Sal Cordova's Path to Young Earth Creationism


(Herculean Skeptic) #83

I appreciate you continuing the dialog, but I’m not following you. I was asking if your YEC leanings were philosophical / theological rather then evidentiary. Your response was that you are a “gambler-type YEC as in Pascal’s Wager.” This, I take to mean that you are determining that it is better to believe in a YEC-world (or at least to consider such) than to suffer the consequences of not doing so.

Later you say that this wager does not apply to YEC vs. Christian Evolutionism (which I take to be one example alternative to YEC.) You affirm that you are a Christian and that there is a payoff in believing in Jesus. So, if there is no gamble to be made in choosing between YEC and other options, then, it seems that following the evidence would be the way to go.

Otherwise, as an expert gambler yourself, you seem to be hitting on 20 expecting an ace every time.

(Salvador Cordova) #84


One can take seriously YEC as a working hypothesis because the risk/reward of it being true. We take the possibility of tornadoes seriously in some regions of the USA, it doesn’t mean with think a tornado will hit, but from a standpoint of belief we accept it as a possibility.

At some point along the way a possibility starts to become more believable as a probability or reality. I live my life like YEC is real much like I wear safety belts because I see all these people on the highway texting while they drive. But most days, of late, I find it simply to be hard to believe otherwise.

On another note, I simply have a conscience. I do not believe the evidence unequivocally favors Old Earth. If someone loses faith because they are told the evidence is unequivocally Old Earth, that would bother me. The fact is, at the very least, we need to learn more.

I think the linked video to Bryan Nickel is an excellent video essay against the stellar nucleosynthesis/Old Earth/Old Solar system theory. I can’t in good conscience tell a Doubting Thomas who is convinced that Genesis is to be read literally, but is doubting the Bible altogether, that Old Earth is unequivocally true. It is not. That’s not to say YEC doesn’t have problems. It does.

My gambler type views are no different than a lot of practical issues in life, like say a Jury deciding to acquit based on reasonable doubt even though there is a cloud of suspicion. So even if the weight of evidence might be one way, reasonable doubt says to acquit.

I can’t in good conscience be the cause of someone losing their Christian faith by saying “Old Earth is unequivocally true” or “YEC is guilty of blatant falsehood.” I acquit YEC of being false at this time, and encourage freedom of exploration of the hypothesis.

I think Jesse Kilgore might still be alive today and a Christian if he heard the Creationist case, and not just OEC, or Young LIfe/Old Earth, but even YEC. Instead, he read Dawkins book, and according to his father committed suicide. I don’t want stuff like that on my conscience.

TL;DR I believe YEC, have some doubts, but fully convinced its a good wager over atheism.

(Blogging Graduate Student) #85

I have to say, from your description (“magnum opus” etc) I got my hopes up. Admittedly I lowered my expectations more than a little when I saw that this “masterpiece” was published in Answers Research Journal, but still, I was expecting an interesting read. I was disappointed.

The article can be summarised with the following premise (bold), which I think is pretty obviously faulty, and conclusion:

an organism cannot survive unless all its essential genes are functional. Therefore, it is impossible for organism “A” to evolve into another organism, “B,” unless all of B’s essential genes have homologs in A. Therefore, based on the fact that most of the eukaryotic essential genes do not have a bacterial homolog, we argue that eukarya could not have evolved from bacteria.

The article is simply a run-through of some of the basic differences between bacteria (usually E. coli) and eukaryotes (usually Yeast), followed by the statement “this gap can’t be bridged”.
A couple of choice quotes from the article that illustrate this reasoning:

Taken together, bacterial DNA replication machinery is not able even to initiate eukaryotic DNA replication. Thus, it is impossible for any bacteria to evolve into a eukaryote.

How could a prokaryote evolve into a eukaryote that is unable to use the prokaryotic RNA polymerase to transcribe the eukaryotic genome? And why would the eukaryotic polymerase arise first if it were useless in transcribing the prokaryotic genome?

Then there’s this, that caught my eye:

ribosomal genes between different organisms are highly species-specific in that rDNAs from one species cannot be transcribed by its close relatives. Some suggest that a mythical process called concerted evolution accounts for the high homogeneity within a species and the dramatic differences between species (Eickbush and Eickbush 2007; Naidoo et al. 2013; Nei and Rooney 2005). According to this view, all the rDNAs in an organism magically change together in unison, then suddenly, a new species is born.

I’d encourage people to actually read the papers that are cited there (2 linked below), and see if you come away with the impression that there’s anything “mythical” about the process.

It’s frankly absurdly early to conclude that it’s impossible for prokaryotes and eukaryotes to be related using the kind of arguments in the article. Only in the last few years have we begun to scratch beneath the surface on the diversity of molecular systems that are possible in bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. The ARJ article was published just 3 years ago, and just in that time we’ve discovered a brand-new and hugely significant superphylum of archaea: the Asgard superphylum, that fills in some of the gaps between archaea and eukaryotes.

(Joshua Hedlund) #86

From a somewhat infrequent visitor to /r/creation it’s a pleasure to see you over here, Sal!

Yes, indeed, I would say it was! I just wanted to drop in and comment that Snowball Earth is a great example of why alleged evidence for a complex sequence of events over an old earth increases my amazement at the intricate care of our Creator rather than threatening my faith. Fine-tuning a universe to allow life to survive for a few thousand years is one thing; fine-tuning it to keep life alive for billions of years throughout the ever-changing dynamics of sun, plate tectonics, asteroids, etc, is orders of magnitude more impressive :slight_smile:

At some point if one claim is just as miraculous as another, it’s a matter of picking your miracle!

In my experience, YEC’s tend to think other positions are denying their miracles because they are denying the possibility of miracles. And yes this is sometimes the case. But sometimes they are simply saying the evidence suggests that this miracle did not happen, while this miracle (or remarkably fortuitous sequence of events) did.

(Salvador Cordova) #87

And you’re omitting to mention, the evolutionary gaps are widening and new ones are being found. If these problem remain unsolved, It’s frankly early to represent universal common descent as a fact comparable to gravity.

(Blogging Graduate Student) #88

Why do you think the explanation given is worse than “special creation”?

It is likely that the process or processes which transferred uranium from the mantle to the continental crust are complex and multi-step. However, for at least the past 2 billion years they have involved:

  1. formation of oceanic crust and lithosphere through melting of the mantle at mid-ocean ridges,
  2. migration of this oceanic lithosphere laterally to a site of plate consumption (this is marked at the surface by a deep-sea trench),
  3. production of fluids and magmas from the downgoing (subducted) lithospheric plate and overriding mantle ‘wedge’ in these subduction zones,
  4. transfer of these fluids/melts to the surface in zones of ‘island arcs’ (such as the Pacific’s Ring of Fire),
  5. production of continental crust from these island arc protoliths, through remelting, granite formation and intra-crustal recycling.

Also, you said:

How do you square that with this quote from the article you just cited?

Measurements of heat have led to estimates that the Earth is generating between 30 and 44 terawatts of heat, much of it from radioactive decay. Measurements of antineutrinos have provisionally suggested that about 24 TW arises from radioactive decay. Professor Bob White provides the more recent figure of 17 TW from radioactive decay in the mantle, and a more recent figure based on geoneutrinos is 20 +/- 8 TW from U-238 and Th-232 decay, plus 4 TW from K-40. This compares with 42-44 TW heat loss at the Earth’s surface from the deep Earth. The balance comes from changes in the core. Thus about half the Earth’s total heat flux is from radioactive decay.

(Joshua Hedlund) #89

Oh, speaking of the evolution of the solar system, I just opened up a tab to ScientificAmerican and found this intriguing article which I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

(Salvador Cordova) #90

Bryan Nickel’s video that I linked to. It has excellent physical reasoning. It’s only 35 minutes long. It points out serious problems with mainstream models of the origin of Uranium. It argues from simple brute, well-accepted physics.

(Blogging Graduate Student) #91

I’m no expert in this particular area (vertebrates FTW!), so I could be understating things, but I personally wouldn’t put claim that common ancestry of prokaryotes and eukaryotes is a fact comparable with gravity. I think there’s good evidence for it, certainly good enough to accept it provisionally. I can be 99.9% sure prokaryotes and eukaryotes are related, but that still doesn’t put in on par with the 99.99999999999% confidence I have in gravity.

Remember, your article is the one throwing around terms like “impossible”, so it has a pretty high burden of evidence.


Hi Salvador,

Could you please make an unambiguous statement as to how old you think the earth is?

Why do you brand yourself as a 'Young Life" creationist except to distinguish yourself from “Young Earth” creationists?


(John Harshman) #93

And Sal never managed to deal with the issue. He refused to distinguish the evidence for common descent from the evidence for the mechanisms of evolutionary change.

“Prestigious” is Sal’s favorite word, which he applies to anything he agrees with or can construe as agreeing.

(Blogging Graduate Student) #94

Running commentary of the video:

  1. I’m a bit confused by how the binding energy curve is supposed to disprove supernovae nucleosynthesis. It’s perfectly consistent with the method of synthesis of heavy elements by the addition of neutrons followed by beta minus decay.

  2. The “helium in zircons” argument has been long debunked, come on.

  3. Where does he get the idea that the heat in the crust and mantle should be uniform as a result of radioactive decay over time?

  4. As I understand it, comets aren’t believed to be the source of Earth’s water, precisely because the proportions of deuterium etc don’t match.

  5. If the mantle is depleted of uranium because it gets sequestered by the crust, there’s no reason to expect that radiogenic heating should increase linearly down into the mantle. Contrary to what Nickel says in point (3), surely we’d expect that if uranium had been getting sequestered into the crust for a long period of time, the upper mantle would be depleted and so the temperature would be non-linear with depth between the crust and the mantle.

  6. Why on earth would radioactivity be expected to be distributed uniformly throughout the Earth if the Earth had “evolved” given that there are mechanisms that concentrate uranium in the crust from the mantle!? @stcordova I asked you why you thought the “mainstream” explanation for how uranium became concentrated in the crust didn’t stack up and you pointed me to this video, but it doesn’t engage with the “mainstream” explanation at all!

  7. Z-pinch: cool physics, but completely irrelevant to the natural creation of heavy elements on earth. There’s no plausible way to naturally produce the kinds of conditions required to produce the heavy elements we’re talking about in the quantities required. Complete science fiction. There’s simply no evidence for the conjecture that is described in detail in the video.

  8. Global flood moving granite in the crust around produced piezoelectric fields with sufficient voltages to z-pinch all the heavy elements!? Wow… I don’t suppose he has any evidence for this? Of course not.

  9. There’s nothing to suggest that comets and meteorites that hit Earth are “falling back to Earth” after being ejected during the flood - the trajectories are completely different.

  10. Chondrules are better explained as forming during in the accretion disc of the early system, especially since that’s when they just so happen to date to using radiometric dating.

  11. Intercontinental seas are the results of continental plates rupturing and blasting upwards leaving holes!? Another departure from geology…

Seriously Sal, this video was convincing to you? I note that it fails to explain the relationship between stratigraphy and radiometric dates, among many, many, other things.

(Dan Eastwood) #95

Hi Sal!
I’ve read your comments at TSZ for several years, but I don’t think we have ever interacted before. Welcome to PS. :slight_smile:

I would like to make a careful criticism, meaning that I’m not trying to start a fight, and I’m not expecting you to defend your faith. Of course that might happen anyway, in which case we can start a new thread for discussion. All I’m asking now is for provisional consideration.

The primary difficulty I see with Creation Science (hence CS) is not a scientific criticism, but a theological one. Many CS claims amount to evidence for the material action of God, and therefore the existence of material evidence for God. By the very definition of science this should not be possible, which makes all of CS highly questionable, but for the moment I would like to assume the premise that CS is a reliable means of gaining knowledge (comparable to Methodological Naturalism). With this assumption in place, there are now implied consequences:

Material evidence for God is equivalent to saying that we can measure the properties and substance of God, control it, and use it in the same way we utilize other products of science. Taken to the extreme, we might someday expect to be able to run down to the store and pick up a half-liter of God, bringing it for our personal use.
I think we would both agree this implication is neither scientifically or theologically acceptable. Theologically, it makes a mockery of the very concept of God, reducing God to a quantity, a chemical, a formula, or equation. If CS is any form of science then this must be true, because this sort of reduction to known quantities is what science does for us.
The other interpretation of this words the criticism differently, and is harder for me to explain. By putting the Bible up on a pedestal of science, then this become the worship of science itself, which is idolatry. (This is how a knowledgeable friend describes it, I admit to not fully understanding his take on this).

The TL;DR: The biggest problems with Creation Science are theological, not scientific.

I will check back in 2 hours to see if there is any interest in splitting this out to a new topic.

/fnord! :slight_smile:

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #96

A brief but important thought @stcordova.

You seem to be taking a position defined by skepticism, not only of evolution and an old earth, but also skepticism of a young earth. You talk about anomalies, as if you’d expect the best answer from human understand to have fully foreclosed all anomalies. You seem to be consistently arguing that the evidence either way is not definitive, both from science and theology, because of anomalies on both sides.

This raises some important questions for me.

  1. It seems that the most consistent conclusion from this would be agnosticism, not young earth creationism. So I am unsure why you are young earth. What about young earth creationism tips you from agnosticism towards it? I’d say this is the biggest inconsistency (anomaly) you present.

  2. Not incurious, there seems to be perhaps a direction I wonder this points towards. Perhaps this has nothing at all to do with theology or science or evidence or philosophy. Perhaps instead this is about a specific social role or rhetorical space you want to occupy. So yes, by your stated reasoning, you should be an agnostic. However you choose to be a YEC for strategic reasons. to fill specific a rhetorical or social role.

If this is the case (#2), than I doubt any amount of evidence will change your mind. The nihilism of total skepticism is balanced, in your case, with strategic concerns. It is always easy to play to skeptic against anything (which is why it is nihilistic), and no evidence would really engage the strategic or personal reasons you have for your stated position, which are driven by factors entirely extrinsic to the facts and arguments of the conversation.

Am I understanding you correctly? Can you unpack more the positive reasons you have for affirming YEC? At the moment, it seems you are only presenting negative skeptical posture, but nothing positive or constructive. So why are you YEC? I’d accept social, rhetorical and strategic reasons as valid…and that might actually be what makes most sense of your pose.


That works for me. Your humility is much appreciated.


Would I rather be a YEC than an atheist? That’s a tough one. Would I rather believe one thing that is false over another thing that is false? Let’s hope I am never faced with that dilemma!


How does finding more transitional fossils make the gaps wider?

Also, if creationism is true there shouldn’t be any gaps because there is no reason for species to fall into a tree where gaps would appear. The fact that you see gaps is extremely strong evidence for evolution.


I love it!

(John Harshman) #101

False dichotomies are Sal’s major stock in trade.

(Salvador Cordova) #102


So nice to hear from you and thank you for sharing your thoughts.