Evidence: A Direction
Examining the creation controversy from the point of view of the young earth creationists led me to discover a very important distinction, the difference between evidence and proof. Evidence is the data or information we gather and study, proof is a conclusion we reach about the evidence. The evidence being examined on both sides of the debate is the same but the conclusions reached are in opposition. Why did they differ? From what I could see the difference was primarily one of personal recommendation, that is, authority. For the most part those presenting the debate were referring to someone they respected and accommodating their views to his. For old earth Christians this normally meant that a science professor(s) had convinced them of the necessity of an old earth but still wanting to believe in the Bible they maintained the authority of the Bible on spiritual matters. Thus their interpretation of creation in Genesis had to conform to their belief in evolution or to a belief in an old earth.
The first evidence that I was introduced to was the various rates of accumulation of elements within the ocean. Using current rates it would take anywhere from a century to 200 million years for the various components of the ocean to accumulate. To a creationist this means that rates of accumulation are not constant. An evolutionist averages out the rates and claims the oceans are millions of years old. Most importantly it highlighted that the issues of geology were preeminent in the debate. The difference lies not solely in the conclusions reached but also and especially in the assumptions made. If the assumptions we start with are wrong, then however rigid and proper the logic the conclusion will be wrong.
The assumptions made by evolutionists are that the present is the key to the past. All of the features we see on the earth now in functional geology can account for historical geology. All of the rates of erosion, sedimentation and radioactive decay can extrapolated backwards to give us accurate dating of a geologic timetable. The young earth creationist assumes that a great flood near the beginning of geologic history changed everything that the rates we see today are different because of that cataclysmic event from the rates of the past. It is these assumptions that must be kept clear and separate. In young earth terms Noah’s flood occurred early in geologic time, in evolutionist terms it must be recent.
The flood of Noah is important not only for its scientific implications but also for its religious or philosophic implications. On a spiritual level the flood of Noah shows that mankind as a whole is responsible to God for their actions. It also shows that God is still in control of the environment and not an absentee God, He is a God who cares about what we do and holds us responsible. I think that this religious implication is of greater import to antitheist evolutionists than any scientific repercussions of the flood may be.
The old earthers commonly try to discredit a worldwide flood by arguing that the ark could not hold all the species that exist on the earth. Such an argument devalues their credibility in that they include all species of bacteria, fish, crustaceans, molluscs and insects. By the time we have winnowed down only those creatures not capable of surviving flood waters we are down to approximately 5000 species, perhaps 16,000 animals. The scoffing even at this level continues because dinosaurs, giraffes and elephants are huge, or are they? The great problem of the old earther arguments against a worldwide flood is that it does not even attempt to test the young earth flood hypothesis, but only to discredit it. It is not a scientific methodology that is used but populist propaganda. That the young earth flood stands in direct opposition to an old earth geology is evident but that does not make the theory untestable.
The juveniles of dinosaurs, giraffes and elephants are considerably smaller than their adults. The median (half were larger, half were smaller) size of an animal on the ark would have been the size of a rat and only about 11 % were larger than a sheep (after Woodmorappe). Those assumptions can be tested. Nor are these assumptions simply guesses at what might work but the careful assessment of what animals would have lived at that time, what their sizes would be and their growth rates. All of this has been documented in John Woodmorappe’s book “Noah’s Ark, A Feasibility Study”. My concern is not that the antitheists summarily dismiss the study of such work, it is consistent with their stated beliefs to summarily dismiss arguments contrary to theirs, it is rather that Christian old earthers, both evolutionists and gap creationists would do the same and use much the same arguments.