What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

My review of Ronald L. Numbers' The Creationists (revised edition)

It has just been made accessible online on the website of the Journal of Law and Religion, which will publish the review in its forthcoming issue, vol. 23 (2007-08): 101-104. You can find the review here.

Comments (18)

FB - thanks for the link. Quite interesting stuff.

I curious as to how a Young Earth Creationist deals with the problem of the known size of the universe, or just the size of the Milky Way Galaxy, for that matter? How would we, located on a planet no more than ten-thousand years old, be able to see most of the stars that we do, in fact, see, if those stars were created within a few "hours" of the time the earth was created? God, could, of course, have located them millions of light years away at the same time that he located the earth where it is, but then their light would not be reaching us until millions of years into the future.

Rodak:

YEC must resort to a radical methodological and instrumental skepticism. That is, the universe only appears very old because God made it that way, or our instruments and methods of measurement are deeply flawed. This is why I think YEC is a failure as well as an embarrassment to Christianity's rich and sophisticated intellectual tradition.

It was 19th century dispensationalism that spawned today's YEC. It a recent phenomenon driven by a novel biblical hermeneutic.

Frank

The hermeneutic which yields YEC and dispensationalism (dispensensationalism) alike entails the conclusion that experience itself is not veridical. It is interesting to ponder the resonances of this hermeneutic, not only with some strands of modern philosophy, but with the radical voluntarism of a certain other religion which denies the integrity of being.

Just for purposes of strict accuracy, it's worth noting that there are differences among young universe, young earth, and young biosphere. Not all of these face the same epistemic stresses with the available evidence regarding age, though they all do face such stresses.

FWIW, the intellectual YE creationists I know simply believe, and argue, that God created the light which we think emanated from stars many light-years distant in transit, thus creating the illusion of great antiquity. Reality is non-veridical.

Not all of these face the same epistemic stresses with the available evidence regarding age

They do with regard to the literal truth of the Book of Genesis.

Reality is non-veridical.

In expounding upon the philosophy of Spinoza in her book Betraying Spinoza, Rebecca Goldstein writes:

"Reality is ontologically enhanced logic."

Interesting.

It is interesting to ponder the resonances of this hermeneutic, not only with some strands of modern philosophy, but with the radical voluntarism of a certain other religion which denies the integrity of being.

Heh. :-)

That is, the universe only appears very old because God made it that way, or our instruments and methods of measurement are deeply flawed. This is why I think YEC is a failure as well as an embarrassment to Christianity's rich and sophisticated intellectual tradition.

Assuming, however, that God created the world ex nihilo, it would seem that His creatures would necessarily appear older than they actually were. For example, the Garden of Eden would not have been created as a clump of dirt covering a bunch of seeds that would one day become trees. Surely it would have been created as a perfect garden, with trees that appeared dozens, even hundreds, of years old.

A similar argument could made regarding the cosmos. Perhaps a cosmos the light of whose stars had not been diffused throughout it should be considered to have been incomplete or embryonic, i.e., imperfect. To argue that the cosmos is old because it appears old may be begging the question somewhat.

To argue that the cosmos is old because it appears old may be begging the question somewhat.

You mean, kind of like claiming that a sentence delivers a valid proposition simply on the basis that it works semantically?

You mean, kind of like claiming that a sentence delivers a valid proposition simply on the basis that it works semantically?

No.

I mean that if the truth of your opponent's thesis would produce the same evidence that you are using to refute him, then you had better find some other evidence.

I thought that, at that juncture, the proper thing is to go with the set of data that reason identifies as being the most likely to be in conformity to reality?

In other words, in order for you to convince me that God made the universe look other than how it actually is, you would need to convince me that God does things arbitrarily, for no reason other than whim, deliberately to deceive the senses and reason with which He gifted His optimally sentient creature.

I thought that, at that juncture, the proper thing is to go with the set of data that reason identifies as being the most likely to be in conformity to reality?

Right.

It is not the data per se that would decide issue, but other reasons.

In other words, in order for you to convince me that God made the universe look other than how it actually is, you would need to convince me that God does things arbitrarily, for no reason other than whim, deliberately to deceive the senses and reason with which He gifted His optimally sentient creature.

This is not my argument at all. I was suggesting that it was necessary that the world be created 'old' in order that it be created mature, i.e., perfect.

The question I'm asking is: why was it necessary for God to call "perfection" what amounts to a "smoke and mirrors" trick, to an optical illusion? Why were the laws of physics, as we understand them now, not that which expressed perfection in the beginning? If the stars were static things that argument might make better sense. But we have observed events in the heavens that are consistent with the more "scientific" explanation.

The question I'm asking is: why was it necessary for God to call "perfection" what amounts to a "smoke and mirrors" trick, to an optical illusion?

Let me ask you this: Which do you consider to be a more perfect cosmos, one shrouded in darkness where light has only just begun to crawl from its sources, or a cosmos already diffused with light from its stars? If you say the latter, why would God not create it that way?

You could argue that such a cosmos would be a logical absurdity and, therefore, impossible. For example, God could not create a square circle. This, I believe, is the real difficulty faced by the YEC theorists.

You could argue that such a cosmos would be a logical absurdity and, therefore, impossible. For example, God could not create a square circle.

Yes, that is pretty much my position. The physical laws governing radiation were presumably established with the Fiat lux. The entire cosmos would have been filled with difused light locally. I can see no necessity in light from every solar body being simultaneously perceptible from any point for the universe to have been deemed "perfect."
I'm no physicist, but my guess is that such universal difusion, like the squared circle) is not logically (or mathematically) possible.

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