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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


About Tim



17 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

    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

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