A common question among both Christians and non-Christians, especially in the US, is whether the Big Bang and multi-billion-year age of the universe contradicts the Bible. There is a broad range of opinion on this subject among committed Bible-believing Christians. In many people’s minds “science and the Bible” means this topic (plus evolution), so this book cannot be complete without discussing it.
Many Christians are convinced that the Bible says, in Genesis 1 and elsewhere, that God created the entire universe in six 24-hour days less than 10,000 years ago. This is called “recent creation(ism),” “young-earth creationism,” “strict creationism,” “literal creation,” or “scientific creationism.” It is considered by its advocates to be the only truly “literal interpretation” of the Biblical creation account, and also the Flood account. They link it to many other essentials of the faith, and consider it an essential, crucial, inextricable linchpin of the entire Christian faith.
In ch. 6, I, are listed the basic scientific evidences that seem to indicate that the universe is about 15,000,000,000 years old, and the Earth just under 5,000,000,000. More are listed in II, C below. So this is a direct conflict between (recent-creationist) theology and science (not between the Bible and nature; see ch. 5, I, F). They disagree by six zeroes. Which one is wrong? Have we misunderstood the Bible or nature? Or is the Bible itself actually wrong about this?
Though I have not made it my career, my background in atmospheric science and astronomy makes me especially qualified, interested, and unable to avoid the subject. But I do not wish this discussion to be merely pitting my opinions and qualifications against others’. In some cases that is unavoidable. But in most cases it is a matter of recent-creationists’ own contradictory statements, and an appeal to the reader’s common sense.
If you have read the rest of this book first, and not jumped directly to this chapter, you know I am firmly committed to the inerrancy of Scripture including its teaching about God’s creative work. Ch. 6, sec. I and II discuss God’s creation of the universe and living things respectively. I reject an evolutionary origin of living things on Earth, and accept a time-span of billions of years, and the Big Bang origin of the universe. So my doubts about recent creation are not based on acceptance of evolution, nor on any anti-scriptural or anti-supernatural bias, nor on a desire or hope to gain the acceptance of the scientific community. I have no professional scientific career to protect. I am striving in good conscience to find a conclusion consistent with all the truth of which I am aware, in keeping with the principles in ch. 5, I, F.
My comments refer mostly to the prominent leaders, speakers, and writers who propagate the recent-creation viewpoint. Their followers are sincerely convinced by their arguments. I was brought up on recent creation myself, and was once a convinced follower. That and the gap theory were then the only options in circulation among evangelical believers. But as I learned more about God’s creation, beginning when I was in college in the mid-1960s, I gradually, and painfully, realized the purported evidences and reasons had many serious errors. I thank the Lord that this was not my sole, or even primary, basis of faith in the Bible, and that I slowly worked out a satisfactory alternative in the 70s and 80s. But it was not easy, and I found no books that provided one, though many books had helpful contributions. Many other people were also dissatisfied with anything they could find, and asked me if I could recommend something better, but I could not. I had neither the time nor the ability to write something better myself. Finally beginning in the late 80s some books were published which came to the same conclusion I had, and a few were published earlier but somehow had not gained wide enough circulation to come to my attention. In the 90s it became a rapidly growing movement.
This raises an embarrassing dilemma of identification. How should we label ourselves? Are we creationists? That label has come to be associated with the young-earth position, because that is what they call themselves, so it will cause misunderstanding if we call ourselves creationists. Yet we are unwilling to concede that label to them alone, but there is not yet a generally-accepted alternative term. So in the following discussion I must expend considerable extra ink and paper, and usually refer to them by the full label “recent-creationist,” not merely “creationist.”
Unfortunately this has become a point of considerable tension and conflict among Christians all of whom are aiming to serve and honor the Lord. Accusations fly both directions, of unfaithfulness to Scriptural principles and ignorance or dishonesty about scientific facts. My criticism of recent creation has even strained two of my own most treasured friendships, and introduced strain in many other acquaintances. This is sad.
When the subject of recent creation comes up, some Christians are amazed to think that anyone could even claim to believe the Bible and doubt recent creation. But other equally committed Bible-believing Christians, including career missionaries, respond “Does anyone still believe that?” So there are several isolated worlds even within the evangelical Christian community. Those who are unaware of this subject need to be aware of the issues that are of such great concern to so many others.
To whom am I writing? First, to convinced recent-creationists. Very few of them will change their opinion if they read this. The recent-creationist movement will not come to an end because of my comments. But I hope those who read this will at least be clearer on the issues and facts involved.
Secondly, to confused Christians, searching for the truth, and wondering what and whom to believe and how to answer questions for their friends and children. I hope to help them clarify what the facts are, so as to draw a conclusion with which they can feel satisfied. Of course, if the purported basis of recent creation, and rejection of the Big Bang, is found to be invalid, then it might be reasonable not to believe it, but that is the reader’s own personal decision. As for the Big Bang, it is a scientific theory, and will with time stand or fall on its own scientific merits. Our faith in the Bible need not become dependent on it.
Thirdly, to offended non-Christians, who are convinced by Christians, who ought to know, that the Bible teaches recent creation. They feel that this is irreconcilable with many facts about nature, and therefore they cannot believe the Bible. They are unconvinced by recent-creationists’ attempt to resolve this conflict by reinterpreting the facts of nature. I hope to remove this stumbling-block for them, by providing an alternative interpretation of the Bible, and I hope that they will then decide to place their faith in the Bible and its Lord.
Most non-Christians resolve the conflict by saying the Bible must be wrong and science must be right, and thus this is a major and genuine stumbling-block in the way of their deciding to trust the God of the Bible. Many conservative Christians resolve this conflict by saying the Bible (to be precise, this interpretation) must be right, and therefore science must be wrong about the Big Bang and the age of the universe. They claim to have found much scientific evidence in support of their position, and they accuse the scientific community of bias if not outright dishonesty. Many other Christians are caught in the middle, believing they see errors in both evolution and recent creation. But they have no better solution, and their own faith in the Bible and courage in sharing the gospel is seriously weakened. We must deal with this problem.
Some people have advised me to simply avoid the subject, or to say less about it, so as not to offend my Christian brothers and sisters who are committed to recent-creationism. That is a valid point, but I have yet to see it balanced with an equally necessary concern for so many others who are offended by the flaws of recent-creationism. They are important too. I doubt any recent-creationist’s relationship with the Lord will be damaged by my comments, but many people’s relationship with the Lord seems to have suffered damage due to recent-creationism. More about this in II, A on the results of recent-creationism.
The most influential center of the recent-creation movement is the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), near San Diego, California, whose founder and unchallenged dominant leader is Dr. Henry Morris. His son, Dr. John Morris, has succeeded him to the leadership of ICR. The movement includes many regional creationist centers in the US, and the Creation Research Society with its publication, The Creation Research Society Quarterly. There is a creationist organization in Australia, which produces the popular quarterly Creation Ex Nihilo, and also a related technical journal. Creationist organizations have been established in several other countries, with an especially large one in Korea. There were large creationism conferences in the US in 1990, 1994, and 1998. There have been several hundred books, videotape and audio-tape series, and thousands of training institutes, lectures, radio programs, and debates throughout the US and many other countries, especially beginning in the 1960s. The movement has historical roots long before that, but that is beyond the scope of this book.
One life is too short to read all of the literature recent-creationists have produced; I have read what seem to be the most representative and influential ones. I attended the 5-day Summer Institute at ICR in 1980 and 1995.
A major segment of the evangelical, or conservative, Christian community has enthusiastically endorsed the recent-creationist movement as an essential aspect of the defense of the faith. This includes many independent churches, such as Dr. James Kennedy’s (Evangelism Explosion) Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, and Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel in southern California. It includes some entire denominations, the largest of which is the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. It includes Bob Jones University, Liberty University, and many smaller educational institutions, plus several home-schooling curriculum producers including the widely used A Beka. The Institute of Basic Life Principles, led by Bill Gothard, advocates the recent-creationist viewpoint. Individual supporters of recent-creationism include Dr. Woodrow Kroll, the third leader of Back to the Bible Broadcast. These are all outstandingly good people with a wide and blessed ministry. The recent-creation movement has a far-reaching beneficial influence. What are we to think of it?
The following is not a “vicious attack on recent creation,” though its advocates feel like it is. I have been told that I am hypercritical and disdainful toward recent-creationists, and they must be thick-skinned to talk to me. All I can do is let the reader judge whether this is true. As discussed later, recent-creationists are less than complimentary toward those who do not agree with them. I do not intend to take that as an excuse for responding in kind; the Bible forbids that (Rom. 12:14-21, etc.) and in morals in general two negatives do not make a positive. Whether this chapter is vicious and disdainful, and whether it is true, are two separate questions.
My objective is not to prove that recent creation is false, nor that any particular alternative such as the Big Bang is true. My focus is not on recent creation, but on the case usually presented for it. I simply point out many things that do not make sense. I aim to discourage the propagation of false information and logic in connection with recent-creationism, present one possible alternative, and thus help many people, both Christian and non-Christian, relieve the “Bible vs. science” tension they presently feel. This is neither vicious nor an attack. The leaders have had abundant opportunity to reconsider and revise these deficiencies in their presentations. I wrote my first letter to recent-creationist authors in 1972, and have written many since, and received replies that mostly missed the points I raised. Many others, including some who accept recent creation, have also tried in various ways to communicate similar concerns to them.
There are details that I still haven’t solved, particularly in geology. Some recent-creationists have chided me for criticizing some aspects of their position when I don’t have a better one yet, and they say I should at least give them credit for trying. They seem to be saying any answer is better than none, though no one would say it that explicitly. But we should be able to live with some unanswered questions; that is better than propagating answers that are false. You don’t have to open your own restaurant before you are entitled to point out that there is poison in someone else’s food.
I What recent creation is: An introductory summary
I begin with a summary of the recent creation position and the basis frequently given for it. This is condensed from my memory of many books, periodicals, and lectures. I do not have the time or resources to track down a source for every detail, and that is not necessary. After this introductory summary, I discuss it carefully. This approach requires quite a bit of flipping pages back and forth, but an uninterrupted presentation is the only way to do justice to the full recent-creationist position and its supporting arguments. I am trying to present it as fairly and favorably as possible, just as its advocates do. I am not intentionally distorting or caricaturing it. The reader will have to judge whether I have succeeded. We all have more important things to do than knock down straw men.
Any individual recent-creationist would disagree with some details in this summary, but it represents a broad basic consensus in the creationist movement. It at least represents recent creation as it has been and still is widely publicized in the last few decades.
There are three main aspects of the basis given for recent creation: the Biblical basis, the scientific basis, and the scientific objections to long time periods and the Big Bang.
I should state in advance that my conclusion is that nearly all of this basis given for recent creation is either factually false, logically fallacious, or irrelevant (which could be included under fallacious). I can’t quite say I don’t believe a word of it, but it is extensively and fatally flawed.
A The Biblical basis of recent creationGenesis 1 and 2, and references to creation throughout the rest of the Bible, clearly state that the entire physical universe was created from nothing in 6 consecutive 24-hour days, not much more than 6000 years ago. The first two verses, the creation of the heavens and Earth, are included in the first day. There are many arguments against placing a long gap between this initial creation and the following six days, some of which will be mentioned later. One is that the account specifically states that the Sun, Moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day. This also means that, without the Sun, the source of day and night in the first three days must have been a God-ordained special light source.The length of the days of creation
The word translated “day” in this account must mean a 24-hour time period. The Hebrew word “yom” also has other meanings referring to a longer time period. There are several hundred other places in the Old Testament where “yom” is used with a number, and in all of them the context clearly indicates that it means a simple solar day, so that must be what it means in Gen. 1 and 2. The account refers repeatedly to “evening and morning,” which should clarify the definition beyond question. Furthermore, in Exodus 20:11 and 31:15 it is referred to in connection with the Ten Commandments, using God’s example of working six days and then resting as the precedent for our work week and day of rest. If it is applied to our literal days, then the example must have been literal days.
The Bible contains no hint of any long ages, and they are therefore incompatible with Scripture and could only come from motivations other than sound Bible interpretation.Literal interpretation, Scriptural perspicuity, and authority
This is simply following the principle of literal interpretation of the text. If all this is not enough to make it clear that God meant literal 24-hour days, what would be enough? Is God not able to say what He means? Can’t we believe what He says? There are other Hebrew words which He could have used, and surely would have, if He meant longer periods. We must believe God means what He says. This is the clear apparent meaning of this passage and many other references to creation, so this must be what God meant us to believe. This is the doctrine of “perspicuity of Scripture,” (Ch. 5, I, F) which states that its message is meant to be plain to common people, not obscure to all but a selected few who are enlightened and/or educated.
Orthodox Christian belief through the last two thousand years has been overwhelmingly on the side of a recent date of creation, with only a few exceptions, which can be attributed to the influence of Greek philosophy. Would God let so many people misunderstand it for so long?
The unanimous opinion of present-day university scholars of ancient Hebrew language and culture is that the Genesis account means literal days, not longer time periods. These scholars are experts on the subject, and are mostly neither Christian nor Jewish, therefore objective in their opinion on interpretation.
The leaders of the Protestant Reformation emphasized the principle of “sola scriptura,” the Bible alone, as the authority for faith. We must not allow this to be overturned by the popular concept of “two books” of revelation, placing the written Word and the created world on equal status, or “natural theology” which claims to find all necessary truth in the created world apart from verbal revelation. There is undeniably both general and special revelation, but general revelation must not be allowed to overrule or replace special revelation, or else the Bible becomes superfluous and meaningless. Science must be considered only after, and subject to, conclusions which are derived from the text of Scripture alone. Scientific facts must be interpreted in light of Biblical revelation.
Scientific theories come and go. There have been other theories of the origin of the universe before the Big Bang, and sooner or later it too will be replaced. Already there are scientific objections to it, and alternative theories proposed. Our faith in the Bible must not be tied to any particular scientific theory, especially not one about origins.
Unobserved long ages are incomprehensible and meaningless. Who can understand billions of years? The primary motivation for this concept in science is the theory of evolution of living things, which would require long time periods, but is clearly ruled out by a recent creation. Therefore recent creation more directly demonstrates God’s power and thus confirms His existence, much more so than a long slow process of formation and development.The concept of long ages is evolutionary and naturalistic, compromising, accommodating
There are many Biblical and theological objections specifically to the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. It assumes an infinite universe, which conflicts with the concepts of the sovereignty and transcendence of God. Any kind of process is an evolutionary concept, a naturalistic, atheistic model developed and advocated by scientists who reject God and the Bible. They claim that the Big Bang theory denies God’s involvement and power, excluding God from any active role in the process, and allows long ages in which naturalistic biological evolution could produce living things on Earth. A Christian and an atheist can give the same account of the development of the universe and the solar system from a Big Bang; it does not require God. It is an attempt to evade the obvious working of God, which is inescapable in a recent-creation model. Pagan religions from ancient times have taught a long-age evolutionary origin of the universe and living things. In modern times Darwinian evolution is the key basis and source of the horrors of Marxist communism and Nazism, and the evil movements advocating sexual freedom, abortion, pornography, violence, and euthanasia.
All attempts to introduce long time periods into the Biblical account are motivated by an acceptance of the authority of science over Scripture, which leads to interpreting Scripture so as to make it conform to the opinions of the scientific world. No one ever even thought of such an interpretation before scientists began talking about greater ages of the universe. This is a serious error, compromising and accommodating to those who reject God, seeking to win their favor. The attempt has failed totally, being scorned by leading non-Christian scientists. It casts doubts on the Bible’s authority, and this has been a key step in many former Christian believers’ total loss of faith in God’s word, power, and presence. Many who remain Christians are much weakened in their faith and witness. Those who attempt to interpret the Bible in this way also commit other serious errors in principles of interpretation. The most serious and influential example of this is in the materials of Hugh Ross and his organization, Reasons to Believe. He also teaches such errors as death before sin and a local Flood.
Creation evangelism, based on the literal authority of the Bible, has been widely fruitful in restoring many Christians’ faith in God from the damaging influence of evolutionary teaching, and in bringing unbelievers to place their faith in God.
There are many things in the universe which seem to require a process of development spanning much more than, say, 10,000 years. Many of these can in fact be re-interpreted within that time interval (see below). Those that cannot be interpreted in this way must be considered as examples of “created age” or “apparent age.” Creation is by definition instantaneous, and must produce a “fully formed and functioning” entity, whether a universe or a living organism. Thus apparent age is an inherent aspect of divine creation. If the possibility of creation is not accepted, then these created things and their characteristics can only be explained in terms of an assumed process of development, because that is how all subsequent things are produced. But in the case of the first created objects, this process did not actually occur. Examples of this include Adam, who must have been a mature adult at his first conscious moment, and the wine, bread, and fish made by Jesus.Created or apparent age
This appearance of age is not deception, since it is the only possible way to create such things, and God has clearly told us in the Bible what actually happened. Also, it is only the speeding up of the usual processes by which God now produces new things, such as bodies, wine, bread, and fish.
“Creation” is by definition a unique event, unlike the pattern of physical cause and effect with which are now surrounded, and which is the subject of scientific research. Creation must be something from nothing, and could only be instantaneous, not a process. This is described by the terms “fiat,” meaning “decree,” and “ex nihilo,” Latin for “from nothing.” The Hebrew verb “bara” is used in the Bible only in reference to God’s work, never with a human subject of the verb. It does not in itself always mean fiat ex nihilo creation, but that is clearly the meaning of the context in Genesis 1. It is the only way a universe could begin, and living things, including their complex systems. It is the only way Jesus’ conception and resurrection could have occurred, and also changing water to wine (for the wedding Jesus attended in Cana) or multiplying bread and fish (to feed the five thousand and the four thousand), and an individual’s moment of conversion and new spiritual life. This is the pattern of God’s creative work.
To reject this possibility is to deny the creative power of God. All estimates of long past ages are of necessity based on observation of the present and projected into the unobserved past. This requires the uniformitarian assumption: uniformity of rates, processes and laws throughout those long time periods, thus explicitly ruling out any miraculous intervention by God. The Bible says there has been such intervention, invalidating such speculation about the past. Science can only observe the present and repeatable operation of the universe, not its past, especially its unique unrepeatable origin. History is unobserved, so it is not science. God was there at the beginning; we were not. So we must simply accept His eye-witness account of the beginning. He has told us what He did.
In reference to creation, there are many statements throughout the Bible relating it to “the word of the Lord,” or “God said.” This means it was done instantly, not gradually. Ps. 33:6, 9; 148:5; Isa. 48:13; Heb. 11:3; II Pet. 3:5, 6, etc.
In a closely related point of Bible teaching, the Bible directly links the origin of the human race with the origin of the universe, including statements by Jesus Himself referring to human events “since the foundation of the world,” or “from the beginning of creation.” Mt 13:35; 19:14; 24:21; 25:34; Mk. 10:16; 13:19; Lk. 1:70; 11:50; Acts 3:21; Rom. 1:20; Heb. 1:10; 4:3; I Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8; 17:8. This is another reason to reject any long ages before Adam, or a gap between Gen. 1:1, 2 and the first day.
The Bible also teaches that the universe will end in an instant. Mt. 24:35; Mk. 13:31; Lk. 21:33; 2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 21:1; etc. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that it began in an instant.
Some Christians try to reconcile the Bible with the long ages of geology by equating the days of Genesis with the ages, the “day-age” viewpoint. This conflicts with the many indications in the text that the days were not long ages.Day-age and gap theories
There have been many versions of the “gap theory,” one of the most widely circulated being that of C. I. Scofield early in the 20th century, in his famous Scofield Bible notes. This theory proposes that Gen. 1:1 refers to an initial creation, which was destroyed when Satan rebelled and was cast out of heaven to Earth. This is how the Earth became “without form and void,” 1:2, and is also the source of the rocks and fossils. The six days were then a re-creation of this damaged world. This theory is no longer so widely held, so need not be criticized in detail here. Its Biblical base is at best dubious and largely speculative.
Another major objection to the concept of long geological ages before Adam is the Bible’s clear teaching that death is the result of Adam’s sin, Rom. 5:12-19; 8:1-23; I Cor. 15:21,22. Also, in Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31, “God saw that it was good.” Is suffering, decay, and death good? Advocates of evolution have severely criticized the idea that God would have chosen such a long, wasteful, cruel process of trial and error to produce the present world. Such a concept of God is a stumbling-block in the way of trusting Him. Worst of all, if death is not the result of sin, then we do not need a Savior, and Jesus’ death was in vain. Thus this undermines the heart of the gospel. Atheists see this problem clearly, but it seems that many Christians do not.No death, decay, or suffering before Adam
In the original creation animals all ate plants; they were not carnivorous, Gen. 1:29, 30. Meat eating did not begin until after the Flood, Gen. 9:3. The Bible predicts a future “peaceable kingdom” heavenly state in which there will be no death or suffering, not even carnivorous animals, but even lions will be herbivorous, Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25; Ezek. 34:25; Hos. 2:18; etc. Thus this is the future ideal state, and also must have been the original created state.
This does raise some perplexing questions about when, after the initial creation, some animals became carnivorous, able to catch and digest animals instead of plants, and other animals became skilled in evading them. This involves major redesign of their digestive systems and entire bodies. But this is still of course no problem for the omnipotent God.
The primary fact cited as proof of a great age for the Earth, several billion years, is the existence of several miles of complex rock layers and fossils covering the land surface of the entire Earth. These however do not necessarily support that interpretation, in fact they are much better interpreted as the product of one or more catastrophic events, which need not be a long time ago. In fact the Bible account of the global Flood in Noah’s time requires such an interpretation. A global water catastrophe would necessarily reconstruct the surface of the Earth and be the dominant formative factor in its present appearance. To deny this is to deny the clear Biblical Flood account in Genesis, referred to numerous times elsewhere in the Bible. In fact the denial of God’s past judgment in the Flood leads to denial of His coming final judgment, 2 Pet. 3:3-5.The Flood of Noah, Flood geology, Ice Ages, and the vapor canopy
The Flood also explains the evidence of great Ice Ages in the past. There is clear evidence of great glaciers covering much of North America and Europe, and this is usually interpreted as indicating a long series of climatic fluctuations extending over at least many hundreds of thousands of years. This is one of many purported evidences that the age of the Earth is much larger than a few thousand years. Recent-creationist studies indicate that this long story can be telescoped into a single glacial episode during the few centuries immediately following the Flood, with heavy precipitation from the still-warm oceans.
One common suggestion of those who reject the Flood as the source of the rock layers is that the Flood was global but quiescent, leaving no visible trace. This is simply impossible, unimaginable. No observed example can be given in which large quantities of flowing water do not profoundly affect the land they cover. There are many examples of the tremendous power of rapidly flowing water.
Another suggestion is that the Flood was only local, not worldwide. This runs against many statements in the account referring to the “whole earth,” “under heaven,” all people and animals, etc. Also, if it was only regional, Noah would not have needed an Ark, but God could have instructed him and the animals, especially birds, simply to migrate out of the region affected.
Finally, God promised that He would never again destroy the world with a flood. There have been many devastating local floods in history since then, so either that Flood was not local or God has not kept His promise.
Another important concept in connection with the Flood is the pre-Flood vapor canopy. Gen. 1:7 refers to “the waters above the firmament,” and 2:5, 6 says there was no rain in the original world. Gen. 9:12-16 says that there had been no rainbow before the one Noah saw after the Flood. A layer of water vapor in the upper atmosphere would produce the uniform mild climate which existed throughout the Earth before the Flood, shield the Earth from damaging radiation and thus explain long pre-Flood lifetimes, and perhaps provide a significant part of the source of the Flood. This model has been developed in various ways; the most complete work, including computer model calculations, has been done by Jody Dillow in the 1970s, and since then by Larry Vardiman and his graduate students at ICR.
An indirect evidence against the long ages assumed in the standard geological viewpoint is the Bible’s descriptions of “behemoth” and “leviathan,” Job 40:15-41:34; see also 3:8; Ps. 74:14; 104:26; Isa. 27:1. These descriptions fit no known living creature, but describe large dinosaurs, so these must have been living at least until the time of Job, around 2000 BC, not already extinct for tens of millions of years before humans existed as evolutionists tell us. There are also many instances of aboriginal art and reports that closely fit dinosaur characteristics as late as the Middle Ages in Europe; there may still be a few in the deep ocean or jungle. Stories and descriptions of dragons in Europe and China closely resemble dinosaurs.Dinosaurs in Biblical and more recent history
B Scientific evidence for recent creationThis and the following section have some overlap, because evidence for recent creation is automatically evidence against long ages.
There are many evidences which point to an age far less than billions of years, even if not necessarily only a few thousand. While not directly confirming recent creation, they show that the popular model has fatal flaws which are not being acknowledged. The shorter the time period involved, the more reliable such estimates should be, less subject to additional perturbing factors. The scientific community in general gives undue emphasis to evidences which seem to indicate larger ages, and disregards these that indicate shorter ages.
First, there are some problems relating to the universe and its purported age of 15,000,000,000 years.
If the matter we can see in galaxy clusters is all there is, then its gravity is not sufficient to prevent the escape of the galaxies from the cluster; galaxies in clusters are moving so rapidly that they would disperse in far less than billions of years. The astronomy community’s assumption of, and search for, “missing mass” and “dark matter” is only an attempt to cover up this fact, based on the assumption that the clusters must be stable for billions of years, and therefore must contain far more matter than is visible.
Spiral galaxy arms would wind up and become indistinguishable in a few hundred million years, so the galaxies and therefore the universe can’t be that old or older.
Some star clusters are rapidly dispersing, once again unless we assume a lot of “missing mass.”
There are no known supernova remnants older than a few thousand years, even though they should remain visible for over one hundred thousand years.
There are many problems relating to the solar system and its purported age of 4,800,000,000 years:
The Sun is shrinking at such a rate that it could not have existed for billions of years. If it had, then a few billion years ago it would have been as large as the Earth’s orbit, and would have burned up the Earth.
Experiments to observe the flow of neutrinos from the fusion reaction at the center of the Sun have shown that there are only a third to a half of the expected number of neutrinos. Perhaps this indicates that the Sun is not in fact powered by fusion at its center, and its age is much less than the 4.5 billion years usually assumed.
The lifetime of short-period comets is much less than several billion years, so their existence now proves the solar system is not that old. Small objects in the solar system, such as comet nuclei, are careening in a pinball machine, in which they can have only one of two inevitable destinies: either collide with one of the larger bodies, or be deflected into an orbit which will depart from the solar system never to return. The same is true of meteoroids. Rings around planets also cannot last for billions of years, for other reasons. Comets are so conspicuous because of their large tail of evaporated ices escaping from the nucleus; eventually this will all be evaporated, also in much less than billions of years.
Astronomers are aware of these facts, and so they postulate a source of new comets, the Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt of small icy objects in the outer solar system beyond the planets. These have never been observed, but are merely assumed to exist to solve the problem of the existence of comets.
The small amount of meteor dust on the Moon and the Earth proves it has not been accumulating for several billion years. If it had, there would be a thick layer of dust on the Moon, and the astronauts would have sunk into it. That is why the first moon-lander spacecraft had huge pads on their feet. As the astronauts and earlier moon-lander spacecraft found, the surface of the Moon has less than an inch of fine dust. Also, there should be much more nickel in the crust of the Earth if meteors have been arriving for several billion years.
Moon mountains are slumping and would not retain their present height for billions of years.
The Moon is receding from the Earth about 4 cm/yr. At this rate it would be very near the Earth less than 4.8 billion years ago, so this conflicts with the usual estimate of the age of the solar system, including the Earth and Moon in its present form.
Natural oil and gas deposits are under high pressure, which would leak out far sooner than several hundred million years.
Ocean salts are accumulating at a rate that, compared with the present salt content, indicates an accumulation period much less than 4.5 billion years.
Sediments are accumulating on the ocean floor at a rate that indicates an accumulation time far less than 4.5 billion years.
Some continental mountains are rising at a rate that in 4.5 billion years would produce far larger and higher continents than we observe.
The continents are eroding at a rate that will reduce them to a flat plain in far less than 4.5 billion years.
Pleochroic haloes (explained in Robert Gentry’s book) in some rocks seem to indicate instant creation of those rocks in the solid form, not slow cooling from a molten state.
Finally, there are problems related specifically to the Earth, and therefore related to geology and geophysics.
There are several characteristics of the Earth that indicate an age far less than several billion years.
Carbon-14 in the atmosphere is being produced 30% faster than it is decaying; it is not in an equilibrium state. The half-life of carbon-14 is only about 5000 years, so the present condition is what result if the atmosphere started from no carbon-14 at all about 10,000 years ago. If the Earth and atmosphere have existed with little disturbance for many millions of years, then it should have long since reached precise equilibrium. This indicates it is not that old, or at least that a major disturbance has occurred in the last few thousand years. The Flood and sudden formation of large amounts of sedimentary carbonate rocks would be such a disturbance, removing most of the carbon from the atmosphere.
The geomagnetic field is at present decaying rapidly, reducing by a half every 1500 years, and therefore it could not have existed more than a few thousand years. It is produced by an electric current loop in the conducting iron-nickel core of the earth, and this current is steadily decreasing. The usual “dynamo” theory of generation of this current remains unconfirmed. There is no successful explanation of how the current and field could be produced or reversed. The strips of alternating magnetic polarity on the ocean floor and other locations are commonly interpreted as recording reversals of the magnetic field with time, at intervals of many ten thousand years. These strips are not as simple as they are usually described to be, and Flood geology gives an alternate explanation of their formation.
Helium escapes from the top of the atmosphere far more slowly than it is added from the surface of the Earth. It is produced primarily as alpha particles emitted by the uranium and thorium decay chains within the Earth, and then slowly diffuses to the surface. The present amount in the atmosphere would accumulate in only a few million years, indicating that it has not been accumulating for billions of years. The recent-creationist interpretation is therefore that nearly all the helium now in the atmosphere was created.
As for the Earth’s surface and geological structure, Flood geology is a far better explanation of many characteristics of the rock layers and fossils than the standard geological theory of long ages of slow formation. There are several Flood models currently under discussion. In addition to the well-known hydrological model, there has been an alternative model developed in the mid-90s. This model is based on Dr. John Baumgardner’s research on the interior structure of the Earth, as a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. That laboratory’s computer model shows the possibility of a runaway catastrophic subduction of the surface plates of the Earth, compressing the standard several-hundred-million-year scenario of continental drift into a brief upheaval which can be equated with the Biblical Flood year.
Some rock layers and landforms clearly indicate rapid catastrophic formation in volcanic activity and high-speed water-flow environments. Some are strangely folded and interlaced indicating deformation while they were all still fresh and soft, not long ages after some had formed and hardened. In fact the very existence of fossils is evidence of sudden burial, because an animal body will quickly decay if left in the open. This is what a catastrophic global Flood would produce: lots of mud and dead animals.
Geologists are gradually realizing some of these facts, and reinterpreting formations which were formally assumed to have formed slowly. In addition to recent-creationist geologists’ prodding, another influence has been the astronomical community’s insistent reminder that the Earth is subject to catastrophic impacts, and is not simply leading a safe uninterrupted existence free from outside interference.
Rock layers extend over wide areas. Two layers may be separated by an erosional surface in one location, but in another location these two layers are continuously connected by one or more intervening layers with no sign of an interruption. Thus the layers, most of which appear to have been formed rapidly, may be linked together into one great catastrophic event.
Geologists talk about three main types of boundaries between layers. These are called conformities, unconformities, and paraconformities. The latter refers to instances, which are quite common and widespread, where different layers appear to rest continuously one above another, with no evidence of a long time interruption, but according to dating by the fossils contained in them geologists assert that a long time interval occurred at that point. Such long times would surely leave some traces of erosion of the surface of the older layer. Surely a more reasonable conclusion is to disregard the dating based on fossils, thus greatly shortening the geological time scale.
A particularly significant type of paraconformity is where the fossils in the rocks above the boundary are considered to be older than those below, an inverted sequence. Geologists account for this as an “overthrust” in which horizontal movement has pushed one layer up on top of another. In some very small-scale cases this can be verified by further field study, but it is incredible in cases where the upper layers are many hundreds of feet thick, the distance supposedly traveled is a hundred miles or more, and the boundary surface is smooth and clean with nosigns of cracking and grinding during all this assumed motion. These cases should be interpreted as evidence against the standard dating and sequence of the fossils.
A scientific problem with the day-age theory is that the order of the fossils in the rock layers, as summarized in the “standard geological column,” does not agree with the order in the Genesis account. For example, in the fossils ocean plants and animals are considered oldest, but in Genesis land plants are created first. This is, however, a complex issue. John Woodmorappe has done an extensive study in which he throws doubt on whether there is in fact a consistent worldwide pattern in the order of the fossils. The “geological column” is a conceptual construction, only a part of which is observed at any one location. He spent months gathering the original data and drawing his own maps of them, and found that there are many uncertainties in the sequence. The standard geological column is not well supported by the facts, but is a theoretical concept heavily influenced by evolutionary assumptions.
Fossils of tropical plants are found throughout the world, including near both poles, indicating that there once was a worldwide mild climate. This confirms the canopy theory, which would produce such a climate.
There are many processes that are commonly assumed, according to uniformitarianism, to proceed slowly, and therefore would require long periods of time to produce many existing formations on the Earth. But these processes can in fact proceed at much faster rates than is usually assumed.
The world’s present-day ice-caps, on Greenland and Antarctica, supposedly are proof that they have been accumulating for at least a digit or two more than 10,000 years. However, identifiable annual layers exist only down to about 100 m, beyond which the snow is compressed and recrystallized into solid ice with the annual layers obliterated. Age estimates are therefore based on the assumption of uniform accumulation rates, not on the actual existence of that many identifiable layers. But precipitation rates would be very heavy for a few centuries after the Flood, as mentioned in sec. A, therefore the ice-caps do not constitute proof of a time period far longer than 10,000 years.
Research in the area around Mt. St. Helens since its 1980 explosive eruption shows many phenomena formed at that time and since that are usually assumed to require long times for formation: thick series of cyclic sedimentary layers, rapid erosion of canyons through those layers, etc. Thus these formations elsewhere do not necessarily prove long ages were required to produce them.
Observations of lake bottoms, both natural and artificial, has found that layers can be deposited several times a year, not only annually. This may be due to heavy rainfalls, or turbidity currents. This means that many layers that are interpreted as representing annual cycles may not actually represent that long a time span.
Research has demonstrated that a coal layer is not, as usually assumed, the result of the burial of a mature forest or peat bog. By this interpretation, long series of coal layers interspersed with other layers must represent at least many thousand years of development and burial of successive mature forests. A coal layer is better explained as material dropped on the bottom of a lake from a floating mat of plant material, during a time period that is on the order of a year or two at most, perhaps only days or hours. Successive layers were deposited when mud and the plant material flowed back and forth in the lake, driven by whatever catastrophic circumstances produced the mat in the first place. Divers have found that this is exactly what is happening in a lake near Mt. St. Helens.
It is common to find polystrate fossils, which extend through several layers. This is especially true in coal layers; there are many instances of trees, and even animals, found extending through multiple layers. This is impossible to explain in terms of many centuries of successive forests, and could only occur if the entire sequence was deposited very quickly.
Similarly, recent creationists have studied the series of layers of buried petrified trees in Yellowstone Park. These were long interpreted as a series of forests buried by volcanic ash eruptions, each layer representing at least several centuries, but detailed analysis shows that the stumps do not have complete root systems, and many do not have bark. This too is better explained as falling on a lake floor from a floating mat, as observed at Mt. St. Helens.
Observations in many locations have demonstrated that stalactites and stalagmites form far more rapidly than is usually assumed, within a few decades or centuries. Thus they are not evidence for several more digits of age for the Earth.
Almost any issue of any creationist publication contains examples of rapid rates of various processes: coalification and petrification of wood in a few decades or less, growth of stalactites and stalagmites in and under man-made structures and therefore of known age, mineral deposits formed inside pipes in just a few years, the tremendous erosive power of high-speed flowing water, claims of human artifacts found in coal layers, etc. These reports are of course spiced with disparaging comments about the entire geological and scientific community which is blind to these facts and in fact is engaged in a sinister conspiracy to suppress them.
Finally, there are a few other considerations also relevant to the age of the Earth and its rocks.
Human and dinosaur footprints have been found together in several places. This is totally inconsistent with the standard evolutionary timetable of the existence of dinosaurs and humans on the Earth.
There are flood legends in many cultures around the world, confirming the reality of the Flood.
There have been many reports of sightings of the Ark on Mt. Ararat in Turkey, though it has not yet been directly confirmed.
The rate of human population growth rules out a multi-million-year age for the human race.
C Recent-creationists’ scientific objections to long ages and the Big BangThere are several objections in principle to the scientific basis for long ages and a Big Bang beginning of the known universe.
Scientific theories are constantly changing, and the history of science is a history of the overthrow of theories once considered established facts. Such theories are not trustworthy as guides to truth deserving to be placed on a par with the Bible, or used as a guide in interpreting the Bible. Also, we must not tie our faith so closely to any one theory that when the theory falls it seems to make our faith fall with it.
Specifically about the origin of the universe, there have been many theories, of which the Big Bang is only the latest, and it is already being criticized on many points. Who knows when its flaws will finally bring its rejection, to be replaced by yet another theory? Estimates of the age of the Earth and the universe have increased many times in the last two centuries. All these are closed-minded attempts to reject the truth of divine creation, and the scientific evidences which support it.
The scientific community as a whole rejects any research which supports recent creation. They will not fund it or publish it, no matter how competent. But all the major revolutions in science have begun with a small minority who were considered crackpot in their time. Time will tell.
A frequent basic question about recent creation is how it can account for the fact that we see light reaching us from distant galaxies up to several billion light years away, meaning that the light has traveled that long to reach us. This is the “light travel time” problem, with no definite solution yet, but there are several possible answers. Astronomical distance estimates are uncertain, therefore the light travel time is uncertain within a certain range. The greatest distances are estimated mainly on the basis of the red shift in the spectrum of the light we receive, but there are questions about whether the red shift of distant galaxies indicates distance correctly. Halton Arp and a few other astronomers have observed that some large-red-shift quasars seem to be closely associated with galaxies having a much smaller red shift.
Some recent creationists have suggested that the speed of light may be decreasing, and was extremely fast at creation and for a while after that, so light from distant galaxies could have reached the Earth soon after creation a few thousand years ago. This theory is based on the fact that there is a slight downward trend in the measured speed of light over the past three hundred years, though there is disagreement among creationists over the significance of these measurements. Finally, be that as it may, God could of course have simply created the light waves already traveling all along the path to Earth, so that the light we are now receiving did not actually come from the object itself. This then becomes one aspect of “created age.”
As for other characteristics of the universe which seem to indicate a long age, it is possible that the universe actually does have a far greater age than the Earth. Russell Humphreys, a recent creationist, is now unsatisfied with the concept of apparent age, though in earlier years he propagated it. He has developed a model based on general relativity, in which the Earth is initially briefly at the center of a white hole. He proposes that God rapidly changed the cosmological constant in Einstein’s equations during the first day (on Earth) of creation, thus producing a repulsion that overpowered gravitational attraction and producing a white hole from which the present universe emerged, leaving the Earth at the original center. This could allow for time to pass much more slowly at the surface of the Earth than in the distant universe, and so the universe could genuinely be billions of years old while the Earth is only a few thousand years old. The Genesis account describes the creation process as seen on the Earth. Humphreys’ model is still under evaluation and development.
Regarding the geological evidence of a great age of the Earth, a crucial link in that interpretation is the assumption of uniformitarianism: that “the present is the key to the past.” This has been asserted in various forms. The weaker form is the assumption that only the presently known laws of physics have been in operation throughout the history of the world, though the rates and types of processes may have sometimes been different from the present. The stronger form asserts that not only the laws but also the rates of processes have always been similar to what is observed at present. This has been a fundamental principle in the growth of modern geology, but it explicitly rules out the events recorded in the Bible, and the possibility of God’s intervention in the world. Christians must reject such an assumption in any form.
There are also many scientific objections to the Big Bang theory and a multi-billion year process leading to the presently observed universe:
There is no explanation for the origin of the Big Bang. What is it that exploded? Why? Some proponents of the Big Bang refer to a primordial “cosmic egg” which exploded, but all such ideas have no scientific basis and are just attempts to evade the fact of creation.
Something from nothing violates both the 1st and 2nd Laws of thermodynamics.
The Big Bang model predicts no matter, only radiation. It should begin with exactly equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, which would all mutually annihilate.
The Big Bang explosion would be too uniform to produce the complexity of the observed universe, which violates the 2nd Law of thermodynamics, and is impossible.
The Big Bang explosion would be too chaotic to produce the order of the observed universe, which violates the 2nd Law of thermodynamics.
Expansion from a small Big Bang to the large present universe is an increase in complexity, so it violates the 2nd Law, and therefore could not have occurred.
Contraction of a gas cloud to form a star is an increase in order, so it too violates the 2nd Law.
Some star clusters contain stars with apparently different ages.
Stars cannot form or change, and no one has ever seen a star form or change. Stellar evolution is just another evolutionary assumption.
Sirius is a white star now but was described as red in ancient Roman times, which is faster than the theory of stellar evolution says such a change can occur.
“Sakurai’s Object” has been observed in the late 90s to be changing more rapidly than theory allows, and in the wrong direction, from a dwarf into a giant star.
Measurements including those by the Hubble Space Telescope give an estimate of the age of the universe based on its expansion, and this result is less than the age of the universe based on the assumed ages of globular star clusters. This is clearly impossible, and shows the whole model is fatally flawed.
The Big Bang cannot create life.
A gas and dust cloud could not form planets.
The origin of the Moon is not adequately explained by any theory yet proposed: co-formation, capture, division, or collision with an approximately Mars-sized object, which is the currently popular theory. A collision would have to be just exactly right, which is highly improbable.
The solar system is too chaotic to be the result of a natural process of formation from a gas cloud.
The solar system is too orderly to be the result of a natural process of formation from a gas cloud.
The angular momentum distribution of the solar system cannot be explained by formation from a contracting gas cloud, because the mass is mostly in the Sun but the angular momentum is mostly in the planets.
Radioisotope dating methods are based on unjustified assumptions, and the results are often inconsistent. Those assumptions involve the initial composition, changes in the composition during time due to external influences, and the rate of the decay process. All of these are unknown or variable. Radioactive decay processes may vary in speed due to temperature, pressure, radiation, etc.
The lack of interstellar comets from outside the solar system shows that either there are not many other solar systems or there has not been time (millions of years) for comets ejected by them to reach us.
The presentation of the recent-creationist position and the arguments commonly used to support it could of course go on forever, but this covers all the important points of which I am aware in the current literature and presentations. It should be sufficient for a meaningful evaluation of the validity or otherwise of the basis of recent creation.
Unfortunately, I believe that the conclusion of such an evaluation is not validity but otherwise. As I stated at the beginning of this summary, I stop only slightly short of saying I don’t believe a word of all these purported evidences and arguments in support of recent creation. It has many flaws, several of them fatal.
The primary source of material advocating recent creation is the Institute for Creation Research, P. O. Box 2667, El Cajon, California 92021. ICR’s web-site is www.icr.org.
Master Books is closely related to ICR, and publishes only recent-creation material.
Another source is the Creation Research Society, P. O. Box 8263, St. Joseph, Missouri 64508-8263. email is email@example.com, web-site is www.creationresearch.org
Books advocating recent creation and Flood geology include:
The Genesis Flood, John C. Whitcomb, Henry M. Morris. Phillipsburg, N. J.: Presbyterian and Reformed. 1961. ISBN 0-8010-9501-8
The Moon - Its Creation, Form, and Significance, John C. Whitcomb, Donald B. DeYoung. Winona Lake, Indiana: BMH Books. 1979
Age of the Cosmos, Harold S. Slusher. El Cajon: ICR. 1980. ISBN 0-932766-03-X
The Waters Above. Earth's Pre-Flood Vapor Canopy, Joseph C. Dillow. Chicago: Moody. 1981. ISBN 0-8024-9198-7
The Collapse of Evolution, Scott M. Huse. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1983. 0-8010-4310-7
A History of Modern Creationism, Henry M.
Morris. San Diego: Master Books. 1984
Scientific Creationism, Henry M. Morris. El Cajon, California: Master Books. 2nd ed. 1985
Creation's Tiny Mystery, Robert V. Gentry. Earth Science Associates, Box 12067, Knoxville, Tennessee 37912-0067. 1986. ISBN 0-9616753-1-4. This is the book describing pleochroic haloes.
What Is Creation Science?, Henry M. Morris, Gary E. Parker. El Cajon: Master Books. 2nd ed. 1987. ISBN 0-89051-081-4
Astronomy and the Bible, Questions and Answers, Donald B. Deyoung. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. 1988. ISBN 0-8010-2991-0
In the Beginning, Walter T. Brown. Center for Scientific Creation, 5612 N. 20th Place, Phoenix, Arizona 85016. 5th ed., 1989. Newer editions have come out since my copy.
Science, Scripture, and the Young Earth, An Answer to Current Attacks on the Biblical Doctrines of Recent Creation and the Global Flood, Henry M. Morris, John D. Morris. El Cajon: Institute for Creation Research. 1989
The Answers Book, Answers to the 12 most-asked questions on Genesis and creation/evolution, Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, Carl Wieland. El Cajon: Master Books. 1990. ISBN 0-949906-15-8. While committed to recent creation, the book is quite cautious, and admits there are not clear answers in some cases.
The Illustrated Origins Answer Book, Concise, Easy-to-Understand Facts about the Origin of Life, Man, and Cosmos, Paul S. Taylor. Mesa, Arizona: Eden Productions. 3rd ed., 1991. ISBN 1-877775-01-0
Bones of Contention, A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, Marvin L. Lubenow. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books. 1992. ISBN 0-8010-5677-2
Biblical Creationism: What Each Book of the Bible Teaches about Creation and the Flood, Henry M. Morris. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books. 1993. ISBN 0-8010-6298-5
Studies in Flood Geology, A Compilation of Research Studies Supporting Creation and the Flood, John Woodmorappe. El Cajon: ICR. 1993
The Young Earth, John D. Morris. El Cajon: Master Books. 1994
Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics, Duane T. Gish. El Cajon: ICR. ISBN 0-932766-28-5
Grand Canyon, Monument to Catastrophe, Steven A. Austin ed. Santee, California: ICR. 1994
Starlight and Time, Solving the Puzzle of Distant Starlight in a Young Universe, D. Russell Humphreys. Colorado Springs: Master Books. 1994. ISBN 0-89051-202-7
Creation and Time, A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, Mark Van Bebber and Paul S. Taylor. Mesa, Arizona: Eden Productions. 1994 ISBN 1-877775-02-9
Astronomy and Creation, An Introduction, Donald B. DeYoung. Ashland, Ohio: Creation Research Society Books. 1995. ISBN 0-940384-17-5
Dinosaurs and Creation, Questions and Answers, Donald B. DeYoung. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 2000. ISBN 0-8010-6306-X
In addition to books, there is a six-film series on Origins, produced by Films for Christ, Mesa, Arizona. The series is closely parallel to, but not as detailed as, The Illustrated Origins Answer Book. Films 1 and 2 are specifically on recent creation.
Finally, recent-creationists produce a number of periodicals.
ICR publishes a monthly news pamphlet, Acts & Facts, with which is included Back to Genesis and Impact.
The Creation Research Society publishes the Creation Research Society Quarterly, and Creation Matters.
From Australia comes Creation Ex Nihilo, and the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal.