Time Tensions Part 5

There are Time Tensions with Science

This is the last “time tensions” post I will do before moving on to discuss more positively the Analogical Day View. I saved this for last because I consider it almost irrelevant to my position. The Analogical Day View does not hing on science, it is based on the text of scripture. However, we shouldn’t ignore what God has revealed in nature either.

This is a vast subject. Thousands of books have been written on the subject and I have only read a fraction of them (however there can be a lot of overlap from one book to the next). The science will range from that which is intuitive and straightforward to highly technical. Some measurements are highly variable and are therefore unreliable. For instance, measuring the amount of silt deposited in a river delta. In theory if a river deposits X tons per year, then we can measure the total tons of deposits and then get the total number of years. However, the amount of silt the river carries may vary from year to year. Maybe for the first thousand years it was just a tiny creek which carried almost nothing. But then again maybe it was huge and flooded regularly depositing massive amounts. There are other ways that we can discern certain aspects of its history, but the point is that this is so variable that it is not a reliable guide.

Most measurements that are used, however, are not that way. Scientists try to use measuring tools that have little to no discernable variation in them. The speed of light is a good example. As far as we know, the speed of light does not change (yes I have read Barry Setterfield’s work, and yes I am familiar with passing light through highly refractive medium, no I don’t find them convincing or relevant).

Radiomentric dating is another method that yields vast ages. Some elements show striking variations in decay rates (which would severely mess it up as a clock) such as dysprosium and rhenium. But these are not the ones used to date things (I am also aware of the RATE study). Many other elements show very little variation and therefore serve as good measuring devices. Initial amounts of daughter isotopes can sometimes be eliminated as a factor by using isochron dating. On the whole I consider this to be a reliable dating method.

There are many more methods for measuring the age of the earth. Many of these are completely independant of one another. Yet they all correlate to give dates well beyond what most young earth creationists are willing to concede. One may quibble with some of these measurements, but for the most part I consider them to represent good science, and trying to discredit all of them starts to look like desperation.

It is like measuring your table with a wooden ruler. That has some problems, because how do you know you placed the start of the ruler exactly at the same spot as the end of the ruler from your previous measurement? Then you measure the table with a tape measure. This also has problems because metal can expand and contract with temperature. Then you measure it by rolling a 2” diameter cylinder with a paint stripe across the table and counting how many times the stripe comes up. And so on. Each of these may have some problems, but they all seem to give an answer that more or less agrees with the others at around 8’ or 96 inches. Suppose further that someone says they think the table is only .00005” long (that is about the size of a virus). That is the level of error that has to be in each of these measurements to yield a date similar to what YEC proponents would accept.

I was not one who was ready to accept the vast ages. I read through a lot of material trying to debunk the ages. But there was no way I could credibly deny the validity of all of the measurements, and I certainly could not prove that they were off by a factor of a million. There are a number of unresolved problems with the standard paradigm. However, most of these problems still represent ages far beyond the 6-10,000 year timeframe.

The maturity view takes the position that God created the universe mature which means that it has the appearance of age.  Adam was created as an adult, so he looks old even though he was just created. I find no objections to this view as far as it goes. But problems arise when we consider things that are not necessary to maturity. Adam was created mature, that is fine. But if Adam’s skins had scars which indicated a healed cut, or knits in his tibia which indicated a healed fracture, then we have a problem. These things indicate a history that never happened. The same is true in the universe. Just to take one example, supernova are stars that have exploded (click the above image for reference). If we see a supernova of a star too far for its light to reach us in 10,000 years, then we have just seen a video of something that never happened.

Since the Analogical Day view does not take an official position on the date of creation, then it has no fight either with those who say it is old, or those who say it is young. Although personally I think an old earth is easier to defend.

But science can never determine your interpretation. The Bible is a written text. The law of gravity has no effect on the meaning of a passage. Genre, grammar, lexical analysis, historical and cultural context, comparative literary analysis, structure of the text, mood, all of these determine meaning – not science.

So why bring it up? Because people err. Maybe we missed that our text is arranged in a chiastic structure. Maybe we missed that our passage is in an abecedarian structure (easy to miss if we are not reading it in the original languages). Maybe we are unaware the the semantic domain of a certain word. All these and more can lead to a wrong interpretation. If our interpretation is incorrect, then it may conflict with other parts of the Bible, or with our experience in nature. These conflicts are red flags. Red flags to not solve the problems, they only highlight that there are problems. It gives us pause to consider if we may have missed something in our interpretation.