Posts tagged ‘creationism’

February 21, 2012

There’s No Such Thing as Creation Science–There’s Just Science

by Max Andrews

Scientific theories should not have religious import.  This may certain have tensions with Augustinian science but religious import is much more than mere metaphysical import.  Religious belief imports something that is considered to be internally authoritative (as in within that system of belief–though I don’t believe it will ever conflict).  The applicability of some of the beliefs may be universal but using religious belief as a grid for interpreting what is and what is not science is methodologically irresponsible.  Religious belief is not itself scientific but may have scientific beliefs and in sync with science.  There’s a categorical difference.

For instance, using Scripture to interpret science or empirical data is circular in its reasoning.  Scripture would already have the conclusion and then uses the reasoning process to conclude with that Scripture may be advocating.  Since I’m coming from a religious perspective I would argue that science and Scripture are harmonious and congruent.  It’s necessary to have a scientific understanding of nature and agency prior to interpreting Scripture.

read more »

February 15, 2012

The Timeline of Creation

by Max Andrews

The following is a timeline for creation laying out the distinct and important moments from a scientific and biblical perspective.  For more of my posts on creation please see:

  1. Were the Days of Creation Long Periods of Time or 24 Hours?
  2. The Sixth Day of Creation Was Just Too Long to be 24 Hours
  3. Is There Scientific Evidence for Young Earth Creationism?
  4. Why I Believe Young Earth Creationism is Simply Dead Wrong
  5. Young Earth Creationism’s Interpolation
  6. Yes, There Are Gaps in the Biblical Genealogies 

February 1, 2012

Were the Days of Creation Long Periods of Time or 24 Hours?

by Max Andrews

There are four literal interpretations of YOM (the Hebrew word for day).  The four definitions are (1) a portion of the daylight hours (2) the entire daylight segment of a twenty-four-hour day, (3) a twenty-four-hour day, and (4) a long but finite time period.[1]  Unlike the modern Hebrew and English, biblical Hebrew had no other word for a finite era or epoch. The figure of speech of “a day is like a thousand years” in 2 Pt. isn’t an issue, it’s a simile; I don’t advocate that 2 Peter permits and old earth interpretation in Genesis.  The four definitions of YOM are literal definitions; it’s unnecessary to say it’s non-literal.  Also, the issue of a numerical adjective in front of YOM, there is no such rule or law in Hebrew grammar that necessitates that YOM following a numerical adjective must be the twenty-four-hour interpretation of YOM.  The divisions of the days are “evening and morning” which signifies a division between the period of time (you’re going to have a hard time taking the text “literally” if you want to say there was evening and morning without a sun to make the distinguishing nature of evening and morning…).[2]  Even YEC’s must concede that the first three days of evening and morning are not used in the sense of referring to solar rotations, merely a division of time).  William Wilson, in his Old Testament Word Studies, explains that YOM is “frequently put for a time in general, or for a long time; a whole period under consideration… Day [YOM] is also put for a particular season or time when any extraordinary event happens.”[3]  This is completely consistent with a kairological (differing from a chronological reading in that [Gr. kairos] it is a point of time specific to an event) reading of Genesis 1 as advocated by William Dembski in The End of Christianity.

read more »

February 1, 2012

The Sixth Day of Creation Was Just Too Long to be 24 Hours

by Max Andrews

The young earth creationist interpretation is internally inconsistent; it just doesn’t make sense.  Both earth and life exist before the sun, moon, and stars.  This leaves a person to wonder where heat, light, gravity, and earth’s rotation and orbital features came from prior to the fourth creation day.  Let’s look at the sixth day.  How in the world did Adam do so much?  Here’s a list of the events of day six:

  1. God creates the various living creatures along with wild animals and animals that become domesticated [nephesh/soulish creatures] (Genesis 1:24-25).
  2. God creates Adam in the divine image (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7).
  3. God gives Adam a mandate of dominion over creation (Genesis 1:28).
  4. God makes the plants available as a food source for man (Genesis 1:29-30).
  5. God plants a garden and puts the man in it (Genesis 2:8).
  6. God gives Adam instruction concerning obedience to God’s specific commands (Genesis 2:9, 16-17).
  7. God commissions Adam to cultivate the garden (Genesis 2:15).
  8. God commissions Adam to name or classify the animals (Genesis 2:19-20).
  9. God declares Adam’s need for a suitable helper (Gen. 2:18, 20).
  10. God induces sleep and performs surgery on Adam (Genesis 2:21).
  11. God creates Eve (Genesis 2:22).
  12. God ordains that Adam and Eve enter into a divinely constituted marriage relationship (Genesis 2:23-25).
    read more »

February 1, 2012

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,

read more »

January 31, 2012

Yes, There are Gaps in Biblical Genealogies

by Max Andrews

There’s that one question that has plagued Christians on anthropological origins.  Many young earth creationists claim there cannot be any gaps in the genealogy, which is what leads us to dating the time frame of the earth being young.  Old earth creationists, like myself, believe that there are gaps in the genealogy. The question is whether it explains anything at all and how much does it explain?

The genealogies are adequate but not complete.  No matter how you read the genealogies, you must concede that there are gaps.  For example Mt. 1.8:

Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah.

However, 1 Chron. 3.10-12 reads it differently:

Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, Jehoram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Azariah [also called Uzziah] his son.

read more »

November 10, 2011

The Free Exchange in the Marketplace of Ideas

by Max Andrews

The English poet John Milton did well when he said that “Truth will rise to the top through a free and open exchange in the marketplace of ideas.”  I am so encouraged when I have and see a substantive dialogue with someone concerning an issue.  This is certainly important in every day discussions, blogs, and teaching.  I assist in managing and teaching an Intro. to Philosophy course at university and I always encourage my students to make us work hard to convince them of what we believe to be true.  Do not simply sit there and take what I say and teach prima facie–challenge me, challenge the thoughts, challenge your thinking.

read more »

November 8, 2011

Why I Believe Young Earth Creationism is Simply Dead Wrong

by Max Andrews

I know this issue is a very large issue for some Christians.  I understand that many people disagree with me pertaining to the issue, but I do not believe the Bible advocates a young earth, nor do I believe science supports young earth creationism.  I am a progressive creationist (old earth).  Young earth cosmology just doesn’t cut it.  The scientific account is simply horrible.  I’m a proponent of the level two multiverse.  (See “Living in the Multiverse–Is it Science?” and “The Theological Attraction of the Multiverse” and “Divine Simplicity and the Multiverse–Thomas Aquinas Approved”).

read more »

August 10, 2011

Einstein, The Big Bang, and Natural Theology

by Max Andrews

Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity (GTR) had predicted that the universe was either expanding or contracting.  Einstein found the notion of a beginning to the universe so distasteful that he introduced a “fudge factor” to his field equation to keep a Steady State universe, an eternal equilibrium.[1]  Einstein introduced a term called the cosmological constant.  The cosmological constant was a force so weak, which factored into the geometric curvature of space, that it would make no difference on an eternal universe.

In the 1920’s Edwin Hubble was studying the Andromeda nebula.  At least since the time of Kant scientists wondered what these distant enormous objects were (galaxies).  Kant conjectured that they might be island universes in their own right.[2]  With further study, Hubble noticed that these galaxies had a red shift; the galaxies were appearing redder than they should have and Hubble postulated that these galaxies were moving away from one another.  What was being observed was the same thing that the Doppler effect has on sound.  The trajectory of an object has an effect on the wavelength of the sound, or in this case, light.

As a result of Hubble’s discovery and Einstein’s own equations the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and the Belgian priest and physicist Georges Édouard Lemaître suggested that the universe had a finite past and was not static and eternal.  There was now a problem with the cosmological constant; it cannot simply be deleted from Einstein’s equations. The cosmological constant could balance the equation from describing the geometric curvature (left hand side of the equation) to describing the energy momentum (right hand side of the equation).   If this expansion is extrapolated the equations of motion then (and even now) can only go but so far—until the universe comes to a singularity. With reluctance Einstein conceded the steady state model in the late 1920’s, though many scientists would not accept the implications of an expanding universe (its finitude).  One critic, Fred Hoyle, dubbed such an event the “Big Bang” in mockery and the name stuck.[3]

Einstein’s GTR [and aspects of STR] has made incredible contributions to natural theology.[4]  Given the fixed speed of light, that nothing can travel faster than light, and the billions of light-years separation between the earth and other stars, it follows that the universe is billions of years old.[5]  This has created a problem for young-earth creationists.[6] Current estimations for the age of the universe have been set at 13.73±2 billion years old.  Young-earth creationists have adopted three main approaches:  (1) embrace a fictitious history of the universe in the spirit of Philip Gosse’s 1857 work Omphalos; (2) view the speed of light as having decayed over time; and/or (3) interpret Einstein’s GTR so that during an “ordinary day as measured on earth, billions of years worth of physical processes take place in the distant cosmos.”[7]

Regarding a fictitious history of the universe, the argument states that all present light, which appears to be billions of light years away, was created in transit with an appearance of age.  So, when supernovae exploding in a galaxy millions or billions of light years away, the young-earth creationist [advocate of a fictitious history] must adopt the approach that no supernovae ever exploded.[8]  Einstein and the scientific theologian’s epistemic method reject such an interpretation.  Einstein’s method of inquiry based the natural order as having an ontological status of genuine reality and the discoveries are made a posteriori; no such method of inquiry is tenable under a fictitious history.  Einstein’s epistemology has influenced Big Bang theists and scientific theologians regarding GTR and the objectivity of the natural order.  It appears, objectively, that the universe really is billions of years old.

The second argument was a denial that the speed of light has been a constant [approximately] 300,000 km/s.  As previously discussed, Einstein’s E=mc2 states that energy is proportional to the mass of an object multiplied by the speed of light squared.  If c decays then that would imply that there has been a change in the quantity of energy in the universe.  This creates a problem for thermodynamics.  Thermodynamics would not be the only problem; many other constants would need to change as well to preserve the stability of a life-permitting cosmos such as Planck’s constant h (h-bar).  Suddenly the objection is not only with c because that would in turn change all of physics.[9]  All of this would be done to circumvent an old universe suggested by a constant speed of light.[10]  Before Einstein’s relativity theories, this would not have been a problem for the young-earth creationist.

The third foremost-misconstrued aspect of Einstein’s equations by natural theologians has been to misinterpret GTR and time dilation.  The mathematics of this theory shows that while God makes the universe in six days in the earth’s reference frame (“Earth Standard Time”), the light has ample time in the extra-terrestrial reference frame to travel the required distances.[11]  The problem with this theory is that there are mathematical errors in its use of Einstein’s GTR.

One misunderstanding is the theory’s use of the Cosmological Principle.  It wrongly assumes that the long-time-scale implications of Big Bang cosmology are crucially dependent on the global validity of the principle and that the relaxation of this assumption, through the introduction of a boundary to the matter of the universe, produces dramatic differences in the gravitational properties of the universe.[12]  A second misunderstanding is the nature of time.  The theory wrongly affirms that the physical clock synchronization properties, which occur in the standard Big Bang model are due to the boundary conditions implied by the Cosmological Principle and that modification of these boundary conditions can change the way physical clocks behave.  Clocks in either our bounded or unbounded universe will behave exactly the same way whether on earth or at a distant galaxy provided there are identical interior matter distributions.[13] The third misunderstanding to be discussed is how GTR relates to event horizons (the point where escaping a mass’s gravity becomes impossible).  The theory wrongly affirms that observers who pass through event horizons observe dramatic changes in the rate of time passage in distant parts of the universe when it is the case that no such changes occur.[14]  Einstein’s impact on young-earth creationism has been profound and, arguably, has overthrown the tenability of young-earth creationism altogether.[15]

Einstein’s impact on natural theology has not been completely negative, as in the case for young-earth creationists, but for scientific theologians [and old-earth creationists] he has been a catalyst for epistemic and religious advances.  It is important to understand that as a GTR-based theory, the model does not describe the expansion of the material content of the universe into preexisting, Newtonian space, but rather the expansion of space itself.  The standard Big Bang model, as the Friedman-Lemaître model came to be called, thus described a universe that is not eternal in the past, but which came into being a g finite time ago.  Moreover, the origin it posits is an absolute origin ex nihilo.[16]  Christian theologians and philosophers already had arguments for a beginning of the universe based on necessity, contingency, and the concept of an actual infinite, but Einstein’s equations, which led the Standard Model, gave a mathematical and physical description of the universe that supported the Christian doctrine of creation.  The metaphysical concept of creatio ex nihilo now had empirical evidence.

In the 1960’s there was a dramatic increase in a series of dialogue on the relationship between science and religion.[17]  Natural theology [by the tasks of primarily scientists and philosophers] has sought to demonstrate that God is a necessary element in any comprehensive explanation of the universe is a long tradition, one that the Darwinian crusade sought to eliminate.  It might be legitimate to say that this renewed relationship between science and religion is a return to normal if Einstein was right when he said that “science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”[18]

            [1] Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Wesley Richards. The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2004), 171.

            [2] Gonzalez and Richards, 169.

            [3] Gonzalez and Richards, 171.

            [4] Natural theology supposes that the belief in God must rest upon an evidential basis.  Belief in God is thus not a properly basic belief.  Through the development of Einstein’s work, natural theology was undergoing barrage of attack from theologians such as Karl Barth.  Barth’s polemic against natural theology can be seen as a principled attempt to safeguard the integrity of divine revelation against human attempts to construct their own notions of God, or undermine the necessity of revelation. Alister E. McGrath, The Science of God: An Introduction to Scientific Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), 81-82.

            [5] It is worth noting that space itself can travel faster than the speed of light, Einstein’s STR permits this.  It is expected that space begin to exceed this cosmic speed limit relatively soon.  William Dembski, The End of Christianity (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2009), 65.

            [6] Young-earth creationists have an epistemic method that begins with the Bible and shapes the rest of nature and science according to that specific interpretation rendered.  Their conclusion is that the six days of creation are a literal 24-hour day period and the universe is roughly six to ten thousand years old.

            [7] These are the three primary approaches as they relate to Einstein’s work.  Young-earth creationists have certainly developed scores of other arguments, but these are the most relevant and most cited.  D. Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time: Solving the Puzzle of Distant Starlight in a Young Universe (Green Forest, AR: Master, 1994), 37 quoted in Dembski, 65.

            [8] Dembski, 66-67.

            [9] Dembski, 67-68.

            [10] There are models consistent with a 13.7 billion year old universe that suggests a change in the speed of light.  Recent varying-speed-of-light (VSL) theories have been suggested as a possible alternative to cosmic inflation for solving the horizon problem, the problem of causality over long distances in initial inflation, suggesting that the speed of light was once much greater.  This is not a popular view since it is difficult to construct explicit models permitting such a suitable variation.  Other constants have been suggested to change (a theory of varying fundamental constants) in part due to superstring theory and eternal inflation.  Even so with these theories and cosmic models, there are still more-fundamental (in contrast to varying) constants in the parent universes (preceding universes in the multiverse models).  Even with a theory of varying fundamental constants Einstein’s equations [of STR] still stand in such models. Andrew R. Liddle, and Jon Loveday, The Oxford Companion to Cosmology (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2009), 316.

            [11] Humphreys, 13.

            [12] Samuel R. Conner and Don N. Page, “Starlight and time is the Big Bang,” CEN Technical Journal 12 no. 2 (1998): 174.

            [13] Ibid.

            [14] Ibid.

            [15] In Conner and Page’s response to young-earth creationism’s cosmology they assume five mathematical and methodological points.  (1) GTR is an accurate description of gravity.  (2) Gravity is the most important force acting over cosmologically large distances, so that the conventional application of GTR to cosmology is valid.  (3) The fundamental parameters of nature, such as the gravitational constant G and the speed of light c, are invariant over the observable history of the universe.  (4) The visible region of the universe is approximately homogenous and isotropic on large distance scales.  Lastly, (5) the events which we witness by the light of distant galaxies and quasi-stellar objects are real events and not appearances impressed onto the universe by the intention of the Creator.  Ibid, 175.  The first two assumptions directly reinforce Einstein’s GTR equations.  The third assumption, as previously discussed, relates to Einstein’s STR equations.  The fourth assumption relates to the balancing of Einstein’s field equations and its adjustment after Hubble’s discovery of expansion.  The final assumption relates to Einstein’s epistemic method of reality having real ontological value in an epistemic inquiry.

            [16] Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation Out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (Leicester, England: Apollos, 2004), 222-223.

            [17] These efforts were predominately made by scientists and not theologians.  Such landmark works were Ian Barbour’s Issues in Science and Religion (1966) and later Paul Davies’ God and the New Physics (1983). Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 197.

            [18] Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, Trans. and rev. Sonja Bargmann (New York: Three Rivers, 1982), 46. Stark, 197.