Walter Hicks wrote:
> We might be thinking of the same person if it was on another list. The
> claim that I heard, and it actually has some merit is as follows:
> The universe was created, via Jesus, for man -- if we accept a simple
> interpretation of the Gospel of John. That being given, there really is
> no necessity for God to force all of the 15 Billion years to pass by in
> order to arrive at the point of introducing mankind into the universe.
> In short, He starts the clock ticking several thousands of years ago
> with all the history in place. Somewhat like a programmer might do it
> setting up the background for a simulation or a theatre in setting the
> scenery for a play.
> It seemed to me to be a theory that would hold water for even Glenn --
> at least prior to Adam. I could never find any scientific or
> philosophical reason to discount it. I'm certain others can!
This idea has been discussed by philosophers under the name
"Russell's paradox" - e.g., Malcolm Acock, "The Age of the Universe",
Philosophy of Science 50, 1983, 130. The fact that it was suggested by
Bertrand Russell shows that it's independent of attempts to defend the
Bible. The point is that there is no philosophical or scientific way of
showing that the universe didn't come into being at some point in the recent
past - 6000 years, 15 minutes, or whatever - with all necessary data,
including human memories consistent with a much older universe.
This idea of "apparent age" was developed in detail in the 19th
century by Gosse as a way of reconciling evolution and the Bible. I believe
John Burgeson has a review of Gosse's book at his website.
The fundamental objection to apparent age, whether in its
philosophical or religious guise, is theological - it makes God the creator
of an illusion or, more pointedly, a hoax. The evidence in the world around
us which leads to truth about the world when we explore our immediate
surroundings, leads to falshood when we try to explore the distant past, for
that distant past didn't really exist.
Those who try to defend the apparent age idea argue that if the
universe was created instantaneously as a fully functioning world then it
_must_ have had apparent age - tree rings in treees &c. Such an argument
may have had some plausibility in Gosse's time but it doesn't today. Our
present understanding of cosmology suggests - with some confirmation - ways
in which things could have come about _without_ such an appearance. & of
course that's just what evolutionary theory does for biology.
The apparent age idea cannot be refuted scientifically. Neither can
the idea that any physical phenomenon we don't understand is brought about
by invisible demons. But apparent age in a religious context is a counsel
of desperation and should be rejected by anyone who takes the doctrine of
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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