Things are not as they seem

Calm down. He is being very clear.

@Mike_Gantt is persuaded by the scientific evidence. He is not at all dismissing science because of the bible. Rather he is letting science unsettle his understanding of Scripture with new questions. What more could ask of him but this? The evidence in science is important and that is why he is even here on the forum asking all these questions about the Bible. These questions have already adjusted his point of view on the Bible. He is working out what he believes these things. Why rush that process?

@Mike_Gantt does appear to be terribly detailed in his understanding of the evidence for an old earth (no offense intended). This too is evidence of humility. In many ways he is taking our word for it that there is evidence for an old earth. He is trusting our account. This is wise and kind and right of him.

So calm down @T_aquaticus. Getting the “right” answer is not nearly as important as getting their in the right way. These sorts of interactions can start feeling like bullying very quickly. Please treat him with more respect.

@Mike_Gantt, if I remember right (please correct if wrong!), @T_aquaticus is not a Christian. So he may not understand why we value Scripture. So do not take his rudeness to personally. I’m just hoping the followers of Jesus here would treat you better.


I should add that this is an entirely reasonable place to be. It is the essence of science to question the most established theories. We also do not ask for other scientists to “believe in their hearts” that the earth is old. Questioning is both part of the learning process and also how science progresses at the highest levels.

Its not that there is any risk of evidence showing us the earth is young. That is why we should be okay with questioning it. The questioning process is how people discover things for themselves. The questioning process is how scientists themselves advance science.

This conversation is not about determining what is likely to be true. There are more important things much more important than the technical details of our distant past.

In my view, something more important is at play. Can we live in family across these disagreements? That is the ecclesial challenge of evolution and the age of the earth. It is the challenge we are struggling to answer well.

Science is a human effort. It is merely our best account of the world, without considering God’s action. Many informed and intelligent people will still reject evolution. If they do so in obedience to their honest understanding of Scripture, they choose the better thing. There is real danger in unwittingly pressing science if it encourages disobedience to God.
Reviewing Adam and the Genome


This is a very important distinction. The less someone values the Bible, the less patience I expect that person to show someone with a position like mine.

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This statement from Mike may clear things up:

“For you to strengthen the scientific case with yet more arguments and data would seem to me like hauling sand to the beach.”

From what I understand, Mike is saying that it doesn’t matter how much scientific evidence there is. The scientific evidence is there, but Mike still believes in a young Earth. All I am saying is that scientific evidence will not sway those who put their religious beliefs ahead of the scientific evidence.[quote=“Swamidass, post:61, topic:36282”]
So calm down @T_aquaticus. Getting the “right” answer is not nearly as important as getting their in the right way. These sorts of interactions can start feeling like bullying very quickly. Please treat him with more respect

If Mike wants to reject the scientific evidence in favor of his religious beliefs, then that is his right. There is no problem there. What I am pointing out is that there is a rejection of the scientific evidence.

I am simply pointing out that the scientific evidence has not persuaded you. I don’t know what patience has to do with it.

Our conversation started by talking about YEC’s in general, not your specific beliefs. These YEC’s include groups such as AiG:

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”–Answers in Genesis

It also includes people like Kurt Wise:

“Although there are scientific reasons for accepting a young earth, I am a young-age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand.”–Kurt Wise

We could probably add Ken Ham and Kent Hovind to the list. I have run into many YEC’s who profess the same position.

So how do we convince them with scientific evidence? Obviously, you can’t. They have said as much.

A distinction worth making, at least for those interested in this discussion, is that Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and even Kurt Wise (notice the “if” in his quote) claim to have scientific evidence as well as the Bible on their side. You will reject their claim that they have any scientific evidence supporting a young earth, but the only point I wanted to make is that their position is different from mine - and perhaps other YEC’s - in that I don’t claim to have any science on my side because I don’t know enough about science to make such a claim. I do not even know enough about science to weigh the scientific claims of these three men against, say, the claims of Francis Collins or of anyone else here at BioLogos.

Because Ham, Hovind, and Wise stake their positions on two authorities (science and the Bible) I do not know how much weight they assign to each - and it would probably vary by individual (50/50? 90/10?). Therefore, if I became convinced that the Bible supported an old earth or was altogether silent on the age of the earth, I would feel free to adopt the position of mainstream science because it arrives at its position irrespective of the Bible.

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I agree that living as family despite disagreements is more important than whether we agree on the age of the earth – and I think that applies both inside and outside the church. But I don’t see what that has to do with the issues you were raising earlier in the thread, and in the thread title for that matter:

Treating each other with respect has little or nothing to do with whether things are as they seem or not. So now I’m confused about what it is you want to discuss.

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It isn’t that I reject their evidence out of hand. I can demonstrate that their claims are false. There is a big difference between the two. Even when they are shown they are wrong, they continue to make false claims about the scientific evidence. Again, how can one convince these YEC’s with evidence?[quote=“Mike_Gantt, post:65, topic:36282”]
Therefore, if I became convinced that the Bible supported an old earth or was altogether silent on the age of the earth, I would feel free to adopt the position of mainstream science because it arrives at its position irrespective of the Bible.

If you were convinced that the Bible did not support an old Earth, would there be any chance of the scientific evidence convincing you otherwise?

I wasn’t suggesting that you would reject them unfairly. In any case, you’re confirming my point that, by whatever process, you would ultimately reject their claims to scientific support.

If the Bible is telling me that the world is young, and every single science voice in the world (including AiG, CMI, and every other YEC organization changing their minds) was telling me it was old, I would believe it was young. I cannot trust any voice more than the voice of the One who made me and who died for me. I owe Him too much. The only solution for me is finding out that He’s not saying in the Bible what I think He’s saying.

@T_aquaticus. To which a good response is:

Who is this voice and why do you trust it over science?
Is it warranted to trust any voice over science?

To be clear, @Mike_Gantt still working out what the voice is saying, which I certainly argue is not insisting he believe in YEC. There is a real conversation about interpretation that is substantive and important. However, I entirely endorse his trust in this voice over science. I think he is interpretation on the age of the earth is wrong, but his trust in correctly placed.

Science is great, but there are greater things.

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I think this point has not been considered seriously in these exchanges.



Yes, I supose it is true that if the Bible were different, you would be an Old Earther for sure.

But nevertheless, as @T_aquaticus has demonstrated, changing the amount of Scientific Evidence is not what would effect the change in your views!

As you say in your own words:

And so this statement by Mr. T, is True, not False:

Your answer is a complete “flip flop” of the meaning of English semantics:

Mr T’s statement was completely accurate.

Let’s assume George invites everyone he knows, including Mike, to his party. Mike says, “George, I’d love to be there but I can’t get off work.” George pleads incessantly for Mike to come, and each time Mike indicates his desire to be with everyone but that his boss seems implacable on the subject even though Mike keeps asking off. At the party, Mr T and perhaps others, ask George, “Where’s Mike?” which answer would more accurately convey reality?

“No amount of pleading will get Mike here.”


“Mike really wants to be here but his work situation won’t allow it.”

There is a very narrow sense in which the first statement might be correct. That is, if George and whoever he’s telling “No amount of pleading will get Mike here” both fully understand that Mike’s employer is the only reason for his absence then it might not be necessary to explicitly mention in the statement the employer’s role.


And even when everyone at the party agreed we can bring the party To Good ol’ Mike, to show how easy it would be… Mikey demurred that all that extra effort would be like bringing more sand to the Beach!

Then Good Ol’ Mikey says no, my employer won’t allow the party on company premises.

So a Pal asks, even if we brought a party bus onto the company parking lot, you wouldnt attend?

If at this point ol’ Mikey said that isn’t accurate… that he is really waiting for The Boss to give him permission…

  1. Mikey just explicitly re-affirmed the pal’s statement that he wouldn’t attend the party even if rolled up to his job.

  2. Mikey still insists that the pal is wrong… he would … somehow attempting to imply if there were more than one bus, or came at the right time, that things would be different.

  3. “…If only The Boss would allow it.” Wha?!

  4. ‘The Boss’ is Mike’s nickname for a book.

  5. Mikey’s co-workers, about 30 million of them, have the same employer… and have read ‘The Boss’ as well. And they have all joined the party even when they had to walk to the party, while some got on the bus when it arrived in the company parking lot.

  6. When they were asked ‘What about The Boss’? Most of them said their Employer doesn’t mind if they are at the party… and that their retirement is still safe and binding.

Rumor has it that Mikey still says his Pal is wrong… that he would get in a bus if it arrived… but only if he can find the page in ‘The Boss’ where it says he can.

  1. There is no such page…and the Pal is still correct that Mikey would Not join the party even if a bus drove up!

Here’s the way I would have said it:

Practically everyone at George’s party believes that Mike is being overly scrupulous about his employer’s wishes - and is, in fact, flat out wrong in interpreting his boss the way he is. In fact, many of these people work for the same employer, are already at the party having fun, and can’t understand for the life of them why Mike is reading the company’s employee handbook in the narrow and unwarranted way that he is. Mike understands their frustration and takes no delight in it; but he’s conscience bound and can’t go unless his conscience is freed. For this reason has his door open to any fellow employees who can show him where he’s misunderstood the relevant handbook provisions.

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What if Mikey had a good Friend who insists that there is a party bus waiting for him in orbit around the Earth? This Friend says the orbiting bus is called “The Firm-Bus-with-adent”.

Even after experts showed the Friend photos of outer space… with no sign of a “Firm-Bus-with-aDent”… the Friend says: “your cameras aren’t good enough”.

And he finally says, even if you flew me up there and showed that even my eyes could not find the Big Bus in the sky, The Boss requires that I ignore any evidence, even overwhelming evidence showing that there is no Big Bus and there has never been one.

How is that Friend any different from Mikey?

In fact, it is hearing about these two zealous witnesses of all things embraced by The Boss, that most new Job-seekers, just in the market, are shocked that there are people who are even willing to reject overwhelming evidence as either an illusion, or a deception, purely on the grounds that they think The Boss requires it.

@Mike_Gantt, I find it hard to believe you so calmly accept being the living exemplar of “book worship going too far” - - discrediting the purpose of The Boss in the eyes of many modern seekers - - while elevating the unknown writers to “demi-divine” status.

Sometimes religious zeal drives a person to say The words that indicate black are really describing white (no matter how much sand is brought to the beach).

I believe that the Bible is the word of God. That said, I do not like the doctrine of inerrancy. The main reason I do not like this doctrine is that it skews the conversation to trivialities (e.g. how many women at the tomb or how many donkeys in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem or whether a mustard seed is the smallest of all garden seeds). But a related, more subtle, and far more important reason I don’t like this doctrine is that promotion of it can obscure the importance of our living Lord.

We do not serve a book. We serve a risen Savior, as the old hymn says. This book testifies of His lordship. It was written by His prophets and apostles whom He encourages us to trust as reliable messengers for Him. Yet all those prophets and apostles wrote to bear witness to a living Lord whom we could worship and love and obey with all our hearts…all day, every day.

We do not serve a dead book; rather, we serve a living Lord…who teaches us to say as He did, “It is written…” and live accordingly. Will we always understand what is written rightly? No. But we must always live according to the best understanding we - in good conscience - have of it.


I have already agreed that you have rejected the scientific evidence because of your religious beliefs. That was the point I was making, that no amount of scientific evidence will convince some YECs because their stance has nothing to do with the evidence.

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Even as an atheist I will happily agree that the Bible can have errors and still be inspired by God. Inspiring humans to write about God will surely produce errors, and that’s fine.

My view is that we can find errors by comparing what we think the Bible says and what the evidence is. I see no reason why the Bible must be sectioned off from what Christians claim God created. The correct interpretation should be the one that reconciles both the Bible and the Creation.

Of course, I say this as an atheist, so feel free to include rather large grains of salt.


Agreed. The question then becomes, acknowledging that it’s possible for us to misinterpret either, shall our understanding of the creation circumscribe our understanding of the Bible or shall our understanding of the Bible circumscribe our understanding of the creation. When the two are in conflict, one must prevail; otherwise, we live indefinitely in the valley of decision.

The phrase I often use to describe this question is “The Map is not the Territory”.

Let’s say that we have a map of Kansas. On that map it shows a 15,000 foot mountain range running right down the middle of Kansas. When we go to Kansas it is completely flat, and there is no mountain range.

So which is right? Is the Map right, or is Kansas right? I guess we could argue that some demon is making us see plains where there are actually mountains, or other such nonsense, but that doesn’t seem like a very good explanation. Somebody could argue that we are misinterpreting the geography right in front of us, but that doesn’t seem like a very good explanation either.

At least for me, if the description of the universe does not match up to the actual universe, then it is the description or our interpretation of that description that is wrong.

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