Wednesday, 28 January 2015

No, there is no 'very substantial evidence' that supports a young Earth.

Nearly 170 years ago, John Thomas, writing in Elpis Israel not only referred to the Earth as being millions of years old, but recommended that his readers consult the geological literature of the day to find out more information on this point. Robert Roberts bluntly stated 130 years ago that "it is demonstrable fact that the earth has existed for ages" [1] while C.C. Walker, writing just on a century ago noted that:
Ten years ago the average scientist would have asserted that our habitable globe had not existed for more than a hundred million years. Now it would be hard to find a competent physical specialist who would fix a definite maximum below a thousand million years." [2]
While none of the early Christadelphian writers accepted evolution, they were overwhelmingly in agreement that the Earth was millions of years old and that modern science was a reliable source of information on the age of the Earth.

As I have noted earlier, around the middle of last century, our community contracted a debilitating case of fundamentalism, importing nonsensical ideas such as Biblicism, YEC, and flood geology into the community. To a man, every YEC has abandoned the eminently sensible views of the early Christadelphians on the age of the Earth, and uncritically subscribed to ideas imported straight from the extreme fundamentalist wing of the Evangelical church, and ultimately from the Seventh Day Adventists, whose views on the subject came from the apocalyptic visions of founder Ellen G White. The irony of YEC zealots railing against not only evolutionary creationism but old earth creationism while uncritically taking their lead on science from people whom they regard as being theologically heterodox would be amusing if the effects on the intellectual health of our community were not so damaging.

Comments such as this from a science denialist site unfortunately reflect both the degeneration from the eminently sensible views of Roberts, Thomas, Walker, and other early Christadelphians, as well as the tendency to substitute emotional rhetoric for reasoned debate:
I looked very closely at evolution and looked at many sites purportedly reporting it as a fact. I really wanted to be shown that it was a valid paradigm. But all that was dished out was unsubstantiated conjecture. When you couple it with all the very substantial evidence that supports a young rather than old earth it is easy to see that it is rather a stupid idea conjured to delude people. That said I can understand those who attach themselves to the idea of an old earth without evolution. However those who attach themselves to evolution are bereft of reason. Evolutionism is really just blathering poppycock.
Needless to say, anyone who claims that the evidence for evolution is "unsubstantiated conjecture" is not arguing from an informed position, to say the least. Just the evidence from comparative genomics alone makes an unassailable case for common descent, let alone the considerable fossil evidence for large scale evolutionary change, developmental biology, and the biogeographical distribution of species.

A little over a century ago, C.C. Walker could declare with confidence that the Earth was over a thousand million years of age. In the intervening 100 years, we know that the Earth is around 4600 million years old. Given this, the claim that "very substantial evidence...supports a young rather than old earth" is utterly devoid of evidence. There is no credible evidence that supports a young Earth, with all the classic YEC arguments such as the absence of a thick layer of moon dust, decaying magnetic field of Earth, and missing solar neutrinos (just to name three) reflecting YEC ignorance of science, rather than a sober, exhaustive examination of the evidence. Conversely, the evidence for an ancient Earth is beyond dispute.

Unfortunately, those who use language such as 'blathering poppycock' are hardly likely to examine their own biases and critically evaluate the pseudoscientific sources of information they privilege, but by exposing the sterile intellectual fraud of YEC, and its utterly intellectually bankrupt methodology, one just may be able to reverse our community's headlong charge into obscurantism, fideism, and inevitable extinction, and ensure that one day, YEC will be regarded as an embarrassing footnote in our community's history.


1.  Roberts R. "In the Beginning", The Christadelphian (1885) 32:141
2. Walker C.C. "The Age of the Earth", The Christadelphian (1911) 48:450