Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some Recent Reviews Concerning Genesis

Here are a few recent worthwhile posts on Genesis and evolution:

1. Recent Challenges to the Doctrine of Inerrancy: Peter Enns and ‘Myth’ in Genesis 1
By Dr. John J. Yeo, Reformed Theological Seminary Atlanta. Yeo rebuts Enns' notion that Genesis 1 is related to ANE myth.

2. A Critique of “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People,” by Tim Keller
By Dr. Adrian Keister (Ph.D. in mathematical physics from Virginia Tech).An excellent critique of Keller's pro-evolution stance.

3. The Enns Justifies the Means?
by Ken Ham. A Review of the latest book, just off the press, by Dr. Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam (2012). Enns argues that we must accept evolution as a fact, which entails that there was no literal Adam nor a literal Fall.


Steve Drake said...

Dr. Byl,
What do you make of the modern MC (mature creationism) view as espoused by Dr. Adrian Keister in his critique of Keller's article? (Your No. 2 in this original post).

As I understand it, the MC view differs from a YEC view in that while accepting and believing that Scripture teaches a cosmos and earth less than 10^4 years old, the MC'ist agrees in principle with the implication of the methodological naturalist's interpretation that it is 14 billion years and 4.55 billion years old respectively.

John Byl said...

Hi Steve

I concur with Keister’s crucial distinction between operation science (e.g., relativity and quantum mechanics) as opposed to historical science (e.g., Big Bang cosmology, macro-evolution); the latter is beyond direct empirical testing.

Since we cannot go back into the past to observe what actually happened, mature creation [i.e., the notion that the universe was created in mature form, light rays and all, in the recent past] cannot be scientifically disproven.

Mature creation entails only that the universe, at creation, would seem to have had an apparent age. It does NOT necessarily entail agreement in principle with current naturalist age estimates.

One difficulty is that drastic changes-- in nature or its laws-- may have occurred after creation (e.g. Fall and/or Flood). Another difficulty is that, in principle, other models, even naturalistic ones, might explain the same data and come up with a different apparent age.

Thus, I concur that the proper conclusion is that science can tell us nothing about the actual age of the universe. Only Scripture can.

Steve Drake said...

Hi John,
Mature creation entails only that the universe, at creation, would seem to have had an apparent age. It does NOT necessarily entail agreement in principle with current naturalist age estimates.

I agree with your fist sentence, but in the comment section on GreenBaggins, the second sentence does not seem to be what 'some' mature creationists are saying. If they are, and I am misreading them, then what is the distinction, and why do they see the need to differentiate themselves from the YEC view?

John Byl said...

Hi Steve

The distinction between YEC and mature creation made in the GreenBaggins comments is:

"YEC is the view that the earth is young, and shows evidences of being young.

Mature creationism is the view that the earth is young, but was created looking old in every way — that its age cannot be determined by physical examination."

It seems to me, however, that "YEC" is usually interpreted to refer to the more general notion that the earth is actually young, regardless as to what its age might appear to be. Some YEC's may believe there is scientific evidence for a young earth, other YEC's may believe in mature creation....

Steve Drake said...

Thanks John,
I guess I would only ask, and tried to ask in my comments there, what does 'looking old' mean? If the definition of 'looking old' is that the universe 'looks' 14 billion years old, and the earth 'looks' 4.55 billion years old, how is that determined? Same thing with young. Young should be qualified.

And if one says that the universe 'looks old', but then says that the age cannot be determined by physical determination, isn't that really a contradiction in terms? On the one hand the mature creationist says it 'looks old', implying some kind of age, some determination of what 'old' is, and yet on the other hand says age can't be determined. If age can't be determined, then how does one know if something is 'old' or not? How is he comparing old and young if not by 'age'?

By the way, the code words used are very difficult to read and get correct. If this goes through, it would be my third and final attempt at typing in the correct code words.

John Byl said...

Hi Steve

I would define the “apparent age” of an object as its age as estimated within a particular theoretical framework. For example, we may try to estimate the age of a tree by counting rings or the age of starlight by the distance it travelled from its star, etc.

But this requires various assumptions about the constancy of natural laws involving tree growth, the speed of light, etc. Various theoretical scenarios could lead to different age estimates (e.g., perhaps more than one ring is formed each year, perhaps the speed of light declined exponentially in the past, etc.).

The difficulty is that one cannot travel back into the past to check these assumptions by seeing what really happened.

Some YEC projects aim to show that a theoretical framework entailing an apparently universe is more plausible than frameworks entailing an apparently old universe. This leads to a debate as what criteria should determine “plausibility” and how one should assess which theory best fulfills such criteria.

Mature creation, on the other hand, merely affirms that, immediately after creation, the universe would seem to have an apparent age when interpreted within any natural (i.e., in absence of miracles) framework.

The particular apparent age depends on the actual framework one uses. The notion of mature creation does not, in itself, tie one down to preferring any particular framework. Thus, while some may agree that the universe appears to be 14 billions years old (while actually being on 6000 years old), others may well dispute the framework yielding that apparent age.

I have turned off the code word filter. Hopefully this will not invite spam. Else I shall have to turn it on again.

Steve Drake said...

Hi John,
I think I'm beginning to see the trees through the forest here. Your explanations are helpful.

Do you see a problem though with those mature creationists who 'agree' the universe appears to be 14 billion years old, in contrast to those mature creationists who would dispute the framework yielding that apparent age?

In other words, from an apologetics standpoint, we know that men and women are 'without excuse', (in terms of natural revelation) but the skeptic may rightly ask:
You (the mature creationist) believe the universe is only 6000 years old from your Scriptures, yet you 'agree' with my naturalistic framework that it appears to be 14 billion years old. How do I bridge the gap? Must I accept your Scriptures as the only viable criterion for truth, and reject what I think the scientific evidence is showing?

From the YEC side, at least they are attempting to show that the framework upon which the 14 billion and 4.55 billion year old ages are based, are incorrect. That there are holes in the skeptic's assumption that the uniformitarian interpretation is unassailable and trustworthy.

How does the mature creationist who 'agrees' the universe appears to be 14 billion years old as opposed to the mature creationist who disputes the framework that yields those ages, respond to the skeptic here?

I appreciate your willingness to answer my questions. I'm an old man, and trying to work this through, but it's nice to have someone like yourself to bounce questions off of.

Also, thanks for turning off the code filter. I don't know if there are choices in what type of code filter to use, or degrees of difficulty in these types of filters, but this was not my first attempt at trying to leave a comment in the past couple weeks, and giving up because I couldn't get it correct after three tries.

John Byl said...

Hi Steve

There are different apologetic strategies one could take, not necessarily mutually exclusive.

1. The more evidentialist approach. This disputes that the preferred naturalist model really does explain all the data better than creationist models. This concentrates on specific observations and anomalies, making a scientific case for creationist models.

2. The more pre-suppositionist approach. This may grant, perhaps just for the sake of the argument, that the preferred naturalist model offers a plausible explanation for what is observed.

But it stressed such general constraints as the unverifiable nature of the presuppositions involved, the impossibility of going back into the past, and the impossibility of scientifically ruling out other options, such as mature creation.

It will look also at the implications of one’s worldview presuppositions. For example, materialist assumptions often lead to the denial of human freewill, moral and rational absolutes, etc. (e.g. Francis Crick, Stephen Hawking), thereby undermining any ability to do science.

The Christian worldview, on the other hand, offers a coherent explanation of reality as a whole--including the mental, moral and rational.

Steve Drake said...

Okay, thanks again,
Let me move over to your 'Brief Review of Creationist Cosmology' post, as I've got a question there.