Saturday, December 29, 2007

Is belief in a literal six day Creationism irrational?

Over at VFR another good discussion on Darwinianism has ensued. These discussions are generally very interesting and informative, not to mention enjoyable to read. However, it never seems to fail that those who argue from a Darwinian perspective, and even those who argue from an "Intelligent Design" perspective, eventually speak of "Creationists" as irrational deniers of empirical scientific fact, not necessarily in those exact terms. I don't think this kind of rhetoric is useful in such a discussion unless it can be shown that in fact belief in creationism is indeed irrational.

Here's my question: As I understand it, God's nature (granting at very least that God may exist) is such that he can do anything which is possible to do, whereas he cannot do anything which is demonstrably impossible to do. Therefore, if it is possible that the creation event occured in six literal days, and science has not demonstrated the impossibility of such a miraculous event, then what is irrational about believing the biblical account of creation in Genesis taken literally? I'm not saying that it's necessarily probable that God created the physical universe in six literal 24 hr. days, I'm simply saying that if there's any evidence out there which demonstrates the impossibility of this, I know nothing of it. Which doesn't prove anything either, except perhaps that I'm ignorant of existing scientific evidence which proves the impossibility of six day creationism.

I'm very interested in any evidence you have to offer.


Rick Darby said...


Strictly speaking, it isn't irrational to believe in the possibility of anything that can't be disproved. But by that standard, you could say it's rational to believe that events on earth are controlled from a space station inhabited by Martians on the backside of the moon. I can't disprove it. Still, a person who seriously believed that would properly be regarded as a head case.

Rationality consists in large part in being able to analyze the quality and quantity of evidence and the probability of a statement being true, based on what is otherwise known.

I disagree with atheists who say that belief in God is irrational. It is not; it is non-rational. God exists in the realm of spirit, not of matter (although miracles and certain incidents attested to in the history of psychical research suggest that there is an overlap between the transmaterial realms and the material).

But the evidence (especially the fossil record) clearly indicates that evolution took place over millions of years. I don't say that such evidence is absolute, because from a strictly logical perspective the fossils and geological strata indicating long-term progressive development could have been created in six days (what would have been the point of creating "fake" evidence, though?).

Nevertheless, considering evolution as part of the material history of life on earth, our rational judgments ought to be based on the kind of evidence that we use in assessing the probability of other statements of material fact.

Personally, I see no reason why God could not have created the evolutionary process or be guiding it, perhaps through intermediaries such as angels and spirits.

Call Me Mom said...

It does not make me irrational to believe in a literal 6 day divine creation as long as I have examined other theories and found them to be less convincing/logical than the one I hold.

Terry Morris said...

"Strictly speaking, it isn't irrational to believe in the possibility of anything that can't be disproved. But by that standard, you could say it's rational to believe that events on earth are controlled from a space station inhabited by Martians on the backside of the moon."

True. But that's not the standard I'm applying. I'm positing that there is a God, and if there is a God he must be certain things that created beings, by definition, are not: he is a singularity; he is a simple, rather than a complex being; he is omnipotent, omnipresent -- all-knowing, all-seeing, all-encompassing, and etc.

As to your point about "fake evidence," not only would there not be a point to it, but it would be quite literally impossible for God to create such fake evidence, i.e., it would be a violation of his nature to do so, and God cannot violate his own nature else he would cease to be God, which is impossible.

I know what you're getting at, Rick, but what makes you believe that the evidence (the fossil record and so forth), if it is not actually telling us that the material universe is millions of years old, is therefore fake? As I understand it, man has devised these methods of dating which have been shown to be wanting.

To Mom's point I would go a bit further. I would say that it is not irrational to believe in a literal six day creation by an all-powerful Creator even if the person in question hasn't examined the other evidence. As I said in the post, I just don't think this kind of language is useful if the point is at all to get people to examine the other evidence.


Rick Darby said...


I'm not sure I quite understand your point. We seem to agree that the fossil and geological record is not fake and made up to mislead us. Are you saying that in spite of appearances, the evidence doesn't actually mean what countless scientists for a century plus have said it means?

If that's what you imply, you need to make quite a case to refute the scientific consensus.

I am not arguing for "scientism" -- the idea that only what science can observe and study is real. There is a spiritual dimension that does not lend itself to scientific study. There are levels of psychical existence, such as those inhabited by spirits who are not currently incarnated in the world of matter, and science has its work cut out for it trying to investigate those. (As I well know from my reading and peripheral involvement in psychical research!)

Yet, in its own legitimate realm, the realm of material things, science does a cracking good job of figuring out what's what. And I think the evidence for evolution is on science's turf. Of course science isn't infallible and many scientific theories have had to be abandoned or changed, but if you want to challenge it, you have to come up with better evidence or a better theory. You can't just say, "I don't believe it, so the science must be wrong."

As I said earlier, I do not see any reason why evolution over the course of millions of years could not have taken place under God's guidance.

Call Me Mom said...

Mr. Darby,
I hope Mr. Morris doesn't think I'm out of line for posting a reply to you here instead of waiting for him to post his own.

My biggest problem with the Darwinian/evolutionist view has to do with the number of assumptions I have to accept for this theory to work. I was also taught that science is observable, measurable and repeatable - something that is difficult to do when dealing with the millions of years that are claimed as a time frame for Darwinian evolution.

I believe we cannot say this or that takes millions of years to occur, because we only have a few hundred (or at best a few thousand) years of recorded observations of such a quality that they are useful to us in that regard. I am not willing to cede the validity of those assumptions of age on the basis of comparatively few years worth of such observations.

We also have very few transitional fossils and none that are not highly controversial within the archeological community. (Which, given the money that they are competing for is not really all that surprising.) There should be thousands, if not millions of such fossils available if Darwinian evolution is to be accepted as even marginally rational. When they are not found, we are asked to take it on faith that they exist somewhere and that there is some explanation that we just haven't found yet as to why they aren't appearing.

Then there is the assumption that the layers of the geologic column took millions of years to form. Relatively recent events around Mt. St. Helens are showing that it is far more likely that such layers were formed quickly rather than over a huge span of time. (There is also the little matter of using the layers to date the fossils while using the fossils to date the layers - can you say circular reasoning?)

I don't have a problem with saying that minor changes in size, shape or coloration occur within a species. But to say that even a genus level change can occur and be reproduced consistently enough to give rise to a new branch of the family tree, to say nothing of those levels higher up than genus or species, is pretty far fetched. It hasn't been shown to have occurred even once. (And you would think that could've been managed with fruit flies by now if it were possible.)

Then there is the assumption that the laws of physics are somehow reversed when it comes to genetics. The laws of thermodynamics do apply to genetics. Things do not change for the better. They tend towards entropy. Even the small adaptative differences that can be observed within a species represent a net loss of genetic information to the species. You cannot build bigger and better with a net loss of genetic information.
As for the assumption of beneficial mutations, show me ONE and I'll consider it. As far as I am aware, there aren't any.
I hope that I've given you some food for thought. I'm not trying to discredit the scientific method. I just want it to be used properly.

As for millions of years under God's guidance,it sounds like you want to pick and choose which parts of the Bible are believable and which are not to suit yourself. There are a number of good references out there to check the meaning of the words used to describe those first 6 days of creation and what they mean. May I suggest you engage in a study on it.

Terry Morris said...

"Are you saying that in spite of appearances, the evidence doesn't actually mean what countless scientists for a century plus have said it means?"

That's sort of what I'm saying, but not exactly what I'm saying. I'm saying that in spite of appearances the evidence may not actually mean what "countless" evolutionist scientists for a century plus have said it means. There actually are reputable scientists out there who disagree with the consensus view. There may not be as many of them, but that, to me, does not discredit them, nor does it discredit the position. Most modern scientists believe, I think, that global warming is a fact, and man is primarily responsible for it. The fact that most scientists believe this doesn't lend much credibility to the position in my view.

Any time some doctrine becomes so sacrosanct as evolutionism has become over the last century, then this warrants a good deal of skepticism as far as I'm concerned. Modern scientists do not approach the question of origins from a position of neutrality. Evolutionism is the default position.


Terry Morris said...

And by the way, Rick, we absolutely agree that the evidence is not fake. I don't even allow for the possibility of "fake" or purposely misleading evidence, as I said, if the Sovereign God created the physical universe and the evidence of its formation. But people needn't someone to mislead them in order for them to be misled.