Is There Scientific Evidence for Young Earth Creationism?

by Max Andrews

To answer the question, “Is it surprising that scientific evidence supports a young earth perspective?” I would respond saying that I would almost consider this a loaded question.  I don’t think I can find no evidence for a young earth; however, I find the record of nature to support the proposition that the universe is old (billions of years) by overwhelming evidence.  There is hardly any evidence for a young earth, if indeed there is any at all.

Before getting to the geologic record of nature one needs to address the cosmological record of nature (the earth cannot be older than the universe).  I initially gained my interest in cosmology (and I must say I really enjoy discussing cosmology) was the Kalam cosmological argument, which is an apologetic argument for a beginning of the universe.[1]  I’ll put aside the mathematical and philosophical arguments for a beginning of the universe for that would be off topic and I’ll stick with the scientific evidence.  If one were to analyze an extrapolation of space and time then that initial singularity for the universe would take us back 13.73 GYA (giga, billion years ago).  There are many models of the universe such as the steady state, oscillating, quantum fluctuation, and other string theory models that coincide with former.[2]  The most prominent model with the most philosophical, mathematical, and scientific evidence is the standard model (due to cosmic inflation, the big bang).  Prominent cosmologist Paul Davies comments,

If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero.  An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe.  We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity.  For this reasons most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe.  On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself.[3]

In 2003, Arvind Borde, Alex Vilenkin and Alan Guth crafted a theorem that extrapolates the universe to the date of the big bang and predicts an eternal expansion of the universe without any assumptions other than accepting Einstein’s theory of general relativity (GR) as true.[4]  Even prior to Planck Time (10-43 seconds post creation when all physics break down) Quantum Gravity Models goes well with the standard model.  According to Vilenkin, “The picture presented by quantum cosmology is that the universe starts as a small, closed 3-geometry and immediately enters the regime of eternal inflation, with new thermalized regions being constantly formed.  In this picture, the universe has a beginning but no end.”[5] Today, astronomers have performed more than a dozen independent tests of GR and have confirmed the reliability of GR to descrive the dynamics of the universe to better than 0.000000000001 percent precision.[6]  Roger Penrose, mathematical physicist and coauthor of the first spacetime theorem, said, “”This makes Einstein’s general relativity, in this particular sense, the most accurately tested theory known to science.”[7]

Other than general relativity, another way of measuring the age of the universe is measuring the spectral lines [and red shift] of stars and galaxies.  The fact can be shown three ways but primarily I’ll discuss the Tolman test.

The Tolman test is robust because of its independence from other cosmological “interference” factors.  Surface brightness is simply an astronomical object’s luminosity divided by its radius squared.  Any “distorting” geometric effects, such as space curvature, would impact the luminosity and radius measures identically.  Thus, all such effects cancel each other out.  Another reason the Tolman test is robust is because it predicts an enormous difference in results between an expanding universe and a nonexpanding universe.  The surface brightness of identical object in an expanding universe would be far less than that of identical objects in a nonexpanding universe.  (It would be less by [1 + z] cubed.  The “z” in each case is the red shift of an astronomical object.)[8]

The red shift and star light distances are extremely convincing for a standard big bang model.  Many young earth creationists concede that the stars we see actually are billions of light years away.  However, if these stars are indeed that far away, there has to be an extrapolation of that light from when it reached our eyes back to the star itself.  Many young earth creationists opt for the position that those shafts of light that God created independently of the stars [that seemingly arise from them] never in fact happened.  God placed the light “in transit” (as advocated by Henry Morris).  This makes the past quite illusory and God a deceiver because what we see are merely pictures and not an actual history.  For instance, if human astronomers see what appears to be a supernova exploding in a galaxy millions of light-years away means that the supernova never exploded at all![9]

I know that the red shift is discussed in the textbook but the argument is countered by Barry Setterfield’s calculations that just don’t add up (as well as a misunderstanding of special/general relativity) and Russell Humphrey’s failed model.  Setterfield’s argument attempts to resolve Morris’ problem of a bogus universe.  Setterfield’s proposal creates huge problems.  Setterfield’s c-decay proposal will completely change the universe and would violate the Weak Anthropic Principle.  The fundamental constants of nature are so finely tuned that even small changes in values would fundamentally disrupt the universe (that means preventing the formation of stars, planets, galaxies, or life).[10] C-decay, from Einstein’s E=mc2, is the proposition that the speed of light (c=speed of light in a vacuum) has grown tired.  Einstein’s formula shows that energy is proportional to the speed of light.  Thus, given a vastly increased speed of light in times past, chemical and physical reactions would have been much more energetic.  It follows that increasing the speed of light would upset the fine-tuning of the universe.[11]

Humphrey’s model doesn’t work either.  Humphrey model radically changes the universe as well.  His model states that what looks like 6,000 years on earth may correspond to billions of years elsewhere in the universe.  The problem is that he has been unable to get his numbers to come out right.[12]  University of Sydney mathematician Edward Fackerell comments:

One of the major scientific challenges to young earth creationism… has been the difficulty of reconciling this view with the tremendous size of the universe.  If the universe is 13 billion light years across, in the sense that there are objects 13 billion light years from earth, then any straightforward scientific theory of the propagation of light leads to the conclusion that the universe is at least 13 billion years old.  Nevertheless, many young earth creationists are of the opinion that reconciliation of a six [24-hour]-day creationism with general relativistic cosmology has been carried out successfully by D. Russell Humphreys in his little book Starlight and Time… His goal is to reconcile general relativistic cosmology with a short time scale for the universe, essentially by claiming that cosmological models exist in which differential aging takes place between nonequivalent fundamental observers.  Humphreys has used three different approaches to substantiate this claim of differential aging. (And then proceeds with refutations of Humphreys three approaches).[13]

Humphrey’s model could be permitted in an Einsteinian universe even if he could get his numbers to work, however, to support a young earth, Humphreys requires a bounded, spherical, symmetric, pressureless, and dust filled universe.  Again, even if he could get his numbers right, we would still be a long way from confirming that this model accurately reflects the true state and history of the universe.[14]

We have good reason to accept the constancy of nature for in the very act of questioning one must hold constant the backdrop against which the question is posed.  Questioning nature’s constancy in general would deny this backdrop and thus be self-defeating.[15]  Questioning nature’s constancy has far greater implications that are more deleterious than young earth creationists would expect.  Nature’s constancy is crucial to the resurrection.  Dembski continues,

If at different times in human history people who experienced violent deaths spontaneously revived and returned to business as usual, the unique significance of Christ’s resurrection would be lost.  Precisely because nature is constant regarding death (dead people stay dead apart from divine intervention), Christ’s resurrection assumes its significance for salvation, showing that God in Christ has decisively conquered death.  Apart from nature’s constancy, that conclusion could not be drawn.[16]

To answer the question about being surprised if scientists believe in a literal Genesis I would say, “No, I’m not surprised.”  In previous posts I’ve stated that an old earth interpretation of the Genesis account of creation is a literal interpretation.  Now, I understand that the way I answered that question probably wasn’t the implied notion of literal (“literal” somehow only means one preferred definition of YOM, even though it’s been demonstrated otherwise in previous posts [not be me but by the scholarship I cite]), meaning 24-hour days.  I’m not surprised there either because I think it’s easy for people to misinterpret the biblical text.  In doing so, young earth creationists must absolutely butcher the record of nature.

In the end, to try to jam a young earth interpretation of the scientific evidence creates more problems than it solves.  I know this has been a lengthy post, but I hope I’ve been heard out.[17]  By YEC filling in a hole of a proposed problem, that explanation then creates many more holes and creates more problems than it solves.  Young earth creationism just doesn’t work and the attempts to reconcile have been shown to be more deleterious than expected.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.’” –Jeremiah 33.25-26

[1] 1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2) The universe had a cause. 3) Therefore, the universe began to exist.

[2] These other models listed failed scientific scrutiny.  The steady state model fails mathematically and philosophical as an actual infinite universe and fails to explain the expanse of the universe.  The oscillating model attempts to circumvent an actual beginning by claiming that the universe eventually collapses back in on itself and spawns another universe.  However, this doesn’t get around the Kalam due to more problems like the steady state, the problems of an actual infinite.  The quantum fluctuation models assume a necessity to physical laws and for that quantum fluctuation to take place there must be something to create that violent vacuum, and thus does not get around Kalam.  Other string theory models coincide with the QF model and the oscillating model (brane collisions) and incorporate a Multiverse model.  The Multiverse, though it has many problems in the theory, is possible, but doesn’t get around Kalam either.

[3] PCW Davies, “Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology,” in The Study of Time III, ed. JT Fraser (Berlin:  Springer Verlag, 1978), 78-79.

[4] Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, “Inflation Is Not Past-Eternal,” (Accessed February 8, 2010), updated in January 2003.

[5] Perhaps one of the biggest paradoxes in modern cosmology is reconciling quantum mechanics and general relativity.  Prior to Planck time all physics break down and the two become seemingly incompatible.  The latest research in theoretical physics is attempting to form a quantum gravity model (most pursued by string theorists). With Vilenkin’s model there is no incompatibility with the imminent return of Christ for it’s possible that a flux in quantum mechanics [vacuums perhaps] could cause a universal “hiccup” and cause the universe to cease to exist and as Isaiah says, “be rolled up like a scroll.”  I may add on a more personal note, how incredible it is for physics to be able to witness that quite soon, the edge of the universe (in a manner of speaking) will be moving faster than the speed of light.  That is, space [due to inflation] will be moving faster than light!  Alexander Vilenkin, “Quantum Cosmology and Eternal Inflation,” (Accessed February 8, 2010).

[6] Hugh Ross, More Than a Theory (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker 2009), 97.

[7] Roger Penrose, Shadows of the Mind (New York, NY:  Oxford University Press 1994), 230.

[8] Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days (Colorado Springs, CO:  NavPress, 2004), 151.

[9] William Dembski, The End of Christianity (Nashville, TN:  B&H 2009), 66-67.

[10] See Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards’ The Privileged Planet (Washington DC:  Regnery, 2004), Chapter 10.

[11] Dembski, The End of Christianity, 67.

[12] Ibid., 69.

[13] Edward Fackerell, “Analysis of ‘Starlight and Time,’” as cited in The End of Christianity, 69.

[14] Ibid., 70.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., 62.

[17] This is just a small fraction of scientific evidence for an old universe and I’m more than willing to discuss other issues if desired or prompted.


3 Responses to “Is There Scientific Evidence for Young Earth Creationism?”

  1. Thank you for this article. It has always amazed me that so many people are willing to ignore the overwhelming evidence for an age for the earth and the universe measured in the billions, not thousands, of years. For more of my views on the subject, see this, from my blog:

  2. Hey man!
    Thanks for getting back to me with that awesomely detailed e-mail. I have already read it and have been going over it in my head to make sure I understand it all hah.

    I had one question about this post though. I thought one of the things that made the BVG so powerful was that did NOT even assume that GTR was the accurate. But yet, in your post you said that the ONLY thing it assumed was that GTR was correct.


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