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Ice Age Research Demolishes Young Earth Creationism: Authors' Second Response

In the original article in this series (Feb. 10, 2016), we evaluated the Young-earth Creationism (YEC) proposal that a short post-flood ice age (PFIA) accounted for the great ice sheets of the past. YEC theology (i.e. the Earth and Universe and everything created 6,000 years ago at Creation Week) is dependent on such an ice age at about 2,000 years BCE. God’s Book of Nature and modern science showed that this proposed PFIA did not occur, and as a result YEC theology is not credible, even though it is still quoted frequently in Adventist literature. The status of YEC teaching in the Church was also discussed in the original article. This YEC teaching appears to be promoted, but its retention leaves the Church open to criticism and possible ridicule, while the impact of the Adventist Creation message is diminished. All this could be avoided easily if the Church accepted the obvious truth—Creation Week occurred on an “old” Earth.

In reaching this truth, we have considered both interpretations of Scripture and interpretations of nature by modern scientists. We have had to stress modern science in our articles since some of creation science’s tenets rely on quotes taken from outdated science journals. Of paramount importance is the readers’ understanding of what the Bible says, and we have already referred to Richard M. Davidson approvingly, but we have not relied on Davidson’s interpretations, since we have also referred to critical Hebrew scholarship (e.g. C. J. Collins). We also noted that in 1860 Uriah Smith had quoted the same view when editing the Review & Herald, an official church publication. So such thoughts are not new, indeed, they could be said to be traditional, if tradition counts for anything.

Our first reply to respondents provoked many more replies from readers with more questions, comments, and suggestions. Hence this second response which, we hope, might satisfy some at least of those readers.   

However, we thank those who did respond; they encouraged us to think of more suitable responses than we had previously offered. This contribution is meant largely to clarify and at times to expand on what had been said, or to add something that had not been said previously. Now to our second response:

Gobsmacked!
Readers consulting Webster’s may not find this word, but if the Aussie Macquarie Dictionary is consulted, you will find it defined as: “astonished, flabbergasted,” and for us, tinged with some disappointment too. This describes accurately our first impressions of some readers’ replies. Astonished because of responses such as: old earth proposals open the door for evolution. Disappointed because only a few (6%, to be precise) of the last responses referred to the matters we raised in our opening paragraph of the second response. Instead respondents have tended to focus on peripheral issues. When an issue affects perhaps 50% of church members’ belief and can turn young science-literate people away from the church, one would think it merits discussion. This is not merely a matter of doctrinal nit-picking. The Adventist Church’s articulation of Creation becomes a key component of the denomination’s witness to the truth, and of the Church’s relevance or lack thereof.

To promote a false idea regarding the Creation Week discredits the Advent Church and it’s vital Three Angels Message.

If one says: “according to the Bible we are to worship on the Sabbath as a memorial of Creation Week,” and then in the next breath say, “that’s when the Bible states that the planet Earth and the Universe were formed 6,000 years ago,” who in the modern world would believe that theology? Just tell the Truth—Creation Week occurred on a planet created eons ago. Modern science supports this understanding of Creation.

Some perhaps will trivialize this YEC v. old earth discussion. However, to say the planet Earth is 6,000 years old is ridiculous, and today in this world of knowledge, that statement not only could discredit the Church’s teaching—it does, especially when the statement comes from Church leaders. The Creation-based message Adventists have presented to the world for 150 years is undermined by ignoring mountains (literal and metaphorical) of data.

Comments Addressed to Specific Readers that also Impact Other Readers:

Robert Sonter
Robert raises an important question: the meaning of heavens, earth and sea in Exodus 20:11. This verse in the Ten Commandments has been used by YEC to mean the universe and planet earth were created in Creation Week.  Others including the authors contend that it refers to the three habitats of life associated with the earth (the atmosphere, the biosphere of earth or land, and the sea). This is the “official” position of the Adventist Church (see comment related to revised FB #6 in Adventist World Sept 2015, by C. Wahlen). 

Creation Week is limited to creation on and around our planet. 

In support of this view Wahlen quotes Rev. 10.6, but v. 5 is also relevant, especially v. 5, in ESV.

“The angel’s stance – one foot on sea, one on land, and right hand raised to heaven – unites three spheres of created order (see Rev. 5:13) as their divine creator is involved to witness the angel’s oath.”  

The three orders of Creation originated in Genesis 1:8-10, viz. heaven, earth and sea, referring to creation on the planet. Reference to these habitats occurs throughout Scripture including Exodus 20:11.

The Church quotes Rev. 10:6, quite appropriately, but a much more meaningful reference could be Ezekiel 38:20

“So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence (KJV, note the emphasis added).

He we find heaven, sea and earth again, but the heaven has birds.

In 24 out of 47 other English translations of Ezekiel 38:20, the word given as heaven in KJV is translated as sky or air.  

If this biblical assessment is unconvincing to any reader, may we suggest consulting God’s Book of Nature as amplified by modern science. As discussed before, this reveals an ancient Earth created eons before Creation Week and Exodus 20:11 is clearly referring to the three habitats of life on Earth.

Allen Shepherd/Tim Page/Sirje
These Readers imply our old earth/recent creation view “makes room for evolution.” However, we do not see evidence that macro-evolution ever occurred. Hence, this is not a problem in our reckoning.

There is evidence that cyanobacteria and some plants were present on earth prior to Creation Week. Cyanobacteria are among the earliest microfossils. It would follow that they were created and put there for a purpose, to oxygenate the atmosphere in preparation for subsequent acts of creation. Even the bacteria are biochemically very complex with a unique enzyme system for converting water into oxygen. The active centre has four spaced manganese atoms but its exact mechanism of action remains partially obscure to modern science. This system is coupled to related biochemistry comprising photosynthesis system II with over 20 proteins. On top of all this, the cyanobacteria also convert nitrogen in the atmosphere into forms (e.g. nitrate) that plants can use. All by evolution with natural selection? Our view: Impossible!

David Read
Another reader, David Read, said, “… creationists believe it [presumably the post-Flood Ice Age] happened shortly after the Flood, …”.  Well, perhaps not all creationists!  We (the present authors) believe in Creation but have tried to illustrate from modern science (refer to Fig. 2 in original article) that the graph illustrates that there was no evidence of a post-Flood Ice Age. If one occurred then it would have been shown where the asterisks (*) are shown in that graph. That evidence (i.e. the graph) is convincing to scientists. What more convincing evidence is required?

Here we see again how YEC writers are addicted to misquotation. David had stated:

“The evidence that the authors of this piece urge against Oard’s theory is that it does not comport with conventional chronology. Really? Of course conventional chronology does not fit with creation chronology.”

We replied: “We do not agree” [meaning we do not urge this against Oard].  What we urged against Oard was then stated. “The evidence against Oard’s theory is two fold—first, it does not conform to God’s chronology: second, it [the Post-Flood Ice Age] never occurred. God’s chronology runs from everlasting to everlasting. YEC and Oard’s chronology began in 4,000 BC.” It includes a post-flood ice age that never occurred.

God’s chronology includes: creation of the universe and planet Earth eons ago, a long ice age terminating about 11,000 years ago, Creation Week about 6 to 10,000 years ago, the Flood 4,300 years ago but no Post-Flood Ice Age which would serve no purpose. We can’t imagine what purpose creationists might imagine it serving.

At least we agree that Creation Week occurred recently. Perhaps we can work together to determine its exact date from God’s book of Nature and modern science.

Tongkam

C-14 dating.The calibration graphs to correct C-14 ages are designed to correct for change in C-14 level in the atmosphere. The calibrations extend back to nearly 50,000 years but reliable measurements are limited, by the half-life of C-14, to about 35,000 years. 

Uranium dating. Dates for zircon crystals are used for the crystals only.  They may not reflect the age of the rock around them and scientists do not make this extrapolation. Dates of rocks determined by other methods can be inaccurate.  Rock may be a mixture of different components.

We agree Creation Week occurred about 6 to 10,000 years ago when man was created in God’s image. The problem is YEC believe the planet, solar system and usually the universe were also created at this time and say it is Scriptural. It is not Scriptural, nor is it in accord with the Book of Nature (God’s Second Book) as revealed by modern science. Since the post-Flood Ice Age never occurred, the YEC theology (i.e. everything created 6,000 years ago) cannot accommodate the great Ice Age of the past (see original article). YEC theology is erroneous regarding the age of the Earth.

Robin Vandermolen (ezbord)
It distresses us to read of your concerns, and we share your feelings. We hope the following brief comments are helpful.

  1. Not everyone sees a conflict between Genesis 1 and 2.  C. J. Collins an authority on Ancient Hebrew states in his book (Genesis 1-4, 2006, P and R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ) that Genesis 2:4 acts as a hinge indicating chapters 1 and 2 should be read in a complementary way.  Chapter 2 elaborates on chapter 1 especially regarding chapter 1:27 (creation of woman).  This style of writing with subsequent elaboration is probably common in ancient Hebrew. God did not “muddy the waters”; ancient Hebrew writers did, because of the structure of their written language.
  2. The Book of Nature generally gives consistent chronology; i.e. ice cores, lake and marine sediments, modern carbon dating, dating of rocks by modern methods, all tell the same story—a very old earth.  Dating of fossils is difficult and results are less certain.
  3. Creation Week occurred recently on an “old” earth is the concept to remember—6,000-10,000 years since Creation Week.
  4. “6,000 years of misery” is a long period indeed.  But God has also given much blessing to His children. The question remains: 

If the earth was given to man as his domain – Do we blame God if:
We choose to denude our earth?
We choose to pollute our delicate atmosphere?
We choose to pollute our earth?
We choose to pollute our seas?
We choose to overpopulate our earth?
We choose to abuse and murder the innocent?
We choose to mindlessly eliminate those whose philosophy disagrees with ours?

In this response we acknowledge the assistance of a neighbor, Tom Thompson, retired but still active in ministry.

Pagophilus
Pagophilus begins in typical YEC fashion with an erroneous statement:  “… authors rely on Ian Plimer and his book, Telling Lies for God”.  We did not quote it at all in our argument! Our story holds even if that reference was omitted. We simply referred to it in passing, as a suggestion to Birder who had asked a question about “bogus science.” We thought it an excellent example illustrating bogus science. And don’t misunderstand us. It was Plimer who was using it to illustrate bogus science, as misquoted etc by YEC creationists, including those ‘in’ as well as those ‘out’ side the Adventist Church. YEC creationists are not restricted to Adventism, although Adventism now appears to have taken it on fully. Note Jared Wright saying that, “…the NPUC is setting up their own creation study center, headed up by a Pastor Stan Hudson.”  Note also Elaine Nelson’s astute comment thereon! And Jeffrey Kent’s solution to rubbish collection!! 

Telling Lies for GodNow down to facts as ‘medicon’ wants and is entitled to, and the Plimer book that ‘pagophilus’ assures us “… has been thoroughly discredited.”

The detailed criticism (Our point-by-point rebuttal of Plimer’s Book, (1999?, 60 pages prepared by CSF now CMI) is obviously a smoke screen concerning minor matters (distorted to appear as major issues) to obscure the significant features of Telling Lies for God (published 1994).

There is significant content in this book at the science level and he notes the way creationists have distorted truth in quotation from the literature. Clyde Webster from the Geoscience Research Institute at Loma Linda University, California, USA, noted this and during a visit to Australia made the following comments published in the Adventist Record (March 11, 1995).

“He [Plimer] claims they [CSF] use poor scientific methods and accuses them of lying in an effort to prove their point… I [Webster] find that Ian Plimer’s arguments are well founded. However, he is over-reacting. Dr. Plimer’s addressing good issues, issues that are unfortunately true—for the most part… There are those who come in and misrepresent, misconstrue and, in some cases—I don’t know how else to put it than to say it—give bald-faced lies to support the position they feel that creation-believing Christians want. I get upset with it too…” (p. 6).

Plimer discusses the ancient age of the earth and the erroneous belief of YEC. He details the distortion of science data in relation to the proposed fall in the speed of light and the deception by YEC in the whole debacle. All this is verified by other writers: (e.g. Professor Colin Keay, “Creationism:  An Improper Defense of an Untenable Creationist Theory” in The Skeptic, v. 11, No. 2, pp. 8-11).

In this article, Keay reveals how the Creationist theory (Setterfield hypothesis) concerning the speed of light has been demolished by numerous scientists including Creation scientists. Yet over 2 years later it was still used by the CSF, and by one scientist in particular, to support YEC belief.

“This leads to the inescapable conclusion that Dr. Snelling has knowingly and purposely sought to misrepresent and distort fundamental aspects of physics and cosmology in order to bolster an untenable Creationist mythology. It is highly immoral for a University educated scientist to behave in this fashion, as such actions are completely contrary to the ethical standards demanded by the scientific process…

It is frightening to think that any system of religious belief can exert such a malevolent influence over an intelligent person” (p. 11).

He (Plimer) details how, even in 1994, radiometric dating of rocks was possible (p. 24) and how YEC have misquoted (see p. 213) in this regard, by deleting critical lines.

“The vital last few lines of [a] paragraph were selectively removed mid-sentence, the meaning was exactly the opposite of that on the original work, scientific support for radioactive dating was expunged and criticism of creationists was censored” (p. 214).

He (Plimer) details how the YEC famous Quote Book has misquoted to suit YEC belief (pp. 209-213).  This is amplified in an article by Ken Smith, … (Ken Smith, “Creationism: Deception Exposed”, The Skeptic, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1991, at pp. 10-14), who read the original sources for about 80 “quotations. “ This revealed that most of them misrepresented the original to a lesser or greater degree. 

Plimer also draws attention to some important problems for creationists – e.g. the distribution of endemic flora and fauna after the flood.  However, in relation to the Flood, his comments that appear right to him, we would, based on belief in Scripture, regard as error. Plimer’s problem is converting an attack based on facts into a personal one and such are likely to contain error. However, when the distortion of facts is so gross, it is perhaps difficult not to become personal.

Since Telling Lies for God is not “YEC-certified,” and Birder may need more comment regarding bogus science, we have included for his and Pagophilus’ benefit a short additional section in this regard.

Christians and distinguished scientists comment on YEC literary ethics.  Although, not mentioning Plimer’s book, several Christian commentators agree that YEC have been poor representatives of Christ by misquoting science to support their belief. Thus, e.g. Young and Stearley (referenced in original article) are Christian geologists and say in their Final Thoughts:

“Sadly, too many Christians have distorted the content of the natural sciences in order to gain an accommodation with what they perceive to be the natural interpretation of Scripture. This is, in fact, what has happened with the modern young-Earth creationist movement. Having locked themselves into a fixed interpretation of the creation and flood accounts they find themselves in profound and widening disagreement with the results of modern geology and other sciences. Unwilling to allow conflict to exist, they have sought harmonisation with science, not by reevaluating their biblical exegesis but by wholesale distortion of science and the data of nature. They have tried to force nature to say things it does not say.”

“In this book we have documented that young-Earth creationists have ignored data when convenient. They have misinterpreted other data. They have often misrepresented the views of mainstream geology. They have typically failed to attend to larger geological contexts in focusing on isolated details that seem to support their theories. They have attempted to develop an alternative science that lacks a solid empirical foundation and that cannot duplicate the successes of mainstream geology. They have all too often supported their alternative science with quotations from mainstream geologic literature taken out of context. Their alternative science does agree with their biblical interpretations, but their approach provides no legitimate solutions for biblical studies, theology or geology, because it leads to an illusory harmony between theology and science”  (p. 494).

Seven distinguished scientists have been angered by the frequent misquotation of their work by YEC adherents. Note below two examples from, National Centre for Science Education, (1981) publication. The editor, Dr. John R. Cole of the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, says (in part) in a brief introduction:  

“Creationists have developed a skill unique to their trade: that of misquotation and quotation our of context from the works of leading evolutionists. This tactic not only frustrates scientists but it misleads school board members, legislators, and the public. Whether such actions by creationists of selectively seeking out quotations or references in order to prove a preconceived case are willful distortion or the product of wishful thinking is irrelevant. Such acts misuse science and scientists in bogus appeals to authority. Creationists seem to be saying, ‘Don’t just take our word for it, look at what Professor X has written to prove our case’” (p. 34).

“Dr. Richard Lewontin, of Harvard University. Modern expressions of creationism and especially so-called ‘scientific’ creationism are making extensive use of the tactic of selective quotation in order to make it appear that numerous biologists doubt the reality of evolution… These patently dishonest practices of misquotation give us a right to question even the sincerity of creationists” (p. 35).

“Dr Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of geology, Harvard University, … and probably the single most misquoted and misused scientist … “It is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists whether through design or stupidity, I do not know, as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms…” (p. 38).

Criticism of marine sediment core dating (ICR release). 
Pagophilus quotes the very recent ICR web paper by J. Hebert but it also presents distortion of a science article to support YEC. The original science paper concerns a marine core drilled east of New Zealand. Hebert disputes the age found for the core layers that extended back 340,000 years. However, the age of the upper region was confirmed by dated volcanic ash and the overall age was in agreement with four other adjacent cores, all studied by independent groups using modified methods. Here we have relevant information overlooked by Hebert.

There is no reason to doubt the age assigned to the upper layers of the core. Thus at about 500 cm the age was nearly 30,000 years BP, confirmed by dated tephra. However, there were 3,600 cm of core below this level and it extends obviously back many tens of thousand years. How can Hebert say that this does not negate the YEC age of the earth, 6,000 years BP?

Conclusion
As this response to pagophilus comes to a conclusion, it also brings this response to a conclusion. And the unavoidable conclusion is that CMI and other YEC literature is seen to maintain a low to very low standard of literary ethics. However, YEC proponents often write good articles regarding creation vs evolution, but anything they say regarding chronology must be taken with skepticism.

______________

D. Stuart. Letham was awarded a PhD (Birmingham, UK) in organic chemistry in 1955.  His subsequent research work included the purification, determination of structure and synthesis of the first naturally occurring cytokinin, compounds that induce cell division in plants.  They occur in plants at the level of 1 part per billion (see Letham, Annual Review of Plant Physiology 1967, 1983).  He is the author of over 190 refereed papers in biochemistry and plant physiology journals.  He retired from the Australian National University 1992 as Professor Emeritus.

Col J. Gibson worked in accounting in industry for a decade before taking an academic position as a senior lecturer in accounting at universities in Australia, New Zealand, and the University of South Pacific (Suva, Fiji).  As a natural naturalist from an early age he has been active, as a hobby interest, in helping many professional scientists in fieldwork, and now in retirement still acts as a citizen scientist, which includes field observations and bird photography.

Both authors have discussed the Science/Creation subject for the past few years and thought it was time to put some of their thoughts on this interface into the public arena for others to consider and comment.

See also: 
"Perspective: Clarifying 'Understanding Ice Core Science,'" 
"
Ice Core Editorial Authors Reply to Respondents," 
"
Perspective: Ice Ages Research Demolishes Young Earth Creationism," and
"
Ice Age Research Demolishes Young Earth Creationism: Reader Feedback & Authors' Response."

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