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Feedback archive Feedback 2011

Do creationists have to resort to secular ideas to explain geology and astronomy?

Published: 23 July 2011(GMT+10)
Sand Layers, laminations or sandy stripes

These Sandy Stripes show laminations form quickly

This week’s feedback deals with the place and limits of ‘scientific’ explanations within the biblical worldview. Dr Don Batten and Shaun Doyle respond.

Richard M., a frequent antagonist from the United States, writes in response to the article The illusion of millions of years:

Dear CMI
In this article, you say that “Computer modeling and sedimentation experiments indicate that such a Flood can easily explain the rock layers.” The only way that you can draw any conclusion, especially your foregone one, from such experiments is to make uniformitarian assumptions.

CMI’s Dr Don Batten responds:

Dear Richard,

Hello for 2011. I hope you have a good one.

You say, “The only way that you can draw any conclusion, especially your foregone one, from such experiments is to make uniformitarian assumptions.”

This rate is much higher than any observed today (there is no global flood happening at present!), and hence contradicts uniformitarianism.

What do you mean by “uniformitarian”? Here is a definition of the term, which is historically correct, from none other than Talk Origins: “The name coined by William Whewell in 1832 to describe a view in geology championed by Charles Lyell that the rate and mechanisms of geological change operating in the modern era are sufficient to explain changes in the past.”

Note: uniformitarianism involves not just the mechanism but the rate as well. Obviously the flume tank experiments and comparisons with laminated rock layers provide evidence for a mechanism and also an indication of how quickly such laminations can form (things that have not been appreciated until recently). However, only by modelling the effect of a global covering of water on the speed of water currents can this be used to explain the rock layers formed during the Flood. This rate is much higher than any observed today (there is no global flood happening at present!), and hence contradicts uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism is a dogma that is questioned by even many non-creationist geologists today. Nevertheless, that dogma is the origin of the deep-time thinking that pervades thinking today.

Regards,

Don Batten


Randy S. from the United States writes in response to Dr John Hartnett’s book review Heretic challenges the giants!:

On to your reference #1:
1.”The starlight-travel-time problem could stilled be explained with a supernaturally imposed time dilation event on Day 4 of Creation Week when God created the Universe. I first suggested this … .”
However what you have failed to successfully explain is, 1) how our local system containing the miraculously created earth, Sun, and planets could possibly have been spared from complete vaporization caused by the enormous heat and harmful cosmic radiation generated by your Day 4 cosmic expansion event, and 2) how that event is anything short of a big bang in and of itself! (The question naturally arises: Why is ok for God to be involved in your big bang, but not the one standard cosmology asserts at the opening creation moment of everything?)
But Humphrey’s new model has the very same problem. The moment he mixes ‘timelessness’ and matter, he has conceded a big bang. Though he imagines a peaceful 13 billion year expansion, he has nonetheless postulated an enormous locally-if not cosmically-explosive situation.
By the way, is the creationist public fully aware that both your models contain the germ of vast eons of cosmic evolution, just like the standard big bang model? After all, you both assert the existence of galaxies, galaxy clusters, superclusters, and cosmic superstructures over 13 billion years old at the universe limits. Only our local system is truly 6000 years old to you.

Shaun Doyle responds:

It’s not a problem if God causes a time dilation event supernaturally. He is obviously going to take care of any natural consequences of any supernatural action he does because he supernaturally created the world to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18). The difference between the Humphreys and Hartnett cosmologies and the orthodox big bang cosmology is that Humphreys and Hartnett base their understandings on a natural reading of Genesis 1 whereas the big bang doesn’t fit with the picture of Genesis 1 (See Christian apologists should abandon the big bang).

The earth is the obvious focal point for the creation account, so it’s a valid reference frame to use for the time indicators in Genesis 1. That doesn’t preclude time moving faster elsewhere in the universe. All those processes still truly took place during one day on Earth, regardless of how fast or slow they took place elsewhere.

But the so-called light-travel-time ‘problem’ is only a problem if creationists are constrained to explain Day 4 of the Creation Week naturalistically.

And for all we know, there isn’t a naturalistic explanation available to us in the creationist framework. But the Creation Week was obviously supernatural, and there’s no logical reason that we have to suppose that God used a bare minimum of supernatural means to create. All Genesis 1 says is that God spoke, and it happened. There’s no hint at what processes God used or the effects of them on the natural world in the creation account. We assume a bare minimum of supernatural activity more for apologetic purposes than anything else, and because we’re curious (and it can be fun). But the so-called light-travel-time ‘problem’ is only a problem if creationists are constrained to explain Day 4 of the Creation Week naturalistically. But we’re not because we have the testimony of the Creator that he did it supernaturally.

By the way, are you aware that the big bang model has a light-travel-time problem, which is called “the horizon problem”? To overcome this, ‘inflation’ was invented where the expansion occurred at many orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light for a brief time early in the big bang. No one knows what caused it or stopped it. Such a physics-defying miracle without any miracle worker is fine for the big bang apparently, but creationists are not allowed a miracle although we have a sufficient cause for our miracle.

I hope this helps,

Shaun Doyle
Writer and Editor
Creation Ministries International

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Readers’ comments
Russell H., United States, 24 July 2011

Randy’s comment,

“But Humphrey’s new model has the very same problem. The moment he mixes ‘timelessness’ and matter, he has conceded a big bang. Though he imagines a peaceful 13 billion year expansion, he has nonetheless postulated an enormous locally-if not cosmically-explosive situation”,

shows he doesn’t understand my new model (Journal of Creation 22(3):84–92, December 2008, on this website) at all. In it, when God supernaturally creates the stars (with no bang), the new star masses quietly weigh down the fabric of spacetime into timelessness, with no muss or fuss, no strong gravity, no release of energy. It’s not at all like the alleged Big Bang.

Mike W., United Kingdom, 24 July 2011

I think Randy S. fails to grasp creationist cosmologies such as Hartnett’s “Starlight, Time and the New Physics

The main difference between this and the Big Bang is that the latter doesn’t have a centre for philosophical reasons: to suggest a centre would place the earth in a favourable position. Hartnett has the galaxies created on day 4 like shells around a centre and expands them rapidly during that day only. This would protect the centre from radiation and heat. It could also explain why clocks move at different speeds relative to each other: days on the centre clock whilst millions of years have passed in the cosmos.

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