Tag Archives: billions and millions of years

Philosophical Foundations of the Geologic Timescale: Uniformitarianism

Dear hijas,
rocks-arent-clocks
From our last post in reviewing Dr. John Reed’s book “Rocks Aren’t Clocks: A Critique of the Geologic Timescale”, we saw that evolution is one of the foundations of the timescale. It is not the only one however. The concept of uniformitarianism that was promoted primarily by Charles Lyell in the 1830’s is also essential to the concept of deep time and the resulting timescale. Uniformitarianism used in its fullest sense means: a philosophy and method that allows science to become the arbiter of history. For Lyell, it was a mix of the methodological principle of uniformity (a principle which all scientists accept) with the gradualistic theory of history. This well-regulated past of imaginary vast eons, paved the way for Darwin and his evolutionary ideas, quite different from Biblical history, and contrary to the concepts of God creating and then overseeing the cosmos.

Reed says that “All three ideas–evolution, uniformitarianism, and deep time–are closely connected. Although many people today reject Lyell’s gradualism and are increasingly skeptical of evolution, the timescale and geologic history remain unscathed. But if all three are intertwined, the selective rejection of evolution and uniformitarianism, with no consequences for the timescale, seems schizophrenic.”

Reed then goes on to talk about James Hutton’s role in the idea of uniformitarianism. James Hutton, you remember, a Scottish natural philosopher and early geologist in the 1700’s, was called by some ‘The man who found time’. Reed says, “Hutton knew Genesis had to be discredited to make way for his deistic view of history. So he went straight for the jugular–there is nothing more basic to orthodox Christianity than ex nihilo creation and the end of the world at the final judgment; for the Bible begins with the famous words, ‘In the beginning’ and then moves immediately outside the ‘system of nature’ in the next words, ‘God created.'”
uniformitarianism
Remember mis hijas, uniformitarianism is not the same as uniformity, but the secularists like to equivocate here and make them say the same thing. They are not the same thing, however, and you shouldn’t confuse the two. ‘Uniformity’ is an essential axiom of science and is the idea that patterns in nature, or more frequently called ‘natural laws’ operate in the same predictable manner over space, time, and for the most part, scale. Because it is a statement about the nature of reality, it is a metaphysical assertion, justified only by Christian theology. ‘Uniformitarianism’, however, assumes that past causes will be natural ones like those observed in the present. This is not a scientific assertion, but a ‘philosophical’ one. Do you see the difference?

I pray that you do see the difference and that you will be able to share that difference with your friends and colleagues. Uniformity is at the heart of science, uniformitarianism is not.

With Love,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Advertisements

The Philosophy Underlying Secular GeoHistory’s Timescale

Dear hijas,
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I still hope you’re reading when you have time. I want to pick up in Chapter 4 of Dr. John K. Reed’s book “Rocks Aren’t Clocks: A Critique of the Geological Timescale.”
rocks-arent-clocks

What I think we must understand in all this is that we are talking about two opposing worldviews: the Christian worldview versus the secularist worldview (naturalism). God sees men and women in either one of two camps: 1) in Adam, or 2) in Christ. We are either in Adam, unregenerate and dead in our sin and trespass, or under grace in Christ and regenerate to a new life in Him. The Christian worships and serves the Creator, the non-Christian worships and serves herself as the creature (Rom. 1:25). Those are the only two options, and you can’t be half in one and half in the other. It’s an either/or proposition.

When it comes then, to secular geohistory and its billion and millions of year timescale, we must seek to understand from a philosophical viewpoint what the foundations are upon which this timescale was built. If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll remember that I’ve said that things started to change in this regard in the late 18th century with the Age of Enlightenment. The late 1700’s and early 1800’s are considered to be the start of this new field of geology and the development of its timescale. To our point then, Reed says,

…the timescale possesses a burden of bias stemming from hidden philosophical foundations…stratigraphers use science as a façade to mask philosophical commitments of the naturalistic worldview.

We must remember that naturalism presents itself, to those who can see through its scientific facade, as a religion. As a religion, there are philosophical underpinnings. So, what are the underpinnings or foundations of naturalism’s geologic timescale? Reed says “there at least three ideas closely tied to naturalism that form the foundation of the timescale”:

1) Evolution
2) Uniformitarianism
3) Deep Time

So, let’s take the first one in our list above: evolution. How is evolution an underpinning of the timescale? Reed explains,

The timescale is all about the sequential ordering of a chronology of the past. Arranging any group of objects in a specific order requires a key. This key must contain something in common with all the pieces to be able to unite them into a common group…What is the ‘key’ that allows sequential ordering of different rock layers? It’s not the kind of rock because most rock types are present in most eras. Limestone can be Proterzoic or Paleozoic. Its not the thickness of the formation or the thickness of the beds that make up the formation. In fact, it’s not any physical property. Instead, it is their age–an intangible span of time. What then is the key to assigning discrete time spans to particular formations? Consult any stratigraphic text, and you will see that it is evolution.

geologic timescale 1
It is the changes in fossils, from a progression of simple to complex inherent in evolution, that date strata. “In other words”, Reed says, “the key that allows geologists to assign one layer to one age and another layer to another age is the evolutionary stage of their respective fossil contents…Evolution is the clock by which the rocks are calibrated and arranged in the timescale”.

Reed concludes,

Thus, evolution is crucial to the timescale. How we understand the nature of evolution then affects how we see the timescale… Evolution and the timescale are thus linked by their mutual symbiotic dependence on naturalism. Evolution needs enough time for gradual transformative progress on the biological side, and the timescale is the key to its chronology. That symbiosis is cemented by a mutual antipathy to biblical history. A past without God must explain existence and diversity of life in both present and past. Evolution claims to do so, within the deep time provided by geologic history.

We’ll look at the other foundations in my next post.

With love I remain,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Secular GeoHistory’s Hidden Fallacies: Part 1

Dear hijas,

“If Christians are to understand Earth history, we must first understand how it was taken by secular thinkers.” So says John K. Reed in Chapter 3 of “Rocks Aren’t Clocks: A Critique of the Geologic Timescale”, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA 2013.
rocks-arent-clocks
Dr. Reed details the hidden fallacies underlying the secular view of Earth history, and he says there are four of them. They originate within a naturalistic and secularistic worldview, but Christians have fallen prey to believing them as well:

1) An ignoring of the worldview conflict between Christianity and Naturalism.
2) An assumption of the reality of ‘prehistory’ and its pre-human billions and millions of years.
3) An assumption that natural history is science, and not history.
4) Seeing more ‘history’ in the rocks than is really there.

Let’s take them one at a time. Within Western culture there are two broad worldviews squaring off against each other: Naturalism and Christianity. Naturalism came out of the Enlightenment (generally mid 17th century to late 18th century) and is the worldview of the secularist. “It is built on the assumption that if there is a god, he is too remote from human affairs to be known or to have had any physical effect in the world. Truth comes not from revelation, but from man’s knowledge, and the zenith of human knowledge is science,” says Reed. “Naturalism began as a minority view, but one strongly held by Enlightenment intellectuals. Its proponents offered conciliatory lip service to ‘religion’, took advantage of Christian tolerance, and talked up compromise at every turn,” he continues. It was the so-called “Age of Reason”, and as it grew in strength it influenced (sadly) the Church. Yet the winds of change are blowing, and Christians are waking up to the masquerade. They are beginning to realize that the science that gave us millions and billions of years of pre-human Earth history was a façade for a philosophical worldview, according to Reed. You see, mis hijas, more of us need to wake up and understand the worldview conflict here. Naturalism’s strength has always been hiding behind ‘science’, and it’s time we understood the philosophical assumptions behind the science.

Fallacy #2 is the assumption of the reality of “prehistory”. That prehistory is long before humans, and involves billions and millions of years of earth development along with its ensuing biological development way before humans ever showed up on the scene.
Geologic timeline
But is this prehistory really true? Not according to the Scriptures it isn’t. But that’s the point, Reed says. The Enlightenment invention of prehistory was an attempt to make Genesis irrelevant. It was an end run around the Biblical narratives of Adam and Eve and the creation of the universe and everything in it in six days, and an “insertion” of this long prehistory before Adam and Eve and a ‘wink, wink’ that the six days weren’t really six days. The stratagem worked. Theologians of the day compromised and became part of the “smart” crowd and we are where we are today: theologians still compromising, conjuring up new ways to interpret Genesis 1 to accommodate the billions and millions of years of prehistory.

“Christians cannot continue to waffle,” Reed says. He continues,

“There is either one unified history, taught by the Bible, or there are two distinct histories: human history and prehistory. Prehistory is not a given. Either it existed or it did not.”

As always, I remain,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Are Rocks Clocks? Secular Geological History and Deep Time: Installment Three

Dear hijas,

What are the consequences of secular geologic history as seen in the geologic timescale and deep time? ‘The key’, Reed says (Rocks Aren’t Clocks; A Critique of the Geologic Timescale), ‘is in the effect geologic history has had on popular perceptions of the Bible.’ ‘Several centuries ago’, he continues, ‘even those who were not Christians saw the Bible as generally true and reliable in its history.’ This is sadly, no longer true. ‘The Bible has been discarded, and its history replaced by the strata’ (of the geologic column), ‘which many see as the pages of nature’s history book.’

There are two competing worldviews here, aren’t there? On one hand is the traditional Judeo-Christian worldview, with a 6×24 recent and mature creation of all that exists and man as an immortal being created in God’s image. On the other is deep time, life from non-life, a God who is either absent or, at best, makes cameo appearances, and man as simply the current stage of evolution. ‘The two histories are different in content, in method, and in meaning.’

‘This cultural chasm,’ Reed says, ‘cannot be underestimated.’ You see, mis hijas, most churches are content to exist with a form of intellectual schizophrenia; teaching biblical history back to Abraham and treating everything before him as myth or poetry. This is not only concerning, but downright falsity and heterodoxy.

‘We should look at the results of each view,’ Reed continues. ‘We often hear of people complaining about Christianity, but where would we be without it? It takes little examination of the alternatives to realize what a boon for mankind this Christianity has been. Christianity provided the basis for the rule of law, objective standards of right and wrong, science and technical advancement, education, a unique way of appreciating others as image-bearers of God, strong families to protect the individual from political tyranny, and a heritage of freedom and liberty.’

‘Secularism, on the other hand,’ Reed says, ‘encourages the human tendency to tyranny, oppression, conquest, war, and mass murder. One only need think of France in 1790, Russia in 1920, or China in 1960. Even where overt totalitarianism is opposed, there is still a creeping tyranny of bureaucracy and regulation. At best, secularism provides only for people’s material needs, leaving them spiritually impoverished.’ ‘Secularism simply cannot supply meaning to life in the way that Christianity has for two thousand years.’

When we understand that evolution did not appear in a vacuum, but that Darwin needed an historical setting for his biological tale, and understand that this prehistory is the geologic timescale (i.e., the rocks are keepers of the time), then we will finally see the nature of this problem as it truly is. Reed concludes this section by saying, ‘If secular prehistory describes the past, then Genesis is not true. If so, it cannot be considered God’s Word. If so, how can the rest of the Bible be trusted? That is why our culture is now thoroughly secular and why many Christians simply live with this uncomfortable inconsistency. But we cannot manage such a fundamental contradiction for very long. Therefore, we must face it. And the first step is to understand how we got here'(to this point in the first place).

As always, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Are Rocks Clocks? Support for Millions and Billions of years?

Dear hijas,

The title of a new book by geologist John K. Reed is ‘Rocks Aren’t Clocks’ (Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, 2013). In it he probes the assumptions behind geologic time and the current Christian contradiction between acceptance of secular ‘history’, (as supposedly established in the rocks for billions and millions of years), and the unwillingness to see the worldview behind it. This secular ‘history’ is the basis for evolution. The two: 1) billions and millions of years in a supposed prehistory before man, and 2) evolution, are inextricably linked. Evolution needs the billions and millions of years to make it work, and without it would never have gotten off the ground. Enthusiastic Christians opposed to evolution (a good thing) are reluctant to criticize an old earth and the billions and millions of years that mark its progress (a bad thing). It is inconsistent because the two both come out of the same secular worldview of ‘naturalism’.

Dr. Reed explains that the geologic timescale, its underlying conceptual structure, and the framework of the billions and millions of years are antithetical to Biblical history. He calls for a rejection of both deep time and its framework.

The book is not about radiometric dating. What is important to remember, Dr. Reed says, is that ‘the concept that rocks could be used to assemble a chronology for a vast prehistory was entrenched long before radiometric dating was introduced. Because it was developed prior to radiometric dating both historically and logically, the timescale itself demands our attention, if for no other reason than if radiometric techniques were abandoned, the timescale would still stand’. ‘Therefore’, he continues, ‘this book focuses on the original edifice of antibiblical history, the geologic timescale’.

So, what’s wrong with the geologic timescale? For 1) one, its almost universal, unquestioned acceptance by nearly everyone. If it’s a good idea that leads to truth, then that’s a great thing, but if false, then our minds are chained to a bad idea that leads to further dead ends and falsehoods. 2) Two, the name itself implies a definite view of the past, Dr. Reed says, a view that exalts science. An exalted science, and a view that this science will be the eventual victor over oppression by religion, is nothing less than idolatry; a worship of the creature, or created thing, instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:23). To exalt science as the one and only arbiter of truth (positivism), is exchanging the glory due our incorruptible God, for the corruptible ideas of man. Then 3) three, the geologic timescale is an idea with theological implications. The timescale assumes that God is absent from history. ‘That perspective’, Dr. Reed says, ‘is quite different from orthodox Christianity’s belief in a God who is intimately involved in history from the very beginning’.

What I hope then to do, mis hijas, in my next series of posts, is to further outline what I’m learning from Dr. Reed’s ‘Rocks Aren’t Clocks; because how we understand the past profoundly affects the present.

With love,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas