Sam A. Smith
The misapplication of “creation science”
While Recent Creationism claims to be a biblical view, its support is almost entirely from creation science. The following are examples of the kind of scientific information used: 1) Decay of the Earth’s magnetic field indicates it is less than ten thousand years old. 2) The amount of helium in the atmosphere, given that it is generated at a constant rate, indicates that the Earth could not be more than about ten thousand years old. 3) The presence of oil under pressure creating oil gushers indicates a recent creation, since otherwise the pressure would have been relaxed over long ages through dissipation of pressure in permeable rock. 4) The amount of dust found on the Moon suggests that the Moon is seven to eight thousand years old, based on assumed levels of annual deposit. 5) The amount of cosmic dust deposited on the Earth indicates an age less than ten thousand years. 6) The Earth’s rotational velocity indicates that the Earth could not be old; given a constant rate of decline in velocity, if the Earth were billions of years old, the original high rotational velocity would have produced a very different looking planet: land masses would have formed primarily around the equator. 7) The existence of comets indicates a young Universe. Since comets give off particles as they travel through space, if the Universe were billions of years old, the comets would already be completely spent. 8) Diamonds have been found that have measurable amounts of carbon-14, which should be undetectable if they were more than a hundred thousand years old. This is only a sampling of creation science examples cited by recent creationists as evidence of a recent creation ex nihilo.
The difficulty in attempting to use the above and similar observations as evidence of a recent creation is that they do not prove, or even support a recent creation ex nihilo. All of these factors, even if assumed to be correct, could be fully accounted for by the recent “forming” of previously existing materials as described in Genesis 1:3-31 during the six days of Genesis 1 (see the previous article). They do not require a recent creation ex nihilo, only a recent six-day formation. This illustrates a deep methodological flaw in the case for Recent Creationism; since recent creationists mistakenly assume that the creation ex nihilo occurred within the scope of the six days of Genesis (within the last ten thousand years), they therefore conclude that the Universe could not be older than ten thousand years. The reason this line of reasoning is illogical is because the Genesis account clearly places the creation ex nihilo prior to the first formative day of Genesis 1; as such, we don’t actually know how much time might have lapsed between the original creation and the first day. In other words, recent creationists fail to acknowledge that a creation ex nihilo prior to the first day, as the structure of Genesis clearly indicates, combined with recent formative days would fit all of the data they point to; and it certainly fits the structure of the first chapter of Genesis far better than anything recent creationists have proposed. We should also bear in mind that evidence against biological evolution is not evidence for a recent creation. Genesis 1 indicates that the Universe was created prior to the first of the six days of formation, but that life on Earth was created on the third, fifth, and sixth formative days (see the previous article). Thus the Universe could be far older than life on Earth.
Why Recent Creationism Doesn’t Make Sense
Recall that in the previous article it was pointed out that the first chapter of Genesis does not teach a recent creation. Here I would like to address three fundamental problems with the recent creation theory itself. These problems fall into three categories, though they are closely related. There is: 1) an observational problem, 2) a logical problem, and 3) an ethical problem. All of these are fatal problems and any one of them individually should be sufficient reason to reject the entire theory.
The Observational Problem
The unique qualities of light are very helpful in understanding the size and age of the observed (i.e., currently visible) Universe. The current scientific estimate of the size of the observed Universe puts it at a radius of about 13.8 billion light-years. [Recently this figure has been questioned. Some calculations now put the radius at about 11.2 billion light-years; the verdict is still out. Also, the “observed Universe” should not be confused with the “observable Universe.” Since the furthest galaxies that can now be seen have moved since the light we now see left them; the size of the potentially observable Universe has greatly increased in the meantime.] If, as astronomers estimate, we are seeing light from galaxies perhaps 13.8 billion light-years distant, this would lead to the common sense conclusion that the Universe could not be just a few thousand years old, since it would take 13.8 billion years for that light to have reached Earth. (Light travels one light-year of distance in one year.) We have to be tentative with such numbers; nevertheless, even most knowledgeable recent creationists generally accept the current estimate of the size of the Universe, and even if these figures were off by ninety-nine percent, which no cosmologist Christian or non-Christian believes, the indicated age of the Universe would still be far older than ten thousand years. Some recent creationists have suggested that perhaps the solution to this problem is that the speed of light was faster in the past than it is now, allowing the light to reach Earth more quickly; of course any theory that requires a wholesale adjustment to one of the fundamental constants of the Universe is probably going to be dead on arrival. Remember, the velocity of light is specified in Einstein’s formula, E=MC2 (“C” is the velocity of light). Any change to the velocity of light would likely have profound implications for the very nature of the Universe. In any case, a change in the velocity of light would not account for the apparent long history of events in the Universe as we will see.
A logical Problem
Recent Creationism depends upon maturity having been built into creation from the beginning in order to account for why the Universe looks so old; this relationship can be expressed as: appearance of age = maturity. In other words, according to recent creationists the Universe looks old, not because it is old, but because it was created in a mature state, and mature things naturally look older than things that are not mature. When recent creationists look at the Universe and see features that appear to be millions or billions of years old, they account for that apparent age by virtue of the Universe’s maturity at creation. In effect, recent creationists take the position that maturity and age are indistinguishable qualities. The problem with this reasoning is that it can easily be shown to be false. If maturity fully accounts for the appearance of an object’s age, it should be impossible to distinguish between a newly created object and an object having reached the same level of maturity through process of time. Let’s imagine a thought experiment to see how this logic breaks down. Objects that reach maturity through process of time not only appear mature, they also exhibit the accumulated effects of events having taken place through the passage of time. For example, suppose it were possible to have the newly created Adam in the Garden stand beside a man that had reached the same level of maturity through the passage of time. Would a person that had never met either man be able to distinguish between them without asking them any questions? Absolutely, an examination of growth plates, scars, worn teeth, fillings, broken bones having healed, stretch marks, skin damage due to Sun exposure, etc., would make the identification rather straight forward. Why? Because maturity and the appearance of age are not equivalent as recent creationists assume. The same is true in regard to the Universe. The Universe exhibits not only maturity (fully formed galaxies, stars, planets, solar systems, etc.), it also bears the scars of great age (galaxies having collided and merged, stars having spent their fuel and having exploded across light-years of space, gravitational interference between galaxies, countless intragalactic and intergalactic streams of light images and radio signals containing the record of millions and billions of years of time-bound events). So, if what we see when we look at the Universe cannot be fully explained by virtue of a mature creation, and it absolutely cannot, Recent Creationism is left with no explanation of why the Universe looks so old or how it got that way. This one area of Recent Creationism is so seriously out of touch with reality that it might turn out to be “the” greatest reason for the rejection of the Bible on the part of students educated in a recent creationist environment. The Universe is too big to hide, and it’s just a matter of time before Johnny and Suzy, who were taught such a logically incoherent theory in Sunday school get into college and discover that the wealth of physical evidence in the Universe doesn’t fit the picture painted by recent creationists.
The Ethical Problem
Finally, there is the ethical problem. This is a little more difficult to describe. Let’s begin with an obvious point upon which all Christians should agree: God cannot lie, nor can he deceive; yet Recent Creationism implies, I’m sure unintentionally, that God has deceived man about the fundamental nature of the Universe and its origin. How so? Astronomers, using simple common-sense observations estimate that we are seeing light from distant galaxies billions of light-years away. Those estimates are not seriously challenged, even by recent creationists. Common sense dictates that the Universe could not be any younger than the amount of time it would have taken that light to traverse the distance from its point of origin to Earth. Of course this implies a not-so-recently-created Universe. Now, lest anyone think I’m putting common sense ahead of the Bible, let me say that simple common sense is what allows us to understand the Bible in the first place; it is in fact how we distinguish natural events from miracles. If one throws out common sense, they are going to have to throw out their Bible too! At this point some recent creationists have suggested an alternate solution: God simply created the light stream in place, i.e., in situ. This is sometimes referred to as the “creation in transit theory.” If this were true, any image we see through a telescope of an object greater than about ten thousand light-years away never originated at the source from which it appears to have come; for according to this theory there would not have been enough time for the light to have arrived on the Earth. The epistemological implications of this would be staggering to say the least! If God created the Universe in this way, how could we ever have confidence in any observations of the physical Universe? Such an explanation as recent creationists give plants doubts as to the true nature of the Universe, its history, and what can actually be known by observation. This would be highly problematic since God clearly intended that our observation of both nature and the Universe should lead to a better understanding of his nature, power, and wisdom (Psa. 8:3; 50:6; 97:6; Rom. 1:19-20).
However, we have not yet come to the ethical problem posed by this theory. If the foregoing explanation were true, then for a galaxy five billion light-years distant from Earth, the light stream at the moment of creation would have been five billion light-years long, assuming that at creation it reached all the way to the Earth. So, what’s in a light stream five billion light-years long? The answer is five billion years of history recorded in images. Yet that’s nearly five billion years more history than is possible if the Universe is only ten thousand years old! Taking this one step further, if this were the case, one of two things would have to be true: either the Universe is discontinuous (i.e., more like a stage prop, in which case observations mean nothing, because the observer is not seeing what he, or she thinks they are seeing, and common sense is a fairy tale), or God has recorded a history in starlight of events that never happened! Either of these alternatives would be disturbing, because they imply that God has intentionally misled man about the nature and origin of the Universe.
If that were not enough of a problem, it gets worse. Today, we have clear pictures of large nebulae, galaxies in collision, some even completely assimilated, and large intergalactic gravitational effects for which only an older Universe (i.e., older than ten thousand years) can account. Take the merger of two galaxies as an example: two galaxies, each with a breadth of about a hundred thousand light-years could hardly merge in the space of ten thousand years. Even if God created them such that their outer edges were already in contact (odd), and even if they were moving toward one another at the speed of light (not feasible), the minimum time required for a complete merger would be fifty thousand years (one moves fifty thousand light-years to the “left” while the other simultaneously moves fifty thousand light-years to the “right”). Add to that the amount of time required for their angular momentums and gravity to merge and for the images to arrive on Earth, and we can see that ten thousand years doesn’t begin to be enough time for such large-scale features to form, even in this greatly oversimplified example. Thus, recent creationists must contend that the Universe was created with all of these scars, scars depicting a history that never was; and to make it all look very realistic those events that never happened appear to have obeyed the general laws of motion and gravitation! In some cases nearby galaxies have brushed scattering stars in their spirals across tens of thousands of light-years. In the case of the Cartwheel Galaxy one galaxy has passed completely through another, blowing out a huge ring of gas over a hundred and fifty thousand light-years in diameter that is now condensing into new stars. It is impossible that such structures could have formed in the time allowed by Recent Creationism. If God put his omniscience to work to devise a plan to thoroughly deceive man about the origin of the Universe, he couldn’t have devised a better plan than what the recent creationist proposes!
The “bottom line”
Here is the bottom line with respect to recent creationist thinking: 1. The Universe looks really old, billions of years old. Recent creationists readily admit this fact; that’s why they proposed the mature creation theory in the first place, to explain how the Universe could look so old and yet be so young. 2. At present, creation with maturity is the only theory that recent creationists have in their attempt to explain the difference in the way the Universe looks and their belief about its age. 3. The creation with maturity theory as a way of reconciling the Universe’s appearance with a recent creation is illogical because maturity and age are not the same, which leaves recent creationists with no logical explanation of why the Universe appears to be billions of years old. 4. If God created the Universe such that either he readjusted the physical constants of the Universe in the past or planted images in starlight of a history that never existed, then God skewed the physical evidence of creation such that no observations of the physical Universe can ever be trusted to yield truth about its origin or age; odd for One who bids man to look at creation to see His works and worship Him.
As John Adams, one of the founders of the United States of America once observed, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence” (as quoted in: Conspiracies of the Ruling Class, by Lawrence B. Lindsey, p.27. Simon and Schuster, 2016). No matter how convenient a recent creation might be in refuting evolution, for that was the original motive behind the movement, it simply does not fit the facts, neither the facts of the Bible nor those of science.
Sadly, Recent Creationism has been fused with many other areas of Bible and theology, which will be difficult to untangle. Even the study of the biblical flood is frequently presented in concert with Recent Creationism when in fact there is no direct connection between the two events. Also Recent Creationism has found its way into the doctrinal statements of many churches, Christian schools, and other Christian organizations. It’s time to recognize the obvious: Recent Creationism is a failed theory that has become a false doctrine, no matter how well intended it might have been.
Copyright 2019, by Sam A. Smith
All Rights Reserved
Published September 2019 by BiblicalReaderCommunications.com