When reading fundamentalist Christian literature, or watching/listening to fundamentalist speakers, you often come across the word “Evolutionist.” Now, to clarify, they have often stated that evolution is a faith-based religion, and I don’t think I stand a chance of capturing even one percent of the body of evidence that stands against this statement in this medium. I am not here to restate all of the papers written by reputable scientists. I am here to appeal to your reasoning; think for yourself, if you will. If not, well, I had fun writing and researching this anyway. I will present some cases, mind, but I will try to keep from having to rely on “Things I have not seen first hand.” I know how many fundamentalist Christians do so love to state “You weren’t there.” To see this in (frightening) action, watch any video of Ken Ham speaking to Christian children. He trains them, like dogs, to reply “You weren’t there!” on command, and it feels a little… Cult-y. Like… Even more cult-y than the usual cult-y-ness that I have come to expect from Mr Ham.
Now, when defending the Old Testament account of Noah’s Flood, YECs rely on the math of “Created Kinds”. There are some varying estimation on how many “kinds” were taken. Creation Today (which I’ve referenced in the past), suggests there are 8000 “kinds”, therefore there are 16000 animals (we shall allow them to gloss over Genesis 7:2-3, where it commands 7 pairs of all clean animals be taken [even though that would include things such as cattle and sheep, which would, one suspects, bloat the number]). Apparently Creation Today got their math from Answers in Genesis (which is, admittedly, the definitive apologetics source of our time), so I’ll skip the AIG math. (It is worth reading their work, it is quite the fascinating piece of apologetics, to be sure [https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/how-could-noah-fit-the-animals-on-the-ark-and-care-for-them/]) Another source, CARM (the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry), has a much larger number of “kinds”, though they balance the math by having a smaller average animal size (Sheep for AIG, cats for CARM). [http://carm.org/could-noahs-ark-hold-all-animals] They record 21,100 kinds, and DO account for Genesis 7:2-3, so while I hate to go against the word of the venerable AIG, these guys are at least *trying* to get the math correctly. Mind, they use 7 pairs of birds only, and completely ignore the “clean animals” math. In any case, there are 72,700 animals on the ark, averaging the size of a cat. I have not done the exact math on this, mind, but I feel like they are averaging in the insects for size, but ignoring them for ark content; their math breakdown shows that “Insects can be ignored due to their small size”.
So now we’ve got math! We’ve got the math according to … Ummm… Reputable(?) YEC sources. Let’s look at it a bit more deeply. First, why is there such a wide range in the value presented for “kinds”? Well, that one is simple enough; when you are making your own rules, you can call whatever you want a kind (or not a kind, as the case often is). So each Creationist source does their own “Created Kinds Mathematics”. This problem has gone by the wayside recently, somewhat, in that people are all just leaning on the math provided by Answers in Genesis (Google search: How many boxcars could the ark hold? [You might think that is arbitrary, but you will get thousands of claimants stating objectively that it could hold 569 boxcars]), so 8000 is migrating towards the generally accepted number, but even in today’s age, anyone who tries to do their own math ends up with an arbitrary number. Even though it is a number that is researched, in great depth, by Baraminologists. Oh, you’ve never heard of Baraminology? I would try to link to a respectable dictionary that contains the word, but it is largely unlisted. The definition supplied by http://yourdictionary.com (A wiki dictionary, which means its definitions are supplied not by scholars, but by end users) is as follows:
- The classification of organisms based on the Biblical doctrine of Special Creation done mainly by Creationists; the study of the created kinds.
So they made up an entire branch of science to basically count the number of animals on Noah’s ark… And even then, can’t fully agree on the math. I’ll let you chew on that one for a while.
Now, to my second point regarding “kinds” mathematics is that it is considered accepted… Ugh… It hurts me to write this sentence, even as a description of someone else’s beliefs… Alright. Deep breath. Starting over. It is considered generally accepted fact that dinosaurs were on the ark by YECs (and, specifically, AIG). They have reasoned, though, that God sent baby dinosaurs, as (direct quote, copied and pasted) “Even the largest dinosaurs were relatively small when only a few years old.” And now it is my turn to “You weren’t there.” This example, though, does point out the truly fundamental flaw in all of this: They (in their heads) already have the answer they are looking for, they just need to show their work. Oh, fully grown animals wouldn’t have fit? Then we use babies. The math works now!
So I am going to levy their own refrain against them; where’s the evidence?
Through all of this, I have to read that, in only 4,000 years, 16000 animals of 8000 species have created the biodiversity and populations we see today. WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF EVOLUTION. Every bird, reptile, amphibian, cow, cat, dog, moose, deer, every sheep, gopher, squirrel, (presumably) every insect, arachnid… They can all (somehow) trace their roots back to 8,000 species, and a population of 16,000. If you want to include humans in there, you have 8 humans who have birthed every race (Race, as a word, is racist, as Creation Today so lovingly informed me. Just so you know, we can’t call them races)… So, sorry for my racism. Every “people group” came from those 8, within the last 4,000 years. To add to that, they came to their current living space through migrations from Mount Ararat, again in the last 4,000 years. Effectively–and this is important–according to YECs, everything on the Earth is under 4,000 years old.
I am guessing they had some kind of seed saving mechanism, too, as I can’t figure how trees would survive the flood. In any case, I did a search for “Tree” or “Trees” in the Answers in Genesis article, and came back with nothing. Never mind the fact that tree ring counting allows us to trace trees back further than the age of the Earth (Read: 6,000 years), we can ignore that for now. They have expertly dodged the tree ring counting by stating “you weren’t there” and following it with “How are you to know that trees have ALWAYS grown one ring per year? What if, pre-flood, the seasons were much faster and they grew XX rings per year?!” They use the same logic for Antarctic ice layers, for which we can count into the tens of thousands of years easily. “Something, something, compacted freeze/thaw season.”
Again, we come up with “We know the answer, so we craft the data to fit.” Creation Today (I believe it was a scientist they were interviewing, though I cannot recall the exact episode) stated that, during the flood, radioactive decay was hyper-accelerated. I chose that wording, they would not have used such terminology — it would have confused too many people. Long story short, they say, all element-based dating methods (lead, carbon, uranium, etc) are effectively worthless because during the flood, the half-life of these elements was changed drastically by a factor of we have no idea so you can’t prove us wrong! Funny how that is.
What’s the point of all of this? Well, this is my stream of consciousness, I just wrote this down as it came to me. I have done some research, to be fair, so I have a solid starting point — but by reasoning through this and asking questions, I feel like any fair minded individual would come to the conclusion that forcing all of the math to fit an answer that has no apriori evidence is disingenuous, at best. The worst part is that the counter argument is “We totally did the science,” while supplying very little (to nothing) that would actually count as science at the best of times. If you read through the linked Answers in Genesis article, for example, you will see a host of fuzzy math or statements without proof. They state that they know the diet of the dinosaurs, and what they would eat on the Ark (Because… Because they were there? And we weren’t…?).
Now, we can move on to more claims they make as to the engineering of the ark. Again, from the AIG page linked, they reason that “Since Noah was over 500 years old, it would make sense that he would had the knowledge to build automatic feeding and water systems.” That claim in itself is so absurd on so many levels, I barely know where to start. Never mind the fact that we are now assuming he, of course, would have (clearly) come across advanced knowledge of engineering. He built the ark (in some 75 years, AIG reasons, which would have been easily possible since he was over 500. The blink of an eye!), therefore he knew all of the engineering required to work every system in it. A natural conclusion. Go and ask a modern shipwright if they could, given their knowledge, build an entire ship. You can give him 3 helpers (as Noah had three sons, and one assumes his sons’ wives did not do the heavy carpentry), but the workers are young and inexperienced. And you don’t get any tools, other than what you can manufacture yourself, that part is important (sort of. I think they’d fail even without this handicap, but the full picture is a better illustration). Check back in 10 years and see what they’ve come up with. It’s ok, I’ll wait. You can come back and read once you are done that experiment.
So why did I open this whole post by talking about Evolutionists? Well, that wraps around to how everything in the YEC worldview wraps so tightly around Noah’s Ark. God could have created a frajillion different species of animals before the flood, and only saved 8,000 kinds, so the “math” of evolution has to start after Noah’s Ark. That is why it is so easy for YECs to discount evolution; how could a “slow and gradual” process that only started 4,000 years ago create what we see today?
It all boils down to the fact that, no matter the evidence presented (YEC geologists… Now there’s an interesting bunch of people) regarding the age of the Earth, many will never recant on an Earth that is 6,000 years old and, for all practical calculations, only 4,000 years old.
You know what that means? Ignore everything you just read and stick with the advice that was given me years ago, “Don’t argue with a rock, you just look silly.”
And then, when we all stop fighting, YECs will TRUMPET TO THE HEAVENS that they won the debate, because the non-YECs stopped fighting.
“Well, Chad, why don’t you just ignore the YECs, then?” Oh, you play a dangerous game, reader. The deadliest game. Currently in the States, for example, YECs in government are pushing for Creation (sorry, sorry, sorry… Intelligent design, the… The “Science” of Creation) to be taught in schools across the nation. If we stop fighting, if we roll over and ignore them, they will grow. It’s sometimes been said that to ignore the vocal minority is to invite peace, but I have to look at it another way. To ignore the vocal minority is to invite the silent many to believe that is the company they must keep. The vocal minority and the silent majority then begin to overlap. As moss over a tree, it creeps until all you can see is moss. It is dangerous to just let that happen.
I may be arguing with a rock, but this battle is not about winning. I know I won’t win, and I know we won’t win, not in this generation. I believe the war will end in time, a war of information and education and thought, but it won’t be now. To me, I just feel like I need to remind the world that the battle is happening, because many of my close friends and family had no idea that Creation in the Classroom was a thing. The World is won or lost through information, so here I am. Information.