>(2) Presume the universe and earth are very old, (based on vast distances in the universe, radiometric dating and Actualism [Naturalistic Assumptions]).
This is a popular error, closely conforming to that initially criticized by Howard Van Til.
The definitions of acutalism, uniformitarianism, etc. vary somewhat. Actualism has been used to refer solely to reconstructing past conditions similar to modern ones, and thus is inapplicable to drastically different past conditions (e.g., conditions during and immediately after a major bolide impact, ecosystems before the Cambrian radiation). Uniformitarianism has been used to refer to strict constancy of most rates, as suggested by Lyell.
The assumption that the laws of nature were the same in the past as now is made on an ad hoc basis by philosophical naturalists. However, it is both justified by the Bible and a crucial assumption for Christianity. Creation should behave in an orderly manner because God created it, not a bunch of squabbling gods nor chance. God created us to rule over creation, so we must be able to understand its workings well enough to rule competently. These two considerations justify the assumption that we can study the present and reconstruct the past.
As the pun above hints, the consistency of natural law is particularly important for Christianity with regard to the resurrection. Unless dead people stay dead and always have done so naturally, then the resurrection could just be a freak of nature.
Thus, the Bible does not justify rejection of conclusions simply because they rely on extrapolation of natural laws into the past. God can work above natural laws, but does not usually do so.
Dr. David Campbell
Saint Mary's College of Maryland
18952 E. Fisher Road
St. Mary's City, MD 20686-3001 USA
email@example.com, 301 862-0372 Fax: 301 862-0996
"Mollusks murmured 'Morning!'. And salmon chanted 'Evening!'."-Frank Muir, Oh My Word!
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