Re: My Daughter is a YEC

From: george murphy (
Date: Sun May 26 2002 - 14:12:19 EDT

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             The wine from Cana (& other NT miracles) has been appealed to
    several times
    as an attempt to justify the notion of apparent age in creation. It
    doesn't work.
    Permit me to bury it with appropriate
    honors. For simplicity I stick with Cana & the 1st Genesis creation account.

             1. There is ample evidence that the 4th Gospel is set in the early 1st
    century in Palestine, & thus that the wedding at Cana took place
    around A.D. 30. (I
    waive for the time being any questions about the historicity of
    Jn.2.) I.e., we know
    the age of the wine which was made from water. We know no such thing
    for the things
    created in Gen.1. In fact the whole debate is about how to date the
    heavens & the
    earth, plants & animals of the past, &c, questions that involve the
    interpretation of
    the Genesis text and of later parts of the Bible which might link it with known
    historical events. Thus the two situations are not analogous.
             2. We don't have any of the wine from Cana & aren't likely
    to find any.
    When a certain amount of H20 (with a little D20) was converted in
    C2H5OH, what were
    the isotopic proportions of C14 and C12 in the ethanol? What age
    would carbon dating
    have given for this wine. We don't know. It begs the question to say that the
    C14/C12 ratio would have been the same as for any other wine made in
    Galilee that
             3. The assumption that Vernon seems to make below & that is
    tacitly made by
    others who use this argument is that the change of water to wine involved a
    conversion of water to wine in a way that simply violates the laws
    describing natural
    processes. We don't know this to be the case. If, as I have
    suggested before (& for
    which there is considerable support in the Jewish & Christian
    traditions) miracles
    are better thought of as extremely rare natural processes whose
    possibility God had
    put into creation then the very lack of understanding of these
    processes whiich makes
    us label them "miracle" makes it impossible to know what the apparent
    age of the
    miraculous wine would have been.
             4. Creation in the beginning is described by Vernon as a
    "miracle" but some
    care is needed with this. Certainly the existence of the universe -
    i.e., anything
    other than God - is not something that the laws describing the inner
    workings of the
    universe itself can account for. In that sense the fundamental act
    of creation is a
    "miracle". But there is no reaon to hold that all the creative
    events spoken of in
    Genesis 1 are to be understood as "miraculous". In fact, Genesis 1
    describes the
    origin of plants & animals as being from the waters & the earth, in
    accord with God's
    command - i.e., mediated creation. (I have pointed this out
    repeatedly on this list
    & hate to belabor the point but obviously there are some who just
    don't get it.)
    There is absolutely nothing in Genesis 1 or anywhere else in the
    Bible to make us say
    that life is a miracle.
             5. The event at Cana is called a "sign". It points to the
    presence of the
    creator in Jesus - i.e., the one who gives wine all the time by
    natural processes
    does it here in some more dramatic fashion.
    (Cf. point 3.) Creation itself clearly is not a "sign" in the same way.
             6. I wonder if anytone really believes the apparent age
    argument. It always
    seems to be used as a final fallback position when all the other arguments -
    questions about radioactive debating, constancy of the speed of
    light, &c &c - have
    failed. If people really believed the apparent age argument they'd
    cheerfully agree
    that radioactive dating, supernovas, the expansion of ther universe
    &c all really do
    seem to give old ages for the earth & the universe & would say up
    front that that
    doesn't matter because all these ages are only apparent. Instead
    they're continually
    coming up with arguments to try to show that there's scientific
    evidence for a young
    earth & universe, a procedure that would make no sense if the ages were only
    apparent. It's only when these scientific arguments fail that they
    fall back on
    apparent age - which is why I called it a counsel of desperation.
             7. As for apparent age being "a thorn in the flesh of the Christian
    evolutionist" - the only pain it inflicts is that of having to waste
    time pointing
    out what's wrong with it.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

    Vernon Jenkins wrote:

    > George,
    > You wrote in part:
    > > 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.
    > In drawing attention to the 'water into wine' miracle, I believe Walt has
    > effectively
    > refuted this charge. Indeed, it is clear that the outcome of many
    >of the Lord's
    > miracles involved an element of 'apparent age' - as, for example,
    >the fragments
    > of
    > bread gathered up following the feeding of the 5000, the healed
    >limbs and their
    > accompanying muscle tissue and tendons, the eyes of the once blind
    > and so on.
    > Were these miracles performed with deception in mind? Surely not
    >(though we would
    > have to admit that a pedantic analyst might be misled by them!). Would you
    > therefore
    > not agree that, once one accepts the principle of miracle, then the
    > of 'apparent age'
    > surely follows?
    > What then of the miracle of creation? God has provided an account of the
    > unfolding of this event along with a timescale. Thus He can hardly
    >be accused of
    > a deliberate deception if current observation and deduction (based
    >on particular
    > assumptions) lead men to conclude otherwise. Surely it has then
    >become a matter
    > of _self-deception_ fuelled by unbelief on their part.
    > You continue:
    > > 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
    > > creation seriously.
    > George, I have argued that 'apparent age' is a necessary outcome of certain
    > types of miracle - which include the miracle of creation. It is
    >therefore hardly
    > a 'counsel of desperation' for those of my persuasion, but rather a truth
    > which is clearly demonstrated in the Scriptures and one that is - and
    > ever will be - a thorn in the flesh for the Christian evolutionist.
    > Shalom,
    > Vernon

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