Monday, 10 August 2009

A Matter Of Perspective?

If anyone has ever had the unfortunate experience of stumbling upon Answers In Genesis, then they may be familiar with the tactic of claiming different perspectives. That evolutionists see a 14 billion year old universe because they have Darwin as their presupposition while creationists see a 6000 year old world because of the bible as their presupposition. At the face of it, this concept may have some validity. After all, each of us have our own biases when interpreting the world around us. So when it comes to looking at nature, is it really just two different perspectives?

The age of things
It should first be asked, why do scientists see a 14 billion year old universe? Does it need to be 14 billion years old? Why not 5 or 50 billion years? If we were going off Darwin, one would only need to posit that the universe is a few hundred million years old. So why in the billions? Certainly there needs to be an amount of complexity in the universe, the early universe by scientific accounts was filled with almost exclusively simple elements, so the heavy elements would need giant stars to form heavy elements then go supernova to put the material for building planets and life itself. The universe has to be old enough to allow for us.

So why ~14 billion years? This is where evidence comes into play and where the notion of interpreting based on presuppositions is put under the test. All observational data points to the speed of light being a constant in a vacuum. So when a star like Alpha Centauri is said to be 4.3 light years away, it means that the light that left Alpha Centauri left 4.3 years ago. When one looks at Alpha Centauri, they are looking at light that was emitted 4.3 years ago.

So when the distance of distant galaxies are measured, we are looking back in time at the distant light. To see a dwarf galaxy orbiting our own being 168,000 light years away means that the light was emitted 168,000 years ago. This means that the universe has to be at least 168,000 years old. Likewise a galaxy 2.3 million light years away means that the light we see was emitted 2.3 million years ago. And there are galaxies seen that have been over 13 billion light years away. So that, among other reasons is why the universe must be at least 13 billion years old.

So how does this fit in with the creationist presupposition? If the universe is only a few thousand years old, then all observations of galaxies beyond our own have to ba accounted for. One could deny the observational evidence exists, but that wouldn't be giving a different perspective. One could say that the speed of light was faster then, though that causes many more problems than it solves, it would have to be sped up by a factor of over 2 million and that causes problems with e=mc², not to mention there's no observational support.

Then there's the option of saying that the light was created en route to earth, that what we are seeing is the light that God created as opposed to the objects themselves. So when to us 1987 a star in the LMC went supernova, it meant that God created the light to demonstrate a supernova as opposed to the star going supernova itself. There may be other options too, but in all cases it is explaining away observation to adhere to a presupposition as opposed to following the evidence like science does.

Preserved in the rocks
Another claim that Ken Ham likes to espouse is that dinosaurs lived alongside humans in the Garden of Eden, and the fossil record was caused by the great flood. Evolutionists like to assert that fossilised remains have been preserved over the course of millions of years. Perspective again, right? After all, the earth needs to be hundreds of millions of years old if evolution were to be true. So why 4.55 billion years?

Radiometric dating on old rocks on earth has yielded rocks over 4 billion years old. The oldest dated earth material is some 4.4 billion years old. The date for the earth has to be in the billions. Multiple dating techniques all with different half lives point to the same date. Doing radiometric dating on meteorites and the moon has also yielded similar values. These absolute dates fit with relative dating of rocks too.

The fossil record isn't one random blob either. Non-avian dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, long before there was any ape - let alone hominids. From the earliest rocks showing unicellular life to the period from 600MYA to now where complex life has emerged, the pattern of life that fits evolution is there. Tetrapods emerged from the water sometime around 375MYA, with transitional forms found. Mammals came from reptiles just over 200MYA with transitional forms found. Birds came from dinosaurs with transitional forms found. etc.

Transitional forms litter the fossil record, and the location of fossils too is consistent with evolutionary theory. Kangaroo fossils are only found in Australia, for example. The isolation of Australia as a continent for the last 30 million years has crafted a multitude of animals found nowhere else in the world. Marsupials dominate this country, while the only large placental mammals have been introduced by humans.

So how does this fit in with the creationist presupposition? It doesn't. The proposed cataclysmic event does not explain what we see. It doesn't fit with radiometric dating. It doesn't fit with relative dating. It doesn't fit with geological observations about the type of environment to make the rocks, and it certainly doesn't fit with the fossil record. Again, it's explaining away the facts in order to adhere to a presupposition as opposed to following the evidence like science does.

A matter of presupposition
Is there a presuppositional difference? There is, but it is not in interpreting the evidence. It's in what is accepted as evidence. When one takes a position that the bible is inerrant, it comes into conflict with what the evidence tells us. A supernova exploding 168,000 years ago is not evidence for a 6000 year old world, it clearly contradicts it. Just as the progressive fossil record does not support a catastrophic event.

The presupposition is clear, that if one follows the bible then it doesn't matter what the evidence says. If they want to take that position, that's fine. But it is downright intellectually dishonest to pretend that it is interpretation of the evidence. The scientific world-view supports the evidence because it is based on the evidence, creationism is apologetics for why the evidence doesn't fit.

1 comment:

Reasonably Aaron said...

"The presupposition is clear, that if one follows the bible then it doesn't matter what the evidence says."

You are correct. Biblical apologist William Lane Craig admits that if he travelled back in time and saw Jesus body rotting in the tomb he would still continue believing Jesus body rose from the dead to heaven.

Evidence is subservient to faith. (Craig calls this the "self-attesting" Holy Spirit)