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The Devil and the Details

Why young-Earth creationists may not fully realize what they believe.

In recent decades many branches of Judeo-Christian theism have adapted to make room for the increasing body of scientific evidence in favor of evolution by natural selection. Theists typically achieve their sought-after compromise between science and religion by arguing for other-than-literal interpretations of the biblical account of Creation rendered in Genesis. This relatively modern approach has been addressed at length by many of the foremost atheist and skeptical thinkers of our day. With few exceptions, however, secularists have tended to avoid confronting the more fundamentalist perspective of young-Earth creationism head-on.

Why should this be? Certainly, the average skeptic’s reluctance to engage in high-profile debates with young-Earth creationists does not arise from want of evidence for an ancient Earth. Indeed, many apparently independent lines of evidence, drawn from numerous distinct scientific disciplines, all provide strong indications that both our universe and our planet are very old.

From geology, radioisotopic dating of the oldest known mineral samples on Earth suggests a planetary age on the order of four billion years or more (Dalrymple 2001). Multi-million-year tectonic shifts, along with evidence of glaciers advancing and retreating over tens of thousands of years, constitute further evidence that our planet’s age is, at the very least, many times greater than what one would infer from the Biblical account (Zhao et al. 2002; Royden et al. 2008).

From physics, our observation of stars so distant from the Earth that their light must have travelled billions of years to reach us also points to an ancient universe (Ohyama and Hota 2013). From biology, the nearly paradoxical oneness and diversity of nature, attested to by countless genomic analyses, constitutes inescapable evidence for the highly gradual process of evolution by natural selection, which similarly requires that our planet be far older than the mere ~10,000-year age that one obtains from literal readings of Genesis (Wall et al. 2005). The evolutionary perspective is further supported by the existence of an extensive and remarkably consistent fossil record (Benton and Ayala 2003), and by the large number of vestigial traits retained even by anatomically modern humans as relics of a distant evolutionary past not quite left behind (Dubrow et al. 1988).

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The Man Who Solved the BERMUDA TRIANGLE ‘MYSTERY’ LARRY KUSCHE Looks Back on His Classic Investigation BIOCENTRISM: A Curious ‘Me’ Universe The Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming and much more....