Tuesday, September 25, 2012

21 Century Young Earthers and Sixth Century Flat Earth Monks

My experience with Young Earthers is that there is likely to be found under the surface (a) a reflexive preference for polemics rather than honest discussion, (b) a heavy dose of demagoguery, (c) precious little real science, (d) the enthronement of one interpretation of Scripture as orthodoxy on the age of the earth, leading to a conclusion, (e) that old earthers, even old earth creationists like myself and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary prof Ken Keathley, are near heretics. But then, maybe I just know the wrong Young Earthers.

The Christian schools with which I am familiar all follow the pattern of teaching a Morris/Ham/et al version of Young Earth, i.e., an earth just a few thousand years old with a Flintstones dino-pet scenario which humans and dinosaurs happily or unhappily cohabiting. To this system of pseudoscience resistance and disagreement is summarily prohibited.

So far as I know, Keathley is among very few SBCers, certainly among SBC seminary types, who write openly and frequently about the age of the earth as old earth creationists.

Keathley's latest offering is “The Pagans Believe the Earth Is Round; Therefore It Must Be Flat”–What I’ve Been Reading (7) a review of a book
about Cosmas Indicopleustes, a 6th century monk who was not just a Young Earther but a Flat Earther.

Forgive me if I pass on reading that book. I try to stay away from 6th century monks.

Here is Keathley's cogent conclusion:

It is the lesson that in the integration of faith and science we must discern what the real issues are and what they are not. We must know what is essential and non-negotiable, and what areas are more modest. Christians have nothing to fear from the study of the natural world.  Our God–the God of the Bible–is Creator of the heavens and the earth. The One Who revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ is the One Who created the realm that the scientist studies–including quarks, DNA, and the geological column.  God has not given us a spirit of fear. Let’s explore the natural order–His creation–with reverence and confidence.   

The very nice forest green emphasis above is mine.

Let's not make the age of the earth any test of orthodoxy and, please, can we educate our kids properly and not instill in them a fear of science and a loathing of scientists? It is probably an unfair comparison in some ways but I sometimes wonder if today's Young Earthers are just recycled Flat Earthers.

Incidentally, Keathley found, as I did, that the very good book by Ronald Numbers, The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism is an excellent and illuminating history of creationism. I recommend that those interested in these things tackle the 6th century monk later and read Numbers first.


Robert Baty said...

It just so happens that it appears my latest effort in discussing the fundamental issue facing young-earth creation-science promoters and why they have failed in their scientific pretensions and legal challenges may have come to an end with the anonymous YEC promoter "Eclipse33" running off; being unable to complete my "Goliath of GRAS" exercise in critical thinking.

If any be interested in taking part in or discussing my "Goliath of GRAS" exercise, you are welcome to come around and engage the issue.

The problem is rather simple and does not require us tyros to try and figure out complex, technical, scientific arguments and evidence.

The typical young-earth creation-science promoter's fundamental position can be summed up as being:

> I, a young-earth creation-science
> promoter, have my interpretation
> of "God's Word" regarding the age
> of stuff, and that trumps any
> other evidence and its
> interpretation to the contrary.

Understanding that makes dealing with them much easier.

William Thornton said...

Yes, you are correct in your assessment of this.

Robert, I will make you happy either today or tomorrow by returning to a subject dear to your heart.

Robert Baty said...


What could that subject be????

I'll look forward to you revisiting that topic!

Robert Baty

ET said...

Well, William, I tend to lean toward a young earth. I'm not hard core about it, but I find SWAGs (Scientific Wild-@$$ed Guesses) about the earth being millions, billions, trillions or bazillions of years old (or whatever the number-du-jour) to generally be in the same arena as scientists believing they can predict planetary climate changes 100+ years into the future.

I subjugate human knowledge to Scripture and don't tend to try to make Scripture fit finite human knowledge when the two clash. Example: I believe Adam and Eve were actual human beings, so the genealogical listings in Matthew and Luke do not seem to me to lend themselves toward an old-earth view.

Science would tell us that the theological concept of one thing being 100% of two things - Christ being fully God and fully man - is balderdash because man's tiny little brain can't comprehend the idea, just as man has a hard time reconciling election and free will.

Scientific Man may not be able to comprehend a young earth in what appears to be a old universe, but I don't presume that what are judged to be Scientific Laws in our day were necessarily in effect during Creation or that God did not work outside of those Laws to which we are confined in our limited understanding.

The universe may appear to be millions+ years old, but it is merely an assumption based on what we think or assume, not on what we can observe, test and generate reproducible results to prove.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

Moses Model said...

One of the worst things that I ever did for my former belief in young earth creationism was to read Darwin's books. I began to struggle with the constant misrepresentation of Darwin. Later I read books on evolution and was amazed at the misrepresentations of the modern theory.

Unlike Calvin, we cannot let an interpretation of scripture dictate our knowledge about nature.

Robert Baty said...

Speaking of 21st Century young-earth creation-science promoters, the U.S. Tax Court rendered a decision yesterday in Jo Hovind's case.

Here's the link to the Court's decision:


Her husband's case is still pending trial before the Tax Court while he passes his days in federal prison on tax-related charges.

The decision in Jo's case will tell you a lot about what her husband's case is going to look like if it ever gets to trial.

Robert Baty