ID/YEC and the Omphalos Argument


(Peaceful Science) #1

Hey @benkirk and @Jonathan_Burke, YECs and ID often do claim that evidence is being suppressed. That is, for example, the strong theme in Undeniable by Doug Axe and No Intelligence Allowed by Stein.

Of course, we all disagree with them on this assessment. The way they process evidence is not anything like mainstream science, and there is a selectiveness to the way they consider evidence too.

The main reasons I made this point though, is @Jonathan_Burke’s comment about “false appearance”…

Most YECs and ID people go to great lengths to reject this point of view. You can read here https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/arguments-to-avoid/god-created-things-to-look-old/, for example, AIG’s explantion of why the reject the “omphaolos” hypthesis that God created an earth that looks old.

Now, when an unquestioned theological position is challenged with so much evidence that the earth is old, it is not surprising that many YECs then think that the reason this is because evidence is being suppressed. It really does not take much effort to see this play out in the YEC literature.


I think the situation gets even more complicated when we understand how counter intuitive science is. We regularly discover things that go against “what the world looks like.”

A great example is the fact that the earth is moving about 380 km/sec relative to the universe (http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/CMB-DT.html) and 30 km/sec around the sun. There is overwhelming scientific evidence of this. But it really “looks like” the earth is stationary and the sun and stars move around us. Perhaps science trying to explain why the universe presents a reality (of a stationary earth) that is false?

Evolution is no less counter intuitive. In many ways life “appears” designed, and humans “appear” totally distinct from the animals. It is only through very subtle observations, that take a high degree of technical comprehension, that the overwhelming evidence for evolution, the movement of the earth, and the age of the earth become so clear.


In the end, our goal should be to explain our position that people really understand where we come from. While there are certainly dishonest people on all sides, the more common problem is more sympathetic. Most average church goers just don’t have anyone trustworthy who can explain why something so obvious to them is false.

That is why I was pushing a bit back on your insistence on portraying YECs and ID people that way. Truth in science is often subtle. It is not always obvious.


(Jon) #2

Given the fact that Christy has just indicated that she doesn’t want to see any more of these threads, are we even allowed to reply? I agree with you that this is an important issue that should be discussed, but obviously not everyone agrees with you about that.


(Benjamin Kirk) #3

Hey Swamidass,

What evidence and by whom? Would you kindly cite some quotes to support your claim?[quote=“Swamidass, post:1, topic:26484”]
The way they process evidence is not anything like mainstream science, and there is a selectiveness to the way they consider evidence too.
[/quote]
Yes, which is why the claim of different conclusions from the same evidence is patently false.[quote=“Swamidass, post:1, topic:26484”]
Now, when an unquestioned theological position is challenged with so much evidence that the earth is old, it is not surprising that many YECs then think that the reason this is because evidence is being suppressed.
[/quote]
Can you give some examples of YECs and IDers putting this thought into words?[quote=“Swamidass, post:1, topic:26484”]
Most YECs and ID people go to great lengths to reject this point of view. You can read here https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/arguments-to-avoid/god-created-things-to-look-old/, for example, AIG’s explantion of why the reject the “omphaolos” hypthesis that God created an earth that looks old.
[/quote]
It starts out with, “When dealing with issues about the age of the earth, many people defend the young-earth position by claiming that even though the world is young, God created it to “look old,”” so I’m not seeing how it supports your claim about “Most YECs and ID people.”


(Jon) #4

And it says God didn’t create the earth with a false appearance of age, He just created a totally mature earth which looks totally mature but is still very young (!). Adam was created as a totally mature adult, but not created with an appearance of age (!). I’d love to know what a “mature” rock looks like, as opposed to an “immature” rock.


(Chris Falter) #5

I think Christy was suggesting that general arguments about ID did not belong in Joshua’s thread, which was dedicated to the research findings on phylogeny vs. genetic similarity. This thread, by contrast, is dedicated specifically to the topic of how the various schools of thought approach scientific evidence, so I think you should feel free to respond to Joshua’s OP.

@Christy please correct me if I am wrong.

Cheers,


(Chris Falter) #6

Hi Ben,

I think many YECs and IDers prefer special pleadings (e.g., radioactive decay was allegedly much faster before the alleged worldwide Flood) to the Omphalos argument. The question is not whether their special pleadings are convincing to the scientifically literate, who would generally see the Omphalos argument as the only way to reconcile the notion of a 7000 year old earth with our scientific observations.

Cheers,


(Jon) #7

I’m waiting with great interest for a good explanation of the difference between an appearance of maturity and an appearance of age. I can’t wait to hear how a mature adult man created yesterday doesn’t have an appearance of age.


(Christy Hemphill) #8

Exactly.

What I saw in the other thread was Joshua saying something somewhat conciliatory about some ID people and Jonathan and Ben jumping all over it with responses that seemed to me to be more knee-jerk rhetorical bluster than informative content related to the topic at hand. It just gets kind of echo-chamber-y around here when a passing comment that extends some credit to ID people must be thoroughly smacked down before the conversation can continue. That just strikes me as unnecessary and distracting.

But you may all freely vent your ID inspired frustrations to your heart’s content right here. Carry on. :beers:


(Peaceful Science) #9

One example of this is a tree, and tree rings.

I think everyone agrees that an all-powerful and free God could make a fully grown tree if He wanted. Now, trees have rings, and they normally mark time. Would this fully grown tree have rings? If not, what exactly would be in its place? Perhaps it is logically impossible to create a tree without tree rings, because whatever that would be, it isn’t a tree.

Now, not knowing this tree was recently created, we might incorrectly mistake this maturity is evidence of old age. The mistake is in our interpretation, and does not mean God intended to deceive us. The key point here is that God did not make the tree to look old, just that he made it mature, and that confused our perception.

As for the request for specific quotes, I don’t have time right now. Sorry. i’ll get around to it eventually I’m sure. Maybe someone else can fill them in. This is just such a comment sentiment. If you dare, read ENV and Uncommon Descent just a little bit, and you will start seeing allusions to this point of view all the time.

Though I do agree that it is rarely clear exactly what evidence is being suppressed and by whom (other than generic ID arguments for God by generic scientists). In conversation, often people go quickly to Romans 1:18, where it says…

But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.

They feel this is an accurate description of the current moment. That it is clear from nature that God created everything and evolution is false, but atheists dishonestly suppress this truth. They cannot understand why theistic evolutionists would collaborate with them.

Of course, I think that application of scripture and interpretation of the moment is severely faulty, but I am not discussing here the merits of their position (I disagree with it, for the record). Rather, I am just trying to explain it in their words.

Of course, and I make this point all the time. It is much more than “suppressed” evidence, it is also that they handle evidence differently.

How about if I specify that a bit more…to many ID and YEC leaders? I think most of the AiG, ICR and DI leaders think that the evidence is on their side. I think that is a genuine believe, even if it is wrong.

Are some intentionally deceitful, knowing that the evidence is against them? Maybe, but I am not equipped to make that call.


(Jon) #10

That is a classic example of an object created with the appearance of age. We can’t say it has all these tree rings (which are specific indicators of age), but also say it has no appearance of age. It has a very obvious appearance of age. An appearance of maturity is an appearance of age, because maturity actually requires age. That would be like saying the wine Jesus created at the wedding at Cana had an appearance of maturity but not age.

Your point about logical impossibility is right on the money here; how do you create an object with the appearance of maturity but not the appearance of age, where maturity is an indicator of age? Again, what does a “mature” rock look like, in comparison with an “immature” rock? Where are all the “mature” rocks which don’t have an appearance of age?


(Benjamin Kirk) #11

OK, but that’s a very different statement.


(Peaceful Science) #12

True. I suppose I was blurring this together some. That is partly because this is what happens with them.

A common pattern seems to be advancing an argument that emphasizes a piece of evidence (e.g. that about 15% of human genes are more similar to gorillas than chimps), and then suggesting that this detail is being deemphasized or hidden by scientists to deceive the public. Of course, the argument itself if flawed, but it also involves emphasis on specific pieces of information.

One example where it is claimed that scientist lie about the evidence is the debate over the genetic similarity between humans and chimps (another one is the geological column). Here, the claim is that scientists are lying about the evidence, and in fact that (1) chimps are really much more different than 2% from humans and (2) the DNA evidence is very problematic for common descent (I’m not going to elaborate the evidence they point to as “suppressed” here). I could list names of people that do this, but I’m not sure the value. It is really easy to find online the people who think human/chimp similarity is actually 70% or 88%, and not 98%.

Yes, it is a different, but more accurate statement. Perhaps I stand corrected? =) Thanks @benkirk for bringing some clarity here.


(Jon) #13

Nice work Joshua, thanks.


(Benjamin Kirk) #14

[quote=“Swamidass, post:12, topic:26484”]
True. I suppose I was blurring this together some. That is partly because this is what happens with them.[/quote]
Indeed!

Thanks for clarifying. That wasn’t the way I was taking your claim of suppression, because they really don’t have to look hard for something to cherry-pick.

[quote]One example where it is claimed that scientist lie about the evidence is the debate over the genetic similarity between humans and chimps (another one is the geological column). Here, the claim is that scientists are lying about the evidence, and in fact that (1) chimps are really much more different than 2% from humans and (2) the DNA evidence is very problematic for common descent (I’m not going to elaborate the evidence they point to as “suppressed” here). I could list names of people that do this, but I’m not sure the value. It is really easy to find online the people who think human/chimp similarity is actually 70% or 88%, and not 98%.
[/quote]Yes, because they don’t understand (or more sinisterly, are fudging) the difference between junk and known-to-be-functional sequences, which is not the same as the difference between coding and noncoding sequences.


(James McKay) #15

The argument is that “appearance of maturity” means maturity serving a specific function to enable organisms, systems and so on to function correctly. For example, fully developed limbs, or what have you. However, it wouldn’t necessarily show a specific age, but only a generic “old.”

On the other hand, for “appearance of age,” you have to bear in mind that a lot of things have the appearance of very specific ages, with very specific error bars. For example, the age of the earth appears to be 4.54 billion years with an error margin of just ±1%.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #16

This is a great, and underutilized, example. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!


(George Brooks) #17

@Swamidass

I wonder if you aren’t unintentionally perfecting the case for why God would invest millions of years into Evolution - - instead of just - - “POOF” - - “Here is the Earth with Teeming Life on It.” !!!

If it is biologically impossible to make a thriving and reproductive Tree . . . without Tree Rings . . . who knows what else is physiologically and geologically impossible from God’s viewpoint?

Joshua, I wonder if your “tree ring” insight might not make a perfectly wonderful article topic for you …

George


(Phil) #18

Producing a mature tree has its issues, but producing a mature man without age is pretty problematic given the changes in the brain with maturity, and the dependence of our mind on our past experiences. To produce an adult body without age and experience would be to produce an overgrown newborn baby, but one that lacked the ability to grow and adapt. If you then go further to say God added the neural programing to make Adam functional, then it goes even deeper in the swamp of making God responsible for Adam’s sin.


#19

Not to mention that he’d be unable to acquire a language, as that window of opportunity closes pretty early.


(Jon) #20

I completely understand that their argument is “God’s intention wasn’t to give things a false appearance of age, it was simply to make things functional”, from which point of view any appearance of age is a spandrel, an unintended, incidental, but unavoidable byproduct. They’re addressing the idea that God is trying to fool us. This is how AiG puts it.

God is not a deceiver. He cannot lie. Numbers 23:19 states, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” So why would God try and deceive us by creating things with the appearance of “age.” Why would He make the universe look “old” when it is not?

So this is their explanation.

First of all, God obviously created things that were fully functional from the beginning. After all, plants had to be bearing fruit in order to provide sustenance for Adam, Eve, and the animals. He did not just create seeds and wait for them to grow. The created “kinds” had to be capable of reproduction, so they were not created immature. As mentioned, Adam and Eve would have to be able to reproduce in order to fulfill the mandate to be fruitful. This does not imply that these creatures were “created old.” It merely indicates that they were created functional.

But this is a dodge, it’s not actually addressing the issue under discussion. It avoids the fact that being created “mature” and “fully functional” still results in an appearance of age. Regardless of whether or not God intended it, that’s what we end up with. They are well aware that a “mature” or “fully functional” human still has an appearance of age, so they say this.

The concept of “appearance of age” brings our human experience to bear as we try to determine “how old” something or someone might be. For instance, how would you know what a 35-year-old man looked like if you had no experience watching people grow from birth to age 35?

For example, imagine you were in the Garden of Eden when Adam was created from dust. He appeared there—fully functional. After two hours, if you were asked how old he was, you would say two hours old because you would have no frame of reference watching people grow from infancy to adulthood. So without human experience, it would be impossible to understand the concept of “age.”

But we do have human experience. We also have experience of things like trees and rocks. So what this is actually saying is something like “Even though the universe has a false appearance of age, it doesn’t matter because if we didn’t know any better we would not even think about the universe having any age, because we would have no point of reference”. In other words “If things were totally different to the way they actually are, then it wouldn’t matter”. But things aren’t totally different to the way they are.

This is just gibberish, and it gets worse.

Furthermore, when someone makes the claim that the earth or the universe “looks old,” it is often because they have been indoctrinated to think it looks old. They have accepted man’s ideas about fallible dating methods and approach this issue on that basis. However, the real issue here is to ask what would a “young earth” or a “young universe” look like? After all, if one is sure something looks old, what would it look like before it aged?

This is like saying we’ve been indoctrinated to think 80 year old people look old, or even that we’ve been indoctrinated to think babies look young. Finally they get to this.

God has told us the truth in His Word. He originally created many things mature and fully functional. He did not create with the appearance of “age.”

This means, and they’re serious about this, nothing in this universe was created with the appearance of age. When the universe was created, nothing in the universe looked like it had been there for any length of time. Adam and Eve looked mature, but they did not look like they were any more than a day old; if you looked at them you would not say “They look like they’re 30 years old”, you would say “They look like they are no age at all, they have no appearance of age”. Rocks looked mature, but they didn’t look like they had any age. This is mindless. It’s a logical impossibility, as Joshua has incidentally pointed out.

Back to your comment.

Of course it wouldn’t necessarily show a specific age, and if it was miraculously created yesterday it wouldn’t be a reliable indicator of how old it really was. But this doesn’t change the fact that it would still have an appearance of age. And that appearance would be misleading and false.

Well yes, but that’s not actually the topic we’re addressing here; in the case you mention, the earth has an appearance of extreme age, because it is actually extremely old. And again, what does a “mature” rock look like, as opposed to an “immature” rock?