This week I had the pleasure of sitting in on a seminar conducted by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. While some of the seminar material is archeological, and is very well presented, much of the material is young earth in nature, and anti-old earth and anti-evolutionary.
While I am a progressive creationist, and do not believe in evolution, I must point out errors when it comes to arguments against evolution, and science in general. Above all else, I believe truth must prevail. The truth is that you can believe in an inerrant Bible, a literal interpretation of Genesis, and believe that the earth is old (with or without evolution). Therefore, this review of the Evidently God Seminar is meant as a tool for other old earth creationists, who may in the future attend the seminar.
One thing up front that I don't want anyone to miss. Evidently God uses many claims from the creation science ministries of Kent Hovind and Carl Baugh. As such, young earth ministry giant Answers in Genesis would not support the Evidently God seminar. To jump to this information, click here.
For my overall impressions, this is a very effective, well-organized seminar, aimed at reaching people with the Gospel. The seminar effectively used audiovisuals, which enhanced the presentation greatly. Brent was sincere, and really knew the materiel well. While I did not agree with the evidences he gave for a young earth, I found myself agreeing with many points not related to the age issue. My thanks to Brent for doing a wonderful job in presenting the Gospel and enriching us all.
It is easy to see why many people are impressed by the seminar. The first meeting lasted a little over an hour, and was intended as a brief introduction for the material that would follow in the next three sessions. Right from the start, it was evident the tone of this meeting would be about emotions. Other old earth believers have reviewed meetings held by young earth creationists, and this is the common thread in all of them, so I was expecting it. The speaker was effective in getting the audience emotionally involved. Unfortunately, scientific facts take a back seat when people become emotionally charged about creation science.
Brent started with an explanation that we all have bias, which has an influence on the conclusions we come to about creation. I agree, there is nobody without any bias. However, the “young earth creationist” bias deserves a closer look. Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, of the young earth ministry Answers in Genesis, once said “We should remember, if confronted with other ‘unanswerable’ challenges to the biblical world view, that even if we don’t have all the answers, God does. And He, in His good time, may raise up godly scientists to discover them."
In other words, if it doesn't fit the young earth creation science model, then it must be flawed, and re-evaluated until it does agree. Therefore, using this assumption, it is impossible to prove an old earth from their perspective. Young earth creation scientists will not accept any evidence to the contrary, even if it is clear-cut evidence that proves an old earth beyond any doubt. They will ignore this evidence, until someone comes up with an alternative young earth explanation for it. Therefore, it is impossible to overcome young earth bias…no matter how much scientific evidence is against them. Check out my suggestions for how to deal with young earth creationists.
This is an unspoken goal of young earth seminars...to instill in the listeners the idea that young earth creationism is 100% right, and if they hear any evidence to the contrary, ignore it.
The introductory message did not contain much science; however I did notice one glaring mistake in which a scientific principle was twisted to put it in a bad light. The statement was made that evolution “decides that it needs a feature, and then grows it.” The argument was meant to show the stupidity of how evolution is thought to occur. Indeed, many people were agreeing, and could not believe that people actually believed in evolution.
I'm certain that Brent understands evolutionary theory, however, he apparently twisted it a little for dramatic effect. His statement adds something to evolution that is not present. He was referring to the fact that evolution proceeds through the process of mutations. However, look again at how he is describing it. By his definition, a lion with short claws would consciously decide, “I could kill better if my claws are longer.” The lion makes a decision it needs longer claws, and then subsequent generations are born with this long claw. This is not how evolution works.
The process of natural selection is how mutations are carried on from generation to generation. An animal is born with longer claws, and since these claws help him survive better than animals with shorter claws, he has a greater chance of succeeding in life, and passes the longer claws down to his descendants. The lion does not “decide” it needs long claws.
One other smear that the speaker tried to give science is a common one that is heard often. "If you don't like what science is saying, wait until tomorrow...it will change" (paraphrased). This is actually a good thing, despite the fact that young earth creationists present it in such a way as to make it look bad to their audience. Science by its very nature must change...as new technologies are introduced, and new fossil discoveries are made, science is refined, new theories emerge, and bad ones are discarded. Young earth creationists like it to sound as if science can't make up it's mind. That is partially right, but it is no laughing matter. This is one of the great strengths of the scientific method.
The archaeological materiel presented is fascinating, and is worth the attending of this seminar. The many examples from archaeology show that the Bible is trustworthy, and contains an accurate record of history.
Although this session contained much purported evidence in support of a young earth, none of this evidence seriously threatened an old earth viewpoint. The arguments given have all been rebutted on this and other websites. The speaker utilized the moon dust argument, one no longer recommended even by young earth creation science organization Answers in Genesis. This, and several other arguments, lends me to think that this seminar is heavily dependent upon Kent Hovind's ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, and the ministry of Carl Baugh, of the Creation Evidence Museum. Neither of these ministries has a good scientific reputation.
Overall, this seminar has great potential for evangelism, and could be greatly improved with the change from a young earth perspective to an old earth perspective. Now, on with the arguments.
The statement was made that the galaxies are at an equal distance from one another, and this was not what was predicted by the Big Bang model. As usual, the Big Bang offers a big target for young earth creation science arguments. However, the truth of the matter is that the Big Bang has made many predictions, all of which to date have proven true. Let's look at the expansion of the universe from the Big Bang (see picture).
Expansion from the singularity would be uniform, as all objects are speeding away from the single point of creation. As such, they would remain roughly the same distance, although when you are talking about millions of light years distance, your margin of difference, although small statistically, would equal a large distance.
Now consider the statement claimed in the Evidently God seminar, that the galaxies are at an equal distance. Below are some pictures galaxies that defy this claim. (click picture for a larger view).
All of these pictures (there are more) show collisions between two galaxies. As you can see, not all galaxies are equidistant, as Brent MacDonald claims! (Photos from hubblesite.org.) When dealing with objects in space, there are variables that affect how they relate to one another. The larger the galaxy, the greater its mass, and thus it has more attraction with other galaxies. Its trajectory and speed also mean that it could collide with other galaxies. Nothing is as simple as it seems.
NOTE: The astronomical evidences were presented to show that there is order in the universe, and thus if there is order, then it must have been designed, and have a designer...I agree completely with this statement.
In fact, the opposite is true. The graphic for this presentation says the age is thought to be between 14 and 20 billion years. That date has come down to roughly 14 billion years, at the bottom end of the scale presented, with the most common believed date at 13.7 billion years (click here). This is a further example of science changing, which MacDonald alluded to earlier. As new evidence is discovered/examined, the date is refined.
This is an easy one. Can God Lie? The answer is no. Therefore, when we see a supernova explosion, that occurred 50 million light years away, then according to the young earth creation science model, God must have created this event's light already in transit from the explosion. In other words, God created evidence for an explosion that never occurred! In other words, God lied. Since God cannot lie, then the universe must not be created with apparent age.
Brent gave many errors in rapid succession where astronomers made errors and had to go back and correct them. It was intended to "sling mud" on the scientists. I see this as a good thing...science at its best. As old theories are shown to be wrong, new ones are devised from the evidence. Science by its very nature must change like this. If it didn't, it would not be science.
Another commonly used example by young earth creationists. It is said that it takes about 100,000 years for a star to go from a red giant to a white dwarf, then they mention Sirius, which apparently made the change in only 2,000 years. Click here for a simple look at this false argument.
This star changed from a white dwarf to a red giant in only a matter of a few years. However, this is grasping at straws. Yes, this happened, but one quickly forming star does not a young universe make! We have one data point out of billions and billions of stars! Statistically, we can't draw any conclusions from a single data point among billions.
Scientists are still analyzing the data. It is interesting to note this star is the central star of a planetary nebula, thus the rules are different from normal star formation.
The claim is that scientists arbitrarily color light sources not visible to the eye, and different scientists use different colors for the same type light. Yes, it's true, but such a statement has no bearing on the age of the universe. It was made in order to sling mud and cast doubt upon astronomers.
What conclusions can be drawn from the fact that one astronomer uses blue and another one chooses red? The astronomer who uses blue chose blue, and the one who used red chose red...nothing more can be inferred from this! It doesn't need to be standardized when the report containing the photo gives a legend, telling what the color represents.
And that's what the evidence shows! Brent got his data from young earth creationist Keith Davies, and his work Distribution of Supernova Remnants in the Galaxy. For more on this, read this (short), or if you want a detailed scientific explanation of why this argument is not correct, read this (long, technical).
Once again, not a good argument for a young earth. To learn the truth about this topic, click here.
The speaker scoffed at the idea that a meteorite from Mars is on earth. The science behind this possibility is simple and requires no explanation, as it has nothing to do with the age of the earth. I do agree with Brent on one thing...the earth is unique, and many of the measurements of our universe and solar system are finely tuned as to allow life to flourish on earth. Earth is unique, and life on earth is unique to the universe (see this article for more).
The evidence from the Chinese alphabet is compelling. The Chinese material has no impact upon the age of the earth debate...it only confirms that we descended from a common ancestor, which both old and young earth proponents believe in.
I agree! See the article referenced in the Life on Mars Meteorite above for more.
The Hebrew word for day, Yom, can be interpreted many different ways (12 hours, 24 hours, the creation week, several months, several years, eternity). Yes, Hebrew Scholars say it is only a 24-hour day in Genesis 1. However, these are scholars who believe in a young earth. There are plenty, if not more Hebrew Scholars, who say it is long ages. For more on Yom, see Word Study: Yom. See also this article.
John Ankerberg just completed a four-part series on his television show about the days of creation. You can find information on this at his web site.
This statement came up in a discussion of the word Yom. The claim was made that ordinals appearing with Yom always means 24 hours. Zechariah 14 is one exception to this rule (The John Ankerberg show, Are the Genesis Creation Days 24 Hours or Long Periods of Time?). Also, this is an example of a rule added to Hebrew to support a young earth. There is no such rule in ancient Hebrew.
I was intending to bring this up, so I'm glad Brent mentioned it. Context is also everything in science! If you were to sum up young earth creationist arguments, they would number several hundred observations. However, there are millions upon millions of scientific data points. The only way young earth creationism works is for them to focus on these hundreds, and ignore the context of the millions of data points.
Think of it this way...a young earth scientist is kneeling at the foot of a 100 foot tall haystack, and he is examining the evidences. One handful of straw supports his cause, but he ignores the rest of the hay. He takes his supporting evidence out of context with the rest of science.
Actually, it does match. The order of creation in Genesis matches perfectly with the scientific evidence for an old earth. For more on this subject, click here.
No it doesn't...it is inferred from several passages of Scripture. There are numerous facets to this false claim. Click the links below to explore it more.
Another weak argument based on the moon. The claim is that the moon is receding away from earth, and thus in the not to distant past it would have been closer than the Roche Limit, and the earth's tides would have destroyed the earth. The rebuttal for this argument is provided here.
I was surprised to see this one, given that Answers in Genesis says it is an argument that young earth creationists should not use. As a rebuttal, here is the Answers in Genesis technical article, which explains that the amount of moon dust is consistent with billions of years. Keep in mind this is coming from a young earth creation science organization!
This section was mainly a large slandering of the science of dating. Examples of this are the example of the Hawaiian lava from 1801 that was dated in a range from 160 million years to 3 billion years. Scientists who do radiometric dating know that young volcanic rocks do not date properly, so they don't use them. However, if you are a young earth creationist looking to disprove radiometric dating, you would want to date volcanics.
Much radiometric dating issues have been highlighted by the young earth champion of the topic, John Woodmorappe. However, Woodmorappe's mis-statements, taking dates out of context, and general scientific errors are too numerous to mention. For more on his dating errors, check out the articles below, all written by a PhD geologist. (Note: Most young earth creation scientists use Woodmorappe's arguments.)
Much has been made young earth creationists of their ongoing project, Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (R.A.T.E.). However, this project has been unable to come up with any evidence that radiometric dating is unreliable. For more, visit our index for the RATE project.
Uranium/Uranium Concordant dating is addressed, with the example from an Answers in Genesis article mentioned. In this example, 139 "bad dates" were discarded out of 140, and the one remaining is the one the scientists proposed as accurate.
These dates were not "discarded." To read the truth, check out this article.
The wood in the rock claim from Australia, where a supposed piece of wood in Triassic age rock (Hawkesbury Sandstone) was discovered, and carbon dated to 33,720 +- 430 years. The truth is...they don't even know if it was wood! To read about this dubious wood, click here.
The story was told that Willow, a Thesclelosaurus, discovered in 1993, contained a heart and other internal tissues. This is a correct story (see here for details). However, these tissues and heart were fossilized, and were not soft. It is rare to find fossilized soft tissues, but the existence of them do not support a young earth.
This recent discovery also does not support a young earth. For more on this, read this article. This is similar to the T-Rex Blood Cells that were claimed to have been found several years ago. Click here for the rebuttal to this claim.
This argument falls in the category of Deceptions. Scientists have long known that you can make a rock quickly, yet young earth creationists continually make this claim. In fact, you can do it in your own home! Turn off your water softener, and see how long it takes the calcium buildup to totally block your pipes!
Yes, there are plenty of textbooks which use terms like "millions of years.: These texts are slow to change. And in some cases, millions of years may be accurate. It all depends on the forces acting on the fossil/rock.
For more in-depth study of these claims, check out the articles below.
Creation Evidence Museum Lacks Evidence! (includes the hammer in rock claim)
The Creation Evidence Museum, in Glen Rose, Texas, is run by a creationist by the name of Carl Baugh. He has been shown to have relied on hoax's in order to prove creationism, and is not to be trusted. Young earth creationist organization Answers in Genesis lists his arguments as those creationists should not use. Here is what they say:
Many of Carl Baugh’s creation ‘evidences’. Sorry to say, AiG thinks that he’s well meaning but that he unfortunately uses a lot of material that is not sound scientifically. So we advise against relying on any ‘evidence’ he provides, unless supported by creationist organisations with reputations for Biblical and scientific rigour. Unfortunately, there are talented creationist speakers with reasonably orthodox understandings of Genesis (e.g. Kent Hovind) who continue to promote some of the Wyatt and Baugh ‘evidences’ despite being approached on the matter (ed. note: see our Maintaining Creationist Integrity, our response to Hovind’s reply to this article).
It is interesting that many of the articles cited by Brent MacDonald come from Hovind and Carl Baugh (hammer in rock, the decaying skeleton that washed up on shore, the skeleton that was caught by a trawler, boot with fossil, etc). Lion Tracks Ministries would not have the favor of Answers in Genesis. (This issue also surfaces with evidence in Seminar 3, with the Darwin Eye Quote, the Paluxy River Footprint claim, and the Transitional Fossil claim.)
Fun was made of scientists who recovered the two legs, hips, and tail of a predecessor of T-Rex, and then they showed an artist rendition of the entire animal. There is an entire branch of science aimed at reconstructing fossils, by examining what you do have, and comparing it to other similar animals. They are very good at making such extrapolations. Also, it would be clear from the article that they had only the legs, hips, and tail, so it would be understood by other scientists that the rendition is an estimation, and not hard fact. As such, no "poking fun" is appropriate.
This appeals to the emotions...of course dead fish float, we've all seen it! How could those stupid evolutionists believe that a fish fossil formed slowly? The fish don't sink to the bottom, so they can't be gradually buried by sediment, but instead their bones become disarticulated as they are scavenged.
In reality, dead fish do sink. It's all controlled through the process of buoyancy. When a fish dies, it begins to decay, which produces gases. When it decays to the point that the gases have a way to escape, then the fish will sink. Naturally, some of the floating fish become scavenged before they can sink, but not all. Fish with puncture wounds, that lets the gas escape, may sink immediately and never float.
The Cat Paw claim is the only one I cannot find support for...it just isn't on the internet. However, with that said, let's look at the claim. Brent MacDonald says it shows a cat's paw imprint in rocks that were supposedly deposited long before there were mammals.
How does he know it is a cat print? He cannot know for certain. Yes, it looks like a cat's print, but the only way to know for sure was for him to be there and see the cat make it. In reality, there is no way to know what caused the print.
I agree with the flood legend portion of the presentation, as all people currently alive are descended from Noah.
If you are not a Christian, and you have been holding out on making a decision for Christ because the Church always preached a message that was contrary to what you saw in the scientific world, then rest assured that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and you can believe in Christ and receive salvation, while still believing in an old earth. Click here for more.
Are you a Christian who believes in young earth creationism? Now that we have shown the many difficulties of the young earth creation science model in this and many other articles, how does this impact your Christian life? If you are a young earth creationism believer, click here.
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about old earth creationism, see
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