Going to your OP, YEC can certainly be rational, especially when it doesn’t engage the evidence. The questions of rationality arise when the evidence is considered.
Not at all the same sort of argument, for a number of reasons. First off, there’s a big difference between an actual voice and an ancient text, and between “inspired” and dictated.
Grammar Nazi work: to “effect the argument” is to make the argument happen, which isn’t what you intended; to “affect the argument” is to cause it to change, which is presumably what you did intend.
How can failure to engage the evidence be considered rational?
If a person has not yet encountered the evidence, or they do not understand it, they would not have engaged the evidence.
In a discussion tonight about the Behe-Swamidass event, I dealt with a fellow who was somewhat rational but in the course of a lifetime he had been given so many incorrect term definitions and mistaken descriptions of scientific principles such that lamentable conclusions were inevitable. I can understand why he honestly thought that both Behe and Swamidass were “mired in evolutionary dogma.” I don’t think he will pursue the evidence because he trusts those who guided him to his anti-evolution state of mind. Even so, based on his present knowledge and life experience, I can’t say that it is irrational for him to affirm Young Earth Creationism. He doesn’t have a lot of good data to work from.
Of course, I wasn’t trying to change his mind on evolution. I was simply trying to get him to see that “There is zero evidence for evolution” is not a valid claim and that Christ-followers don’t necessarily have to agree on all matters of science. I’m still not sure exactly where he stands concerning the Thursday night event but the rest of the people seemed to mostly focus on the fact that Behe and Swamidass were in agreement on many important things and that differences on origins shouldn’t be divisive. They also loved what Joshua said in reasoning “…but Jesus is greater.” An evening which leads to those conclusions is a kind of success in my book.
Even though I would have liked for people to understand more of why Drs. Behe and Swamidass disagree on ID, what audience members did conclude from the evening was generally very positive. Many walked away with “peaceful about science” mindsets.
It is not possible to empirically believe YEC. There is a universe full of empirical evidence against the idea, and really nothing in support of it.
Answer, “yes” at least as a working hypothesis, contingent on what God has done in one’s life.
First, believing the Bible.
Astronaut Charles Duke became a Christian after returning from his walk on the moon. Some time later he prayed in the name of Jesus for a blind girl, and she was healed instantly.
Would it be rational for the little girl to follow Jesus the rest of her life? How about Charles Duke, how about the people in the room who witnessed the miracle? One may not have answers to all possible questions, but what options does one have? Is there salvation and eternal life in the name of Charles Darwin or athiestic socialist “utopias”? Some would argue it’s not rational to follow God after He works a miracle for you. So the question is, how many miracles is enough for one to trust in Yaweh, in Jesus? But if one says, “no amount.” Then fine, they’ve made their choice. If one says, “some amount, just enough to reassure me, I’m willing to believe.” How is that not rational?
Ok, so if one believes that one witnessed a miracle in the name of Jesus, it is then rational to suspect the gospels which told the world of Jesus are authentic. One can at least trust them in the light of the failure of other world views. That’s rational.
But then the gospels point to the old testament, and then one can suspect the old testament is right.
As one begins to see that over the decades abiogenesis theory, evolutionary theory falls apart from theory, one can then suspect other theories advertised as “facts” might not actually be facts at all much like geocentrism was viewed as a “fact” but then later fell apart in light of new data and considerations (like the Corioliss force). So one can then suspect that other sacred cows like an old fossil record, evolution of the solar system, the big bang, the constancy of the speed of light, etc. might not actually be correct. This opens the door to perhaps a YLC/YEC/YCC interpretation of the Bible.
So, it’s rational to suspect YLC/YEC/YCC is true, but at some point a suspicion, when strong enough is faith.
Being correct is one thing, having good quality models is something else. If you want to replace the Old Earth model you have to come with something that explains all the data at least equally well, and then some. Running away from hard questions isn’t going to get you to that model.
Why do the data points on Isochrones line up, not once, but thousands of times in analyses from rocks from all over the world? Why do different dating methods give identical results? Why the consilience between so many independent lines of evidence?
Your alternative model needs to explain all that. We are still waiting.
This is an encouraging observation!!!
Based on the postings I was reading, I was distressed that so much of Behe’s theoretical interpretation was left opaque to the audience.
But if Peaceful Science managed to extend a halo of Peaceful agreement with Dr. Behe on points of Evolution, then it was time well spent!
I suggest rewording the question:
“Is it possible to rationally believe something that is contradicted by every single scrap of available physical evidence?”
Hope that helps.
If you are raised thinking that the Ancient Near East was a time and place of the divinely miraculous, that becomes the basis of “rational” conclusions for YECs!
The issue is that I think Astronaut Charles Duke told the truth, and same for many Christians that came from non-Christian background that have seen the miracles of God in their life. That’s plenty for me suspect your viewpoints are wrong for now.
You are fair to point out the YEC models don’t work.
Running away from hard questions isn’t going to get you to that model.
My understanding is you accept evolution and abiogenesis, and those have hard deal-breaking problems, and that hasn’t stopped you from believing in them, is that right? I’m just pointing out, if it’s fair and rational for you to believe in something that has a seriously problematic model (like evolution and abiogenesis), then it’s fair and rational for me to believe in something that has a serious problematic model on the provision there is at least SOME evidence it could be right.
I’m sitting on the fence about whether believing in YEC is rational or not. There are many facets to this question. I simply pointed out that it is not warranted to believe in YEC on the basis of the empirical evidence. To what extent that translates into YEC believers being irrational is not so clear cut, and different people will have different views on that.
Considering someone irrational is pretty much a death sentence. Why would I even want to have a discussion with someone I consider irrational? What would be the point?
It all comes down to how we mean “rational”.
Since Creationists seem to be able to function as jurors, and tax payers, and as legislators… to varying degrees of praise, we need a more useful set of terms to describe “rational” and “rationality”!
So my point here would be that beliefs which are formed on the basis of the Biblical evidence might rationally be more resistant to defeaters than beliefs formed on the basis of the scientific method.
Fleshing out when this occurs would be complicated, because it would depend upon the clarity of the biblical evidence and the clarity of the scientific evidence. And clarity isn’t a wholly objective thing. It’s dependent on the subject.
The conclusion that I’m driving at here (not necessarily in the thread over all) is that many YEC may not be as irrational as often portrayed, assuming they have reasons to believe what the Bible teaches and that the Bible teaches YEC and these beliefs seem more obvious to them than the evidence for an old earth.
In the absence of a well supported pathway to the advent of life, a person’s worldview will shape his view of abiogenesis. The first couple of billions of years of life on earth have left little trace beyond chemical signatures in rock. The subsequent progress of evolution, however, is not attended by deal-breaking problems. Our understanding is not perfect but enough is known that evolution happens because the foundations of nature demand it so.
Sal, I am not really qualified to argue with you on whether or not being a Christian requires a belief in YEC. I see plenty of Chrisitans who don’t see that need, so prima facie I’d say that you might perhaps be too harsh on yourself.
I appreciate your saying that YEC models don’t work. I think that is an important step to getting to common ground. One reason I really dislike a lot of YEC websites is that they claim to present sound scientific positions, which they actually do not, but they don’t have a forum or other ways for comment and discussion for us to point that out. In my view that makes them pure propaganda. At least you enter into discussions (even though you have a tendency of ignoring the harder questions that people raise).
Re. evolution and abiogeneis, I am not a biologist so what I accept or not isn’t because of my own competence in those fields. Absent that, I have enough confidence in the general scientific community to accept their models as long as they generally accept them themselves - warts and all. Being an empiricist that seems a rational thing to do. As I said, in my view this is not about being right (let alone about ‘Truth’), but about the quality of the scientific models.
I know that there isn’t really a scientific model for abiogenesis, so there isn’t much for me to accept there. I know of course that there are people who think that the Bible presents a valid model, but I struggle to understand what makes that one so special that I should accept it? There are myriads of ancient origins stories and accepting one over the others seems to me a subjective preference without much in the way of empirical grounding. I could only pick one if I had really good reasons to reject every single one of them apart from this one.
Yes, we agree on something.
You aren’t misquoting or mischaracterizing my statements, and I will take flak from the YEC community for saying so!
I don’t see why omphalism would require a certain style of hermeneutics must be adopted by all Christians. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the term omphalism since it may carry more baggage than I’m intending. Let’s just say if God created the earth ~10k years ago in a mature state then we would expect some things to appear older than they are, given our current scientific assumptions. One obvious example: Adam would have been created as an adult human male that appeared in many ways to be older than he was.
In fact, the de novo creation of Adam and Eve that Dr. Swamidass posits also requires such a thing, right? YEC would involve many more instances of this type. But at what point does it entail this:
In other words, at what point do we cross the line to having to deny scientific realism? Wouldn’t that depend, at least in part, in how the YEC understood the scientific project? After all, an instrumentalist and a realist may do identical work to an outside observer.
This seems like an in principle sort of claim, since on scientific realism we still can’t be certain that our theories are correct (that the evidence really is as we interpret it).
But I think you would also agree that this wouldn’t concern just any single piece of evidence. Nor would it concern a handful of evidence. For instance, I’m not a scientist and don’t know all the lines of evidence that a scientist might. However, I did take an earth science course in college where I learned of some lines of evidence that I don’t know how a YEC can explain (e.g., magnetic bands in oceanic crust).
But if I think the Bible is clear about YEC and I have very strong warrant in my belief that the Bible is the word of God, then it would actually go against how rational people normally operate if I were to abandon my beliefs just because I don’t know how to explain a handful of evidence.
As I mentioned to @dga471, knowing when the evidence should start to tip the scales in the other direction is very difficult to nail down.
Do you think it’s possible to rationally affirm the first premise? (The Bible is the word of God.)
Same question as to @faded_Glory: Do you think it’s possible to rationally affirm the first premise?
You seem to be assuming that “rational” is an overall quality in my argument. But it’s not. Implicit in your examples is the idea that we can be rational in one thing and not in another thing. But it’s precisely this narrower sense that my argument touches on.