A Conversation for The 'Genesis' Creation Account
Insight Started conversation Jun 19, 2002
I believe in the Genesis account, but apparent age isn't necessary. I have a few things to point out.
1. The creation days weren't necessarily literal. A book of old-testament words will tell you that a day can mean a period of time. The evening and morning may just have been to impress this on the idea of the listeners, or those words may have similar meanings (ie. an end of a period and a beginning of a period).
2. The heavens and the earth were created before the six days, and we don't know how long they were around before that, so even if life had been created in six days, the earth itself may have been around for a lot longer.
I have long been interested in carbon-dating, and have thought about why it seems to contradict the Bible (scientists claim to have found skeletons 10000 or more years old). The Bible says that before the flood, there was a water canopy above the earth, which is probably being referred to in Genesis 1:6 as the water above the expanse. This water came down during the flood.
Now, according to my science book, there is a constant amount of the radioisotope Carbon-14 in the atmosphere, produced when cosmic rays interact with Nitrogen. It is this Carbon-14 in our bodies which is constant throughout life (as new carbon is constantly being taken in) but decays after death, so that scientists can measure the amount of Carbon-14 left and so determine how long it is since something died.
But suppose that the expanse mentioned in Genesis refers to the whole atmosphere. If the water was around it, it may have prevented cosmic rays from getting to the Nitrogen in the atmosphere, or at least reduced the number getting through. This would mean that the amount of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere isn't constant, as scientists assume it is. Their age calculations will be less accurate the larger ages they are calculating, and any age that estimates the death of a creature as being before the flood would not be reliable at all.
Hoovooloo Posted Jun 19, 2002
Check out this link:
You're in the invidious position of being on the one hand a creationist, and therefore in direct opposition to mainstream science because of your religious belief, and at the same time being derided by people more devout than yourself for not actually having *that* much faith in the truth of God's word, because you're prepared to compromise on how literal it all is.
Interesting position to be in...
Josh the Genius Posted Jun 21, 2002
The point about carbon dating is very interesting, though. I would be interested in hearing more.
Giford Posted Jul 3, 2002
Thanks for your ... well ... insight !
On the C14 thing and the vapour canopy. It strikes me that this would mean that we should see a sudden 'step' in the dates given by worldwide carbon-dating, corresponding to the sudden change in carbon ratios caused by this deluge.
In other words, the Flood would cause an instant (geologically speaking, i.e. much less than 10 years) change in the levels of C14 in the atmosphere, as the heavenly water disappears. So the pre-Flood C14 levels would be greatly reduced to appear older than they are (to pick a figure at random, let's say they appear 50% older using carbon dating than they really are, so they are dated by modern scientist at 15,000 years old though they are only 10,001 years old). Then for immediately post-Flood material, modern scientists correctly date something 9,999 year old as 9,999 years old.
So there should be nothing that modern scientists date as between 10,000 and 15,000 years old. Or at least, almost nothing, if you allow for very slow buildup of C14 in the atmosphere after the Flood.
Does any of that make sense? Does anyone agree or disagree?
Giford Posted Jul 4, 2002
Tsk, they're not supposed to be links, obviously
I have been thinking about this overnight, and there is a further problem. C-14 dating is not a stand-alone. For example, it ties in with dendochronology (tree-ring-counting).
Now I might have this the wrong way round, but - in wet years, trees grow more, so their ring for that year is thicker than the ring for a dry year. (There are other factors too, e.g. sunlight levels, but you get the idea.) Therefore, starting with trees of a known age (i.e. one you cut down this year), you can match the ring pattern with an older tree, or any object made of wood.
In some areas of the world, it is possible to trace back an uninterupted tree-ring scheme for 9,000 years. Carbon-dating matches this accurately all the way back, with no 'dislocation' caused by a sudden shift in C-14 levels in the atmosphere.
And this isn't the only method - anything that is laid down regularly, such as silty deposits in lakes (where more turbulent weather in summer prevents smaller particles from settling) can be traced back even further.
So I have managed to convince myself at least (even if no-one else) that there was no radiation-blocking vapour cloud over the earth.
I'd love to hear back from you, though, especially if you have a counter-argument.
Insight Posted Jul 13, 2002
I wouldn't expect a gap in predicted objects of ages, more of an inaccuracy that would have existed before the flood then exponentially decreased.
I don't know much about other methods of dating things so I can't really give any argument on them or an acknowledgement of them. One thing that does puzzle me though, is that about the tree-ring scheme going back 9000 years. I thought that wood was one of the most easily-biodegrading materials there was, and you must be referring to dead trees otherwise radiocarbon dating is irrelevant. So how could any dead tree remain in existence for 9000 years? I seem to remember seeing a dead tree that I was told was 4000 years old, but I was quite young then so I didn't question it.
There is another reason for my theory, by the way. The Bible tells of some peoples lifetimes, and before the flood people were reported to have lived a long time - 969 years in one case. The Bible doesn't give any particular reason for this, but the life-expectancy decreased very suddenly after the flood. There being less radiation reaching the earth would be a possible explanation for this.
Anyway, I'll look in my Science reference book and see if I can find any information about these other aging methods of which you speak.
Hoovooloo Posted Jul 14, 2002
Not wishing to be rude leaping in here, but...
"I don't know much about other methods of dating things so I can't really give any argument on them or an acknowledgement of them."
Suggestion, Insight: learn about them. It might increase the credibiliy of your suggestions. Who knows - if you learn enough it *might* even convince you that the evidence, carefully collected and interpreted by science and rigorously debated and tested to ensure its agreement with reality, is more credible that the writings of a three thousand year old book. I doubt it will change your mind - but miracles do happen.
"One thing that does puzzle me though, is that about the tree-ring scheme going back 9000 years. I thought that wood was one of the most easily-biodegrading materials there was, and you must be referring to dead trees otherwise radiocarbon dating is irrelevant. So how could any dead tree remain in existence for 9000 years?"
This is one of those frustrating times where a person who seems reasonably bright some of the time appears to be being deliberately ignorant.
First of all, not all wood is that easily biodegradable - a lot depends on the *type* of wood (you are aware of the distinction between "hardwood" and "softwood", for example?) and also a LOT depends on the environment.
Sure, if a tree falls in a rainforest, where it rains every day and there are literally millions of cellulose eating insects to have a go at it, it might be untraceable within ten years. If a bristlecone pine falls in the desert, the stump might still be there five hundred years later, or more. This is not particularly difficult to understand.
Second, there are LIVING trees in excess of 4000 years old, and their "record" of climatic conditions (as encoded in their rings) overlaps with samples from older, dead specimens. In this way it is possible to accurately trace back a continuous record of climate as far back as 6273 BC - which is, rather inconveniently, quite a long time before the flood.
I suggest you try this link: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/dave_matson/young-earth/specific_arguments/tree.html
Thirdly, Insight, where do you live? If you lived anywhere near Southport, in the Northwest of England, or knew anything about that area, you wouldn't THINK of asking how a dead tree could be preserved for 9000 years. There's a petrified forest of tree stumps on the coast near Formby - you should go and see it.
"The Bible tells of some peoples lifetimes, and before the flood people were reported to have lived a long time - 969 years in one case. The Bible doesn't give any particular reason for this, but the life-expectancy decreased very suddenly after the flood. There being less radiation reaching the earth would be a possible explanation for this."
This is a lovely example of severe self-delusion. I can only assume, Insight, that you have carefully and deliberately avoided exposing yourself to any source of scientific knowledge about the aging process in humans. That's the only possible explanation I can think of for your seriously proposing that if only we were subjected to less radiation, we could live ten times longer. Please accept this piece of advice - don't say these things out loud in public. You might just as well tattoo the words "I am a moron" on your forehead. Believing for a moment that any human has ever lived even to their two hundredth birthday just says loud and clear that you know NOTHING about human biology.
How about this as a possible explanation for people in the Bible living over 900 years? IT'S A STORY. THEY MADE IT UP. IT ISN'T TRUE.
Or, if you can't bring yourself to believe that - which let's face it, IS the simplest and most believable explanation - try this. They DIDN'T live that long, and the translators of the Bible messed up somewhere. The original story was passed on by word of mouth, and by the time it got written down, it had been steadily exaggerated. Isn't that easier to believe? Admittedly it's slightly more complex than the simple "it's a load of nonsense" concept, but it's still a HELL of a lot easier to believe than the possibility that there's been some fundamental change in the mechanism of cell division and aging since the Flood, a change which is otherwise undetectable and happened spontaneously to every single living thing on the Ark without changing their metabolism or lifestyle in any way.
The simplest explanation is often the right one. The simplest explanation is the one you SHOULD believe, unless you can PROVE there's a more complex mechanism at work. This principle is known as "Occam's razor", and Christians cut themselves on it every time they talk about science...
"Anyway, I'll look in my Science reference book and see if I can find any information about these other aging methods of which you speak."
While you're at it, do a little research on what causes aging in people. Be amazed when you find out that it isn't radiation.
Giford Posted Jul 15, 2002
Can you explain why you would expect a gradual change? The alteration in radiation levels reaching the Earth would happen rapidly (I think 40 days and 40 nights is the usual figure!) and the time for an atomic reaction to create C-14 is a tiny fraction of a second. So why would you expect atmospheric C-14 levels to only slowly change from their old equilibrium to their new equilibrium? Surely there should therefore be a sudden leap from [carbon-dated to 15000 years] to [carbon-dated to 10000 years]? (still assuming the error as 50% for the sake of argument, as above)
Hoovooloo's points are all good, and I'd be interested to hear your response to them.
Incidentally, why are you prepared to accept 'day' as a metaphor for 'period of time', but not 'created' as a metaphor for 'started a process of evolution'? I'm just interested in your view of Truth And Stuff.
Aw, come on, Insight has been perfectly civil (well, aside from impying I was lying about the dendrochronological record going back 9000 years ). Yes, I know from your postings elsewhere that you've been through this argument with Creationists many times and become frustrated by their refusal to accept facts as facts - but it's unfair to take that out on Insight, especially since this seems to be a rare case of a Creationist having actually thought about the science.
Surely the whole strength of the Evolutionist argument depends upon us being able to explain why we believe what we do? Rather than just shouting down anyone who disagrees with us? Education, not rudeness and intimidation, is our key strength. (Unless they call us names first )
PS - are you saying it was a mistake for me to get 'I am a moron' tattooed on my forehead?
Ste Posted Jul 15, 2002
One entry in the University project dealt with this problem that I think you are facing. A699573 - "Creation - A Mainstream Christian Viewpoint", written by an Anglican priest with over 30 years of experience studying scripture.
It's main thrust basically says that to take the bible literally is fundamentally flawed. I disagree with Hoovooloo, to say that it simply "isn't true" does the bible a disservice. It conveys truths, but not in the scientific mode of communication that we are all so familiar with. You could even say that because of the symbolism and mythology presented, you can get a lot more meaning out of the bible than you can a precise, scientific document.
I would like to bring yo your attention the following excerpt from the above mentioned entry:
"Religious language is fundamentally and necessarily symbolic. Language can be descriptive, explanatory; the language of modern science, of historiography, of reporting. Ancient peoples also made careful empirical observations and were able to use descriptive language. Because of their particular world view they more often overlaid it with symbolic language than we do.
"A symbol is that which suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention - a visible sign of something invisible. Symbolic language uses words to convey a deeper meaning than is immediately obvious from the ordinary usage of the word. For example, a 'lion' is an animal, or as inferring a person's courage: 'a lion in battle'.
"Language is used univocally or analogically. Univocal means having one single 'voice' or meaning. Analogical is a meaning that is similar and related but not the same. For example 'an apple is healthy' or 'I am healthy'. All language is an approximation of reality; analogical language is by intent an approximation not a description.
Becasue we do not see God, all 'God language', including biblical language, must be symbolic and analogical."
Please read this entry carefully, I would be very interested in what you think.
All the best,
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