idea of some of the difficulties around speaking about domestic abuse. This post has the first 5 myths. Don’t forget to check out Part 2 as well.
The Fine-Tuning Argument (Video)– A video which outlines and explains the argument for the existence of God from fine-tuning. I think this is a sound argument well-worth knowing.
Fossilized Animal Burrows in Argentina from the Triassic Period– If the Flood is supposed to explain the overwhelming majority of sedimentary layers on Earth, how do Flood Geologists explain animal burrows? This post presses home the challenge.
Apologetics Started in the Bible– Some reject the need for Christian apologetics, but the fact is that apologetics is found in the Bible itself.
Parents, Please Don’t Forget How Strange the Bible Is– If we don’t take the whole word of God seriously, it will be hard for our children to do so. We need to be aware of the sometimes strange aspects of the Bible and be prepared to answer our kids’ questions about them.
Hello, dear readers! I have another round of posts that I hope you will enjoy perusing. The topics this week include apologetics, an objection to the pro-life position, patriarchy and biblical sex, and some tiny organisms that pose some big problems. Let me know what you think, and be sure to tell the authors you enjoyed their posts as well!
Apologetics Started in the Bible– Some Christians object to the use or import of Christian apologetics. However, apologetics got its start in and from the Bible. Here’s a post showing how.
Biblical Sex: Patriarchy’s Great Enemy– This post highlights the fact that in the Bible, male-female sexual relations really go against the paradigm of complementarian theology.
Book Review: “The Grand Weaver”– Ravi Zacharias is an excellent Christian apologist. Here’s an in-depth look at one of his books from Luke Nix. I recommend reading this one because it will give you some insights into Zacharias’ approach to apologetics. The book itself is also excellent.
Diatoms: Tiny Organisms Highlight Big Inconsistencies in Young Earth Flood Geology Models– Diatoms are tiny organisms that put up some big difficulties for young earth creationist models. Check out this post to read about some of these difficulties.
Response to objection that pro-lifers are “nowhere to be found once our children are born”– It is commonly objected that the pro-life position only cares about children in the womb. Once they’re born–who cares? I think that it is important for the pro-life position to be holistic and look at the totality of life rather than simply looking at unborn life as worth protecting. Here is a post that directly confronts this common objection.
I am pleased to present this wide range of topics to you, dear readers! I hope you enjoy the reads as much as I did. We have posts on the origins of the Gospels from an atheistic perspective, domestic abuse, the ontological argument, soft tissue in dinosaurs, and Bill Nye on abortion. Let me know what you think, and be sure to thank the authors as well!
Where the Gospels Came From– This is a satirical post that highlights how broad swaths of internet atheism tend to view the origin of the Gospels. It’s well worth reading as it highlights some of the major errors.
When Staying in an Abusive Relationship is Part of Your Theology– It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this post from Christians for Biblical Equality highlights one major difficulty with some theologies- they argue that one should stay in an abusive relationship from theological reasons.
The Probability of God’s Existence is Either 0% or 100% (video)– Kenneth Keathley offers this analysis and presentation of Alvin Plantinga’s ontological argument. He defines terms and answers some major objections, with the objections offered by atheists themselves.
“Soft Tissue” Found in Dinosaur Bones– Creationists sometimes claim that the finds of “soft tissue” undermine the possibility for an old earth perspective. Is that the case? Here is some analysis of this claim and some more recent findings regarding allegations of blood and other soft tissue found in ancient fossils.
Responding to Bill Nye’s Abortion Video– Bill Nye “The Science Guy” made a lot of claims about science and abortion in a video recently. Here’s a thorough analysis and refutation of his claims.
Hello dear readers! I have put together another list for you to peruse. This week, we’re looking at mosques and churches, using biblical languages in preaching, dealing with aggression in apologetic interactions, the age of the earth based on coral reefs, and “War Room.”
3 Tips for Using Biblical Languages in Preaching– How should pastors make use of that great seminary education and the biblical languages? Well, for one, they should use it big time for research and also doing apologetics. For another, here are some tips about how to use it in preaching in such a way that it won’t go over people’s heads.
The Mosque Denied Today Could Be the Church Denied Tomorrow– When we speak of “religious freedom” we should be aware that that freedom stands or falls for people of different faiths together. That’s why, for example, several Lutheran groups stood with several Native American groups on getting the rights to use various natural drugs in their ceremonies: one day it is trying to make those illegal, the next communion wine might not be served. Here’s a post reflecting on that reality in a time in which a mosque has been denied.
Greg Koukl Explains the Right Way to Deal with an Angry Aggressive Atheist– Unfortunately there are times when people think the way to interact with others is to simply try to “steamroller” them out of the conversation. This doesn’t apply only to angry atheists but can be applied to even theological discussions in which people don’t want to allow for genuine interaction.
Coral reefs are too old to be young!– When we look at the various methods for dating coral reefs, it becomes pretty clear that a Young Earth Creationist understanding of their age cannot hold up under scrutiny.
An Egalitarian War Room Review– I have seen many theological critiques of War Room, from its apparent allowance for people to stay in abusive (verbally) relationships to a kind of God as divine vending machine mentality. Here is one coming at it from the angle of egalitarianism.