Building Cities

It is an odd thing, to cling to certain beliefs in opposition of strong evidence. I don’t mean the belief in a religion, as no evidence can take that from you, but belief in an inerrant Bible, completely free of contradictions? That is something of a puzzle, more difficult to understand from an outsider. What day was Jesus crucified? Well, the gospels are all a little askew about that. If you want to go even smaller, how many times did the cock crow to denounce Peter? Again, there is disagreement. How about whether the Old Testament Law still applies? Again, there are separate commandments.

Muslims have admitted that there are contradictions in the Qur’an, and they have accepted it and created rules around it. I like their approach; under the theory of progressive revelation (to which many Christians subscribe as well), they have decided that more recent revelations take precedence. Effectively, for a book that is a single revelation from a single point in time, the latter chapters obviously have the weight of religious law about them.

That being said, this is just a single example of people handling the evidence differently, and not really the point of this post.

The point of this post is about why people need to come up with beliefs in spite of opposing evidence, and for me it is all about building a city. Each belief rests upon a foundation of rock or sand (my Biblically minded readers should understand this), and the stability of it depends on what you chose to build it on.

This is not as easy as you think, nor as simple–science and religion can both be used as foundations, but honestly needn’t be; science can rest on a foundation of religion, as religion can rest on a foundation of science. I hope to clarify that some, and explain why I am writing this at all.

A strong foundation of religion is an incredibly solid rock built on a faultline; the foundation will never crack, but one day it may be gone completely. If you have built everything on this rock, you may find one day, when your belief is gone, that you are left with nothing. Something like this happened to me, when I was younger, but thankfully it was early enough for me to step back and assess my situation. Some time during my childhood, I don’t know exactly when, but I definitely realized it during my confirmation in Grade 7 (12 or 13 years old, I suppose I would have been)–I had stopped building. It was around then that I realized I was not nearly as sure of my foundation as I was told I should have been. I did not begin deconstructing or moving my city then, but certainly I stopped building.

A strong foundation of science is a bit of a different thing; science is moving, gaining understanding. Science is still a foundation of rock, but perhaps not so strong as religion. Occasionally cracks show, and we must go to repair them before we can continue building upon them. The strong religious among us may stand and watch as we repair the cracks, mocking us for the extra work we have gained for ourselves while they luxuriate in their peaceful cities, their strong beliefs… And some may go to their graves, never having had to change their beliefs…

Some, though… Some will suffer an earthquake, and their strong foundation will change to sand. If this happens when they are 40, what are they left to do? Stare at the rubble of their life or rebuild? Start a whole new city from the ground up, at a time when a solid foundation is much more difficult to find?

This situation assumes some sort of mutual exclusivity, that religion and science can’t co-exist. That is not the case, and I follow two wonderful bloggers who build their religious beliefs upon a rock solid foundation of science (that was an awful pun, as the two bloggers I am talking about are the GeoChristian and Age of Rocks). When scoping how to build their city, they did not listen to religious salesmen (Evangelists) who said “Ah, build it here, you will never go wrong, look how solid our rock is!” They are still very religious, and a quick read of their blog (and the comments, with some very interesting infighting) will show that they are every bit as sincere in their beliefs as any Evangelical, but they have built that upon science as a foundation–or perhaps even deeper, they use a two layer foundation, part science, part faith. I respect their stance, though, and the fact that they have seen the issues in their faith and not shied from them, but approached them head on with eyes open.

I think it all boils down to one definition, and the different ways people understand it.

Faith: Belief in something in the absence of evidence. Religion falls into this definition.

Faith is not belief in something in opposition of evidence. Biblical inerrancy falls under this heading.

Be careful how you build your city, you may find no errors for forty years… But that does not mean none are there. Make sure you constantly maintain your foundation, or you may find it has turned to sand when you go to check on it.

Lesson 6: Truth

This is the final major lesson in the “Beginnings” course for Young Earth Creationism. There is a sub-lesson called “Resources and fun facts”, and if it delivers I’ll probably write something about what can be classified as a “fun fact” to YECs.

Anyway, onto the questions!

Question One: Can science give us absolute truth? Why or why not?

Their Answer: Science is inductive and therefore cannot give us absolute truth. It can only make educated guesses based on the circumstantial evidence and clues, but it can never give absolute certainty. The Bible, however, provides the complete story, giving us the key to sorting out the clues.

My Answer: I will agree that science is inductive, and cannot provide an answer that could be called “absolute truth.” The problem is, while we will look at one thousand pieces of evidence, and eventually come up with an educated guess as to what will fit, you have accepted as “absolute truth” a book that a man told you was dictated by a voice he heard one day.

I cannot wrap my heard around how The Bible is accepted so fully by some people as to believe that every word in it is absolutely true, devoid of errors, and more believable than anything science can come up with. The thing is, many moderate Christians accept that the Bible was written by man and prone to error, but what is it that causes someone to accept it despite so much evidence to the contrary?

Question Two: How should the vastness of creation affect us?

Their Answer: It should show us how small we are, and how big and amazing God is, thus leading us to glorify and serve Him.

My Answer: It should show us how small we are, and how big and amazing the universe is, thus leading us to study it and understand more about our place in the cosmos.

Question Three: If God made this world, He is the Ruler and Judge of all the earth. What is the only way we can be reconciled to Him, after having been found guilty of breaking His law?

Their Answer: Repentance and trust in Christ are required for salvation. We have sinned against God and only after we turn from our sin and put our full faith in Christ for our salvation will we be born again.

My Answer: Maybe I can’t fully related to the question, but when my dogs do something that very much displeases me, I give them a short punishment. When they do something that pleases me, I give them a treat. The punishment or reward are temporary, and I’d like the think the reward or punishment fit the behaviour. Not only that, but when my dog dies, I do not judge all of the behaviours they showed during their life, and either punish or reward them eternally based on that.

Maybe I am too forgiving. Maybe the husband who beats his wife is closer in mind to how God handles judgement than I am. In any case, I am sure I won’t know until I die.

No matter which way the afterlife ends up swinging, though, I am sure I will be surprised.

That’s it for the questions. 

In the application section for this lesson, they say that if evolution is true, there is no purpose to life. I think I just had a revelation of my own; certainly it hadn’t occurred to me before, though now it seems so obvious. I believe strongly in evolution, and I do not know if there is or is not a God; by the logic presented, there should be no purpose to my life. As I’ve said before, my personal purpose is to bring more happiness into the world than I take out of it.

I found that purpose on my own.

Perhaps the problem so many YECs have is that they are unable to find their own purpose, and thus their own purpose HAS to be told to them. The reason that Christianity works so easily for them is that they are told explicitly what their purpose is; it is to glorify their God. I am sure that says something about their psychological profile, and I don’t even think it is negative (honestly, the world does need people content to follow; not everyone can be the boss; there’d be no one to be the boss of). That being said, the appeal was never there for me.

Ironically enough, they stress the importance of keeping the idea of God in perspective. And then clarify that proper perspective is to blow your perspective out of the water. The observable universe, all that is seen in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (my favorite photograph of all time), times 2,000,000, fits in the span of his hand (because a single verse in the Old Testament said so).

If, as they say so frequently, God created all things solely for His own glory, then why’d he make it so that the majority of the conscious beings living in it are ignorant of His existence? I am sure it would take all the effort of my passing gas for him to merely whisper in the ear of every person alive today, and all would convert as the spirit moved them. Of course, to allow us to exercise our own free will, we would still be able to reject what we heard… But we would all have heard it.

The Challenge asks me to share the information from this course with everyone I know, with my acquaintances, friends, and family. Oddly, I expect I have used this information in a way they did not intend… But I am just a bad person that way.

And no one was surprised.

Lesson 5: Fact vs Faith

Oh man, this one was more deeply offensive to me than any of the previous. Not offensive in the general sense; most would find it just silly, but to me it is just… Unreasonable.

If the title didn’t give it away, the whole point of this lesson was for them to get on a podium and tell anyone who would listen that evolution is a religion that is far less likely than Christianity. But you know what? I don’t even have to rail against it. The discussion questions will give you a clear picture.

Question One: Where does the geologic column exist?

Their Answer: It only exists in the textbook. It is never found in the geologic record, because it is faith-based. It is not fact .

My Answer: Sweet Zombie Jesus, typing their answer out gave me finger cancer. That combination of words should not exist, and here I am duplicating them just for my blog. How awful is that?

Right, onto making good words. Oddly, the Geologic Column is a set of words most frequently utilized by YECs. To make it better, if you search “Geologic Column” and no other words, the first response is the ICR (Institute for Creation Research, whom I’ve referenced before). Now why might that be? Because Geologic Column is a misnomer, and is not used in general science. It has been replaced by the far more accurate Geologic Time Scale. I think it is worth explaining the Geologic Column and Geologic Time Scale, so that I cannot be accused of academic cowardice.

It is difficult to find a place on the planet that has a nearly undisturbed barrier between the layers of the geologic record. The records can easily be disturbed by wind and rain over the course of millions of years, so when you find a clear, clean demarcation, it is a good place to study the properties of the rock above and below. When you find rock that is thousands of miles separated and yet contains the same properties (the same mineral content, the ash content) was likely laid down in as a result of a similar event. The break between the Cretaceous (Dinosaur Golden Age) and the Paleogene (DINOSAURS BE DEAD, YO) was created (likely) by the same event that caused the event that caused the VERY CREATIVELY named “Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event”. Never let it be said that scientists are not creative, amirite?

Due to the fact that the face of the planet Earth is in constant flux (the continents, depending upon your point of reference, are either drifting apart or coming together), you will never find an unbroken column of stone that can be used to create some timeline we can take a photograph of, pretty-up, and then hand over to YECs to look at. Instead, we find a clean break in Australia, and a separate break in the Arctic, and a 40 mile crater in the Yucatan. When we put all of that information together, and calculate the size and speed of the object that created the crater, and the mass of the debris released… We can create a picture of the event that caused this, when it happened, and how wide the fallout was. In this case, it was 66 million years ago, had a global scale, and likely killed the vast majority of species on the face of the Earth. We assume this last part, about the extinction, because there are a huge number of fossils generated around that time (though we do admittedly have issues with dating fossils down to a specific year. I do not recall the exact margin for error, but I believe it’s somewhere between 1 and 4 percent).

The other thing is that I have drastically simplified the geologic dating logic. The reason (and this is my own personal guess) that so many YECs argue that the Geologic Column does not work as a method of dating is that they simply do not understand how complicated using rocks as dating methods is. It is not a simple process of observing how brown a rock is and then stating that we know the age of said rock.

Question Two: Evolution is based upon what two faulty assumptions?

Their Answer: Mutations change things for the better, and natural selection allows this change to become common among an entire population.

My Answer: To make the statement above without any sort of qualification makes it much easier for me to take it and make it sound silly.

First, they have argued that because they haven’t seen any positive mutations in their WHOLE LIFE (read: some 30-40 years, in the case of the speaker, and about 150 years in the case of the idea), then it can’t happen. For example, they state that a bug growing four wings is a worthless mutation, and would never survive (this is a specific example from the lesson itself). If four wings is a worthless mutation, I am confused about creatures like dragonflies (four active wings) or houseflies (two active, two inactive wings [the two inactive wings are used to stabilize the fly during flight, making it more maneuverable, to the dismay of many a swatter-wielding human]). That being said, just having four wings isn’t always a good thing, and doesn’t, by default, mean that a creature will survive. Evolution is complicated, and nature is a cold-hearted bitch. Humans will likely never catalogue one tenth of one percent of the species that nature has wiped from the face of Earth. We have a few hundred thousand species we even know about. You know what that means? That means even a new species can take its sweet-ass time coming about, and it means that in the trillions (quadrillions) of animals that are multicellular (let’s not even try to put a number  on bacteria, as even science only has educated guesses), a one in ten billion event would be common. One in One Hundred Billion? We’d see several of those in a year. One in a trillion? Those might start to get rare (only a few per year). One in one hundred trillion? Now we’re talking in evolutionary numbers.

To quote an older scientific paper (1998), “Events that would occur once in 10 billion years in the laboratory would occur every second in nature.” Think about that, and keep it in mind for when someone tells you that “evolution could NEVER produce a positive mutation.”

Once our one in one hundred trillion (for clarity, 1:100,000,000,000,000 odds) happens, nature may kill it. The PERFECT mutation does not guarantee survival; how many creatures die before they even move? Then we wait again for our 1:100,000,000,000,000, and this time, it may survive, and it may breed, and it may protect its many children, who may further proliferate. Then we have something new.

That is the mechanism for evolution. If you ignore the very interesting, deep, and INCREDIBLY complicated science of determining the age of the Earth, even in 6000 years, evolution is happening before your eyes. Adaptation is just its bite-sized brother.

Question Three: How does natural selection work, and can it cause evolution?

Their Answer: Natural selection only selects what is already available. It does not create anything, and therefore, cannot cause anything to evolve. It only chooses features that already exist.

My Answer: Okay, getting tired of the slow balls, but if they are going to keep throwing them…

I’ll keep this one short and simple.

The common ancestor of EVERY BREED of dog currently alive is a precursor to the wolf. A gray, medium to large breed. Your chihuahua, your doberman, your St. Bernard, your Russian Bear Dog, your teacup poodle, those all came from the wolf. So you know what, keep telling me that natural selection cannot select for things that doe’t exist. Even Liberty University could show you with the Liberty University E. Coli Liberty University experiment, created and patented by Liberty University, that E. Coli can adapt to Liberty University experiments with traits that did not exist. That being said, even I will admit that Liberty University has not created a multicellular life form from Liberty University bacteria, but right now I only have to dispute your current statement.

Question Four: How does Satan use Evolutionism to rob humanity of its belief in God’s Word, and what effect does this have on society?

Their Answer: Evolutionism claims that we are merely an accident, and therefore there is no absolute right or wrong. If science has disproven the existence of a God, then we can do what we want. There is no foundation for morality if the Bible isn’t true.

My Answer: The Bible was neither the first nor the best moral code. The existence of a God as an absolute prerequisite for morality is disproven by the morality of adherents to numerous other theistic and non-theistic belief systems/religions.

Just because YOU want to murder someone (but don’t, ONLY because God) does NOT mean that the rest of us do.

The fact that you actively TRY to convince people that they would be murderous rapists without you should speak to a deep sociopathy that I find horribly disturbing. Why should I sign up for a belief system that tells me I am a murdering rapist?

Evolution, as I have discussed in two prior posts, lays a great deal of groundwork for morality. It also lays a great deal of groundwork for religion.

I am not asking anyone to abandon their religion as a result of what I say here, I am merely asking you to think about the less tenable parts of it.

That’s it for the questions. 

Sorry, this one got a little long. I guess it is because of the massive offensiveness of the whole lecture.

Please allow me to quote the first part of the “Application” section. “As Christians, we strive for truth.” As this is “truth” with a small ‘t’, and not “Truth” with a large ‘T’, I am comfortable stating that this is a lie. An out and out lie, at least on the part of the writer of this curriculum. They are not seeking the truth, they are seeking the Bible. I can’t say this is wrong, but when you absolutely and without question REJECT what we are able to PROVE is the truth about nature and the world, I am willing to say your beliefs are (in that sole case) WRONG.

The application section goes on further, stating “Public schools are teaching religious lies as fact.” Well, in places where Intelligent Design is in public school textbooks, I suppose I can agree with this statement. Does anyone find it ironic that we have to talk about the “Teach the Controversy Controversy”? Right.

Also, I am not saying that evolution has all of the answers correct; certainly not. You are right about one thing, Eric Hovind, the best we have are educated guesses… But the part you miss is that the guesses have to fit ALL of the given evidence. If a guess fails the test of all given evidence, then we have to look back and create a new set of ideas that fit the always growing evidence.

To wit; dinosaur soft tissue. YECs decided, INSTANTLY, without investigation, that this CLEARLY meant that dinosaurs lived recently. Scientists decided that they had to look into it more closely. What they found is that iron had bonded with portions of the tissue, preventing its decay. This was not known before 2013. Science is always learning, even recently.

“Do not leave unchallenged any absolute statements.” Well, lecture, I can certainly agree with that — though you may also want to define what qualifies as absolute statements. When you look closely at any science, you will see something akin to “p<0.01” or “+/-“. That means we are not making an absolute statement, as far as strict definitions go. We are merely making a statement that best fits the evidence.

“We should point out that evolution is supported… by faith. This then levels the playing field…” AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.





I think that is the single most self-aware statement they have ever made. “In order for us to fight evolution, we need to bring them down to our level.”

And that, my friends, is why Richard Dawkins famously coined “If I were to debate you, it would look great on your [resume], but not so good on mine.”

The challenge section requests that you call your government representatives and tell them to keep the religion of evolution out of their text books (but, of course, Intelligent Design should be in the science text books). Right.

I’ll show myself out.

Lesson 4: Dinosaurs with Man

Well, I gotta give it to this lesson. It is the first where I actually had to step back and check additional data. I had to study! If nothing else, I respect that.

Question One: Is Noah’s Flood supported by historical fact? What does this lead us to believe?

Their answer: Yes, about 200 flood legends exist among the world’s cultures, leading us to believe the Bible is absolutely accurate in its description of a global flood of God’s judgement.

My answer: They get so cranky when anyone else tries to make leaps in logic, but “Well, there are many flood legends, THEREFORE! Flood is fact.” Right. There are no other possible explanations. Never mind that there is evidence of settlements under water in Mesopotamia, and younger settlements above the water line. They had a catastrophic flood, but their legend means the Bible is correct.

In fact, the fact that floods have historically ruined lives and civilizations, or the fact that most civilizations have formed on flood plains due to their incredible fertility, that means nothing. Despite the fact that people living on flood plains means that floods are likely to be common, and things that are common form legends. In fact… Could… Could that lead to the flood legend in the Bible?

Nah, theirs is the one, true, only flood legend that has any basis in fact. The rest are clearly derivative.

Question two: Could some dinosaurs still exist today?

Their answer: Absolutely! Of course, the land dinosaurs would be much smaller, due to the change in atmospheric pressure [note: see lesson 3 discussion for additional info]. Any that still exist would only live in extremely remote regions such as deep waters and swamps. There are thousands of accounts of dinosaur sightings in modern history. After all, dinosaurs were on the ark, too!

My answer: There are Big Foot sightings, Loch Ness sightings, Chupacabra sightings, UFO sightings, and legends that span the length of breadth of the world. To take 100,000 local legends, sift through for the 1000 that fit your agenda, and call those factual? That is just intellectual dishonesty to an extreme degree. The odd thing is that these are supposed to be huge creatures, in legend. The Loch Ness monster(s) is/are supposed to be huge, but despite innumerable scientific surveys of the area, not to mention the massive amounts of tourism the legend has spawned, there are absolutely no reliable sightings. Funny how that is.

These legends of dinosaur sightings are just that; legends, tales, stories to be told around a campfire.

Do dinosaurs still exist today? Yes, of course they do. Alligators, crocodiles, birds, they are all the descendants of dinos.

Question three: Does the Bible mention dinosaurs in general, or even specifically?

Their answer: The Bible makes many references to dragons (dinosaurs), and even specifically mentions fiery, flying serpents (Isaiah 14:29; 30:6), Leviathan (Job 31), a fire breathing dragon, and Behemoth, a sauropod-like creature (Job 40).

My answer: Like any number of ancient books, there are mythical creatures. To say “Due to these three local mentions, two of which penned by the same hand, completely prove dinosaurs in the Bible,” is just… odd, to me. That’s like saying “I read Homer’s epics, and now I am going on a Minotaur hunt, once I find the golden fleece, but I’ll be careful to avoid the Sirens.”

People have written a lot of legends, but so very few have any historical basis. To say “Someone wrote it down, therefore truth,” is to open yourself to many absurd arguments. To wit, the YECs state that God says the Bible is the Word of God, therefore it is the Word of God. “The Bible is true because The Bible said so,” in other words. You know what, given the corrupted and fallen nature of humans, you are right. I can think of no reason a person would ever want to lie to make themselves sound better connected or more powerful.

No one has ever done that in all of history.

That being said, what about dragon legends worldwide? Well, I am sorry, but Chinese dragon legends don’t really jive with dinosaurs; their dragons are, at best, fantasy creatures.

In fact, most dinosaur legends in China aren’t dinosaur legends at all. Foot imprints in trails have been identified as dinosaur tracks, but the local legends tell that the tracks are not of giant reptiles but of giant birds. Huh.

So you are wrong, I guess? Since legends are fact now, there were giant birds in China recently.

End of Questions

In the application section of this chapter, they fall back on the age old defence. Do not require that the Bible be proven right, but have faith in the absence of proof.

The Challenge section again asks you to accost a young person and tell them that dinosaur sightings in the modern era prove that dinosaurs are still alive, and that this means the Bible is true.

I … I don’t connect the dots the same way.

Lesson 3: It Was Good

So unfortunately, part of the course is missing (For $20.00, I was expecting nothing but the best!) and I cannot get page 12 of the leader’s guide which contains discussion question one for this chapter.

To be fair, I get half of the discussion answer from question one, but even with that it makes little enough sense that I am afraid I can’t figure out what the question was supposed to be. In any case, I will put the answer as far as I am able to see it, and you can make up a question in your own head.

Question one: ???

Their Answer: Evolutionists and atheists do not like the idea of a Creator who can give them rules for their lives, has judged His creation in the past, and will do it again for their disobedience. Their problem is their sin, not their science.

My Answer: … … Kay.

Question two: How would a hydrospheric layer, a canopy, on top of Earth’s atmosphere affect living conditions on Earth?

Their Answer: Oxygen and pressure would be increased, allowing for global, tropical conditions, resulting in larger, healthier, more energetic life. This would make larger plants, men, reptiles (Dinosaurs), etc., explaining the evidence found in the fossil record.

My Answer: One thing that I found interesting in this lesson was how they explain from where the water for Noah’s flood came (though I am still unclear on where it went; I believe, if my cursory understanding YEC science holds, God just created more land. Or something.). There was, prior to the flood (they tell us) a Hydrosphere above all current layers of the atmosphere. The Hydrosphere increased atmospheric pressure, as it was actively exerting downward force on the current layers of the atmosphere. Now, this was not gaseous water, it is important to let you know this; it was liquid water. How was it floating there? I have no idea. If it was floating, how was the atmospheric pressure was supposed to be increased? If it was not floating, as by magic (God did it, of course), then it would have just crashed to the Earth in a crushing sheet.

In any case, we know what would happen with a higher Oxygen content atmosphere, you get larger animals. I am not familiar enough with prehistoric atmospheric conditions to tell you what the pressure would have been like. I could go look it up, but that is for later.

Question three: Who is responsible for suffering in the world?

Their Answer: Man. Man’s sin ruined God’s good creation.

My Answer: I agree that the suffering in the world is largely man’s fault, but I am not willing to say that the world was perfect before some arbitrary date in the past (the flood occurred during the year 2400 BC, give or take a dollar).

That’s it for the questions.

During the application section, they posit that evolution was created, specifically and wholesale, by Satan. Evolution, they say, was created for the WHOLE PURPOSE of leading men away from God, and has NOTHING to do with explaining nature. Of course.

Challenge for Lesson 3: Memorize Romans 5:12 (“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”) Then find someone, and quote this at them. Surely, this will prove to them where death came from and thus make them Christian! (Again, maybe a little paraphrasing).

It says that this is a masterfully insightful passage, and will show them that it is not God’s fault that life is a bitch. (Paraphrasing)

Lesson 2: How Old is it?

Oh man, I actually had to step back and take a 15 minute breather after I watched lesson 2. They are willing to ignore so much science if it means that they can prove that the Earth fits their cosmological model. The best part, for them, is that they can use two different numbers (4400 years since the flood, 6000 years of human history), and anything that even partially correlates to these two numbers can be used to prove they are right. Doesn’t matter how much they have to ignore, so long as they have some correlation.

Anyway, I said I would be posting the discussion questions, not the course material. I apologize.

Question 1: How do limiting factors demonstrate a young Earth?

Their answer: Natural phenomena date back fairly recently, indicating that the earth’s age cannot be much older than 6000 years. (There seems to be a missing bit of text here, because I cannot make sense of it this next part) Otherwise, these phenomena would be much older, too. Other indicators, such as current population sizes, etc, as well as the complete absence of older phenomena, clearly confirm the Bible, which gave us a 4000 year history prior to Christ.

My answer: This isn’t a discussion question at all. This doesn’t ask me to affirm my faith, or talk about anything. They just present limited historical studies, ignore most historical studies, and tell me to move on. I suppose all that’s left is for me to talk about the “Facts” in their discussion answer (which are but a small snippet of what they present in the class). First, let’s look at human history. Ancient Egyptian history dates back to about 3100 BC, which doesn’t show the Earth as older than 6000 years, but it gets more interesting for them when you realize that their history continues unbroken through the flood.

Just throwin’ it out there. Unless Noah decided to preserve some Egyptian writings, I can’t see how that goes away. Or how about there.

How about Sumeria? Same thing, their written records go back to 3500BC, though they talk about having settled the area of Sumer prior to the appearance of writing. Even ignoring that, there is unbroken history that passes trough the period of Noah’s flood.

Cave paintings may not have been writing, but they go back into the tens of thousands of years. You may argue that our dating methods are flawed in this case, but whatever you happen to believe, a worldwide flood would have washed away these paintings, which exist almost exclusively in caves that are situated where the elements would not otherwise wash them away.

Their evidence for natural phenomena is incredibly limited, and basically ignores tree ring dating and ice layer dating, as far as this course is concerned, so I guess that is all I can say about that.

As far as population evidence, they assume a constant rate of growth, which is an odd thing. Looking at uncontacted tribes in the Amazon, for example, we see that their populations are completely static. If the growth of populations was completely uniform, as they (indefensibly) believe, would seem to indicate a world where there are equal numbers of every race of human (as you may recall, as of the year 2400BC, there were only 8 middle eastern tribesmen/women left alive on the Earth). They all had the exact same number of children, for the purposes of this math.

I think that covers their answer in the discussion section, though a book could be written to stand against what they presented in the course itself.

Question 2: Why does the establishment propagate lies such as the necessity of long ages for the formation of stalactites and stalagmites?

Their Answer: Much time is needed to afford the theory of evolution. Evoltuionism requires much more time than is evidenced. Examples such as “million-year-old” stactites are necessary to overcome the embarrassing limiting factors that disprove their faulty worldview.

My Answer: Again, they took a small sample of stalactites from areas local to the United States, and then applied them to all stalactites and stalagmites in the entire world. They did the same to petrification, of course (Look, this petrified pickle obviously proves that ALL petrification can happen in the shelflife of a pickle!). It isn’t even that evolution is some wide ranging science that every scientist clamors to prove, it is just that geology, chemistry, biology, they all seem to point to similar indications. I won’t say there are no flaws, no areas that could be “shored up” so to speak, with better information, but science is constantly growing, constantly learning. If I don’t have the answer today, I don’t believe that to mean I will never happen. In the 1980s, if you said you were looking for extrasolar planets, and perhaps even extrasolar life, they would have laughed you out of the conference. Now we have found over 1500 extrasolar planets, and are searching for factors that could indicate life. This is only 30 years later. That blows my mind, and I hope it blows yours, too!

Question 3: According to the dates given in the Bible, the earth is about 6000 years old. Evolutionists claim that it is billions of years old. How does this conflict affect the lost and the faith of believers?

Their answer: It casts doubt and unbelief in the minds of the lost and unbelievers. If they cannot trust Genesis, a book to which almost every other book in the Bible refers, and a book to which Jesus himself referred, stating, “In the beginning…” then how can they trust other parts of the Word of God?

My Answer: I believe that far too much stock is placed, by YECs, in the literal veracity of certain parts of the Bible, and to the odd exclusion of others. In various other posts in this blog, I have pointed out explicit, point for point contradictions in this “perfect” book.

I am not aiming to take faith away from the faithful, I am aiming to make people think about what they believe. If you believe in the literal, perfect Bible, I can prove your beliefs false. If you believe in a loving saviour, in Jesus the Christ, I do not want to prove your beliefs false. It is only when your beliefs work to the detriment of society that I have a problem, and many, if not most, believers in the Western world are far more moderate, and I respect their God, gods, and/or theologies (as much to the extent as one such as myself can).

That’s it for the questions, but one more thing:

In their “Application” section of the lesson, where they tell you why you MUST believe the things they have taught you, they state that “As the worldview of Evolutionism continues to permeate our educational system and society, crime, sin, disease, and evil continue to skyrocket”

I’ll just leave this here.

The Challenge for lesson two is to start an argument with someone who believes the world is over 6000 years old, and challenge them with cherry picked evidence for a young Earth, and hope they have a very loose grasp of history.

I.. Uhhh… May be paraphrasing a little.

Lesson 1: They are both religions

As part of my ongoing quest to learn everything I can, I am now posting the discussion questions, and my answers, to the final paper in lesson 1 of my Young Earth Creationist course. Lesson 1 is titled “They are Both Religions”, and compares the faith required to accept religion to the faith required to accept evolution. That is a little bit of a misrepresentation; they accept micro evolution (which they term, staunchly, adaptation, for fear of the “e” word), so what this course really considers a religion is the idea of abiogenesis (life from non-life, ie: how the first life form came into being).

To that end, below are the discussion questions at the end of lesson one, the answers provided by the course leaders, and my answers to the questions.

Question 1: What are the four basic questions of man? Are they still relevant in our society today? If so, why?

Answer provided by the textbook: The four questions are Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going when I die?
The way we answer these questions is related to our worldviews, which have ramifications in any culture or society.

My answers to the questions:

Who am I? I am a homo sapiens, a primate that is the result of thousands of millions of years of evolution. I am a member of the caucasian race, though I do not believe that the color of my skin in any way reflects my feelings towards other members of homo sapiens. I am the son of farmers, who themselves were the son and daughter of farmers, but I have chosen to break the chain and go into an alternate profession.

Where did I come from? I do not know the origin of life, but I also do not know if the origin of life has any bearing on my personal ethics or morals.

Why am I here? This is a personal statement, and does not reflect the general view of homo sapiens, but my own life goal, the whole reason I feel that I am here, is to bring more happiness into the world than I take out of it. I think it is important to discuss why I feel that way, because the point of this course is to cover why, without God, we have no morals or ethics.

I believe that other people are important. Perhaps they would feel, without God to tell them otherwise, that they are the most important person in the universe, but I do not feel that in any way. I want to help others achieve their goals, I want to help others because that is how we create a legacy and be remembered. I won’t be remembered by history, that is a loftier goal than mine, but I will hopefully be remembered by friends and family as someone who was always welcome.

Where do we go when we die? I believe I will enter an oblivion of blackness. To quote Mark Twain, “I did not exist for millions of years before I was born, and I was not inconvenienced by it in the slightest.” I will follow some 60 billion homo sapiens who went before me, and for the hundreds of billions who will come after. History may not recall my name, but why should it? Why would I be so arrogant as to believe that, because I don’t want to die, I will clearly live forever after I die? That seems like it shows the ego that is too common in the human race.

Are these questions still relevant in our society today?

Certainly, I believe that these questions are still important, aside from the “Where we go when we die,” question. I believe using the excuse of “I am a good person because I don’t want to go to hell”, is both dangerous and terrifying. But understanding your place in the universe helps you understand true humility, and the human race requires more humility.

Question 2: Do you believe that your view of the age of the earth affects your everyday life?

Their answer: If someone holds the evolutionistic worldview, he must live his life according to his own will. If someone holds the worldview of Creationism, God is the final authority, and he must conform to God’s will.

My Answer: I do not believe that the age of the Earth is anything worth fighting over. While I do believe that it is painfully ignorant of science to believe the world is 6,000 years old, I do not believe that those that hold this view are in any way inferior to those that agree with science. Even science does not know the exact age of the Earth, of course, and the number even within the last 60 days was modified. Perhaps this is, again, my feeling of humility at work; I do not know the age of the world or the age of the universe, but I have an idea. I am open to the idea that I could be wrong, and I think this tells you more about me than could possibly be revealed in most other sentences. “I know all of the answers, I have at my hands the true words of the Creator, and the world is 6,000 years old,” speaks to an arrogance of belief that I could never hold.

Question 3: Do you believe evolution is scientific or religious?

Their answer: Evolutionism contradicts fundamental science and is supported only by faith – not by evidence.

My answer: The constant response from the religious opponents of evolution that it is a science of faith is disturbing to me. It both ignores what science is (Science is not defined by “Only things we can see exist”) and ignores the mountains of evidence that show the idea of evolution. YEC science often takes a single case and applies it to all instances; multi-strata petrified trees prove that all of geology is wrong, they will tell you. There is an alternate way that the grand canyon *could* have formed that jives with the Bible, and since we already know geologists are wrong about everything, it is safe to write off their guesses. Carbon 14 has easy error conditions (anything that has been underwater tends to get erroneously dated, and C14 dating has limited date ranges for which it is effective). Because of this, we can also throw out radiometric dating, according to YEC science (They will throw out ALL forms of radiometric dating because of flaws with a single element). Tree ring counting? Ice core dating? We can throw those out because we weren’t there to see the rings/ice layers form, so who knows if they’ve always formed at a rate of one per year?

The reason that YECs believe that evolution is a religion is that they are so quick to throw out an excuse for why it might not work that there is no way that scientists can come up with evidence faster than YECs can ignore it (that sentence felt odd to write). In any case, I certainly believe that evolution is sufficiently supported by evidence.

Challenge Question:

I wasn’t going to include the challenge questions, but I found this question so royally offensive I had to mention it in this post or else I would have felt like I was letting something truly dark walk by me without warning those around me.

The Challenge: Ask an elementary school-age child if he knows where everything in the world came from. If his answer involved the Big Bang, ask him where the original matter came from. If he doesn’t know where this original matter came from, consider sharing the Biblical account with him to explain how everything came into being.

What the actual what.

Ask someone who is 5-10 a question that scientists are still currently working on, that people who have spent some 25 years in school, and some 25 years studying this exact question, and expect this child to have the answer?

This speaks to an intellectual dishonesty that really makes me sad. I honestly just … To tell a 5-10 year old child that, if they don’t have ALL of the answers, that they must accept religion… That…

I am sorry, I think I have to step back, rethink, and start over. I am just so sad that this is considered a valid tactic. I support science taught in the classroom, and I support teaching evolution, but I would never, ever, ever be so morally barren as to walk up to a 6 year old and say “Your God is a lie, now listen to me talk about my atheism at you.”

No. That is horrible. That is evil. That is so… AUGH! I can’t even talk about it. Suffice it to say, I find this tactic deplorable. That is all I can say.