[asa] FW: What if YECism were self-evident?

From: Jon Tandy <tandyland@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu Sep 21 2006 - 23:58:17 EDT

I have a hypothetical question that I'd like to pose, which concerns science
and its view of nature, regardless of the evidence for a young or old
It is widely acknowledged that the physical evidence points to an old earth,
while a simple reading of the scriptural text points to an immediate
creation by direct intervention by God (I realize there are many other
reasonable views on these topics, and I'm not debating those here). Many
scientific theories have proved to be reasonably accurate in describing and
predicting natural processes at work in the cosmos. The success of
naturalistic explanations (as well as the expressed philosophy of many
atheistic scientists that "nature is all there is") has strengthed the
position of many theists that science is at war with religion, and that
science is predisposed to accept only a philosophy of naturalism.
But what if the situation were different? What if the last 150 years of
geology and cosmology had not revealed such convincing evidence of an old
universe? What if the evidence for young-ness were so self-evident that
most scientists accepted this fact as a basis for their methodology? What
changes would this make in our practice of science today? Would this
eliminate the warfare between science and religion, between naturalistic and
supernaturalistic philosophies, or between atheism and theism? Would
philosophical naturalism be dead in such a world?
Certainly in many areas of science, there would be no impact at all. If the
earth existed in its present form, but with evidence of young age accepted
by the scientific community, work in many areas of physics, biology,
chemistry, and other fields of science would be exactly as it is now.
Studying the habitat of animals, or the trajectory of planets, or the
combination of chemicals would not necessarily be much affected by the age
of the earth question. Sub-disciplines such as paleo-biology would
certainly be affected in how they view the fossil record.
I would venture a guess that YEC theists would be viewed with a bit more
favor by the scientific community than they are today. Yet I believe that
science would still continue to investigate, hypothesize, and seek for
natural explanations where possible to explain both present processes as
well as origins. Even though theism would probably be more "alive and well"
within scientific circles than it is today, I don't believe this situation
would eliminate the warfare between philosophical naturalism and theistic
I'm thinking of several examples where science currently accepts, or has
eagerly proposed, natural explanations for origins questions which for
others have been simply answered with, "God did it." In a world where the
evidence clearly pointed to a young earth, methodological naturalism could
still lead scientists propose such things as:
-- a version of "Big Bang" theory, where the universe comes spontaneously
into existence out of nothing, 10,000 years ago, as a singularity which we
can't mathematically explain (sound familiar to today's Big Bang theory?)
-- a cyclical universe, where the universe could pop into existence,
disappear, and reappear endless times
-- a wormhole theory, where matter from one universe that disappears into a
wormhole comes out another in fully assembled form
-- a collision of "branes", or parallel universes, which gives rise to
immediate, spontaneous existence of matter
-- naturalistic flood theories which postulate a means by which atmospheric
vapor and/or underground reservoirs could have been catastrophically
released on the earth several thousand years ago
-- theories of biological evolution by which rapid mutations could occur
over several thousands of years, leading to the present diversity of species
through natural means
-- In short, any number of other theories which could explain a young
universe, without relying on a theistic philosophy of "God created", could
be proposed by those with a scientific philosophy intent on trying to
explain all things through natural means.
Certainly in this hypothetical universe, it would be possible that some of
these theories could be falsified, and the dynamics of the debate would be
different from now. But I believe there is something in the current mindset
of science which is inherently at war with religion, and trying to expand
its own domain through naturalistic explanations. Not that science as a
field of study is wrong in itself or that all such explanations are false or
bad, but proponents of science over the last 300 years have tended strongly
toward expanding the domain of the "natural".
C.S. Lewis in "The Abolition of Man" draws a parallel between the role of
magic and science which developed during the 16th and 17th centuries,
calling them "twins" born out of the same desire to subdue reality to the
wishes of man. Science won over magic, because it worked whereas magic
didn't, but the underlying desire was the same -- control over nature. As
science was able to "weigh and measure" everything, it gradually removed
things from the supernatural to the natural realm (i.e. stars were no longer
seen as heavenly bodies, but as massive nuclear reactors). The mystical
view of previous ages which saw something of a divine nature revealed
through trees and stars and the creation itself was replaced by an
analytical view of reality which, Lewis argues, lost something of its true
reality. He argues against this view's logical conclusion, which is that
naturalists are trying to reduce man himself, along with reason and
morality, to mere nature and chance. He also argues that science isn't
necessarily the culprit, that it's possible for science to redeem itself if
it can recover something of the wonder of this greater "reality".
It was Lewis' thoughts that led me to pose the question in this post. If
philosophical naturalism would still be possible (and perhaps thrive) in a
world where the age of the universe wasn't in dispute, does this provide any
insights for the present situation on how to better view the role of
science, or how to discourse with young-earth creationists or old-earth
atheists? Does this provide a valuable illustration that the age of the
earth is not the important issue, but rather the clash between philosophies?
Jon Tandy

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Received on Thu Sep 21 23:59:29 2006

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