The God of Science and the Appearance of Age
Except God intervene, science and the Bible1 never contradict each other. The way that some science is practiced and the Bible will frequently be at odds, just as science and the way some people read the Bible will frequently be at odds. The trophy in this topic is creation vs evolution. And modern thought says that evolution is science and creationism is not. Taking a definition from the dictionary, “science” is the “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation2.” So anything that cannot be observed or experimented is not strictly science. I am aware of nothing that science has ever been able to gain through observation or experimentation that is inconsistent with the Bible.
Scientists are accountable to their Creator God. But God is not obliged to reciprocate. By that, I mean that if there is activity in the spiritual world that impacts the data captured by the scientist, and if the scientist does not account for or standardize for that spiritual activity, then there is a good chance that the scientist will arrive at the wrong conclusion. And let us not accuse God of deceiving the scientist. Rather, it is the scientist’s error for leaving the Creator of science out of the observation.
I believe that the scientific community of paleontology omits God in their otherwise indisputably accurate observations by dismissing The Appearance of Age at Creation.
I look at Genesis 1:16-17. On Day 4, God created the sun, moon and stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth. The sun and the moon generate no problem with regard to Appearance of Age. The sun was created on Day 4, and it takes a ray of sunlight about 8 seconds to travel from the sun to the earth. That is plenty of time for the sun to be casting shadows on the earth by Day 6, when man was created, or even by Day 5 to accommodate the beasts. But the next nearest star to earth is (was, during the days I was in school) Alpha Centauri. A ray of light from Alpha Centauri would require over 50 months’ time to arrive on earth. Adam was created (in full adult form, with a full vocabulary, already desperately desiring female companionship, and with the adult patience required to reject any beast to serve in the place of a help meet) just two days after Alpha Centauri was created. Should we presume that Adam looked into the sky, and for the first 50 months could perceive no stars other than the sun?
That would seem absurd. When God created the heaven and the earth, He created a fully functioning earth, with its components fully in progress – as though they had been functioning since eternity past. The stars’ rays were already, upon the moment of creation, in route to the earth, and Adam could observe the full spectrum of stars that first night he spent with Eve. It was as though they each had a childhood wherein they learned these things. All the animals Adam catalogued as “not a help meet” were presented to him in adult form already able to procreate, but only after their kind.
By extension, if Adam were to chop down a tree during his day of creation, he would have found age rings. The answer to the dumb question, “Did Adam have a belly button?” is Yes. For he was created with the appearance of age, the appearance of having had a birth and a childhood. Garden flowers were created in full bloom. Stars that were thousands of light years away were immediately visible on the surface of the earth. Carbon was created already in decay. It would not surprise me to learn that there were fossils on the earth’s surface at creation. And I suspect that Adam’s appendix was already vestigial.
One way to estimate the age of the earth scientifically is to examine how large the visible universe is. And the Hubble telescope claims to be able to observe a visible universe that is now about 15 billion light years, and still expanding. Whatever science concludes regarding the age of the earth that is based on that information alone is only as accurate as the assumption of the expanse of the universe at its creation.
There is no contradiction between science and the Bible. There is often a contradiction between what some scientists conclude and the Bible, just as there have been contradictions between what science can demonstrate, and what theologians were perceiving the Bible was saying. But true science and the rightly divided Bible are wholly consistent. Archaeological Science – for all of its search, is unable to locate a man-made object dated back prior to 5,000 years old3 – approximately the date of the flood. So if man and the universe were created with appearance of age about 6,000 years ago, then science would come up with the wrong answer if the estimate of the age of the earth is according to how far away the furthest source of light now stands.
A scientist who discards relevant facts always comes up with the wrong answer, and similarly the theologian who discards the God who authored the Bible. If the Paleontological Sciences discard Appearance of Age, or inject polarity shifts that didn’t happen, the conclusion regarding the age of the earth will be incorrect.
1The author has degrees in both science and divinity and respects the findings of each side. This essay will not take a “we vs they” approach.
3 I am aware of the Leakey estimate that the age of a hand axe found near Ethiopia is 1.6 million years. This estimate was not based on traditional paleontological dating methods such as carbon decay. Rather, the age estimators posited that the hand axe was created prior to two of earth’s polar magnetic shifts ago, a phenomenon where the North and South poles trade places. Further, the calculation assumes that the earth changes polarity every 800,000 or so years. None of these suppositions has been demonstrated through experimentation, and none of these suppositions has been observed.
There are a few man-made artifacts that are estimated at between 8,000 and 10,000 years of age. This is essentially a rounding error against the 6,000 I quoted in the body of the text. I've seen various estimates that range from 5,000 to 13,000. Anyone who thinks the world is more than 15,000 years old jumps into the millions, and usually the billions. As a student of Divinity, I will be flexible with my estimate of 6,000, and as a student of Physics, I will be flexible with the assumption that nothing has since intervened to affect the carbon decay rate. But it seems disingenuous to claim a 1.6 million year hand axe, and the next oldest artifact is about 10,000 years old. Is the claim that nothing man-made during the intervening years managed to survive? For instance, there is nothing claimed to be (say) 140,000 years old. The suspicious outlier seems to be the age of the hand axe, and not the data from the Bible.