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Biblical authority, Creation/Evolution, science

The definitive argument: CREATION (catastrophism) vs. EVOLUTION (uniformitarianism)

I have been studying creationism and evolution for the past two years.  I have participated in countless debates and had my knowledge expanded on both sides of the issue.  I feel I have finally come to the core of the issue and have formulated my comprehensive argument in favor of young-earth, Biblical creation.

  1. Creationists and evolutionists have the same evidence (same bones, same rocks, same earth), but come to different conclusions due to different starting assumptions used to explain the evidence.
  2. Evolutionists have a starting assumption of uniformitarianism of geology and biology.  This basically means that the rates and processes we measure today have remained constant and unchanged for all of history.
  3. Creationists have a starting assumption of catastrophism.  This basically means that if the Bible is true, then there are three very important events (a 6-day literal creation, a cursed world following original sin, and a worldwide flood) that intrude and disrupt the assumption of uniformitarianism.
  4. Therefore, if the Bible is true – uniformitarianism fails, and so do all conclusions (macro-evolution, old-earth) that flow from that assumption.

Realize this is not a denial of the scientific method.  This is a re-interpretation of the same data.  A person who truly believes the Bible is true has no reason to accept evolution or an old-earth because the Bible offers a different history than those theories use.  For evolutionists: yes, this argument hinges on the assumption that the Bible’s catastrophic events actually happened – BUT your conclusions also hinge on an unobserved, unrepeatable assumption: uniformitarianism.

The takeaway here is that the “overwhelming evidences” for evolution, old-earth, and slow geologic processes are interpretations built on assumptions.  Creationists have their own interpretations built on different assumptions.  This is not a battle over intellect.  It is a battle over whether the Bible is true.  The evidence can’t tell us either way.  A common misconception is that creationists reject micro-evolution and natural selection.  Not at all, those are actual observed occurrences.  We only reject the unseen lengths to which these changes can accumulate.

Of course this argument will raise a plethora of valid follow-up questions on everything from radiometric dating to dinosaurs to distant starlight.  For creationist interpretations to those issues, I suggest my Top 20 FAQ and more details on the three catastrophic events.

“You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and… They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised… everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.”

– 2 Peter 3: 3-6

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

18 thoughts on “The definitive argument: CREATION (catastrophism) vs. EVOLUTION (uniformitarianism)

  1. 2 isn’t true. I am doing a degree with bits of both biology and geology and I know that this is neither taught nor thought.

    Posted by psiloiordinary | November 6, 2012, 6:13 pm
    • I’ve heard this said before, but forgive me if I find this laughable. It’s a prime scientific concept. Uniformitarianism is required. How do you know that decay rates have never changed? How do you know that the Colorado river cut the grand canyon? Were you there to observe it all? You assume it has never changed because it doesn’t change today. It appears logical, but nonetheless it IS an assumption that doesn’t hold up to Biblical history.

      Posted by Tim | November 6, 2012, 6:30 pm
      • I understand, to a point, what you are saying. But in the end the assumptions made by scientists that these things are uniform are only made after intensive studies to show that certain laws apply. Decay rates can change (depending on what you are looking at, atomic decay not so much), other rivers may have cut the Grand Canyon (although these will probably just be named as precursors to the Colorado as they lie in the same bed…). The main point is that these all follow rules that have been shown in labs and given evidence for.

        The Bible on the other hand is a very good example of a corrupted, non-contemporary and biased historical account (ask any historian). Part of which contradicts it’s own statements…

        You say that you can’t trust scienctific consensus/uniformitarianism because it makes assumptions that can’t be shown due to massive scale or it’s time far back in history. But then you decide to trust words written by someone you’ve never met in a book? That is where I get confused.

        Posted by Nick Sarbiscuit | November 6, 2012, 9:45 pm
        • >after intensive studies to show that certain laws apply

          Yes, I agree – certain laws apply. But they can’t test those laws in an environment where God is intervening creating (creation), changing (curse), and destorying (flood).

          >then you decide to trust words written by someone you’ve never met in a book

          Well first, you assume I’ve never met Christ, but point aside – yes my position is an assumption as well. I’m up front about this, not trying to hide it, as I am arguing that mainstream science is. They are downplaying the ramifications of the assumption of uniformitarianism. I understand WHY they need it in their studies, but that doesn’t make it FACT. Science is the study of the natural world – I get that. But that doesn’t make it fact IF the supernatural exists.

          I’m told I can’t be YEC because of the scientific evidence for evolution. This is an argument showing that it is not the evidence that breaks down my argument, it is the interpretation, and I am welcome to my own interpretation.

          Posted by Tim | November 6, 2012, 9:54 pm
          • Agreed, everyone is entitled to an opinion and interpretation. And I’m not attempting a conversion to naturalism or anything (I’m not a naturalist myself). What I’m interested in is why the Bible holds more salt than the general scientific consensus.

            Nevertheless, you can say that God can bypass the laws of nature/physics (an obvious concept considering his nature), but you cannot say this is proved (outside of your own opinion). Assuming it is unproven, evolutionary scientists test what should have happened without intervention. So far everything fits that scenario, where no intervention took place.

            This is outside the realm of interpretation and opinion. But I do feel it is important to note that if God placed things in such positions, so as to give such clear and continuous evidence that so far has never been wrong, he must have had a very odd reason.

            Posted by Nick Sarbiscuit | November 6, 2012, 10:15 pm
            • >such clear and continuous evidence that so far has never been wrong, he must have had a very odd reason

              You seem to be adopting the opinion that “evidence speaks for itself”. I do not agree. I don’t believe a dinosaur bone comes out of the ground with a tag on it reading 65 million years. I believe a human puts that label on it based on interpretations that are fueled from their worldview starting assumptions.

              Posted by Tim | November 7, 2012, 2:11 pm
              • OK so I’m not a guru on radio labelling and decay. I’ll refer you to these blogs if you want a slightly more challenging dialogue:
                http://eyeonicr.wordpress.com/ – specifically set up to deal against creationism research and why it doesn’t fit in with scientific consensus.

                http://evoanth.wordpress.com/ – Evolution research

                And to continue with what I was going to say:

                As I said I’m not an expert in the methods they use to age certain specimens so I’m not going to come to it’s defence. Although I will say that again, it is a matter of choice as to who you believe (if you believe neither has direct and infallible evidence). What I will ask you is about the age of the Universe.

                Taking the speed of light, and the distance it travels in a year (a light-year) as a fairly sound measurement which is difficult to deny. How could light travelling from distant stars (which we know are very similar to our own sun) billions of light-years away reached our telescopes if the young earth creation story is true?

                Posted by Nick Sarbiscuit | November 7, 2012, 6:13 pm
                • Careful Nick, one assumption of evolutionists is to just say “well you need more education, then you’ll get it”. That is not the case here. I understand radioactive decay. I even admit that it makes sense IF an assumption of uniformitarianism is correct. I’m not batteling radiometric dating, I’m batteling uniformitarianism over all evidence.

                  The distant starlight issue requires a whole article to answer, and there are tons of them. I have not written one myself as I’m not convinced to a complete answer on this yet, but am aware of SEVERAL possibilites. For now I defer to PhD astrophysicist Jason Lisle and his ASC model. Here’s a link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v3/n1/anisotropic-synchrony-convention

                  Posted by Tim | November 7, 2012, 7:21 pm
                  • Tim, there are a number of problems with radioactive decay under YEC. As an example, if we assume decay rates were faster in the past, and what would be billions of years of decay was compressed into thousands, what happened to all of the energy released?
                    If the earth is billions of years old the energy released by radioactive decay has had all of this time to escape into space. If the earth is thousands of years old, the energy needs to have been released some some 400,000 time faster – that’s likely enough to turn the crust of the earth into molten rock for the supposed 6,000-10,000 years YEC’s claim the earth has existed.

                    As for your claims that uniformitarianism is assumed without reason – it’s not. It’s tested, and has been tested. If the rate had changed appreciably over time, there would be evidence of it (like the earth’s crust being molten if YEC claims were true).

                    Posted by riandouglas | August 5, 2014, 4:44 pm
                  • As for Lisle’s ASC, it lacks any real justification, and comes off as being nothing more than ad-hoc attempt to safe his YEC belief.

                    Posted by riandouglas | August 5, 2014, 4:54 pm
  2. If pastors, priests. rabbis, and “so called” Christians would stop their false (old Earth) and foolish (young Earth) teachings, and start promoting the truth of Genesis (Observations of Moses), then there would hardly be any room for the ridiculous teaching of evolution.

    What advantage is there to higher education, if what is being taught is false information? Evolution is a false conclusion of the 600 million year fossil record. The “Observations of Moses” is the only true rendition of Genesis chapter one, and is the correct opposing view to the evolution theory.

    Herman Cummings
    ephraim7@aol.com

    Posted by hzcummi | November 8, 2012, 10:20 pm
  3. I think 1 is a little inaccurate, as the assumptions of science are generally provisional in nature, and tested, while the assumptions of creationists are taken as certain without further investigation or justification (at least that’s what my experience has been).
    2 is also inaccurate. A basic assumption of science is that the processes today are basically the same as they were in the past. This doesn’t mean that catastrophe’s couldn’t have happened, but rather we can provisionally know what happened in the past by studying the evidence and processes we see today. This assumption is not assumed to be true, but rather is tested against the empirical evidence.
    3 masks the certainty which creationists tend to have concerning the truth of the bible. This presupposition never seems to be doubted or tested.
    I think your initial sentence in 4 is false. Even creationists tend to rely upon the processes of today in their explanations – it’s routine to refer to rapid canyon creation in order to explain away the age of the Grand Canyon for example. The conclusions you draw in point 4 are, however correct (though depend on a fairly strict literal interpretation of the bible). The converse is also true – if the age of the earth and evolutionary biology represent reality, then the YEC strict literal interpretation of the bible is false.

    Since as I’ve noted, YEC’s don’t really investigate their assumptions that the bible is true in a strict literal sense, then the conclusion that the earth is young is inescapable. But, since this conclusion rests upon unjustified and unquestioned presuppositions, it’s unsupported (and in fact, largely contradicted by the empirical evidence, hence the lengths YEC’s go to to deny things like radio-isotope dating techniques despite their demonstrated validity and consilience with each other, and with the general consilience of different scientific fields such as geology and biology).

    I find that YEC explanations tend to be isolated island explanations – the RATE project for example, claimed to show that the radioactive decay in a particular rock substrate could be explained as having happened over a YEC timescale. Left unexplained is where all the energy from such radioactive decay is if that conclusion is correct, hence my statement about the crust being molten under a YEC scenario above).

    Posted by riandouglas | August 6, 2014, 4:32 pm
  4. Perhaps you can help me with a question I’ve wondered about for years now.

    You’ve provided a good overview of the young earth creationism view of uniformitarianism. As you summarized: “Uniformitarianism fails” because it assumes that “the rates and processes we measure today have remained constant and unchanged…”

    This being the case, why do virtually all of the arguments and evidences which creation science people promote ENTIRELY DEPEND upon that same uniformitarian presupposition and approach?

    I grabbed these examples in minutes of Googling major creation science websites:

    “Measured rates of stalactite and stalagmite growth in limestone caves are consistent with a young age of several thousand years.”

    “The amount of salt in the world’s oldest lake contradicts its supposed age and suggests an age more consistent with its formation after Noah’s Flood, which is consistent with a young age of the earth.”

    “Exponential decay is evident from measurements and is consistent with theory of free decay since creation, suggesting an age of the earth of only thousands of years.”

    A reasonable assumption of population growth rate (0.5 percent) fits with a population that began with two people about 4000 years ago, not with a human history of millions of years.” —- Henry Morris

    “The rate of the moon’s recession indicates that the moon, and therefore the universe, could not be more than a few thousand years old.”
    “The Moon is receding a few inches each year. Less than a million years ago the Moon would have been so close that the tides would have drowned everyone twice a day. Less than 2 or 3 million years ago the Moon would have been inside the Roche limit* and, thus, destroyed.”

    I have also read the 101 Evidences for a Young Earth at Creation.com or similar website that was in a footnote to the Question Evolution brochure. Virtually all of them depended on some variety of presumption of “the present is the key to the past” definition that is often given for uniformitarianism.

    Needless to say, I’m confused. If uniformitarianism is so unreliable, why do BOTH creation scientists and secular scientists use it so much?

    Posted by Rock Miller | September 27, 2014, 10:15 pm
    • Wow! I love your comment. I get a lot of junk comments on here looking to teach me of what I don’t know. Your comment is refreshing and important!! Thank you again.

      Everyone uses uniformitarian assumptions to some degree. We assume that we will wake up tomorrow because we’ve woken up every other day. But of course we know one day that assumption will fail – but we don’t really know how or why it will fail. That’s forward looking, but also applies backwards thinking.

      There are too many unknowns in the equation. What it comes down to is the difference between observation science (observe, test, repeat) and historical science (interpretations about the unseen past). Creation AND evolution are both historical science. In other words, they are both unprovable faith-systems.

      When creationists use uniformitarian assumptions to make a point they aren’t saying – see, this proves it. They are saying this measurement is consistent with my belief system. They are not claiming certainity that this rock IS xxx years old, etc. They are making a point that evolutionists do not have a monopoly on dating methods. And more importantly a point about the unreliability of historical science in general.

      Does that help?

      Posted by Tim | September 28, 2014, 12:42 am
  5. >Does that help?

    It certainly gave me a new way to look at this issue. I’m going back through some of the ICR and AiG pages and rereading them with your answers in mind. Sometimes a small change in perspective allows one to process the same information in a new way.

    Thanks a lot.

    Posted by Rock Miller | October 5, 2014, 8:39 pm
    • Thank you so much for this refreshing comment. I don’t get very much encouragement in this area. 🙂

      Posted by Tim | October 6, 2014, 1:09 am
      • I’m saddened to hear that people are not regularly thanking you in the way that Rock did. Whether or not believers all agree or not on particular answers or types of information, you are offering information and recommendations here as a courtesy and free “service”. That should be appreciated. I appreciate it. In fact, with so many blogs and webpages the comment section can be as valuable as the essay or article which tops the page. We get to learn from what others have discovered. And even if we don’t agree with every opinion expressed, there’s a lot of helpful links and perspectives.
        May God bless all of our brethren who have provided information and views here. Some webpages are nothing but echo chambers where even the comments are tightly controlled. The result is just a mutual admiration society where everyone is congratulated for having the “right” view. I learn far more when the hard questions are out in the open and we see the best evidence presented on all sides. Even the atheists sometimes point out flaws in arguments for God which I think reaffirm the iron sharpening iron principle.

        Posted by Allen Miller | October 7, 2014, 12:10 am
  6. Very interesting stuff. I am just an open minded person interested in this. I do believe in creationism just not the way you probably do. However, if the Biblical narrative is true it raises more questions then it answers. I am sorry if I diagres into religion and theology to make points……. but as you state:

    It is a battle over whether the Bible is true.

    “The takeaway here is that the “overwhelming evidences” for evolution, old-earth, and slow geologic processes are interpretations built on assumptions. Creationists have their own interpretations built on different assumptions. This is not a battle over intellect.

    It is a battle over whether the Bible is true.

    The evidence can’t tell us either way. A common misconception is that creationists reject micro-evolution and natural selection. Not at all, those are actual observed occurrences. We only reject the unseen lengths to which these changes can accumulate.”

    Very interesting. “It is over weather the Bible is true”

    Good That means that since we are talking about weather the Bible is true probably implies that you believe that the Bible is literally factual as is (so do I to a degree) and that you have invested beliefs in it as the Evolutionist do in evolution and that it nullifies your belief system or theirs if the scientific evidence should show otherwise one way or another.

    You also state:
    “then there are three very important events (a 6-day literal creation, a cursed world following original sin, and a worldwide flood”

    So how do you interprete those events?

    Yes I believe that catastrophism ie the bible makes more sense. but it doesn’t account for the varities of man if we were all the same we must have evoluved differently??

    weather there is micro evolution or not and by evoloution I don’t mean the idea that species actually change so much to have a fish become a land animal and evolve into a completely new life form like a dog, I question

    However, I don’t necessarily believe that proves the world is only 6000 years old (a year to the Lord can be an unknown length of time to God according to the Bible).

    So I think that evolutionists are trying to fit their ideas to fit their own belief systems: creationsists from a literal interpertion of Genesis, and evolutionists from their belief systems.

    However are you trying to prove the Bible is true or your specific interpretation of it is?

    Although I consider myself a spiritual Christian I don’t necessarily believe mainstream Christianity the way mainstream Christianity teaches is right either. Much of it is tradition passed on from generation to generation. ie Moses wasn’t alive at the time of Adam.

    I believe that there have been many catastrophies both on Earth as well as our Solar system maybe wiping out vast areas of earth even most of it or having a great effect on life forms on our planet, past civilzations, with advanced technology ect…
    i
    a 6-day literal creation, a cursed world following original sin, and a worldwide flood)

    So I’m stuck.

    I definitely do not believe that the serpent in the Garden was a literal snake, maybe figuratively and then the Genisis story makes a lot more sense as well as the whole bible in general, and don’t believe the Bible teaches that either but am open minded.

    The whole story of the Bible says that there was War in Heaven, the Rebellion of the Angels…One Third of them being cast down to earth. They mixing of the angels and humans, the Nephelum what we translate as Giants in the KJV… what is translated angles in the Biblical story,
    but we don’t really elaborate really what they are. We were just created a little lower then the angles…What does that mean? We don’t really know what they are and then we try to spiritualize them away.

    Starting with the 6 day literal creation lets look at the Biblical narrative

    In the Beginning God created the heavens and the Earth Guess they were created around the same time?

    And the earth was without form and void What does that mean? I have read also that what is literal was that
    The earth became void and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

    God says let there be light and there was light and the evening and the morning was the 1st day.
    Does that mean that God created the sun then or just allowed light to shine through? Remember God created the heavens and the Earth. Darkness was on the face of the deep….?

    What was the original sin that cursed us all? I have a hard time accepting it was eating of an apple from the tree of life…Like I said I have a hard time accepting the literal snake serpent. However lots of Christians feel it was somehow satan in the form of a snake….

    Now the serpent was more subtile then any beast of the field….He seduced Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil.. It doesn’t really elaborate very much.. It just says that God came down and saw that Eve had done this lied and was cast out of the Garden…..So where is Eden? Many Biblical people will saw it was the pristine Earth before sin, but from a literal interpretation it should still be there and Adam and Eve were still on Earth outside of the Garden which was obviously different from the inside…

    Then Adam knew his wife….and bore a son Able and Eve had a second son Cain. The Bible never says they were twins, nor does it state that adam knew his wife again at that point. 2 assumptions, but I think the Bible actually explains itself nicely if you want to take it literally. We are suddenly at the story of Cain and Able…Huum

    It basically says that cain slew able, then something very interesting from a literal point of view. It says that God comes down and paraphrased says “You are of your father the Devil” Do you believe that is literal?? or spiritual? I believe it was literal. Then god cursed cain and he went into the land of nod, where he found a wife and was the father of the cainites?? or Adam and Eve had daughters and Cain slept with his sister being that Adam and Eve were the only other humans on Earth. God also says that anyone who finds him should would slay him….

    The Bible makes constant refrences to children of the wicked one….From then on the Bible uses symbolic language of a whore reguarding Isreal when it was turning from God

    Now on to the flood

    “in those days and those days after that, when the sons of God (angels) saw the daughters of Man (that they bore children” who became the giants….? Gensis chapt 6 If as many literalists claim are just the wicked humans makes little sense. It makes more sense that they were a different blood line.

    According to Genisis God destroyed the world with the flood Due to the “wickadness” of man but really does elaborate very much except to say there were giants in the earth in those days and those days after that…. and that Noah found favor with the lord because he had not corrupted gods way.

    If there was war in heaven between the good angels and God vs the bad angles and the bad angles were cast down to earth…..From where? Why? Why Earth? Why weren’t they just wiped out as God commanded the Isrealites to do to most of their enemies like the cainites?

    If as many demoninations teach the Angels have no redemption so why didn’t he just wipe them out as he told the Isrealites to do to the Cainites when Josua to do when entering the promised land? Obviously the Cainites must not have been redeemable like the Isrealites who were really the only People in the Bible that God deals with on a favorable basis in the Old Testament, even though Isreal sinned and fell away against God multiple times hence going into captivity multiple times in the old testament.

    All though I may seem to digress: if the people who call themselves literlists are accepting of the Biblical account in Genesis (and the Bible as a whole) as literal fact ect then they have more explaining to do for sure just based on the literal interpretation of the narritave and infaliability of there beliefs, dogma, and Theology.

    All throughout the old testament God is concerned with Isreal only and Isreal is a bloodline of people traceable back to specific people and the Bible makes no calms about it. Isreal was chosen above all people (who were the other people?) and were very distinct from the Egyptians, The Cainites, the Babylonians, The Medes, ect…So why is this if we are all decendents of Adam?

    The Law was for Isreal and Isreal only. The Messiah was for those who broke the law and Christ says in the New testament that he came for the lost sheep of the house of Isreal and them only has he come for, since Isreal was the only ones under the covenant others could not be breaking the Law since they were the only ones under the covenant.

    The Covenant or Law wasn’t even a covenant until Moses.

    So who are the other groups of people? It is easy to say they were all the decendents of Adam, however the whole Bible is about Isreal as a specific group of people separate from other people, that God chose. It doesn’t say that they chose him it says the he chose them. The only people Christ died for were the people under the law, those that were in the world and those in the future….what happenes to those who sinned before Christ? they had no means of Salavation. All of this is Theology

    There are 12 tribes of Isreal. Then the 10 Northern tribes of Isreal are at war with the 2 Southern Tribes of Judah and they become separate like two separate countries. . Babylon conquers the 10 Northern tribes and basically the disappear from the bible for the most part and the Bible focuses on Judah only. What happened to the 10 northern tribes? Who are they today? What did Christ mean when he said that he came for the lost sheep of the house of Isreal and them only have I come for?

    Posted by Phillip Parfitt | April 24, 2017, 6:12 am

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