Is All YEC Really Pseudoscience?

This is definitely a big question to untangle in the public forums as well as the professional literature. Alvin Plantinga probably has the most distinguished voice, academically and popularly, as to how one can unlock the Scriptures as an evidence base or data set with which to engage the natural sciences (with special emphasis on the biological sciences). His argument is broad enough to work with TE/EC, ID, YEC, and Swamidass (since he insists on being distanced from all those other positions) :smile:

This part of my comments also follow what I said @deuteroKJ

What I always try to remind my YEC brethren about is that the very same methodology(ies) they use to show the problems with an old earth are actually the same methodologies they employ to verify (scientifically) the Scriptures they trust so faithfully. Strong YEC proponents love to bring forward problems with any individual test of age, e.g., radio carbon dating, but never take them as calibrated against all the other age tests employed, e.g., tree rings, ice cores, star light, etc… The problem is that YEC proponents are all the more willing to employ the very same data when something in Biblical archeology unearths something pertinent to the Biblical narrative as understood by YEC proponents – What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander! Or at least a deserves a more careful conversation…

This is important in that it appears to me at least that is attempting this in a fashion that is more hospitable to overall inconsistencies. We can heatedly, yet peacefully, disagree about that which fundamentally separates us all politically, denominationaly, scientifically, culturally, whatever…

In that sense, this forum is NOT attempting to approach the internet landscape as that of Jesus and the temple in that none of us think we have the character/qualities of Jesus to actually clean the temple. We come to understand and argue so that we can be better ambassadors to our own contingencies about the “others” that actually exist “out there” – even that rascally @Patrick :laughing:

I have no idea what this means!

Okay, I take back a little about what I mentioned before about not taking the Jesus account of cleaning house. This blog is an open historical record of what all are talking about. IF this panel comes to be, it should be noted that at least @swamidass and @deuteroKJ have made perfectly clear the “tactic” they are going to employ. The strategy is not something “done in a corner,” but open to all to see. What I’m suggesting is something akin to the OT prophets being fulfilled in Jesus. Josh and Ken have declared their overall motives and strategies to conversing about this issue, COULD other websites and conversations follow suite?

@pmcelliott From a slightly biased perspective, ummmm… YES!

Playing on the putting it in the open in order to test the “prophets,” did you guys know that the EPS (Evangelical Philosophical Society) meets the week before in the same venue as the ETS. This, I have been told, is so that those who have any crossover can make both sessions. It seems that this topic of the Genealogical Adam and perhaps the tension between the different factions (RTB, AiG, BioLogos, etc) might make for an interesting session at the EPS as well… I’m throwing this out there for @deuteroKJ and @swamidass but also for any others out there reading – it might be worth setting something up at the Evangelical Philosophers conference to discuss. I am NOT currently a member, but have been planning to join for the last 5+ years! I can investigate the procedure, but would like to open it up to a larger community first.


For me, that makes their approach rational but it doesn’t make it science. A distinguishing feature of modern science is that the ultimate arbiter in the scientific endeavor is empirical data about the physical world. Accepting data from the Bible is not consistent with that approach, especially since the biblical data trumps all other in practice.

Now, that doesn’t make YEC necessarily pseudoscience. As has been pointed out, most YECs don’t really interact with science or outright reject it. I do think ‘pseudoscience’ is a reasonable description when YECs go through the motions of science in order to reach a pre-determined conclusion that has nothing to do with empirical evidence. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything to be gained by using the term in debate or discussion: few of us want to hear unvarnished assessments of ourselves from anyone.


But some are purposefully dishonest. And when they are being dishonest, they are spreading pseudoscience.
Science is evidence based, so when they discard or purposely manipulate the data to make your claims, isn’t that false science? A responsibility of science (and scientists and science reporting institutions) is to be self-correcting. When new data or new findings challenge, supersede, or falsify previous findings (or unsupported claims), it is the responsibility of those scientists to speak up.


How’s this: The Bible was written a long time ago by people whose understanding of the world was not as clear as what is understood today about the world.


They are not winning. Ark attendance down, survey after survey showing less and less support for a 6000-10,000 year old Earth.

I’m not sure how that can work. Quite simply, scientists will not consider scripture as evidence about the world (as distinct from evidence about culture and historic cultures).


Yes, EPS has hosted these sorts of things before. I don’t really distinguish between ETS and EPS for the annual meeting b/c people go to both since all the sessions are at the same site. I don’t care which entity actually hosts it.

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The really question it seems is to decide if two panels on separate aspects is warranted. Perhaps one focused on biblical-theology and another on philosophical-theology.

This might be warranted. William Lane Craig and @Philosurfer and @Andrew_Loke are all philosophers engaging this from a philosophical point of view.

I agree, but Plantinga is well read by popular audiences and is often doing a lot of the intellectual lifting for popular polemics against methodological naturalism in science. Imagine Philip Johnson on philosophical steroids and you get Alvin Plantinga.

I agree and this is where I deviate from Plantinga. Because he does not well delineate what is part of science and what is not, his suggestion becomes unhelpful, and even counter-productive. What he was missing was The Rules of the Game.

I would propose that:

  1. In Science, Scriptural manuscripts are valid evidence about the world in science like any other document, such as texts of the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita and so on. Science can legitimately, for example, ask questions about the carbon dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the evolution of scripts, and so on are legitimate questions for science.

  2. In Science, Scriptural manuscripts is valid evidence as a non-inspired source of information about the past. In the same way we can study the march of Hannibal through the Alps with Elephants, considering what was mythic and reality.

  3. Outside science, we can include Scriptural revelation as evidence as we build more complete views of the world.

  4. There might be opportunity for legitimate questions to be raised from contemplation of #3 to be addressed in purely scientific ways in science.

The issue I have with Plantinga’s work is that he does not make the distinctions between scientific and theological thinking clear and this makes his proposal unworkable.


Scriptural manuscripts are valid evidence about the world when shown to be valid evidence in anthropological science like what @Alice_Linsley does.


That is what I mean. Also, look at this JAMA article on the crucifixion from 1985:

This seems like a legitimate use of Scripture within science along these two models;

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The cultural aspects that anthropological science can bring are very beneficial. For example, I am sure from the knowledge and culture at the time, most people knew that snakes don’t talk. So the language used must have been figurative and not to be taken literal.

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I don’t agree there is such a thing in nature as science.
Its just a human construction after the fact of a working nature(including twisting it/inventions)
SO science is just a verb. Not a noun. Its just a methodology to reach conclusions. SO its a high standard of investigation that CAN DEMAND confidence in its conclusions.
So planes and drugs are PROVED by science to work.

In origin matters its all about PAST processes and results that have a lineage to the present.
I see it as very, very, very, difficult to investigate origins. whatever is right. In fact more intellectuaslly difficult then biology which is more difficult then any physics/invention so far done. I’m not sure if physics could ever be as complicated as biology.

YEC , sometimes ID, says conclusions in origins about denying God, or Gods clear fingerprints, or evolutionism are not based on a high standard of investigation.
Sometimes we say no one is doing science and sometimes we do the same science. everyone gets mixed up.

I say evolutionism is not a scientific theory but only a unrested hypothesis BECAUSE its claimed evidence are not based on biological processes. Instead they are based on AFTER THE FACT of biological processes. SO they invoke fossils/geology, comparaitve anatomy and genetics, biogeography, minor in species experimentation., and heaps of speculation.
What do you think science is?

I think science is a noun.


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Young Earth Creationism has been criticized for lacking a solid scientific basis. It also should be criticized for lacking a solid Biblical basis.


I would agree that using terms like “pseudoscience” tend to close more minds than they open.

If there was one BIG problem that most scientists have with YEC is that it starts with a conclusion, and then accepts or rejects evidence based on that conclusion. For example, the only reason that YEC’s doubt the science demonstrating constant decay rates for radioisotopes is that it leads to conclusions they don’t like. “Answers in Genesis” isn’t afraid to just spell it out:

"By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. "–Answers in Genesis



I agree that this is probably the main reason why YEC is labeled as “pseudoscience” by many. Because it is perceived as not seeking the truth, but rather seeking to support the truth it has established elsewhere.

So, given that, do people who are steeped in the evolutionary sciences also see why a similar accusation is often made by those who do not fully accept evolution as an explanation for all of the life that we see on the planet? Many outsiders (edited) feel as though an a priori assumption has been made (end of edit) that evolution happened and then work to backfill with evidence.

I’m not making a statement here at all… I’m merely saying that this should be a point of empathy rather than division. We all have our POV and seek to support it. We can all have a healthier discussion if we see others’ objections as clearly as we see our biases. Some here are already very good at this. Others, eh… not so much.

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