Dealing with new challenges to the Bible
Published: 1 September 2013 (GMT+10)
Andrew S. from Australia wrote asking for help about a challenge one of his friends threw at him, which took him off guard because he had never heard of the claim before. We include his question and the ensuing exchange with geologist Tas Walker because it illustrates how to handle an issue you have never previously encountered. Andrew writes:
Hi, a close mate that I have had some scientific discussions with recently has thrown me the following question. I can’t pinpoint a good response from your site, so I am wandering if you can help me. I’ve been on your site almost every day the past 2 years after receiving the magazine for many years. Thank you for such a great wealth of information. I just hope you can help me to point my friend away from evolution and towards an understanding that we are more than just atoms in random motion. Here is the question. There are meteors on the surface of Mars that could only hit the surface and stay intact by going through the once dense atmosphere which could in no other way of dispersed to its current status in 6000 years. Disprove that one.
CMI’s Dr Tas Walker responds:
I’m not aware that we have anything on this particular topic.
The problem with your friend’s argument is that he is trying to disprove the biblical worldview by appealing to interpretations of evidence based on the evolutionary worldview. That is the wrong way around. Everyone uses their worldview in order to explain the evidence. In other words, the wrong approach is to say, “The Bible can’t be right because of xxx.” The correct approach is to ask, “How do we explain xxx from a biblical perspective?”
So in the case of these meteors and the atmosphere he talks about I would press him to produce the actual evidence so we can consider how that evidence would be explained within the biblical worldview. What has actually been observed and measured? What meteors is he talking about? How were they observed? What specifically is it about those meteors that prompted the scientists to hypothesize a dense atmosphere? What other hypotheses could explain those features? What mechanisms have been suggested by which a planet can lose its atmosphere? Etc.
That is the sort of approach I would use to respond to these sorts of claims when I have not heard of them before.
All the best,
Hi Tas, thanks for getting back to me, I have the link below with the article.
If you are able to give a further response on this, that would be much appreciated, thanks.
[Ed. Update: The link Andrew S. provided is no longer available: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/08/18/mars-meteorite-atmosphere.html. However the following link is to a news item on the same issue: http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0910/11meteorite/]
It is good to get to look at the actual articles on which the claims are made. The article you linked says that the meteorite called “Block Island” “proves” Mars had a thicker atmosphere in the past. However, it is always good to do a Google search on any issue like this because you will usually turn up material by other evolutionary scientists that disagree. I did a Google search on “Block Island Mars meteorite” and found this paper (www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2010/pdf/2351.pdf), which says that the meteorite could have come through the thinner atmosphere depending on its angle. In other words, the original claim is not necessarily true.
Even if the claim were true it presents no problem for the biblical timeframe. Mars may have had a thicker atmosphere that has been lost. That could all have happened within the biblical timeframe of 6000 years. It could be the meteorites that helped to disperse the atmosphere if one did exist.
It is interesting that the article says, “Scientists have no way to determine when the meteorites arrived”, which is a true statement. They also say, “So, for the first time since arriving at Mars 5.5 years ago …”; note that the date of 5.5 years is accurate and that it is based on eyewitness reports, which is the only way of knowing the age of anything. Note also that when the article speaks of “billions of years ago” it is total speculation.
Creationists are suggesting that the solar system experienced a massive meteorite bombardment at the time of Noah’s Flood and this bombardment affected most of the planets in the solar system. Do a search at Creation.com for “meteorite” and you will find quite a number of articles about meteorites that would be worth reading. There is much evidence that the solar system is young and not billions of years old.
The key is to sort out the subjective, speculative hypotheses, and the blatant story-telling, from what is actually observed.
All the best,
Thanks for your help in this, So far I’ve only had a short sarcastic/angry remark in reply but hopefully we’ll make progress.
I now know how to go about things better if I don’t have or can’t find the answer to things.
I do find that very interesting about the meteorite bombardment during the Flood and will look into it more on the website.
Thanks for your help
Fantastic response. It is those cool, calm and reasoned answers that are in greater need. One thing that I have learned from this website is to always consider the presumptions or beliefs of the person who made the claim, rather than just taking "facts" as presented.
Andrew - Your friend that responds with anger and nasty words to your answers to the question he brought up is normal for unbelievers. Often I get replies from those that disagree with me by being called - "a birdbrain, blockhead, bonehead, and bozo to sap, scam artist, sham, simpleton, a snake oil salesman, wacko, Neener Neener Neener! You're stupid!"
Resorting to such name-calling not only shows that this issue strikes at deep spiritual problems, but that those who can’t prove their position by logic or science are driven by emotion. We can expect such name-calling to increase as secularists become more frustrated in not being able to refute the powerful truth that the Creator is clearly seen (see Romans 1:18–20) and “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
When name calling becomes their only proof of their position I often refer them to God's warning:
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.’” (Luke 6:25)
If rocks were launched into space and hit the moon during the Noahic flood, it seems that some of them might have had the right velocity to make a fairly soft landing on Mars even without an atmosphere. If that is true, wouldn't it allow calculations to be made as to the relative positions of Mars and Earth in their orbits when the rocks were launched into orbit?
Dr. Walker: even though the Bible talks about that, it is impressive how distorted ideas come from a mind that don't have the truth of God. How can an atmosphere be so dense that a meteorite cannot break apart? In that case then that meteorite would just explode against the atmosphere itself. Am I wrong?
Andrew: from my humble experience I should tell you that even though I love science with the right biblical view, is not that evidence that will turn hearts to Jesus. I believe it is actually Jesus' love the one that will attract hearts toward Him. I think that this "scientific rejection" of God is just the mask of emotional problems and marks that can be heal only with God's love.
Thanks Creation Ministries! You ROCK!
Thank you Dr. Walker for this helpful article. I think your words about Mars possibly having a thicker atmosphere which may have been dispersed within the biblical timeframe of 6000 years is especially important because it helped me see something about how to deal with unfamiliar questions from evolutionists.
I understood from your comments that within all such questions, which attack creationism, is the presupposition that planetary/atmospheric conditions and forces (such as those which may have been responsible for the erosion of Mars' atmosphere) are still at work at the same rate today as they were in the past. But this is a completely insupportable assumption. Nobody can say exactly what forces were at play at any point where there was no-one to observe or measure them. I am content to stand on the biblical testimony as a creationist, my world-view is a result of faith in God's word about creation. For this reason, any question which proposes that certain phenomena could not have happened within the 6000 year timeframe is quickly quelled by challenging it's underlying assumption that what we can observe and measure today is what must have been true in the past. But without divine revelation, it is impossible to know what forces were at play in our solar system when as yet there was no-one to observe them (except God).
Thank you again for your ministry to us CMI! We really do appreciate it.
Standing firm with you
This is an excellent reminder to always ask the questioner questions, even if you can answer the enquirey. Jesus, for example, frequently asked.
Keep up the good work CMI.
Soli Deo Gloria