Criticism of Both Flavors of Creationism

Over the past three or four years, I have had a huge paradigm shift in my perspective on so called “creation science.” I went from being a die hard, solidly convinced AIG-type young earth creationist to having a worldview I don’t even necessarily have a decent label for anymore. Neither old or young earth creationism have a coherent interpretation of either scripture or observational science, and below are criticisms on both.

Old Earth Creationism is flawed because it loosely attempts to squeeze scripture into a geologic timescale inferred from observational evidence. For example, it denies the existence of human beings prior to 100 kya. You could say the first five days are long ages and literal time recording begins with the creation of man, as some prominent OECs do, but you still run into a time issue because Homo erectus was around ~2 mya. Their answer is that early hominids were not human beings but were rather human like creatures created before man. This makes no sense whatsoever. Hominids were advanced in terms of skill, culture, and social interaction, so denying them as part of our family tree is foolish

Young Earth Creationism is commendable in its high view of scripture, but it recklessly presents cosmological, geological, and biological models that do not make sense in light of observable evidence. For instance, the labeling of the entirety of the fossil record as Deluge sedimentation is not only excessive, but down right impossible when certain phenomena are considered, like paleosols and coral reefs embedded in strata on top of one another.

One view tries too hard to fit Scripture into science, while the other tries to fit science into scripture. What needs to be done instead is a correlation study of how scripture and science confirm one another and see how such commonalities correlate to a time scale.

Any other perspectives on the subject or other intellectual journeys anyone else has gone through are welcome!

9 Likes

I don’t have a journey to report, but I would like to know where your journey has come to. You may not have a label for your world view, but do you have a description?

1 Like

I would suggest that there simply is no reason to fit scripture to science. Why would one want to twist up the facts by trying to jam these things together? Best course, when you’re dealing with one discipline which is scientific and another which is mostly philosophical with just a tiny touch of history, is to let science lead you on the facts and then decide what your philosophical/literary take on that is afterwards. Surely nobody thinks that the writers and compilers of the OT had any access to authentic information about biology and geology other than what they could work out for themselves.

And if that doesn’t work for you, I think it’s time to ask a question of yourself, which is whether you really ARE interested in the history of the planet, or of living things. These things are immensely interesting in their own right, but if nothing about biology or geology interests you, there’s no reason to bother fretting over how they fit into some philosophical scheme. Study them for their own sakes, or not at all. That, at least, would be my advice.

7 Likes

Don’t worry about labels, they exist for the convenience of others.

We’ve had some previous discussion about OEC. Some OEC understand their beliefs are not science, and I find no good reason to argue with them. If they wander into scientific claims then all bets are off. There are emerging groups of Pro-evolution Evangelicals, who give me hope that the misguided beliefs might eventually fall away.

YEC is at least honest about being motivated by a literal interpretation of the Bible, where others make the same arguments without acknowledging the basis in faith.

PS: You will find a lot of other people in a similar position to you in these FB groups 1 2 .

2 Likes

Don’t get me wrong, I have always had a huge fascination with any and everything scientific, be it geology, cosmology, biology, etc. I just have an equally large amount of love for scripture, in particular those aspects of it dealing with cosmogony. That’s more or less why I have landed at the perspective I have currently; why bother choosing between trusting scripture and trusting what observational evidence points to? If one believes as I do, God created us with both and to trust both. While they don’t have to appear to be in perfect harmony, they should at least be compatible in some capacity with one another so the mysteries of both science and scripture can be worked out with one another.

3 Likes

So basically I’ve landed at a worldview where I am not opposed to biological evolution, but that it is a process that has design programmed into it. Read the book Evolution 2.0 and you’d have a pretty good idea of my perspective on it. However, I do not believe God originally designed the universe with death and destruction as part of its framework. As a result of the curse God placed upon the universe in Genesis 3, death entered into the universe, but in a way that it was as if it always had been there. The geologic and cosmological history we observe came into existence as a result of afore mentioned curse affecting the very fabric of the reality. The Garden of Eden in effect became a hyperspace of our current reality, existing in a hyper-past alternate timeline, but not in our present timeline past. A new heavens and earth where sin, death, and destruction always had been became humanity’s home after being cast out of the Garden. Now while I am not a concordist, I do find it interesting that the basic sequence of creation is compatible with the observed sequence of how our universe came to be.

I know this is a somewhat haphazardly description of my perspective, so please ask for clarification if needed, and hopefully more of the worldview will be teased out in discussion!

1 Like

That depends, of course, upon your view of what scripture is and who’s responsible for its content. I don’t really see any particular reason why they should be compatible at all. But accepting for the sake of argument that one has some good reason for expecting some degree of compatibility, I think that the realization that words are often more ambiguous than we are prone to suppose on a first, naive reading, coupled with the fact that all writings emerge from some viewpoint and cultural context, means that one’s reading of a text is much more flexible than, say, the facts of geology, paleontology or evolutionary biology are. If I’m fitting a rubber gasket to a steel pipe, I’m almost always going to be better off bending the gasket than bending the pipe. YEC and OEC both try to bend the pipe; but a flexible reading of the gasket, especially one which is not naively literalistic, can accomplish the whole job.

3 Likes

Up to this point there seems no possibility of a quarrel, since the departures from modern scientific knowledge are entirely undetectable, given built-in evolution and a retroactive existence of deep time. But here we have a disagreement:

The basic sequence of creation, if by that you mean Genesis 1, is not compatible with the observed sequence, and no amount of squinting can make it so. Earth before stars? Plants before the sun? Discrete periods for creation of fish, birds, and terrestrial anmals? Better to think of it as not intended as a literal description of creative events, just as an assertion of divine authority.

5 Likes

Not a bad point. I will say there is give in both the “gasket” (scripture) and the “pipe” (observable evidence) in that our understanding of geologic history is always changing. Look at how much has changed since dinosaurs were first named as such for example.

1 Like

It’s your journey, you can do it however you like. :slight_smile:

I have a question about your experience, if you don’t mind. I used to moderate a large atheism community on (the now defunct) Google Plus, and there I saw a lot of people who were essentially fleeing from religion. Some told tales of abuse, and most were ostracized by the family, friends, and community. Have you experience any of this? (hopefully not)

This shift in the past three or four years, do you think it was preceded by any more gentle shifts? Was there any key event or thought that kicked-off your change in perspective?

2 Likes

Well, that’s true, and one merit of science is its adaptability to contrary (or surprising) data. But if one recognizes that as meritorious, I think one needs then to recognize that it is also meritorious for a philosophical explanation that purports to explain real phenomena to ALSO adapt to contrary data. It would be perverse if the empirical sciences were held to the standard of accommodating facts, while facts were expected to accommodate theology.

And so when you are deciding whether to bend the gasket or to bend the pipe, it’s important to keep that in mind. Rejection of the data, or perverse interpretation of the data, whether motivated by religious philosophy or otherwise, is always a bad thing. Yes, scientific explanations change, but the major features of evolution and of the faunal succession aren’t likely to change in any way which is meaningful in terms of informing any religious explanation, and even if they do, one ought to wait for those changes within science before seeking to fit them to a religious philosophy. Anticipating that they WILL change to better fit your religious views is a tradition which is well-trodden and, as experience demonstrates, never well-advised.

And so, while it is always possible that the pipe will bend, the better plumber adjusts the gasket.

4 Likes

Great to hear of your ongoing journey! Thanks for sharing with the rest of us. Here’s my take as an evangelical Christian.

I was surprised to read this after earlier statements:

Years ago I wrote a little piece on different views of concordism. I wonder where you might line up of the many options.

If you continue to pursue a more non-concordist route, I think you’ve already identified your most pressing theological issue:

I’d encourage you to at least consider alternate options here. But I’d rather one’s objection be with this theological issue than the science.

6 Likes

And yet nothing relevant to Genesis 1 has changed or is ever likely to. We know of more species, we have a better understanding of their relationships, we know fairly well where birds fit into it, and we know the cause of the end-Cretaceous extinction. But none of that is relevant to the fact that dinosaurs would be a 6th-day creation while birds would be a 5th-day one, and the contradiction with Genesis hasn’t changed at all. Further, we can be sure that the earth and plants will never become older than the sun and stars, there will be no waters above the solid dome of the sky, etc.

Then again, if the history of the universe changed completely, retroactively, after Adam’s sin, there doesn’t need to be any correspondence between Genesis and science at all. Genesis reports the previous reality while science reports the new reality. (This strikes me as crazy, but like Last Thursdayism there’s no way to reject it.)

2 Likes

Creationism isn’t really about the bible its about the lack of a theory for our existence. The Biggest problem is the Sedimentary layers around the earth. The issue is not Creation or Evolution in this case but how if each layer was laid down one at a time how anything could survive with all the continents bobbing up and down in the oceans while moving around. Existence is Futile and impossible.
Even at the bottom of the grand canyon you can see some of dozens of layers before there was fossils in them turned on their side like a deck of cards. That is serious.

Then you have almost the whole section of the Grand canyon without anything but a few sparse Sea creatures etc. Ergo everything under water.

On top of that you have a jumble of 3 stages where layer after layer very distinct are laid down flat as a pancake and then a bit of variation and then several layers flat as a pancake but strangely there are Trillions of everything you can think of in fossils as if they popped out of the sky. And these layers are across the world. some in a jumble some with some mountains separating them etc. and then blam there is the KT boundary. like icing on the cake. And after that, almost no where is there any mankind. from top to bottom. And at the top in the last few layers you got the Claron.

You will find it hard to find information on any of this in a clean logical google search. Try fossils in the Claron. LoL.
The Sweetwater Creek section of the Claron Formation is rich in fossil mollusks, ostracods, and charophytes . Fossil vertebrates have only been recovered from unit 7, but eggshell is relatively common throughout the Claron Formation. - Google search.
But look at the pictures. All the humans and apes and weasels fossilized. way up of course not in water now, but now at 12000 ft.

IF you imagine a globe, and you put your finger on the mountains and stretch them out a bit to reverse that, and on top of some uplift like at the grand canyon so those layers follow the Horizon and you do that all around the world in the same complex sedimentary layers. And then you bob them down to that that last layer done. it sort of reveals why there isn’t any weasels because they are not in the fossil layers they are behind computers who distort and hide every part of this to suggest it is proof of evolution. The Greatest Hoax in hard evidence you can research yourself and Buggers cant hide it because its on every continent.

And when they billionate, or millionate it makes it even more exciting. How during the Jurassic period do you think lets say anything could live while sediment covered them all around the world. Even if a giraffe had a straw. he would be dead long before McD’s came out with plastic ones.

Similar situation but with ID and theistic evolution

So there is divine design in the ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2?

Is this a reference to human death only? I ask because my imagination of a world with undying and continuously reproducing microbes isn’t a good one.

1 Like

This is a great discussion! Respect and engagement…

I love your analogy here! However I don’t find that most OEC try to bend the pipe. They are aware of when scientists are defining the pipe with absolute dimensions, but it’s not clear what the dimensions are/were. There is some room for discussion here. “Needing” any particular world view to be true leads to distortions.

@Bryar_Kader Regarding the early Bible, it seems to me the spectrum goes from YEC through OEC, to Biologos and Evolutionary Creation (EC). Full disclosure: I’m in the middle, perhaps more like you. I prefer the term “Progressive Creation” over OEC, which to me allows some divine intervention along the way. I find YEC tries to make steel pipes out of the early Bible, and EC kinda turns it into mush. Seems like there’s something between those two, where we acknowledge Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) thought and greater fluidity (agree with EC somewhat) without dismissing the early Bible. Regarding the science, I think evolution needed help along the way rather than being front-loaded, and certainly life did not start on its own.

This sounds to me like EC. But in order to dismiss the correlations that are in Gen 1, you assert that it must be read as a modern scientific passage. I don’t think it needs to be either “only modern scientific language” or “only ANE story telling.”

In ANE context there is so much profound and important truth here: ex nihilo creation (Big Bang), this God “over” the waters rather than emerging from them (creation not divine itself allows modern science to emerge), human dignity, etc.

1 Like

What correlations? The bible does not clearly record ex nihilo creation. In fact it begins with chaos, apparently in the form of water. The big bang is not mentioned. and “Let there be light” is not recognizable as a description of it.

This sounds like what I was talking about, the assertion of divine authority over nature.

It’s unclear what you mean by “progressive creation”, but the RTB version of it, at least, is incompatible with what we know of the fossil record, systematics, and evolutionary biology in general. What about your version?

3 Likes

Well, of course, now the analogy is less clear. I have never been aware of scientists being particularly dogmatic about any of this or insisting that what we know is not subject to revision. What I have been aware of is people who cannot distinguish between uncertainty about details and uncertainty about general principles. There’s no room in biology for a lot of the things that are asserted by creationists, but that’s not so much the inflexibility of scientists as the inflexibility of the facts.

In all of my reading, I have never seen those positions taken credibly. They are generally taken by people like Stephen Meyer, who are clearly and profoundly dishonest. That’s not to say that some clever fellow won’t come along and demonstrate some interesting fact later upon which some such case can be made. But no such case can now be made.

4 Likes

Boy, it doesn’t take long for the atheists to jump in and try to enforce orthodoxy! That’s one of the drawbacks of this board: we allow those we disagree with to post aggressive and authoritative responses with a deep assumption they are absolutely right, when really it’s just another opinion (and I don’t particularly care how many people hold a selective and policed opinion).

Here’s the logic flow: If there is no God, then evolution has to explain everything. If there is a God, he may have been involved. Right? Christians disagree about whether and how much God was involved. Atheists, on the other hand, absolutely need evolution to explain everything. I believe atheists force-fit all the data to the theory when a thoughtful review of the data tells me evolution needed help. And I don’t need evolution to explain everything in the history of life. What part of that don’t people understand?

People are welcome to disagree, but not welcome to tell me what to think, or to accuse people of “dishonesty.” That is, itself, a dishonest tactic.

1 Like