2006-12-19

Assumptions

Analogies aren't, I'm aware of that. Still I want to present one that describes the feeling I get when I hear counter-arguments from young-earth creationists. For the record, the following two stories are fictional though the latter is based on true stories.

Imagine a warm afternoon in Spring. Jack took half the day off because he made really long hours the day before. His wife is still at work, his son should be home from school anytime now. It's 4 PM, Jack is sitting in the living room watching the afternoon soap series on TV. He's tired, but he refuses to go to bed - he's awaiting his wife to come home. His eyes feel heavy and he start nodding his head. The last time he nodded his head he almost fell asleep so he jumps up.

Jack looks outside and he see it's dark. ``What?'' he thinks to himself, ``How come it's dark? I wasn't aware that there would be a solar eclipse today!'' He looks at the clock hanging on the wall and it shows 8 o'clock. He assumes the clock is broken because he was watching the soap at 4 PM, it just can't be 8 o'clock by now. He looks at the clock on the VCR and it also shows 8 PM. ``Oh!'' he thinks, ``I think there must have been a power failure I wasn't aware of, that's why both clocks have the same erroneous time.'' The TV is still turned on and the 8 o'clock news starts airing. And Jack thinks ``And I thought I was looking at today's airing of the soap while all this time the VCR was playing.'' Jack goes upstairs and sees his son playing a game of Little Fighter on the PC. He says ``Hey, I didn't see you coming in. Did you take a shortcut home?'' And his son replies ``No dad, I went by Jimmy first. His dad sends greetings.'' ``Yeah right'' Jack mumbles, ``Do you take me to be a fool?'' Then he walks past the bathroom and hears his wife taking a bath. He shouts to her ``How come you're home early?'' She shouts back ``What do you mean early, sleeping beauty? I made half an hour overtime before coming home and I've already had dinner.''

I think by this time the signs on the wall should be screaming loudly that Jack's assumption that he only nodded but didn't actually sleep is, well, wrong! Let's compare this story with Joe Creationist's opinion on the age of the earth.

You tell Joe that the earth is around 4.6 billion years old and that the universe is around 13.7 billion years old. ``No!'' says Joe, ``you've been lied to. God told us in his word, the Bible, that he created the heavens and the earth around 6000 years ago and since it is His word is is the truth.'' So you ask Joe to explain how it's possible that you're seeing stars that are more than 6000 light-years away. He replies something like ``I don't think they are really that far away''. So you explain the whole shebang about stellar parallax, Cepheid variables, Doppler red-shift etc. He then replies ``God is all powerful, He might have created the universe in it's present form.'' ``OK,'' you reply, so God created the universe with an appearance of age. When we saw Sanduleak going supernova at a distance of 170.000 light-years back in 1987 it was just an appearance of a star exploding, he created the light of an exploding star that never really existed, is that what you're saying?'' He replies that he cannot understand God's motives so he doesn't make an effort to do that. So you ask him why Argon dating shows a meteorite to be around 4.5 billion years old. And he replies that radiometric dating makes too many assumptions, it might be possible that the parent isotope was a lot less present than you assume. You tell him that there are a number of other methods like Uranium-Lead that all show an age of 4.5 billion years within a small margin of error. He goes on to say that God created the rock with an appearance of age to test our faith. You say ''I got one more clock for you. If you calculate the mean mutation rate of DNA and take the difference between human and yeast DNA, it counts up to a couple of billion years.'' ``Evolution is just hogwash'' Joe replies. ``God created all kinds separately and the only evolution that happens is changes within the kind.'' So you ask why we don't find don't find human remains in Cretaceous and Jurassic strata along with the dinosaurs, why the non-coding DNA like retro-virus insertions appears more alike as species are closer to each other in the phylogenetic tree, why tree rings can be composed to more that 11000 annual rings, why ice cores can show a minimum age of the earth of 160.000 years.

Shouldn't Joe by now see all the simultaneous signs on the wall screaming loudly that maybe his assumption that the Bible is literally true is, well, wrong?