Monday, July 15, 2013

Creationism, the Age of the Earth, and the problems with opponents of YEC

It has been some time, but Bill Evans had written a response to Al Mohler's presentation promoting Youth-Earth Creationism (YEC) on his blog [HT: The Aquila Report]. While there are a lot of interesting things that can be said in response, chief of which is that Mohler is a popularizer not an expert in YEC, I would like to focus on one particular aspect of the conversation concerning Creation and the Age of the Earth question — that of studious ignorance and non-interaction with the YEC position.

As someone who has read YEC literature and am convinced of the YEC position, I have been exposed to and was taught the Framework position at Westminster Seminary California, in which I am a student. There is of course nothing wrong with studying what other positions are. In fact, it was an interesting experience in and of itself reading [M.G.] Kline and others. The problem however is the almost total ignorance I have found of the YEC position, something that I have seen is extended to much of the Reformed world, or at least those segments that think themselves part of the Reformed intelligentsia.

Such ignorance of the YEC position is seen everywhere. The portions of the creation reports of both the OPC and the PCA are woefully inadequate, the authors in the the Three Views of Creation are nobodies in the YEC community and I have seen few if any interact with the scholarly work done by any of the actual YEC intellectuals! In WSCal, the only major YEC they mention is E.J. Young, and while not denigrating Young, Young is no YEC scholar! He is a OT scholar, not a YEC scholar, and the two are not the same! One does not have to be an expert in the YEC position after all to be an OT scholar.

In Evan's articles, the usual stuff are paraded before us, all without any interaction with YEC answers. Now, the YEC answers may or may not be correct, but it is totally unscholarly that Evans should post the usual objections to YEC claims while not interacting with answers provided by those who actually defend YEC. Non-interaction with the YEC position is preaching to the choir, and would certainly fail to convince YECs like me who actually know the arguments for YEC.

First of all. Evans claimed that the rationale for YEC is to slam the door shut on Darwinism. While that is certainly a beneficial result of YEC, Evans failed to realize that there are YECs, like me, who are YECs because they believed Scripture teaches it, not because of any perceived reaction(s) against Darwinism. Secondly, Evans repeats the usual "scientific consensus" concerning the Age of the Earth, failing totally to interact with the criticisms of the dating methods in the scientific literature of the YEC scientists. As a non-scientist, Evans should not be taking sides in the scientific debate unless he interacts with the scientific arguments. Furthermore, to rely on "consensus" to argue for truth is fallacious, for the "scientific consensus" changes over time. Does Evans really want to tell us that Christians ought to have defended geocentrism based upon the "scientific consensus" during the Medieval period? Evans commits here the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum. Evans also has taken a realist epistemic view of Science, totally ignoring the seismic shift in the philosophy of science that Thomas S. Kuhn brought about.

Thirdly, Evans shows himself totally ignorant of YEC claims concerning the age of the earth and the fossil record. It is simply astounding that Evans speaks about the "apparent age of the earth," since YEC scientists deny such a thing. The earth does not come with an age tag! There is no apparent age, just faulty dating methods that claim to tell us the age of the earth. Fourthly, Evans confused common grade with science, as if General Revelation is equatable with the findings of "Science" (whatever that means). The problem is that there is no such thing as "Science," defined as an impersonal set of natural truths about the world. As both Michael Polanyi and Thomas Kuhn (though coming from different angles) have pointed out, there are only scientists doing experiments in a discipline that people call science. Scientists are NOT people following the "scientific method" (which eliminate all biases) to find the brute empirical facts! General Revelation is true and infallible, but our interpretation of General Revelation (in the scientific enterprise for example) is fallible and often false.

Fifthly, Evans produced the same canard about death before the Fall, ignoring the fact that YECs generally distinguish biological death from the the death of the nephesh chayah. Now, whether that is a good explanation is beside the point here. The point is that: one should not caricature the position one is critiquing. Nobody claims that there was no plant death or bacteria death before the Fall, and for Evans to think that is the YEC position further shows those opposing YEC have no idea what they are talking about.

Sixthly, and lastly, Evans assumes a certain interpretation of the ANE creation myths, and the worldview they supposedly had. Such a view of course is not new. The idea that those dim-witted ancients were idiots coming up with mythological tall tales, and those cosmologies were total myths by those ignoramuses, comes from liberal scholarship. That there were works like the Ennuma Elish and the Gilgamesh Epic is besides the point. The point is: How should these works be interpreted? The mainstream interpretation adopted by lots of those opposing YEC is that the ancients think in terms of myths of gods and goddesses, but why should we think such was the case? Why should we think there were such things as "ancient cosmologies" that the ancients invented for the purpose of proclaiming the superiority of their god(s)? Why can't those "ancient cosologies" be seen as the distorted versions of the truth subsequently written down by Moses? Why can't we see that those ancients really believed those events actually occurred? The Sumerians probably believed Gilgamesh and Enkidu actually existed, and that those events described in the Gilamesh Epic actually happened in the times of their ancestors, even though YECs would say the Epic itself was a distorted story of Noah and the Flood event.

The problem with Bill Evans, as with many of those opposing YEC, is that seldom if at all do they actually interact with YEC scholars. Popularizers such as Al Mohler are easy targets, but it would be actually helpful if those opposing YEC actually interact with the position itself, not build a plethora of strawmen and light them on fire for all to see.

8 comments:

Justin said...

:-)

Good article.

Like you, my YEC position has nothing to do with reacting to Darwinism.

I'll be following your site in the future!

c.t. said...

As a YEC can you give me a thumbnail explanation from the YEC perspective on when the angels were created and when the rebellion of Satan took place? I don't ask in a manner to disagree with YEC, I have come to call myself YEC, but I seem to get whiplashed around whenever I'm made aware of this subject of Satan's rebellion and the creation of angels prior to that. Thank you.

PuritanReformed said...

@Justin:

thanks

PuritanReformed said...

@c.t.:

There is no "YEC perspective" on when the angels were crated and the rebellion of Satan. The broad consensus of the universal church is that the creation of angels take place sometime during the 6 days, while the rebellion of Satan occurred sometime between the 7th day of creation and the Fall (excluding the Gap theory which placed it between the 1st and 2nd day).

c.t. said...

I guess my thought is that doesn't seem to leave a lot of time for such epic events, and it is literal time that the YEC position kind of calls for.

PuritanReformed said...

@c.t.

Both the creation of angels and the rebellion of Satan happened on heaven, not on earth. Those events happened according to heaven's time, not earth's time. Secondly, how slow can a rebellion against God be?

c.t. said...

I guess the reason I said not enough time was the statement in Ez. 28 (or Is. 14, I forget which now) that said Lucifer was in the Garden of Eden prior to his fall.

Interesting point on it being heaven though and not earth. I suppose even in the Garden of Eden heaven and earth could both be present with even different realities regarding time.

PuritanReformed said...

@c.t.:

1) yes, there may be a difference in time as perceived between heaven and earth (Garden of Eden)

2) Also, the rebellion of Satan is normally put by YECs to be between the 7th day and the Fall, which did not happen on the 7th day for sure.