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« Challenge: You Think Something Came from Nothing | Main | The Birth of Transableism: Why Our Culture Bites Absurd Bullets »

June 02, 2015


P.S. I suppose I should have started with this:

I'm not trying to nitpick Greg. I enjoy his ministry and agree with 99% of what he says. The only reason I'm bothering to address this here is because it's a very common objection. I've heard Greg mention it on at least one other occasion on his radio show, plus yesterday, plus the solid ground article. I also hear this issue brought up a lot of other places. That's why I thought I would spell out why I don't think it's a good objection and see what some other people here thought.

Welp, I guess I did start with that... I tried posting this first but apparently failed. You might say that my first post has an appearance of age??

Re: Starlight & the Age of the Universe,

I'm going to interact with the article here.

1. In Greg's first point he asks "Isn't it safer to draw conclusions on the way things actually look rather than suggest some divine sleight of hand?"

All things being equal, it is better to go with the way things actually look. However the YEC would maintain that not all things are equal. We are in a position, says the YEC, where it seems God is saying that he created the Earth in a short period of time relatively recently. And if God has said "I created this object a short time ago" and the object appears to have been made a long time ago then it is safer to go with what God has said rather than the way things appear to us.

2. Greg draws a distinction between appearance of age and appearance of maturity. However I don't think that distinction holds up. Something is understood to be mature if something has reached a certain point of development. Development implicitly involves a process occurring over a period of time.

The important point of difference, for Greg, seems to be that "When something appears aged, there is evidence that the passage of time has left its mark." And supposedly when something has the appearance of maturity (but not the appearance of age) there is no evidence of time passing.

Greg wants to argue that a mature Adam and Eve would have an appearance of maturity but not an appearance of age (no evidence of time having passed), but in regards to star light there is an appearance of age.

I think that line of argument fails.

First, a non-developed (non-mature) human being is a single celled organism at its earliest stages. Over time, humans become multicellular. Thus, multicellularity is a mark of time having passed. Thus, multicellularity is an appearance of age. Thus, Adam and Eve (if we believe they were created as mature human beings and not evolved from lower species) had an appearance of age that did not reflect their actual age.

So I don't think Greg has escaped the appearance of age argument for his own position (since Greg doesn't hold to universal common descent). Greg suggests a third option that there may be legitimate appearances of age and non-legitimate appearances of age. I'll address this later.

3. Greg suggests that appearance of age may be acceptable if (1) the text of Scripture indicates that a thing was made with an appearance of age and (2) there is a practical necessity to creating a mature/aged thing. He suggests that the creation of Adam and Eve may meet these conditions, but starlight does not.

But it seems to me that if Adam and Eve meet conditions (1) and (2) then surely starlight does as well. For one thing, the text of Scripture indicates that the stars were created either on the first day or fourth day and he assigns their purpose for people on the earth on the fourth day. Now if the divine author of the text understands stars to be millions of light years away and if the divine author of the texts understands the lights to be shining on the earth on the same day or a few days after their creation, then clearly the text implies some appearance of age. One may say that begs the question against OE readings of the text... but no more than Greg's begs the question against theistic evolutionist readings of the text. Regarding (2), the practical necessity of creating star light that reaches to earth would be for them to fulfill the purpose given to them on day 4.

(I'll not bother addressing the other appearances of age that Greg mentions--rock formations, erosion, etc--though it's not hard to see practical necessity in some of these things too--can't grow crops without soil. I don't think "practical necessity" is the only justification for an appearance of age. And the entire criterion falls apart when we consider that there was no practical necessity for God to not create things via theistic evolution or some other way!)

4. Greg then turns to his more serious challenge and this is where he spent his time on the radio program yesterday. The light from stars isn't just a glow, it's an echo of history. With telescopes we can read that history. But if YEC is true, it's a fictional history. Star light is carrying data of a past that never was.

However I think that assumes God created the light in a particular way that the YEC does not need to assume. Suppose a string of photons bounce off a red rubber ball and travel to your eye. Greg is thinking of a situation like this:

But there is no reason that God could not have created a situation like this:

I used to have a modeling program called Bryson (or something like that, can't remember exact name) where you could create 3D terrain. So you could create a static waterfall with water stretching from the top of the fall to the bottom. Once you hit play the water starts to fall. The water at the top now travels to the bottom, but the water that started at the bottom before one hit play was never at the top. Imagine being able to do something similar with a ray of light extending from model of the sun. The ray extending at the furthest point from the sun can carry the same data that the ray at the closest point does. Once you hit play a sequence starts.

Thanks, Coca-Cola. Good thoughts. I’ll offer another line of argumentation as well:

We typically make a number of assumptions when it comes to analyzing the light that reaches us.

A. Time generally passes the same rate throughout the universe.
B. Refraction of light is largely very minor over large distances.
C. That the creation of God and the sustaining influence of God are two different things.
D. Vis ‘C’ and ‘A’, that God didn’t create an entire history of the universe that actually happened on creation day 4.

If we accept that we can measure the speed of light, then we must understand that it assumes relative consistency of homogenous time. The production of light requires dramatic time dilation on a quantum level. Refraction is an indication that this time dilation can be translated into the macroscopic world. If time is not consistently homogenous, then we don’t have a standard by which we can measure distance based on the observation of light travel. If passage of time in the distant universe is not as homogenous as it is on the earth’s surface, or even in our solar system, then we have no way of knowing it simply by analyzing the light, although the information carried by the light may present some anomalous behavior.

Given this, we can observe the following:

1) We are dependent on the light to tell us the processes that generated the light as well as the conditions through which the light passed. This is problematic at best. It’s like seeing a fish in the water and trying to determine the location of the fish without knowing the nature of the water.
2) The nature of light being inextricably tied to dramatic time dilation makes it impossible to generate statistical likelihoods regarding the certainty of analyses without being able to independently analyze its conveying medium.
3) It’s possible for God to create an entire history right now that actually happened that didn’t exist a moment ago.
4) It’s possible for God to use naturally observable physical principles to accomplish ‘3’.
5) It’s possible for God to accomplish ‘3’ without using naturally observable physical principles.
6) Give ‘4’ and ‘5’, it is impossible for us to use our understanding of natural principles to determine how God did it.
7) Therefore, the most reliable information we have is still in Genesis 1 and those passages that reference the account in Genesis 1.

From a distant cousin of the man who first formulated Coca-Cola…

Thanks Jim. I don't know much about sciency stuff, but I give you props for being related to the guy who formulated Coke.

To other things:

I was reading Vos' Reformed Dogmatics just now and am in the section where he discusses indirect proofs for the deity of Christ. He mentions the following two verses, which of course I had read before in light Christ's deity, but the relevance of the these two verses to caller question #2 about Jehovah's Witnesses struck me:

Col. 1:16-17 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Hebrews 1:10 “And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;”

The caller said that Jehovah's Witnesses were trying to deny that John 1:3 was about Jesus. But the Colossians and Hebrews passages quoted above seem to slam the door shut on that possibility.

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