Science and origins
Religion and origins
In Six Days
Why 50 Scientists Choose
to Believe in Creation
Edmond W. Holroyd, meteorology
Dr. Holroyd is research physical scientist for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, Colorado. He holds a B.S. in astrophysics from the University of Rochester, and a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of New York at Albany. Dr. Holroyd has specialized in cloud physics and weather modification and remote sensing research for more than 30 years.
The biblical account presents a creation in which each thing was fully functional when it was made. The first trees did not come from seeds. The first mammals did not come from embryos. Adam was not an infant on his first day. All things appeared as if they had been in existence before their day of creation. That is “the appearance of age.” In today’s culture, our entertainment industry is continually giving us productions in which the action starts at some point and continues through to the end of the program. There is an apparent prior “history” that occurred before the opening scenes. We readily accept this “appearance of age” in our movies and television programs and plays. We make no claims that the playwright or producer is deceiving us. Similarly, I believe we should be able to accept a creation with the appearance of age without calling God a liar. He told us how He did it all. So there is no deception. We just do not have all of the details that we might like, as with a movie mystery.
The starry heavens, when considered along with the speed of light, certainly appear to have had a history longer than a few thousand years. We can now readily sense the immense distances by the many hours it takes to send radio messages to our outer planet space probes, such as the Voyagers, and back. We can directly measure distances to the nearest stars in terms of light years by measuring how much they move back and forth against the background sky as the earth orbits the sun. We can calibrate various classes of stars as having an intrinsic brightness, and then estimate their distances from how much their apparent brightness has faded with distance. Even within our own Milky Way Galaxy and our local group of galaxies, this quickly brings us to apparent elapsed times for star light to travel to us much greater than the elapsed time in the biblical account of creation. This part of the universe is still the region in which our interpretations are guided by standard, not relativistic, physics. We young-earth advocates have an apparent problem, therefore.
Over a decade ago, there was a supernova in the Magellanic Clouds, small satellite galaxies to our own at an apparent distance of about 150,000 light years. Did that star actually explode that many years ago? Or did God, only a few thousand years ago, make a self-consistent field of electromagnetic waves (including light) that has only recently given us the appearance of an exploding star? Here is another example in which there is an appearance of age. Scientifically it appears that the star was that old when it exploded, just as Adam looked as if he were many years old on the seventh day. To be biblical, we have to be in awe of our God, who can orchestrate the entire heavens in such great detail! [CMI Ed. note: we reject the light-created-in-transit idea — see How can we see distant stars in a young universe?]
The Hubble telescope is now showing galaxies incredibly far away. The distances are based upon an expanding-universe theory, where spectral shifts are interpreted as red shifts of recessional speed. The series of assumptions gives apparent distances of up to about 10 billion light-years. We may want to question the assumptions. We may want to consider that the red shifts might instead be from a solidly rotating cosmos. Tangential, not just radial, velocities can cause red shifts, but we have no way of measuring tangential velocities for distant galaxies. We may want to consider the “white hole” expansion of the universe proposed by Humphreys as a step towards explaining the apparent old universe in light of a biblically young earth and starry heavens. The Bible certainly teaches that God “stretched out the heavens” (Ps. 104:2 and at least eight other passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah). Perhaps the red shift is the signature of this stretching out of the universe. Ultimately, “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). We still have much to learn about them, and so the clash of time scales will be with us for a long time in the future.
However, there is an interesting phenomenon among the stars that gives a time scale in agreement with that in the Bible. By watching other galaxies of similar composition to our own, we know about how often there are supernovae, such as about every 25 years in a galaxy like our own. We do not see that many explosions in our Milky Way because dust obscures our local view. Furthermore, we can measure the general rate of expansion of the nebula remnants of the explosions. We can calculate that we should be able to detect those nebulae for millions of years before they diffuse and blend into the background. Our radio telescopes can see through the dust with ease and detect many more supernova remnants than we can see at optical wavelengths. How many supernova remnants are out there in our own galaxy? There are only enough for about 7,000, not millions of, years of explosions. Here is an important discrepancy that has been known for decades. We need to pursue this topic.
Getting back to our own solar system, I have greatly enjoyed the images of the outer planets and their moons that have been sent back to us by the space probes. They show a fantastic variety out there that was never predicted by any of the theories of solar system evolution. The only major prediction that came true was of the magnetic moments of Uranus and Neptune, proclaimed in advance by Humphreys, a creationist, based upon arguments with biblical connections. For the rest of the discoveries, it is as if God created that variety out there just to keep us humble. We have a long way to go to understand how God made the creation, and the God-less theories will always be proven wrong in the end.
It is similarly interesting that scientists are now accepting semi-global-scale flooding on Mars, where there is no longer any surface water. They can now see a relatively recent global resurfacing of Venus by flooding with lava. Jupiter’s large moon known as Europa is totally flooded right now with a surface layer of cracking water-ice, with indications of a liquid ocean below. Yet most scientists are reluctant to admit that the earth might also have had global flooding in the recent past, even though the earth is still over 70 percent flooded, and most of the continental areas are covered with vast sheets of water-laid sediments. These phenomena relate to the Genesis Flood rather than the six-day creation, but support the acceptability of the early chapters of Genesis.
Most creationist work in the interpretation of the geology of the earth relates to the Flood event, with its global resurfacing by catastrophic means. The polonium radiohaloes caused by alpha decay of radioactive isotopes are one of the few phenomena that have been addressed which seem to point back to Creation Week. The presence of 218Po haloes in biotite, for example, appear to be a signature placed in the rocks about three minutes after creation. (Some might interpret that as three minutes after activation of the process of decay, such as the second law of thermodynamics.) The heat from volcanic emplacement, the traditional interpretation for growing biotite crystals, would erase the haloes within hours, as proved by laboratory observations.
Most of the justification for vast geologic ages comes from radiometric dating. We are told that certain rocks are millions to billions of years old. There are self-consistent regional patterns of dates, suggesting the trustworthiness of the findings. Such “dates” are inconsistent with the biblical time scale of only thousands of years. This is an area in which further study is important and progressing. For now we have numerous examples in which radiometric dating gives the wrong answers, such as 1/3 to 3 million years for Mount St. Helens lava, historically dated at about 20 years old. Potassium-argon dating, upon which most of the geologic column and especially hominid fossils are dated, is particularly prone to “excessive argon” which gives inflated ages.
It appears that one or more of the basic assumptions for radiometric dating are violated in the usual measurements. The first assumption is that the amounts of “mother” and “daughter” isotopes are known at “time-zero,” with the daughter amounts assumed to be zero. Yet the rocks might be put in place with a non-zero daughter/mother ratio, invalidating the assumption. Secondly, there may be leaching into or out of the rock of the various mother and daughter elements, invalidating the assumption of a “closed system.” Dating cannot be accurate if the radiometric clocks are being reset. The third assumption is that the rate of decay has been constant throughout geologic history. However, we have only measured that rate for about a century. While it seems risky to extrapolate such rates by up to eight orders of magnitude, for now it appears that the third assumption is generally valid. What we do know with generally great accuracy are the present ratios of mother and daughter isotopes and the present decay rates. To my knowledge, creationist scientists do not yet have a good replacement theory of radioactivity, and so such important work must continue.
There are numerous indicators of age that give dates much less than the radiometric clocks. The amount of helium in the atmosphere is more consistent with the biblical time scale than with millions and billions of years. The amount of salt in the oceans is much less than would be deposited during the supposed vast geologic ages. Present erosion rates would level even the Himalaya Mountains to sea level in roughly ten million years. Therefore, it is absurd, for example, to have the present Rocky Mountains of North America standing high above sea level for over 50 million years with so many of the peaks being in relatively youthful erosion states today.
The creationist scientists do not yet have any commonly accepted criterion for separating those rocks that date from the Creation Week from those laid down by the Genesis Flood. Neither is there general agreement on which rocks are post-Flood, though there are numerous strong proposals.
In considering the Flood phenomena, I believe we must identify one or more mechanisms for the rapid destruction of hard crystalline rocks. Simple inundation by water is inadequate, because rocks can be submerged for ages without significant deterioration, as proved by underwater archaeological sites. The process of cavitation of water requires high speed (more than 30 m/s) and shallow (less than 10 meters deep) water, but it can destroy hard steel. Direct hydraulic pressures of high-speed water are more probable destructive agents. Somehow, we need to properly account for the levelling of great mountain ranges within a small fraction of a year.
It is my view that there is also need to address the continuity of matter during the Flood. The sediment material came from somewhere. We need to identify the sources and account for the volumes of the sediments that were laid down. Deposition rates seem slow under today’s conditions. Yet the preservation of fossils indicates that the rates were much greater when the enclosing sediments were laid down. The topography of the erosion and deposition surfaces of the past seem to be different from what we observe at today’s surfaces. Past surfaces seem flatter over greater areas, which would be consistent with global resurfacing during the Flood. Much more could be addressed with respect to Flood studies, but this series of articles is particularly about Creation Week.
We do not have normal archaeological artifacts that relate to Creation Week. However, new discoveries keep arising that verify the truthfulness of the history given in the Bible.
I have all of the coin types mentioned in the Bible, confirming that such denominations were real. I have numerous coins bearing the names of rulers mentioned in the Bible. So we know that they really lived. Furthermore, over 80 percent of the settlements mentioned in the Book of Acts minted coins at some time, and we can read those city names on their coins, verifying their previous existence. The historical part of the Bible is therefore trustworthy.
If we have found the Bible to be truthful in what we can independently check, we have a reason to trust it when it talks repeatedly about origins. When God says in the Bible that He made the universe in six days, I believe Him.