Re: appearance of age and the goodness of God

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Fri Mar 28 2003 - 15:00:13 EST

  • Next message: Jim Armstrong: "Re: appearance of age and the goodness of God"

    Hi, Jason,

    Here are some scattered thoughts on your pastor's argument.

    1. If the universe was created with an appearance of age when in fact it is
    very young, how could one verify this? One could just as readily assert
    that while the universe appears to be very old, it actually is much older
    than it appears, for the same reason, because God made it that way. The
    assertion that the universe is much younger than it appears is simply an ad
    hoc hypothesis, designed to justify, #2, below.

    2. Those who claim an appearance of age do so on the basis of a peculiar
    _interpretation_ of biblical texts, and in so claim this appearance they
    implicitly acknowledge the well-established claim that scientific analysis
    of data from nature show that the universe is very old. It is a fact that
    some YECs claim that there is scientific, natural evidence that the universe
    is young, but that is a different issue from the "appearance of age"
    argument. And if one brings the latter approach in, then why could one not
    use the "appearance of age" argument against them?

    3. The point at issue in your pastor's reasoning is the "If" clause. Since
    the universe appears to be much older than those who hold to the biblical
    interpretation (#2) believe it to be, but one cannot verify this belief if
    one concedes that indeed it does appear to be much older, then there is no
    way to turn the conditional clause into a declarative sentence, and your
    pastor's reasoning is an empty exercise: it begs the question, for _it has
    not be established_ that God created the universe with an appearance of age.
    It also begs the question, Why would God create a universe in such a way
    that it appears much older than it actually is?

    4. One could just as well argue that, since God is not only good,
    righteous, and holy, but is also the source of all truth, God would not
    create a universe with an appearance of age that would lead human beings
    (made in his image) into falsehood and error about the age of the universe,
    and that would nullify a good portion of the effort to understand God's
    creation. To do so would be for God to act against God's own nature as
    good, righteous, holy, and the source of truth.

    A final comment. The invocation of appearance of age by YECs such as Henry
    Morris seems to me to be in conflict with the sort of arguments that have
    been going back and forth on the ASA list presently. Bill Payne, David
    Campbell, Peter Ruest, Don Winterstein, Allen Roy and others have been
    either setting forth interpretations of scientific data that would argue for
    a young earth, or claiming that the interpretations are wrong and thus the
    arguments invalid. It appears that the YEC group are saying that they can
    have their cake and eat it too: if there is solid evidence that leads to
    the conclusion that the earth is old, well, when God created the young
    earth, he set all of the radioactive decay rates, etc., in such a way that
    they would appear to support a much greater age; or, on the other hand,
    there is scientific evidence that the earth is much younger than scientists
    claim, and we can prove it scientifically (though these arguments have been
    regularly shot down, as several on this list have pointed out).

    I think Henry Morris expressed the mentality that lies behind the YEC effort
    well to Ken Miller. Miller recounts that the morning following a debate
    with Morris in which Miller had laid out the evidence against Morris'
    arguments and Morris had not handled the critique well (to the delight of
    the science teachers there), Miller asked Morris if he could join him for
    breakfast. Morris agreed, and they talked. Miller asked Morris why he
    clung to his position, when it seemed to him (Miller) to be so untenable.
    One thing Morris said in reply was this: "Scripture tells us what the right
    conclusion is. And if science, momentarily, doesn't agree with it, then we
    have to keep working till we get the right answer. But I have no doubts as
    to what that answer will be" (_Finding Darwin's God_, p. 172-3). In other
    words, Morris will never accept any scientific conclusion that conflicts,
    not with Scripture, but with his interpretation of Scripture. I have to
    say, as I have written before, that I think this reasoning does a great
    disservice to Scripture as well as to science.

    Bob Schneider

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Friday, March 28, 2003 12:57 PM
    Subject: appearance of age and the goodness of God

    > Greetings,
    > My name is Jason Alley, and I am posting again after a long absence. My
    pastor and I were talking about the appearance of age argument recently, and
    I was telling him that to believe that God created a young creation that
    bore the marks of an ancient one would be deceptive, and God does not
    deceive. I told him that God, on the contrary, invites us to know him and
    seek him out through the natural world (Job, Romans 1, etc), and that this
    invitation would not make sense if we would arrive at wrong conclusions by
    so doing. My pastor then countered with an interesting comment that I had
    not yet considered. I was wondering if any of you had considered the
    > God is good by nature, and whatever he does, if he does it, is good. God
    is incapable of evil actions. When God does something in our lives or in
    the world that we might think of as wrong, evil, or bad, we are in error.
    God is unable to act in this way. If we think that he has, we must remember
    that he is the standard of rightness and holiness. We are flawed. Whatever
    he does, it is, because of his nature, perfect and right. Therefore, if God
    did create with an appearance of age, that action is not deceptive or wrong,
    as it is an action of the perfectly righteous God. Even if it is deceptive,
    that deception is not wrong; it is righteous.
    > What are your thoughts?

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