Weird Science

I know I said I would try and not write about science and theology much, but as hard as I tried I found myself in the presence of young earth creationists (YEC) again. I honestly thought that my walking away from most of the bridges in my life that led to the YECs would have gotten me away from them for a while, but I was wrong. I don’t want to sound mean or condescending in this article so Ill merely sketch out my view on YEC and end it before my frustration with them gets the better of me.

From early childhood most of us Christians are taught the familiar creation story in Sunday school, church service, and various other events. We are taught that in the first day God created the heavens and the earth. We are taught that by the end of the week, the earth as we know it came into being in its full glory. The flora and fauna we see today were present at the end of the creation week and that 168 hours before hand there was nothing.

As charming as this story is, most of us grow up and goto school and university to learn what science has to say about the matter of creation. Science has come to the conclusion that the universe came into being 13.7 billion years ago and that the earth and sun formed from galactic dust. Life then emerged on our planet and evolved into what we see today. It is when confronted with this knowledge that a certain, select group of individuals decide to hold their hands to their ears and scream loud enough so they cant hear what is being said. In their screams they yell that the earth is 6000 years old, that creation happened as stated in the bible, and that science is a godless, heathen thing to be distrusted with every fiber in your being.

These people are young earth creationists. In short, as their name suggests, they believe creation happened strictly as stated in the first chapter of Genesis and that the earth is incredibly young. YECs believe that creation took literally six 24 hour periods and at that point earth was fully formed with all life that is present today, present then.

The modern creationist movement was born during the restoration movement in the late 1700s when the protestant churches broke with anything that resembled Catholicism or the church of england (who had both been active in the sciences for the previous two hundred years) and instead turned to a strict, individual interpretation of the bible as an answer to all questions; Not just all theological questions, ALL questions. Since then, through the explosion of understanding in geology, astronomy, cosmology, physics, etc. the creationists have stuck to the same unerring belief: that the bible is infallible in all things and that creation happened in 6 days.

To keep up with scientific advancement, YECs have had to develop their own branch of theoretical arguments. As such, the first theory they developed was that science was the enemy of the church and of god. This is the backbone and solid foundation of their belief system. It states that science is out to draw people away from God and into a godless way of life. That God is not all powerful and that science is full of atheists wanting nothing more than to disprove god’s existence. The second theory of YEC is that the bible is the sole answer for scientific questions. they state that Genesis 1 is the only source for answers to the question of how the universe began and that anything that says otherwise is in direct contradiction to god. The third theory is that the earth is 6000 years old. This date is based on the work done by James Ussher in 1648 when he compiled all the genealogies in the bible to ascertain how long ago adam and eve were created.

Unfortunately, to put it bluntly, YECs are dead wrong and nearly all counts. Since numerous books, videos, and other media have been made to disprove YEC on multiple levels, I will not bore you with the ridiculous amount of arguing that it would take to debunk each and every one of the YEC tenants. Suffice to say that YEC is an idea that is, simply put, ignorant.

Science is indeed real. In fact, the modern day would not be possible without the efforts of the men who also discovered how the universe works. And more surprisingly, nearly every scientific discovery up until about 1880 was made by a Christian. Even the original theory of the big bang was proposed by a Catholic priest and was fought with fury by atheist physicists as too theological to be true.

The question of how old the earth was first arose with the advent of thermodynamics (the study of head) and the observation that the earth was cool, but volcanoes were not. in 1779 a french scientist created a small globe the made of the same composition as the earth and watched its rate of cooling. Based on this, he put the date at 75,000 years. The age of the earth was further brought into question with the discovery and extensive examination of fossils and rock strata. How were fossils made? Why were they in layers? These questions lead to basic geology and to uniformitarianism (the theory that the earth has been changing in a uniform way throughout its life). This view on the world was largely spawned by creationist views that the world is unchanging in any major way and has always been as it was. As such, men of science (mostly clergymen and Christians) set about looking at rates of erosion and came to the conclusion that it may be that the earth was older than Ussher had set the date at. The figure was about 100,000 years.

Was does this mean? This means that men of science independently trying to verify the bible’s literal meaning ended up verifying the opposite. And since science’s most basic tenant is to throw out information if proved otherwise, science decided to divorce itself from religion so as not to get tangled up in theological matters. Does this mean that science decided there was no God? NO! It merely discovered that God was a being and a force that could not be proven from studying the natural world. The question for science as to god’s existence was moot. It didn’t matter if he existed or not, their aim was to understand how nature around them worked.

God is real as well. Genesis was not a lie either. Genesis was never meant to be a science lesson. Remember, it was written by moses who more than likely was shown the creation by God himself. Now, Im guessing here but I don’t think that if God was going to show someone something it would last the complete set of billions of years. I doubt it would have lasted the full week either. What moses was shown, and what he wrote down, were probably the highlights of the creation process and laid out in a stage by stage process. The Hebrew word “yom” used in the Torah to say “the first day” is also translated as “era” or “generation”. The translation can then be subject to question. Even Genesis 2:4 says “These are the generations of creation…” (KJV). Thus the “day” can be opened up to the interpretation of “era”. God has no time limit as Paul stated, “A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.”

But even as this is just one argument out of many, why does it matter? Why should anyone care how old the earth is? Why should Christians and YECs be bound to one view over the other? The reasons are simple.

First, YEC confines God to being a “god of the gaps”. This means that they place God where ever science does not have an answer. Electricity was once just an “act of god”. So were various weather phenomena. As science discovered the workings of these gaps of knowledge God was pushed out of them. As such, YECs build these gaps of knowledge into pillars of faith that crumble when challenged by what rightfully fills the gaps. It also confines God to their personal interpretation of Genesis 1. There are many ways to read Genesis 1, especially with all the translations of the bible out there. Each YEC picks a version and then sticks with that one, confining God to 7 days. When challenged, a YEC will sometimes state “you limit God by saying that he couldn’t have done it all in 7 days!” They, however, are limiting God by saying that doing it in 7 days was the ONLY way he could.

Second, YEC makes the bible into something it is not. The bible was never meant to be a science book. It is a book of theology. Genesis 1 was put there to tell us only “God created everything” not to tell us how he did it. There is also only 1 chapter in the whole of the bible that deals with anything remotely near science. If God had wanted to tell us exactly how he created the world he would have given us math and details. He instead devoted the entire bible to understanding his nature and left the science to his curious creation for its own discovery.

Third, YEC forces a wedge between religion and science. It makes the two mortal enemies. Thus it says you must belong in one camp or the other and that by joining one means you must reject the other. Young Christians are being forced to take sides. As a result many young people are leaving the faith to pursue science when there is absolutely no need to do so. Religion and science have always gone hand in hand until 1880 when Darwin produced “on the origin of species”. Each scientific discovery was heralded as better understanding of how magnificent god’s creation was put together. Even Darwin’s theory was met with general “so thats how God did it” before the fireworks went off with the English church over the issue.

Forth, YEC makes Christianity look utterly ridiculous to outsiders and those on the doubting side of faith (yes, everyone doubts at some point). For such a large section of the Christian population to reject science so outrightly makes us all look foolish and untrustworthy. Jesus himself told us to go into all nations and make believers. Rejecting basic natural laws does not allow us to be taken seriously by anyone. Even for non-YEC Christians, like myself, this problem can hit personally. Talking to curious atheists about Christianity always brings up the subject of why to they have to reject science to join our faith. We are ridiculed by the press and intellectuals as backward, mentally challenged freaks because of the outspoken YEC community. And because of this, many who could find Jesus, wont.

YEC is not going to go away because of anything I say no matter how much I would love for it to. However, I feel that this discussion should not even be happening. It is a disgrace that I have to watch what I say about the age of the sun, or the creation of the moon, or how genetics work around YECs for fear of their pure hatred for science coming back to call me a heathen and believer of “silly theories with no evidence”. It is shameful for me to not be able to speak of my faith for fear of being told that believing in something that believes the earth is 6000 years old is tantamount to believing in something that holds “the moon is made of green cheese” as a chief tenant.

YEC has become a horrible disfigurement on the back of Christians everywhere. Unfortunately there’s little I can do about it. All I can do is write what I think in hopes that maybe, just maybe, a YEC will look at this page and begin questioning their belief. Rejecting YEC does not mean rejecting god, it only means rejecting a belief that men should forgo the gift God gave them of being curious.

I will leave you with this. From Saint Augustine’s 415 A.D. work, “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” chapter 19:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

Be Sociable, Share!
  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)