Things are not as they seem


My Biology 101 processor, in his very first lecture to his audience of ‘Puppies’, said there is a difference between ‘Discovering Truths’ vs. ‘Discovering Facts’.

If I were a professional scientist, I would be likely to understate the results of the work of science to show a measure of humility.

On the other hand, a scientist who says science doesn’t discover truths - without explaining or qualifying the comment - isn’t doing anyone any good … especially on discussion lists where YECs are eager to make the same claim.

That’s a well-made point, George. There are extremes to avoid on either side; one side being epistemic arrogance, and the other side being over-zealous epistemic deprecation.

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I take George to be an example of an EC/TE/BLR who is 100% sure YEC’s are wrong. If George is right on this point, then I would fully support what he says here. Because if YEC’s are dead wrong about the age of the earth, meaning there’s no chance whatsoever that they are interpreting the Bible correctly on this point, then, if you love YEC’s and if you love truth, you wouldn’t want to say anything at all on a board like this that might encourage them in their error. You’d only be postponing their deliverance.

If, on the other hand, 100% is too high a confidence level to hold…


To clarify… if I believe YECs are correct about the unique and crucial role of Jesus in the atonement of humanity … do I still satisfy all your criteria for being amongst those who think YECs are 100% wrong?

YECs are surely delivered … even if they are hopelessly and absolutely without question wrong about the Earth being only about 5000 years old.

Yes. My references to right, wrong, confidence percentages, etc. in this and previous related comments in this thread were narrowly focused on the “YE” of YEC.

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It’s not like God gives or withholds spiritual gifts based on our views on science/origins (or birth control, or divorce, or baptism, or whether house music belongs in the worship service, or any other peripheral issue). In the big scheme of things, I don’t think anyone has an advantage in spiritual effectiveness or potential kingdom impact based on what they think about the age of the earth. Maybe groups that already think like you will be more likely to listen to you, but in the big scheme of things, I think our Christ-likeness that is going to influence people, and no “team” has a monopoly on that.

Do medical students become better doctors by adopting your type of skepticism? I doubt it. Imagine if a doctor had x-rays, MRI’s, and biopsies all showing that you have cancer. He talks to you and says, “I don’t think we should do anything since evidence in the future might show that you don’t have cancer.” Would that be a good doctor?

What you are proposing could be said about everything and anything. It seems like a sort of cop out when someone runs into an unavoidable conclusion that they don’t like.


In order for YEC’s to be right we would have to be wrong about almost everything in almost all fields of science. We would have to wrong about basic chemistry and basic physics. It would be the equivalent of finding out that the Earth is really flat.

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In my comments on this point, I made no value judgment on those who would put themselves in this category. It sounds like you place yourself in it, too. Regardless of what disadvantages, if any, may go with this category, it has the advantage of making your position crystal clear to yourselves and others. YEC’s may not think your confidence level is warranted in the light of the word of God, but your goal is to convince them they’re wrong about the YE, so it matters less what they think of you in the beginning of your conversation with them than it does what they think in the end.

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How do you convince someone who will deny any evidence that contradicts their currently held beliefs?

Speaking only for myself, see the OP in What biblical reasons are there to accept the scientific view of the earth as billions of years old? I’d welcome any biblical evidence you could bring.

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I take it that no scientific evidence will ever change your mind, correct?

Incorrect as stated. Let me explain.

Scientific evidence is important to me. The problem is in what appear to me to be biblical obstacles to a billion-year-old earth. If I could be persuaded that my understanding of the Bible has been flawed, and that it either 1) supports a billion year old earth, or 2) is completely silent on the age of the earth, then I could fully embrace the current scientific estimate of 4.543B years.

As far as I can tell, there is plenty of scientific evidence for an old earth. As I understand it, there are multiple independent lines of evidence which support this conclusion. For you to strengthen the scientific case with yet more arguments and data would seem to me like hauling sand to the beach. What I need is relief from the biblical obstacles I face. That’s why I referred you to the thread I started.

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I like to think of it this (not unique to me by any means) way.

The are, as we all know, two types of revelation. Special (the bible) and General (creation.)
Let us stipulate, even if just for the sake of argument, that both are infallible.
Both being infallible, they cannot be in conflict–God is not a god of confusion.

There is a man-based study of special revelation, let’s call it theology.
There is a man-based study of general revelation, let’s call it science.
Both being fallible human activities, they can be in conflict.

When the conflict arises, there is only one a priori certainty: one or both of the human endeavors is wrong.

Faced with conflict, we should examine the possibility that either (our theology and/or our science) is wrong.

Examples? Luther famously mocked Copernicus, based on his (Luther’s) theological certainty of a geocentric cosmos. The scientists won that one. On the other hand, in the early 20th century the leading minds believed in a steady state universe with no beginning. Score that one for the theologians who relied on the first verse of the bible.

What’s the overall score? I don’t know, but the numbers are not large–because in the final analysis the bible says very little about science.


As Mike alludes to, the question is really not the evidence, it is the biblical interpretation. Unless that interpretation is causing duress that can be helped with clarification or reinterpretation, it is really not a problem. If it is causing angst, then lovingly suggesting ways to reconcile scripture and nature may be in order.


Then why is it incorrect for me to state that scientific evidence will not persuade you?

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Medicine is, par excellence, an example of practical science. What is fundamentally true plays second fiddle to what works within the life and experience of patients. What works best also, of course, tends to be the best science, ie that which best matches the phenomena.

For example, in my own career the treatment of back pain became far more effective as a purely biomechanical model gave way to a neurophysiological one: yet plenty of people got better whilst doctors were operating under the inferior paradigm (which in turn was based on outdated philosophical assumptions about how bodies work). And since even the new paradigm is still poorly understood, there might be a whole new ball game going on in that area in a few years time. Meanwhile, doctors do the best they can, and the wise ones don’t pretend to understand more than they do.

The issue I’m addressing, like Joshua, is nothing to do with “unavoidable conclusions I don’t like” - since I’m very happily an old earth advocate. But it’s about the epistemological limitations of science, and our ability to know the core truths about nature generally, when we can only ever experience it through the mediation of our own senses and cognitive capacities. What’s astonishing is that we can make as much sense of it as we do.


The same applies to geology and the measurement of age in rocks. It works. For example, we can look at the dating of the K/T boundary as described by Dalrymple:

There are several important things to note about these results. First, the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods were defined by geologists in the early 1800s. The boundary between these periods (the K-T boundary) is marked by an abrupt change in fossils found in sedimentary rocks worldwide. Its exact location in the stratigraphic column at any locality has nothing to do with radiometric dating — it is located by careful study of the fossils and the rocks that contain them, and nothing more. Second, the radiometric age measurements, 187 of them, were made on 3 different minerals and on glass by 3 distinctly different dating methods (K-Ar and 40Ar/39Ar are technical variations that use the same parent-daughter decay scheme), each involving different elements with different half-lives. Furthermore, the dating was done in 6 different laboratories and the materials were collected from 5 different locations in the Western Hemisphere. And yet the results are the same within analytical error. If radiometric dating didn’t work then such beautifully consistent results would not be possible.

You can actually predict the U/Pb ratio (for two different U/Pb systems) of a rock by measuring its K/Ar or Rb/Sr ratios. Three completely independent radioactive decay chains can all be predicted from each other. By your criteria, this is the best science.


Because that statement omits a critical factor in my decision: the Bible. That is, if the obstacles I see in the Bible were removed, the scientific evidence would persuade me.

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But you haven’t removed the Bible, so you can’t be persuaded by scientific evidence. So why is it incorrect to say that you can not be persuaded by scientific evidence?