In the previous entries on this subject, I talked about the earth’s magnetic field and dendrochronology as evidence that the earth is on the order of 10,000 years old. I want to continue this discourse now with one of the most well-studied processes used to estimate the age of the earth: the amount of salt in the oceans.
Everyone knows that the water in the oceans is salty. In fact, the average sample of seawater is 2.7% table salt (sodium chloride). To a chemist, the term “salt” includes a lot more than just table salt – it includes any ionic compound. If I include all things that chemist classify as salts, the average sample of seawater is 3.5% salts. It turns out that the amount of salt in the oceans has been studied for almost 300 years1, so we know a lot more about it than most of the other processes used to estimate the age of the earth. What we know indicates that the earth is young.
In order to evaluate the Open Theology trend that is beginning to take root in some parts of modern Christendom, it was decided that the New School of Athens should be formed. Its two founding members, Platica and Aristay, met for the first time today to begin a discussion of the book entitled, The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Platica comes from a predominantly Calvinist upbringing, while her student, Aristay, comes from an Arminianist point of view. A report of the lively discussion between them appears below the fold.
The University of California Museum of Paleontology has an online exhibit called DinoBuzz, which is all about dinosaurs. Part of the reason they have this online exhibit is that they think the truth about dinosaurs has been obscured by the “…latest wild hypothesis about dinosaurs” 1 regularly promulgated by the media. Well…in order to correct such problems, they have articles like the one entitled, “Are Birds Really Dinosaurs?” Unfortunately, rather than trying to correct the latest wild hypothesis, they buy right into it, saying:
Ask your average paleontologist who is familiar with the phylogeny of vertebrates and they [sic] will probably tell you that yes, birds (avians) are dinosaurs. Using proper terminology, birds are avian dinosaurs; other dinosaurs are non-avian dinosaurs, and (strange as it may sound) birds are technically considered reptiles. Overly technical? Just semantics? Perhaps, but still good science. In fact, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of birds being the descendants of a maniraptoran dinosaur, probably something similar (but not identical) to a small dromaeosaur. 2
As I posted previously, planetary magnetic fields give us strong evidence for a young solar system and a young earth. It’s not just that the young-earth theory reproduces data that were known when the theory was produced, but it also predicted data that were not measured until later. Given that no old-earth theory comes close to doing this, it seems clear that from a planetary magnetic field standpoint, it is more reasonable to believe the earth and solar system are young than it is to believe they are old.
Moving on, I would like to discuss the next set of data that leads me to believe in a young earth: dendrochrology. This is just a fancy word for counting tree rings, and it probably represents the most reliable way to date things for which there is no historical date available. This reasonably accurate dating method once again gives us strong evidence for a very young earth.
I realize that this is “old news,” but a conversation with my lovely and patient wife last night reminded me that I had written a review of Ben Stein’s “documentary” Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I wrote it shortly after seeing the movie, because many people with whom I am acquainted were asking about my opinion of it. I thought that even though the movie is more than a year old, you might want to know what I thought of it. If you haven’t seen the movie, perhaps my review will get you to rent it and watch it.
One of the most important things one must remember when dealing with a controversial issue is to look at all sides. If we are ever to assess the validity of a proposition, we must look at it from the proponents’ point of view and from the opponents’ point of view. This is one of the reasons most materialistic evolutions are not critical thinkers when it comes to the origins issue. They don’t really look at the science creationists have to offer. Instead, they believe the caricatures promoted by those who do not want to think. As a result, the miss out on what science really says.
So now that I have read one of the main books that promotes open theism, I decided to read a book that diametrically opposes it. A friend of mine who I respect and admire quite a bit told me of God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism by Bruce Ware, so I thought I would start there. Since there are aspects of open theism that bother me, I was hoping to find a solid defense of classical theism and a solid rebuttal of open theism. Unfortunately, I found neither of them in this book.
Now that I have the scientific philosophy out of the way, it is time to discuss the major data that lead me to believe in a young earth. The first issue is the phenomenon of planetary magnetic fields. We all know that the earth has a magnetic field. It’s what makes the Boy Scout compass needle point north. If we look at the other bodies in the solar system (planets and moons), some have magnetic fields, while others do not. Mars, for example, has no planetary magnetic field. It has some residual magnetism (which is important), but there is no significant planetary magnetic field. Mercury, on the other hand, has a magnetic field (which is also important).
Scientists have been studying the earth’s magnetic field since 1835, and since that time, its strength has been decaying. Also, it appears that at least a few times in the past, its poles have reversed. Most likely, then, at some points in the past, the Boy Scout compass needle pointed south.
I recently gave a speech to some of the future leaders of our nation – graduates of homeschools throughout the state of Indiana. I never give speeches from a written text, but I often write out what I am going to say in order to prepare myself. I took the ending of this address from a speech I gave at the senior recital of one of the brightest, most talented students I have ever known. She is now an adult, and she is literally changing the world. While she was the inspiration for this speech’s ending, it is appropriate for most homeschool graduates. Below the fold, you will find the approximate text of this speech.
Having told you why I am skeptical of the idea of an ancient (millions or billions of years old) earth, I would like to give you some of the data that lead me to believe in a young earth. I am certainly open to changing my view on this, as I see no inherent reason to believe in any specific age for the earth. However, based on what I know about science right now, it seems to me most reasonable to believe that the earth is on the order of thousands of years old, and it seems to me incredibly unscientific to believe that the earth is on the order of billions of years old. So over the course of the next few weeks, dear reader, I hope to present to you my “top five” reasons for thinking that the earth is young.
Before I do that, however, I need to provide bit of scientific philosophy on this issue. I don’t think most scientists are equipped to evaluate this question, at least not in any scientifically meaningful way. In fact, I personally think that creationists are the only people who can address the age of the earth scientifically. I don’t think that all creationists are qualified to address this issue (as will become apparent in a moment), but I don’t think a single committed evolutionist is qualified to weigh in on the age of the earth, at least not in a scientific manner.
I think I might know why Answers in Genesis has such a hard time interpreting Hebrew. It seems they cannot read English very well! In their “Around the World with Ken Ham” blog, Answer in Genesis quotes one of my entries:
This is why I say that organizations like Answers in Genesis promote poor theology. There is simply no good theological reason to insist that the word yom means a 24-hour day when it is used in Genesis 1. As a result, it is simply poor theology to insist that the Bible teaches a young earth. While I agree that this is a possible meaning of Genesis 1 (indeed, it is the meaning I take from the passage) . . .
and then says:
So, it’s poor theology to insist the days of creation are ordinary days, and there is “no good theological reason” to insist this—but he takes that meaning himself anyway! Now, that means he must now be using “poor theology” himself, and he must have a “good theological reason” to believe in ordinary days, though he says there is no such “good theological reason.” I am truly perplexed.
The writer is perplexed because, of course, he doesn’t understand plain English. I say that it is poor theology to INSIST that the days of Genesis are 24-hour days. I did not say it is poor theology to believe that they are 24-hour days. It is GOOD theology to agree that a possible interpretation of yom in Genesis 1 is a 24-hour day. However, it is GOOD theology to pay attention to the experts and understand that there are many other possible interpretations of the word yom in Genesis 1. It is POOR theology to INSIST that the ONLY POSSIBLE interpretation is that of a 24-hour day.
Once again, the science from Answers in Genesis is quite good. However, when they have this much trouble reading plain modern English, I would certainly not take their word on ancient Hebrew!