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God created with functional maturity, not ‘appearance of age’


Published: 10 March 2015 (GMT+10)
wikipedia.org Philip-Gosse
Philip Gosse (1810–1888)

Extracted and adapted from the author’s landmark 2015 book The Genesis Account: A theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1–11.1

One striking feature of the record of God’s creative acts in Genesis 1 is that the created things are fully ready to perform their appointed tasks. On Day 3, God created the plants mature, already bearing seeds. Later on, on Days 5 and 6, He created animals as adults ready to multiply, and finally Adam and Eve, likewise as adults, able to speak and multiply. For inanimate objects, on Day 4, God created the sun and stars already shining. All this is creation with functional maturity.

In contrast, there is an errant concept of ‘creation with apparent age’. One obvious flaw is that age has no appearance! Rather, we infer an age from appearance, after making certain assumptions about processes changing over time, and about the starting conditions.2

I will try to explain further, presenting some case studies from Scripture and from various Christians, including the errant but often-misunderstood ideas of Philip Gosse.

What would be observed

A hypothetical modern observer who travelled back in time to see Adam and Eve at the end of Day 6 might infer that they were 20-year-old adults, but in reality they were less than a day old. However, they were mature adults. Also, when created, the blood in their arteries was already oxygenated so it could power the cells in the body. Nowadays, the oxygen comes from the air through the lungs into the blood.


But one striking feature, distinguishing them from all their descendants, would be the absence of navels, since the navel (umbilicus or belly button) is the scar where the umbilical cord attached us to our mothers via the placenta. There is also a thinning of the abdominal muscles, which is a potential vulnerability to hernias. Adam and Eve were direct creations of God, so had no navel. A navel in either of them would seem to have no function apart from looking like a history that never happened.

Some have fallaciously claimed that Adam and Eve had navels, because they would have had genes for them to pass on to their offspring. However, it’s not just a matter of having genes for a navel. Genes are also switched on and off in precise sequence during embryonic development. Any genes controlling the navel are expressed during embryo development as tissues accommodate the umbilical cord. So today, our tissues are arranged in this way because of developmental sequence more than genetic coding per se. So since Adam and Eve had no mothers, there would have been no development of the navel.

Such arguments also overlook that Adam and Eve also had genes for embryonic and fetal hemoglobin, deciduous teeth, growth hormone, and controlling the changes in puberty, since these were also passed on to their descendants. But in this founding couple created as fully grown adults, these genes were never expressed either.

Similarly, the trees on Day 3 would be mature trees, and a time-travelling observer might infer that they were hundreds of years old. But if he chopped a tree down, he might be dumbfounded by the lack of growth rings. Growth rings today are a record of mostly seasonal changes in the rate of wood growth, although not always annual. E.g. in dry climates, such as those in which the long-lived bristlecone pines grow, each heavy rainfall can produce a new ring. Also, even trees growing next to each other don’t always have the same growth patterns, so correlations are problematic.3

Similarly, God probably created the sun with a fair amount of helium. A good amount of helium seems like a design feature so that the sun is hot enough. The reason is as follows. A helium nucleus (alpha particle) takes up less room than four hydrogen nuclei (protons). This makes the core contract, and the higher temperature and pressure increases the rate of nuclear fusion, hence energy output. It may also be responsible for the sun’s exceptional stability.4

But working back, a pure hydrogen sun would be much cooler—this is called the faint young sun paradox.5 Evolutionists and long-agers believe that life appeared on the earth about 3.8 billion years ago. But if that were true, the sun would be 25% brighter today than it was back then. This implies that the earth would have been frozen at an average temperature of –3°C. However, most paleontologists believe that, if anything, the earth was warmer in the past.6

Does ‘mature creation’ make God a deceiver?

By no means! Since age is an inference based on assumptions, there is no deception involved when people make the wrong assumptions about the starting conditions. Indeed, how could God be deceiving when He has told us plainly when He created? Rather, those who deny His word are deceiving themselves. A charge of deception could only apply if the appearance of a false history were created, one which was totally unnecessary for functional maturity. Some examples are given in the discussion on Gosse and ‘Light created in transit?’ in the boxes below.

This concept has been cleverly illustrated by a parable about a candle, which I thoroughly recommend as a good way of understanding why maturity is not deceptive.7

Gosse and Omphalos

Philip Henry Gosse (1810–1888) was an English biblical creationist who was also a leading science writer and popularizer, almost the David Attenborough of Victorian England (apart from Attenborough’s staunch atheopathy of course). He was also an accomplished marine biologist and ornithologist, and inventor of the seawater aquarium. Unfortunately, he is best known for one monumental blunder.

Gosse was a contemporary of Darwin. To understand the background, Darwin’s biological evolution was firmly based on geological evolution and long ages as taught by his mentor Charles Lyell,8 and Lyell’s hero James Hutton (1726–1797).9 By Darwin’s time, much of the church had already capitulated on the latter.10

Gosse had not though. In 1857, two years before Darwin wrote Origin of Species, Gosse tried to refute long ages with his Omphalos: an Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot. Omphalos (ὀμφαλός) is Greek for navel, and Gosse believed that Adam and Eve were created with them.

Most modern readers actually misunderstood what Gosse proposed. Gosse’s failure was unfortunately to propose the unbiblical idea that time moved in a circle, which God interrupted when He created. Gosse called this time of real history since creation, ‘diachronic’; while ‘before’ creation, the cycling time was unreal, ‘virtual’ time he called ‘prochronic’. Thus Adam and Eve would have been created with a navel to reflect a prochronic history of growing from a mother’s womb, even though there was no real ‘diachronic’ history of such a thing. Indeed, no evidence in the present could differentiate features produced in diachronic or prochronic time:

… we cannot avoid the conclusion that each organism was from the first marked with the records of a previous being. But since creation and previous history are inconsistent with each other; as the very idea of the creation of an organism excludes the idea of pre-existence of that organism, or any part of it; it follows, that such records are false, so far as they testify to time; that the developments and processes thus recorded have been produced without time, or are what I call ‘prochronic’.

However, he won not a single convert to his views at the time, precisely because Christians thought that it would make God a deceiver. As shown, this was not Gosse’s intention, but this is what everyone inferred. Also, scientists didn’t like it because it was ad hoc, and making no practical difference was also thus untestable.

Nor has any modern creationist ever accepted the idea of God faking it, or planting evidence to test faith or such rubbish—despite the rather dishonest claims to the contrary by some misotheists, and even some sloppily-researching theists who should know better.11 But under an atheistic morality, what’s wrong with deception? One evolutionist educator is even on record claiming that it’s OK to deceive kids if it helps them believe in evolution.12

However, although Gosse was trying to defend the Bible, the Bible teaches a real linear history. Indeed, this was one feature that led to the blossoming of modern science in Christianized Europe.13 Conversely, a cyclical view of history goes back to the pagan Greek philosophers and is still followed by eastern religions. Gosse’s view also contradicts 2 Peter 3:3–6:

Scoffers will … deliberately ignore this fact, … the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.

This suggests that the Flood must have left some dramatic evidence, otherwise why would scoffers be held culpable for ‘deliberately ignoring’ the fact of the Flood if there is no evidence? Yet Gosse’s theory of prochronic time is by definition indistinguishable from uniformitarian real time. By similar reasoning, Romans 1:18–22 is a good argument against theistic evolution. Verse 20 says:

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

This passage clearly teaches that unbelievers won’t have the slightest excuse for unbelief, because God’s power and deity can be ‘clearly seen’ from nature. This seems to be a strong support for the argument from design. Both these passages imply that the fault is not just ignoring the testimony of God’s written Word, although that is bad enough. Rather, they hold the unbelievers culpable even for ignoring the independent support in nature.

It’s common to claim that this book made Gosse a lifelong failure, largely because of the purported biography Father and Son (1907) by his embittered apostate son Edmund (1849–1928). In reality, Omphalos was more an anomaly, written in the months after Philip’s beloved first wife Emily died painfully of breast cancer. In the three years after Omphalos, Gosse published four books and over 30 scientific papers. And in 1860, he began a second very happy marriage with Eliza Brightwen (1813–1900), who became a loving stepmother to young Edmund. A modern biographer of the Gosses has documented serious errors of fact in Father and Son, and argued that Edmund was jealous of his father’s superior abilities and tried to elevate himself by denigrating his father’s character.14

Light created in transit? A modern Omphalos

Many creationists in the past have proposed a solution for the distant starlight problem: that God created not only the stars but also the light beams in transit. But this is reminiscent of Gosse’s Omphalos idea. It fails for the same reason: while neither Gosse nor these creationists intend this, it would make God into a deceiver, by showing ‘evidence’ of events that have not happened. That is, this light pattern would show events that under this theory have never happened.

For example, a supernova is an explosion of a massive star that temporarily outshines its entire galaxy. But in ‘core collapse’ supernovae, this explosion is preceded by a collapse of the outer layers. This results in huge amounts of fusion reactions that produce enormous numbers of neutrinos. These are ghostly particles that interact only by the ‘nuclear weak force’, so mostly pass straight through matter. Then this implosion ‘bounces’, creating the explosion that we see. But because neutrinos pass almost unimpeded through matter, while light doesn’t, we detect the neutrinos from a supernova several hours before the light.

But the ‘light-created-in-transit’ model would entail that a neutrino stream was created followed by a light stream, and just appear as if a supernova had exploded according to the laws of physics.

References and notes

  1. Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA. Return to text.
  2. Wieland, C., The earth: how old does it look? Creation 23(1):8–13, 2000; creation.com/earth-look. Return to text.
  3. Batten, D., Tree ring dating (dendrochronology), creation.com/tree-rings, 2001. Return to text.
  4. Sarfati, J., Age of the Sun, creation.com/sun-age, 13 November 2011. Return to text.
  5. Sarfati, J., Our steady sun: a problem for billions of years, Creation 26(3):52–53, 2004; creation.com/faint-sun. Return to text.
  6. Faulkner, D., The young faint sun paradox and the age of the solar system, J. Creation 15(2):3–4, 2001. Return to text.
  7. Wiebe, Garth, The Parable of the Candle, creation.com/candle. Return to text.
  8. Statham, D., Darwin, Lyell and Origin of Species, creation.com/darwin-and-lyell, 5 November 2009. Return to text.
  9. Reed, J., St Hutton’s Hagiography, J. Creation 22(2):121–127, 2008; creation.com/hutton2. Return to text.
  10. Mortenson, T., The origin of old-earth geology and its ramifications for life in the 21st century, J. Creation 18(1):22–26, 2004; creation.com/oldearth. Return to text.
  11. E.g. philosopher Alvin Plantinga (1932– ) wrote that biblical (‘young earth’) creationists “often suggest that when God created the world 6,000–10,000 years ago, he created it in a ‘mature state’, complete with crumbling mountains, fossils, and light apparently travelling from stars millions of light years distant.” (Where The Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism, p. 10, Oxford University Press; see review by Kay, M., J. Creation 28(2): 29–34). Of course, even a modicum of research would have shown that creationists believe that fossils are the result of rapid burial, mostly during Noah’s Flood, and that today’s mountains were uplifted after the Flood. Return to text.
  12. Zivkovic, B. (aka ‘Coturnix’), Why teaching evolution is dangerous, scienceblogs.com, 25 August 2008. See also Sarfati, J., Evolutionist: it’s OK to deceive students to believe evolution; creation.com/deceive, 24 September 2008. Return to text.
  13. Sarfati, J., (1) Why does science work at all? Creation 31(3):12–14, 2009; creation.com/whyscience; and (2) The biblical roots of modern science, Creation 32(4), 2010; creation.com/roots. Return to text.
  14. Thwaite, Ann, Glimpses of the Wonderful: The Life of Philip Henry Gosse, 1810–1888, 2002. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Rob Hogenmiller M.
You say the light in transit fails. How do you figure that the light was created first. The stars weren’t till day four.
Peter M.
“God created with functional maturity, not ‘appearance of age’.” I had been taught in church that God created basically everything with the appearance of age (e.g. which came first—the chicken or the egg?) But after reading this article, I agree with Dr Sarfati that creating with ‘functional maturity’ is a much better understanding of how God created. Also, in Joshua 9 there is an interesting story about ‘appearance of age’—the Gibeonite deception. God bless CMI. Thanks!
Francis R.
Dr. Sarfati,

Great article as usual. Logically it does appear that Adam and Eve should have no navel. My hesitation in fully believing this is on account of DNA. My understanding of this is that DNA contain all the information needed to produce, in this instance, a human being. We know there is no natural addition of DNA information to produce an improved version of man a la goo to you evolution. This DNA would necessarily have been been ‘implanted’ by God in Adam, enabling Eve and all who came after to be as human as him (Adam). It follows then that Adam must have had the DNA for navel production in him, or would God have implanted it in Eve at the time of her creation? Your thoughts Dr Sarfati?
Jonathan Sarfati
Or else, does the relevant DNA information code for the fetal placenta and umbilical cord (which are genetically and physiologically part of the unborn baby), and the navel just an inevitable result of expression of this information? Since Adam and Eve never went through this process, they would not have had navels.
Gerry B.
The creation was complete in the very beginning. The Hebrew is in the ‘perfect’ tense, meaning that the creation in Gen. 1:1 was complete. The Hebrew used in the Eden account refer to original creation bara and therefore are part of this original creation. The 7-day account, as pointed out in the book The Flat Earth & Genesis is actually a re-creation (mostly “made”—asah), and Eden does not fit into the sixth day for a variety of reasons. God did create in 24 hour days, and death was after the sin in Eden, however trying to blend the two creation accounts together has misdirected our understanding of our personal responsibility for our sin and just how great our loving God truly is. As Rom. 5:12 states, sin entered this age with Adam, and we all know that sin entered Eden by Satan. I believe if we truly understood how God used these two creation events, we would clearly understand our personal sin, the reason for suffering in the world, and our true need for a Savior. Praise God...Gerry Burney
Jonathan Sarfati
This is a naïve view of the Hebrew. In reality, the perfect verb was the typical beginning of a Hebrew historical narrative, which then continued with waw consecutive verbs. As I point out elsewhere in this commentary:

And the Hebrew verbs of Genesis 1 have a particular feature that is exactly what would be expected if it were representing a series of past events. The famous German Hebraist, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1786–1842), states:

One of the most striking peculiarities in the Hebrew consecution of tenses is the phenomenon that, in representing a series of past events, only the first verb stands in the perfect, and the narration is continued in the imperfect. [Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, pp. 132–133, 2nd ed., trans. Cowley, A.E., Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 1910]

The French Jesuit priest and Hebraist Paul Joüon (1871–1940) concurs:

This form is very common in narratives. Usually a narrative begins with a qatal (historic perfect) and continues with a wayyiqtol (waw consecutive), which is followed, if need be, by other wayyiqtols, … [Joüon, P., A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, p. 390, 1993.]

Applying this to Genesis 1, the first verb, bārā’ ברא (create), is qatal, while the subsequent verbs that move the narrative forward are wayyiqtols (wāyyō’mer ויאמר “and … said”), wāyəhi (ויהי “and there was”), wāyyārə (וירא ”and … saw”). Thus this has just the pattern one would expect from a historical narrative.
Therefore, despite what is so often claimed, any doubts about the genre of Genesis don’t stem from the grammar and style of the text itself. Rather, they come from considerations outside the text, such as long-age uniformitarian geology and evolutionary biology.

Your other comments are basically an argument for the long-discredited gap theory, also thoroughly addressed in my commentary, including the unwarranted semantic distinction between bara and asah. But meanwhile, see What about gap theories?

That source looks most suspect, probably promoting the thoroughly-debunked Flat Earth Myth.

Romans 5:12 is yet another serious problem for billions of years—see Romans 5:12–21: Paul’s view of literal Adam.
R. D.
Dr Sarfati’s pieces are always fascinating reading—you almost always find some interesting new tidbits. Even though I already knew most of the general points in this excerpt (specifically the most important one—that the term ‘apparent age’ is meaningless), I barely knew the name of Philip Henry Gosse until now. Clearly, another devoted servant of God who is given a highly unfair deal by the Liberal academic establishment.

I must say though that it’s a huge disappointment (but, sadly, not a great surprise given how many people I’ve now seen do it) to discover that such a learned man as Alvin Plantinga has swallowed the anticreationist narrative so uncritically. Surely he knows better than to parrot that sort of nonsense without checking it? I hear stuff along the lines of “many YECs believe that God magicked-up the world complete with ancient this-or-that …” all the time—I’ve long learned to respond “Such as who? How about some names and linked\sourced quotes?” Of course, no-one can ever provide such things because they’ve only ever heard it from other anticreationists. We can only hope that people like Plantinga, who I presume actually does care about truth since I’ve little doubt that he’s a very sincere believer, receive some gentle correction and learn their lesson. Not least from Proverbs 18:13.
Cody G.
Dr. Sarfati,

This is great! I very much look forward to getting my hands on a copy of your full Genesis commentary. Keep up the great work for Christ!
Kobus V.
The contents of ‘deception’, ‘false history’ and the degree of ‘functional maturity’ refer.

Specifically in relation to tree rings, the function of tree rings is not to measure or convey time indicators, but are for structural integrity of a tree, even of the original created tree of each kind.

The space here is limited to convey the argument fully (what I have so far is about 10,000 characters and therefore too long for these emails).

What can be briefly stated is that gravity, wind, roosting beasts from the air and scaling beasts of the land would necessitate any tree to have structural integrity.

The laminates of soft and hard tissue forming tree rings seen in 3D would be near circular tubes forming homogeneous trunk and branch. The flexural interaction between hard and soft tissue making up the tubes further acts as flexible resistance to strain whereas strain is distributed evenly for the ‘strongest’ possible condition possible for the material at hand.

For structural reasons too long to explain here, a tree created from a singular solid mass (without laminated soft and hard tubulars) would be a ‘weaker’ tree than the trees that we observe today.

We know from man made structural elements and our understanding of the effects of stress and strain on any material (whether in the human body or otherwise) should be consistent with what we declare to be expected from the degree of functional maturity at creation.

For reasons above and many others, the original created tree kinds needed to have structural integrity that would be procreated into substantially what we have today.

Therefore, the original created tree would have had rings, not to reveal ‘false history’, but as a structural necessity.
Jonathan Sarfati
We should certainly consider whether there is a design reason for such features as growth rings. But I remain unconvinced, sorry. The growth rings comprise two parts, at least for softwoods (conifers) in temperate regions:

  1. Lighter band of ‘earlywood’ or ‘springwood’ formed early in the growing season, with large cells and thin walls

  2. Darker band of ‘latewood’ or ‘summerwood’ formed later in the growing season, with smaller cells and thicker walls. It is not formed during winter contrary to popular belief, because the tree is not growing at all during that time.

Note that the strength is in the walls not the cavities, so latewood is stronger as well as denser. So I remain unconvinced that the tree is stronger with the alternating earlywood and latewood.

We know about lamination as a strengthening process, as shown in some of the articles in Design Features: Super materials. But when it comes to wood, latewood/earlywood doesn't have a role that I can find.

One that comes close is the English longbow, the deadliest weapon of the late middle ages. This was made from yew, and this had an important feature that mimicked composite bows from other cultures, because of different types of wood. But this was sapwood vs. heartwood. The former is the outermost wood, and is still living in the tree, responsible for water transport from the roots (although cells have died by this time). Conversely, heartwood comprises former sapwood in the interior of the tree, and is dead. But in the longbow, the growth rings in the sapwood and heartwood didn’t seem to matter.

Indeed, in wood in general, the laminations between earlywood and latewood don't seem to matter too much. What matters in woodworking is just the direction of the ‘grain’; we see growth rings best in wood cut across the grain. Certainly we can strengthen wood with lamination, but this involves sheets of alternating grain directions (cross-graining), as in plywood.

Another reason I don’t think that growth rings are essential to structure is simply that many tropical trees lack them.
Ian H.
Hi Jonathan, your last paragraph was interesting, 'Light created in transit? A modern Omphalos' while it said how God didn't use 'light beams in transit' it didn't say how God did solve the problem and left the thought hanging in the air. Great article about navels, should keep the Evilutionists 'navel gazing' for hours!
Jonathan Sarfati
Hi Ian
This article was dealing with a particular errant concept. Our preferred solution to the distant starlight problem is elsewhere; this was showing why one formerly popular solution is wrong.

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