Creation Science

In my blogpost More Thoughts on Christianity – Cognitive Dissonance and Mental Gymnastics, Philip Rayment said:

On the starting point for Christians:

Actually God Himself said that He created the universe over a period of six days. Even apart from the account in Genesis 1, we have what God Himself directly wrote in stone, in Exodus 20:11: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them…” You cannot get it any clearer than that. The 6000 years is not as explicit, although the six days itself takes care of virtually all of the supposed 14 billion years of the universe. But the 6000 years is sufficiently clear that almost nobody who believed the Bible believed any significantly different figure. Even Augustine who is often cited (misleadingly) as one who didn’t believe in literal days emphasised that creation was only a few thousand years old.

So for a Christian, the first question, before even looking at the evidence, is, who are you going to believe? The infallible, omniscient, creator, or fallible human beings?

The bolded line (or variants of it) is often quoted YECs.  The characters in the Jonathan Park series have used these words to discount any explanation that uses ‘evolution’ in any form.

Elsewhere, Philip said regarding the foundation of scientific knowledge:

The foundation of scientific knowledge is that we were created by a rational Creator who created a rational universe and us as rational, intelligent, observers. Without that foundation, science couldn’t operate. And that, historically, IS one of the reasons that science got started.

I’m confused.  We are rational, intelligent observers?  Does that mean we can trust our intellect after all? Or, only when it matches up with what the Bible says?  And how do we determine what the Bible says?  Does it involve using our intellect and reasoning?

In Episode 77 of the Jonathan Park series, the following lovely exchange took place between father and son (I’m doing a cut-and paste):

The Story: Dr Park says, ‘As you know, our faith is rooted in the Scriptures. We start with God’s Word as absolute truth and then when we investigate the world around us, we see that the evidence when interpreted correctly, is in harmony. But there will always be things we can’t explain fully.’

Jonathan says he understands that we are saved through faith but then asks, ‘If it is true, shouldn’t all the evidence line up?’

Dr Park says, ‘Yes, and it does! The problem is we are flawed humans. We don’t know everything or know how to interpret the evidence correctly. This is why we must submit ourselves to God and His ways. Even when we do not fully understand.’

(18:08-19:08)

The Facts: Do not be deceived.  It all sounds good on the surface.

One of the tenets of young-Earth Creationism is this:

The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development that involve evolution in any form are false. (emphasis added)

In other words, Dr Park is saying that the evidence doesn’t seem to match what the Bible says because we don’t know how to interpret the evidence.  When the evidence is interpreted correctly, it will match what the Bible says. If it doesn’t match, then we’ve interpreted it incorrectly.

Questions:

* How did Christians cope before the Bible – as we know it today – was compiled? Were the early Christians at a disadvantage having only bits and pieces?

* What do you make of Jesus’ words when He said that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth (John 16:13)?

* Is it possible that the idea that ‘the creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous’ is a product of sinful man’s flawed interpretation?

*********************************************

By the way, I think the cartoon sums it up very accurately.

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Posted on Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, in A Storehouse of Knowledge, Bible, Bizarre, Creation Scientists, Creation vs Evolution, Evolution, Faith and Culture, Fundamentalism, God, Institute for Creation Research, Jonathan Park, Jonathan Park Reviews, Logical Fallacies, Religion, Science, Young Earth Creationism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. If I understand you correctly, you had questions about a statement I made, then answered those questions with quotes from the (fictional) Dr. Park. But in your mind that raised /further/ questions. So the original questions are answered?

    Your first question (under the “Questions” heading) looks like it could be based on a false assumption. “Early Christians” are ones from the first century and soon after, yet Christians of the first century had the whole Bible, the last of which was written by people who knew Jesus in human form. (An exception would be some early Christians who, like Stephen, died within the first century.) Or are you referring to the pre-Christian Jews? And even if you are, what bits related to this issue do you think they wouldn’t understand because they didn’t have the New Testament?

    Further, the problem you imagine is actually more of a problem for non-creationists, who seem to think that it is only with the benefit of recent science that we’ve been able to correctly understand the creation account, because prior to about 200 years ago, essentially nobody understood from Scripture that the world was millions and billions of years old; they all believed it to be thousands of years old.

    Did God write His testimony in such a misleading way that He knowingly allowed humanity to misunderstand it for thousands of years until the arrival of non-Christians who could correct that misunderstanding?

    You seem to be treating John 16:13 as though the Holy Spirit will guarantee that all Christians will never misunderstand anything, which is obviously not the case, given that we don’t all agree on some things.

    Regarding your third question, yes, it’s theoretically possible, but unlikely given the evidence, and simply suggesting the possibility does not make the case. I have previously described that cartoon as hypocritical and misleading. It is nothing more than a caricature, and is therefore not accurate at all. The “scientific” method is an ideal, often not the case in practice, especially in the case of naturalistic (and other) evolutionists who conclude before looking at the evidence that God wasn’t involved. The “creationist” method is therefore actually descriptive of the evolutionary method.

    Further, it ignores the fact that creationism is more of an exercise of looking at the evidence to fill out the details in the framework given by the Bible, rather than the simplistic idea given in the cartoon of just looking for facts to support the preconceived “conclusion”, and also an exercise of using scientific evidence not to prove the Bible, but to show that the evolutionary scenario is not the fact that it’s claimed to be. It also ignores that many creationists have become creationists because of the evidence, by clearly implying that creationists always start with their conclusion.

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  2. Further, the problem you imagine is actually more of a problem for non-creationists, who seem to think that it is only with the benefit of recent science that we’ve been able to correctly understand the creation account, because prior to about 200 years ago, essentially nobody understood from Scripture that the world was millions and billions of years old; they all believed it to be thousands of years old.

    Doesn’t mean their belief/understanding was correct.

    Did God write His testimony in such a misleading way that He knowingly allowed humanity to misunderstand it for thousands of years until the arrival of non-Christians who could correct that misunderstanding?

    Loaded question.

    You seem to be treating John 16:13 as though the Holy Spirit will guarantee that all Christians will never misunderstand anything, which is obviously not the case, given that we don’t all agree on some things.

    Maybe we’re not listening to the Holy Spirit properly. After all, we are flawed and sinful.

    Regarding your third question, yes, it’s theoretically possible, but unlikely given the evidence, and simply suggesting the possibility does not make the case.

    We all have the same evidence. We’re just interpreting it differently. (Hence, all the different denominations – 41,000 according to wikipedia.)

    I have previously described that cartoon as hypocritical and misleading. It is nothing more than a caricature, and is therefore not accurate at all. The “scientific” method is an ideal, often not the case in practice, especially in the case of naturalistic (and other) evolutionists who conclude before looking at the evidence that God wasn’t involved. The “creationist” method is therefore actually descriptive of the evolutionary method.

    Trying to make Creationism look like legitimate science?

    Evolution is a-theistic, not atheistic. It does not require a ‘god’, but it does not rule one out altogether. It merely looks at the evidence and tries to determine what happened.

    Is it not true that YECs say: The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development that involve evolution in any form are false.

    And you also said: So for a Christian, the first question, before even looking at the evidence, is, who are you going to believe? The infallible, omniscient, creator, or fallible human beings?

    So, it is abundantly clear from your own words that YECs have already formed their conclusion before looking at, let alone interpreting, the evidence.

    Further, it ignores the fact that creationism is more of an exercise of looking at the evidence to fill out the details in the framework given by the Bible, rather than the simplistic idea given in the cartoon of just looking for facts to support the preconceived “conclusion”, and also an exercise of using scientific evidence not to prove the Bible, but to show that the evolutionary scenario is not the fact that it’s claimed to be.

    Wrong. YECs are not looking at the evidence, they’re interpreting the evidence – and interpreting it in a way so as to match their understanding of the Bible.

    It also ignores that many creationists have become creationists because of the evidence, by clearly implying that creationists always start with their conclusion.

    However, once they become creationists, they do have to start with their conclusion. Remember: the first question, before even looking at the evidence, is, who are you going to believe? The infallible, omniscient, creator, or fallible human beings?

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  3. “Doesn’t mean their belief/understanding was correct.”

    Who? The ones who all believed it to be thousands of years old? No, I’m not claiming that the belief was correct. I’m pointing out that if there was virtual unanimity on the understanding of that aspect of Scripture, it must be pretty clear what it’s saying, and that meaning doesn’t fit with the claims of mainstream science today.

    “Loaded question.”

    What’s loaded about it? In my previous paragraph I established the basis for the question.

    “Maybe we’re not listening to the Holy Spirit properly. After all, we are flawed and sinful.”

    Yes, that’s (sort of) my point, which point answers your question.

    “We all have the same evidence. We’re just interpreting it differently.”

    But as I said, it’s not enough to simply suggest the possibility; you also have to make the case.

    “(Hence, all the different denominations – 41,000 according to wikipedia.)”

    The number of different denominations is not due solely to differences in interpretation. First, that figure is (if you follow the references) “the global sum of the total number of denominations in each country. There is overlap between countries because many denominations are present in more than one country”. That is, the Anglicans in Australia and the Anglicans in New Zealand constitute two of those denominations. They are different (denominational) /organisations/, not denominations as such. Actually, it may be worse than that. Presumably the Baptists in Victoria (members of the Baptist Union of Victoria) are counted separately to the Baptists in New South Wales (Association of Baptist Churches in NSW and ACT)

    In addition, there are national churches (denominations) that are organisationally distinct from a denomination in another country that may share the same views, but have no organisational connection.

    Not only that, but one reason denominations are separate is that they have different views on how the denomination should be organised. That is, in these cases, the differences are to do with church government, not theology.

    “Trying to make Creationism look like legitimate science?”

    Certainly not in the section you quoted from me before this comment of yours. I didn’t even mention creationism.

    “Evolution is a-theistic, not atheistic. It does not require a ‘god’, but it does not rule one out altogether. It merely looks at the evidence and tries to determine what happened.”

    Yeah, sure. That’s the party line, but contradicted by the evidence. However, I’m not sure if you are claiming that it is not atheistic in /origin/, or just in /implication/.

    As far as origin is concerned, from http://www.astorehouseofknowledge.info/w/Evolution#Motivation (see there for references):
    “Michael Ruse, believing that Christianity and evolution are compatible, criticized those who used evolution as an ideological tool against Christianity by stating that for them, evolution is a religion in its own right, and further, that this is how it began: “Evolution … came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.” Stephen Jay Gould agrees, saying that evolution is inherently materialistic and that this is what Darwin intended.”

    As far as implications are concerned:
    William Provine: “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.”
    Julian Huxley: “Darwin’s real achievement was to remove the whole idea of God as the Creator of organisms from the sphere of rational discussion.”

    See also http://www.astorehouseofknowledge.info/w/Evolution_and_the_Bible which has a lot more on this.

    “So, it is abundantly clear from your own words that YECs have already formed their conclusion before looking at, let alone interpreting, the evidence.”

    First, one of my points was that evolutionary science has done this. So at best, the right-hand side is correct but also applies to evolutionary science. Second, I didn’t straight-out deny that the right-hand side was wrong insofar as creationism is concerned. I described it as “simplistic”, not “wrong”.

    “Wrong. YECs are not looking at the evidence, they’re interpreting the evidence…”

    The two are not mutually exclusive. They look at the evidence, and interpret within their worldview. My statement was correct.

    “However, once they become creationists, they do have to start with their conclusion.”

    Given that they /didn’t/ start with that conclusion, I guess what you actually mean is that once they become creationists, they /continue/ with that conclusion as the basis for further research. So what? That’s what scientists (legitimately) do.

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