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The mental furniture of ‘deep time’

Throwing out the really old furniture

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 creation.com; 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

Published: 12 February 2012

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