Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, November 21, 2005

Young Earth Biblical Creationism: The Red-Headed Step Child of Contemporary Christianity

More and more I am becoming annoyed with Christian thinkers who marginalize biblical creationists who teach a young earth cosmology, i.e., the world was created in 6 ordinary, 24 hour days as Genesis 1 and 2 teach, and is no more than 6,000 to 10,000 years old. Biblical creationists are either ignored outright by the Christian community, or dismissed as cranks from out among the lunatic fringe.

I wanted to spend a couple of posts exploring why that is. Why are young earth, biblical creationists (YEC) treated like the proverbial red-headed step child by the contemporary Christian Church? Let me begin with the second group who willfully dismiss YEC as ignorant cranks.

A recent example of this attitude come from old earth, progressive creationist champion, Hugh Ross. He of course makes it his job to criticize YEC so there really is nothing new to report. However, in an interview with a Florida newspaper, he proclaimed that 6 day creationists are "anti-intellectual" and "terrified of science." Anti-intellectual and terrified of science? Perhaps he was misquoted or the reporter interviewing him took the liberty to put those words in his mouth, but the descriptions of YEC as being "anti-intellectual" and "terrified of science" does reflect Ross's perspective that they are a bunch of red-neck, "bybul thumpin" hill-billies who think science is of the devil. I find that to be an amazing comment coming from a person who excels at milking personal persecution to the fullest by constantly complaining of being called names and slandered by mean hearted YEC detractors.

But this willful dismissal of YEC by labeling the group as anti-intellectual really only serves to embarrass Ross and others from his camp. The simple fact of the matter is that their slur against YEC is entirely baseless.

This past Saturday, I attended a creation symposium where I sat through an hour long film presenting the final, published conclusions of ICR's RATE project. RATE stands for Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth. The purpose statement from ICR's website describes the project:

One of the most significant challenges to young-earth creationism is the perception that radioisotope dating methods have established that the earth and universe are billions of years old. A group of young-earth researchers called RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth) have banded together to investigate the basis of these claims and offer an alternative young-earth explanation. It is believed by the RATE group that processes other than radioactive decay over long periods of time may better explain the presence of secondary decay products.

Dr. Stephen Boyd, who was a team member and did a statistical analysis of the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 to determine the genre, also spoke about his part he played in the project. He listed 6 major, pioneering objectives from the overall RATE project:

1. Applying all four radioisotophic dating methods to the same rock unit. There are 4 radioisotophic methods utilized by geologists when dating rock. Normally, only one or two are applied to the same rock unit. The date that conflicts with the geologist's presuppositions about "age" are dismissed. In RATE, all 4 methods were applied and the result was a rock dated with a huge varying margin. One method would say the rock was 800 millions years old, while another method would say the same rock was 2.3 billion years old. There is something seriously wrong with such a wide margin. If the rock is a specific age, all 4 methods should have come to roughly the same conclusion.

2. An exhaustive study of polonium radiohalos in granite. Polonium is a by product of uranium decay. The tell-tale halos it leaves in the granite crystals should not be presence, but it is, indicating a much younger rock.

3. Development of an alternative geochronometer from previously ignored bi-product of radioactive decay, helium, by measuring leak rate as a function of temperature. Rocks that are billions of years old should have no helium in them. All the rocks tested did. Hence, the radioisotophic methods are not accurate.

4. Applying C-14 to dating diamonds. This had never been done before because geologists believe no diamond would contain it - the diamond is too old for there to be any C-14 present. Diamonds tested by RATE all contained C-14. A discovery that even shocked the university labs testing for it.

5. Development of a new nuclear decay models to account for accelerated decay.

6. The development of a statistical tool to classify the genre of biblical Hebrew. In this case, the creation account of Genesis 1, and it was established with out doubt to be historic narrative, not myth or poetry.

These 6 areas developed by RATE is enough to demonstrate that Ross and other old earth proponents are wrong to classify YEC as anti-intellectual and afraid of science. Sadly, though, the RATE project will be willfully dismissed by Ross and his supporters as not worth considering. That tells me such contempt goes beyond just being misinformed about YEC, but comes from an attitude of self imposed bigotry.

more to come.



Blogger Stephen A Morse said...

Through reading individuals like H.Morris, Ham, and hearing Hovind speak I have come to be a YEC. This was challenged when I went through Seminary at Southern Baptist in Louisville. Several of the Theology professor are... profoundly Old Earth. This led to some fairly good exchanges during class.
I left discouraged but unconvinced by their arguments.
A couple months ago I came across an article and a radio program that Professor Russell Moore, dean of theology at Southern, did explaining his switch from old earth to YEC. It is found at:


7:12 AM, November 22, 2005  

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