Does Appearance of Age Render God a Deceiver?

Would the ratio of carbon isotopes in the ethanol of that wine match the ratio in grape juice?

Why would it? If the ethanol did not come from plants then why would it be enriched in 12C? Why would it have any 14C?

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Well, there’s the question - and it’s hard to reply to even friendly atheists who don’t believe it happened, rather than to those who do and wonder what was going on.

But he turned it into wine, not ethanol with flavourings and colourings - and even if he had done that, and excluded the tale-tell signs of a false vintage, one could have deduced an origin in a chemistry laboratory, rather than from the water jars that contained water that morning.

So however you cut it, the wine would have deceived any passing analytical chemist committed to denying a miracle. But I can’t see anyone bringing a successful fraud charge against Jesus for it.


If we made zircons in the lab they wouldn’t contain Pb in them because there hasn’t been enough time for the U that was included in the zircon to decay to any appreciable amount of Pb. We also wouldn’t work to insert Pb into the crystal, nor would we balance the Pb ratios so that they match the different decay rates of the different U isotopes.

What do we find in zircons found in the field? We find millions and even billions of years worth of Pb. We also see ratios of PB isotopes that match the decay rates of the U isotopes that make them. If the Earth is young this would require God to purposefully insert Pb in ratios that are consistent with a false history of U decay.

The issue, surely, can’t be whether Jesus miraculously produced laboratory wine or Cana vintage 25AD. Clearly we have no way of knowing anything except that the drinkers found it to be better than what had been provided hitherto.

I repeat - wine usually has a history of grapes, yeast, fermentation vessels and maturation time. Conceivably a clever chemist could reproduce its composition, but to taste as good it would either have to appear to have a false history of grapes, or a demonstrable history of tannins with some other signature of origin.

But miracles are not to do with either smuggling in vintages from elsewhere, or industrial chemistry. However, they are to do with a God above the powers of nature.

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Would the chemist insert DNA from yeast that never fermented the wine? Would the chemist put in parts from fruit flies that would have been found in ancient wine derived from grapes? There are tons of things we can think of that traditional wine would have which in no way impacts the taste.

But God is not a chemist. He is the one who is praised in the Bible for creating wine through secondary causes (grapes and man!), and in this one instance he created it directly - or at least the man Jesus did…

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So do you think Jesus would have put these things into the wine?

  1. bits of fruit flies
  2. DNA from yeast (S. cerevisiae)
  3. pollen from a specific vinyard
  4. grains of dirt from a specific vinyard
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What evidence do you have that these things were in the wine? (Hint: you have no idea).

Let’s imagine there was these things in that wine. Perhaps Jesus created down to precise detail, like a Stark Trek transporter, the best wine he had ever had. In what way would that be deceptive? It is a faithful copy of something that did have a real history and we see that real history here.

These are good questions, though!! It’s the belly button question on steroids, really. If those things above were included in the wine, would it not be akin to the flash of a supernova from a star that never existed? I would say, yes. Unless you would agree, as Joshua says below, that the wine was not “created” but rather “transported.” But the text seems to be clear that this is water being turned to wine.


Well said! My point entirely (I was “shouted down” at BioLogos for comparing this miracle with deceitful starlight!).

In the end, the unbeliever can say, “It couldn’t happen,” or be more sophisticated and say, “That would make God a deceiver so it couldn’t happen.” But the believer (or a guest at the wedding) simply has to say, “Well, Jesus did it, so there’s an end of it. He is Yahweh - he will do what seems good to him.”

And the best thing is that he’s under no obligation to tell inquisitive modern scientists exactly what he did, any more than how - apart from the creative power that also made the Universe.


It would make me ask what the Earth was copied after.

Why? No where does it say this to be the case about Earth.

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If we are using the wine as our analogy for Earth then we would ask what planet the Earth is being copied from. This planet would have to be 4.5 billion years old itself in order to copy the ratios of isotopes in rocks used to date the Earth and also things like meteor impact craters that are millions of years old. This doesn’t even get into the fossils God would have to put in the Earth below all of those rock layers with isotope ratios consistent with millions of years of decay.

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It all comes down to what Scripture says, and if we trust it or not. I don’t think Scripture teaches this, though I do trust it. If one did trust Scripture and think it was young, perhaps this would be an example of a creative mechanism that would make sense of the “appearance” of age with out rendering God desceptive, at least in part. The universe and starts are harder to explain this way.

The specifics of geology pose some seriously problems, at least in my eyes. If it is said that radiometric dating is wrong because it is measuring rock that was created mature then we have to conclude that all of the geology below these rocks is also part of the initial creation. This would include nearly all of the fossil bearing strata on Earth. This would require God to create the Earth with fossils already in the ground.

Whether that is deceptive or not . . . I will leave that to the theologians.


This a thought experiment for which only God has the definitive answer. For there to be a deceiver in the conclusion… we need to know how broadly the term “wine” could have veen used… vs. what was actually produced. And we have neither information!

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The wedding at Cana is a red herring, which reminds me, so are the loaves and fishes. Neither of these miracles has left any evidence we can examine. It’s the creation of the world 6000 years ago you should be talking about. That’s the one that unavoidably involves deception.


5 posts were split to a new topic: R_speir’s theory of backwards in time creation