Re: [asa] How to respond to a YEC's version of "science"

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Sat Jan 10 2009 - 19:24:08 EST

> "Those who assert that 'the earth moves and turns'...[are] motivated by 'a
> spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;' possessed by the
> devil, they aimed 'to pervert the order of nature.'"- John Calvin

This is at best a distortion if not completely fictitious. Calvin
once did cite acceptance of heliocentrism as one of many balmy ideas
endorsed by an individual that he disagreed with theologically (I
don't have it at hand but Davis Young's book on Calvin and the natural
world has details). However, Calvin never made much of heliocentrism.
 In his commentary on Genesis, he recognized that a literal
interpretation as scientific text conflicted with what was known
astronomically and argued that Moses wrote for a general audience of
ordinary Israelites, whereas astronomers try to work out scientific

It's also worth remembering that tact was not Galileo's strongest
point, and that the scientific establishment didn't like his challenge
to Aristotelian theories.

I would take up the claim that AiG et al. are doing science properly.

First of all, investigation of the physical world is possible because
it behaves predictably according to the laws God made-it's not the
product of blind chance, nor are there rival gods or chaos monsters to
disrupt things, nor are the forces of nature supernatural entities
with purposes of theri own. It is also possible because He made us to
be stewards of creation. That's what Gen. 1 is really about, not
about the time of creation.

How should we go about doing science? We should obey the moral law.
As for any sort of employment/calling, we should do work of good
quality, which will make a good impression on others (cf. all the
passages instructing slaves, I Peter on good wives, etc.)

The first thing we should ask about a given scientific claim is not
"does it support my position on the age of the earth/evolution/moral
issues/etc.?" but "is it done well?" Young earth stuff is usually
incoherent idle slander of conventional science, though there are a
handful of people who actually do some research. Probably the best
way to approach this is to find young-earth criticisms of young-earth
claims or to take up a point irrelevant to the age of the earth
(Wile's denial that second-hand smoke is bad for you, based in large
part on the assumption that lung cancer is the only risk from smoking;
Johnson and Wells denying that HIV causes AIDS; the ICR claim that
Venus appears too young that started off by claiming that it rains
molten lead on Venus-in fact, it's hot enough to melt lead and it
rains sulfuric acid; Setterfield claiming that the speed of light is
decreasing based on the false claim that Roemer measured it as faster
than today in the 1670's when in fact he calculated it to be about 25%
slower; etc.).

In Hebrew, the most common meaning of day is "not night", i.e., from
sunrise to sunset. Yom may actually mean longer periods of time more
often than 24 hour periods, though there are a number of apparently
ambiguous usages (e.g., "many yom" for a period of multiple years is
also many 24 hour periods) and I don't know how those were dealt with
in the source saying that long periods of time is a more common
meaning than 24 hours. YEC exegesis generally has problems of
accuracy, too.

Most seriously, claiming that you have to accept YEC or ID or whatever
to be a Christian is a grave theological error, comparable to
requiring circumcision.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Sat Jan 10 19:24:58 2009

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