Posted by jlwile on July 12, 2009
As I have written previously, there is some evidence that indicates the earth is old. Both the absence of most short-lived radioisotopes on earth as well as the ratios of certain isotopes in certain kinds of rock point to a very old earth. In addition, while some aspects of geology are best understood in a young-earth framework, others are best understood in an old-earth framework. Hopefully, I will eventually write about these old-earth evidences, as they are important to know and understand. However, for right now, just assume they exist.
Let’s suppose, then, that a person is convinced by the old-earth evidences. He or she thinks the data that indicate the earth is billions of years old outweigh the data that indicate the earth is on the order of ten thousand years old. Even though I disagree with such an assessment, it is a valid position to take. Now, even though it is not necessary to do so, suppose a person who believes the earth is billions of years old also wants to interpret the days of Genesis as 24-hour days. Is it possible to believe both of these premises? Actually, it is. In fact, there are two options such a person has:
1. Believe that God created the earth with an appearance of age.
2. Believe that the 24-hour days in Genesis are not earth days, but are days in another reference frame, such as the rest frame of the universe.
The second option is rather esoteric, but it is definitely feasible scientifically. I hope to write about that next. In this entry, however, I want to address the first question: Could God have created earth with an appearance of age? My answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT.
You might find it odd that I would say something like that. After all, God is omnipotent. Couldn’t He do anything He wants to do? I say “no, ” because doing so would go against His very nature. As the wise Platica reminded me in the Inaugural Meeting of the New School of Athens ***, omnipotence is an attribute of God, but it is not part of His nature. Instead, truth is a part of God’s nature, and if He were to create an earth (or universe) that looked ancient but wasn’t really ancient, He would essentially be lying to us, and that would go against His nature. Thus, because it is against His nature to lie, He would not have created the earth (or the universe) with an appearance of age.
“Now wait a minute,” you might say. “God might not have been lying when He created the earth with an appearance of age. It might just be that something has to look old in order to be mature. For example, Adam wasn’t created as a baby. He was created as an adult. Doesn’t that give Adam the appearance of age? ” No, not necessarily.
Adam was, indeed, created as an adult, but had you examined him, I expect you would have found evidence that he never was a baby. For example, he probably had no belly button. After all, the belly button is a remnant of where a person was attached to his or her mother by an umbilical cord. Since Adam was never in a mother’s womb, I expect that he would not have had a belly button. Right away, then, you would know that Adam was not born, and thus his appearance as an adult would not imply age.
But what about things like trees in the Garden of Eden? Surely there were large, majestic trees. Wouldn’t they have to look old? Once again, the answer is “no.” As I discussed in a previous entry, a tree grows a ring for each year it lives. I honestly believe that if Adam had cut down a supernaturally-created tree in the Garden of Eden, he would not have seen any rings. Instead, he would have seen a homogeneous cylinder of living wood, indicating that the particular tree in question clearly did not age like the trees that would have later grown from seeds.
You see, any appearance of age tells a story. As I mentioned in that same previous entry, the thickness of a ring tells about the weather the year the ring was being formed. Thick rings, for example, are a sign of abundant rainfall and good growing conditions. Thin rings indicate poor growing conditions like not much rain, a very cool spring and summer, etc. If a tree that God had created as the initial foliage in the Garden of Eden had rings in it, God would not only be lying about its age (by the number of rings it had), He would also be lying about the weather, as the rings would imply that there were specific kinds of weather before the earth was even created!
Because it is against God’s nature to lie, I just don’t see how He could have created the earth (or the universe) with an appearance of age. Thus, I think everything He created that was mature would clearly be seen to be different from the same entities that formed normally later on. The trees that grew from seeds would certainly have rings, and those rings would tell the true story about the weather patterns that occurred over the years the tree developed.
Even the trees that God supernaturally created would develop rings as the years passed by. Thus, if someone had cut down a tree that was part of Eden’s initial foliage, he would have seen one ridiculously thick ring that clearly looked like no naturally-formed tree ring, and then a series of normal-looking rings that told true stories about the weather patterns the tree experienced. The first ring would be so strange compared to the others that it would be clear it was not formed like the others and thus could not be used to determine the tree’s age or anything else about the initial formation of the tree – other than the fact that the event was clearly quite special.
Since God is omnipotent, He certainly would have been able to create without any untrue appearance of age. In my opinion, it is the only way He would be able to create and stay true to His nature.