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Time: The Great Enabler

Reverse-engineering Darwinian evolution by raising questions about deep time


Published: 15 February 2018 (GMT+10)
Eramus Darwin’s bookplate with three scallops on the diagonal. In 1771 he added the words ‘E conchis omnia’ (everything from shells) to demonstrate his belief in evolution.

Many people don’t realize it, but Charles Darwin did not invent his evolutionary theory in a vacuum. Evolutionary ideas were circulating widely in his day. His own grandfather Erasmus Darwin believed so strongly in evolution that he emblazoned the Latin phrase E CONCHIS OMNIA (‘all from shells’) on the family coat of arms. Erasmus also wrote a book about evolution called Zoonomia. Even though it was written over a decade before his birth, young Charles later claimed to have read it so often that he had memorized entire passages. Clearly, Darwin did not invent evolutionary theory. He did not even invent the (false) idea that natural selection was the driving force behind evolution.

But evolutionary theory would be nothing without deep time. In fact, the idea that the earth was millions of years old was already deeply entrenched among scientific leaders long before Charles Darwin was born. It was geologists like Hutton and Lyell that gave him the time he required for his ‘slow and gradual’ thinking. This is the essence of evolutionary theory. They believe that, given enough time, even very slow changes might be able to explain their alleged common ancestry of all species. The idea that species change, the power of natural selection (or lack thereof), and the relationships among the species on earth have been discussed many, many times on this website and in CMI’s many publications, public talks, and videos. We have also given multiple biblical and scientific defenses for a young age of the earth and universe. The age of the earth is an important topic. Jesus affirmed a young earth, as did the Apostles and Bible writers like Peter, Paul, Luke, and John.

Clearly there is a dichotomy here. Evolution requires deep time, but the Bible denies deep time. Time, it turns out, is the key to unravelling the strands of the creation-evolution debate. Without vast ages, evolution is impossible, and they know it. Let’s take some time to reverse-engineer Darwinian evolution by raising questions about deep time.

The source of deep time

Evolutionists apply logic selectively. In one sense, they do this without any historical sense. They believe in natural law, but ignore the fact that this very idea was derived from Christian theology. They appeal to rationality in the laboratory, but skip over the part in history where they would learn that it was the Christians who pioneered this method. After the modern scientific method was developed, however, the idea of naturalism came roaring in. This is a belief that all things in the universe can be explained by natural causes. Importantly, this does not only include the way things work (formerly called operational science) but how they came into existence as well (also known as historical science). Naturalism is powerful, for if true, there is no need for God at any point in the history of the universe.

This major philosophical shift picked up steam in the so-called Enlightenment of the mid-18th century. Strangely, this move toward secularism, humanism, and naturalism was driven by the philosophers like Kant, Hagel, Hume, etc., and not by the scientists, who were generally Christian in philosophy and by confession. But since naturalism ‘naturally’ leads to a belief in an ancient earth, scientists gradually went over into the deep-time camp.

Under naturalistic assumptions, if everything in the laboratory can be explained by natural causes, everything in nature could as well. But many things in the natural world would require millions, if not billions, of years to explain using nothing but natural processes, or at least they thought. At this point in history, the applied naturalism of the Christian worldview (trusting that God operates according to rules, i.e. that He is not capricious) had morphed into the methodological naturalism that underpins modern evolutionary science.

Ideas that defy naturalistic explanations

Hundreds of years after the Enlightenment, we know that naturalism has failed. There are many things it cannot explain, even given billions of years. There are things that simply cannot be explained by what we see happening today in the laboratory. For a long time, it looked like naturalism could explain everything. However, that has changed dramatically over the past several decades.

In the book and movie Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels, CMI scientists documented the utter failure of naturalism to explain multiple aspects of the natural world. We covered natural selection, genetics, the origin of life, the fossil record, the rock record, radiometric dating, big bang cosmology, and ethics. Each of these massive areas of study have specific places that defy naturalistic explanations.

If naturalistic “science” cannot explain so much scientific knowledge, clearly “science” should not be equated with naturalism. But if you take away naturalism, you open the door for theism in the sciences, which is a major taboo for the secular world. Thus, it should not surprise us that they fight so hard to stick to naturistic explanations, even when they fail.

Ideas that contradict deep time

There are many other ideas that contradict naturalism and its step child, deep time. We have documented these extensively over the previous four decades. Carbon-14 is one of those things. In fact, carbon dating is one of the best things to happen to the creation movement, for now that our machines have gotten sensitive enough, we have found no carbon sources on earth that contain zero carbon-14. This includes coal, oil, natural gas, amber, diamonds, and dinosaur bones…all forms of carbon everywhere in the fossil record have it. The half-life of carbon 14 is such that it simply cannot last millions of years, yet it is found at measurable levels in all forms of carbon throughout the fossil record. Thus, according to this area of operational science, the earth is young.

We can make other arguments for a young earth by considering the field of genetics. Mutations accumulate much too quickly in animal populations. And natural selection cannot remove them all. Thus, species cannot be millions of years old, or they would already be extinct. This is an example of using a combination of evolutionary theory and laboratory measurements to contradict evolutionary time.

The presence of “living fossils” is another area that argues in our favor. The only way for a species to stay the same in a variable environment is for that species to be young. Unchanged species for millions, even billions, of years is untenable in the evolutionary model.

Photos by Ian Juby
5894polystrate3 Polystrate tree Polystrate tree Polystrate tree
Polystrate tree trunks. Horizontal coalified wood

Polystrate fossils cut vertically through multiple layers in the geologic column, and defy evolutionary time. Many polystrate trees have been found across the world, but trees do not stick up from the ground for thousands of years after they die while they are slowly buried. Dead trees rot, burn, get eaten, fall down, etc. The presence of polystrate fossils says “no” to the evolutionary timeline.

Erosion rates are also a problem for deep time. At current rates, the entire continent of North America would be reduced to sea level in just a few million years. How can any landform, then, be older than that? And how could major geological features like Grand Canyon or the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley have retained sheer-sided cliffs when every erosional force known is acting to round off those cliffs?

There are many additional arguments, from multiple different areas of operational science, that defy deep time. Please spend some time on Creation.com and educate yourself. There is much to learn!

Cut the legs out from under Darwinian evolution

If deep time does not exist, evolution is impossible. It’s just that simple. Back in Darwin’s day, they made arguments about deep time that were based on a general lack of understanding about operational science. A century and a half later, everything has changed, for many of the unknowns (such as mutation rates and erosion rates) have been worked out. No longer can we appeal to “unknowns” (like Darwin did when admitting the general lack of transitional species in the fossil record) to explain what we see.

Since deep time is demonstrably false, there is no reason to reject biblical claims about the age of the earth. And once deep time goes away, so does evolution. We do not need to appeal to naturalism to explain the universe, the solar system, or life, and we want to encourage people to seek deeper and more meaningful answers to their questions about evolution, naturalism, and deep time. Creation.com is a great place to start!

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Colin F.
No sir!
I am NOT in any "flat-earth camp" as you put it. I just happen to believe that the Earth is NOT a globe spinning around at a 1000 mph, that is all. I am a reformed Bible believing Christian grounded in the doctrines of grace. For the sake of brevity, I thus worded my previous comment. Do we agree with Luther on "justification by Faith, ALONE"? I hope so! Have you read what Luther said about Copernicus? Well, I am 100% in agreement with him. Or would you rather believe a Roman Priest?
CMI is far too heavily 'science' orientated, get back to the Scriptures, please! Show me ONE scripture that teaches the Earth moves (earthquakes apart!) and I might take some notice of that pseudo science on your link.
God bless.
Robert Carter
Colin, I am not going to allow you to hijack the comment section of this article and turn it into a geocentrism debate. In fact, this is not the only article you have similarly commented on recently. Readers, if you see nothing more from him, it is because I had to block him.

Do we agree with Luther? See our Statement of Faith.

You do realize that what Luther "said" about Copernicus is second-hand and was written down years after the event, right? From Refuting Compromise (courtesy of Dr. Jonathan Sarfati):

Was Luther a geocentrist?

Some try to dismiss Luther’s powerful testimony on the days of creation by dismissing him as a geocentrist. For example, Hayward irresponsibly resorts to a secondary citation from History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896) the strident anti-Christian polemicist Andrew Dickson White (see p. 45).[1] However, White misleadingly failed to mention that, far from a sustained strong opposition, Luther’s only recorded comment on the issues is a single off-hand remark (hardly a concerted campaign), during a ‘table talk’ in 1539 (four years before the publication of Copernicus’ book). The Table Talk was based on notes taken by Luther’s students, which were later compiled and published in 1566―twenty years after Luther’s death. Luther actually said:

Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth [Jos. 10:12].’

Hayward failed to cite the parts I have italicized. These show that a major reason for Luther’s objection was Copernicus’ challenging the establishment and common sense for its own sake (as Luther saw it). At the time, there was no hard evidence for geokineticism. And Kepler, a devout Lutheran, saw no conflict between the Bible and Lutheran theology. He showed how Joshua 10:12 could be explained as phenomenological language, using Luther’s own principles of Biblical interpretation!

[1]. Hayward, Creation and Evolution: The Facts and the Fallacies, p. 70, London: Triangle, SPCK, pp. 71, 213(n), 1985.

I care not one lick if Copernicus was or was not a Roman Priest. We need to judge facts by themselves. But if we are going to slam him for being Catholic, what do you say about Kepler, who was from the Reformed tradition, like you, and suffered for it at the hands of Catholics? Did his religious belief color his scientific thinking?

As far as CMI being far too 'science oriented', well, the people here disagree with you.

I cannot show you a verse that proves the earth moves. Neither can you show me a verse that proves the earth does not, unless you also want to claim the righteous cannot move (c.f. Psalm 112:6). The Bible was not written to give us an answer to every single possible aspect of science. It is a history book that only touches on science when it has to. However, see our discussion of the use of language here.

That is the last anyone will hear of geocentrism on this thread. If you want to discuss this further, there are more appropriate places to weigh in.
Dan M.
All things in the universe can be explained by natural law, (that is to say how it operates at the present time) except for the cause of the universe. Where did it all come from and why is it so orderly with all its natural law? Naturalists have no good answer for this fact of science. Deep time and naturalism is a product of the imagination and a rejection of the Creator, not science. It is a philosophy or alternative religion at best!
Do yourself a favor as Dr. Carter suggests and re-educate yourself with the actual facts of real observational science and you shall see the truth, (if you are willing) as I did decades ago.
Thanks be to God for providing the Creation movement in these last days to counter the Godless claims of the naturalists and that has helped to make me bold in my faith that the scriptures are from God.
These are the last days! It is the eleventh hour! As the Apostle Paul said, Now is the time! 2Co 6:2
Chuck R.
Deep time is a foundational and required belief in evolutionism. When I've demonstrated to people the sheer impossibility of evolution, the response I've commonly heard is that they believe, given enough time, anything can happen.
Colin F.
"Time: The Great Enabler"?

With respect, I would rephrase it "Distance: The Great Enabler", for without millions & billions of miles (heliocentricism), evolution (millions & billions of years) would never have got off the ground!
Robert Carter
Au contraire! The relative sizes and distances of the heavenly bodies have been known for millennia. The Greeks understood the scale, as did our Christian forefathers. It is nonsensical to claim that "millions and billions" of miles led to a rejection of biblical history, for the biblical historians have known about it for the entire time there have been biblical historians.

The only difference is that in modern times we have been able to work out the exact sizes and distances to "nearby" objects (anything within a few hundred light years can be directly measured using high-school trigonometry and some precision instruments on board specific space probes we have recently launched).

However, you use the term "heliocentrism", which is a dead giveaway that you are in the geocentrism or flat-earth camp, or at least have been influenced by them, for nobody today believes in "heliocentrism". Rather, the correct term is "geokinetics". We have spent many hours writing pages and pages of explanations for these things. Please read our material!

Start here: A flat earth, and other nonsense
F. G.
"There are many things [naturalism] cannot explain, even given billions of years."

It's important to keep this in mind. Billions of years would NOT make abiogenesis & evolution possible. Pretending there were billions of years merely makes them appear possible.
Aidan D.
Good Article Guys and Girls. God Bless All!

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