Does Appearance of Age Render God a Deceiver?

(Dan Eastwood) #88

Would it be acceptable to refer to you as “The Greg who formerly said ‘Ni!’”? :grin:
If you wish, you may label me “Agnostic Biostatistician”.

I think I understand what you are saying, though I would say it differently. In my terms, the scientific estimates for the age of the Earth should have no bearing on the value you place in your faith, whatever that value may be. To be otherwise implies that the value of faith is somehow contingent on science, which should not be the case.

(Dan Eastwood) #89

Someone is tinkering with my title.
Can we make that "Agnostic Biostatistician who says ‘Ni!’ :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

(John Harshman) #90

I don’t recall any fossil evidence of marsupials outside their present range, but I could be wrong. However, placentals have been around since the Paleocene, including in South America, while Australia didn’t separate from Antarctica until as recently as mid-Eocene. In addition, there are plenty of non-placental Eutherians known from outside South America and Australia from the Late Cretaceous. It would be really nice if we knew more about the Paleogene fauna of Antarctica, but we really don’t know why placentals didn’t become common in Australia until fairly recently.

(George) #91


This should be the view of any Christian… whether they propose Special Creation, Evolution, or both.

(George) #92


And so in one fell swoop… you demonstrated your alienation from Science and from Peaceful Science.

It gives me the inspiration to write a documentary about God deciding to show the lack of credibility of some Extrememe Miracle Zealots by planting a vision in the mind of a Creationist in which placental mammals are miraculously changed to marsupials… and for no reason at all.

(John Harshman) #94

Such as?

(George) #95


The appearance of age is only a problem for those who think God WANTED the author of Genesis 1 to communicate literal days.

The same goes for the Firmament, or talking animals or a flat earth with corners or a flat earth with a dome.

The whole point of PeacefulScience is to accept the straightforward interpretarion of natural evidence… but to allow for an historical Adam and Eve … for theological reasons.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #96

I agree. This does not work terribly well on the age of the earth. But it still does not cast God as deceiver. For common descent and Reasons to Believe in an old earth framework, it might work better.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #97

A better term would be a “virtual” history vs. a “physical” history. Both would real histories. In the same way that the Matrix simulation is still a real reality, an alternate reality. The history is not false. It is a real and coherent story that could have happened, and perhaps even did in the Mind of God.

I once put this forward and engaged theologians on it.

Let us imagine that God creates a fully grown tree today, and places it in a forest. A week later, a scientist and a theologian encounter this tree. The theologian believes that God is trustworthy and has clearly communicated to him that this tree was created just a week ago. The scientist bores a hole in the tree, and counts its rings. There are 100 rings, so he concludes that the tree is 100 years old. Who is right? In some senses, both the scientist and the theologian are right. God created a one week old tree (the true age) that looks 100 years old (the scientific age). Moreover, it would be absurd for the theologian to deny the 100 rings that the scientist uncovered, or to dispute the scientific age of the tree. Likewise, the scientist cannot really presume to disprove God.

Instead, the theologian should wonder why God would not leave clear, indisputable evidence that the tree is just a week old. My question to the theologians: Why might God choose not to leave evidence that this 100-year old tree is on week old? Alternatively, why might God choose to leave evidence that the week-old tree is 100 years old? 1

The reaction from Lutheran theologians has been really interesting (curious @Philosurfer and @Andrew_Loke’s thoughts on this). Lutherans love the analogy because it reveals a paradox. They insist that the tree is both 1 week old (physical age) and 100 years old (virtual age). Both ages are true at the same time. It is a paradox. Science legitimately gives us the virtual age of the tree. God is not lying when he tells us the physical age of the tree.

So this parable shows how both science and theology can be mutually contradictory and simultaneously correct at the same time. I’d add too, there is no reason this couldn’t work in a YEC scenario as long as (1) the flood was not global, and (2) there were people outside the garden. Field test this and you will quickly find that YEC is far more concerned with scientific proof and the global flood than the age of the earth.

These are all merely musings. I do not think any of them are required by Scripture (@deuteroKJ and @Jordan ), however some of them might be helpful in contexts where belief statements at religious institutions insist on age of the earth affirmations. This gives a logically coherent loop hole that can’t be closed to affirm evolutionary science.

(Robert Byers) #98

no aleins but biblical boundaries, imagination, and research. did you read the essay?

The change to a marsupial mode would be within anything of biology that brings change. like changing peoples colours after the flood and very quickly and a whole population upon migration to some area.
just watch on google or youtube the last living marsupial wolf. moving or vstill pictures. its a wolf!!
the reproductive details are trivial.
the creatures in australia were the same as elsewhere but only changed, i say to increase reproductive ability, upon migration. S america too.
this was a common theme in many orders of creatures as shown in the fossil record.

(Robert Byers) #99

There is a better idea. no need for impossible group migrations and exclusion of groups. this never happened. afterr the flood its impossible, in a limited timeframe to fill the earth as god commanded, for marsupials to hold hands and head to s america/australia and not placentals. IMPOSSIBLE.
therefore investigation will show all creatures migrated together with no discrimination.
the answer is that marsupials are placentals with pouches. Thats why they are the great case study of what is called convergent evolution. thats why there are marsupial wolves, lions, mice, moles etc etc living or extinct.
Yet in fact there was no convergent evolution but only a adaptation in minor details of the creatures to change reproductive modes.
On the youtube/google there are moving/still pictures of the last marsupial wolf. Watch and see if you are open to the idea its just another dog with a pouch(for the girls).!
Then the equation of post flood marsupial migration is explained.

(Neil Rickert) #100

We may laugh at this. But it seems to be a quite common view in the YEC community.

(Ashwin S) #101

If i get what you are suggesting. Its that marsupials evolved from a common ancestor that was a placental. For example, marsupial moles would have evolved from regular moles,marsupial wolves from regular wolves etc… Is this what you want to convey?
Perhaps its possible. After all biologists here tell me that it doesn’t take too many mutations to create big changes. Maybe some kind of virus was involved in creating the change.

(Jordan Mantha) #102

This may be logically true, but it seems to me that it is just moving the goal posts. Instead of fighting over the physical age of the tree, the fight will be over which age is the true truth.

I do think this is worth investigating but my fear is that we lose too much in the process:

  • Intelligibility - one of the main arguments for why Christianity can be helpful, intellectually, is that it provides a foundation for why science can even work in the first place. If you start saying that theology and science are addressing two different realities, that foundations starts to crumble.
  • Coherence - yes, you get better coherence for one specific problem (age of the Earth) but I think you lose a some coherence of the whole. Having to introduce a paradox of physical and virtual age starts making the whole thing muddy.
  • God is still a deciever - you still have to figure out why God would split truth (age of the tree) into a paradox that causes people intellectual trouble and also pits one group against another. This seems to be deceitful still, to me. Why give scientists a virtual age different from the physical age when they could just be the same? What purpose does it serve? The one I heard growing was that scientists were all atheists and needed humbling by God so He “tricked” them. I’d rather not go back to that line of thinking.

In the end, I’m not convinced saying “both/and” for age of the Earth is better than “either/or” but it could be potentially useful for those with doctrinal limitations. I just think it has its costs.

(Ashwin S) #103

If this is the criteria for calling God a deciever then he would be a deceiver no matter what.
Because any scenario involving God will cause intellectual trouble for people, and some group or the other will be pitted against another.
Intellectual troubles and fighting between groups is more a human problem related to our intellectual/emotional and spiritual limitations than an issue with Gods honesty/sincerity.

(George) #104

Either version makes no sense in a YEC scenario…

(John Harshman) #105

I’m trying to understand why evidence for an old earth, etc., does not cause god to be a deceiver given that the earth is not old. Can you explain?

Also, why would it work better for common descent and Reasons to Believe?

(John Harshman) #106

I’d say that the parable shows rank sophistry (in the pejorative sense). It’s just like Obiwan telling Luke that his father is dead “from a certain point of view”; no, it’s just a lie.

More importantly, it dodges the point. The lie is not in the difference between God’s word (presumed to be the bible) and the observable world. It’s the difference between the observable world and its true history. The “virtual history” is not true unless you play semantic games. That all the evidence shows the virtual history makes that evidence a lie, and makes the god who created it a liar. I have not seen any worthwhile argument against that.

(John Harshman) #107

No, it isn’t possible. Are you seriously entertaining that idea, or are you just tweaking Byers? If the former, I can offer reasons why it’s absurd. If the latter, never mind.

(Jordan Mantha) #108

You misunderstood me, perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I ought to have been. I’m not saying God would be a deceiver in this scenario because people have “intellectual trouble”.

Disclaimer: I’m a very amateur philosopher here, so this might be roughly said

I see a paradox like this one as an analogy contain two mutually exclusive claims that are used to describe a deeper truth that is inaccessible to human thinking. An example might be the Trinity - somehow God is three and yet God is also one. It’s a paradox or in theological language we usually use “mystery”.

In this case we have the mutually exclusive claims (the tree is 1 week old and the tree is 100 years old) but I fail to see a deeper truth behind it. Why should the age and development of the Earth (and universe, and life) be that mysterious. God seems happy for us to understand gravity, how to fly an airplane, and how to extend life itself, why should this be a exception? That’s why I say it would still seem to make God a deceiver, what purpose would he have it creating a seemingly unnecessary paradox.