Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar by Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). His talk, “Not Enough Time,” is designed to answer challenges from evolutionary science on the age and origins of the earth. He laid out a three-part framework that he believes should be used whenever evaluating evidence in the origins debate. He pointed out that in the origins debate the question really is one of forensics. Since we can’t repeat events of the past and science is limited to the study of the present, then what we have in the question of origins is a forensic question: What does the evidence say happened? The evidence we have is the same no matter which side you are on in this debate. Each side is attempting to piece together what happened using the evidence at hand. Because forensics uses both evidence and eyewitness accounts, we should remember that the Bible, and Genesis in particular, should be considered eyewitness evidence. In considering the evidence, we should remember that there are always alternative answers to the ones given by evolutionary science.
Here are the three parts to Dr. Jeanson’s framework:
- Bible first
- Big effects
- Bounds of science
The first thing we should consider is what does the Bible say? Second, what physical effects do we expect to find based on what the Bible says? Third, what are the bounds of science, i.e. what assumptions are made on the part of evolutionary science in explaining the evidence?
Having laid out his framework, Dr. Jeanson then uses it to address three questions from the origins debate: what is the origin of the earth, what is the origin of the earth’s surface, and what is the origin of the fossil record.
First, what is origin of the earth? Evolutionary science, and Old Earth Creationists, believe that the earth is billions of years old. According to Dr. Jeanson, in considering what the Bible says first, the Bible teaches that the earth was created in 6 days 6,000- 10,000 years ago. The Big Bang theory, one of the most commonly accepted evolutionary origins for the earth, disagrees with the Biblical account of creation in the amount of time it took (thousands vs. billions of years), in the order of creation (earth before sun and stars vs. sun and stars before earth), and in the mechanism of creation (God spoke vs. evolution).
If we assume a young earth, what effects should we expect to find? Well, we should find young oceans since they can’t be older than the earth. Using two methods, the amount of salt and the amount of mud int he oceans, Dr. Jeanson showed that even using the evolutionary assumptions for uniformity of deposits, neither the amount of salt nor mud in the oceans is sufficient for the age of the oceans to be billions of years.
Dr. Jeanson then gave three examples of the ways evolutionary science can’t be trusted to determine the age of the earth. First, he explained the method of using radiometric decay to determine age. Because of assumptions by the evolutionary scientists, we should not depend on this method of dating. Radiometric decay looks at the way uranium decomposes to lead. Using the ratio of parent (uranium) to daughter (lead), evolutionary scientists believe they can determine the age of rocks. The scientists assume: no daughter compound was present at the start (i.e. there was uranium and no lead to start), no contamination of the sample over time, and a constant rate of decay. Dr. Jeanson explained that this method of dating is inaccurate, inconsistent, and impossible. It is inaccurate because it doesn’t work on rocks with known ages, for example rocks from the Mount St. Helens’ eruption. These rocks, which we know formed less than 50 years ago, date from 340,000 to 2.8 million years old. Evolutionary scientist have answered that the method just doesn’t work on young rocks. It is inconsistent because using a method to determine the amount of helium in the rocks, which is related to the decay process, gives a different answer to the age of the same rocks. It is impossible because based on the half-life of C-14 any rocks older than 300 million years shouldn’t have any C-14 left. But Young Earth Creationists (YEC) have shown that rocks dated older than 300 million years by evolutionary scientists do actually have C-14.
The second question that Dr. Jeanson addressed was what is the origin of the earth surface? Because YEC believe in a global flood as taught in the Bible, the origin of the earth’s surface is not the same question as the origin of the earth itself. Using Dr. Jeanson’s framework, the Bible teaches a global flood during Noah’s life. What evidence would we expect to find? Dr. Jeanson pointed out that the earth is a blue planet. Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface. What are the assumptions by evolutionary science that are at work in interpreting the evidence for a global flood? The evolutionary scientist assume that the layers of the earth’s surface were laid down at a consistent rate of one layer for every year. Using the example again of the Mount St. Helens’ eruption, Dr. Jeanson pointed out that we can prove that layers can be formed much faster than that. He believes that the surface of the earth was sculpted by Noah’s flood and that the evidence supports this.
The last question that Dr. Jeanson addressed was what is the origin of the fossil record? Considering the Bible first, we see that the Bible teaches that death came after Adam’s sin (Genesis 3) and that there was a global flood (Genesis 6-8). What effects should we see if there was a global flood and death came after the Fall? Well, Dr. Jeanson gave several examples: 95% of fossils are marine creatures, almost 100% of fossils are found on land (including marine fossils on top of mountains), the geological layers span hemispheres (they’re very large), snapshot fossils suggest a quick burial (fish eating other fish and fossils showing animals giving birth), and soft tissue has been found in the femur of a T-Rex fossil. All of these examples point to a recent, watery, catastrophe that laid down the fossil record.
What about “missing links”? Dr. Jeanson pointed out that the fossil record does not record ancestry, i.e. that this animal came from that animal. The assumption of evolutionary scientists is that missing links exist. However, all of the fossils used as examples of transitional forms are either incomplete fossils (only a few bones) or obvious examples of existing forms.
I really enjoyed Dr. Jeanson’s talk, and I intend to use his framework in the future as I consider various claims by evolutionary science.
2 thoughts on ““There are always alternative answers””
One thing missing from the above framework is the impossibility of science to arrive at the truth of anything, this includes the Christian scientist. Gordon Clark’s The Philosophy of Science and the Belief in God explains the logical, epistemological, and methodological hurdles inherent in all scientific “discoveries.” As the late atheist and philosopher of science, Karl Popper, wrote:
The Christian scientist knows the truth because the Bible reveals it; not because the evidence proves it.
I have written a review of Dr. Jeanson’s presentation at http://geochristian.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/jeanson-part-1/ .