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The mental furniture of ‘deep time’

Throwing out the really old furniture

Published: 12 February 2012 (GMT+10)
Removing old mental furniture can be a big job!
Removing old mental furniture can be a big job!
Photo: stock.xchng
‘Deep time’ is so ingrained in people’s thinking today that it has become a part of their ‘mental furniture’—their way of thinking. The only way around it is the ‘renewing of our minds’ that only God’s Word can bring (Romans 12:1–2), which helps highlight how faulty the assumptions on which the whole ‘deep time’ concept rests really are. Dr Don Batten brings biblically consistent answers to one Christian struggling with ‘deep time’.

Anthony C. from Australia writes:

Dear CMI

My situation is I am a 100% serious Christian, converted from atheism 6 years ago.

I love the Bible and read and study it every day. At the moment I am writing a book, two books actually, on the subject.

I would dearly love it if the creation account in Genesis 1–2 was proven or even if I came across some more good evidence to back it up and refute the old-agers’ dating process. I’d especially love it if I got it in time to include reference to it in my book/s. The idea that the earth is 6 millennia old appeals to me on a number of fronts.

But the facts are:

Atheist scientists seem to believe unreservedly in the old earth and that the fossil evidence completely rules out the possibility of a young earth.

I’m not all that worried about that. But I also read of Christian scientists (not Christian Scientists) who also believe firmly in the fossil evidence of an old earth and who utterly refute the young-earthers’ position as unscientific.

Here’s one that I read recently-John Clayton: [Weblink deleted as per feedback rules—Ed.]

This guy actually supports the Genesis evidence but believes the billions of years happened in verses 1–3 of chapter 1.


The point is that he does not question the dating methods used by scientists to date fossils. And he sees no confounding evidence in the placement of tree fossils and all the other things that Walter Veith [a South African creationist prof.] alludes to in his defence of the Genesis account.

Now, that’s not the end of the story by any means. I’m quite happy to be convinced by you that there are YE explanations for the findings he talks about, which mean that a young earth is possible.

But it needs to be a thoughtful, exhaustive explanation on the part of the young earth proponent , not a few flippant, even a lot of flippant, remarks such as I hear in Kent Hovind’s videos (hugely entertaining tho’ they are).

BTW I have to say I no longer find Prof. Veith’s assertions on this topic credible, even tho I love his testimony and him as a person, simply because he is too dismissive of the evidence.

If he’s going to portray the serious beliefs of people who aren’t ridiculous, as ridiculous then I can’t accept that.

Their arguments should be treated seriously and methodically, one by one.

I know atheists treat us as idiots but that’s their problem. It’s bad science to appeal to —what did Shakespeare say—to split the ears of the groundlings?

Kent tends to do that too I have to say.

I’m not a scientist and I’ve never seen a fossil. Well I might’ve seen one or two but they didn’t help me on this question. I have to rely on sources like you.

I recently read a blog posting. It was Don Batten responding to a post by a woman named Nicole rejecting the Scientists choke on frogs article. Dawkins and the origin of genetic information.

Don’s answer was all I could have asked for. He addressed all her points, one at a time, respectfully and, it seemed to layman-me, exhaustively. I came away satisfied that Nicole’s points had been very satisfactorily answered.

That’s the sort of treatment I’d like to see given to fossils and the geological column etc.

For all I know you have done that somewhere already and I apologise profusely if that’s the case.

If so (or even if not) please tell me if you can: Why do most, or if not most, many, scientists believe 100% (it seems) that their dating methods are very reliable (not carbon dating, the other ones) and they show indisputably that fossils exist which are at least a million years old and a young earth is impossible?

Are they bluffing? Are they mistaken? Are they right? If they are mistaken, how so? What are they missing?

As it stands for now, I would not dispute an atheist’s claim that the earth is billions of years old, that dinosaurs lived and became extinct before man was created, etc.

I’d LIKE to be able to dispute it but right now I don’t have the grounds for it. I’m sitting on the fence, although leaning towards Young-Earth purely in hope.

I feel pretty safe in arguing against the theory that man evolved from protozoa and I’m happy to go in to bat on that one. But young age of the earth? The jury’s still out for me.

Hope this is not too long and you have time to respond. If not, I understand.

In our Creator’s boundless love for all of us.

Anthony C.

CMI’s Dr Don Batten responds:

Dear Anthony,

Thanks for sharing your brief testimony; it always encourages me to hear from *former* atheists.

1. John Clayton’s idea? We call this the ‘soft gap theory’. See: ‘Soft’ gap sophistry and chapter 3 of the Creation Answers Book. You should get this book if you don’t have it. It has answers to all your questions (radiometric dating, for example). If Clayton accepts the radiometric dating of billions of years for the rocks, if he is consistent he must accept the ages for the fossils in those rocks as also being millions of years old. Then he cannot have God creating everything pertaining to the earth in six days some thousands of years ago. Totally inconsistent! He also has death before the Fall and God is not good because He created a world of death and suffering (a big argument of the atheists, which John Clayton has ceded to them; a free kick!).

2. I agree that some ‘lone ranger’ creationist speakers can be entertaining but a bit lacking in technical accuracy at times. But none of us is perfect.

3. Radiometric dating? The chapter in the Creation Answers Book is good (What about carbon dating?). It’s about radiometric dating in general, not just carbon dating. See also the Q&A page on radiometric dating for lots of articles. I suggest these in particular: The dating game and The pigs took it all.

These articles show how radiometric dating is not objective science but sophisticated-sounding story-telling, essentially no different to microbes-to-man story-telling (which you rightly reject). It is difficult for many people to comprehend this, but it is just not possible to measure the age of something objectively, without making unprovable assumptions (and of course the assumptions made are part of the ingrained way of thinking that permeates ‘science’ today). See The fatal flaw with radioactive dating methods for a simple explanation of the assumptions matter.

Even when the hard data contradict the millions of years belief, people don’t even think to question the deep time; it is part of the way they think (e.g. Mary Schweitzer with her dinosaur soft tissue; see Dinosaur soft tissue and protein—even more confirmation! and linked reading).

That is why “they all believe it”. It is technically called canonical phase locking or confirmation bias, where researchers are looking for data that fits with what they already believe and tend to not see, or even deliberately ignore, what does not fit their preconceptions. We can all be ‘guilty’ of it.

There is plenty of evidence for a creation much younger than the figures bandied about by the secularists and their fellow-traveller church folk. See for example, Age of the earth. Please note the introductory comments that we cannot ‘prove’ a young earth any more than someone can ‘prove’ an old earth using scientific methods, which can only operate in the present (see ‘It’s not science). By the way, carbon dating is powerful evidence against the millions of years—it is covered in the Age of the earth article, where you can find links to relevant articles for the details.

Don’t forget to use the search engine on; it is your friend. If you have a question, search for some key words that relate to it. There are over 8,000 articles on all manner of topics that you have questions about. You can also browse the Q&A pages (from the Topics button on the menu bar) where some of the best articles are categorized by topic.

Every blessing,

Don Batten

Helpful Resources

Thousands ... Not Billions
by Dr Don DeYoung
US $14.00
The Creation Answers Book
by Various
US $14.00

Reader’s comments

Ken B.
"As it stands for now, I would not dispute an atheist’s claim that the earth is billions of years old, that dinosaurs lived and became extinct before man was created, etc. I’d LIKE to be able to dispute it but right now I don’t have the grounds for it. I’m sitting on the fence, although leaning towards Young-Earth purely in hope." (Anthony C.)
I would like to offer Anthony something which I have found helpful. It has to do with geology which is pretty much the first area of science to be hijacked by evolutionists with the idea of billions of years.
About 70% of the earth's landmass is covered with sedimentary layers. In some places these deposits are thousands of metres deep and many extend over hundreds of kilometres in each direction.
Where did all the sediment come from? How did it get there? How come it is sorted so nicely?
Did the sediment derive from previously solid rocks, like basalt or granite? This is highly likely, given the identifiable similarities in mineral composition. Most people seem to agree on this.
How was hard rock broken down into fine particles? Erosion is the likely explanation. Water jets can be used to cut steel if the pressure and velocity are high enough. On the destructive side, water flow can damage propellers, turbines and structures. 'Cavitation' is usually the culprit - high velocity produces localized low pressure resulting in vaporization of the fluid with associated extremely high temperatures and shock waves.
Take a look at this article
Even in roadside drains and small streams, scouring can be an issue. The scouring velocity in soils can be 0.5 metres per second or less. Compare this with velocities in turbine nozzles which can be 1000 m/s or more.
OK, so we need massive amounts of energy to convert vast quantities of rock into fine particles. If water is the tool, then we end up with water and sediment churning along together - murky water at the least and maybe of slurry consistency if the sediment-carrying capacity is high enough.
What about the process of depositing/sedimentation? Evolutionists claim that it was a batch process - that the layers were deposited one by one with a gap of maybe a year between layers. Suppose a layer is 0.2mm thick and the depth of deposit is 1000 metres. That would represent 5 million years of deposits. Hence the millions (or billions) of years the evolutionists invoke.
A few years ago I built a house on a steep block. The house footprint covered most of the block. This presented a logistics problem. I had to remove beautiful topsoil, but had no-where to store it. I had to truck it offsite. Then, when the building was finished, guess what, I had to truck back in all the topsoil I needed for the gardens.
Let's think through the logistics of the sedimentary process. For water to deposit fine sediment, the velocity has to be extremely low. If a scouring velocity is say 0.5 m/sec, then the sedimentation velocity has to be less than that. So, for the process of sedimentation to occur, a very still environment (low energy) is needed. Remember, we had an extremely high energy environment to create the sediment. In the evolutionary view, these operations of scour and deposit (high energy/low energy) occurred over vast areas, ultimately covering most of the earth's surface, not just once but many times, sequentially.
How were the high energy and low energy actions separated from each other? Where was the sediment stored? How was the material transported from the high-energy to the low-energy site? After one layer was deposited, how was the next layer brought in without destroying the former? Problem: Incoming suspension velocity exceeds the scouring velocity of the previous layer.
What would happen if, after successfully depositing thousands of layers over thousands of years (if that were possible), there was a bit of a dust-storm, or maybe a tropical downpour? You would have to start all over again. Of course that plays into the evolutionists' desire for vast eons of time.
I believe the answer is that the process was not of the sequential/batch type at all.
Could it have been a dynamic process? Could the high energy scouring have been followed by a lower energy suspension stage, then a dynamic process of depositing as the velocity continued to drop? Could this solve the logistics problem?
Take a look at these experiments where multiple layers are deposited along a forward-moving front. (the picture at Figure 3 is explanatory)
Clearly we can't re-run what happened in Noahs flood, but we do know that there was immense, high-energy geological and hydraulic activity going on all over the earth. We do know that the waters receded over several months. We do know that the earth's crust bears signs of such a global catastrophe.
I also know that when I ask people who believe in long-ages about this, they haven't even thought about the problems inherent in their position. In a similar way, when they claim fossils are evidence against the Bible, they really haven't thought through what they are claiming.
I know there is plenty we can't explain, but when I look at the evidence I come away with even more confidence in the Bible and more saddened by the evolutionary paradigm that has become sacred in our nation.
E. M.
Like Andy Capp said long ago,"It's a mug's game."
Joe F.
When speaking of the high percentage of scientists who believe in an old earth, your questioner should also be aware that this has happened before. Probably an even higher percentage at the time of Galileo believed in geocentrism, as opposed to the heliocentrism of Copernicus and Galileo. In fact, it was the professors and scientists of establishment science who sought to silence Galileo. They used the power of the church to protect their paradigm and silence him, as it was the only entity that could do so. Today, they use government and school administrations the same way. Scientific paradigms were difficult to change then, and they still are. But numbers don’t add up to truth, and we can’t allow scientific laws and theories to be set by popular vote.

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