Does Appearance of Age Render God a Deceiver?

I don’t see that as the major difference. A more important difference is that we have a lot more basic data relevant to age.

I don’t see that at all. And what you would see in that wine would be a necessary appearance of age, which you seem unable to distinguish from unnecessary appearance of age.

I’m afraid I see you as avoiding the central issue by engaging in verbal gymnastic tricks. Perhaps that’s a false impression, but you might help by not trying to be so clever and just dealing with the issues head-on. Right now, everywhere in the world we see evidence of great age, very little of it necessary for a functioning world. If the world were really only 6000 years old, how could the appearance be legitimately interpreted as anything other than deception?


I still think it is relevant. Back in 1857 the notorious Philip Henry Gosse (a great descriptive naturalist in his own right) raised the classic issue of Adam’s umbilicus and special creation, concluding that although it would show a false history and serve no function, Adam would have had the scar. The general consensus, of course, is that if he were right, the whole edifice of historical science (including stella astronomy) would be futile, and God a deceiver. So that one example provides sufficient data to discuss the case.

Now my point is that, as far as I know, Gosse’s query was the first time anyone discussed it - whereas it sounds like one of those mediaeval “angels on the head of a pin” arguments. Adam and Eve were depicted with navels, and those bright scholastics never thought deception was a matter to discuss. And their reasons were not empirical, but a different view of history in which it was up and running as a mature entity in one week.

My own position, as I’ve made clear, is that neither Scripture nor empirical studies entail a young earth. However, let us suppose that, come Judgement Day, God reveals that I’ve been wrong and that the YECs had the right chronology. Would I be able to charge him with deception? No, because he would also reveal the gaps in my perception, faults in my logic, or his valid reasons for appearance of age, just as his truth will judge all my other errors.

Will that happen? I very much doubt it - but I’m very sure that a good number of my other sure-fire objections to his ways will prove hollow and leave me blushing, because the bottom line, as Paul said, is Let God be true , but every man a liar. Meaning not that whatever God arbitrarily says is true, but that a good deal of what we assume is not.


I don’t know the history, but it would surprise me if Gosse were the first person to bring up the question of Adam’s navel. I get the impression that he at least thought it was an old controversy. Of course the navel never was the focus, merely a handy hook on which to hang the larger question. I don’t think that hook will hold the weight of the real problem, which is earth history, and so don’t think it can hold the weight of your dismissal of that problem.

Sorry, but that doesn’t hold water. He designed your gaps and faults, and he knew when he made the world that you (and most people who encountered the data) would misinterpret it. He made the world knowing you would misinterpret it; that’s deception. And supposing he had valid reasons for creating appearance of age, that’s still deception. Justified deception remains deception.

So do I, but for different reasons.

@swamidass: Incidentally, i before e except after c. Deceiver.


Where did I screw it up?

The thread title.

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Let’s use this as our example. If Jesus did transform water into wine in a miraculous fashion would that wine also contain trace amounts of DNA from yeast that never fermented it? Would Jesus make it appear in wine bottles labelled with its vintage and place of origin, even though it never came from that winery? Would the wine contain bits of bugs that are found on grape vines, even though the wine never came from grapes?

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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