There has been an idea floating around for years that there is “scientific truth”, and that there is “religious truth”, and never the twain shall meet. This is how some people work out the disparity between the truth claims of the Bible and the truth claims of science. I don’t think it is the right path. Either something is true or it is not. Truth is a monolithic and unified thing. However, this does not mean that either approach claims to have presented exhaustive evidence, and the questions these two approaches to reality ask do not always intersect. As I am fond of saying, if God had written the explanation of existence in the language of ultimate science we still wouldn’t be able to understand it. Perhaps He did write it – it is called empirical evidence. We still don’t understand it.
The thing I have been turning over in my head is that the evidence that has been uncovered by secular non-theistic scientific investigators has not helped their own cause. I praise them greatly for this, because it demonstrates the real objectivity and power of the scientific method. Scientists do not want there to be an “Big Bang” event, it points too obviously to the idea that there is a creator. The evidence that has been discovered is what demands this “belief”. I’m always surprised when I hear Christians say with derision that they don’t believe in the Big Bang – as if the scientists are trying to pull one over on us. From their perspective they are afraid they are handing us a proof of God’s existence and they are busy trying to dig their way out of that by inventing multiverses and all manner of nonsense.
There are many signposts along the way that indicate an intelligent designer: the fine tuned laws of physics, the original appearance of life, the Cambrian explosion, evidence of biological systems which exhibit irreducible complexity, and the existence of the rational mind are all highly unlikely to have emerged from the chaotic kiss of mere chance plus time. I’ve written elsewhere about all of these things, and there are much more learned people who have written far more authoritatively about them. However, I am speaking to the Christian community. I am an “old earth” design science kind of guy. I think Genesis 1 can be understood to support this without throwing inerrancy out the window. However, if you are a young earth person, these scientific discoveries can work very much to your favor – and this is the point of this post.
A young earth creation model supposes that everything we see was created with the appearance of age. For example, a young earth creationist would say that light which we see from a star billions of light years away did not really take billions of years to reach us; the star was originally created in place with the light beams already beaming towards us when everything was brought into being, a few thousand years ago. Carlsbad cavern was created with the stalagmites and stalactites already mostly in place. Let’s run with that and swallow that camel. It means that all of the evidence that is now being uncovered about the appearance of species in the fossil record was created in place, giving it the appearance of age. However, that evidence is still useful to the young earth creationist, because although it doesn’t harm the young earth position, it is devastating to the naturalist position. It could have been created in place with the appearance of age, but it could not have emerged uncaused without intelligent design. So while the young earth creationist does not need to embrace the claims of the old earth / intelligent design crowd and laud the supremacy of scientific evidence, they can use the empirical evidence which is there as a defeater of the naturalist’s theories about origins.
So, if you are a young earth creationist, and you are ultimately skeptical about the notion of a (still relatively young) 14.7 billion year old universe, you can still use the evidence from empirical science since it is a defeater for the naturalist’s presupposition but does not defeat your presupposition. The young earther can always say, no matter what, “yes – it was created that way in the first place.” Young earth or old earth, we can say, the immense complexity and information-rich design of life certainly disproves a non-designed origin, while disagreeing on the fashion in which God created the thing. So I think that young earth creationists should logically be joining the party which the design science guys are having these days, because the evidence which naturalist materialist scientists have turned up are everywhere destroying their own world view. Here is the basic message of the design science camp: the empirical evidence is killing naturalism. It is a Copernican moment in the history of science. For the young earthers, this is a good message, a message which they can use. In fact, I think the evidence looks to have been “planted” there by a very clever designer in order to be a defeater.
When scientists search for the “Occam’s Razor” simplest explanation for physical phenomena, they are searching for elegant explanations; physical “laws” if you will. Because we are intelligent beings, we cannot help but search for patterns and laws in the universe. We really cannot accept a truly random universe, which is a good thing because the universe is not actually random. In other words, regardless of our opinions about the age of the universe, as believers we can still step back and observe that the naturalists are busy hanging themselves, very much like Haman building a gallows for Mordecai only to be hung on it himself. Why should we bicker about that?
Common sense apologetics….thanks Jim.