Young earth creationism and really old living things

Posted on 03/24/12 76 Comments

When I grew up in a conservative evangelical (Pentecostal) church young earth creationism was the only game in town. With a blush I remember arguing the view to incredulous friends in high school and handing off a copy of It’s a Young World After All to my polite science teacher.

In the early 1990s I shook off the young earth view in university. There were two primary factors in my deconversion: first, coming to understand how to read ancient near eastern cosmogonic creation narratives (or at least how not to read them); second, coming to terms with the historical origins of modern young earth creationism (Ronald Numbers’ The Creationists and Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind were especially helpful). My further steps toward an evolutionary model of human origins were facilitated by a course I took at Regent College with Mark Noll and David Livingstone on Christianity and science. But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

My simple observation here is to point to the growing number of living organisms that we know are older than the 6-10,000 years, the typical span that young earth creationists allot for earth history. For many years I believed the oldest living organisms on earth were bristlecone pine trees. How wrong I was. A TED talk that I viewed recently by Rachel Sussman blew that wide open. She chronicles ancient living things, her benchmark being 2000 years old or older (in case you didn’t know, that is even older than Henny Youngman’s comedy one-liners). Included in her list are 80,000 year old trees and 600,000 year old bacteria. You can check out the video below. I also recommend this article on “The Oldest Trees on the Planet.”

Personally, I’m glad I can take this all in with unalloyed fascination rather than the skepticism, fear and cognitive dissonance that would have been my lot twenty-five years ago.

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  • Walter

    Now that we have established that YEC is a pile of baloney, could you point me to a prior post or article of yours that explains the biblical Fall as you understand it? Was there a single pair of humans that failed an obedience test, spawning the need for a redeemer to show up a couple hundred thousand years later?

    • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

      Was there a single pair of humans that failed an obedience test, spawning the need for a redeemer to show up a couple hundred thousand years later?

      Did you ask this question this way because blind mechanical forces compelled you to do so? Or would you say it was just an irrational psychological acting-out incident? ;)

      I won’t speak for Randal, but evolution certainly doesn’t preclude a fall, nor would the population of the pre-human species need to have bottlenecked to 2 for this to have taken place.

      • Walter

        I would like Randal to clarify his position on what he thinks happened.

        • http://tomlarsen.org/blog Thomas Larsen

          Regardless of what one thinks about the “Fall,” it’s pretty clear that human beings fall on an individual level. You don’t have to teach kids to be greedy, or to be unkind, or to hurt one another. Sometimes people can get so caught up in discussing the Fall event—were Adam and Eve two real individual people who fell?—that they lose focus on a much more important question, namely, “Are you a fallen human being?”

          • Walter

            Paul states specifically that sin entered the world through *one* man, and death through sin. Now I was brought up in a hyper-literalist sect of YEC Christianity and it fascinates me to speak with Christians who accept evolution, but they always seem to be a little vague about what supposedly happened to bring about a cursed and fallen earth. I would like someone, preferably Randal, to clarify the Fall from the perspective of a believer in Christianity and evolution.

            • Aaron

              “Paul states specifically that sin entered the world through *one* man, and death through sin.”

              Specifically&#8800Literally

              • Aaron

                Rather…Specifically doesn’t equal literally.

                In this case, I think Paul was referring to the literal Adam in the literal text.

        • Beetle

          > I would like Randal to clarify his position on what he thinks happened. </cite:

          Seconded.

          I grew up in quite a liberal church and the literal divinity of Jesus, as opposed to the importance of his message, was left an open question. Jesus almost certainly believed in a literal Adam and Eve and YEC so that is a problem for him being divine!

          It does seem to me that if Adam and Eve is parable, then what sin did Jesus die for? If Adam and Eve can be parable, then why not all the Old Testament prophecies that Jesus supposedly fulfilled?

          I am actually quite fond of many aspects of modern Christianity, but its core truth claims I find unjustified.

    • randal

      I’ll respond in a subsequent post.

  • AJ Smith

    A very interesting video. Thanks!

  • http://www.arnizachariassen.com/ithinkibelieve Arni Zachariassen
    • randal

      That’s an effective way to impugn the timeline!

  • Pingback: Literally as Old as Methuselah? « Exploring Our Matrix

  • pete

    We are all Adam and Eve.

    We can’t live in fellowship with God, because we have sinned.

    There is nothing we can do to restore that, save the hope in the protoevangelism contained within the curse on the snake in Genesis 3:15:

    “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

    Christ crushes the serpent (Rom 16:20) and opens the door for forgivenss and reconciliation with God (pick your New Testament verses)

    As for the classic Romans 5:12 passage you quote (re: death through one man), the qualification is “because all sinned”.

    The Hebrew for “ADAM” means “man”, “dusty” and the like….. Adam is representative of humanity.

    It also sets up the downward sin spiral leading to God wiping out humanity in the Great Flood. The Great Flood is also responding to Ancient Near East cosmogeny/theogeny type myths.

    • pete

      The whole point of the Book of Genesis (Origins) is to teach national Israel their national and theological origins.

      For my 2 cents, I think this was written at a time in the Babylonian Exile, when the Jews would have been asking “Is Marduk (god of the Babylonians) stronger than Yawheh?” and “How did we end up in this place?”

      And Moses didn’t write it.

    • Walter

      We are all Adam and Eve.

      Are you saying that the Fall repeats in every individual person throughout history? That it was not a one time event which caused all subsequent generations of people descended from the first pair to be cursed with original sin?

      • pete

        Walter,

        That’s a good question. While I don’t outright dismiss the possibility that at one punctilliar instance humans evolved to a point that God held them culpable of sin….

        I’m more inclined to see this mythic teaching the human condition that all people will sin, and fall from God’s grace…

        There is a subtle nuance on the implication for those found in Jesus Christ..

        But Romans 5:12 can be reconciled on this symbolic view.

        As for our condition, I think God created humanity incomplete, and allowed/designed for us to be initially led astray by the Devil (who he also created).

        Scripturally, this appears to be for the purpose that he could have mercy on those who repented and followed his Son.

        “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” (Romans 11:32)

        I think its also important to note that early church fathers, and I’m thinking of Augustine specifically, didn’t much care for age of the earth questions.

        I think young earth debacle began with Bishop Ussher of Britain in the renaissance era, and the Darbyism of the 19th centry.

        I’m just glad that the texts of the Mesopotamian, Caananite, and Egyptian religions have been preserved, because I think otherwise, we’d be missing the whole point of Genesis.

        And all that is to say, I teach my kid both evolution and the proper way to understand the Book of Genesis.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I watched the video and noticed that Ms. Sussman never gave any proof, argumentation, or even explanation of how she dated all these various life forms. She didn’t explain, for example, whether a common method of dating was used for all forms, or whether different methods are employed for different ages. (After all, she was discussing life forms that varied in age, as I recall, from 175 years to half-a-million years.)

    Therefore, to watch this clip with “unalloyed fascination” would require that one regard Ms. Sussman as an expert on the matter of her lecture, and worthy to be trusted when she gave the age of any life form she discussed.

    That Ms. Sussman is worthy of such trust on this subject seems to be the view of the folks at TED (audience and producers) as well as Randal. I do not write to challenge that. My only comment on all this is that if we were to accord Jesus of Nazareth that same degree of trust when he speaks on areas of his expertise (i.e. God, truth, unseen things), the world would be a very different place…and our unalloyed fascination would be even greater.

    • randal

      “That Ms. Sussman is worthy of such trust on this subject seems to be the view of the folks at TED (audience and producers) as well as Randal.”

      If you want to adopt some massive error theory (e.g. Sussman and the scientists who vet material for TED talks are stupid or ignorant or wicked or something else) you need to have more to go on than vague insinuations and groundless suggestions.

      • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

        Randal, you’ve completely misread me. Don’t look for insinuation, because there’s none there. Just take what I wrote at face value. If you do, you’ll see the point I’m making. (Clue: it speaks to the issue of your recent posts about

        • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

          Oops. Hit the send button accidentally.

          To continue: …your disputation with John Loftus about faith, how it’s defined, and just who is using it.

          • randal

            I got it. You’re saying that we have faith in Sussman and the scientific community, not that the faith we have is misplaced. Agreed.

    • David Evans

      If it occurred to me not to trust Ms Sussmann, I would have several ways of checking her. I could (and did) go to her blog and trace her references to one particular plant (Lomatia), where I learned that the quoted age of 43600 years rests on radiocarbon dating. I could find the publication in which the age is reported and the names of the authors, and use Science Citations Index to see if anyone challenged it. It would be hard to do the same exercise for Jesus.

      You do not have to believe her to be an expert on the relevant sciences, only that she is reporting accurately the views of those who are experts. This can be checked. She has a blog which allows comments. My experience is that few errors go unnoticed in the blogosphere.

      • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

        David Evans, you said:

        “It would be hard to do the same exercise for Jesus.”

        Actually, it’s easier to do the same exercise for Jesus. You don’t have to go to a library, you just go to your conscience. You don’t have to be educated sufficiently in science to be able to sift through the library’s indexes and articles, you just have to be sensitive enough about right and wrong. You don’t have to inquire of intermediaries, you can ask God yourself from an honest heart to make it known to you if Jesus is true.

        • David Evans

          How, then, is it possible for Christians to disagree on YEC? Are all the honest hearts on one side of this debate, and if so, which one?

          By the way, it took no knowledge of science to check that Ms Sussman was referring to a real paper by scientists at a real university. Just 5 minutes on the internet.

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            David Evans,

            I don’t see that all honest hearts are on one side of the YEC debate or the other, which is why it’s unseemly when one side impugns the motives or intellectual integrity of the other.

            • David Evans

              I feel I am not understanding you here, on at least two points.

              In your first post here you raised a doubt as to Ms Sussman’s trustworthiness – a doubt which, as I pointed out, is easily resolved. Was that not unseemly by your criteria?

              Also, this is a thread about YEC. I took you to be suggesting that the truth or falsehood of YEC could be established by asking God with an honest heart. If so, my question stands. If not, what was the point of your post?

              • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                David Evans,

                I was not raising a doubt as to Ms. Sussman’s trustworthiness. On this point, see my exchange with Randal above.

                I was suggesting that the truth about Jesus could be answered by asking God with an honest heart. As for the truth about science, we’re better off consulting the kind of sources you mentioned. As to the point of my post, again I refer you to my exchange with Randal. To summarize it: Faith is more commonly and productively practiced by humanity than realized, and, when placed in Jesus, is particularly rewarding.

            • Beetle

              Mike, are you a YEC or not?

              If so, how do you reconcile the conflict between acepted scientific consensus and your religious beliefs?

              • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                Beetle,

                I don’t know enough science to know whether I am YEC, ID, or YMCA. Because I know so little science, I tend to trust scientists on whatever they say. However, when someone tells me that “science says” I cannot take the Scriptures seriously, I know that person has stepped beyond the boundaries of science.

                • David Evans

                  I would never tell anyone not to take the Scriptures seriously. I would say that the scientific evidence for the Earth being billions of years old is overwhelming, from several independent disciplines. The evidence that it’s much older than 6,000 years is even stronger. If anyone’s reading of Scripture is inconsistent with that, I would ask them to reconsider.

                  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                    David Evans,

                    I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says how old the earth is. I do read a creation account. Given its genre, and given its subject, I don’t propose that I can translate it into scientific terms. But since I am not a scientist, it is neither my right nor my responsibility to do so anyway. On the contrary, it is the responsibility of scientists to figure out how their findings correlate with Scripture.

                    • Walter

                      On the contrary, it is the responsibility of scientists to figure out how their findings correlate with Scripture.

                      No, not really. It is the job of scientists to bring us closer and closer to objective truth. It is not their job to insure that their findings don’t contradict a particular group’s metaphysical dogmas.

                    • randal

                      “it is the responsibility of scientists [who are also Christians] to figure out how their findings correlate with Scripture.”

                      Similarly, scientists who are naturalists seek to figure out how their findings correlate with their metaphysical commitments.

                    • David Evans

                      “I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says how old the earth is.”

                      I think that’s disingenuous. You must surely have heard of Archbishop Ussher’s calculation that creation occurred in 4004 BC, based largely on the stated ages of Biblical kings and patriarchs. There is obviously room for argument there, but I would say a literal reading of the Bible very strongly implies that the Earth is not more than 10,000 years old. There is just no room to fit in the odd billion years.

                      “Given its genre”

                      Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it. If Genesis 1 and 2 are not meant as literal descriptions, a number of conflicts between Christianity and science disappear. But if they are meant as literal, they do present a problem. “Science” is not something that can just be walled off from the rest of our beliefs. It is the means by which I am talking to you. If scientists were so egregiously wrong as they would have to be to make Genesis literally true, why would any of our technology work?

                    • randal

                      “I would say a literal reading of the Bible very strongly implies that the Earth is not more than 10,000 years old. There is just no room to fit in the odd billion years.”

                      The Bible is a collection of literature from three languages, multiple genres, and spanning a millennium. It is a sign of the biblical illiteracy of the modern world (and, alas, a sign of a wider illiteracy) that people even countenance a phrase like “a literal reading of the Bible”.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Scientists are indeed exempted from having to correlate their findings with the views of any particular group or dogma. They are not, however, exempted from the claims of Jesus Christ, to whom all authority in heaven and on earth belongs – and about whom the Scriptures testify.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      David Evans,

                      The age of the earth is one thing, the historicity of Adam and Eve is another. Determining genre alone does not settle either issue, and the literal or nonliteral choice is a false dichotomy. There’s more room for nuance than that.

                      Of this much I am sure: Adam and Eve were historical people, for so the prophets and the apostles who wrote the Scriptures regarded them. The claims of Christ – most notably His resurrection – as well as the claims of ancient Israel from which He came, are all claims of God acting in history. To chip away at the history of the claims is to chip away at their heart.

  • robert

    speaking of Genesis and a literal fall etc. http://youtu.be/mEOqxibhCxU

    What is your take on this examination of youth desiring to slaughter their parents for shinny watches and we are all little Hitler wannabe’s. I never understood how an embryo can hate God but according to Mr. Washer thinking.

    Oh and Leprosy is a disease and has nothing what so ever to do with how good or evil a person is.

  • http://twitter.com/davidstarlingm davidstarlingm

    She has a tattoo, so clearly she can’t be trusted. Women with tattoos be evil.

    But seriously — really neat video!

    When it comes to the really old stuff in here, the dates themselves depend on a complex cocktail of radiocarbon dating calibration, hypothesized mutation clocks, and growth rate estimates. So….yeah.

  • http://twitter.com/davidstarlingm davidstarlingm

    David Evans said:

    If Genesis 1 and 2 are not meant as literal descriptions, a number of conflicts between Christianity and science disappear. But if they are meant as literal, they do present a problem.

    For one thing, I object strongly to the use of the word “literal”. Not only is the word “literal” laced with ill-advised implications, but it’s utterly inapplicable to the Bible. No verse in the Bible should be read “literally” per se. The Bible should be read in cultural, historical, and grammatical context, not twisted to the whims of whatever the reader thinks is “literal”. /endrant

    “Science” is not something that can just be walled off from the rest of our beliefs. It is the means by which I am talking to you. If scientists were so egregiously wrong as they would have to be to make Genesis literally true, why would any of our technology work?

    Ooh, there are so many things wrong with this argument.

    I suppose that Archimedes was unable to build block-and-tackle pulleys because he subscribed to a Ptolemaic cosmology, hm? And Newton couldn’t run the Royal Mint because he thought light was corpuscular, huh? Sorry, but this argument is Not Even Wrong.

    Potential uncertainty and feedback loops in models for biological development or for tectonic physics has nothing to do with integrated circuit design. Even if a model used to explain evidence is completely wrong, it can still make useful predictions if its errors are qualitative rather than quantitative.

    • David Evans

      Not Even Wrong? It’s almost an honour to be the object of that splendid phrase. But your examples are not convincing. In the time of Archimedes and even of Newton there was no unified model of science covering everyday technology and cosmology. Now (thanks to Newton and his successors) there is. To take a particular example:

      We can design and build nuclear power stations because we have a deep understanding of nuclear processes. That includes the knowledge that the rate of spontaneous decay of (for instance) uranium into lead is effectively constant under any conditions likely to be experienced on Earth. From there and from the observed composition of certain rocks it follows that the Earth is billions of years old. If we were wrong by a factor of almost a million in that estimate (as YEC would require) what earthly reason would there be for our nuclear power stations to work?

      • http://twitter.com/davidstarlingm davidstarlingm

        In the time of Archimedes and even of Newton there was no unified model of science covering everyday technology and cosmology.

        Not to be snarky….but fifty years from now, they’ll probably be saying the same thing about us. “They didn’t even have a unified model of science covering Hawking radiation and bosonic matter! Besides, they thought CMBR was an afterglow. Hah.”

        If we were wrong by a factor of almost a million in that estimate (as YEC would require) what earthly reason would there be for our nuclear power stations to work?

        So you assume that the only possible way that the earth could be young would be a mechanism of accelerated decay, and that such accelerated decay could not possibly be linked to a transient physical process? Cool.

        • David Evans

          If radioactive decay were accelerated by a factor of around a million, there would be other consequences. Radioactive ores would melt or vaporize from the released heat, and would certainly not be in the form we now find them. And if the same effect acted on the radioactive potassium-40 in our bodies, the cancer rate would be very high.

          There is also the question, can you change one physical parameter by a factor of a million while leaving all the processes our life depends on unchanged? I don’t think so.

          • http://twitter.com/davidstarlingm davidstarlingm

            I see that you indeed have made the assumption I cited. Too bad.

            If radioactive decay were accelerated by a factor of around a million, there would be other consequences. Radioactive ores would melt or vaporize from the released heat, and would certainly not be in the form we now find them.

            Oh, absolutely. If radioactive decay ordinarily happened a million times faster than what is observed, the earth would have long since melted from the heat. No one is saying that our observations of decay rates are somehow invalid. Heck, I can measure the decay rate of caesium-137 in my old school’s lab with a Geiger counter any time I want. All these are simple observations; nothing to dispute there.

            Laying aside your unsubstantiated assumption that the only possible young-earth model would require constant & current multiplication of radioactive decay rates….

            The most cogent YEC model I’ve heard is that a cataclysmic shift in the solar core produced a temporary period of dramatically increased neutrino production, vastly accelerating radioactive decay. The release of heat inside the earth caused accelerated tectonic activity, resulting in global earthquakes and massive flooding. As the sun’s core stabilized, the radioactive decay rate returned to normal.

            • David Evans

              “Oh, absolutely. If radioactive decay ordinarily happened a million times faster than what is observed, the earth would have long since melted from the heat. No one is saying that our observations of decay rates are somehow invalid.”

              Yes, but my factor of a million assumes that the accelerated rates applied for the whole of the YEC timescale. If they applied for a shorter period the factor becomes proportionately higher. If it’s roughly the duration of the Flood we are talking of a factor of several billion.

              Actually that still wouldn’t solve the problem. With such a decay rate all the uranium ores would have melted. As they cooled they would have separated gravitationally into uranium and lead. Our present-day uranium bearing rocks would give wildly different “ages” depending on whether we looked at the top or bottom of the deposit. Needless to say this is not what we find.

              Has anyone done detailed calculations on the effects of your neutrino burst in terms of radiation poisoning, stripping off the atmospheres of the inner planets etc? Or, indeed, whether it could possibly have such an effect on decay rates?

              • pete

                I “love” how God’s word, intended for the salvation of fallen humanity, has turned into a science debate.

                The six days of creation are parallel at day 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6.

                It’s Hebrew literary parallelism we are dealing with here. In fact the same structure appears to have been used in the Book of Isaiah…

                I say leave the age of the earth to the scientists, and Biblical interpretation to the scholars and theologians.

            • David Evans

              PS

              We do have a theory as to what happens to a star which exhibits “dramatically increased neutrino production”. We think it becomes a supernova.

              Oops.

              Seriously, I don’t think that YEC model is remotely consistent with our understanding of physics.

  • Beetle

    Mike Gantt wrote:
    The age of the earth is one thing, the historicity of Adam and Eve is another. Determining genre alone does not settle either issue, and the literal or nonliteral choice is a false dichotomy. There’s more room for nuance than that.

    How do you decide which parts of the Bible to take literally, and which are allegory? I think that you use a heuristic based only with your ability to willingly suspend disbelief or not to consider implications too deeply!

    So your faith is too small to accept 10K year old world (can’t blame you there), but a historical Adam and Eve you find highly plausible? Do you imagining that the Biblical Adam came before or after Mitochondrial Eve? If after, how is it that we all inherit sin, when so many would not be in the blood line? If before, there is at least 100K years of human history omitted from the Bible! What else about do feel certain about Adam and Eve? Adam from dust and Eve from his rib?

    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

      Beetle,

      You suggest conflict where none exists. I did not say that I had trouble believing in a ten-thousand year old earth. I said I had no biblical basis for insisting on an old or young earth. I’ll leave that argument to the scientists.

      As for Adam and Eve, they are described as actual people on a number of different occasions in the Scriptures, within a number of different genres, by a number of different people. (You demonstrate the biblical illiteracy Randal bemoaned when you imply that Scripture consists of but two genres: literal and allegory.)

      As for “Mitochondrial Eve,” she is a hypothetical being whose existence is inferred based on observation of current realities hypothesized into an infinite past. Although Genesis 1-2 does not come with a date stamp, it does make clear that the past is not infinite, and therefore that we have no right to infer unlimited timelines. Presumably, when God created Adam and Eve (whatever is precisely meant by “dust” and “rib” in that context) they were both created as adults – which would have given them the appearance of having aged, even though they hadn’t. Assume just for discussion’s sake that Adam was real and you met him the day after God made him. You’d probably infer that he was born at least 20 or 30 years before – but you’d be wrong. The fact of creation means that we cannot feel free to project the past without restraint. History is helpful in keeping science grounded in this regard.

      Your objection validly demonstrates why those who toss out Genesis 1-2 merely for the sake of “reconciling with science” are exchanging short-term mental relief on that front for long-term mental warfare on a number of fronts. Unfortuantely for your argument, I am not one of those people who toss out Genesis 1-2.

      • Beetle

        > I did not say that I had trouble believing in a ten-thousand year old earth.

        I must respectfully suggest that once someone knows that about you, they are likely to find you unpersuasive on other matters.

        • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

          Beetle,

          I’d be lying if I acted as if I knew the age of the earth. If lying is the price of being persuasive, I’ll forego persuasiveness.

          • Beetle

            My own opinion is that using the Internet to deny what science tells one about the world is lying, but enough about that! I would very much like to hear more about what you are certain about Adam and Eve. You said they are actual people, do you also conclude that they lived at the same time and within the last 10,000 years? If that is the case, how has every human genetically inherit sin? Or do you just not try and worry about such things too much? Also are you are saying that Yahweh created Adam dust just because he could? Or might that part be allegory?

            • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

              Science has its place; so does history. Ancient Israel was a nation keen on genealogy, and with ample reason to be so. You may struggle with the idea that God made man from dust, but surely you don’t struggle with the fact that that’s what we return to.

              Jesus Christ solved man’s biggest problem: death. He does this by dealing with its cause: sin. Science has no answer for sin or death. If you put half as much faith in God as you do in science, you’d be much better off.

              • Beetle

                Sorry, but I cannot ascribe any authority to your opinions when your take on cosmology is so infantile.

                • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                  Beetle,

                  Science is a good thing, but you have made it your god.

                  • Beetle

                    Whatever is my god has no bearing on your hypocrisy. You are denying science, while reaping all that it has provided you, just so you can embrace bronze age mythology as fact?

                    Please, tell me more about what you are certain Adam and Eva. Do you suppose they lived within the last 10,000 years or not?

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Beetle,

                      Far from denying science, I have said it is good.

                      My primary interest in Adam is to understand how the biblical references to him elucidate Christ and His work. That pursuit does not require me to ascertain Adam’s birth date.

                    • Beetle

                      I am not asking for birth date. Just the ball park. 10,000 years ago? 100,000 years ago? I submit that any answer you give is incompatible with science.

                      Glad to see you challenging Randal in the the From Adam to Zorg: A Dialogue on Creation and Evolution thread.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Beetle, you said:

                      “I submit that any answer you give is incompatible with science.”

                      If Adam had a supernatural origin, I don’t know how science could detect it.

                    • Beetle

                      The problem is reconciling the Biblical account with what science has told us about the world. A deity creating a human from dust, despite millions of humans being created naturally and around at the time, is ridiculous but that is not the contradiction. Now your god has just 10,000 years to get Adam and Eve’s DNA into everyone alive today. Science tells us conclusively that did not happen, and being born with apparent age does not solve the dilemma. The required on-going follow-up miracles are actually more spectacular that the original incarnations, but they are unspecified by the Bible, let alone by contemporary apologists. All you can do is (figuratively) stick your fingers in your ears and pretend that there isn’t a problem. Unless your Amish, it is totally dishonest.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Beetle,

                      You are overstating your case. The most you can say is that science at its current level of maturity cannot explain how Gen 1-3 happened.

                    • Beetle

                      LOL. It is true that science cannot explain how Gen 1-3 happened! Science is addative and incremental, so I do not see how science could ever explain it.

                      But my point is that one cannot explain Gen 1-3 in a way that is compatible with science, but at least we seem to agree about that!

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Beetle,

                      You continue to overreach in your claims for science.

                      I don’t say that Genesis 1-3 and science are incompatible. I say that science is, by definition, limited in its ability to explain Genesis 1-3. Part of this limitation is due to its immaturity as a field of human study and part is due to its definition and nature which will never change – that is, it can only observe and describe natural events, not supernatural ones.

                      None of this should cause us to depise science, however, for it can be the means of accomplishing much good…especially if we use it to do the will of Christ and not pursue selfish desires.

                    • Beetle

                      I think you are deliberately being disingenuous. An eighth grade eduction is enough to understand how wildly impossible are many of the Biblical stories. The Sun standing still in the sky is my favorite, but Adam and Eve is right up there. It is not that these things are inconceivable, it is that the purported miracle would have to be supported by thousands of other more miraculous event that are not hinted at in the Biblical account.

                      I think a Christian has three choices:

                      1) Deny that there are problems. (You can lie to yourself, but don’t expect to be convincing to anyone else who is not in active denial.)

                      2) Recognize that there are incompatibilities between science and religion. Decide that religion trumps and science is therefore on the wrong. In order not to be a hypocrite, this requires giving up technology.

                      3) Create an accommodation, as Randal has done, that certain scripture stories are true only in a metaphysical sense.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Beetle,

                      So, if I tell you that you can devote yourself to living for Jesus Christ while disavowing any biblical account that seems in your mind to be incompatible with science, are you interested?

                  • 1981cudd

                    Mike
                    “Science is a good thing, but you have made it your god”
                    Next time you bow your head, bow it to a greater power than Jesus, to a more effective and efficient savior than he has ever been —-SCIENCE.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      1981cudd,

                      Science has not bled for you.

                      But at least you know what you worship. That’s can be a starting point for you.

  • 1981cudd

    It seam’s to me that the bible from a Christean pint of view has to be an all or nothing book. The Bible is the sacred text of the Christian faith the error-free word of God OR it’s not?
    If it is not all historically true then what part’s are allegory and what part’s are history? and who decides!
    Eden history or myth!
    If the fall of Adam and Eve are unreal theologically speaking, then Jesus is unreal. It is claimed that it was the fall of Adam which necessitated the death of Jesus, but if Adam’s fall is a fiction, Jesus’ death as an atonement must also be a fiction.

    “If it is not historically true that such and such things happened in Palestine eighteen centuries ago then what becomes of Christianity?” -Thomas Huxley

    • randal

      Cudd,

      When you enrolled in first year English in university you got a big fat textbook called “The Oxford Companion to English Literature”. It was full of poems, short stories, essays and other literary tidbits. Did it occur to you to say “This must all be ‘historically true’ or who decides?”

      No, you paid careful attention to genre and learned how to read each text on its own terms.

      • honest_john_law

        “Did it occur to you to say “This must all be ‘historically true’ or who decides?”

        No, you paid careful attention to genre and learned how to read each text on its own terms.” – randal

        What an advantage it must be to have sufficient education and readily available sacred scripture with which to be able to do this. Meanwhile, it is remarkable how the essential truths of the faith were preserved and shared with so many people when sacred scripture was not yet mass produced and widely available. It is also remarkable how the essential truths of the faith were preserved and shared with so many people who lacked sufficient education to actually read sacred scripture for themselves as it became widely available.

  • Alan Hawkins

    Was there so much as a hint of information about how these ages are determined?

    Did i just miss it?

    A fifteen minute talk is fascinating but not convincing. And laden in her talk was the politically correct inference, no assertion, that humans are responsible for endangering these ‘immortals’ by our impact on climate change.

    But I always love the TEDs

    • randal

      “A fifteen minute talk is fascinating but not convincing.”

      I agree if you come to the talk believing that the scientific consensus on the age of the earth is wrong then you won’t be persuaded. But in fairness the talk wasn’t attempting to persuade people who are skeptical of the scientific consensus. If the talk was being delivered to a group of YEC’s then I would hope the speaker would speak to them and their concerns. But as it stands the audience was clearly not a group of YEC’s.

      • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

        Fair point, Randal.

        It’s a qualification that skeptics of Jesus Christ should keep in mind when they read the New Testament documents. Those writings were like the video – presentations of ideas among people with a common worldview. The NT docs were not written to persuade skeptics. Rather, the authors and writers shared certain convictions which were not in dispute and therefore not addressed – just as with the video.

        Just as people will get more out of the video by keeping that in mind, they will get more out of the New Testament by keeping it in mind.

  • http://universe-life.com/ Dov Henis

    Pre AAAS religious trade union Eaerthlife genesis:

    Earth’s Primal Organisms (Per Sleep And Chirality)
    AAAS Religion-Trade Union Dictates Notwithstanding

    A.
    Traces of Inaugural Life
    Geologists, biologists join forces to tell new stories about the first cells on Earth
    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/340401/title/Traces_of_Inaugural_Life

    “Earth’s first living organisms didn’t leave behind footprints or bite marks or bones. These single cells thrived quietly in a tiny pocket somewhere on the planet”.

    B.
    EarthLife Genesis From Aromaticity/H-Bonding
    http://universe-life.com/2011/09/30/earthlife-genesis-from-aromaticityh-bonding/

    The address of Earth Life Genesis, of phasing from inanimate to animate natural selection, is Aromaticity.Hydrogen Bonding.

    Dov Henis
    (comments from 22nd century)
    http://universe-life.com/