#8 of 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer

#8 of 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Above Image by Valdas Miskinis from Pixabay

How is it that the bible explains the earth to be 6,000 to 8,000 years old when we know that dinosaur bones are at least 65 million years old? This isn’t the only example of our planet’s age by any means, either.

This is one of those ‘in house’ discussions that even educated and intelligent Christians do not agree on. Pucket is also guilty of a strawman fallacy, by misrepresenting or fabricating someone’s position on an issue, so it is easier to attack.

Pucket, who asked the above question, and 49 other questions, lump all Christians as ‘Young Earthers, when many Christians do not hold to a young earth view. I personally do not hold to a young earth, but anyone who spends just a few minutes researching a young and old earth view will find scholars on both sides of this issue.

For example, many have heard of Ken Ham and his life long work at answersingenesis which publishes books, video’s, and other materials in support of a young earth view. Also, his recent debate with Bill Nye the Science Guy brought this issue to some headlines. Both sides, science and religion, claim victory. I spent a few minutes looking at online magazines and popular blogging sites, and without fail, the secular science sites give Bill Nye the win, and the Christian oriented sites said Ken Ham won. Reminds me of the demographics when you look at the percent of whites vs blacks who voted for President Obama. 

It is interesting that many who are troubled with an old earth view have no problem with verses concerning the earth not moving. For example: 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 104:5, and 1Samuel 2:8. John Lennonx points out in his book, Seven Day’s that Divide The World, that the Bible even has passages about the sun moving. Psalm 19:4-6 and Ecclesiastes 1:5. Lennox also wrote, “Why do Christians accept this ‘new’ interpretation, and not still insist on a ‘literal’ understanding of the pillars of the earth? Why are we not still split up into fixed-earthers and moving-earthers? Is it really because we have all compromised, and made Scripture subservient to science?” 1

Of course not! We now know that Copernicus in the 1500’s was correct; the earth is revolving around the sun. Its path takes a year at the speed of 67,000 mph. No one doubts this, well, no one I know of does. No one that I know of still insists the earth is unmoved, with the starry heavens revolving around the earth. Yet when Copernicus first suggested this, and then Galileo in the 1600’s attempted to confirm it, the Church made it clear Galileo was to keep quiet about it. Galileo was not tortured or beaten, as many liberal historians would suggest, but he was slapped on the hand and put under house arrest in a luxurious mansion. This was the beginning of the science vs. religion mentality that continues today.

Read the question again. Pucket is right. Dinosaur bones are not the only way we can date the age of the earth. Although carbon dating is relatively accurate, it is not without its hiccups. Fossils are also dated by their location in the sedimentary layers, yet this also can have suspect assumptions. If sediments laid down in same rate over thousands or millions of years it would be easy to date, but any laymen knows this is not the case. Couple that with the plate tectonics, dating by sedimentary layers can be troubling to say the least. In my recent post about Noah’s ark and the account of the flood, I touched on the possibility of a massive flood in the past 5000 years. Robert Ballard and his team have found evidence of that possibility with a shoreline in the Mediterranean 400′ below the surface of the sea.

Yet we do have evidence beyond carbon dating, beyond the depth of fossils in sedimentary layers, and plate tectonics. Evidence that does point to an old earth. The two that come to mind are the ice cores and distant galaxies.

The Christian Apologetics Research Ministry has an article on ice cores. “Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent on Earth. That’s right – the driest ! Antarctica is a desert. The annual precipitation of snow, averaged across the continent, is about 30 centimeters, which is equivalent to about 10 centimeters of water. In some locations as little as 2 centimeters, [about ¾ of an inch] (water equivalent) is recorded. Because of the low temperatures, however, there is little or no melt. Thus the snow has accumulated year after year for thousands of years and, with time, is compressed to ice to form the Antarctic ice sheet. 2

Ice cores are tubes of ice that are drilled out of large ice sheets or glaciers. Greenland has produced some with dates beyond 120,000 years old, and cores from Antarctica well over 500,000 years old. 3 Ice cores give information about past climates trapped in the tiny bubbles of air, but they can also give us dates by the layers that can be counted, much like you would count the rings of a tree to determine how old it is.
Yes, the rings compress the further down you drill for the core, and there are other climate factors that could make some dating of the ice cores problematic, but like the carbon dating, the accuracy is widely accepted in the scientific community.

By and large, the scientific community accepts the Big Bang theory. The theory that the universe began billions of years ago from some unimaginably small, yet inconceivable bright flash of energy. Could the universe have somehow caused itself? Nothing in our experience of science even remotely suggests that something could be the cause of its own existence.

Tim Keller wrote in his book, The Reason For God, “Everything we know in this world is ‘contingent’, has a cause outside of itself. Therefore the universe, which is just a huge pile of such contingent entities, would itself have to be dependent on some cause outside of itself. Something had to make the Big Bang happen – but what?” 4 As Christians, as Believers, we know just what that is.

If the Big Bang is true and we have other galaxies millions of light years away, then how could we possibly see the light from them if the speed limit of light is set at 186,000 miles per second? Yes, that is fast, but even at that speed the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is just over 4.3 light years away. That is the nearest star in our own Milky Way galaxy. We have over 200 billion stars in our own galaxy, and beyond that, estimations of 200 to 500 billion galaxies outside our own. The light from some of those distant galaxies have taken millions of years to reach us.

earth5

Bible scholars do not agree on the age of the earth or how to interpret time-spans in the early chapters of Genesis. With that in mind, the question above, asked by Pucket, implies and makes the assumption that all Christians are young-earthers, and that is certainly not the case. Nor is it the case that Genesis 1 and science conflict with each other.

Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe wrote a large volume titled, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, addressing this very issue, “There is no demonstrated contradiction of fact between Genesis 1 and science. There is only a conflict of interpretation. Either, most modern scientists are wrong in insisting the world is billions of years old, or else some Bible interpreters are wrong in insisting on only 144 hours of creation some several thousand years before Christ with no gaps allowing millions of years. But, in either case it is not a question of inspiration of Scripture, but of the interpretation of Scripture (and of the scientific data).”5

Sources:

1. Lennox, John. Seven Days That Divided The World. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011, Print.
2. “Ice Core Dating.” Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. CARM.org 1998. Web. 10 September 2014
3. “Ice cores and climate change” British Antarctic Survey. Antarctica.ac.uk/bas 2014. Web 12 September 2014
4. Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Print.
5. Geisler, Norman. Howe, Thomas. The Big Book Of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992, Print.

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43 Questions Christians can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/.

50 Questions Christians can’t answer

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

I came across an article titled, “50 Questions Christians can’t answer”, by P.E. Puckett. It is not the first time I have seen posts or articles like this and undoubtedly it will not be my last. I am not sure why this post and list in particular caught my attention, but it did.

My initial reaction was to see which ones I could respond to, and then consider using them as some blog material. From there I had illusions of grandeur when I thought I would take a year and answer one of them every week. After a moment’s consideration, I quickly dismissed that idea because of the time it would require. Since I am teaching a new curriculum starting this next school year, (Common Core), my time for blogging will be at a premium.

This premium price was realized on my first day of summer vacation. About two weeks ago, when I was looking forward to some home projects, reading and writing on apologetics to my heart’s content, I somehow strained my sciatic nerve. The only position that was relatively pain-free was on my back with my knees up. I will add that it is not easy to eat ice cream while flat on your back. If the ice cream is at all soft, you can easily drop a spoon directly on your face, which, if you’re 18 months old, no one would give you a second glance. Then if you move too fast, the dog or cat will have something to lick up, after it skips across your face. Not to mention, the consequences are more serious if you have an abundance of facial hair. So, unless you’re an expert at tossing nuts into the air and catching them in your mouth, I would not recommend hovering the spoon a foot above your face and rolling it over, to drop spoon fulls of ice cream into your mouth.

It has been about two weeks, and I can now sit at my computer for a while before I have to get up. Also, I can bend over enough to touch the top of my knees, but not much beyond that. I have no doubt my students would gladly point out how old I am getting.

The fellow who posted ’50 Questions Christians can’t answer’ wrote, “Religion is simply a story about how life came to be, why we are here, what we are to do while we are here and how, where we are going after death and what it all really means. This story, however, has to be unique to your environmental experience throughout your life to be believable enough to be accepted by faith. That is why a young Pentecostal Christian child being raised in southern Missouri, USA, will not readily be expected to grow up to be a follower of the Hindu faith. Religion is simply an environmentally influenced and culturally appropriate psychological vehicle needed for one to motivate their faith to positive affect.” 1

I was not even to his first question and I had issues with several things he had written! This is a classic example of the genetic fallacy. That is, religion is nothing more than the result of where you were born. A consequence to location if you wish. This is a common response atheists or skeptics may toss your way. For example, if you were born in India, you would be Hindu. If you were born in Ancient Greece, you would worship Zeus. If you were born in Iraq, your religion would be Muslim. The problem with this line of thinking is that it has no bearing on the truth or validity of any particular religion. Religion, or any belief system, should be investigated, researched, and examined to then stand or fall on its own merits and evidence. Where you were born and how you were raised is irrelevant to the truth of your worldview.

Look at it this way. Imagine everyone in the U.S. believed and taught the best way to eat ice cream was to lie flat on your back and drop spoonfuls into your mouth, and in Canada they believed and taught the best way to eat ice cream was to sit upright at a table and carefully place spoonfuls in your mouth. Supporters of both views would have to provide evidence to support their claims. The truth of their claims would be analyzed, and interested parties would come to a decision based on the evidence supporting the claim.  And I have learned in the past two weeks, one piece of evidence could be to compare how fat the dogs and cats are in Canada, to those in the U.S.

Frankly, many of the 50 Questions show remarkable ignorance of scripture and the message held within the gospel from someone who was supposedly raised Christian. Other questions drip with contempt and are difficult to even take seriously. A few are so simple even a child could give a sensible response. Finally, there are some which require some thoughtful consideration. If you are inclined, read all 50 for yourself here, or just read on to my answer for number one.

1 – If God is omnipotent (all-powerful), why did he take six days to create everything? Why not speak everything into existence all at once?

litteral

Do you take everything the Bible says as literal? In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Is Jesus really a vine? Are we really branches? Or should we take this verse to have another meaning, another intent?

In Revelation 16:1 it says, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.” Do you expect angles to literally pour our seven giant bowls on the earth, or is it some kind of metaphor that would aid our understanding?

No doubt many Christians believe the earth was created in six literal days. This fact was highlighted in a Feb. 5th 1014 debate between Ken Ham (young earth believer) and Bill Nye (old earth atheist). Ken Ham defended the young-earth creationist view that God literally made the earth in six 24 hour days. Bill Nye was on the evolution side promoting the view that the earth is billions of years old.

Sadly, a third view held by myself and many other Christians was not part of the debate, that being an old earth view of creation that does not hold to evolution; a view that the earth may be millions or billions of years old, but it still was created. Frankly, to some degree, I think this debate just added to the schism that seemingly divides science and religion. Some people think that science and religion are incompatible; certainly that the Christian religion is incompatible with modern science. Many old-earth creationists do not believe in evolution, (with the exception of Theistic Evolutionists), and in fact recognize the serious flaws in Darwinian Evolution despite what is, and has been, taught in public schools for the past 60 years. More importantly though, Ken Ham shared the Gospel message to tens of thousands of viewers, and for that I am thankful.

Old earth and young earth is one of those in-house debates that Christians can have. Many of my friends can be found on both sides of this issue. The problem is when many atheists paint young-earth creationists as ignorant and foolish. So foolish they ignore the evidence science provides for an old earth. Couple that with popular culture continually painting Christians in a negative light, anti-science, and as if their faith was a mental disorder, you have a stereotype difficult to change.  If a being, who was all-powerful and created everything in six seconds, six minutes, or six days, who am I to question it?

I certainly believe a God who created our existence is capable of creating the world in six, 24 hour days. What is important here, is to understand what I mean by “creating our existence”. I am not talking about just us, (humans) or even our world and solar system, but all of existence, all of our universe. Our own Milky Way Galaxy has about as many stars as we have grains of sand on the earth. The nearest star outside our own solar system is Alpha Centauri, about 4.3 light-years from earth, or about 26 trillion miles. If we took the space shuttle that orbits the earth at approximately 17,500 miles per hour and pointed it at Alpha Centauri it would take us about one hundred and sixty-five thousand years to reach it. That is just the nearest system within the billions of solar systems in our own galaxy. Outside of our own Milky Way Galaxy are billions of other galaxies. The immensity of our universe boggles the mind and is truly beyond our comprehension.

His second question, “Why not speak everything into existence all at once?” is answered in what modern science calls it the Big Bang Theory. A moment when everything was created, and to this day continues to create. So it should be obvious that He actually did create everything all at once, including time. Francis Bacon, who many say is the father of modern science said, “True knowledge is knowledge by causes.” In other words, science is learning about what causes things to act the way they do.

I say it continues to create because our universe is expanding. Albert Einstein first came across this notion while working on his theory of General Relatively in 1915. In fact, he was bothered by what it suggested: a universe that was expanding. Up until that time Einstein, and many other scientists, believed the universe was eternal, static, always existing, without a beginning. A few years later, just after World War I ended, Arthur Eddington conducted an experiment during a solar eclipse that confirmed the truth of General Relativity. Like Einstein, Eddington was not happy with what he discovered and wrote, “Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of nature is repugnant to me…I should like to find a genuine loophole.” 2

These men and others were uncomfortable with their discoveries because of what it implied. If the universe had a beginning, much like the first in a long row of dominos to fall, who pushed over the first one? Or better yet, and even more significant, who created the dominos to even start the process of their falling? Never mind who pushed the first one.

As the years passed, other brilliant minds confirmed what Einstein first discovered and published papers collaborating it. Then in 1927, Edwin Hubble discovered a ‘red shift’ in the color of distant galaxies. This new evidence, which could be seen with our own eyes, actually confirmed the universe was expanding. Not only expanding, but the further the galaxies, the faster they were moving away. In 1929, Einstein visited the Mount Wilson Observatory and looked for himself. That visit settled it for him. After that, Einstein focused on how God created the world, everything else was just minor details to him.

Over the decade’s evidence for the Big Bang began to mount. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us the universe is running out of useable energy. Just as a flashlight only has so much battery energy, so does our universe. If the universe is running down, it must have had a point in which it ‘started’ to run down. It can’t possibly have been running since eternity past, because we would have run out of energy long ago. In 1965, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected a ringing from the Big Bang which earned them the Nobel Prize. In 1989, NASA launched the Cosmic Background Explorer which took pictures of the afterglow of the Big Bang. There is more, but suffice to say the evidence for the Big Bang is substantial, and mounting.

Steven Hawking wrote in his book, A Brief History of Time – From the Big Bang to Black Holes, “What is it that breaths fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe?” 3 In other words, why is there something instead of nothing? Why is there even a universe for us to exist in?

Once my students were discussing some scientific facts and theories. The question was asked about gravity and where it comes from and why it works the way it does; an answer science can’t even explain yet. So I borrowed from John Lennox the Oxford mathematician and Christian Philosopher a story about a cake. I explained to my students that if I baked a cake, they could investigate its ingredients, the quantity of sugar, flour, yeast, butter, eggs, etc. They could research the temperature it was baked, and how long it has been out of the oven. They could even taste it and see what flavors it held. They could tell me just about everything possible anyone would possibly want to know about the cake, except why I baked it. For that, they would have to ask me, the creator.

Robert Jastrow, an astronomer, physicist and scientist who worked in NASA, ended one of his many books his with this famous line, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” 4

To accept the fact that there is an all-powerful Creator who did create this magnificent and immense universe that is beyond our comprehension, and then question his methods, is absurd. God did speak everything into existence all at once, which is widely supported by science.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I think R. E. Puckett needs to revise his claim to “49 questions Christians can’t answer”.

Sources:
1. Puckett, R.E. “Top 50 Questions Christian’s can’t answer.” Yahoo Voices. http://voices.yahoo.com, 11 Feb. 2010. 16 June. 2014
2. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Print.
3. Hawking, Steven. A Brief History of Time. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1988. Print.
4. Jastrow, Robert. God and the Astronomers. New York: Norton, 1978. Print.

Links:
http://earthsky.org/space/alpha-centauri-travel-time
http://video.foxnews.com/v/3633724402001/does-science-support-the-book-of-genesis/#sp=show-clips

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