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Biblical authority, Creation/Evolution, science

A BIG challenge to “rational” Atheists

reason

To my atheist friends:

Let’s talk about your dirty little secret: the belief in uniformitarianism.  Feel free to respond in the comments.  Here is my main point –

  1. You don’t get to disprove the Bible’s history by using today’s observances.

Here is a little more information:

  • You believe the earth is old because you believe in radiometric dating’s decay rates that are constant in the present.
  • You believe geologic formations have formed slowly because they form slowly today.
  • You believe in evolution in part because you believe fossils collected slowly in various rock strata.
  • You believe this “overwhelming evidence” disproves the Bible’s claims of a 6-day creation approx. 6000 years ago.  Therefore the Bible is untrustworthy, therefore untrue, therefore there is no God.  (pretty much)

Did you catch the common thread in the first three bullet points?  They all required a uniformitarianism belief.  You were FORCED to believe that the unobserved past behaved in the same fashion that we see today.  And you used that belief to say the Bible is untrue.

BUT the Bible doesn’t adhere to a uniform history!  This is the point I believe most of you miss.  We are painting a different picture…

  • If God really created in six days, we would expect a certain level of built-in age in the original creation (Adam would not have been an infant, trees would be fully grown, etc)
  • If God really cursed the world following original sin, we would expect that things work differently now than before the curse (no death, no disease, etc)
  • If God really flooded the world during Noah’s time, we would expect to find billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the world (fossils) in a quick time frame

These are three events, that if they happened the way the Bible reads, would violate every uniformitarian assumption from above.  So again – the overall point is: today’s observed slow processes are not enough to invalidate a recent creation / young earth unless you subscribe to uniformitarianism – an unprovable assumption that requires faith.

My atheist friends – you require just as much faith as you accuse me of!  True, I can’t prove my assumptions either – but that just goes to show how issues of origins cannot and will not ever be settled scientifically.  We all use faith.  You are no more rational than me.  And, now it’s your turn for a response…

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

40 thoughts on “A BIG challenge to “rational” Atheists

  1. OK, here goes. A couple of links (both were flagged at the BCSE community forum yesterday) and a comment.
    http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/Carol%202.pdf
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23866810
    The comment – I think your analysis is much too simplistic.

    I do not know that there is no God, so I am not much of an atheist (God or fate took away my evangelical Christian faith and that was before I discovered that creation ‘science’ and flood geology do not make scientific sense).

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 30, 2013, 3:56 pm
    • But you didn’t respond to the actual issue posted here about uniformitarianism. You just reiterated that you feel more comfortable with the mainstream explanations. That is fine. I understand that. I just wanted you to understand that these mainstream explanations do not disprove the creationist ones.

      Posted by Tim | August 30, 2013, 4:09 pm
  2. Mainstream explanations do not exclusively rely on slow, ‘uniformitarian’, geological processes. Scientists recognise that natural, rapid, catastrophies have sometimes occurred in the past in parts of the world – just as they do today eg with the two big tsunamis this century or major volcanic eruptions. That is what I was referring to in the ‘simplistic’ comment. We have seen slow and rapid landscape changes – and know what the evidence looks like after such an event has occurred.
    The catastrophe of ‘Noah’s recent worldwide Flood’ is a matter of faith however. The only ‘evidence’ for it is the fossil record as far as I know – and it is a non-random fossil record not a random one.

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 30, 2013, 4:16 pm
    • That’s good. You admit that catastrophes can alter the normal uniform slow processes. That’s my entire argument! LOL. So, yes in that sense my explanation was too simple, but what do you think evidence of the flood SHOULD look like? I would say the evidence is everywhere you look. You can’t go for a drive down the road without seeing it. The evidence of catastrophe is all over the world screaming out that a major event occurred int he past…. and the Bible just happens to explain a worldwide catastrophic event – strange coincidence, eh?

      Posted by Tim | August 30, 2013, 4:45 pm
      • The Bible does not explain the evidence – evidence that we now know points to lots of local catastrophes in many places over many millennia (including some big floods).
        You are entitled to believe that it does – but you are exercising faith despite the evidence which points elsewhere (including that non-random record of fossil burial).

        Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 30, 2013, 5:36 pm
        • It would only be a lot of local catastrophes IF you spread them out over billions of years. Compact those years into 6000 years and now you have the setup to see it as the flood, and aftershocks of the flood. You must have faith in the dating methods and the uniform assumptions necessary to do them.

          Posted by Tim | August 30, 2013, 6:34 pm
          • “It would only be a lot of local catastrophes IF you spread them out over billions of years.” Which is what we know happened from looking at the natural disasters in question (even if there is some rare duplication).

            You have been indoctrinated. I have not.

            Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 30, 2013, 9:23 pm
            • You can only spread them out over billions of years IF you can validate your dating methods which you cannot, you require faith in uniformitarianism to believe the dating methods are accurate.

              Posted by Tim | August 30, 2013, 9:29 pm
              • Scientists have done so. You deny science.

                The deccan traps volcanism and the first ancient ice ages (much earlier than the Pleistocene) were two different events – for instance. Nothing to do with any worldwide flood. Nothing.

                YECs are anti-science. Why not admit it?

                Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 30, 2013, 9:37 pm
                • We are not anti-science – what would that even mean?? We simply disagree with certain conclusions that are drawn from non-observation. We categorize non-observation/non-repeatable phenomenon as “historical” science, more of a soft-science. Really its more history/philosophy than anything else.

                  You NEED it to be valid science to confirm your worldview. So you fight for it.

                  Posted by Tim | August 30, 2013, 9:43 pm
                  • I’m sorry but YECs ARE anti-science – of necessity. You seek to undermine knowledge of past events. Imagine someone claiming in future that likely US bombing of Damascus this weekend is part of the SAME war as the 2003 invasion of Iraq or the 1991 Gulf War or the US bombing of Tripoli in (I think) 1986. That is what YECs do! They must because the evidence does not help them unless it is twisted.

                    Critics of YEC-ism give EXAMPLES of how YECs seek to muddle or destroy scientific enquiry about the past. I have done so here. YECs are cavalier – we must ‘compress’ the past. No – we mustn’t.

                    I give examples of your science rejection. You ignore them. Like other YECs ideologues (most of whom ban comments on their blogs).

                    You asked for comments. I have commented.

                    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 30, 2013, 9:58 pm
  3. Interesting points, but I think they’re based on a flawed premise: uniformitarianism isn’t the assumption things happened slowly in the past because they happened slowly today. Rather, it is the idea that the processes we observe today are broadly similar to the processes which have occurred throughout time.

    For example, we look at a volcano today and notice it forms a certain type of rock. Because we think volcanoes in the past operated like the volcanoes of today, finding similar rocks in the geologic record is evidence there was a volcano at that point in the past. Or we look at a flood today and see it results in a certain kind of deposition. Because we think water in the past worked in the same way as water today, finding that deposition in ancient rocks shows there was a flood then. Gradually accumulated sediments looks a certain way, finding similar sediment in the past is evidence of gradual accumulation and so forth.

    As such, when you object to uniformitarinaism you aren’t saying “what if things happened faster in the past?” but “I think volcanoes, water, and all the other processes responsible for the geologic column functioned in a fundamentally different way in the past.” That’s a bold claim, and you’re going to need a substantial amount of evidence to justify it, much more than vague allusions to a fall and flood.

    As we’ve discussed before, you can use the scientific method to investigate the past. So what would be expect to see if there was a fall and flood? For starters we’d expect there to be anomalous rocks which are clearly distinct from those being formed today. We’d expect identifiable rocks to appear rather suddenly and a large number of them (particularly the ones that contain fossils) should be similar to those which form as a result of floods.

    Do we see these phenomena? No.

    There are a few other errors in scattered through your post. For example, inferences about decay rates can be derived from first principles so aren’t only based on modern observations. And I’d be surprised if most people though rejecting a non-literal view of Genesis meant that there was no God. Here in the UK for example, 90% of the population accept evolution whilst 70% are Christian. There’s clearly a distinct overlap.

    But these are all minor niggles, I think the main problem is this misunderstanding of uniformitarianism.

    Posted by Adam Benton | August 30, 2013, 7:33 pm
    • I use the term “uniformitarianism” lightly. I realize there is much, much more to it… but the basic premise is the same: believing that things in the past worked similarly to what we see today without direct observation to confirm that belief, i.e. faith.

      Posted by Tim | August 30, 2013, 7:39 pm
      • But there is a very big piece of evidence in favour of uniformitarianism: the fact it works. The fact that every rock discovered bears a significant resemblance to the rocks we’d expect to find if processes in the past were the same as the processes we observe today.

        Because uniformitarianism is falsifiable. As I mentioned, if we found large segments of the geologic record that could not be reliably attributed to any natural phenomena uniformitarianism would be dead. But every time we look at the ground we test it, and every time we vindicate it.

        That means to dispute uniformitarianism requires you start from the position that the different processes which occurred in the past produced rocks identical to the rocks produced by known processes. This is an unfalsifiable assumption that runs afoul of occasms razor and the principles of science.

        Posted by Adam Benton | August 30, 2013, 8:20 pm
        • I think what you may be missing here is that creationists dont infer that constant laws are changing all the time and nothing is trustworthy, just that there were 3 named events that would affect the assumption of uniformity. Beyond those 3 very short events, everything HAS worked normally as we observe today. That’s why everything we find fits the mold of what we would expect. Just as Adam would not have been created as an infant, we would expect a certain degree of built-in age to all of creation but the truth be that it was done in 6 days. He didn’t create the ingredients, he created the finished cake. If we just came across the cake we would assume it took 30 minutes to bake (logical deduction), but it didnt – it was created out of thin air.

          Posted by Tim | August 30, 2013, 8:46 pm
          • Whilst those 3 events may have been comparatively short, they still should have left a detectable mark in the record. In particular, the flood. If the vast majority of fossils were deposited during this event then we should expect the vast majority of fossil bearing strata to either be anomalous, unlike anything formed today (if the processes involved were non-uniformitarian and unlike that which occurs at present) or at the very least to show signs of having been deposited during a catastrophic flood. Neither of these is the case, so to continue to claim that a flood did occur means this flood must have results that aren’t different from if a flood did not occur. Again, pragmatism, Occam’s razor and scientific principles caution against making such unfalsifiable assumptions.

            But could this all be explained if the earth was created with the appearance of age? Well that all depends. When Adam was created as an adult, was he created with scars, crooked teeth, bones that hadn’t healed quite right and all the other paraphernalia that comes from *actually* growing up?

            Posted by Adam Benton | August 30, 2013, 10:59 pm
  4. Flood geologists have now ruled out every possible rock layer as being evidence for the global flood. They just haven’t noticed yet.

    http://reports.ncse.com/index.php/rncse/article/download/44/36

    Posted by Mark Edon | August 31, 2013, 6:24 am
    • Wow, look at all those creationist peer-reviewed papers in the references! I’ve been told so often that there is no such thing. LOL

      So what the NCSE did here was collect a bunch of various reports from different groups and authors and say look – they’ve ruled them all out, but this is a bit dishonest. First, they are picking and choosing. None of these articles are saying that all the layers are not flood – they are picking what suits them. Some are right, some are wrong – just like mainstream science. Second, they are now telling us that creationists CAN do science (if it suits their needs) – interesting! Third, they are not admitting that the same thing can be done with evolution – I have seen tree upon tree upon tree of different lineages depending on what you use to looks at – so which is it really? 🙂

      Posted by Tim | August 31, 2013, 1:35 pm
      • The author of the NCSE article merely surveyed large amounts of YEC flood geology literature (which is not from peer reviewed scientific journals but from YEC sources) and concluded from his analysis of what he read – which I have not read – that “Even without recognizing the complete stratigraphic distribution of any of these indicators of subaerial [not underwater] deposition, Flood geologists have still managed to confirm, with sound sedimentological reasoning, that no Tertiary epoch, Phanerozoic period, or post-Haden eon was spanned by a PWS [period of worldwide submergence] (see Figure 1). This means that—according to the results of the studies by Flood geologists themselves—if the Flood occurred during Phanerozoic time then all Flood deposits are stratigraphically sandwiched between a pair of non-Flood deposits within the stratigraphic span of a single one of the geologic periods. If this is the case, then the Flood left little if any geologic evidence of its occurrence”. You can only say they are ‘picking and choosing’ if you can identify any YEC flood geology articles up to 2011 that have been ignored by Senter and which invalidate his conclusion.

        Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 31, 2013, 11:17 pm
        • The author of the article is surveying a large number of articles from different authors describing the layers they believe are flood and which are not. Then they combined all the ones that said they layers are not flood and said – look, they are ALL not flood. That is dishonest and I could do the same thing with evolution from your own journals. There is no one single consensus on tree lineages. Thus I could compile all the ones that disagree and say – SEE, their are no common ancestors to anything. But that would be being dishonest, right? That’s what they did here.

          Posted by Tim | September 1, 2013, 3:17 am
          • Have you studied all the papers Senter links to? Are you certain he is behaving as you claim? I doubt it’s that simple. He cites some specific things that YECs seem to ignore when considering what layers might result from Noah’s Flood that they believe really occurred. I skimmed the NCSE article – I trust you did the same. If the writer did what you suggest I agree that would be dishonest – but I am not convinced it’s that simple. Maybe Mark knows more about the background?

            Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | September 1, 2013, 6:58 am
            • The information set out in Figure 1 is key to Senter’s claims. It purports to list sedimentologic and other geologic features that Flood geologists have identified as evidence that particular strata cannot have been deposited during a time when the entire planet was under water – I believe these may be the ‘subaerial deposits’ referred to elsewhere in the article (these deposits would have been on exposed ground rather than under water).
              From a quick search I can find no online YEC rebuttal of the Senter article. Some non-YEC bloggers have referred to it however.

              Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | September 1, 2013, 7:35 am
              • But again, he is aggregating data. No one scientist is saying that all layers are non-flood. He is combining the ones that say certain layers are not and reaching his own conclusion that they are all non-flood. That is the dishonesty. Some of the YEC scientists are right, and some are wrong. I could lay out the same with evolutionary lineages. It’s not a fair assessment. PLUS you still have yet to acknowlege that all a sudden, YECS CAN do science! Wow. 🙂

                Posted by Tim | September 3, 2013, 11:51 am
                • He does not hide the fact that he is aggregating data (even if his article title does not spell this out). The point is that Figure 1 shows that for every period from the Cambrian period onwards at least one of the following subaerial deposits has apparently been identified in rock layers – well, it’s everything listed under Figure 1 apart from the continental basalts. Of course no individual YEC would draw attention to this (if they noticed).
                  YECs cannot debunk science, that is for sure.

                  Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | September 3, 2013, 3:34 pm
  5. Tree conflicts are at worst partial and arise as a result of a lack of data which all authors acknowledge and most papers explicitly say this and even go so far as to explain how they can and indeed may be reconciled. None of them claim to be the final answer.

    The creationists do exactly the opposite. So which ones do you think are wrong and why?

    Posted by Mark Edon | September 1, 2013, 5:39 am
  6. READ Genesis again, and you will find all the inconsistecnies with a YEC. Good luck and best wishes.

    Posted by M. Rodriguez | September 20, 2013, 2:46 am
    • Do you have a specific example. I’d love to check it out if you do. Obviously I have read Genesis and find it 100% agreeable with YEC.

      Posted by Tim | September 20, 2013, 2:04 pm
      • Do YECs teach that the sun and moon are lights in the vault of the sky “to separate the day from the night” (Genesis 1:14 in the NIV)? How do they do that? Is there a clear boundary or line of separation between night and day, formed by the sun or the moon (when the moon is visible at night)? Really? And what about Genesis 1:6-7 – “And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.” Few YECs still teach a ‘water canopy’ – the waters the Bible writers think exist(ed) above the sky.

        Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | September 20, 2013, 2:27 pm
        • Can metaphor be intertwined with historical accounts? See Jesus’s parables in the gospels: metaphor amidst historical accounts. Same applies here. No one argues that the writer of Genesis does not write poetically. PLUS keep in mind that these accounts are describing the pre-fall and pre-flood world, a world we no longer can access and study.

          Posted by Tim | September 20, 2013, 2:39 pm
      • sure I would be happy to help… These are a few that stand out to me….there are more, they are not that hard to find.

        Creation and The First Few Chapters
        Where did people come from? and Who did Cain Marry? After Cain murdered his brother Abel he
        disgracefully voyaged to another city. CITY???? Yes, city. How can there be a city, if at that time Seth
        wasn’t even born. And the only persons on the planet was Adam, Eve and Cain. Not only did he travel to
        a city, he got married. And all this was done before Adam and Eve had any other children. And this is all
        known because Seth was born after the Murder of Abel.
        According to the scriptures this is who was on earth and in order.
         Adam- Genesis 2:7
         Eve- Genesis 2:22-24
         Cain- In Genesis 4:1, Adam and Eve’s offspring
         Abel- In Genesis 4:2, Also Adam and Eve’s offspring
         Seth- In Genesis 4:25 . Seth was born after Cain killed Abel. (Talk about a dysfunctional family.)
        And then in Genesis 5:5 “After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and
        daughters.” Who were never named in the bible.
        Is it one or two creation Stories? When people read Genesis 1 and 2, they make the claim that these are
        two creation stories. And the Christian apologist disagrees and says: “There is no contradiction between
        Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 1 is a detailed explanation of the six days of creation, day by day. [And] Genesis
        two is [just] a recap and a more detailed explanation of the sixth day, the day that Adam and Eve were
        made. The recap is stated in Gen. 2:4.” (C.A.R.M.) However, Genesis 1 and 2 are not all consistent.
        In Genesis 1: Man and Woman are made simultaneously. And God does not mention them by name.In Genesis 2: Man is made first, and only after a period time God notices Adams loneliness and creates
        Eve from his Rib. Not only that, the order varies between the two creation accounts.
        The Order of Creation:
         Genesis 1:11-12 and 1:26-27 Trees came before Adam.
         Genesis 2:4-9 Trees came after Adam.
         Genesis 1:20-21 and 26-27 Birds were created before Adam.
         Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Birds were created after Adam.
         Genesis 1:24-27 Animals were created before Adam.
         Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Animals were created after Adam.
         Genesis 1:26-27 Adam and Eve were created at the same time.
         Genesis 2:7 and 2:21-22 Adam was created first, woman sometime later.
         Genesis 1:31 God was pleased with his creation.
         Genesis 6:5-6 God was not pleased with his creation.
        Can there be sunlight without the Sun? (Genesis 1) This here is a contradiction of science and logic. If
        you were to ask any 5 year old, can you have sunlight without the sun, they would say “Of Course, Not.”
        But this is what we teach our children when take Creation literally. It is a contradiction of common sense
        if one thinks we can have the cycle of a full day without the sun. Or Day and Night without the Sun being
        able to generate light.
        Day 1 of Creation God Creates Sunlight
        Day 4 of Creation God Creates the Sun, and mistakenly says the Moon gives off its own lesser light. When
        in all actuality the moon gives off no light, it just reflects natural sunlight from the other side of the world.

        Posted by M. Rodriguez | September 22, 2013, 1:29 am
  7. It seems the line of separation between accepting scientific nonsense as metaphor and accepting other scientific nonsense that is harder to disprove as ‘fact’ is a little blurred. Even YECs sometimes admit “it must be metaphor”.

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | September 20, 2013, 2:44 pm
    • I never said “it must be metaphor”, I said it MIGHT be metaphor. It may also be something we don’t quite understand yet, but that is no reason to dismiss the account.

      Posted by Tim | September 20, 2013, 2:50 pm
  8. Clear as mud? Well, honest I suppose.

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | September 20, 2013, 2:53 pm

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